Zimbabwe: I have never known any happiness in my life

Date: October 10, 2019
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I grew up staying with my maternal grandfather after my parents divorced. My mother then behaved like a loose cannon and was well known for bedding other women’s husbands. My grandfather did not condone her behaviour and she sent her away from his homestead. She returned after several years when she was seriously ill and later died. I only went to school up to grade three as my grandfather who was disabled could not afford to pay for all my school needs. My father never cared to even ask how I was. i did odd jobs which were normally done by elderly people. 

When I turned 20 I fell in love with a very handsome man who worked as a bus driver which plied between our area and Bulawayo. I could tell that Malunga* was married but little did I know that he had several wives. I was fooled by the presents that he brought me whenever he was from Bulawayo. I started accompanying him to his destination when he was coming from Bulawayo. I fell pregnant and Malunga* took me to Bulawayo and he started revealing his true colours. I then realised that Malunga* had several wives and each one had a one room rented place. His first wife was staying with their three sons at his four roomed house. After two years I gave birth to my second son. Whenever he came to visit me I would get beaten even for a crime I did not commit.  

When Malunga*’s first wife died I got to know that he had six other wives and several children. I was the youngest of them all. Malunga* then chose me to occupy his main house which was being used by his late first wife. Life was tough at the house mainly because Malunga* had two sons who were older than me. The two boys would take turns to insult me especially when they were drunk. When I told Malunga* the treated I received from his sons he only promised to deal with them but did nothing. He would even invite them to drink beer with him and left the following morning without ironing out the issues. The worst was when the two sons beat me up and ordered me out of their parents’ house with my clothes in a plastic bag. I went away without my first son as they told me to leave him behind. 

I went to my cousin sister’s place to seek refuge. Her husband was very abusive and he would beat my cousin sister shouting at her that she was taking his home as a squatter camp. He was referring to me as being a squatter. I then looked for a job only to end up crushing some stones at an illegal mining site. Malunga* sent his two sons to take my child saying he wanted all his children to grow up as one big family. They were so menacing that I did not object. That way I reduced the level of beatings that my cousin sister received from his abusive husband. My cousin sister’s husband even tried to be intimate with me but I refused. He then sent me away from his home accusing me of trying to seduce him.  

I later got employed at a farm and after two years I got involved with a fellow worker. After I gave birth to a daughter, he started physically abusing me. He would accuse me of cheating with his friends. The beatings intensified by the day and I ran away. I came to Norton and looked for work in the nearby farms. I then started work at a flower company. After three years I fell for the man I am staying with. Though he is poor I love him very much because he is kind and caring. The company I worked for then closed and I am struggling to make ends meet. My husband does some odd jobs to put food on the table and pay for my daughter’s educational needs. I buy and sell fish and dried fish to supplement what my husband gets.