My uncle is rushed to hospital and as I stand there naked and crying, Mrs Mali, my high school principal’s wife, takes off her coat and puts it on my shoulders. She hugs me for a very long time. My principal gets me a glass of water and his wife lets go of me so I can drink. They ask where my parents are. I tell them I don’t know and then they tell me to get dressed and come with them! I can feel their eagerness to ask what happened, but they are afraid they might hurt my feelings. I say “I stabbed him; I didn’t want to kill him, I just wanted him to stop.” Mrs Mali squeezes my hand and asks what happened. I tell her everything. I tell her when and how it all started and why I have kept quiet all along. But I just don’t tell her that this time I participated. This time I took off my panties I rode him like it was the end of the world. I don’t tell her that it was my mission to make him suffer. Mrs Mali hugs me and says she is sorry I went through all that. “I am going to make sure that bustard gets locked up and the keys are thrown far, far away,” she promises! All this time my principal is listening to every word, the anger is written all over his face as he steals glances at us. He drives to the hospital.
When we arrive at the hospital I get admitted, the doctor attends me and all the necessary tests are done. Mrs Mali holds my hand throughout the process while her husband is in the waiting room. We are told that we will get the results in the morning at 09:00am. At 04:13am I hear noises from the waiting room. I hear my father’s voice demanding to see me, but my mother doesn’t want him to.
Mrs Mali and I get out of the exam room to see what is going on. When we get to the waiting room my father is furious and my mother is begging him to stop, saying they should focus on Azola’s recovery. The moment my father sees me he grabs me but Mr Mali catches him before he can reach me.
He asks him what the hell is wrong with him and my father replies: “Everything is wrong with her; not me. She is a curse to my family. Every time I see her I want to puke; everyday this witch makes pretty sure to prove that she doesn’t have my blood in her veins.” My mother shouts at him to stop talking. “Pull yourself together, Fezile! Right now the ad one is your brother. It’s time to go home,” my mother yells and pulls him out of the room.
What just happened? What did my father mean when he said I don’t have his blood? They leave me, Mrs Mali and her husband standing there like idiots.. When I asked my principal to take me home Mrs Mali tells me that I can’t leave. I still have to get the results of the tests and that we need to open a case against Azola. I tell her I will be back before 9am, for now I need to be taken home. Besides, the test results can wait and the police station is not going anywhere.
When Mr Mali came to our house, I ask him to drop me at the gate. “Are you sure you don’t want us to come with?” Mrs Mali asks. I tell her that I am pretty sure and that I will give them a call when I need them. I thank them for their kindness. As I get to the garage I can hear my parents shouting at each other, but I cannot hear what exactly they are arguing about. I need answers and I want nothing but the truth. I realize I would have to pull some real stunt to get their undivided attention. How the hell can I do that? I look around not really sure what I am looking for but I know I will know when I see it. I come across an old 5litres bottle. I open it, and much to my surprise it’s petrol. Just what I needed! I take the petrol and pour it in a line from under the car all the way to the lounge. Then I walk to the lounge and pour it all over the couch. I am not surprised that my parents’ didn’t even hear the door open. They are shouting at the top of their lungs. I go to their bedroom where the noise is coming from and bang on the door. He violently swings the door open, my father shouts “Who the hell is banging the door!” He snorts: “The nerve you have! You coming here after what you have done.” sighs Aviwe. “What do you want?” my father says.
“I want us to talk.”
He shakes his head in disbelief and says: “After attempting to kill my only sibling what do you think we can possibly talk about?”
“Oh father, you are not even interested in what happened. That’s heart breaking,” I respond calmly, with my penetrating gaze intently fixed upon him.
“I don’t care what happened. No matter what Azola did, it doesn’t give you the right to try and take his life. Now I want you out of my house,” he says showing me the door.
I look him in the yes and walk away without saying a word. I go to the lounge. He shouts that I must leave and that I have no place in his house. “I am not going anywhere! If you really want me out of your house you’ll have to come and throw me out yourself.”
He falls for the trap and angrily comes to the lounge; my mother right behind him. I take a lighter on the table and fire extinguisher behind the room divider I then stand behind the door. When they get to the lounge, I lock the door behind them, throw the keys through the window and command them to sit down. My father is furious. He asks what I am trying to do and why I poured petrol on the couch. “Sit”, I say with a commanding and aggressive voice. “This time you all do as l say or I will burn us alive. You don’t know what I’m capable of or should I remind you of how I stubbed honourable uncle Azola?”
