By Teboho Masakala (South Africa)
Sitting around the table was Lerato, a very beautiful mother of two children preparing dinner clad in a white dress with her head scarf on which she adores so much and always puts on. She takes a look at her two children Bongiwe and Boitumelo, the twelve years-old twin girls chatting happily as she’s about to dish.
“Dinner is served my angels” said Lerato as she dishes for he twins “What are we having mommy?” interjected Bongiwe “Keep quiet and eat” said Boitumelo giving Bongiwe a nasty look.
“Be quiet girls and eat, your father will be here any minute from now” warned Lerato as the twins ate their food quietly. A loud knock at the door was heard as Lerato rose to open the door “My husband you are back. How was work?” said Lerato as her husband, Thabo, a construction worker wearing blue overalls and dirty boots stepped inside the house with his face covered in dust. “Daddy is home” said the twins simultaneously as they rushed to their father. “Be careful, he needs to change and wash his hands as he is full of dust” “Keep quiet Lerato, cant you see how happy my daughters are to see me” said Thabo as he bend down to hug the twins”
“Ok now go finish eating” Lerato echoed as the girls took their seats to finish their food. “Let me go and change, I will be back” said Thabo as he went to the bedroom, quickly changed clothes, washed his face and hands and went back to the table where his wife and kids were eating.
“Your plate is in the microwave, let me warm it up for you” “Thank you my dear wife”. The sound of the microwave warming food was heard and minute later Lerato brought food for Thabo “Mommy we have finished eating” said Bongiwe wiping her mouth. “Ok. Go straight to bed” “Good night daddy and mommy” echoed the twins as they hopped straight to their room.
“How was work today baby” “It was hectic, beIng a construction worker is not easy. We working very hard but earning too little” “I know my husband but the R1200 you earning helps here at home, we buy food and clothes for the girls but…” “But its little” interjected Thabo “I know but you are the only one working, I have been unemployed for five years now” “Yes my wife and I want the best for my children, since I am the bread winner I will do everything. I have no qualifications, construction work is the only work I know” “Hush now my husband” If I had a chance to go to school I would have been a doctor now. But because I was born poor I never went to school. At least you are a teacher by profession” “Yes but I have been unemployed for five years, the teaching degree is useless” said Lerato.
“I will help you get work. I will keep my ears on the ground and if I hear something will tell you” “You are very supportive Thabo” “I will do anything for my family” “It’s late, you have work tomorrow. Finish up eating and lets sleep” “Lol” Thabo giggled as he finished eating and the two went to bed.
The next day Thabo came home late as usual during the night and went straight to greet the girls who were playing “Daddy” said the girls as they hugged him and continued playing “Hi honey was work today?” asked Lerato. “It was ok and I have some news, I heard that the is a teaching post going to open at the primary school that is thirty minutes away from here. Heard they need a maths teacher” “Really” “Yes and can you give me your curriculum vitae to pass on to the school principal? I work with his brother and I will ask him to pass it on to him” “Wow” Lerato jumped happily “I know you haven’t been working for five years and I have been supporting our family with the little money we get” “Its been hard for the past five years not working. I feel useless as I can’t help you look after our family. You looking after us alone while I have a teaching degree that I can’t use. I am a useless wife to you Thabo “Hush now you are not useless” “I promise you that if I get the job I wont change and will still love you” “Hush now. I know you wont change” “I will still love you like always and wont change. I know you are just a construction worker but you take good care of our family and for the past five years you have been looking after us. The girls are happy and you have been faithful to me. I promise I wont change” “Tomorrow I will give your curriculum vitae to my colleague to give to the principal of the school. I know you are very qualified and you will be hired on the spot” “Thank you my lovely husband. You have been very supportive and never cheated on me” Lerato cried “Hush now, don’t cry. Its late lets go to sleep” said Thabo as he wiped off his wife’s tears.
“Wake up Thabo you are going to be late for work” said Lerato as she shook Thabo and helped him rise from the bed as he struggled to stand up straight due to still being sleepy “I have prepared water for you. Your food will be ready in a while” said Lerato as Thabo poured water in the waskom, took out his face cloth and bathed. “Food is ready; here eat quickly before you get late” “Don’t forget your curriculum vitae. I will pass it on to the principal” “I pray I get the job.” “You will my sweetheart” “Here is my curriculum vitae” Lerato tucked it in Thabo’s bag “I have to get going now or I will be late” “Don’t forget to give the curriculum vitae to the principal” “I wont” said Thabo as he stormed out of the house. Lerato looked at her husband as he hurried to the construction truck and in her heart prayed to get the job as she has not been working for five years with her husband earning R1200 being the only income.
