Indoda Ayikhali

INDODA AYIKHALI! (Men don’t cry!) I remember my mother’s stern voice when she would say these words her eyes fixed on me and showing no emotion, I would look at her hoping to find some sort of sympathy, but the more I looked hoping to find some form of sympathy she would look straight past me ‘Man Up’ she would say. I would instantly wipe my tears and push my chest out and push those feeling to the remote parts and bury them in the trenches of my mind.

My mother was my primary socialising agent and I relied on her to help me navigate through life, my father was an absent figure and his name became a taboo in my household, what I knew about him was never was to become like him since he was weak, so I was to be the one to model the epitome of manhood, which according to my mother was to show little emotion.

Every time I came home scared from township skirmishes, I would wipe my tears so quickly, I would avoid my mother and go straight to my room, I had to toughen up and man up since I was the man of the house. ‘ you do not want your wife pulling you by the nose’ she would say, if she ever saw me fighting in the street she would stand by the gate and force me to go back until I had beaten my opponent. There was always that little voice inside of me that was afraid, but her voice echoed louder and somehow managed to extinguish that voice from within.

My family was a strong matriarchy which consisted of my mom, my grandmother and my aunts, my uncles were often overshadowed by these female voices and as a result they sought drunkenness as a form of escapism. Whenever they tried to speak up they were silenced and I felt sorry for them and was told never to be like them since they were weak and useless.

My teenage years were the roughest and at school I was often involved in fights, and never had true friends. I was always in trouble with the teachers, I was labelled as an angry child. At home I buried myself in my books, I hated school, there were rules, I hated rules, I had this internal turmoil my life was missing something but I never knew what it was. I found myself standing up to my mother more and more.

Once I got into a heated argument with my mother, I became so angry that I grabbed her neck and tried to hit her, she screamed and when I came to my senses I hated myself, I hated what I had become, I spend less and less time at home, that action drew a wedge between me and my mother and we spoke less and less, I came home late.

The night has nocturnal activities and I didn’t remain solo for long I made friends and they introduced me to weed a gateway drug that seemed to take away all of my problems and took me to a happy place. Then without a warning she brought a strange man and introduced her, the man was going to live with us, as I needed a role model, I realised that I had failed my mother.

I left that day never to go back home I lived in the streets making money from washing people’s cars and helping them with parking, the nyaope drug eased the burden of living in the streets.
Then one day as I was directing a car into a parking bay, I saw a reflection of myself in the window and I just stood there as it hit me, I have become just like my uncles, the ones whose voices have been silenced.

Lorraine Moremi Soweto Sunrise News

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