Abandoned and left to drown

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
I have had this burning desire to tell my story because through the telling of it, I hope to be able to help many other people who have been brought up in children’s homes, to understand that there is life after death, so to speak. You can get over the curve ball that has been thrown at you. Life is what you make it. The choice is yours. A positive attitude plays a very important part. A negative attitude gets you into a whole lot of trouble… I know, I’ve been there and done that!

Submitted: January 06, 2012

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Submitted: January 06, 2012

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A B A N D O N E D A N D L E F T T O D R O W N

by koekie

(Names and certain places have been changed to protect people and their rights)

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ABANDONED by koekie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

PART ONE

I have had this burning desire to tell my story because through the telling of it, I hope to be able to help many other people who have been brought up in children’s homes, to understand that there is life after death, so to speak. You can get over the curve ball that has been thrown at you. Life is what you make it. The choice is yours. A positive attitude plays a very important part. A negative attitude gets you into a whole lot of trouble… I know, I’ve been there and done that!

This is a true story. It is a story about intense hate, anger, un-forgiveness, and terrible frustration. About a little girl who was literally snatched out of her father’s arms and put in a children’s home along with her sister and brother. How do children communicate to their elders? Who really listens to them? And does the Social Welfare really look after the child’s interests? Don’t little children have rights? Or are they counted as cattle? Why is there so much injustice against children? How is it that some judge can sit in a chair and order the child’s life away when he really has no idea of what truly is going on? And how is it possible that members of the public or family can be allowed to sway the social workers into negative thinking? And the worst of all, these social workers seem to have a knack on picking on families who really love their children but the families who honestly need intervention, get away with cruel deeds to their children? I have never been able to get my head around some of the laws in our countries. Who makes these laws? How can these injustices be allowed to operate? Doesn’t anyone have a conscience? Do these people ever sit and wonder if they perhaps have made a wrong decision? These were all thoughts that have plagued me during the years of growing up, and that intense anger for adults. I hated them with such a passion and I resented every bit of authority. I have caught out adults telling many lies in my life time and they got away with it but a child is always taught never to lie. I could not stand authority. I kicked and fought against it all my life. It had the most devastating effect on my life I just could not find it in my heart to forgive. I had murder in my heart. I was a nasty, horrible, impossible child and this is the reason why…

It all started on a very hot summer’s day. It was deathly quiet except for the buzzing of a fat blue-bottle fly. My whole family stood on the farm house veranda in the afternoon heat, waiting for the car to arrive that was to take me away from the most dearest people on earth. Had I known then what was to follow, I would have run away. But we watched the big black car come rolling down the road in a huge cloud of dust and finally stopped in front of us. My brother and sister were put into the back seat of the car and then they came for me. I saw the woman’s big fat arms coming to take me and I started screaming. I tightened my arms around my father’s neck and held on for dear life. I could not stop the screaming. They eventually pulled me away and dumped me, unceremoniously, into the back of the car and slammed the door shut, and then the car started forward. I was frantic. I jumped up and down screaming as I watched my mother fall to the ground sobbing her eyes out. The last memory I had of my dad was when he went to pick my mother up and then I could not see them anymore. I never saw my father again, he died years later in South Africa of TB.

This is the memory that has haunted me my whole life. Who these people were, I can only guess. Was this my real dad, or an acquaintance? I don’t really know except that this memory still makes me cry to this day and I am 65 years old. Have I truly forgiven them? Why does it still hurt? Am I just being silly and emotional? Let’s take a deeper look….

I was born in Chingola, Northern Rhodesia which is now Zambia. We were three children. My mother was the daughter of a magistrate in Brakpan, South Africa. Her mother had died and my grandfather married again. However, my mothers step-mother was very cruel to her and every time she complained my grandfather would say, “What can I do my child, she is my wife?” so to escape the cruel treatment, my mother ran away and went to Rhodesia. There she worked in various places and was a cook at one time. But she constantly was going in and out of the cold room next to the hot stove and so on, and that’s how she ended up with asthma. I do not know much of her life but I do know that she met my dad and ended up at his farm as his housekeeper. My father also had children from his wife who had died, to the best of my knowledge. As the months rolled by she and my dad obviously had an affair and we three children were born. But by now my mothers drinking problem had worsened. So much so that, as far as I know, neighbours eventually reported her to the welfare and we three only, were taken away, leaving the other kids to stay.

No one explained to us what had happened, or rather, if they did, I was too small to understand. It was devastating to me, utterly and completely. How does one explain all those terrible feelings of frustration and besides, no-one listened! If you consider that the child has now been uprooted from a very safe environment, even though society may say there is fighting, drinking and the rest that goes with it and not safe for children. Look at it from the child’s perspective. The welfare is always saying. “In the best interest of the child!” Tell me, what is the best interest of the child? So what if the mom and dad fight? How many other well ordered homes don’t also fight? If the parents love their children isn’t that what counts? If the welfare were so concerned about “the best interest of the child” why don’t they supply councillors to pay regular visit to monitor the situation and warn the parents. If it is a financial problem why don’t these officers supply the daily nutritional needs of the children at least? What satisfaction does the state derive from utterly devastating a family? Oh, I forgot…. “it’s the best interest of the child!”…. Yes, sure.

I know there are a lot of contentious issues surrounding these kinds of problems, but tell that to the children. How do you handle that? Yes in many, cases children should be taken away because there are those incidents where the parents are unfit. They do not love their children: they beat them, starve them, lock them up in cupboards or confine them to their rooms, and are deprived of a lot of basic needs. Yes, in extreme cases, you cannot blame welfare for stepping in. But there should be well trained councillors to help as ‘first-option’… uproot should be ‘last-option.’ But it wasn’t.

