Zimbabwe: I toiled for their family

Zimbabwe: I toiled for their family

Date: December 10, 2014
  • SHARE:

*Trigger warning: Violence*

Charles* and I got married in 2005 and had a baby daughter in 2006. My husband refused to get a birth certificate for the child as he claimed the baby was not his. We were living with Charles’ older brother, who was married. My husband did not see it fit to hand any money to me for house-keeping, for he claimed that I was stealing it from him! He would, instead, give all his earnings to his brother’s wife who would distribute it as she saw fit. I usually did not have enough for food or clothes. My sister-in-law dictated all the household matters and I had to dance to her tune.

Later my husband decided to go find a job in Botswana and, as usual, he left me behind without any money to take care of our daughter and I. He was away for three months then returned laden with groceries for his mother and a new set of clothes for himself. Life was becoming more difficult because his brother’s wife was the one to control everything at home. At times I would spend an entire day without food, and even go to bed in that same state and no one would pay attention to my plight.

I started a small business where I would sell tomatoes so I could provide for my daughter and myself. As I had people to help me and the business was succeeding, my husband decided to join in. However, he then ordered me to go to his rural home with the excuse that his mother had to help me to wean the baby. I realised that he was just trying to push me out of my successful business. I was away for two weeks, and on my return, my husband said I must stop going to the market and that he would now take care of everything. Thereafter whenever I asked for money he would tell me that money does not grow on trees. I was back to my miserable situation again. When I appealed to his relatives to reason with him, they would simply say he was too young to have a family and that I just had to let him mature.

I later discovered my husband had been having an extra-marital affair after his mistress got upset with him and came to confess everything to me. I confronted my husband about it that night and we had a serious fight, but it did not change anything. His mistress began to hound me and threaten to beat me and even to kill me. As I had started up my tomato business again with the help of friends, I decided to give my husband money to go back to Botswana so I could avoid problems. My husband agreed and left in March 2008. The stress of my situation was not without implications though because that month I had a severe menstrual period and I bled continuously every day for a very long time. I asked for help and counsel from relatives, I went to the clinic, but nothing helped.

From the time he left, Charles did not communicate with me whatsoever, not even to tell me he had arrived safely. I remained behind and continued living with Charles’ brother and his wife. Life was somewhat better as I had business, however sometimes my in-laws would just claim the money I earned for themselves. In December 2008, I decided to follow my husband to Botswana as I could stay with my sister-in-law who lived there. When my husband heard I was in the country, he came to meet me. He apologised and we reconciled and we started living together in his sister’s home. I managed to get a job, but in a different city, so I moved there whilst he stayed on at his sister’s place.

Charles himself did not get a job as he claimed he could not find any. When I got paid, Charles’ sister would claim money for rental. I had left my daughter with my mother-in-law, so she too needed money for my child’s upkeep. Charles would also take the money that I worked hard to get and spend it whilst I was at work. I was the bread-winner for Charles, his sister and his mother once again. As if that was not enough, Charles had begun yet another affair and I confronted him about it. This time, he called the mistress to come for an introduction. Charles and I had a serious fight when the girl came.

For three months I had been saving money to undertake a nursing course in Zimbabwe. I had raised 30 000 pula when in the final month, Charles took all the money and said he had spent it on food. We had another dreadful fight and he battered me very badly and injured my ear. My ear bled profusely and I was deaf for three months due to these injuries. We remained in Botswana, but life was difficult. I started buying big assets for I feared that if I kept cash, Charles would simply misuse it again. I fell pregnant with a second child and after I gave birth, my husband insisted I had to take the child back to Zimbabwe to show the baby to his parents. Thus I returned to Zimbabwe when the baby was a month old. Charles would call and promise to send provisions for myself and our children. He followed this up by sending clothes for the children and 100 rand. I attempted to retrieve my daughter from her grandmother, but she only released her to me after a bitter quarrel.

In February 2012, Charles sent me 600 Pula and that was it for the year. Throughout the year he never called, nor did he pick up any of my phone calls. The only communication concerning him came from the owner of the house we had moved to, in Botswana. The owner informed me that Charles just abandoned the house and left with a girl he had been staying with for some time. He had neglected paying the rent for 10 months and as such, she had seized all of the property Charles had left behind. The owner was demanding 4 000 Pula before she could release my property.
As if this was not enough, my mother-in-law currently has custody of my first child and will not release her back to my care. She has had my daughter since I took her there for the Christmas holidays.


Comment on Zimbabwe: I toiled for their family

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *