Lesotho: Life has brought me lemons

Lesotho: Life has brought me lemons

Date: November 28, 2014
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*Trigger warning: gender violence*

People say when life brings you lemons make lemon juice; I wish this could be as easily done as said then I would have a bucket full of lemon juice. My name is *Lerato and I am 29 years old. I am from a disadvantaged family which could not afford a lot of things. I am the third girl of six girls and a boy. When I was 14 I already knew what I wanted in life. My life was looking good, planned out and I could not wait to become a journalist one day. My English teacher used to say my essays were the best, she told me I would one day be the best journalist.

I could imagine my stories on the front pages of the then famous Public Eye Newspaper. Things were looking good. Then when I was 15 years old my father lost his job. I remember Mother calling us to the bed and telling us this was going to affect us very badly, but I never thought that things would be that bad. My parents could not afford to pay for all of us to go to school, as my mother was the only one with a job, which did not pay her much. My dreams were shattered and my hope was lost, till my father’s brother offered to take us in. It meant hope for me as he was wealthy; it was going to be a good life for me and my younger sister.

I remember the first day we moved into their beautiful house with white clean walls, a bath and indoor toilet, this was a dream. School was not bad at all, in fact I quickly found friends. My uncle’s wife was gone half the time to sell her seshoeshoe in the Free State and we would be alone with him. He seemed nice and caring, which made us open up to him.

Uncle would come to our bedroom and say good night, I used to enjoy that as my father did not do that. One night he came to our room, not to say good night but he slept with us and told us to not tell anyone or he would kick us out to die in poverty at home. Out of shame and fear we did not tell anyone. From time to time when his wife was not home he would come into my bed. This went on until I was 18 years old and pregnant with his child.

When I told them, his wife kicked me out and told me I was a liar and a family breaker. I went back home and told my parents, my mother believed me but my father told me that I was a liar and disowned me. When I finally had my baby girl, my parents found out that my uncle had impregnated my little sister and my uncle admitted it all. My father told me to forgive him and his brother and this became a family secret. I was a mother who did not complete high school. I could not pursue my dreams.

I went to Maseru to find a job, as I was working I meet some guy from back at home and we moved in together. I was in love and it was the first time I had enjoyed being with someone who I did stuff with because I wanted to. Everything was looking good. I completed my high school and was enrolling as a part-time student doing a diploma in mass communication when I become pregnant with my second born.

As if I needed something to drive me off track, my man had changed and he no longer wanted to provide for me or help me with my fees, I then had to drop out. He no longer trusted me, he was insecure and started beating me up. At first I thought maybe he was stressed because babies need more money, but one night he came back home very late. I had been worried sick, when I asked him about his whereabouts he beat me up until I fell unconscious. I woke up in hospital and could not make sense of my life; I was ill for a while so I lost my job and was forced to go back home.

*Not her real name

This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links News Service encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.


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