Zandile, the Resolute
by Dudu Busani-Dube
"Don't jump! Don't do it!" they'd all scream at the same time with their eyes raised.
I'd count to three and then jump!
I'd feel my feet burning afterwards but it was the greatest feeling ever, a feeling of conquer, of bravery of being in control and of defiance.
"Are you okay?" Gwaza would ask pulling me up to my feet. He was always trying to save me from something.
But there was one thing that I needed saving from, he couldn't save me from it.
I'd be back up on the tree before they all knew it, shouting for the game to continue.
"Qithi!" the first one to jump to the ground and pick the stick would shout before climbing back up the tree again.
I used to win all the time, but only because I'd have everyone nervous by climbing up to the highest branch and jumping when they least expect it.
I was so competitive, always wanting to come first in everything, I realised when I was older that I was that way because I wanted to be something other than pretty. Everyone was always commenting about how good I look, never about how good I am or how smart I am. I was the cute baby, the adorable kid, the pretty girl, the beautiful woman. I wanted to be more, I wanted to be remembered for something other than my perfect face.
My mom, she never wanted more, she wanted security and the perfect picture on the outside that was blurred and damaged on the inside. That was our home, our family, everybody thought we were perfect and happy but the truth was, there were demons crawling all over our walls.
My father was a beater, a sexual abuser, a controller who stood tall and preached morals to anyone who cared to listen.
He was a man of God, they all believed. A husband every woman who believed they had married a loser wished was theirs. They all loved and respected him, I hated him, I wanted to spit on his face when he was sleeping. I wished him death. My mother wished herself death. In the end I gave it to her.
The tree still stands, it must be the tallest tree in this village.
Author Dudu Busani-Dube
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