While I credit my mother for a great many of my failings, such as the inability to tell the difference between right and left and the inexplicable urge to take care of anyone or anything that I deem to be wounded (an affliction I’ve dubbed stray dog syndrome), she doesn’t always get the lion share of the blame for my over-reliance on my strength. You see, I was raised to believe that I could do anything, that education was important and that above all else, I was enough- I most certainly did not need a man in my life just so I could survive. So, my mother, without knowing it, imbued a sense in me that I was strong and that this strength was something to be valued and prized greatly. What my mother failed to mention is that this strength would amount to very little when dealing with contractors and home renovations.
During the darkest days of the renovations, I found myself sitting on the couch, willing the sun to stay low and hidden in the sky and listening to “Let it be” by the Beatles. I feel like an addict, needing to confess “It’s been three days since I last listened to ‘Let it be’” and since the renovations are still not over, I feel like a fool to even suggest that I’ve seen the darkest of these days. But that aside, I guess I could almost forgive the fact that walls, windows and one beautiful and expensive door were all built in homage to the LGBTi community, that is to say that none of them are straight. I mean, I practically asked for this, my entire life I’ve challenged what the word “normal” meant, so the fact that parts of my house won’t confirm to the norm should been seen as contribution to the cause.
Was I angry that my house was a dumping ground, with litter strewn around and that someone had thought it was a good idea to scribble on my bathroom door as though it was a public restroom? Of course I was, but none of it compares to the barrage of emotions that hit me when I found myself on the receiving end of a threat. It was a threat made by a drunken man, who is really not a man at all but it was still a threat that even with all of the strength I claim to have, shook me to the core. A threat that made me feel like I was a powerless little girl and that some big bad man was going to take away my dreams. A threat that ate kilograms off my body and made my hands tremble. I wish I knew how to break it down so that it all can make sense to me, that maybe if I understand why it happened, I won’t be so hard on myself. Maybe they were just words, maybe a contractor telling you that he would demolish your property unless you gave him money you didn’t owe him isn’t a big deal. Maybe, I was supposed to hear the violence in his voice and still sleep at night. Maybe everything my mother told me was a lie. Maybe you do get to work hard, maybe you do get to find something you love and maybe, someone has the power to take it away from you.
I thought the police could help. An unframed picture of our president stared down at me as I sat in heat of a police station. I tried to keep the tremble out of my voice as beads of sweat rolled down my spine. When the policeman said to me that I should wait until the man who made the threat is actually at my house and has started destroying my property before he could do anything, I didn’t have to wonder if the “Batho Pele means people first” sign was merely decorative. In a second, I realised the loneliness of fear. How many other women had sat there to report crimes far worse than this? How many other women had left a police station feeling as alone as I did? I dared not think about it, I only had room for my misery that day.
The man who made the threat has since said to me that we should just put our egos aside and resolve this. He doesn’t think he needs to apologise for his actions, in a thinly veiled threat he tells me that it is my best interest to resolve things with him. I found his choice in words odd until I realised something. I realised that apart from the fear, apart from the anguish I’ve felt, I’ve also been angry. I’ve been angry because I know that no one in this world should ever treat me that way. I know that just because you’re a man and you raise your voice, it doesn’t mean you should get want you want. I’m angry because I am my mother’s daughter. I don’t have a happy ending, I don’t even know how this story will end, but I do know one thing, another failing I inherited from my mother, I don’t back away from a fight.