“What a day at work. I am so tired” said Thabo as he entered the house sweating and tired in the evening “Where are my girls?” “Asleep, they went to bed early today” “Ok” “Did you give the principal my curriculum vitae” “Yes honey I did and I am expecting feedback tomorrow” “I hope and pray I get the job “Me too, I know you will, I have been supporting you all along and I know you will get the job” “Let's wait for tomorrow and hear what the principal say” “I am very tired. I am not going to eat today. I am heading straight to slumber land” said Thabo yawning “Will join you later I want to finish washing dishes” “Goodnight in advance” said Thabo heading to bed.
“Lerato!!! Lerato. My wife I have good news for you” said Thabo excitedly as he stormed into the house “What is it Thabo, you nearly gave me a heart attack” “Sit down my wife” said Thabo pulling a chair for his wife as she perched on it silently “I got feedback regarding your curriculum vitae and the principal wants you to come for an interview tomorrow” “Wow. Really” said Lerato jumping so hard she nearly fell down “Tomorrow you must get ready and be prepared. The interview is at eleven o’clock at the school” “Thank you so much my husband” as she hugged Thabo. Thabo hugged his wife he loved dearly as the two were happy for the prospect of the interview.
“Today is the day. Are you ready for it?” said Thabo looking at Lerato who was getting ready having combed her hair “Yes I am” she replied. “Look at the time. I must get going now or I will be late for work. Good luck on your interview. I pray you get the job” said Thabo giving his wife a kiss on the cheek as he left the house. Lerato quickly got ready. Took her bag and went to the school.
She waited patiently at the reception before meeting the school principal, an old man about fifty years old with a bald head. The principal looked at Lerato’s curriculum vitae numerous times asking her endless questions. “I am impressed by your curriculum vitae. We have long needed a maths teacher. You are hired. Welcomed to Maruping primary school” said the principal shaking Lerato’s hand “Thank you sir” she replied trying not to scream “See you tomorrow on your first day” “Thank you sir” she replied as she left the office jumping, ululating and dancing.
“I got the job my husband” she jumped on Thabo as soon as he stepped into the house “Yes I did. Our life will change now” “I am so happy for you my wife” “I will be earning R25 000, will be able to buy a better house” she said “I am happy for you my darling” said Thabo hugging his wife and then allowed her to prepare food. The girls joined them at the table for dinner as they shared the good news with them.
“Today is my first day and I am so excited yet scared” “You will do well. Teaching is in your blood” “I know but…” “No but, you will do well” interjected Thabo “Ok” she sighed “I better be going or I will be late. It’s also cold today” “See you later” “Good luck on your first day as a teacher” said Thabo after putting on his big black construction boots and left the house. Lerato’s first day went well and was welcomed at the school, showed the classes she will teach and enjoyed her first day.
“How was your first day?” said Thabo during dinner “fine. I loved it. The leaners welcomed me and it felt good to teach after five years” “That’s nice” “I better eat and sleep. I am tired. We digged many holes on the road today. Construction work not easy” “Ok. Good night then” said Lerato as his husband took two slices of bread and left for bed.
Things went fine for the family with everything well, Lerato doing well at her work but sadly Thabo was retrenched from his work as the company moved to Durban and had to retrench some people and Thabo had to break the sad news to his wife “Good evening” said Thabo looking depressed as he sat down “Thabo are you fine?” He kept quiet not looking at her “Thabo talk to me. What is it?” again he looked at her. A tear came out of his eyes” “I have been retrenched at work” “Why?” “The company is moving to Durban and they are retrenching and I have been fired” he looked at her crying. “Don’t worry I am here. Will look after you and the girls. You looked after me for five years while I was not working and you helped me get my job so I will look after you” said Lerato patting him on the shoulder. “Thank you” “I will tell the girls don’t worry.” “You are my blessing” he said “Now go rest” she held his hand and led him to the bedroom, helped him untie his shoe laces as he lied on the bed.
