NEVER GIVE UP
The wind blew badly from the east to the west of the village, trees moving sideways same direction as the wind causing little Mandisa to change her spot. I had relaxed under her comfort tree since 7:00am, it is the only place where I felt relaxed and safe, listening to the sound of nature, the birds singing beautifully up in the sky, the butterflies shining from above. It was the 23rd of December just 2 days before Christmas, exactly 4 years later after the death of my mother. I slept quietly under my comfort tree and day dreamt about the last day I spent with my loving mother. It was a Sunday morning I was up so early that Sunday, went rushing to my mama's room screaming "mama mama wake up wake up, it is 8:00 already". Mama woke up looking very tired, started cleaning our tiny little house which was only 3 rooms with barely anything inside, it was the only inheritance we had got from our late grand mother. Mama had stopped work 2 years ago after she suffered badly from cancer and she was not strong enough to work for the sewing shop she had been working for the past 8 years, she couldn't keep up with the work anymore.
On our way to church I couldn't stop smiling, couldn't wait to sing my solo for the pastor who visited our village for the very first time Mr. Maphoko, her lovely wife and 2 girls. I was called up to sing my solo, my shoulders up stomach in and walked straight as she walked up the pulpit , feeling very brave with my precious floral dress that mother had made for me a week before for this big day. I sang beautifully.
..I wish to be like her one day, I wish to have dresses like theirs one day, I thought as I sat down looking at Minenhle and Phili pastors little girls…
LIFE AFTER MAMA
Wake up wake up!!!!!!!!!!! Aggressive voice screaming from behind, why are you sleeping have you finished your house chores have you helped your aunt fetch water? Uncle Simon asked fuming angry. I woke up from my comfort tree rushed inside the house finished the house chores. Life was not the same after mother passed away, life was so hard for at the age of 16 I wished my living days were over. I sang the very same song that I had sang for Mr. Maphoko the day mother passed on just on our way back to the house just after the beautiful Sunday service we had and the word of God Mrs. Maphoko had shared and the theme was to never give up. When we entered our small yard Mama couldn't bare the pain she felt from inside her chest she feinted just before we entered the house. As little as I was went screaming for help, uncle Thabo was coming from the market with his old van that he had inherited from his uncle drove down to our yard. When we got into the house it was too late mama had passed away. She left a note on the first page of the bible she had on her hand Mandisa never give up. I was only ten but understood the meaning of death very well. I knew her mother had suffered from chest cancer for too long and had been strong enough not to show how hard it was for her to breath not mentioning waking up in the morning to make sure her little Mandisa don't sleep with an empty stomach. I understood very well that her mother had went to a much better place, a place where there was no suffering , a place where she will only enjoy living and feel no pains. God bye mama I said with a smile. Life was about to begin.
A few weeks after the death of Mama Uncle Simon took me to Stoneville, where he stayed with his daughter Mamalo and his beautiful wife. I left our house, it was an old house, it was worth almost nothing. Uncle Simon was one of the richest men in Stoneville. He was short with a wide face and a long nose, you could tell by looking at his body structure that he is filthy rich so would people from Stoneville would say. I was ten but had only passed had grade 4th, ready for the 5th grade. Mamalo was exactly the same age also passed her 4th grade.
Uncle Simon was glad to have me at this house, the house was too big the house chores were too much aunty Lucy could not finish them on time she could use a helping hand. "You will clean your bedroom, Mamalo's bedroom, the lounge and the kitchen, make sure to keep the bathroom and the toilets clean your uncle is very fussy when it comes to cleaning the house, the washing is only done on weekends, Mamalo is busy with school work she wont be helping much around the house she has homework to do every day", Aunty Lucy instructed.
The days went on and on. I did not enjoy her stay here, I actually hated working here. The house was beautiful; Uncle Simon's family was the richest among the richest families in Stoneville.