I am very grateful for the fact that at least I got a good education which I may not have received had I stayed at home. I realise that I was most fortunate now that I have seen the bigger picture. A lot of children around the world are deprived of their basic needs but when you are so young like I was, what did I understand? So you can understand the anger and frustration and the need for revenge. But I had to learn all these things as I grew up. I had to learn to forgive. I had to understand that revenge is not the answer and I had to cope with all these feelings alone. There was no councillor, no mentor, nothing.

That, too, is how many children have to cope with life, and we wonder why there is so much crime and prejudice? Can you see how a troubled child - with no mentor - can grow up, gets so frustrated that he turns to crime, mostly because he wants to hit back at society! It is a crying shame that governments around the world do not put more research into this problem. They have staff who are not properly qualified, they give the most horrific advice and when you get a young immature welfare officer giving men and women twice their age advice! That to me is a bit ridiculous… How can a young unmarried woman give this kind of advice? Do you think people will listen to them? Would it not be more acceptable if at least they could send married people with their own children in these types of cases? Well I suppose that’s life. You have to have clout before anyone listens these days.

PART TWO

It was not easy growing up in a children’s home. Through the years we had some matrons who were good and bad and those that had favourites. We even had one matron who was divorced with a little girl and that was not right in my opinion.

Firstly, the little girl shared her mothers bedroom, which is quite fine but naturally, she will take her child out shopping and buy her things she needed and the sweets which she ate in front of us and of course we all got angry about it but there was nothing we could do except shun her, so what kind of life did she have? Then there was another matron who was very fair and had no favourites and we also had some Irish matrons and what tempers they had! Wow! I remember one of them and had a real spat with me and she grabbed my hair and dragged me inside, gee that was a day to remember. I got into big trouble, had my face slapped and got physically attacked and then punished.

We had good food, warm beds to sleep in, education, and our medical needs were met, but we were deprived of love. You cannot expect to give the kind of love a child needs to so many children individually every day. There was no one who really took notice of you, they were too busy tending other things so one was left to their own devices a lot of the time. That is when I began to think and ask all these unanswerable questions. Then the frustration sets in because you are not getting anywhere. You become agitated and then start to do things to get noticed or heard, but instead of doing the right things, you end up doing all the wrong things. Then you are noticed… but trouble comes with it… as you try to explain, you are told to shut up, so you get even more frustrated. Some of us just ended up screaming the place down, so were either beaten or slapped or got cold water thrown in our face.

Lovely story isn’t it.

This is the breeding place of hatred, anger, and un-forgiveness. This is the place where plots and revenge are hatched. No wonder society spews out misfits and it doesn’t just happen in children’s homes, it happens in our private homes, every day. Parents who are lawyers, judges, priests company bosses etc because a lot of them are so busy, they don’t have time for their children. The children are a thorn in their flesh and after a hard days work, one doesn’t want to be bothered with the noise and so the children get no motherly or fatherly affection and are constantly pushed away into their rooms, or boarding schools, or given anything they want so that they do not pester their parents. Many children in this category are actually beaten half to death and punished and locked in their rooms with no toilet facilities or starved for so many days and I can go on and on for ever about this. But you see how it all can spiral for good or for bad?

The first few years, we were in a home with boys, so my brother was with us. But the boys in this home were all sent away after some time leaving it for the girls only My brother was the eldest then myself and my sister, the youngest. I remember my very first day at school in this place. The grass was so tall that the teacher had to carry me to the classroom. Then I remember another day after school when the parents came to fetch their children, a little boy or girl ran straight into the boom gate and cut his or her head very badly, it was very traumatic. Those are the only memories of the first school I have until much later.

That first home we went to was a very huge place. It had what we called, a top orchard filled with orange, naartjies, and lemon trees, and a bottom orchard which had mango, and guava trees. We were never short of fruit. There was also a summer house and tennis courts which we children never used, we were all banned from that area. I heard, later in life, that place used to belong to a retired judge who either sold or donated it to the welfare for the children. That was in Ndola, Zambia. But we were later moved to Kitwe on the copperbelt because they closed that place down, but it was here in this place that I remember how I got duped into climbing out of a tree I was sitting in and when I walked in the door, there were people on both sides of it and they all grabbed me and held me down and I got the thrashing of my life but to this day I cannot remember what it was about.

This new place was called The Sons of England home for children. Across the street was the Kitwe Primary School with large playing fields and next to that was the Kitwe Convent School.

My sister was a shy timid child who could not help herself so I looked after her. No one dared to hurt her otherwise I would be onto them. I got into a lot of trouble over

my sister but you just had to leave her alone, I would and could not tolerate anyone hurting her. I was in rebellion and I grew tough and nasty and would hit anyone who dared touch her. I had a foul mouth and I learned to lie like your feet stink. I was cheeky and very, very frustrated. No one could tell me anything. I only knew that we were in this home because my mother was a drunkard. It was here, in this place that I learned my mother was living with another man and he used to beat her up very badly. He had 7 children from his previous marriage and they were also in children’s homes and that these children blamed me and my sister for what our mother had done in splitting up their family. For years there was animosity between them and us. The matrons used to open all our letters and read them before giving them to us and every time we had a letter from my mother saying she had gone to the magistrate and was hoping to get us out, then I would hear all the comments like, “That will be the day your mother gets that right!” One matron could not stand my mother and I found out why. Once she and my mom had a cat fight and my mom smacked her right off her feet so she never had much time for my mom after that. I was a real tom-boy and loved to climb trees. I would climb an avocado tree in the back yard of the home. I would climb to the highest branches possible and sit there for hours just watching the birds in the sky and fantasize about all sorts of things. I used to think that if I were a bird I could just fly away and never come back. Oh that would be so good, I could fly away and go to my mother. I wrote a poem about this incident long after I had left this home and was already married with children, but somehow through time, I have lost it. I always felt I was in a prison. I really hated the children’ home because we were not free to do anything. Our lives were ruled by discipline and time. I could not stand authority because of the way in which it was used. There is a very big difference when authority is used in love and when it is used in an arrogant manner. Sometimes we had matrons that had no favourites and were good to all of us and there was two who stood out for me in all the time I spent in the home. I felt they were genuinely interested in me and I did feel a little compassion from them but they both were never around too long and then they left.

