Chapter 1

“ The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” — Dalai Lama.

As a young girl born and bred in Mogalakwena in Waterberg Mokopane which is in Limpopo life was a little tough.  A little could be an understatement but well it was what it was.  Anyone who knew Limpopo would know that Mokopane consists of 42 villages Mogalakwena included which is where I come from.  We had a very big yard which was the norm in Polokwane even though our house wasn't the fanciest.  We grew up using Jojo tanks as a source for water unlike back in the day when my mother had to go fetch water from the community tap.  Being the first born of 8 children of which two passed on very early in life I had to assist my mother with raising my siblings.  

All in all we were six; I Bina my younger brother Lesiba the third born Matome the fourth born Pebetse then came my younger sister the fith born Hunadi and then the last born Malesela.  My father died unexpectedly when I was just ten years old and so I had to take over the responsibility of helping my mother run the household as the eldest.  That included me leaving school and getting a job at the age of 14. A few years later at 16 I was still doing it. I wasn't happy about it more especially since I was very intelligent at school but I had to do it.  It was the norm in black families at the time.   It took me a very long time to adjust to the fact that I had left school watching my friends walk back home from school while I had to sell vegetables around the corner of Mokopane Mall with my youngest siblings right beside me.  At first I felt as if life was too unfair but well it had to go on eventually.  It was too agonizing forcing myself to ignore the stares and glares and the whispers didn't make it any better.  After my father died we were known by our neighbours as the poor Makwetla family. 

 Handouts were such a norm that every one born after the other would wear the clothes that the elder one outgrew.  Withal my mother was a firm believer in Jesus Christ along with my grandmother who still lived with us.  It was truly exacting growing up because I had to get up early in the morning prepare Hunadi and Malesela to go sell vegetables with me.  Before leaving I had to assist my grandmother in preparing porridge for the rest of my siblings just before they went to school and off I went afterwards with Malesela on my back and Hunadi alongside me with my big vegetable basket on my head.  We were taught that “Mosadi o tshwara thipa bogaleng” meaning no matter how rough it gets the woman must always hold the knife with on the sharpest edge.   

That saying dug too many graves of young

the woman must always hold the knife with on the sharpest edge.   

That saying dug too many graves of young black women.  Too many women stuck around and endured hardships and abuse whereas they could have turned out differently had they been given other choices.  I always took a book with me to read since it could become very quiet outside the Mall as it was the busiest early in the morning and later in the afternoon.  So it was the usual business for me as I was busy selling to people early in the morning and then around 8 am business was a bit slower so I carried on reading my latest book.  I always headed to the library during weekends to get a new book.  I was obsessed with reading and I mostly enjoyed Science Fiction so I really wasn't left out much when I had the chance to visit my only friend Selaelo who lived two houses away from mine.  Time passed and I had done the usual chores of looking after my two siblings while selling my vegetables under the scorching sun; I had changed Malesela's diaper twice and since it was cloth diapers I had to carefully wrap it away into a plastic bag and wait until I got home to wash it.  Hunadi was a bit older being four years old at the time she didn't need any nappies.  

Before I knew it it was just after 3pm and since it was a Friday I knew that a lot of my former classmates were going to pass by the Mall for some ice cream.  Some of them of course were there to meet their boyfriends secretively.  I had developed a thicker skin ever since I started that job so I had to block all negativity.  Gladys and her friends would make it a point to torture me by coming to buy as many vegetables and fruits as they possibly could just so they could tell me all about school and how fun it was.  Any person who feels the need to destroy your spirit already sees you as an enemy.  My grandmother had her moments but she knew the Bible very well.  She would say; Ecclesiastes 8:6 says; “For there is a time and a way for everything although man's trouble lies heavy on him.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I swallowed hard as I could see Gladys approaching alongside her skinny friends.  Gosh I was always hoping that I'd one day wipe that smirk off her face.

Gladys: (smiling) “Hallo Bina!  Go reng na mogwera (How are you friend)?  Long time no see hey?  Ga o so dire tshelete ya go lekana gore o boele sekolong na (Haven't you made enough money yet just so that you could come back to school)?”

Bina: (annoyed) “Hello Gladys.  Nka go thusa (May I help you)?”

Gladys: (laughing) “Bathong (Goodness)!  Ashu wa re demela (she is acting funny) guys.  Anyway e re ke reke (let me buy) I know you need the money.”

She and her friends were laughing but I just kept my cool.  I needed the money yes.  She would buy about R100 worth of veggies every Friday along with her friends.  They most probably felt like they were my biggest customers but deep down we all knew that it was to support their large families as well.  They acted as if they were better than I was but we were actually the same.  The only difference between the four of us was that I wasn't attending school any more.  They picked up a few items and rushed me like I was some sort of animal.

Gladys: “Phakisa le wena (make it snappy) my word.  Tlabe ka shiya ke taxi (The taxi might end up leaving me).”

Bina: “Do you know the verse from Lamentations 3: 25 – 26?”

Gladys: (clicking tongue) “Mxm ga ka tlela go rerelwa mo (I didn't come to hear you preach).  Anyway tseya (take it) and keep the change.  You really could use some.”

They walked away laughing at me but I kept my cool.  I won't lie – it hurt like hell.  There were days when I just didn't even want to get out of bed; some days I started questioning God.  I mean are some of us actually supposed to struggle from such an early age?


Login to comment To share your opinion