What is a mother? In modern day South Africa a mother is not just a caregiver, friend. Emotional base, babysitter etc., no, she is a father too and protector of her child or children. She is the first and last line of defence and even when there is danger in front of you, most mothers would die for their children. Children can make us angry yes, they disappoint us often too but we love them with everything that we have regardless. There is no right or wrong way of raising a child unfortunately because no matter what you do, how much you pay for it; your child ultimately takes their own decisions. That’s the reality we face as parents. We have to worry about ourselves being abused too but we stay strong for our children. Lintle was my baby.
“Lintle left her lunchbox today. Are you going to take it to her at school?”
Mapula asked me. I told her no. Normally when Lintle leaves her lunchbox it’s because she will have lunch with her friends before she came home. For some reason Mapula never cared much for that. She made food every day regardless. She had practically raised her.
“When my husband comes in please tell him that everything will be fine!”
I said. She was very confused by it and I am not sure I know why I said it in the first place. I guess I was emotional.
Driving to work that morning I could not stop the tears rolling down my eyes. I cried so much I had to change my top when I got to work. Something inside me felt raw, I was lost, I had betrayed my daughter. She felt so bad she wanted to give birth to a rape baby. I already hated that unborn baby and I don’t care if that makes me evil. I know we are quick to say that you can’t blame the child because it is innocent but the thought of looking at the product of your rapist made me numb to that emotional sensitive part of me. What hurt even more is the fact that if my daughter became a mother she would be forced to love that child unconditionally because which mother wouldn’t. I had to stand up for my child; I could not allow her to give birth to this demon.
I called my mother.
“Mom I need you!”
I told her on the phone. She laughed scornfully and said,
“Now you need me. I hear Sibongile is staying with you now! Yah neh! You must really hate me as your mother to do this to me. To choose that whore over me.”
I was taken aback by what she said. I had not invited her to my home. I had not even known she was coming until she was there. I told her all this and she asked me why I didn’t kick her out the moment she got there. She asked me why I had picked her up in the first place. I was very confused yet again. Was my not the not the one who had gone with her church to rescue her. She had helped her if I recall correctly so why now was I being treated like I was the bad person. I reminded her of this and then she laughed again.
“What happens at church stays at church? We did that as a group not just me. You know that. Do you think I was about to tell my congregation honestly that the little girl was sleeping with my husband. How much more humiliation must I take before you realize I am your mother and I deserve better?”
Why was this happening today of all days. It felt as though whatever I did turned out wrong!
“Call me when you decide that I am a better mother to you and you love more than anyone else!”
She said and she hung up. I did feel guilty for Sibongile. The problem is when you tell someone that it was not your choice they never take you seriously. It’s like you were part of the problem in the first place.
I was not hungry but I knew I needed to eat. My stomach was already making sounds. As soon as I got to the cafeteria I saw Nothabo.
“Hey sister in law!”
She said teasing me. I was not in a space for humour though and she saw this immediately.
“Nothabo what’s wrong with you today? You have been very quiet and… Have you been crying?”
Zethu said when she saw me. I think the tear stains were still on my face.
“I can’t handle the situation at home right now?”
I told her. I don’t remember the last time I fell apart like this. I am always in control but this time around I was nowhere near that.
“Is it Sizwe?”
She asked me. I don’t why when you are having problems at home people immediately assume it’s the husband.
“No it’s not Sizwe, it’s my baby! It’s Lintle!”
I told her. She was a bit surprised the way I said. We all know that teenagers are a problem but no one believes when you tell them that a child they saw grow up is a problem.
“You must be mistaken. She is such a sweet kid come on now!”
She said to me with that disbelief I mentioned earlier. This is what I meant.
“If only you knew!”
I opened up to her and told her the whole story. I started off from when she started rebelling and she had gasps of shock and even said it was just a phase. That’s the excuse people who don’t know how to comfort you always say right. I told her about Durban and the rape and she cried like a baby. She too was hurt. I think there is no woman who will not have that pain in them when they discover that someone they loved, actually no, that another woman was raped. It’s like that pain happened to them. Men often say that they feel another man’s pain when they see him being kicked in the balls. Well how often does that happen? Men often joke that they fear going to jail because they don’t want to be raped! Well, we live with that fear every day of our lives! She could stop crying and even had a runny nose!
“I didn’t know you were going through all this. Why didn’t you tell me?”
She asked me in between her sobs. How could I have told her? It was not my choice to tell her and today it was because I had broken down. I was in so much pain but I was not done.
“There is more…”
It was when I went right down to last night when we discovered that she was pregnant that shock hit her double.
“This is like double punishment. Why would she want to keep the baby?”
See, my thoughts of exactly. Why would she? This was my chance to now tell her what was making me cry,
“Am I a bad mother because part of me does not believe she was raped? The more I think about it now; she was pregnant all along and used the rape to cover up that she was pregnant. Zethu am I evil?”
I cried. These were the thoughts that were haunting me at this moment. I have said it now. I had gotten it off my chest. Something was wrong with this story. It just sounds too convenient for me.
“Nothabo come on, she is your daughter. People lie but to lie about something as big as rape! I don’t think she is capable of that. That is not a lie, it’s huge.”
She said to me and I totally understood where she was coming from because this is where my guilt was coming from. A mother who does not believe her own child. What the hell was that?
“I am so ashamed Zethu and I can’t shake it. I have tried to believe her but I can’t!”
I told her. She looked at me as though the devil had possessed me. I don’t blame her either because the devil himself must have been sitting on my shoulder.
“Ag, never mind me. I will be fine. Do you think I should force her to terminate or not?”
I asked her. I didn’t know her thoughts on abortion because I had never asked her before but she soon told me.
“You know I am not a religious person but a medical one. Regardless, abortion is wrong. It’s murder!”
She said looking down. I had not expected that from her. She was a party person and much as she was a friend she was a bit on the loose side so naturally I assumed she would be pro-abortion. It’s the religious sheltered people that you expect to be prolife but oh well.
“Please don’t give her the wrong advice because she will be damaged for life. She will carry that burden and pain for the rest of her life. Please!”
She said. I was not sure what to do next. She came and she hugged me. I needed that. A child born out of rape is not the same as a child born out of love, that’s my story and I am sticking to it.
“I am seeing your brother tonight. Maybe we should come over and lighten the mood in the house because I know that it will take your mind of things. You can’t go back to depressing that’s for sure. Talk to her when you are in a happy space. This way you will get through to her easier!”
I was taking advice now from a person that was not a mother. She sounded like she knew what she as doing and it did kind of make sense. I did not want to go to that graveyard scene tonight. I was miserable enough as is.
“Let me just call Sizwe and ask what he thinks.”
I told her. Surprisingly he agreed. Normally he refuses people around the house but he seemed to think that maybe this was what we needed. I told Zethu and she called my brother. I told her not to say anything about what we had discussed and she promised it would never pass her lips.
Maybe this dinner party was a bad thing. I had consulted my husband but I had forgotten to consult the most important person in this whole equation and that’s Lintle. See why she always complains about us making selfish decisions. Deep down I knew the dinner party was for me to make myself feel better about myself.
“Mom what’s with all the food, are we having guests?”
She asked me when she walked in with her father. I had hoped he would have told her so that I didn’t have to explain to her and take her wrath as had become norm.
Is it natural to fear your daughter? Especially one so young. I was expecting her to throw one of her tantrums I guess but she did not, instead she put her hands on her hips, the very same way I do when I have my serious face on.
“Oh that’s awesome I guess! How do you want me to help? I need to learn how to cook if I am going to be a mother soon! I can’t wait for you to teach me what grandma taught you where young! Thank you for doing this mom, I will love you forever!”
She said with so much excitement in her voice.
The truth is,
Those words stunned her father and i to the point that we just froze!
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto (fb)
Dear mike thank you for all the amazing work you do with your books, i read them every day and they are part of my daily routine now …mike i need advice from your readers. I am a 24 year old woman and this year in July i had a miscarriage and that day my life ended. The father of the child moved on with his life and started dating other girls and I’ve accepted that. What concerns me is how dead i feel inside ,my baby is the only thing i cared about and now I’m all alone my family and friends are supportive but i doubt they will be for too long especially knowing that they can never fix my sadness ..Some are getting tired already i can tell by the phone calls not coming anymore but I’m fine with that i just want to heal. I tried therapy but I’ve accepted my pain and the fact that no one else can help me but me. Another thing i wish to discourage is how people perceive the whole concept of miscarriage. One of my friends looked me in the eyes and said “you are not the 1st” i was left speechless. What i seek from your advisers especially those who know about miscarriage of have seen people going through the pain of losing their babies to advise me and tell me where to start because i don’t know anymore i don’t know how to live again without my baby.