“Siyaxolisa??” I felt someone shaking me. “Siya, are you okay?” the person shook me again. I slowly opened my eyes, and I was confronted by the frustrated Litha. “Are you okay? Siya?” he asked again as my eyes were starting roll back. I opened my eyes and looked at him again. “What… What is going on?” I tried sitting up, but Litha came to my rescue and helped me to get up. “Ouch!!” I screamed as I felt the sharp pain all around my cheek, moving up to my eye. I felt like my whole right side was on fire. “I’m sorry” he gently helped me to sit on my chair. “You were talking on your phone, and the next minute, you were on the floor” he explained. “I don’t know how that happened” I uncomfortably cleared my throat. “Siya, would you like to talk about it?” Litha asked. “There is nothing to talk about. I think I’m coming down with something” I cleared my throat again. “Let me get you something to prevent you from swelling” he quickly walked out.
For the very first time, in my whole entire life, I spoke to my father. I heard his voice. It was nothing like I imagined though. I don’t know what I had in mind, but I didn’t expect a voice that deep from my father. Wait, was he even my father? What if he also came to check if I was his daughter. Or why else would he just think of visiting a child he never even met? He had sis’Zama and bhut’Sizwe to contact too, if he didn’t want to contact his victim. Why was he contacting me? Why me? “Here you go” my trail of thoughts got interrupted by Litha’s voice. “Thanks” I said, as I looked at the tray that he placed on my desk. “Would you like to talk about it?” He looked at me. “Uh… Maybe I’m just too exhausted. Maybe I need to rest a bit” I explained. “Exhausted? You just fainted, after a phonecall” Litha walked around my desk to sit on one of the chairs in front of my desk. “I just.. Well, don’t worry about it. I will be fine” I looked down.
“Okay, I brought you some ice cubes to cover that” he announced, walking around the desk again. “I am so sorry you are going through things you can’t even talk about. I’m sorry you have to find your strength in this kind of situation” he took the neatly folded cloth and layed it open, to put ice cubes and cover them with the cloth. “Ouch!!” I screamed as he placed the ice cuses on my cheek. “I’m sorry” he softly replied as I screamed. “Hang in there” he continued rubbing my cheek with the cloth. “Siya, I want you to know that you have got me. I know you and I didn’t meet on the best of situations, but we can turn it around and actually be good friends” he said. If only he knew how much I needed that in my life. With my messy relationship with my sister (affecting my two other siblings) and my fight with Cindy, I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Maybe I was being too dramatic to think that Cindy and I were fighting, after he said those words. I took his words personally, so much that I felt he was attacking me. I was so tempted to open my heart and pour all the misery and pain out, but I was scared. What if we end up fighting? What if I hurt him or he hurts me? I had a lot of drama around my life, and I didn’t want to add to the stress I was already feeling.
“Okay, maybe you don’t want to talk. I respect that, but as I said earlier, you can talk to me about anything” he assured me. “Thank you” I nodded. It didn’t seem fair that I was rejecting his help. “Uhm, Litha?” I called out as he silently rubbed my cheek with the cloth. “Mmhm?” he softly responded. “Uhm.. I just.. I am scared” I announced. He stopped rubbing my cheek and paid attention to me, looking at me straight in the eye. “Scared?” he asked. “Well..” I pulled my chair towards the desk. “I am going through a lot at the moment. I have been experiencing a lot of drama and conflict with my family and friends, including my boyfriend” I explained. “I now don’t want to open my heart to you, and then find myself in a huge fight with you” I explained further. “So you think I might hurt you? Because I can’t think of any way you would ever hurt me” he asked. It was a very uncomfortable question, but I had to remain honest if I wanted things to work out between Litha and I.
I explained everything to him, making him see where my fears were coming from. I was paranoid. As much as I needed him, but I was very scared of letting him in. “Look, I know what you are going through right now is too much for you to handle. I know you might be finding it difficult to trust anyone around you because of your past experience. But, think about it.. Why would I be in your life, at this time, if I wasn’t here to serve a purpose?” he asked. A purpose? What was he talking about? I gave him a blank stare. “You could have been alone, but the universe refused. You had to go through this, with me. Maybe we don’t understand why it had to be me, but we need to accept that I am here and I am not here just for the fun of it. I was sent” he explained. He was making so much sense, and I kept nodding. “Maybe you are right. I might as well communicate with you, for as long as you avail yourself to me” I took a sigh. As much as I agreed, but I still couldn’t bring myself up to talk to him about anything. I guess I was not ready.
