“Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” – Steve Jobs
My entire body was on fire but that was the least of my pain. The pain that worried me most was the emotional scars that I endured during that evening. Never in my life would I have thought that Salome would have done something so horrific. I mean I remembered my mother told me that someone close to her did something really bad to her but it never occurred to me that that is what she was talking about. How dare Salome do that? How dare she play God with other people's lives? I was crying; crying because I felt as if God only heard the rich. I mean Salome's life was flowing instead of her dying the same way my father died. Yes I knew that the Bible said that every dog gets its day but that day takes forever to come. I was so angry bewildered and torn. I hated her even more than before and as for my grandmother I despised her for keeping such a secret. I had heard about witchcraft in families but I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd be on the receiving end. I couldn't stay there – something within me just told me that I shouldn't spend another night there – or I'd most probably never make it out there alive. I heard a familiar voice speak to me as I was crying myself to sleep in my bedroom.
Dimakatso: “Bina ngwanaka (my child). Get up. You can't sleep here. Get up take all the money you have and leave with your siblings.”
I was so frightened; I felt goosebumps and the entire room felt heavy; but not in a bad way. It felt as if there was some entity present in my room.
Bina: (frightened) “Mama?”
Dimakatso: “Yes my baby. Get out of there. You don't have much time.”
Bina: “What do you mean? How come I can hear you?”
Dimakatso: “Because I am here – I am always here. Do you think I would enjoy seeing you suffer? Get out of there.”
Bina: “Where will I go? I mean Constance stays so far and it is already night time.”
Dimakatso: “Don't bother she passed away an hour ago.”
My heart sank yet again. I felt as if I had been carrying the entire world on my shoulders even before my life began.
Bina: (crying) “I can't do this Mama. I can't.”
Dimakatso: “Life isn't for the faint hearted Bina. You have to get up and face life head on. Or else you will lose out and be someone's slave for the rest of your life. Get up and leave. Take my children with you.”
I don't know where I found the strength to do that but I got up. I was still in tears and they were blinding me because I just couldn't stop crying. I immediately took out a big bag and packed all the clothes I could; my uniform and my books. I tiptoed around the house and luckily my grandmother was passed out on the couch. I saw a few beer bottles around her so she was way out of it. I took out my hidden box that I used for all the money I had. I counted the money and I had about R8000. I saved all the money I got from Mama's December salary the money she gave me for my birthday as well as the little money Malome Joell would give me for some lunch. I had no idea where I was going but I just had to leave. My mother wouldn't just appear out of nowhere and warn me for nothing. I went to Lesiba and Matome's bedrooms. I found them asleep but I woke them up. They were frightened to see all my bruises. I had even forgotten all about them. Once I explained the situation they didn't hesitate – they packed all they could and headed out with me. We took the rest of our siblings with us and walked out. Halfway towards the gate Lesiba stopped us.
Lesiba: “Emang pele (wait a minute).”
I could see the rage in his eyes and I knew he was planning something.
Bina: “Lesiba we don't have a lot of time – let's go.”
Lesiba: (shaking head) “Nka se tloge (I can't leave) without teaching this witch some manners.”
He stormed back into the house leaving me worried and came back out with my grandmother's purse. It had so much money in it.
Bina: (shocked) “Lesiba o searchitse Koko (you searched Koko)?”
Lesiba: (nodding) “We need all the money we can find right now. A re vayeng (let's go).”
I wanted to laugh but the situation just didn't allow me to do that. It was about 9pm and the taxis were quite finished. It would take a while for us to find a taxi at that time of the night. We walked together not knowing where we would sleep that evening but because I serve a living God I knew that a miracle would somehow happen. After about half an hour of walking to who knows where we saw a taxi stop right beside us. The driver opened the door and it was Malome Joell.
Malome Joell: (worried) “Eh bana (hey kids). Le ya kae ka di bag ka nako e (where are you headed off to with bags in your hands at this time of the night)?”
Bina: “Hi. We... I don't know where we're going but we're going.”
He took one good look at me and then at my siblings and just knew that we were in some kind of trouble. I had absolutely forgotten that I had bruises all over me. That must have triggered him.
Malome Joell: “Get in.”