We had a routine and as we grew older, we were assigned a younger child to look after. We had a time to get up in the morning for school and had to see to ourselves as well as our protégées. After breakfast, school, after school, lunch, after lunch, homework, after homework play, after play bath, after bath supper, after supper play then bed. Different times for different age groups. And this was the routine I grew up with. I agree that a child needs routine. I did not mind that one bit. But the things that got on my nerves was that they opened and read our mail, they had files on every one of us and they used to sit on board meetings, with men, and discuss our monthly flow of blood and who was constipated and other unflattering things…..when I found that out, I freaked and pinched all my files and wrote inside of them all the ugly, unprintable things I could find to say and then put the files back.

The general public were very generous to the children and they got stuck in with the matrons and organised a children’s fashion show , so in the coming weeks , we children went for fittings and the excitement of everything was just too much. I could not wait. This was a real first for me, an adult was actually nice to me for a change!! I was being treated like a little girl and not like an animal. Although, it was entirely my own fault because of my nasty attitude. The day eventually dawned, bright and sunny and what a day it turned out to be. I had a picture taken of myself standing in the flowered archway we had to walk through. I can’t remember what my sister wore but I had on a lime green striped dress with a huge bow below the knees, it was very grand. They had also made such lovely outfits for the little boys and it was such, a special day. Our children’s home was the talk of the town for a very long time.

We used to get pocket money and once a week we would go to town in the bus. We had to buy our own sanitary towels, toothpaste and film tickets. We were allowed to the films on a Saturday afternoon. Of course, all these outings we were escorted except when we went to church. We used to walk to church and back every Sunday morning, And then we only were allowed these privileges if we were not gated or punished. I very clearly remember I was punished once for wearing six vests at one time because I did not want to wear a bra, they were awkward things and very uncomfortable, so I ended up writing lines but I had to write about three thousand lines because of the cheek I dished out and I had to write them in my own time. That meant all my play time was taken up writing those stupid lines. I devised a plan. I got three pencils and tied them together with elastic bands and then got all my friends to do the same and in no time at all the lines were completed. I remember handing it to the matron who very quickly squizzed through them and then tore them up. Oh I was burning with rage, after all that hard work!

Most of our toys came from the public who kindly donated pedal cars, dolls books and so on. We had a lot of pedal cars and so we decided to have a formula one race. We had about four or five cars so we (the older children) got smaller boys and girls to sit in the drivers seats and steer these cars, the older girls found skipping ropes which we tied to ourselves and the bumpers of the cars. We got lined up and we had to run around the home taking the shortest route possible and the first one back was winner. Well that turned out to be a big disaster. I was a short chubby little girl and I promise you, I could not run but I had the strength of an ox and when I got to a corner, I just bulldozed my way through leaving the other cars behind in a huge pile up. I can’t remember who won but there were a lot of cuts and bruises and needless to say, these games were prohibited.

We used to climb the trees that were lined in front of the home. They had huge long green pods which carried the seeds of the trees and when they dried up they burst open and the seeds spilled to the ground. We used to pick them off the tree and throw them at all the unsuspecting bicycle riders that rode passed underneath the trees. Some people got clobbered on their heads, others got the pods in the spokes of their bicycle wheels and came tumbling off their bikes, others got snacked on their arms, legs and backs and non of them knew what happened while we were killing ourselves laughing and one day, I laughed so much I actually fell out of the tree and had to run for dear life as an angry man chased after me.

We were not allowed to read love comics. In those days you could buy paperback love comics with pictures. There were Polish sisters in the home and they used to go

out for week-ends with their mother and when they came back, they were always laden down with these comics and all sorts of goodies. Now we needed a place to stash these hauls and someone came up with the brilliant idea that we could stash this stuff in the ceiling above the showers as there was already a loose section. We also had a huge store room next to the kitchen the cooks used to collect vegetables and things they needed for the days cooking so when the opportunity arose, whoever was assigned the job, would sneak into the store room and grab armfuls of tomatoes, fruit and whatever goodies they could lay their greedy hands on and it would be stored up in the ceiling above our showers.

There were no older boys, in our home, they were all very small so it was the older girls who instigated this mischief. Then when we considered we had enough for a good midnights feast, we would wake each other up, race to the showers, scale the walls and climb up into the ceiling for our midnights feast. Naturally we could only sit on the beams in the ceiling so our posteriors got rather sore. We had candles up there so we could read the comics. We did this a number of times, having the time of our lives until one night we made such a commotion and somehow we were heard and caught out, that cost us six months !

The girls all had their problems and often we would sit in a circle and just talk, about our families and how we found ourselves in the home. We had two girls from a French background, Polish girls and through the years also from Yugoslavia but most were Rhodesian children. There were two sisters who used to fight constantly and terribly with each other but you dared not touch any one of them they were very vicious. There were the odd cat fights but nothing to write home about.

We also had a huge sand pit under the avocado tree I used to climb, there were swings and a large lawn we could run around in. A lot of the time we were punished, we were given socks to darn so we turned out to be very good at darning. We had a large dining room for meals and tea times and had to stand behind our chairs and say thanksgiving prayers before we could sit and eat. We were usually only allowed a second helping if there was enough which was most days. They fed us well.

I remember one day after some incident that made me mad as a snake, I just walked around, outside the buildings and put my fist into a few windows and then later, I picked up a tennis ball and calmly told them that the ball broke the windows. We once got lined up and were all beaten with an arrow, because that is all the matron could find at that time, we had done something wrong again. Another time I got all the elder kids together. We took our sheets and covered ourselves with it and stood around the matrons bed, waving our arms up and down and wailing like ghosts until she woke up and screamed like a banshee and sent us scattering like rats to our beds, of course, the matron came in after us and switched on the lights and saw us all laughing and pretending to be asleep…..and you can guess, we were punished, big time.

