Growing up

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Chapter Three

After they left we went back to the house and I am told to take a shower. My sister witnesses all of this and is disgusted that I could do such thing with someone we were supposed to treat like a brother and accuse an honourable man! Fret showering I go to my bedroom and take off the sheets, puts it in the washing machine and lock myself in my bedroom. Azola is the most ruthless man I have ever seen. He is still here, talking to my mom about how much trouble kids can be and that they should not punish me as I was probably under the influence of Babalo. I can’t listen to this madness! I get inside the blankets and cover my face and ears. I press my hands so hard on my ears to block them. I don’t want to hear even a sound.

There is one thing I know: there is nothing as powerful as the mind! I tell my mind that I don’t want to listen to anything and, without noticing, I get lost in my head! I find myself thinking about everything that happened today. I think about the fact that everything has changed. My ‘relationship’ (if we ever had one) with my parents is broken forever. How can they betray me like that? What have I done to them? You know, I used to think that they favour my sister over me but this is more than that; this is deeper than I thought!

I can’t think of anything I have done that would make my parents be so angry at me. The most confusing thing is that I don’t remember a time when they were ever nice to me! I don’t want to think about this anymore. It has always been like this and it will always be like this. There is nothing I can do to make them love me. I always get good grades - when I talk about good grades I mean a 91% average - and if that does not impress your parents then nothing will ever do!

Buhle attends the most expensive school here in East London and she gets an average of 57%. Whenever she gets 60% in a test then it’s a celebration, but even if I get 99% my parents never say ‘well done’. They simply say public school is easy and that maybe I am coping or favoured by teachers!

While I am having a conversation with myself I realize that I am crying. Did I talk about school just now? The thought of school brings Babalo in my mind! I get terrified, my heart beats faster and it feels like it wants to come out of my mouth; I can feel it making its way to my throat! I kick the blankets off me, sit up on the bed and look at the time. It is 00:07 already and my father is not back yet. I think of where he could possibly have taken Babalo; I think of the fact that my father is a beast. What if he kills Babalo? The thought of Babalo not breathing kills me. I have to find him and I will do whatever it takes.

At last, my father comes home around 7:03am just as, I am ready to go to school. I ask him where he took Babalo and he looks at me with pity, saying: “You really are a curse!” The insult does not offend me. All I want to know is where he took Babalo! He says Babalo is on his way to his extended family in Zimbabwe, but I definitely do not buy the story. Babalo told me he does not have relatives he knows off. My father tells me I am not allowed to talk about Babalo anymore; that it’s time to close the chapter and move on like Babalo never existed!

“You are a disgrace to this family. I can’t even look at you. I can’t believe you grew up to be this lying witch. How dare you accuse my brother of rape? I will kill you. Are we clear, Aviwe?” says my father as he slowly comes closer to me. His facial expression is murderous. I keep quiet. “ARE WE CLEAR?” he shouts in my face. I nod, tears trickling down my face. When I try to go to the door, he grabs my arm and pulls me closer. “Where do you think you are going?”

“I am going to school, papa and I’m late already,” I say with a shaky voice.

“Do you think we are going to pretend like yesterday didn’t happen? Every deed has an outcome, my child, don’t you know that by now?” I try to apologise, but how do you apologise for being sexually abused? For telling the truth? Within a blink of an eye my father grabs me and takes me to the basement and we get there he pushes me to the floor. “Forget about school. Today you and I are going to have a party,” he says as he opens an old freezer and orders me to get inside..

I stay in the floor hoping that it is a joke or that my mother will show up but my yearning wish doesn’t materialise. He takes my backpack and throws it on the other side of the basement, grabs me and shoves me into the non-functioning freezer; locking me in. There is no use of crying and shouting for help so I calmly try to get comfortable in the freezer. I guess this is how it’s like in the coffin; it’s so dark and lonely I can literally hear my own breath and I realize I will run out of oxygen in not time. I crouch in there shivering with anger, unable to cry. I felt like forever when finally my mom opens the freezer. l anticipate an empathetic face, but she yells: “Oh, gosh you stink! Come and eat and take a shower,” she says walking up the stairs. I get out of the freezer and take my backpack. It is already dark with means I have been in the freezer the whole day. My mother brings me food in my room; giving me the most devilish look in history.

The following morning, I prepare for school as usual, I wait in the lounge for my father to give me lunch- and transport money, but instead I am told that I will never get any money again - not even for transport, launch and toiletries. I figure that, as long as they let me go to school its ok. School is a 45 minutes’ walk from home.

I walk to school in the morning and when I come back, the news is all over school that I slept with Babalo and accused my noble uncle of raping me. I become the laughing stock again and I get dirty looks from all over. As a result I stop going outside the classroom during lunch. I don’t have money anyway, instead I stay in the class room and read. There is only one thing that keeps me going - the hope of finding Babalo one day. He becomes my motivation to do better in everything. My marks average increases to 98%. Everyone asks me about the rumours but I don’t dignify their queries with a response and they presume my silence to be acquiescence.

After an awful three days I get a call from the principal’s office. When I get there he tells me to close the door behind me. He tells me to sit on the chair opposite to his. He looks me in the eyes with a straight face and says: “I believe you.” What did he just say? This causes a choking lump in my throat so I cry like a new born baby. He gets up to give me a hug but I tell him not to get closer! I know men like him. Men are heartless - my perpetrator came as an angel to check if I was ‘ok’, I don’t want any man next to me. My principal understands and goes back to his chair, saying that he wants to help me but he doesn’t know how. He says the least he can do is to give me transport fare and lunch money. I thank him for his kindness but I reject the offer. I don’t want to owe any man money. He concludes by saying that his door is open if I ever need anything. I thank him once more and leave the office.

At the end of August I get a cash prize for being a top student to the school. The prize giving is taking place for the first time. The money is enough for lunch, taxi fare and for a nice hair cut for at least one month. After August the prize giving takes place each and every end of the month ’till the end of the year and only the top student gets the prize - there are no second or third prize. I keep taking the prize each time! When I begin to feel that this is fishy, I go to my principal and ask him if he has anything to do with all this. To my surprise he does not deny it; he says the idea of cash prize to the top student was his idea, but it is not his fault that I get 98%. He goes on saying that I deserve the prize because I worked hard for it and he tells me I have a bright future ahead of me. If I keep my current passing average I won’t have any problems about University. Each and every university in South Africa will want me. The sparkle in my principal’s eyes shows how much he cares. He is so happy about my performance as if I am his own child, but the trust I had for men is broken forever.

Home gets worse. We live together but our hearts are miles apart. I get excluded from ‘family’ functions that take place and I don’t get invites when the rest of the family goes to the beach, church conferences or camps. The only time I get noticed is when there are visitors coming over so I have to clean the house. At least I don’t get beaten anymore - all I get is silence treatment. This is great because the feeling now is mutual. I hate all of them with every fibre in my body and the only reason I still stay with them is because I have to finish school. If what my principal told me about universities fighting over me if I get good marks is true I will go to university and never come back.

I sometimes l think of murdering them but, then again, that it would be too easy. They won’t feel a thing when they are dead. The best revenge would be to become successful, find Babalo, get Azola arrested. The raping does not stop. Azola comes to my house every weekend when he knows I am alone. He has the spare key for the front door so he doesn’t need me to open the door anymore. I do not tell anyone anymore because they are not going to believe me anyway. I think it’s better to bottle things up than to talk about it and end up being treated like a freak by everyone.

After three years, when I turn 17 years old and in Grade 12, nothing changes. I am still a loner and an emotional damaged being. The only thing that has changed are my marks at school. During June exams I literally got half of my normal passing average.

You know when you grow up your past and bottled stock starts to eat you alive, like demons ascending from the abyss, refusing to be shut any longer. It starts to demand your attention and the only way to restore mental sanity is to respond to it. I am so disappointed in myself and so is my principal. He calls me to his office and begs me to tell him what is going on. I tell him that grade 12 is not like other grades; that it has more work and I am struggling. He gives me his wife’s business card and says I should call her anytime when I need something. He says maybe it can help to talk to a female because it seems like I don’t want to talk to him since he is a male and he totally understands.