For the first two months things went well but Lerato become tired of giving money to Thabo, she suddenly changing and since his husband was unemployed. She saw him as nothing and became mean and a total monster ordering him around and making him wash dishes, clean the house and wash her own underwear. Money changed Lerato so much she forgot all the good things Thabo did for her while she was not working. She came home from work looking angry as she saw Thabo sitting quietly “Hey wena Thabo. Where is my food? I am hungry” “My wife I am sorry I didn’t…” “Shut up. You useless man” she slapped him twice in the face “You are useless, I support you with my own money and you don’t cook? Where is my food you stupid idiot?” she took the broom and hit him on the head as poor Thabo tried to run away “Don’t you run away from me. Come here” “Baby why are you mean to me? I used to take care of you while I was working….” “Shut up. I am not your baby. Don’t tell me about that nonsense called construction work; you were not even able to afford me, my hair and nails. Don’t tell me about that change you were getting, I am earning more now and I am the boss. Now go and cook for me. I want tea and take this shoes, go and wash them now” “Ok” said Thabo as he hurried to cook for Lerato and making tea bringing it to her “What is this? Tea? You call this tea?” she threw it at
him, the hot water burned his back as he tried to duck the coffee mug which hit his back “Go and make a better tea for me now and you are sleeping on the floor today and not on my bed. You useless unemployed man” said Lerato giving him two hot slaps across the face.
The abuse continued on Thabo, he remembered how he helped Lerato get the teaching job, looking after her for five years. But that Lerato was gone. Only a monster was left. The abuse on Thabo continued as she did everything Lerato wanted, she didn’t care about him and she had an affair, making him sleep on the floor without blankets and food. The only time Thabo managed to eat was when she was at work but she always found out and locked him outside without food. Poor Thabo will cry and miss their happy days which were gone. Lerato became a monster every day starving Thabo, hitting her with anything she could hold, poor Thabo became a slave of the abuse from his wife.
“I can’t live like this anymore, I have lost weight” said Thabo looking at himself and how skinny he has became because of depression and abuse from his wife. He had scars on his face, body and his hands had scars also “I cannot take it anymore. For the past six months I have suffered abuse and the painful part is I have to hide this from my children, they don’t know how much their mother is abusing me. I can’t take it anymore. I am sleeping on the floor, I don’t get food and since I have not been working Lerato is treating me like dirt. I am nothing in this house” he cried “I am going to the police to ask for help. The abuse is too much, I am going to the police to ask for help” said Thabo crying as he rose up from the chair after a conversation with himself. He locked the house as the children were at school as he made his way to the police station. Entering the police station he sat on the queue (line).
“How can we help you sir” said a policeman addressing Thabo “I am here to open a case” “Ok sir a case of what? who do you want arrested? “My wife, she abuses me everyday, she beats me with anything she gets her hands on and you see this scars all over my body?” he showed the policeman the scars “They were caused by her. Please go and arrest her, I cant take the abuse” said Thabo crying “lol.hahahaha” the policeman laughed “You are abused by a woman? You can’t be man enough instead you want us to arrest your wife? You can’t handle her? What kin of a man are you? A coward who is beaten by his wife? Hahahah” said the police man laughing and mocking Thabo.
Thabo left the police station crying and was shocked at how the policeman treated him. The person who was supposed to help him laughed at him and made a mockery of him. He returned home, ashamed, crying and feeling useless. “Hey wena Thabo, what were you doing at the police station?” “Me?, I never…” Thabo stuttered very scared “Stop lying, that policeman you spoke to is my boyfriend” “Boyfriend? Are you cheating on me?” “What do you expect me to do with you? You are not man enough, you are not even half a man, that policeman has money and works a decent job unlike you a former construction worker. You piece of trash you tried to
get me arrested?” she slapped him four times, two on the face and two on the head “Don’t try to push me. Next time I will kill you. You useless piece of trash, get away from me. Go and cook I’m hungry” “Yes my wife” “Your wife? Don’t call me that I am not your wife”. Said Lerato throwing a spoon at his face as he hurried to the kitchen to cook and half an hour later bringing them to her.
“What is it? You calling this food?” she shouted at him as the twins entered “Mommy why are you always shouting at daddy and why are you always treating him like this” said Bongiwe crying “Shut up, go to your rooms or I will kill you” the twins ran to their room very scared. “Now wena Thabo you turning my children against me you idiot” “No I am not” he replied shaking and scared “Shut up” Thabo kept quiet, looked at her and said “I am tired of you beating me, look at me I am bruised all over my body.” “Thabo don’t speak nonsense here” “But its true Lerato you beat me. Since I lost my work few months ago you treated me like dirt” a tear came out of Thabo’s left eye “You are dirt cant you see? You are rubbish” “But Lerato I cant take it anymore. I am dumping you, its over, I think we must separate” “hahahaha” she laughed “You think you can leave me? You are not leaving me. I own you, I feed you, this house is now mine, I am the head of this house and you are not leaving me” “I am Lerato” “Don’t talk back when I talk Thabo” She hit him with her fists so much his nose bled “Now you listen to me, if you ever try to leave me, I will threaten you with rape. I will arrest you for rape. South African jail is ready for rapists and do try to leave me and see what will happen to you. You will rot in jail and my children won’t even visit you. Now get out of here” She shouted at Thabo as he left her and sat on the cold floor.
Thabo suffered from depression, his two daughters saw this but were scared of their mother who told them to stay away from him. Even though they loved their father, they only spoke to him when she was not around and he did everything in his power to hide the pain for the sake of his girls and assured them it will be fine.
“I can’t take it anymore. The best way to escape this abuse is to kill myself, I cant live like this, too much depression, its been months now, I cant take it” said Thabo talking alone as Lerato had just left for work “Lerato treats me like dirt, ever since I lost my work I am useless, I cant even face my daughters. The police cant help me but instead they laugh at me, Lerato is even cheating on me with a policeman, for months she has been seen with him at restaurants and since I am useless, its hard for me.” He cried remembering how good life used to be. He stood up went to the kitchen, took out a pen and wrote “My dear daughters Bongiwe and Boitumelo forgive me for what I did. Hope you will understand one day. Your mother knows why I did this” Thabo took the letter, folded it and put it on the table as he took a rope from the drawer, stepped on the chair and hanged it tighter to the ceiling pole. He took another part of the rope staring at it for few seconds “My daughters please forgive me for this” he took the rope, put itaround his neck and let the chair go as he struggled to breath and after kicking for few seconds as he continued struggling to breath, he died. The letter was on the table and after forty five minutes after Thabo killed himself, the girls came home from school and they screamed so hard seeing their father’s lifeless body hanging from the rope “Daddy don’t leave us. We still need you” shouted Bongiwe comforting Boitumelo his twin sister “This is enough, we cant live without daddy” said Boitumelo
“Look he left a letter here on the table, they looked at the letter, read it and cried hysterically as Lerato entered into the house “What is this screaming I hear from outside?” “You killed him mommy. You made daddy kill himself we hate you” “What Thabo…what have you done” Lerato screamed looking at his lifeless body hanging from the roof. “We following daddy” said Boitumelo as she took two knives from the drawer and gave one to her sister. “We saw how badly you treated daddy. We can’t live with a monster such as you Mama” said Boitumelo “We want our daddy and we will be with him in death” said Bongiwe as she stabbed herself followed by her sister “Nooooo. Please, I can’t lose you. No my girls” said Lerato crying as the girls bled to death “You caused all of this Mama. I hope you are happy now and got what you wanted. You killed Daddy, hope you will enjoy life now” said Boitumelo as she closed her eyes and peacefully died.
Lerato cried loudly looking at the three dead bodies “Thabo I am sorry, I didn’t mean to abuse you. Forgive me please, I know you loved me but since I started working I saw you as nothing and abused you” she cried painfully ‘I have now lost you Thabo and our two daughters. I am sorry” she continued crying looking at the three dead bodies in the room. “I have caused by husband to kill himself, I was abusing him so much that I now lost the father of my children and my two daughters. I can’t live without my husband and daughters” she took the bloody knife from Boitumelo “I rather die also than spend my life in jail and without my children. Forgive me Thabo for abusing you. Forgive me my daughters. I will be with you in death” she stabbed herself on the stomach “I will now be with my family in death” she uttered as she breathed her last, fell down and died.