Once the older girls were caught skinnering about the matron. We were sitting in a circle having the time of our lives when the matron had gone outside to check that all the toys had been picked up and as she walked passed our dormitory window, she obviously heard our prattle and when she came indoors we saw she was covered in sand and she was furious, we all got into trouble but we later discovered that when she was in the sand pit checking to see if there were any toys left there, she had fallen into a tunnel one of us had dug so we were mostly punished for that, I don’t think she really heard much.

My sister was allowed to visit an elderly couple looking for a small child in her age group . And they took her out for holidays and visits which eventually led to them fostering her and then I was all alone. The welfare had finally smashed my family to bits and I was going to see that they paid for it dearly.

Somewhere in all this madness, I ended up going to ballet classes. I loved these times and was doing really very well. Our teacher was a real lady and she had such grace. I don’t think I would ever have made it but at least I got out and did something I liked. I passed all my exams and was just starting to learn to stand on my toes and was doing really well.

I did not like school. Tell me what normal child does! But I knew I had to learn and there was no getting out of it so I settled down at school and learnt. I was not an overly intelligent person nor was I exactly stupid. I suppose I was just average. I never excelled in anything in particular except I liked gymnastics and my first year in high school, I did a lot of gym which I really enjoyed. I hated athletics, I was too short and tubby to run but I loved swimming although again, I could not swim very fast but I loved diving. My favourite hobby was drawing. I used to sit for hours drawing but most of what I drew was copies of other drawings. I never played with dolls maybe because one Christmas my sister and I were given dolls and when we opened the packets, the dolls were broken (so my sister recalls, I can’t remember this incident), we were told the dolls would be sent to a toy hospital to be fixed and we never saw the dolls again, so that Christmas we got nothing.

Yes, we had our good times and our bad times but through it all, my hatred for adults just grew and grew and so did my disrespect and ’distrust of them, along with the anger and rage. Then one day I was told that the people who had fostered my sister also wanted me to come and live with them. What a surprise, so I went to live with them but it never worked out. Unfortunately, my very character was against me as I could not tolerate authority. The more they annoyed me, the more I would find ways to niggle them. I like Uncle Tom, as we called him. I got on well with him but it was Aunty Ruth I did not like. She adored my sister but I sensed in her an antagonism that got my back up and because of that feeling, I picked on her whenever I got the chance. It was one big vicious circle. I don’t recall how long we stayed there, it must have been about four years perhaps ? I remember the first year living with them, I was promised a bicycle to ride to the high school if I did well at the end of the year so I worked hard, passed and got my bicycle. I was very proud of that and I used to pedal to school every day. But one day, it was raining and on my way to school, I rode through a green robot when a car came from my right hand side and hit me. My bicycle was wrecked and the lady who was driving, took me to the hospital. I wasn’t really hurt, just a few cuts and bruises but I was told to lie and say that I had ridden through a red robot. No matter what I said, I was told to shut up and say that. So you see how adults can twist a manipulate a thing if they want to and still get away with it. I wasn’t that stupid. Anyway, I then had to take a bus every day to school and I had to walk everywhere. I never got another bike. I also got enrolled in the first aid classes because Aunty Ruth had been a member of the St, John’s first aid, and I did very well. I still went to ballet classes but Uncle Tom said I was too much of a tom boy to continue so I had to stop.

In all this time, we never once saw our brother until we went to stay with our foster parents when he managed to pop in for a short visit, he had also left the children’s home and was in the army doing military service. After a number of years, my foster parents left Rhodesia to settle in South Africa and my mother refused them permission to take us with because that meant they would have to foster us legally so we were returned to the children’s home.

My mother did come and visit occasionally and these were very heart sore times. I would cry and cry till I thought my heart would break. I could not get my head around the fact that the welfare would not let us out. I saw all the letters she wrote, I actually read them so I know she never lied to me. She would sit and cry when the time came for her to leave. It was so awful, this great big woman crying like that, it was terrible. I really don’t like talking much about this topic because it still breaks my heart.

Eventually they separated my sister and I and sent all the school girls away to another town and left the girls from a certain age up and working girls together in one home. I stayed at Ndola and my sister was sent to Broken Hill. It was here is this place that my sister came face to face with some of the children who blamed us for the break up of their parents marriage, so my sister did not have a very happy life in that place. They picked on her day and night. It was so bad she eventually ran away with another of the girls and she came all the way to me but was caught red handed and returned to the home. This little adventure happened quite regularly although she didn’t come to me again and finally the welfare let her out and sent her to my mother. By now I was nearly 18 years old and I was determined to get out of this “prison” as I called it. We had a number of different matrons in quite a short period of time and I soon found out who I could manipulate and intimidate. I threatened to burn down the home if I was not released very quickly. I also said I would smash every window and other nasty things that I could think of . One of the matrons was very worried and before I knew what had hit me, I was standing before a judge and told I was released….just like that! After about 15 years it happened just like that. I was completely stunned and when I got home to pack my very meagre belongings, I just sat on my bed in a daze. I was working by now, and the welfare had found me a room at the Salvation Army home. I could eat my meals in the dining room and had to pay a certain amount rent every month. No one ever prepared me for life on the outside world. It was a complete shock.

PART THREE

I went wild. Parties, rock sessions. I tried everything I could, went everywhere I got the opportunity to go and eventually ended up playing hockey for a private club and they taught me to be the goalie. I had such fun. We even went to the Belgian Congo to play hockey there for a week-end. I really enjoyed it and played league as well as social hockey. I met a lot of very interesting people and we travelled all over the copperbelt playing hockey.

