STILL RIVER RUNNING DEEP
Mmamahloko1 is my name. I bear profound sorrows. I carry inside of me profuse pain. I wonder what my fate would have turned out to be had I been named Mmathabo2 instead? The lady is a factory of joy. Next life I want to return as a rose.
Every time I see a man split a log I involuntarily cry painfully inside. I lay there spread-eagled on my back, feeling very cold, most vulnerable and exposed like a log. As the first animal got into me I felt the axe ram into the log. A chain saw sight trembles my body so I feel as though the body disintegrates into old barks falling off the trunk of a giant tree of ages.
By the time the fifth animal got into me I was in such excruciating pain I didn’t care any more. No one held my arms or my legs stretched out any more. I felt dirty and wasted, much like a log that’s travelled a thousand kilometres down a river. It felt that overwhelmingly wet too. And the smells were the most unbearable. My vomit didn’t help much either. Each ejaculation felt like a litre of sulphuric acid pouring between my legs. My womanhood was burned beyond repair.
“What shall we do now?” I heard a distant voice say. “Just kick her some more, and leave her behind this shrub here. Even if she doesn’t die, she won’t talk,” another voice said faintly. I am not sure if they heard me, not sure if I did manage to utter a word at all either. But I do recall imploring them to kill me, because life is not worth living after this extremely brutal abuse. “Burn me up, please!” I begged. But I was left alone, dirty-wet, and unattractive. Unladylike. I remember deciding to die from all this.
Somehow I found myself standing in front of this massive opaque glass door on the edge of a mountain. The door slowly slid open to the side and I ran through, only to find myself running on clouds. Suddenly a storm built up, turbulence rocked me bad kind, and darkness engulfed me. Last thoughts as I swirled in the dark pit: ‘I will be back. I’ll haunt you all your living days. And believe me, I will talk! Everybody knows everybody e-kasie. When your time to die comes, I’ll be the last thing you see.’
It’s said that I stayed in hospital for six weeks. During all this time it’s said I didn’t say a word. I had sustained a broken jaw, and other serious head injuries. When I was showing signs of recovery and began to go to the bathroom on my own, I still couldn’t say a word. I haven’t spoken much since, and it’s been 30 years now.
I heard that I was found fainted, lying in a pool of fresh blood, apparently not long after the gang rape. Word goes fast e-kasie. The following day the local newspapers carried yet another story of ‘abhorrent sexual violence against women’. A faceless picture of me was published with the reports. Nameless – ‘next of kin not yet contacted at time of going to press.’ 17 years old. Just another statistic, another bitch fucked a lesson. I never spoke. Nobody else seemed to care. The boys were never caught. I knew them all. I knew their parents. I knew where they lived. I never said a word.
Though in time I healed outwardly, the emotional wounds inside of me are still as fresh as if 30 years have not gone by since. I’m a woman only because, despite the odds, I did get married 3 years later. My son is 23 years old. His father is the kindest man, the only true love of my life. These two most important men in my life know my story. They are ever most understanding and supportive. But the one thing I know frustrates them more than anything is that I just don’t do any trivial talk. I am basically a ‘Yes!’ or ‘No!’ person. It’s more natural for me to act out my feelings and my thoughts. The men have come to learn to live with this silent, but loving state of affairs.
My husband showers me with presents and things. Ours is the most beautiful home in the neighbourhood. The man provides for a very luxurious life of things indeed. He claims he primarily does it for himself. He paid for my university education overseas. All the ins and outs of business I have learnt from him. I am actually an independent woman. So, when I make love to my husband, he tells me I get transformed into some kind of super-cat-woman. He may be right, for how would you describe a woman who makes love to you like she is five-women-in-one?
The first time my man and I slept together, because he knew and respected where I’m coming from, he asked me to play sex with him. We’ve been playing sex, much in my way, since. He has yet to complain, if ever. My man’s body proximity soothes the emotional wounds inside of me. When he comes into me, my womanhood sings; I get the sweetest tastes in my mouth, I want to suckle at every pore on his skin. There comes a tingle in my fingers, I want to charge up this man body over.
With my husband, I wanted to turn the world around. I wanted to do unto him the opposite of what those five animals did unto me. So, I wash his feet, I wash his body, I oil him like a baby. I rain on him the most exclusive perfumes. I massage him from top to toe. I just love to watch his manhood rise. Never in a hurry. When I get hold of him, his pulsation brings out his heart into my hands. I wobble at my knees, tears of my womanhood splash my inner thighs. I squeeze and nibble at the heart, pure delight. I’m healed. For now.
