Finding my voice- Chapter 42

Finding my voice

Chapter 42

I ran up the stairs, to Athi’s room. I knocked, and there was no response. I knocked again, and there was still no response. “Athi?” I called out. Still there was no response. “Athi, it’s me. It’s Siya” I called out again, but he still didn’t respond. “Athi, I know you’re in there, and I know you can hear me” I continued knocking. I knew he could hear me, so I stood there and knocked my fingers off, but he didn’t respond. I was not prepared to give up, and he knew that I was not going to give up. He knew me. “Okay, so you won’t open up, huh?” I said. “I will camp out here and knock until you decide to open up. I sat on the floor and faced the door so I knock properly. “I’m on the floor now, very comfortable, so I will knock in peace” I announced while still knocking.”Or what? You want us to have this conversation this way? Indirectly like this? Huh? Is this where we are now as aunt and nephew? I need a response. I need to know what I am dealing with, so that I can live up to your expectations” I added. “I thought we were friends. I thought we got each other, but I am clearly still living in the past” I stopped knocking and sat in silence for a few seconds.

Before I knew it, the door slowly swung open. I looked up and Athi was standing by the doorway, looking down at me. “Oh, you opened” I said, still looking up at him. “You can come in” he pulled the lowest of tones. “Okay” as I was about to get up, he stretched his hand out to me, to help me up. “Thank you” I held on to him and he helped me to get up. We both got inside and he closed the door behind us. The place was a pigsty, and the whole room was upside down. I looked around, but didn’t say anything. He stood there, looking at me as I was looking around the room. When I saw him looking at me, I cleared my throat and folded my arms.

“How are you?” I asked. “I don’t know. I’ve just… I just…” he paused and looked down. I could see him trying to fight with his emotions, trying to pull a brave face and evidently failing. “You what?” I took a step towards him. I didn’t want to scare him off by giving him too much of my energy. I didn’t want to overwhelm him with love and care. At that state, he just wanted to be alone and I had to show him that I respected that. “I don’t know how I feel. I am angry. I am sad. I am confused. I am hurting” he went on without stopping, listing all the emotions that he was going through, all of them at once. “Believe me, I know what you are going through, and I appreciate the honesty about how you are. It shows that you can still heal and move on from this” I said, but he couldn’t even hide that he didn’t believe me. “Baby, can I come close?” I asked. He nodded silently.”Look,I am really sorry you are going through all of this. I wish there was something I could say to make it hurt less, but you know I am on a journey of my own” I got to him and gently pulled him closer for a hug. At first he seemed a little reserved, until I held him tight. He started crying so hard on my shoulder.”It’s okay to cry, baby. It’s okay to let it all all” I whispered on his ear as he cried his heart out on my shoulder. We stood like that, for what seemed like forever. Athi had a lot of pain to let go of, and I was glad to offer that shoulder to him.

“Thanks” he removed his head from my shoulder. His eyes were blood Red, and tears were still streaming out. “What do you wish could happen in order for you to feel better?” I held both his hands and looked into his eyes. “I don’t know. I don’t think any of this is up to me to change. My mother doesn’t give me straight answers about my father, and she doesn’t care how I feel, like how she abandoned me and moved on with her life” he laughed in disbelief. “Unbelievable, huh?” I said and he nodded. “So what do you wish she could do?” I asked again. “Well, nothing. I guess. But if I could meet my father, and hear his side of the story, I think I will feel better.Not knowing my father at a time when I should go through the initition phase is really painful” he finally admitted. “Can we sit down?” I suggested, because I wanted us to be comfortable. He agreed and we sat on his filthy bed. I could see that keeping the room clean was the least of his worries and I totally understood. Depression has days when it just won’t let you get out of bed. Those dark days that deprive you the opportunity of seeing the beauty of life.Some people don’t even shower or make their beds on such days.

