It’s 2017 and I’m 23. After 8 years of being angry and confused I feel it’s time we spoke. Remember in 2007 before Zimbabwe got Wi-Fi and we used to write each other handwritten letters. Something we had to stop doing when I wrote a letter describing the abuses I was under living at *Uncle Dad’s parents house.
*I refer to my Dad as Uncle Dad not, because we are a hillbilly family where brothers father daughters with their sisters but because, our relationship reminds me of the relations that African kids have with their parents friends who, they are forced to call Uncle and Aunt and NEVER EVER by their first name. (This is supposedly out of respect despite the fact that it’s never actually earned.)
Now, Uncle Dad is a major reason why i wanted to write this letter. I’ve come to terms with the fact that i’ll never get closure from him. You guys were young when you found out you were pregnant with me. You were 19 and looking forward to Art School and he was 24 and looking forward to whatever but you’ve assured me countless times that he loved you and you loved him. Something that i have come to believe because a few years later while he was at work a Bailiff came to claim the furniture in our house because Uncle Dad had missed child support payments for another daughter that he’d fathered six months prior to fathering me
and, let’s not pretend like UD wasn’t capable of doing the same thing to you. I’d like to believe that he stayed with you because he loved you and in turn he loved us.
Now Mum because of you I had an amazing childhood full of laughter family and friends you taught me to be strong, tolerant and not to take shit from anyone. Something that was so invaluable during those 3 years in Zim. I wasn’t an easy kid, I was an impossible combination of anxiety, opinionatedness and intelligence who, also wet the bed because of this anxiety and you were too young to know how to deal.
I feel like you were forced to settle and marry UD, a virtual stranger and you came to depend on him in a way that I wish you never had . I’m 23 and by the time you were my age you had me and you adopted one of UD’s other kids (Big Sis) ( That’s 3 for anyone that’s counting. 3 kids at the age of 24 *judges loudly*) to the extent that i consider her my big sister till this day.
That day when big sis 2’s mum served you with papers taking Dad to court for not paying child support was the first cracks (that I know off).
10-12 years down the line and bigger cracks started to appear. I knew something was wrong but, i didn’t know how bad it was. Until, I woke up one night to your screams. Your little brother had just moved to the UK and he was staying with us. I wasn’t sure what was going on but you sounded upset like you were crying and you were yelling his name. I heard him try and calm UD down and i thought it worked but, when i woke up the next day your face was swollen and when you asked me if you looked okay just before you went to work i said you looked fine.
I was 11 years old and i decided that day that I wasn’t going to let my Mum go through anymore pain while I hid inside my bed and did nothing. It kept happening for a few weeks but your little brother was around to stop it before it got too bad. But, one night he went out with his friends and you were left alone with UD.
After the first night I decided to keep a broom underneath the bunk bed I shared with Big Sis, I was going to protect you from him even if it got me hurt. I waited way past my bedtime and at around 2am i heard it, a loud bang and some screams. I don’t remember getting out of bed. I moved in a dreamlike state and ran the short distance from my bedroom to the living room and I saw UD with his hands around your neck. I didn’t have time to look at your face and i used the heavier side of the broom stick and hit UD over the head, i hit him again then again until he let go. I brandished the broom like a sword and pressed it against his chest and i told UD to leave you alone or I’d call the police. He snatched the broom from me in one quick motion and was about to lay his hands on me but you begged and pleaded voice hoarse and coughing for him to let me go then you made me leave the room and promised you’d call the police.
You slept in my room for a few days but never called the police and I was disappointed. I began to hate UD and resent his presence in the house. Little Bro and Big Sis don’t know about this incident and family life continued as normal but i became more anxious and more worried about everything and my bedwetting got so much worse.
4 years later we moved to Derby and you had to become a live in care worker because a teaching degree from a Zimbabwean University only gives you a limited number of years to teach and you were paid much less than your British counterparts. I always wonder how you did that Mum. How did you remain sane as you taught the bratty kids of racist parents who slung racial slurs at you at parent’s evening whilst getting paid significantly less?
Mum, while you were away something horrible happened. It was right after Little Bro went back to Zim (Big Sis and I were joining him after a few weeks.) UD had a friend over and they drank while Big Sis and I slept.
Big Sis woke me up the next morning with her face streaming with tears. At first i thought she was pulling a prank because we always pulled pranks on each other. I searched her face and she was serious so i sat up and asked her what was wrong. She couldn’t speak, her tears stopped the words from forming in her throat so she showed me a text message she sent to her best friends Mum. The message detailed that UD had given Big Sis some pills which she thought were Ecstasy and then he molested her.
Her best friends Mum rang you and told you what had happened and you called me and made me find the pills. I found some heavy prescription drugs that said could cause drowsiness and exactly two were missing. I heard UD try to reason with you and you chose to believe him over Big Sis. So we all ignored Big Sis’ pain until after a week she disappeared and ran away and I had to face Zimbabwe without my closest friend.
Zimbabwe wasn’t kind to Little Bro and I we got there in 2007 a year before the worst economic crisis to ever hit Zimbabwe occurred and the Cholera epidemic. Luckily your Mum and Dad are well off so didn’t have to face the poverty. However, i was seperated from Little Bro and i experienced sexism, fear of physical and sexual abuse, mental and verbal abuse on a daily basis.
UD made me live with his parents and I was subjected to having my virginity tested in full view of a whole congregation of church members. I begged UD to not make me go through it but he didn’t care. So I had to run away back to your parents house and I refused to leave. It’s the best and bravest decision i ever made and I was so thankful that you and your parents supported it and didn’t make me leave as i endured the abusive phone calls from UD and the lies UD’s Mum told about me.
3 years later we came back and I now realise that this was all thanks to you. If it wasn’t for you I’d be running around in circles in Zimbabwe’s jobless and opportunity-less economy. When i came back UD and you getting a divorce wasn’t the shock, the shock was how little he cared for me. At the divorce proceedings he said he only wanted Little Bro.We didn’t have a relationship but i thought that a Father’s love was supposed to be unconditional.
Little Bro and I stayed with him for 4 months while you finished off a live-in work assignment and when LB was on a school trip i was faced with a week alone with a man who i believed had raped his own daughter, my sister. So i slept with a steak knife clutched under my pillow for 7 nights because i was afraid for my own safety. I blame this short period of my life for the severe trust issues that I carry around with me.
The divorce took its toll but, through all this you remained my happy open minded Mum(my) who was always getting us to try new foods, activities experience different cultures and you encouraged me to read books and eventually made me realise that I want to be a writer. You gave me the power to share my story in the hopes that it will help anyone going through what we went through.
I’m so proud of you Mum after 18 years of marriage to UD you got a divorce, you got a house, you got a degree, you got remarried and you’re finally living a life that I hope makes you happy. I genuinely believe that all the bad things we had to go through have been paid back through good karma. My career ,my academic achievements, my love life, the friends I’ve surrounded myself with, they speak on that.
You’re the best Mum anyone could wish for and i hope you know that
I Lurrrrrvvv You.xxxx