Later on, Litha and I knocked off and drove home. “Litha?” I called out. “Mmhm?” he took a glance at me, and then looked at the road ahead. “Who do you stay with?” I asked. “Alone” he replied. “Oh, okay” I focused on the road ahead. “My wife and two kids passed away, at the beginning of last year” he explained. I felt a sharp piercing pain in my chest. “What? I didn’t know” I looked at him. “I’m so sorry, Litha. I didn’t know” I said. “It’s okay, Siya. I am learning to live with the pain. So why were you asking?” he asked. “Well, I am thinking.. I mean, I was thinking… Okay..” I took a huge sigh. I didn’t know how to put it. He patiently listened. “Okay, I am thinking of finding my own place. I think I need to move out from home, officially” I replied. “Are you sure about that? I mean, now is the time for you to be around people who care about you the most. You can’t be alone” he replied. “With the rate in which things are going at home, trust me, being alone is the best option. I would rather die of loneliness than to die of toxicity” I said. “I understand. Well, maybe that really is what you need. One thing I have learnt is that people heal differently and it is very important to allow people to make their own decisions about how they want to live their lives” he replied. Finally, someone who understood where I was coming from. Finally, someone who shared the same sentiments as me. Maybe it was a sign that I should really trust Litha and open up to him.
We got home and nobody was there. “Where is everyone?” I asked as we walked in. It was rare not to find anyone in the living room of that house. “Maybe they went to visit your mother, Sizwe told me that they are making a habit of having family prayer sessions there” Litha replied. I wished I didn’t hear that, but I decided not to say anything. “Oh well, let me prepare dinner then, maybe they will be hungry when they get here” I walked towards the kitchen and he followed me. “Can you cook?” he asked. “What?” I laughed. “No like, seriously, can you cook?” he chuckled. “Yes, I am actually very good at it hey. I may not be the world’s best chef, but I am good at it” I replied. “Oh, okay. What’s your favorite dish?” he asked as he sat on the high chair. “My favorite dish? Well, I don’t have one. I just love food” I laughed as I opened the fridge to look for what to prepare. “Okay, I can’t wait to taste your food” he smiled. “What’s with the pressure?” I took everything I needed out of the fridge. “Don’t look at it as pressure. Look at it as excitement from my side. I am just assuming that you pour your heart and soul into it, that’s all” he said.
As I cooked, Litha and I were chatting up a storm, laughing our hearts out. For a moment there, I forgot about all my problems and just lived in the moment. For once, I wasn’t thinking about anything else but the moment that was presented to me. We spoke about food, and how food can add value in one’s life. I was telling him how I wished I could just stay home the whole day and just stuff my face with food. He talked me out of it, but I wasn’t sure I was going to listen. He was telling me about different ways to distress, without self-harming. He was telling me about different routines that I could adapt, and meditation tips. I felt like Litha didn’t understand that I just wanted to eat, but I didn’t debate with him. He helped me with the cooking, showing me his secret recipes. My siblings arrived long after Litha and I had eaten. I was actually thinking of leaving when they arrived.