We didn't hesitate I mean by then we had already known him for so long and we were fond of him. I had no other feelings of him other than that of an uncle. He said nothing but I could see his face was hardened and he kept glancing at me via the rearview mirror. He was clearly upset about my bruised body and we all didn't say a word the entire ride further. I knew my siblings were angered; and knowing how temperamental Lesiba and Matome were – they wouldn't hesitate to take out revenge on my aunt and grandmother should they have gotten the chance. None of us even bothered to ask where we were going but after a few minutes Malome Joell stopped and walked out to open the gate. It had only dawned on me that he had taken us to his house. I felt so horrible; I mean the last thing I wanted was to burden people with my life including my siblings. We weren't anyone's problem. Malome Joell came back into the car and drove in.
Bina: (anxiously) Malome Joell we can't stay here. We can't possibly inconvenience you like this.”
He just gave me one stern look and said nothing else. He walked towards our side and opened the door.
Malome Joell: “Follow me.”
We didn't protest; we walked right behind him. We found Portia cooking and she smiled as soon as she saw us. I could see that she knew immediately what the problem was but she just didn't want to ask.
Malome Joell: “Mogatshaka (my wife) the kids need to stay with us for a while.”
Portia: (smiling) “Of course. There is more than enough room.”
Most people in the villages build big houses; so their house had about ten bedrooms so we were sorted but I didn't want to burden them like that. It would not have been fair. She showed us to the bedrooms we'd be sharing and even though Lesiba and Matome were so worried about me – I reassured them that I'd be fine alone. Portia finally had a one on one with me as soon as she closed the bedroom door.
Portia: (teary) “Are you okay?”
It dawned on me at that moment that I actually had no one in my life. No one cared about me and I had to face the world alone. I had to take on the role of a mother to my siblings and I just had no idea where to begin. All those thoughts were so consuming and just cried.
Bina: (shaking head) “No.”
She embraced me so warmly and brushed my back. The pain of all those bruises was slowly subsiding and were replaced by her warmth.
Portia: “It will be okay. Listen let me run you a warm bath to ease those bruises. Then you guys can come and eat.”
I guess she was used to eating dinner that late because her husband had worked until late. She was such a darling. I got into the bath tub and she had put in some savlon. She offered to bathe me and disinfect the bruises. I only realized once I took off my clothes that I had been bleeding profusely. Portia nursed me back to health that evening and dished up for all of us. She was so in love with Hunadi and Masalesa that it just felt so natural. Malome Joell was quiet the entire time during dinner. I had no idea what he was thinking but I was grateful that he found me that evening. After dinner I offered to help Portia with the dishes – I insisted actually despite me having to go to school the following day. The holidays were over and that was a rather distasteful end to our March holidays. We went to our respective bedrooms and I knelt down for the very first time ever since my mother died. I had lost so much hope and faith but having her visit me like that showed me that she was and would always be with me.
Bina: (praying) “Father God I thank you so much for the life I have. I know I haven't been very grateful and I most probably don't deserve your mercy but you have been quite good to me. My mother gave me a good life and that was all because of You. You have been there for me and I haven't been repaying you for your kindness towards me. Despite my hardened life you have shown me so much mercy. Hebrews 4:16; “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. I need you now more than ever oh Lord. I pray and ask you that you please protect my siblings and I. Help us to achieve our dreams and show our enemies that hatred brings nothing but greater blessings upon those they hate. That is all I ask of you God. Amen.”
I felt so much lighter after my prayer and just as I was about to doze off I heard a stern knock on the door. I assumed it was Portia so I just asked the person to come in.
Bina: “Come in.”
I was a bit alarmed when it was Malome Joel. I was in my pajamas and it was a dress pajama. I never really walked around anyone looking like that – let alone a man. I quickly covered myself with the bedding.
Malome Joel: (firmly) “Are you okay?”
Bina: (nodding) “Yes.”
Malome Joel: “Who did this to you?”
He looked so aggravated and I hesitated telling him. I asked myself what exactly he would do to someone who had hurt me. I got the feeling he really adored me and most probably thought of me as his child. I don't know.
Malome Joel: “I won't ask you again.”
Bina: (hesitantly) “Salome.”