In all this time I was frantically searching for something but I didn’t know what so in this frantic search, I ended up in a séance and ran out the room in panic when the medium said someone wasn’t really believing,{that was me) I was shaking from head to toe. I played glassy, glassy, had my fortune read and did all these weird things but I could not find peace in my soul. I remember playing this game with my first husband and my brother in our house and I had set up everything so nice and made it as spooky as I could. I actually started moving the glass with my finger and watched my brothers eyes as they grew bigger and bigger and then suddenly I kicked the table, let out a piercing scream that catapulted my brother across the room in fright, I couldn’t stop laughing, it was so funny.

I never really had a good relationship with my brother. He never had much time for me. I could tell by his mannerism and the way he talked to me. I got on his nerves but my sister was the greatest in his eyes. When we lived on the mines in South Africa he used to visit some of his friends on another mine down the road from us and once when my sister came to visit, he told me to make sure my house was clean and spotless because he was bringing my sister to visit. But the way he spoke to me was very harsh as if I lived in a pig sty. He always would fight with me and complain that I must do my part and put flowers regularly on my mothers grave because he had paid for the head stone. He left me in tears many a time until one day my husband put him in his place and asked him when was the last time he had put flowers on her grave? And then my husband asked my brother , what good were the flowers anyway, if he was so concerned, why had he not given flowers to her when she was alive and could appreciate them but what good would they do her now that she was dead? He told my brother not to pester me anymore about this and he never did.

As far back as I could remember, I started having visions. The first of these was an angel I saw at the window of the farm house we lived in. He was so big that I think he was kneeling and what a beautiful face, and it was smiling at me. Those wings were so big they disappeared passed the window frame. He had long fair hair and I

will never forget that wonderful face. But then after that, throughout all the following years, I periodically saw horrid visions that would frighten the living daylights out of me. I never saw any specific face only apparitions but they were dark and evil and I was so scared. I reasoned that they could not be good for me because I was scared so if I was scared then it was evil. I hated the dark, I was very scared of it and I could not sleep alone so I was thankful to be in a dormitory full of other girls. Whenever I got these visions and screamed aloud, I naturally, frightened everyone around me and it was not very well received by the matron and she used to scold me but what could I do? I was told that I was born with what they call a “core” over my face and that I would be able to see into the future. Well, I was so scared of these things I think I would run a mile in a second. I once heard the sound of rushing horses hooves and looked around frantically trying to see where it was coming from and right before my very eyes, in the sky, I saw black shapes coming towards me. It was a rider on a horse, but he had a huge hat and a cape like in the old English days when there used to be highway robbers. That’s what the shape looked like but what scared me the most was that this rider was coming straight for me and so fast I automatically ducked and then it disappeared and was gone. My heart was throbbing in my throat. Other times, I would wake up with this awful feeling of dread but I was too scared to open my eyes because I just knew something was standing next to my bed. I would lie there shivering and shaking until I could not take the suspense any longer and open my eyes to see a huge black figure next to my bed and I could see right through it! One day my husband was called up by the Police Reserve to do border duty, he was away for about 14 days and during this time, I had another of these awful visions but his time I saw a horses head and it was stuck onto the side of my face. I could not move or scream and all that came out of my mouth was a gurgle. I saw the side of this horses head and I even saw the beads of perspiration running down his face as if it had been running and I thought I was going to go mad. It was the most horrific experience I have ever had. My mind was alive and screaming but I could not move or speak . But as suddenly as this thing had appeared, it suddenly disappeared. I was just on the point of moving when another apparition appeared sitting on my legs but this time it was all in colour and again, I could not move or scream and was held in a kind of vice grip. When I looked again, I saw that it was a woman whose husband worked on the mine. She was smiling at me. She wore a gypsy type top which fell over half of her shoulders. She had on blood red lipstick and as I looked, her smile grew wider and wider, her eyes became bigger and bigger and her teeth started to grow like Dracula fangs. I tried to wiggle but just could not. My head was screaming and when I thought all was lost, just as suddenly the apparition disappeared and I was let loose. As quick and a puff adder strike, I grabbed for the light and switched it on, perspiring like a steam train and started to cry. I was so distressed. Then I woke up all my children and put them into my bed with me and slept with the light on for the rest of the night.

I was always a very tired person. I could quite easily sleep my life away, I wasn’t really a late night person so if I did have late nights, I found it took days before I could recover fully.

During these mad days I met my first husband, an Irishman. I will call him Tommy. It was a whirlwind romance. But his father was an Irish protestant and I was Catholic and when we announced we were getting married in the Catholic Church, he exploded. Never-the-less, he never came to the wedding which was held in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. Tommy came from a very lovely family. I got on very well with them all, even my father-in-law softened after our son was born and life looked rather rosy for a very short while. But sadly, the marriage never worked out, he was two timing me with an air hostess and I could not take it so I got divorced. But my ex would not pay me the maintenance agreed by the courts and being a single mom with very little income, I was forced into putting a judgement against him which caused his family to reject me. My ex mother-in-law phoned me one day and asked me not to come around to visit them because of this. So I was pushed out into the cold. However, I was paid very promptly after that so I dropped the charges and after quite a number of months, my ex mother-in-law phoned again saying that they had done me a terrible injustice would I forgive them all and come back to visit. She told me that her son had stayed with them for a while and he also did not pay them what he had promised and then they began to see what I must have gone through. I struggled very much financially, life was very hard and then I met my second husband, Peter, my little son took to him immediately and we started a relationship that has seen us through thick and thin and after 43years of marriage and two more sons, is stronger than ever.

I gave Peter a very hard time when I first met him. I was still hurting from my divorce and I really knew nothing about how to treat men and what to put up with and what not to put up with. He understood me far better that I thought. He was very shy and did not like holding hands in public but we soon overcame that little problem. He was very good to me. So when he asked me to marry him, I said yes. He taught me about love, the human love . He told me that love is like a flower, you plant the seed into the ground and you must look after it and water it until it grows strong that nothing can break it. There is no love at first sight, what one feels is a physical attraction, love has to grow. We proved it!