DREAM CLOSER TO COMING TRUE
Aunty Lucy goes to the market to get some fresh veggies and fruits every morning. I woke up at 6 o'clock just like how I used to. Cleaned the house spotless within few minutes got very much used to it; I had done it for the past 18 months. I couldn't wait for Aunty Lucy to go to the market and be alone, she hardly goes any where she stays around the house and monitors making sure the house is clean spotless and Mamalo gets her breakfast and lunch on time. "I am leaving to the market for the fruit and veggies special I will be back in 3 hours, behave", said Aunty Lucy on her way out.
I took a hot shower singing and dancing, I haven't sung for a while, I was proud of myself for being strong like this. I wore my favorite dress that mother had made for me although it has become so small, its been 2 years since I last worn that yellow dress. I walked, singing my way up not knowing where I was heading to. I saw lots of kids dressed a blue and white uniform, looked sadly wishing I could also go back to school laugh and play just like how those kids were playing and laughing. A teacher from the inside was looking at my every move, she looked so sad. "Hi, which school do you go to and why you are here" Mrs. Maphoko asked curiously. "Ma, I don't go to school", I answered. The teacher thought I looked familiar and asked her where I was from. I told her I am from a very small village of Ugongo. Mrs. Maphoko told me she was once there for a church service 4 years ago. Then suddenly Mrs. Remembered Mandisa is the little girl who sang a welcome song at the church that Sunday. We were so grateful to meet again and Mrs. Maphoko was very sad to hear what has happened to mama. 05521782, I gave her our landline number. Since then I started attending church services where Mr. Maphoko was a pastor.
Mrs. Maphoko couldn't stop a bit thinking about me, I was always on her mind. She had explained to her husband that afternoon who she saw and how worried she was about me. Mrs. Maphoko decided to phone the landline number I had given her.
Ring Ring, Ring Ring…………………………
"Hlule's family good day" I answered the phone.
"Hello can I speak to Mandisa" …… …………….silence from the other side, I was still in shock who could possible call me, there's only one way to find out.
"Speaking" I continued in shock.
"Hi Mandisa its Mrs. Maphoko here, I have an offer for you. I can help you do your 5th grade till matric without anyone noticing, you will study from home and I will speak with the principal he wont have a problem with it" silence………..
"But ma I wont afford to pay school fees and I wont be able to go to school" I emphasized.
"It is not a problem my child I will take care of the school fees and you won't be attending classes, you will only come for exams, I will help you with extra lessons after church.
I agreed with tears of joy filled on my face, Education was just what I needed. I always had a passion of becoming an accountant one day but because I knew that was not meant for people like me, my dream was only going to remain a dream
A year later. I was nothing but a very happy child, her dream of going back to school finally came true, I did what I liked the most, study and go to church every Saturdays and Sundays. I kept aunt and uncle happy, kept my distance from cousin Mamalo, we never see eye to eye, and we didn't get along. Mamalo called me a looser because I dropped out of school and I am nothing but a house aunty. This used to hurt me a lot but I would go relax under my comfort tree do nothing but pray and write on my struggle journal.
I enjoyed studying from home although it was very hard hiding the books and making sure that the house chores are finished before time and before Uncle Simon starts suspecting something. It wasn't hard for me to study during the day because Aunty Lucy woke up every morning to go to the market; she had started selling fresh veggies. I would finish all the house chores and sit under my comfort tree and study, during exam days I will go and write exams early in the mornings and go back home before any one could notice, before Aunty Lucy comes home. I was finally doing my matric; I had passed all my grades with distinctions with the help of Saturday and Sunday classes from Mrs. Maphoko. Mamalo was still struggling with her 10th grade still.
It was a Saturday morning I finished doing laundry getting ready to go to church for the choral rehearsal and my 3 hour Saturday class with Mrs. Maphoko. Mamalo asked me to prepare her an early lunch before I left for church, I was already running late. I told her I won't be able to church has already started. Mamalo angrily told Simon that I didn't want to make her lunch. My own uncle called me a slut told me he won't ever allow me to go for rehearsals if it means I will not finish the work I was supposed to be doing and he knew that it was an excuse to see boys. That hurt me so badly, I didn't go to church that Saturday I worked whole day in the garden as my punishment. My uncle had cut off my comfort tree that morning.
