My favourite characteristic that my mother has is her strength. She learnt it from her mother who must’ve learnt it from hers. She is so strong that she keeps going even when under a lot of strain. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but sometimes being too strong can kill you. The gods reserve all their toughest battles for you. Don’t you deserve a glory day in the sun just sipping on nice drinks and thinking of falling in love? Don’t you deserve a holiday where you can relax in your skin and pursue your dreams? When it all gets too much and still you can’t be depressed because black women are strong. They keep giving and giving until there’s divine intervention that says, ‘let go and breathe’.
I had a baby when I was only seventeen years old. My mom was so disappointed and didn’t want to talk to me for days after she found out. She eventually forgave me and got excited about the pregnancy. It hurt me to see how much I had shamed her before falling pregnant at a young age. I was her darling and I had gone and done the very thing she advised me against. All she could ask was “Why, Noluthando? Whatever happened to condoms and contraceptives?” Condoms and contraceptives are the last thing on one’s mind when you are young and start having sex. You are just discovering how amazing boys are and the guy promises you heaven, earth and riding into the sunset on a bloody unicorn. The love feels so real then that you buy into this dream, no questions asked and then bam! You have managed to create life. It’s the greatest gift given to mankind yet at times we take it for granted because it didn’t come at the right time in our lives.
I was seventeen; what was I going to do with a baby? Walking down the street was a mission. I was the talk of the village. It was unbearable that I had thoughts of killing myself, but I couldn’t put my mother through that. Family members felt the need to give their two cents worth like I was the first person to fall pregnant. I guess that’s what made it worse; the fact that I should’ve known better. Asante and I went to the clinic and I was sure I’d terminate but while there we saw a girl who was hysterical over losing her two-year-old child. So we went for a walk around town and got ice cream, instead making conversation about anything but the loss we saw gripping that young mother’s body.
Months went by and I was looking forward to giving birth and Sizwe, the father was present. He stayed right through everything and was more excited than I was about everything. He even wanted us to get married but my mother wouldn’t hear of it. She was going to raise the baby until I finished school. We made plans and started thinking of baby names. I will never know where it all went wrong; even the doctors couldn’t give a conclusive diagnosis for what caused the miscarriage. I never got the chance to be a mother, to hold my child in my arms and breathe the same air with him. The grief that followed scraped my soul and made me see life in a new way. I was depressed for a long time; Sizwe and I ended up not working out. What was expected of me was that I’d be okay after the whole ordeal and I’d just move on, marry him and later try for another child after I completed school.
So when I ‘chased a good man away’, everybody wanted to know what I was going to do with myself. I kind of wanted to be a woman, not the mother of a dead baby forever linked to the baby’s father by circumstance. I mean what great love story begins with boy meets girl at the local spaza shop and they fall into holding hands and kissing because everyone their age is doing it. They later fumble in the dark and make a baby. Excuse the new age woman in me for wanting a bit of the desire I saw on TV. I wanted to discover more than just this. I longed to be a mother to my baby but that never happened and somehow I didn’t trust myself to love after that.
I embody my mother’s strength because of what womanhood has taught me. I am outspoken and that gets me into a lot of trouble. In trying to make sense of life now I know being weak is a great release because my body thanked me when I gave it a break from micromanaging life. Strength is an amazing attribute to have as long as you allow yourself to feel. There is healing in feeling. There is a part of your life you have to set aside for healing.