Athi and I spoke about how he was feeling, and he opened up about his mother was still failing him, at a time she was supposed to be making up for lost times. I couldn’t tell him that I also failed to understand how sis Gugu was handling the situation, because I didn’t want to add fuel to the flame.He told me how much he wanted to know who his father was.He felt like his mother robbed him of a beautiful relationship with his father. He thought things would have turned out differently between him and his father if his mother had never left and ran away from the situation. Mama was not going to run after a married man to ensure that he played his fatherly role, because that would be so immoral. Athi’s anger towards his mother was deeper than she ever imagined. She didn’t take the whole thing seriously and Athi could see that. One thing that kills a child is noticing that his/her parent does not care about his/her emotions. Some of our childhood traumas originate from parents not being emotionally present.

We sat in silence for a while, and I was getting hungrier by the second. “Come, let’s go and prepare something to eat” I suggested randomly. I knew asking if he was hungry was going to result in me having that meal alone. “Uhm..” he mumbled. “Everyone went to visit Tamkhulu. Come on, it’s going to be fun” I tried convincing him. After a few seconds of just staring into the open space, he agreed. We got to the kitchen and I asked what he felt like having. I could see that he was getting comfortable with holding back, and I wanted him to go back to his old self around me. I didn’t want him hurt and sad all the time around me, because pain and sorrow were not his new personality traits. “How about pasta then? It will be quick to prepare” I suggested, seeing that he didn’t know what he wanted to have. “Pasta is fine” he nodded. “Okay great” I went over to the sink to wash my hands and started cooking while he sat on the high chair.”You know, this moment reminds me of the times we would try and cook while Mama went to church on Thursday afternoons” I giggled. “Mama would be so mad when she gets home and finds out that we cooked” he laughed. “Remember this other time when we cooked and forgot the pots and they burnt?” I laughed too. At that point, we were laughing so hard, sharing our fond childhood memories. Athi was practically like a little brother to me, even though we both knew that he was actually my nephew. Mama treated us like siblings, and we also grew up like siblings. We spent a lot of time together because we were the youngest in the house. Our relationship was stronger because we grew to understand each other deeper than anybody else in the house.

“I thought I heard voices” Litha said, walking into the kitchen. We both looked at him. “Hey, I didn’t know you were still awake. Athi and I are preparing late dinner” I said as he walked in and went to sit next to Athi. “SOunds pretty cool, what are you guys making?” he asked, with a huge smile on his face. “We are making pasta, right Athi?” I looked at Athi. He silently nodded. “By the way.. Athi, this is Litha, the guy who ensures that I am safe at all times” I said. “I have always heard that there is a teenager staying with us, but I have never met him. I am so happy to finally meet you Athi” Litha looked at him. “This is Athenkosi, but he is better known as Athi. He is like a little brother to me. He is literally my favourite person in this house” I smiled at him and he laughed. “I’ve always been your favorite person, even though you used to get me into trouble when we were young” he laughed. I could see that he was enjoying the trip down the memory lane. “Me? No, you were the most problematic child, not me” I laughed too. “How? You could cook and I coulnd’t. Every time Mama would get home and beat us up, I would wonder why she was beating me up while she knew that I couldn’t cook” we continued laughing. “So you were both problematic. I am sure you were giving Mama headaches” Litha joined in and laughed.”You must have been lonely when I went to varsity” I said, looking at Athi. “You have no idea. Mama would bore the hell out of me, and I would feel like running away from home” I laughed. “I can imagine.. I could feel the heat every time I came to visit” I said. “So Mama is one of those and scary ladies?” Litha laughed too. “Yho, you have no idea. That woman would literally focus her entire life in watching your every step. She would carefully observe you, and always bring you facts on how you were wrong” I looked at him. “She must be one smart lady then” Litha responded. “She is a bully. That’s what she is” Athi looked at him. “She did give us a beautiful childhood though, maybe it was because we knew we were stuck with her forever” we all laughed. We had one of the most painful conversations, in a giggly and cheerful manner ever. Our childhood was like a dark closet that is filled with old and broken furniture, but we carefully tiptoed around, looking for those happy moments. They were there, somewhere in between that ocean of tears and that forest of emotions. I couldn’t believe that I was sharing fond memories of my mother. I could not believe that I was choosing to remain happy about my childhood and overlook all the pain and sorrow that I went through. Maybe both Athi and I needed that. Maybe we both needed to look at life through a different spectacle.

Later, we had dinner, all three of us. “This tastes good” Litha said, while we were enjoying our meal, all sitting on the high hairs in the kithen. We had four of those at home.”It really does” Athi agreed. “Thanks guys. I was just trying out something quik” I humbly replied. My phone rang, just as we were enjoying our meal. It was Sivuyile. I ignored it, but it rang off the hook. Litha kept taking glances at me, but he didn’t say anything. “Hello” I piked up. “Hey, are you already asleep?” he asked. “No, I’m not” I coldly replied. “Oh okay, how is Tamkhulu?” he asked again. I didn’t want to tell him that we didn’t leave, so I played along and told him that Tamkhulu was doing well and that everything was okay. “Oh okay. I was just calling to check up on you.Please have fun” he said. “Thank you, bye” I hung up as quickly as I possibly could. The conversation in the room was still heated and still flowing beautifully. I joined in, apologizing for the interruption. After dinner, we went to the kitchen and I did the dishes, greatly assisted by Litha. It became such a beautiful night of bonding with Athi, and Litha was just cherry on top. He fitted in perfectly, and Athi enjoyed his company too. We prayed and went to sleep in our different rooms.I was so happy with myself, because I could see the impact I left in Athi’s life. I was exactly what he needed. He needed someone to take him out of that pit. Sometimes, we find ourselves in pits we cannot get ourselves out of. We tend to withdraw from the society and live inear our own little worlds within ourselves, where we would throw pity parties all day everyday.

The following morning, as early at 8am, I cleaned my room and went knocking on his door. I knew he would still be asleep, but I knocked anyway. “Athi!! Are you still sleeping??” I shouted. After knocking for a while, he came to open. “I didn’t know we would reach this level so soon” he chuckled as he opened for me. “Oh, I’m sorry. Am I being too forward? I’m sorry, it’s just that I thought we could go for a morning walk.It’s a Saturday morning and we have nowhere to go, so why not start our day with a walk?” my phone rang just as I was trying to convince Athi. It was sis Zama. “Hello” I picked up, looking at Athi. “Hey. How are you?” she sounded so concerned. I didn’t know whether it was all just an act, or she was genuine. “I’m okay, thanks. How are you?” I responded. “I am okay too. Thanks. I am just checking up on you. Did you manage to get through to Athi?” she asked. I knew she was going to ask something of that nature, so I made sure I stood at a distance. “It’s a great day, I hope you enjoy yourself. Thanks for the call” I quickly wrapped the call up. “Oh okay, bye” she pulled a very confused voice. I hung up. “Sis Zama” I shrugged my shoulders and smiled, trying so hard to act like I wasn’t feeling the tension in the room. “So, as I was saying.. A morning walk is what we both need. You know, to just go and explore nature, so early in the morning” I continued convincing him, walking up to him. “Okay, let me change” he replied with a jumpy voice. I knew I was pushing too hard, and I knew how dangerous it was, but I just wanted to spend as much time with him as I possibly could. I wanted to strengthen our relationship, in order for me to have easy access to him, going forward. “I’ll wait for you in the kitchen” I walked out as he rushed to his en-suit bathroom. “Don’t eat too much” he laughed as I walked out. “Don’t start!” I laughed back. I got to the kitchen and prepared a bowl of cereal for myself.

My phone rang. I was getting annoyed with how much my phone was ringing, it was early in the morning and I didn’t know what people wanted from me. I was so grumpy as I checked who was calling, until I got shocked by seeing Cindy’s number on my screen. “Hey Cindy” I picked up. “Hey Siya. How are you?” he asked. He sounded sober. “I’m okay, and you?” I replied. “I’m fine” he took a huge sigh. “I am just calling to find out where you are and that you are okay. I haven’t seen you in a while” he uncomfortably said. “I am fine, I decided to spend a few days at home” I replied. I was shocked to discover that he still cared.”I miss you. This place is just not the same without you” he said. “Uhm, well. I will come over, maybe tomorrow” I didn’t want us to have that conversation telephonically. It was a very sensitive matter and I chose to treat it as such. “Okay, I will see you when you get here. So, how is everyone at home?” he tried to make conversation, but I was not interested. I mean, not after he made fun of me like that, like I was this fool who didn’t know what she was talking about. I hated how he turned my problem into a joke. “Everyone is fine, thanks” I coldly replied. “Uhm, okay. So I will see you when you’re back” he wrapped up, seeing that I was not prepared to entertain him.