Life was not easy, the note my mother left for me made me stronger, NEVER GIVE UP. Exam days were closer. I used only two hours to sleep; I continue taking my Saturday classes. I was smart by nature so would the other kids at school would say. I didn't see myself as clever or smart girl all I did was work 5 times harder than the learners who studied full time. I never stopped to worry about life after matric, how I will explain all this to my aunt and uncle, where will I get money to go to university, if they abandon me where will I go to. For a moment I thought to myself I was born for a reason I should NEVER GIVE UP.
Time went on, the final exam days were over it was already December time, Mamalo had failed her 10th grade for the third time, and Aunty Lucy started to worry about her. It was only a few days before I received my matric results, my dream were just closer to coming through, but for one moment I thought trouble was about to begin.
It was a Saturday morning preparing breakfast. Uncle Simon came home from the shop with Stoneville time's newspaper looked at me so angry: "what is this?' he shouted looking me straight in the eyes. "What is it?" aunty Lucy asked from the living room coming closer to us at the kitchen. Uncle Simon dropped the newspaper on the table, see the first page. It was written in Bold disadvantaged matric student who passed with 8 A's, my name and photo was there on first page, Mrs. Maphoko had taken a photo with me after the Sundays church service, I didn't know she wanted it for the newspaper. We all stopped for a while, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. My dream had come true, but I knew the problem was about to begin. Aunty Lucy looked so disappointed, I didn't know why because I did nothing wrong all I did was study. "When did you study, who gave you permission to study, you have been nothing but a curse in this family, you failed to obey our rules. We can't stay with you in this house any more" aunty Lucy emphasized. "I want you out of this house" Uncle Simon added. "You wouldn't allow me to study, I studied at home, I'm sorry I didn't mean to hurt you. "GO!!" Uncle Simon shouted. There I went to the bedroom to pack my clothes. "Don't take anything; you came with nothing here, just go! Uncle Simon said. I cried, I had no where else to go, this had been my family for 8 years, I really had no where else to go. Mrs. Maphoko was the only one I could ever think of, he had been nothing but a mother to me, I had lost a mother but found another one. I explained to her what had went on at the house. She smiled and looked at me, worry no more my child here is your mail I received yesterday from University of Stoneville, you have been firm offered to the University for the Accounting course. My tuition fees will be taken care of by the schools Dean, accommodation and meals will be provided for at the schools expense. All I had to do is tick yes at the space provided if I take the offer.
I stood there for a minute or two, I didn't know whether to jump or cry. I took one step closer to Mrs. Maphoko all I did was hugging her and cried "Thank you mama".
I now own one of the best Accounting practice in Stoneville. All thanks to the 5 years I spent in Stoneville University, it the only place that felt like home. I had made a lot of friends at the University one of them is now my partner at M&F Accountants and partners. It's where I met my husband of 5years, we dated for 3 years just University we got married by Mr. and Mrs. Maphoko at the age of 32 I owned two business, M&F and partners and NEVER GIVE UP Taxation services, had a lovely supporting husband and our 1year a baby girl . I made peace with Hlule's family. Hired Mamalo as my personal assistant, we became best friends. Life was too good I had been taught to forgive and forget. I haven't forgotten about what happened in the past but I knew it what made me to be the person I have become. I gave back to the community of Ugongo, I looked out for the kids who were suffering I knew how it was to suffer with no one to help. I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. I measured my success not by what I have become, but by what I went through on my way up. I have learned to plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love; it all came back to me in abundance, I never measured how much I was giving happiness and love even though I was sad inside. Never fail to try, you fail hundred percent chances you fail to try.
Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand. God gave me this battle because he knew I was strong enough for it. I had a dream and my dream didn't just end a dream. I learned that nothing was impossible in life if you put your mind into it. I forgot the thousand reasons everyone believed it was impossible and trusted the one reason that it was possible. No matter how hard life was for me I remained a real me I didn't try to become a person I wasn't 'It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation'. Dare to be the best you can, NEVER GIVE UP
Prepared by: Pinky Cele