I knew they would talk about their mother, and I wasn’t interested. “Uhm hey guys.. I was about to leave now” I announced as they walked in. “Oh, pity, because we wanted to talk to you” sis Zama said. “Okay, we can talk, as long as we will not be talking about your mother” I said, sitting back on the couch. “Let me go to my room. Siya, are you going to drive yourself or should I take you there?” Litha asked, getting up. “Please take me there” I looked at him. “Okay, you will find me in my room when you need me” he walked away. “Look, we do not appreciate you talking about our mother like that in front of that man” sis Gugu pointed at the couch where Litha was sitting. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to” I quickly replied, to get her off my case. “Anyway, we wanted to tell you that Tata is out of prison” sis’Zama announced. “And we don’t want him anywhere near us” bhut’Sizwe added. “He came to the Hangout Spot” I told them. “What? And you were leaving without telling us that?” Sis Gugu asked. She was starting to be a nerve wrecker. “I was hoping we would talk about it tomorrow” I replied, knowing very well that I wasn’t going to get off that one easily. “Siyaxolisa, your mind is all over the place. Are you okay?” bhut’Sizwe asked. I was really not thinking straight. I was giving in to the craving of the herb. I needed it, or I was going to lose my mind- or so I thought. “I’m fine bhuti, I am just shaken by talking to that man. I never thought I’d ever hear his voice in my life, ever” I looked at him. “What did he say?” he asked. “He came by, and I wasn’t there so he left his contacos. I called him and he didn’t pick up, then he returned the call” I replied. “What did he say?” he asked again. He didn’t say much, I fainted the minute I heard it was him” I replied. “You fainted??” sis’Zama asked. I narrated what happened, and I shared my exhaustion with them. I told them how I couldn’t return his call because I was scared of what he was going to say to me. I shared all my fears and worries with them, and also how my mind was trying to to register his existence. They promised to be there for me and help me deal with what I was going through. I honestly didn’t know what they meant by that, because they were not really doing a great job at offering the support.
“How did you guys find out?” I asked. “He visited aunt Nosizwe and told her everything. He told her he needs to see all of us, and that he knows we probably won’t agree to meet with him” sis Zama replied. “Did you agree?” I asked. “No. He’ll no” bhut’Sizwe replied. I looked down. “That man can never come anywhere near us. We don’t have a father and that’s it” he added. “Tell me, do you all know how he looks like?” I asked. “I don’t even want to know. I was young when he left, so I don’t have clear memories of him” he replied again. “I remember him” sis Zama replied too. Sis Gugu didn’t even look at me. “Why are you asking? You want to see him?” Sis Gugu looked at me. I honestly wanted to see him. I wanted to put a face on everything I heard about him. I knew it was going to sound selfish to want to meet with him, while everyone else was against him. “No, I’m just asking” I replied, looking at her too. “To us, he is dead. He put us through a lot, and we would be damned if we would let him back into our lives” sis Gugu said. I sighed. “Yeah, he did put us through a lot, I must admit” I honestly really wanted to know why he wanted to see me. I wanted to hear what he had to say. I wanted to see him. I needed to see how he looked like. I wanted to know how he smelt like. Was it a crime to need to see the man who was said to be your father? Was I being selfish? I just wanted to know if he was my father.
After they made it clear to me that they wanted none of us to communicate with that man, I left for Cindy’s place. I didn’t get why my siblings didn’t see the need to even ask me how I felt about seeing that man. I didn’t get how they just carried on as if they understood how I really felt, or what I really thought. I also had my own situation with that man, I was still stuck between the possibility of him not being my father and him being my father. I needed answers. I needed to know my identity too and nobody ever thought of that. “Are you okay?” Litha asked, as he drove me to Cindy’s place. “No, I’m not okay. I am far from okay” I fell apart and cried. I was tired of being strong. I was tired of keeping it together. “My siblings are really driving me up the wall. Those people are always against me. See now, they are all on the same side and in agreement about one thing and they don’t even care how I feel” I started spitting words all over the place. Litha silently looked at me. “At first, I thought I was the one being selfish. Now that I think about it, these people are taking my own feelings for granted” I continued. “I am not sure I understand” he said.. “See, our father has been released from prison. He is now reaching out to us and my siblings don’t want us to see him” I told him. “What is their reason for not wanting to see him?” he asked. “Well, I get that he did a lot of horrible things to us as his family. I get why they are angry, but I feel like they don’t get how I feel” I replied. “How do you feel?” He asked. How did I feel? Well, I just needed answers. I needed to know where I belonged. “I would like to meet with him” I fiddled with my fingers.
“Knowing that your siblings are against it, are you going to meet with him anyway?” he asked. That was a very good question, but I hadn’t thought of it yet. I was just thinking of how much I needed to meet with him, not whether I was actually going to go ahead with it. Come to think of it, both me and my siblings had different expectations out of the situaction. Maybe going our separate ways was the only option we had.. I wasn’t sure whether my siblings were going to accept that, but I wasn’t going to stop finding my answers because they were fighting their own battles. I had my own battles to fight, and we all had to accept that about each other. I was even prepared to part ways because of it, if needs be…
Written by: Cinga Dyala
Photo credit: Koena1130