Mother’s lost love

Date: January 1, 1970
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Exodus 20:12 says, “Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the lord your God is giving you.À For parents who care for and nurture their children this may be true, but in some cases it is parents, and even mothers, that can cause so much heartache.

In 2004, I got a job with a private company and became the breadwinner for my family. Our lives improved impressively. I met my partner in 2005 and we have had a stable relationship. My lifetime dream was to buy a house for my mother and younger sister as a gift. In 2006, I conceived, and at the end of August in the same year, I got the house and we moved to Palm Springs. 
At that time, we were very happy. I gave birth to a beautiful 3,5 kg girl in October 2006. That’s when things turned to a nasty roller coaster ride. I did all I could, even postponed my wedding, just to please my mother. At Palm Springs, we become close with some of our neighbours. One even got a job for my mother, which she worked at for merely one month. I returned to work, trusting my mother with the baby.
My mother started playing mind games with me.  My sister and cousin told me that my mother was having an affair with a reverend. During the day when I was at work, she entertained this man in the house, at my expense. The groceries finished before month end.
My constant questioning made me the enemy. Mom started borrowing money or buying on credit using my name. By month end, people would come to collect money. Every day my mom would insult me about the baby, her daddy, and for not giving her money anymore. She told lies to try to separate my partner and me.
Several nights she kicked me out of the house. She always reminded me of my pregnancy before marriage, and the disgrace this brought to the family. When I was at work, I would receive SMS’s from my sister and cousin. When I called back, my mom was insulting my sister, and my baby was crying most of the time. Some people in the neighbourhood realised the truth, and tried to intervene.
At the end of February, she kicked me out of the house for good at night. She said I thought she was the landlady we were paying. Truly speaking she had not paid the mortgage payment with the money l was giving her for several months in a row.
My partner took me in. By then she refused to let anyone see my baby, even us the parents. She would forcibly hold the baby when I tried to take her. l was confused and tired. l didn’t know what to do. After a while, my baby got sick. My mom knew I did not want my baby to grow up the cultural way. However, after she kicked me out, she took my baby to a traditional healer. My cousin told me that she was burning muthi at night with my baby.
My baby’s illness got worse and my mother finally took her to the clinic. My cousin later told me that my mother put snuff on my baby’s nostrils. She saw brown mucus on my baby. That day my mother SMS’d me at work. I called back and she told me that it was time I spent time with my baby and stop putting my career first.
That night, when my boyfriend and l went to fetch my baby, my mother did not want me to take the baby. She showed me medication from the clinic and told us the nurse said the baby was only teething. She fooled us, saying we should leave the baby with her, and I must rest and go to work. On Friday, she left my baby with my sister and cousin. That weekend, my baby got very bad. She was vomiting, had diarrhoea and was losing weight. She was admitted at Sebokeng hospital. The doctor who examined my baby asked about who was looking after the baby, the lifestyle we lived, and where the father was.
He even threatened to have me arrested if I did not tell him what happened to the baby. I told him all that I knew. He told me someone had given my baby something strong for her intestines, and it has affected her stomach lining. We left the baby in the hospital, seeing her alive for the last time. She was only 5 months old.
My mother returned on that Sunday from Soweto, in a very happy mood. When we told her what happened and what the doctor said, she threatened to sue that doctor saying that she never took the baby to the traditional doctor.
Just a couple of weeks later, my mother stabbed my sister. That evening after work, I went to see a family that is always intervening in our cases. We went to my mom’s place to get my sister’s clothes, because she had run to Orange Farm to my uncle’s home. My mother insulted me about my life, and my cousin about her disabled child. That night, she came to where I was staying with my partner, demanded my sister’s clothes, and pointed a knife at me, threatening to kill us as well.
I reported this at Mafatsane police station. The officer listened and then told everyone there, “here’s a child who came to arrest her mother.” They made me repeat my statement and questioned my motives. They said my baby’s case was irrelevant, because my mother did not make the statements to me, but to my colleague. So, they said, we must come with a better offence.
They neither took a statement, nor opened a case. A female officer asked me about why I am staying with my boyfriend so young, and said that she was going to abuse me as well and I “mustn’t come here to report that.”
My mother has used all my life points – church, family, friends, against me. Now says I must forgive her. The police failed me. Is there help out there?
This story is part of the I Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence

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