Malome Joel: (nodding) “Sleep. You have school tomorrow. I'll take you.”
He switched off my light and said goodnight as he walked out. I felt a bit uneasy but I just let him be. I took him as a father figure and I just appreciated having him in my life. I got the feeling that everything was going to be just fine. The following morning Portia woke us all up so that we could get ready for school. The house had two bathrooms and all the bathrooms had a bath tub and a shower. My brothers were able to share a bathroom while I took a bath on my own. Portia was so nice to us she made us lunch and ensured that she stayed with Hunadi and Masalesa while the rest of us went to school. Pebetsi was only in Grade 8 but he was old enough to understand everything that was happening. Malome Joel got us all in his taxi and we had to drive past my grandmother's house to fetch Selaelo. She had no idea what had happened and sadly my face was still a bit swollen.
Selaelo: (frowning) “What happened to your face?”
Bina: “Re tla bolela (we'll talk).”
She just nodded and I appreciated that she understood me just as much as I understood her. When we got to school I still had a hard time processing it all. Within the course of the day I received news that indeed Constance had died. She died of food poisoning. That gave me chills down my spine because I knew that the only person who was capable of that was Salome. I mean did she really hate me that much as to kill innocent people? Why didn't she kill me instead then? It would have saved her a lot of trouble had she just killed my siblings and I honestly. My heart was aching and when I re-enacted the entire scene to Selaeo she was in disbelief.
Selaelo: “I knew it! Ke tsibile (I just knew it)! I told you that all those stories about her were true. Yerr (wow)! She must have a pretty solid deal with Lucifer himself. So what now friend?”
Bina: (raising shoulders) “I have no idea. All I know is that we can't be staying with Portia and Malome Joel forever. That just wouldn't be right at all.”
Selaelo: “Hear them out. I mean your mother wouldn't rock up and make you meet up with Malome Joel if he wasn't a good man. I had my doubts about him but I do hope he takes good care of you. You are vulnerable Bina and anyone can take advantage of that situation. Just be careful. You are almost there my friend. Soon we'll be going to Varsity and we will be career women.”
I felt a bit saddened by that I mean I had absolutely no money nor the means to go there.
Bina: “You know very well I don't have the finances.”
Selaelo: “Don't be so negative. You are smart so you will get a bursary. I'm here you and I need one another. We'll be okay.”
I smiled as she consoled me. I just knew that God loved me. He gave me a really good friend who adored me just as much as I adored her. She never judged me once and that was the one special thing about Selaelo. We were basically sisters. After school Malome Joel fetched us and we had to drive past Koko's house yet again to drop off Selaelo. I felt so uneasy whenever we drove past her house. She waved at us but Malome Joel gave her a stern look and he stopped right at her gate.
Malome Joel: “Selaelo do you mind if I drop you off here today? I have something I have to do.”
Selaelo: “Sure Malome Joel. Bye
We greeted her goodbye and Malome Joel made me feel very uneasy. He looked so pissed and I could only pray that it would end well. The last thing I needed was to be an accomplice to murder.
Malome Joel: “Stay here guys. I'll be right back.”
He got out of the car while we just watched anxiously. Koko thought he was most probably having a bad day as she walked out of the yard and met him at the gate. We could hear everything they were talking about.
Koko: (smiling) “Hao (goodness) Joel. Ga wa mpona ke go dumedisa (Didn't you see me greeting you)? I see you took my grandchildren. Ba boa neng (when are they coming back)?”
I saw Malome Joel roll his left hand into a fist. I only noticed that day that he was left handed. He pulled Koko by her hair right there and slapped her a few times. She was screaming but he didn't care. That left me so stunned. I had never seen him hit a woman before.
Malome Joel: (angrily) “Ke utlwe gape ba re sefebe sa gao sela ba reng ke Salome (If I ever hear that that bitch of yours Salome) beat Bina up like that ever again – you will have me to deal with! I don't take lightly to witches who kill their sons in law and their daughters in law but mostly I hate abuse with my whole heart. You don't deserve to live and if I were God I'd have taken care of you a long time ago. You'd better stay the fuck away from Bina and those kids and do me a big favour – bring all their documents and their SASSA cards or else I will get you arrested pay for your bail and set you alight myself. Do we understand each other?!”