I met his sisters and brother, nieces and nephews and I was instantly drawn to all of them but the one sister, Katrina is the one who had something special about her. Her eyes, she had the most incredible eyes that were as clear as crystal and shining bright, they seem to look right down into my soul. She took me aside one day and told me about a man called Jesus and God but I did not really understand what she was saying, all I wanted to do was look into those beautiful eyes and feel peace in my soul. She listened to me and was genuinely interested in everything I said. I felt her love and I loved her and just wanted to spend as much time with her as possible so I listened to her and became “born again” just to please her and I went to the church and got baptized but I really did not fully comprehend what I was doing. Then after a few more years, she died and I was truly heart broken because now my friend was gone and who, was going to give me all the advice I needed? So, slowly, I slipped back into my old nasty ways ( how my husband put up with it all is still a miracle.)

My eldest child was quite a little terrorist when he was younger. I had a cook working for me named “Joe”, he was an excellent chap. At this time I used to work for a motor company in the accounts department and my husband was working as a motor mechanic at a company in town. My two younger children were put in a crèche but my eldest son went home in the afternoons because the school he went to was just down the road and I trusted “Joe” to look after him in the afternoons. It worked out very well but I had a very enterprising young son. He knew I left money on top of the fridge so “Joe” could buy milk and bread every day as the café was also just down the road. One day, my son wanted this money to buy sweets but “Joe” told him he could not have the money because he had to buy milk and bread. So my son stationed himself on the floor underneath the ironing board as “Joe was ironing and started having a conversation with “Joe”. He said if he could not have the money then he was going to set the ironing board on fire. Oh no, said Joe, you must not be a naughty boy, and before his very eyes, my son opened the match box, took out a match, lit it and tried to set fire to the ironing board. “Joe” naturally had a fit and took the matches away from my son, but this little mister was not finished yet. If he couldn’t get the money then he would cause mischief some other way. He went into the garage and got hold of a box of my husbands spanners and threw them all around the yard. We were picking up spanners for days to come!

I still had not found what I was searching for. I did not even know what it was. What was missing from my life? I had still never come to terms with what the welfare had done to my family and I still could not forgive them and I hated social welfare with a passion. I did not even like talking about them.

Peter myself joined the Police Reserve and we went to live near the border of Zambia and Rhodesia. Those were crazy days, spent loafing around in the hot African sun, in the pool at our house. We ate almost all our meals at the poolside. Played darts and tennis at the club, went horse riding and shooting with the police, swam in the croc infested waters while our husbands sat on the banks with rifles looking out for crocs, went on fishing trips in convoys with a landmine vehicle that led the way, indulged in tube rafting down the Zambezi river on car tubes. We did the most crazy stupid things that make my hair raises today when I think of it. But we were a happy family. I loved my sons and was very proud of them.

Then my mother died in South Africa and I travelled down for her funeral. It was so sad. My brother, sister and myself, now all grown up, finally altogether at last but why did it have to be here of all places. Watching her coffin being lowered into the ground, I nearly jumped in after it and through the tears I was at least able to console myself that her suffering has ended but her three children still had a lifetime to go through. So what did the coming years hold for us now? Shortly after this my brother-in-law also died . He was my husbands only brother.

It was very hot , so hot that at nights we would put our pillows on the floor and sleep there on the cool of the stone floor under the fan. One night, my husband got hold of an empty plastic coke bottle, filled it with water, switched all the lights off and ran after me squirting me every time he got a chance. Naturally I screamed and yelled and ran away and my sons just loved this so they all ganged up with their father against me and we began a fun game all night. I taught my kids to swim and they all like little fishes in the water. We spent a lot of our time swimming and they were tanned brown as berries.

We then moved to a smaller mining town and lived in a house on top of one of the hills surrounded by trees. It was like heaven. I played tennis went swimming ,did Police Reserve duties and watched movies at the club. It was also very hot here and my children went to the local school. The school bus dropped them off at the bottom of the hill every day and “Joe” who worked for us for about 12 years, waited for them and escorted them home . On the way home, the kids began to shed all their clothing and finally arrived home in only their underpants and “Joe” was left to carry all their clothing and cases. The lady next door complained about it because she had two little girls and it was absolutely disgusting that we allowed our boys to walk around like that. My husband just laughed and told her did they ever go to the swimming pool and see boys in briefs that looked just like underpants? She very quickly shut up.

And then one night our small mining community got hit by the terrorists and all hell broke loose. All the children were grabbed and shoved underneath the pool table, all police reservists on duty and visiting army personnel were immediately called out. The women reservists were there to keep people off the phones so that lines could stay open for army and police, and to escort some of the people home. I was at home with my husband and children when all the firing began so immediately we grabbed the kids and shoved them into the passage, got out our guns and waited. Peter was called out as his stick was on duty that night, and I was left alone in the house with my children. It is not a very nice experience knowing that at any time you could be attacked and killed. I had trained many a long year for this very situation and so I kept telling myself we would survive. The worst thing that hits your mind is not knowing. The urge to pick up the phone was very great but my training stopped me. It is amazing the sort of things that cross your mind when you are in a sticky situation, and although I was worried, I never really gave thought to any of us dying, somehow I just knew we would get through this. My nerves were very raw, I had three small children to watch over and I determined that as long as I lived, nothing would touch them so I sat, alone in the passage of our house with my three small children for hours worrying about all sorts of things. Eventually about after one in the morning, I decided to phone the club and there I heard that my husband was having a wail of a time drinking with the people still left in the club. The smoke started coming out of my ears and nose I was so cross, needless to say when he did come home, I had calmed down. We learned that the terrorists had hit the compound and abducted two women, shot a security guard dead and escaped via a river bed that passed at the back of the hill our house was built on.