Although I hate e-kasie life with a passion beyond words, it is still my home. Many of my people still live there. It’s been hard to try to turn away from e-kasie, despite everything else. So, I know every thing about e-kasie vibe, even if I’m hardly ever there, preferring the comfort and security of my grand suburban home. My people tell me everything, the good and the bad. I have over the years learnt to ignore the bad, convincing myself that somebody else will fix it somehow.
And then Anene’s image hits the media one morning last week. In the nation-wide frenzy that followed, it all came back – logs, axes, chain saws, and rivers of blood. Ice. It’s cold. I knew then that the time had come. I died with Anene.
I thought I saw her leap into a valley from a mountain high. She threw her arms up as if to paraglide. I threw a rope at her. Too short! The rope pulled me along, and I fell straight down the face of the mountain. I began to swirl again. Darkness came, and it felt like I had begun to slide down a tunnel, a long tunnel. Last thought: ‘There is a job to be done!’
30 years later, Skrapa was the sole surviving member of the Gang of 5 who so gruesomely raped me when I was also 17 years old. Hardly surprising that he never got to make anything decent out of himself, stuck all his miserable life e-kasie. I parked my car outside his parents’ old municipality house. Found him sun basking like an old lizard on a wall. He didn’t recognize me. He could not, because now I am The Queen, I have the power, I make the rules. I am an imposing woman standing 1.76m tall. After having introduced myself as a businesswoman from a neighbouring town, I offered him a Security Guard job in my company. I told him that he had been especially recommended by a family friend who knew who was who in the neighbourhood. He agreed to come and see the new place of work immediately. Game!
I drove us to an unoccupied farm my husband had recently bought on the outskirts of the town. This would be Skrapa’s new work place. Our older Security Guard is a former Freedom Fighter and mercenary from a neighbouring country. This old man is supposed to have seen the worst thinkable of the-evil-of-man-against-man acts. He lives a solitary life of solo chess playing. He says he learnt to play chess this way in the former USSR. Weapon use he learnt in Cuba. He may have killed people in his sojourns all over much of warring post-colonial Africa; but he never talks about it.
To say he leads a solitary life is not quite correct, though. Ntate Ujaja has these two awesome Rottweilers he jogs around the farm with almost every day. He and the dogs are in constant excellent shape therefore. I pulled the old man to the side, and whispered that our guest is actually a family enemy. Our eyes locked a few seconds. He understood. Without leaving my gaze, he shouted, “Mes amis, ALLEZ!” sharply turning to point towards Skrapa. In a flash, the dogs were on the animal. When it was over, the dogs having had viciously ripped off and spat away his balls and dick, I took a piece of wood and shoved it up the animal’s asshole. I know he saw my face in the Rottweilers before he died. Ntate Ujaja would know how to get rid of the remains of the animal’s body, without a trace.
Today, my husband and my son are in a state of shock. They don’t know what to do with me, or what to say to me. I invited them both to dinner at our favourite restaurant in town. Got to meet my son’s girlfriend for the first time. Very, very nice! I challenged my son to say “I love you” to his girlfriend in as many ways as possible. The young man insisted there was only one way of saying “I love you!” to a person. Wrong! I got up, gave him a big hug, told him I love him, and let my tears of joy pour on his shoulder. Then I turned to his father and said, “I love you, Baby!”
It’s been two days since I rose from the dead; I’m still singing songs of love to my man. I’ve written him love letters and poems I couldn’t do in all these years we’ve lived together. I’ve told him countless times he is King. I’ve recounted and replayed our numerous adventures in our travels all over the world. All these things I had quietly been taking in over the years. Wow, I can speak. I am free at last. Let’s play sex, my Sweet Valentine! Again, and again…
Tel.: +47 97000488/ +27 717 454 115 (South Africa)
February 15, 2013
DEDICATED TO CHILEMBO HEROINES, ALL MOTHERS, AND SISTERS OF THE WORLD. IN MEMORY OF ANENE BOOYSEN.
1Mahloko (Sesotho): Pain(s) – anguish – sorrow – grief.
2Thabo (Sesotho): Joy – happiness.