Koko: (frightened) “Ye... Yes I understand you.”
He slapped her a few more times before he roughly pushed her towards the ground and kicked her right in the face. She was wailing and cursing while on the ground but he didn't care. People were watching but they weren't doing anything at all. I even wondered if it wasn't because they knew just what he was capable of. He got back into the taxi as he was breathing heavily and drove off as if nothing had happened. He drove around and I thought we were going back to his house but he went to the mall instead.
Malome Joel: “Are you hungry kids?”
Of course my brothers said yes without even thinking twice. He bought us a bucket of KFC and some cold drink and we went back to his house. My brothers couldn't stop raving about how Malome Joel taught Koko an unforgettable valuable lesson. Of course Portia wasn't too pleased about her husband being so violent towards an elderly woman in broad daylight.
Portia: “Joel how many times must I tell you not to lose it like that?”
Malome Joel: “That woman is evil I have been biting my tongue but go lekane (it is enough). I can't let her treat these children like a vile pile of shit.”
Portia just nodded and I sort of felt that we were adding to their unknown list of problems. They didn't need to feel obliged to care of us as their own. So without any further ado I addressed the issue.
Bina: “I'd like to thank you both for taking my siblings and I in. I mean you weren't and still aren't compelled to do that. We'll be out of your hair as soon as we find ourselves a place to stay.”
They both looked so shocked to hear me say that.
Portia: “Bina please stop talking like that. No one ever said anything about you guys moving out of here. Did you hear Joel or I say such?”
I shook my head in embarrassment.
Bina: “I wasn't trying to be rude.”
Malome Joel: “We understand believe me we do. But Portia and I spoke about this. You all have no reason to feel as if you're over burdening us. You are more than welcome to stay here for as long as you need. You all deserve love and we believe we can give you that. My wife and I still hope to have our own children but that does not mean that you are not a part of our lives. We have known you for so long Bina and you have been through so much. No one deserves such constant pain especially at your age. Let us help you.”
I felt so humbled to hear that straight from the horse's mouth. I mean I never actually thought that I'd get a break like that. Perhaps it was God's way of letting me know that He was indeed with me.
Bina: (teary) “I... I don't know what to say.”
Portia: “You don't have to say anything. This is your home now and we will ensure that we do our best to be good parents to you – all of you. I don't want you to worry any more. You focus on your matric year while I take care of Masalesa and Hunadi. I think it is high time they started creche. And please I don't want to hear you speaking of getting a job. We vowed to take care of you. You just ensure that you get your grades up.”
I cried so much with relief instead of pain for the first time in a very long while. I just got up and hugged them both. I felt home; I felt loved and I felt at peace. That is what I had been yearning for. My brothers really appreciated it as well and we hit it off just like that. My grandmother wasted no time as she gave Malome Joel our documents and cards the following day. I asked Portia to keep them for us and she even took me to Home Affairs to get an ID along with Masalesa and Lesiba. We were starting to feel home and as if we actually had a real family. They were so loving and caring and we were even having family dinners every single night. The house was no longer empty and cold instead we filled it with laughter and joy. Portia and I did everything together and it felt really good. Constance was buried within a week of her death and I heard that my uncle wasn't taking her death too well. I was also so heartbroken but I told myself that God would punish those responsible. A month later it felt as if my life was getting right back on track. I was able to focus more on my school work and I managed to push my grades up to the level I was used to. I ensured that I studied harder than I used to just after my mother had passed on. I decided to pin my entire life on my goal – to become a Medical doctor. I was so set on showing all those against me that God's plan wasn't their plan. One Friday Selaelo invited me to a party.
Selaelo: “Mogwera (friend) I've been invited to my cousin's party. Do you want to come?”
Bina: “Parties aren't really my thing Selaelo. You know that.”
Selaelo: “I was actually telling you – not asking you. Come on it will be fun. I mean you never ever go out. This is your time to take a breather man.”
Bina: “I don't know.”
Selaelo: “Come on you know me and I'll be right by your side the entire time.”
I wasn't really set on going but it was the following day and I just told myself that I'd feel a lot different and more psyched about going 24 hours later.
Selaelo: “Good. I'll see you tomorrow then. A re tsamaye (let's go) before Malome Joel starts complaining.”
We greeted Malome Joel and he was really excited. I guess Fridays did that to a lot of people.
Malome Joel: “So any plans tomorrow girls?”
Selaelo: “Well my bff and I have been invited to my cousin's party.”
Malome Joel: “Your cousin mang (who)? Raymond?”
Selaelo: “Wa mo tseba (You know him)?”
Malome Joel: “Yes I am friends with his dad. We go way back.”
Selaelo: “See B? I told you we'd be safe.”
Malome Joel: “I can take you guys there if you don't mind.”
Selaelo: “We'd absolutely love that.”
Malome Joel: “I was also invited and I thought I'd stay home but seeing that you will be going I might just go to keep an eye on you two.”
I wasn't really feeling the whole party thing but I guess Malome Joel was looking out for us as always. We went home and went about our day. I decided to take a break from studying and thought about the upcoming party. I had no idea what to wear for a party so I decided to ponder Selaelo's mind about my fears and anxiety.
Bina: “Selaelo what do people were to parties?”
Selaelo: “Lol Bina you just enjoy overthinking everything you know. Wear whatever you want. A simple jean and Tshirt but with that body I'd go for a gorgeous maxi dress – perhaps a short one even.”
I was never one to reveal my legs in clothing. Even when I wore dresses in summer I ensured to wear long dresses or skirts. I just felt really uncomfortable wearing short clothing. Perhaps it was because I had never tried it.
Bina: “Ai (oh) ke tla bona (I'll see).”
Selaelo: “Tell you what I can come over a few hours before the party and we can try out a few outfits. You might even get you a nice boyfriend.”
Bina: “You know very well I have no time for boys.”
Selaelo: “Come on you are too pretty to be single next year man.”
Bina: “We'll talk tomorrow. Good night.”
Selaelo: “Just think about it. Night.”
I put my phone away and prayed and dozed off almost immediately. I got up the following morning feeling a bit weird. I couldn't explain the feeling but I just didn't feel like my usual self. I felt as if a weird knot was stuck in the pit of my stomach and it made me a little uneasy. I tried ignoring it and every now and again it would emerge and make its appearance again throughout the day. Selaelo came a few hours before the party as she promised and we did try on a few outfits. I was happy with a simple jean and Tshirt but as soon as she saw me in a Maxi dress she went crazy.
Selaelo: (excitedly) “Ja (yes) that's it. That's the one.”
It was not very short it was about knee-length but it still felt a bit short for me.
Bina: “Aowa (No) it is too short.”
Selaelo: “Bina you're way too beautiful to dress like an old lady come on.”
She had a point but I had no idea how to navigate it all.
Selaelo: “Come sit. Let me do your make-up.”
Bina: (surprised) “I have never worn make-up in my entire life.”
Selaelo: “Duh. I know that. You and I have been friends since birth remember?”
I chuckled and let her be. She did her magic and for the first time in my life I wore make up. She did my brows and added some eye shadow. I was even wearing lipstick. I looked like a completely different person. She even curled my hair. It was long enough and she did it so well.
Selaelo: “Hehe! Introducing Bina Makwetla! The hottest bitch in town.”
Bina: (amazed) “Wow Selaelo. I have never looked this good before in my entire life.”
Selaelo: “That's why I'm here boo. We most definitely have to take a picture of this moment.”
She took a few good pictures of me and I still didn't like the idea of me wearing a dress that short. I took my denim jacket with as I was wearing a pair of slippers. I just felt comfortable covering my arms. I felt a bit naked whenever I didn't wear something that covered my shoulders. She also wore a short maxi dress and had a denim jacket as well. We looked so good even if I had to admit it myself. As we walked out of my bedroom Portia saw us and complimented us. She even asked to take a few pictures with us and well Malome Joel joined in as well. On the way to the party he just couldn't stop raving and complimenting us. That infamous knot in the pit of my stomach emerged yet again but I decided not to let it ruin my day. I vowed to enjoy my day no matter what the outcome.
Psalm 4:23 says; “Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life.”