We used to train once a week at the club and we always went to the firing range to practice shooting. On one such occasion, one very enterprising gentleman decided to show us “women” how it was done and stood, eagle spread over me with his bleeding weapon on full automatic and fired until his magazine was empty. I was so furious I nearly hit him and my husband almost attacked him, needless to say, he never did that again.

We regularly had visits from army personnel who often passed through our mine and sometimes stayed a few days and on one of these occasions they visited us with a helicopter and took the children for rides. They even took the kids to the rifle range and showed them certain weapons and gave them a chance to fire some, it was a very special day and the talk of the town for weeks on end. My kids were trained to be able to make sure a weapon was safe before handling it. They knew all our weapons

in the house and could unload and load them . We taught our kids how to make a weapon safe and to have respect for any weapon. They were taught at home and at school what to do in time of a terrorist attack.

We often used to go fishing to a fishing resort on the Zambezi river and always were accompanied by a landmine proof vehicle that rode in front of us and usually when we did go it was in convoy with a no of other families. We went about life as normal as we could possibly make it, we were not going to let negative things have an impact on us, and through this attitude, we had the time of our lives. On one such fishing trip, my eldest son was coming back from the hotel to the chalet and walked right into a snoozing hippo on the lawn. Well the hippo took off in fright and headed straight for the river and my son screamed his head off and ran all the way back to the chalet in a terrible state. Goodness, what a fright we all had. The fishing was excellent , the food was good and we all went home loaded with fish to last a life time.

Once, on a shopping trip and on our way back to the mine at the cross roads, we picked up a lot of mine workers hitching a lift back to the mine so we had my eldest son, sitting with a shot gun at the back with all these mine workers and his brothers and myself and my husband in the front with a semi automatic cobra and my husbands service F.N. rifle and we were off. Not far down the road, we passed a lot of terrorists on the side of the road unbeknown to us and then a little further on we passed a Police convoy racing like hell. We later learned, that a car had been hit and the driver killed. How close were we to this incident? We will never know, did they leave us alone when they saw all the mine workers? We’ll never know!

There was a rather embarrassing incident I went through one night at the club. A friend of mine wanted to go home and her husband was either working or an call out so I offered to take her home. The Police Reserve women were not allowed to keep their issue weapons at home, they stayed locked up in the armoury so I took my husbands F.N. rifle and escorted my friend home, however, on my return, when I got to the car park and got out of my vehicle, I decided to clear the weapon before going into the club house, so I removed the bullet by cocking the cocking handle , thinking I was so smart , I aimed the weapon into the air and pulled the trigger and to my absolute horror, a shot went off . When I looked again, I saw I had not removed the magazine and that frightened the living daylights out of me. Meanwhile back in the car park, our enterprising manager was trying his level best to get off with a married woman. So he thought her husband had gotten wind of his dirty trick and had come out to get him. The next thing the car park was filled with army, police and people and I was left standing with a very red face….

We lived in this small mining town for about two years and then moved back to the previous mine near the border.

I learned to ride horses here, but I was not very good. The woman’s Police Reservists had annual training and we went to the firing range for weapon’s practice. I was driving our truck and I did not see a sign on the road warning of a road hump and hit it at quite a speed. I crushed my spine and had to stay in hospital for some time. It was the most excruciating pain I ever experienced. We played tennis, darts at the club and spent a great deal of our days lazing around the pool at our house.

It was here that I had another one of those awful visions and the next day I went down on my knees and cried to God from the depths of my soul that if he were real to please take away these awful visions that. Kept plaguing me and he did. I never ever saw another visions of that kind again but I only realized that much later on in life.

So what was worrying me? I could not put my finger on it and then one day I had a visit from a representative of the Jehovah Witness and this visit led to the cause that nearly ended my marriage.

PART FOUR

They came into my house and started telling me all sorts of things and the worst is, I believed them!......Peter came from a family who were Pentecostal believers and very staunch in their beliefs while I was from a Catholic background. Needless to say, I did not understand one word of all they preached about because most of it was in Latin. Although I was confirmed, I never really understood much about it. I did not understand who Jesus was but I fathomed that God was an almighty being but that was about the extent of my religious knowledge, until I met his sister Katrina but I had put that part of my life aside , So when these witnesses started talking to me about this wonderful love, I was like a very hungry monkey, grabbing at every tiny morsel to feed the hunger in my soul. I even stood up and cried out to this great God that he must be real because he heard my hearts cry and sent these people across my path. And to my horror, my husband did not agree with them and chased them out of our house. We had a massive falling out. And after that, I stopped reading the bible and would not talk about religious matters. We eventually left this border mining town and went to a small mining town near Fort Victoria in Zimbabwe and it was there that I came face-to-face with my eternal destiny.

I met a woman who, let me call Paddy. She was the wife of a shift boss on the mine my husband worked. We all got together one day on a fishing trip and while the two men were out fishing from the boat, Paddy and I got into a conversation. She told me that she was a Pentecostal believer and that there was a “Women’s aglow” meeting in the hall and would I be interested to go? I said no that I was not interested and that I did not want to know anything more about this God and Jesus and that was that. I really meant every word. But God had a plan for my life and to this day, I don’t know how it happened, but I found myself at that door on that specific day and it was slightly ajar. I could hear the most beautiful songs wafting out of the doorway and the soft strumming of a guitar which brought instant tears to my eyes. I just stood there crying and crying and I don’t remember what happened next except that I knew, I knew that at last, I had found what was missing in my soul.

Oh it was so beautiful, I find it very hard to describe. It is like someone was washing all the dirt and muck out of my life and filling it with this most awesome love. I could not comprehend it. For three days, I lived in a cotton wool world of this great awesome love. I went to the tope of the hill behind my house and I spoke, sang and cried to this incredible God that had taken the time to stretch out his hand from the heavens above and save a poor, lost and drowning child. It was so special, oh so special and that all the time he was standing by waiting for this very moment that I would come to him. Wow! Wow! Wow! And eventually, reality returned to me and I now had to return to the real world and begin this new life. How was I going to do that?

PART FIVE

I joined a women’s prayer group and it all started from there. Now I had to learn, from the beginning, like a little child, all about the things of God. My very first task was to address this terrible hatred anger and un forgiveness. So I was told that as we grow up, we pass through certain trials and tribulations and some of these trials are very painful and we tend to file them into the back of a drawer and forget about them, but they are still there. We need to address these problems and the doorway to that release is through forgiveness. So how does one accomplish that? I was asked to fast and pray for a number of days and to ask the Holy Spirit to show me the things uppermost that I should deal with. So I took a piece of paper and wrote the names of all the people who I could not forgive and all the people who ever hurt me, which I did and after the fast my group leader came to visit and she took my hands in her hands and started to pray. She was so gentle, so soft and the tears started all over again and I managed to get rid of the worst of all this anger, hatred and un forgiveness. Our God is a great God and his word never fails. I felt the release in my spirit and stood amazed at how free I felt. Then we did further studies into the things that displease God like having our fortunes read and playing around with things that God does not approve of and likewise, when we indulge in these things, we open doorways into a spiritual world that we do not understand and invite all sorts of things into our lives that can actually hinder and destroy our lives. Again, I had to fast but this time, we went to the church to pray and while my friend Paddy sat in the background just praying, our group leader sat with me. I was not going to describe what happened because it may offend some people, but if this is to be an open and honest story, then I need to tell you the whole truth. She told me to keep my eyes closed because I might be frightened at what I saw in her eyes and so I kept them shut. She again, took my hands in her hands and started praying then she said that she had been shown something in the spirit that she must pray against and she started addressing the different issues. She commanded them to get out of me and be gone into the deepest part of the sea never to return, and so son and so forth. I was getting pretty tired, I began to cough and spit into a bowl she had provided and then I started to laugh, I don’t know where is was coming from. I shouted at her, swore at her and after about three or four hours I finally found release. I was hot, sweaty and very tired but oh did I truly feel free. The best way to describe it is like you are carrying a large backpack on your back that someone has just removed. You were so used to it that you did not really notice it until it has been removed. So the session ended and I was free but there still were many other issues that needed dealing with but for the moment that was all that I needed..

I learned a lot in the days and months that followed. I was very hungry for the word of God. I went to church, prayer meetings and I read and read and read. I just could not get enough. Through all these years I think I have read through the bible about three or four times. Whenever I hit a snag, I got onto the phone and phoned a friend and the problem was resolved. Life was just great. I had all my friends to help me in any time of trouble but I began to lean on them too much and not on God.

We had two horses which were housed in the stables and we often spent time there. I had a Lucerne patch in my vegetable garden that I used to feed the horses and our boys spent a lot of time in the swimming pool on the mine and the days went by in a haze. Then came the day that we had to leave Rhodesia and go down to South Africa. God gave me a promise which came though my friend Paddy…..”God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early (at the dawn of the morning)” {Psm46:5) I was told I had to grow and it was in South Africa that I was to learn and walk the path on the rest of my journey. We left Rhodesia in December, 1981 and arrived in South Africa with three boys, one bull terrier dog and five puppies and a small trailer pulled by a Citroen. That was our worldly possessions.

PART SIX

We stayed with my cousin for a while and he took my husband through a tour of the mines until he found a job that signed him on to start immediately. We were given a mine house and then Peter got a blood clot in his leg and ended up in the hospital with a clot through his lung. He was very ill and our car had broken down so we had no transport. The mine sent a vehicle to take me to the hospital every day and to do shopping. They were so good to us. They helped us to settle and gave us an allowance that enabled us to buy some second hand furniture and start all over again.

One day I found myself sitting on the hospital bench waiting to be allowed in to visit my husband. I felt all alone, no transport, very little money and three sons whose father lay very ill in hospital. I had no friends and knew no one apart from my cousins. I felt very sorry for myself and started crying and through the depths of my despair I heard a voice loud and clear telling me that…if God is in the midst of her and she shall be helped early, why do I worry? Gee, that really shook me up. Yes, why was I worrying? Peter did recover early and got back to work and we did find another second hand car, I joined a church, met people and started going to cell groups.

One day I had a vision and was absolutely gob-smacked and found it hard to believe what I was seeing! I was busy praying and waiting on the Lord and all of a sudden I saw a table top but just like a thin line with a glass on it. In the glass was cotton wool and inside this cotton wool was a jumping bean. It was jumping and jumping but could not get out. The more I watched the more it pounced up and down until the top of the cotton wool opened and it jumped right out onto the table top. It still carried on jumping and then it slowed down and I noticed it has started to form roots and then it started growing before my very eyes and it grew into a small tree. I did not understand what it was all about so I wrote a letter to my friend Paddy in Rhodesia and her reply was awesome, she said, I was that tree and God uprooted me because I would not grow In Zimbabwe because I had all my friends around me and that is why he sent us to South Africa because it was here where I was going to grow, now Paddy was just waiting to see the fruit on my tree!

Peter bought a motor bike and before we knew it, we had joined the Christian Motor Cycle Association and he started coming to church with me and the boys.

I was the only female in my family and as my sons grew, they too became bikers and then they wanted me to learn to ride. My husband tried to teach me and I remember him telling me never to put both feet down at the same time because I was still unstable and I would fall but every time I got to a robot, I put both feet out to steady myself and sure enough, I fell with the bike on top of me. I laughed so much I could not move and every time my husband would get mad as a snake walk over and pick up the bike and my son would pick me and so after much trials and tribulations learning, I finally got my bike licence. I had many laughs, went on many rallies learning all sorts of things and steadily grew in faith. We witnessed many, many miracles and saw so many things that could only have been the hand of a living God.

But then I began to grow dissatisfied, something was wrong with this existence? I had e


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