I thank him for the business card and assure him that I am fine and that I will try my best next time. I leave the office thinking that the year is running to an end and I will not get a bursary if my marks keep going down like this. If I don’t get a bursary there is no way my parents will send me to university and if that happens I will not have a decent job and earn money to look for Babalo. I’ve heard that private investigators are expensive. It’s time I keep my eyes on the prize. So I go home with one thing on my mind: to study hard. I know that when I put my mind on something, I usually get it done. I tell myself that I will pass trial exams with at least 90% average and I know it’s possible.

It’s Friday afternoon when I get home. I take a shower and put on my pyjamas and prepare myself to study all night. I don’t know where my parents and sister are but I am used to this - they usually go without telling me. Suddenly, the front door opens. I think maybe it’s them but I am too lazy to go check. Within a minute, my bedroom door opens. I look up and see it’s Azola.

I know exactly what brings him here, so I put my books on the dresser, take off my pyjamas and lay on the bed. Azola unzip his pants, takes out his penis and starts to jackoff. After his penis is aroused he gets in between my legs. No words are exchanged. I gave up a long time ago, and today I’ve decided to participate. I mean it is not fair that he gets all the pleasure. He has been sleeping with me for about 3 years now, so I might as well enjoy the ride. I am 17 years old now and I have a plan. When we are done he kisses my forehead and we sleep side by side. I heard that men’s happiest point is also their weakest point! I feel like testing that theory!

I turn around toface him I put my head in his chest. He holds me and kisses my head and falls asleep after about 5 minutes. I lifted my head up and call his name just to make sure that he is really sleeping. When he doesn’t respond I sit up and look at him. Suddenly the day he attacked me, manipulated my parents and got my best friend kicked out starts to play in my head. I can still remember each and every part of it: how he tied me up and rode me like a slut; I remember how he convinced my parents and the entire community that he was innocent; I remember how I begged him to tell the truth but he stood tall and said he was not going to take a fall for a crime he didn’t commit.. While I reminisce tears roll down my cheeks but I smile. I am broken but this moment fascinates me. I look for my takkies under the bed; take off their laces and walk over to the dresser quietly. I open my pencil case and to take out big scissors. I go to the bed while holding it in my right hand, get on top of him and ties his hands together. He doesn’t even feel that someone is on top of him. I look at him and feel a joyful voice in my head saying: “It’s payback time, bitch”. My heart dances along.

With shivering hands, I hold up the scissors and stub him on the neck with such venom it startles me. He suddenly wakes up with bewildered eyes - still trying to figure out what just happened. I stab him on the other side of his neck and he tries to get me off him. But I am 17 now and much stronger than that little girl who couldn’t fight for herself back then. I stab him in the chest and stomach countless times. As he screams for help I get off, take his underwear and my panties and shove them in his mouth! Lord, the last time I was this happy was when Babalo was in my life. He bleeds so much and since the blood is all over the bed, it starts dripping down on the floor. I stand next to the bed and watch his face as his tears roll down his face. Revenge is sweet and is definitely a bitch.

I am tempted to burn him alive and say the fire was an accident but the thought comes to my mind that dying is the easy way out. Killing someone is doing them a huge favour because you take them out of their misery. No, I want him to face his demons each and every day and I want him to think of me every time he sees the scars in his body. I want his demons to choke him in his sleep and I want him to suffer just like I did and still do.

So I decide to call the ambulance and my principal’s wife. On the phone I cry so much and yell that they must hurry and get him before he dies. I then take a fleece blanket and press it to the largest wounds I tell him its ok, help is on the way and that his nightmare has just began. This has got nothing on how he is going to feel when the wounds are healed, on how I felt all these years - a physical pain is nothing compared to an emotional pain, because at least with physical pain you can get medication, but there is no medication for a hurting soul. I stop talking and start crying for help when I hear two cars park outside. The front door is opened and I can hear my principal calling my name. I don’t respond; I cry louder instead. They all come to my bedroom where the screaming comes from and find me holding my uncle, both of us naked.

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