Athi walked into the kitchen, just as I hung up. “I’m ready” he announced, jumping up and down. “What’s with the excitement now?” I laughed. “This feels like when I used to jog, in preparation for my matches” he giggled. I took two bottles of water and walked out. “You should jog sometimes, it’s even good for your health” I suggested. “Nah, I don’t think I can commit to it again” he replied. “Why not?” I looked at him. “There’s just a lot going on, and I don’t think I will have time” he looked at me too as we walked down the street. “What is going on?” I asked, trying to understand what he meant. “Well, I get home after school and get busy in my room. I hardly ever have free time” I could sense that he wasn’t planning on giving me a straight answer. I asked him until it was out in the open that he had created a world for himself in his room and that world is stopping him from living his life to the fullest. Depression deprives a person from living, because the dark cloud of inner conflicts holds one back. “Okay, you have a point. I guess I have to fetch myself and live my life again” he looked down, as we were still enjoying our walk.”Yes, and guess what?” I said, and he looked at me. “I will be here, every step of the way. I will be walking with you” I proudly announced and he smiled. His smile warmed my heart up.

My phone rang. “What? Why is everyone calling me?” I complained as I took it out of my pocket. “You still don’t like phone calls” Athi asked as I picked up. It was Tamkhulu. “Good morning, Tamkhulu” I picked up. “Nontombazana, how are you?” he sounded so cheerful, like he was in the best of moods. “I’m okay Tamkhulu, thanks, and you?” I replied with the same energy he was giving me. “I’m okay too. Your siblings told me why you couldn’t come. You are a true leader, do you know that?” he said. My heart skipped. “As young as you are, you are making sure that the little boy is okay. Nobody could do it, but look at you. With all your problems and burdens, you still find it in your heart to help other people. With the crisis you are going through at work, you are still committed to helping me out with my own business. My baby, you are true leader, your selflessness will take you places because your path will always be blessed” he said. I was speechless, I wasn’t expecting Tamkhulu to say that. I didn’t know that he could see all my efforts. If Tamkhulu could see all my efforts, that means my siblings could also see them. They were the ones who told Tamkhulu about the crisis that I was going through at work, so they obviously engaged on that conversation. “Oh, Tamkhulu. I don’t know what to say” I softly replied, with tears threatening my eyes. “You don’t have to say anything. I just wanted to tell you that you are special and I love you so much” at that point, tears just fell down. I have never felt that happy in a very long time. I felt valued and appreciated. We wrapped the call up and continued with my conversation with Athi.

“Not so fast, why are you crying?” he stared at me. “Tamkhulu is just telling me how much he loves and apreciate me. He is thanking me for looking out for your wellbeing and choosing to stay behind while everyone else was leaving” I replied, trying not to make it sound like a big deal. “You stayed behind because of me?” he stopped on his tracks. “Yeah..” I tried so hard for the moment not to get emotional, but it seemed like I was failing.”So everyone else was going, and you chose to stay behind because of me? Why?” he asked again. “Well, I couldn’t leave you alone the whole weekend. I knew you were going through a lot, and I also knew that nobody ever really reached out to you and gotten to hear what you had to say about the situation. That’s why I decided to commit myself to being here, with you” I looked at him, and I saw tears escaping his eyes.I stood there and watched him, continuously wiping his eyes with the hoody he was wearing. I walked up to him and held him. He cried so hard, and I wasn’t even sure why exactly why he was crying.I stood there and received his tears with my shoulder, without putting any pressure on him to stop crying. I didn’t tell him that everything was going to be okay, because I didn’t know that. I didn’t tell him to stop crying, because I understood the importance of letting his steam off. He needed that.One of the other ways one can use to face depression head-on, is crying whenever there is a need to cry. Bottling emotions up builds up to a major depression. Cry. As much as you can. As often as you can. Cry..

Written by: Cinga Dyala

Photo credit: Koena1130

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *