By Mak Manaka
Lost in her take off, she finds herself in bed with another man and confused of how she got there. The mirror reveals the secret as she stares into her eyes, she’s the street’s daughter, her life flashes in front of the mirror, and she catches a glimpse of how she was raised by a single parent.
She is 5 years old and living in the slums of Johannesburg, her mother Gloria works as a cashier at Pick n Pay, they live with an abusive Nigerian in the corrupt flats of Hillbrow not far from Ponte.
Lost in the big City with a 1year old child, Gloria made a lot of sacrifices for her daughter to sleep with a full stomach, lord knows how much she had to endure.
The police crash the Nigerian’s dream, Gloria ends up pawning clothes to pay rent, Pick n Pay is not enough, the 5 year old soon to be 6 wants to know who her father is, because the concerned pre-school teacher hands out an assignment on a family tree.
Trapped in her flight she finds herself stuck in translating her feelings to a man who only wants to debauch her, pay and then leave her. She lives only at night trying to find out a way of surviving. The mundane street life brings tears to her eyes every time she chases after a client that’s not interested in her name, she searches for solitude in a club while going down on some guy in the toilet, she looks in the mirror and catches a glimpse of how much her mother sacrificed for her.
She is 8 years old and very inquisitive, ‘mama, who is my father’, Gloria looks at her with eyes covered in pain, ‘if only she knew the truth’ she thinks to herself, she tells her that her father died in the line of duty, and that he was a police man. Every Sundays she weeps more than Jesus, the cross has a way of reminding people of pain and in Gloria’s case, the pain in truth stares at her, from her daughter’s little eyes.
Ashamed of her face she looks away from her soul and drowns in liquor. Two men take advantage, and she ends up in hospital. In less than an hour out of hospital, bruised and beat up she is out on the streets selling her not so pretty thighs again. Tonight she sleeps alone, business was bad but somehow she finds means to take off and so she flies, tries to sleep but hears her mother’s voice calling in the dark, switches on the lights and no one is there except for her reflection glancing at her from the mirror.
She is 11 years old and goes to a school near by, her mother Gloria moved them out of Hillbrow and went to Yoeville, Gloria now works at a Spar down the road, and as a single parent, she believes no man can walk on water and bare gifts of her freedom. A mountain of School fees and debts invades the quality time a daughter needs from her mother, she works at night keeping Yoeville streets clean, and comes home around 5am, only to find her patient daughter sleeping on the table waiting to say ‘good night mama’. The sickening landlord threatens to kick them out because of two months outstanding rent. Every free chance she gets, she battles banks for a student loan but doesn’t qualify, they move out and find a cheaper place, a single room for the both of them in a commune house around Yoeville.
Finally he looks for his love, lost his collar in doing so, ‘what type of people are these, to strip a man of his pride, then call themselves children of god, after so long they still cant let me be with my wife.’ He thought to himself before embarking on his journey to Johannesburg and look for his love, he still loves her and his face blossoms in smiles whenever he thinks about her.
The lord works in mysterious ways, after 3 years living in the city a man can change but not Terence, he started to work at some Indian store in Fordsburg so he could survive, he rented a cottage at the back of his boss’s yard, and after 3 years of searching with luck not on his side, a man can only do one thing, move on. But just as when he is about to throw in the towel, he sees the face that once stole his heart across the road walking out of Spar, how can he not see her, after all she was and still is his pride and joy. He stops the car and jumps out, Gloria barely recognizes him from across the road as he runs towards her calling her name aloud, Terance’s face looks different covered in a beard, she drops the Spar plastics full of grocery on the floor in shock of what her eyes are showing her, they both hug in tears, and at this moment, Gloria misses the sent of her home town down in the Cape. ‘Where have you been?, I left the church to look for you, Where do you stay?’ as Terence showers her in untimely questions all she can do is smile with her tears running down her beautiful and aging face like Victoria falls. Terence’s happiness is short lived when his phone rings, his boss wants him back, Terence takes her to the house before heading for slavery and promises to come back tomorrow, and before he leaves while still in the van, Gloria tells him about her daughter and that her father was a Nigerian dealer, and inside the house the 11 year old daughter looks over the window and sees them hug.
Inquisitive as always, she wants to know who the man outside was, Gloria tells her teenage daughter that he is a relative from back home.
Covered in lies as she pleasures an old man and getting him to think that she is about to touch the sky, she feels dirty inside and disgusted at the sight of wrinkles on his face and body. She closes her eyes to forget her past, but as the man’s breath gets heavy on her face, she turns her head and sees herself at the mirror with England on top of her. The English man decides to confide in her and tells her about his daughter that ran away because of what he used to do to her, and also tells her about his dead wife, he keeps on telling her how he lost everything, she pushes him off of her, and blinks her eyes then sees another episode in her past life.
It’s July and she is about to turn 16, they now stay with Terence in Fordsburg. Truth still hasn’t surfaced and uncle Terence loves her like a father, she is as beautiful as the sun in spring, reminds Terence of Gloria when she was her age, all the boys at school surround her and bring her gifts, life seems to be back in order again.
Gloria can’t stop looking at Terrence, she wants him but fears to face the truth with her daughter. Gloria’s young woman is old enough to see the glow in her mother’s face when ‘uncle’ Terence plays around with her. She goes on a field trip to Durban, Gloria and Terence do it again. This time its different, they do it slow and passionately paced with every year that went by with out a man or a woman’s touch, they explore each other’s continents every night as though it were their last.
And then, a child of passion is conceived in Gloria’s womb, but her daughter doesn’t know, how wrong for them to keep such secretes away from the innocent virgin.
Terence comes home early one day, while Gloria still at work, he just got fired and soon they will have to move. She comes in the house from school looking tired as Terence’s face, and in his drunk state he thinks of how she could have been his daughter, and now, he despises the fact that Nigeria flows in her veins, trapped in the anger of his past, Terence becomes a beast and forces himself on the soon to be 16 year old. He painfully penetrates his manhood through virgin gates, telling her ‘it’s going to be fine’ as he ravages her until she feels no pain, then ejaculates’ on her light skinned thighs and screams in jubilation.
Gloria comes home and sees the faded light in Terence’s eyes, her daughter is sleeping, ‘but its only 7pm, she must have been tired’ Gloria thinks to herself. Terence tells her the bad news, and tells her that he will find another job, they have a month to look for another place.
Terence continues to drive himself into the now 16 year old, and she begins to love to hate it, and Gloria sees a change in her daughter’s attitude, “where is my daughter”, she questions herself, she’s either out or in her room isolating herself. She now calls him ‘uncle T’, at school she lost her innocence and all the boys lost interest coz she gave almost every teacher some sort of pleasure, boys call her ‘Queen Bitch’, ‘Queen B’ in short. She hates the image her mirror reflects every time ‘uncle T’ and her are done. They manage to stay for another month and Terence is always out looking for a job but comes back home broken, only to forget his failures in between the sixteen year old’s young thighs.
Gloria can feel the seed growing from within her, and decides to confide in her aging daughter, about who her father really is, and as she confesses to her daughter her eyes catch a reflection of her self from the mirror in her daughter’s room, and remembers how she came to the City of Gold.
The young Terence looks at young virgin Gloria with all the love a man can give, this man wounded in his pride, walks with her as his ego, beauty has never seen such a face. She loves him so, night after night, she prays for god to spare them the shame, of living without light.
Many men live under this man’s word, to some he is the Son of God, and to children his hand is cast in gold.
‘Fortune favors the bold’ they say, and bold he was.
Covered in papers of debt, a quiet man in a church robe leads him to victory, though his heart remains at home trying to build a family with no inspiration, until he walks in with strength in his eyes and power of the future in the way he holds her, so masculine, so sensual. Her body longs for him, he comes inside of her and explores the world she once promised him.
A miracle she thought, ‘His blood grows in my womb’, the young Gloria doesn’t tell him because of the collar, and she then wonders as to how it happened because the young father Terence has slow swimmers, he is weak in the cradle of man. Young Gloria keeps her secrete away from the man of the cloth, and leaves behind her man, her pride, her world for a seed that changed her future.
Gloria breaks down when she reads the later her daughter wrote to her before she left.
“my child, with that bastard” shouting as tears flood her face, Terence walks in the room, only to find Gloria weeping, and out of nowhere, Gloria snaps and tabs Terence on the chest with a pair of scissors while screaming, “he was your daughter, he was your daughter”.
Covered in the rapist’s blood she calls the police and sits next to the phone ready be imprisoned.
‘I can’t live here anymore mama, the man you said was family turns out to be my father, and do you know what he has been doing to me? He has been forcing himself inside of me telling me if I say anything he will have me kidnapped and I hate him for that, and I hate you for not believing me when I tried to tell you, and thought that I am a silly girl. I am sorry mama, goodbye. Your loving daughter, Ntombenhle’………..