My mother sees what beast I’ve become and she slowly sits on the couch, but my father doesn’t buy it. “Oh, father, you dare come closer - trust me - I am going to burn this house into ashes with us inside”. My father thinks I am bluffing and makes a terrible mistake. He takes a step towards me; I take the lighter and set the nearest couch alight. The fire does goes wild in a very short time, spreading to the next couch in the blink of an eye.
He frantically springs up, like one possessed by a score of demons, rushing towards me as he shouts, almost his lungs out, that l must put out the fire with immediate effect. I am startled at first, but once he gets closer I spray it in his eyes; the force of the pressure almost knocking him down. He screams and bends down covering his eyes with his hands. My mother screams, conspicuously getting more and more agitated, but clearly realising that I am not in a trifling mood. She keeps her distance, and keeps asking me what the hell l want.
“l want answers!” l scream back. She says: “Put out the fire I will tell you everything you want to know I promise, okay?” I put out the fire and the room is filled with smoke. Everyone is coughing, but I don’t care. This is the only way to get what I want, I have been through far worse than a smoky house. The couches are pretty messed up and the ceiling board was starting to burn. I tell my father that I don’t want to hurt them but I won’t think twice when he does not cooperate. My mother asks me what I want to know I tell her: “I want to know everything; I want to know what your husband meant when he said I don’t have his blood in me.”
She says: “If I tell you then everything will change forever and there will be no turning back.”
“We have already crossed the no going back line. There is nothing that can be worse that you turning your backs on me when I needed you the most. I have been brutally sexually abused and you decided to close your eyes and look the other way. You have unrelentingly abused me - not only physically but also emotional. All I ever wanted was to be treated like my younger sister. Was that too much to ask? I just wanted parental love but to my constant bewilderment I never had that, so now it’s your time to make the past right; it’s your time to set me free and set your hearts free. I can never fix my mistakes if I don’t know what they are, so I am giving you this last opportunity to tell me what I have done so I can rectify it in my next life. This is not the time to act like you care about my feelings. This is the time to let me know why you don’t care about them.” It’s the silence moment, almost everything stood still and you can cut the tension in the room with a knife. My father looks calm and deep in thought, as if he has lost his voice.
“I asked a question! I don’t have the whole day to sit here. You speak up or we all die here. You only have 60 seconds to start talking!” I scream.
My mother looks me in the eyes, takes a deep breath and smiles, telling me that she doesn’t know where to begin because it brings back many memories. She took a long time to get over what happened 17 years ago and she is not willing to torture herself and talk about it. “You have no choice mother! This is not about what you want and your feelings – it is about me and my feelings”. My father, who has not been looking at me the entire time, looks straight into my eyes and starts talking, with a breaking voice, filled with both rage and embarrassment.
“Azola is the only sibling I have. We grew up together, tighter than fish and water, our parents enforced the fact that one day they will die and leave us alone and when they do, we will only have each other. We should never turn our backs on each other! Azola has been nothing but good to me. No matter what happened we always backed each other up. Azola and I had unbreakable bond - especially after our parents passed away. We were brothers for life until 18 years ago on the 25th of June when I got married and went to Durban on honeymoon.
“While your mother and I were on honeymoon my brother had a car accident and we had to come back immediately. Right after the call your mother and I packed our bags and hit the read. We took the R61 route. We drove passed Margate at around 10:00pm and when we passed through the Transkei small towns, we reached Port st Johns there were traffic cops. They signalled us to pull over and as a traffic cop approached us, he had a pen and paper, greeted us and asked for our driving licence. He asked to search the car and instructed us to get out of the car.
“I tried to tell him my brother who was in hospital but he insisted that we get out of the car. The other traffic cop asked if we had a problem and as your mother and I got out of the car, the policeman searched for weapons (so he said). They told us to turn around and face the car and put our hands on our heads. Suddenly, both of us were cuffed and the next thing I know, we were injected.
“I woke up in a very neat, well-designed and well-furnished lounge. Everything in the room was white and everything looked expensive. I heard someone coughing and saw it’s your mother. I asked if she is okay she said she was feeling dizzy. I asked if she knows where we were and how we got there but she also had no idea. While sitting there the door opened. ‘Great, my people are awake,’ said the tall buffy black guy. His face looked familiar and then I remembered that this is the policeman that stopped us last night.
“I asked him what they did to us and what they wanted and how we got here. He smiled and said that it’s simple: all they want is the pin of my platinum bank card and that I have to write them a cheque so they can clean my account. I couldn’t do that because my account was pretty packed and we claimed all our savings for the honeymoon. I wanted to buy my wife a house too, so I refused to give in to them.
“His other crew came back and heated me up for my account pin, but I didn’t give up and kept my mouth sealed. They saw that I was not going to give them what they wanted so the other guy said they have to teach me a lesson. They ripped my wife’s clothes off, parted her legs and raped her! They made me watch everything. I shouted out the pin number and wrote the cheque to clean my account; thinking they’d stop but they did not. I watched them taking terms in banging my helpless wife but I couldn’t do anything. I lost my mind, her blood was all over the white sofa. She cried out my name; she begged me to help her but I couldn’t. I was just there crying like a baby, with guns against my head. I was scared for my life; I chose to save my life over hers. That’s the day I lost my humanity; the whole world changed. I lost everything,” he sobs. I have never seen my father cry but today I see his other side. He is hurt beyond measure, beyond what words can explain. My mother is crying too - almost hysterical. She begs my father to stop but he doesn’t, he does the opposite. “They cleaned all our accounts, they kept us prisoned for a full week and my wife became their meal; breakfast, lunch, supper and snack in-between. On the 7th night we woke up naked in the bushes of Port St Johns. We went to the nearest house and told the owner of the household we were hijacked. We were given old smelling clothes and food. It was all they had; they didn’t even have a cell phone or know of a public phone nearby so we had to stay. I had no way out of Port St John’s deep rural area and we had no money to get to East London. We had no money to go to the police station and we did not want to, because our perpetrators pretended to be police offices so there was no way I want to go to the police.
We stayed in Port St Jonhs with two parents and their 5 children. We went to bed on empty stomach sometimes, the only meal we ate was papa and sweet water. We stayed for almost 3 months and in August we were told that we can make money by selling maize next to the road. And that is what we did: we woke up at 4am in the morning, went to the garden to get maize then we all made our way to the street. We sold the maize and saved the money. Even the family we stayed with saved their money for us instead of buying food. They insisted they were fine and used to poverty but they can see that we are not coping and we have to go. At the end of the August we had enough money for new one out fit and taxi fare from Port St Jonhs to Umtata, East London.
When we got home Azola was already out from the hospital. He was mad that I chose to stay in Durban with my wife when he needed me the most; he reminded me of how he has been there for me and how I betrayed him and turned my back on our parents’ teaching. From there and then I felt like I owed him, I told him I was going to make it up for him but I never did, he forgave me and we got back together but it was not the same. Your mother and I never told anyone about what went down on our way back to our honeymoon, we were so ashamed. I couldn’t even look at my wife the same way again. I felt weak that I couldn’t protect us! What kind of a man I am that cannot protect his own wife? That can stay there watch his wife being raped and cry like a new born baby instead of doing something! A male that does that is not a man but a quarter of a man, not even a half!
About 5 months after the nightmare your mother told me she missed her periods. We did a home pregnancy test and it was positive. We went to the doctor just to be sure and she was indeed pregnant - 5moths pregnant. Everyone congratulated us. Even Azola was beyond happy and he said at least he can see why I couldn’t come back and he is proud of the man I am. I was also proud that after all this madness we are blessed with a child. Months went by, my wife’s tummy grew, and you would swear that she was pregnant of twins or even triplets.
On the following year in March you were born in Sait Hospital but no, I couldn’t see myself in you. I had to do a paternity test. It came back negative and my first thought was that my wife cheated on me. I went phyco on her, but she told me to think back: nine months ago she was with me all the time. We went on honeymoon, on our way back we were hijacked and she was raped so if the child is not mine, it came out of the rape. It all made perfect sense but we kept it to ourselves because we never told anyone about the rape. I was tempted to give you up for adoption but I couldn’t. My brother and his friends came to fetch us from the hospital, so we had to keep you and raise you like ours but I couldn’t; you are not mine and you will never be
Every time I look at you I think of what we went through. You are the walking and talking reminder of what happened 18 years ago; you are the proof that I am weak and helpless. I couldn’t protect my wife and every time I see you I want to punch you between the eyes.. When you told me about the rape I didn’t want to believe it. I refused. I didn’t want to trade my brother’s reputation for a child of rape. See? I somehow felt like I owed my brother for not making it to the hospital when he needed me, so by ignoring what he did made me feel better.
I kicked out Babalo not because I believed what Azola told me, but because he made you happy. When I see you I see the men who hijacked us. When you hurt I somehow feel like I am hurting your real father! When you stubbed Azola you took a part of me, it felt like your father did it; like he is still in control. I don’t ever want to see you again, you are a living torture and it’s like l am fighting a losing battle. Your father wins...” My father wipes off the tears.