I grew up with my mom and my younger brother and for the longest time I thought it was only the three of us. We moved from place to place quite a lot. One day, my mom bought me those Tommy lookalike tekkies and we discarded my old worn-out ones. I just knew that we had to be going somewhere important.
It was a long drive from Witbank to Pretoria and when we arrived, we found a four-room house full of people and I learnt that I had more family – I had an older sister, two cousins and grandparents! I was so happy that we weren’t going to move around like before but I was wrong because, for reasons unknown to me, my mom and my granny didn’t often see eye to eye.
So, we’d move whenever she found a boyfriend, and return to Witbank things didn’t work out to the point where they called me ‘paper bag’. We lived like that until I was about 15, when my mom found an older boyfriend and we moved in with him. Unfortunately, he and I didn’t click but there was nothing I could do about it as I had to live with my mom was.
One day he asked me if I had slept with boys yet. When I said I hadn’t, he started to act ‘friendly’ towards me until I came home late from school one day after going to a Pens Down bash (a whole day of teaching where no one lifts a pen). I found him drunk and then he scolded me for being late. He angrily told me that he wouldn’t let other boys “taste” me before he did.
“I gave birth at the gate of the clinic and didn’t even want to touch my baby or look at her. I wanted them to take her away to be adopted…”
I went to my granny’s house but couldn’t stay there for long. The atmosphere was unpleasant and I was blamed for being my “mom’s favourite”. I ended up dating this guy and most often we’d sneak into his home because he had a room outside. The following year I became pregnant at 16 and even though we were going to be young parents and didn’t quite understand the responsibility, we were happy.
By then my mom was sickly and had moved back to my granny’s home. I told her what my stepdad had said to me, but things went well until I was six months pregnant and the changes to my body were obvious. He started pointing them out and commenting on how big I was becoming.
I saw less of the father of my baby while I was caring for my bedridden mom, without any help from my family. He didn’t offer any support and even showed up at my mother’s funeral with another woman. I began to regret falling pregnant and, even worse, I went into labour that day. I gave birth at the gate of the clinic and didn’t even want to touch my baby or look at her. I wanted them to take her away to be adopted and while I was being transported to the hospital, the woman who was with me tried to talk me out of it but I wouldn’t listen to her.
I wept over my decision and the stares from the nurses didn’t help either. After two days at hospital, the baby’s father still hadn’t called me, so I called him. I told him I was giving up our daughter for adoption – all he wanted to know was if she was beautiful, light in colour and not disabled. I hung up on him.
Later that night, I dreamt of my mother asking me where Ntombiksyise was – that was my mom’s name. I couldn’t answer her in the dream and watched her turn her face away from me. She told me that when she returned the following day, she wanted my daughter. That was the moment I decided to keep my baby even though I didn’t even have clothes in which to take her home. I just knew God would make a plan.
My daughter is now 14 years old and the greatest blessing! I love her more than life itself!
By Gugu Masunga