‘Not Breaking’ By Martha Sibila Khoeses

Not breaking! It’s midday when I receive the dreaded phone call. Do you know “Calvin* ” they asked. With pride that can only emanate from a mother’s heart I confirm affirmative. Then the saddest of news stream through my ears refusing to enter the sections are to distribute the message to the rest of the brain. I refuse to hear. It’s a dreaded experience to stand at the receiving end of the phone, allowing the police officer to give you a message. I listen to the voice and could only utter a soft no. There was no scream, no thought of crying, no sense of devastation. I simply sat there in silence listening to the voice. It was the first time that a minute took so long to end. As the voice of the police officer fade away, I remain in the sit. Not knowing where to start or what to say. Then slowly I rise, emotion and other reasoning was still asleep with my brain. A divine source took over and I followed the direction. Didn’t explain where I was headed to and also didn’t get approval from the boss as I normally would. I just walk in the path before me, not minding where this was leading. When the human brain shuts down the divine takes over. Soon I was at the roadside that leads out of the city. There are points all over in the country designated for long distance taxis. Upon recognizing where I was I knew what was expected. I needed to go and see my son. It was late in the day, close to lunch time and there were no cars. They usually leave before lunch to get to the next town in time. Sometimes they don’t even bother traveling if the customers are scarce. This was one such day. There were no customers. I was the only one standing in the hot sun without any form of shade. The sun was scorching but it fell on a skin which didn’t bother. Heat from the natural sun was not part of my concerns today. I had my son on my mind and I needed to be there for him right now. The friendly but dodgy looking attendants came to enquire about my journey and how they could assist. As a regular commuter I would brush those off with obscene words and because of their scrubby clothing dismiss them from my side. But today I look at them with a different eye. They were simply trying to make a living, in an honest way. They may seem scrubby, but they were not in a police cell. They were outside, they were human and they belonged to a caring mother just like I did for my own. I spoke to them softly for the first time and quickly they organized a passing truck for me. Never in a million years would I have thought a day would come that I would ride with a notorious truck. They were known of all sorts of atrocities and labelled a danger for women. Unless you were selling some adult services to them. Today all that didn’t matter. I just saw an opportunity that could take me to my destination. My safety didn’t matter today, I was consumed by fear for him who came forth from my lions. It was of utter importance that I be there in his hour of weakness. To assure him that there is life outside the jail and that I will be standing outside with that life waiting to help him up again. The distance to travel was a mere 100km but sitting in a vehicle that drives at the speed of a snail. Destiny seemed far. I sat in that truck. My body wiggling with each movement. I didn’t speak to the driver. There was nothing to say, as I was fighting back tears. In fact I was fighting back tears every single moment up until then. If I had to utter a word, the flood gates would have opened. I didn’t want to cry because crying projected a sense of defeat. I sat there looking out the window, counting down each mile as the truck raced down the highway. With every excruciating minute that passes I knew I was getting close to him. My mind was transported back in time. I saw the day he was born, the day he was just three years old learning to ride his new bicycle, the day he went to high school. I saw the day he dropped out of school and how I ran around to try and find a place for him in a special school. I saw the frustration building up in him as the years ran by and nothing came of his dreams. I saw my own defeat that I couldn’t make it worthwhile for him. But immediately the morbid thoughts were covered by a fresh memory. A memory that speak of a happy childhood and upbringing but above all a memory so recent that it brought a smile to my face. Our one day holiday a month ago to the coast. I have never seen him so happy and relaxed. His face glowed with laughter and shine like a bright morning star. At that adult age he was playing in the water and sand like a toddler. Immediately I knew this was the soul that I needed to rescue. I sat in that truck thinking how far we have come. How many obstacles and battles against life we had to conquer as a family. For the first time things were looking bright for me in terms of my career and we agreed to work together as a union for a better and brighter future. I sat there thinking, ‘you should have been a little more patient with the times. I could feel it in my gut that things were to turn around for us. The evidence of our dreams being fulfilled was just looming behind the corner and I could sense it. Just a little more patience and we would be living our dreams.’ He was in a hurry though. Tired of the bills knocking on our doors, tired of the eviction notices, tired of scrubbing for food, tired of a single mother’s hustle alone without support, tired of witnessing every opportunity passing us by, tired of seeing the efforts of a mother not paying off. He decided to be the man about it and screw up everything in the process. I sat there wondering, what do I say when I get to see him? Where do I start? Do I scream the usual motherly ranting sounds or do I console him for a minute and say everything’s going to be alright? This one however, mommy can’t fix. The justice needs to take its course. Suddenly I was the sign post, 30km to Karibib and my heart leaped. I could hear the heartbeat. Sweet was dripping from everywhere on my body. My knees were becoming numb. I grabbed my handbag and hold it tight to my chest in an effort to hide the pain which was crawling up on my. I didn’t want to cry. No less in front of the stranger driving the truck. I didn’t want to answer any polite question. In a soft voice I ask if he could drop me off by the police station. I was not looking at him. Had my face turned away because it was not yet time to answer to any surprised looks on someone’s face. I got off at the station and walked in. A stern looking but friendly officer greets me politely and ask how I am today. How am I doing? And there the tears flow. I couldn’t hold on to it any longer. It was done. I came because I received a phone call and my son was in trouble. He was not charged yet so I was send off to meet the constable in chief, or something of that nature. I don’t know what rank who carry in there. She turned out to be a friendly helpful lady. The devastating news was that my son was caught with drugs. I was shocked to the cure. She asked if I didn’t see the signs. Yes there were suspicions offcourse, I was battling every single day with the streets to keep hold of my son’s purity and innocence. I was running up and down chasing after him to stay off the streets. I prayed long exhausting prayers for help and guidance and for both my children to be safe and not succumb to the negative side of things. I raised obedient children. We are a close family of three, four added with the baby daughter he brought into the world. We shared and laughed about everything. We were tight, or so I thought. Until this day, to hear from a police officer that he was caught with drugs. Shock hold me together as a rocked back and forth in that chair. The tears were streaming silently and my heart was paining mercilessly. I hold on tight to the chair, hiding my shame filled face from the police officer in my palm. Thinking is this the life for single parenting, should it always be tried in such excruciating and embarrassing forms. I hide my face from the realization that we, I might have failed my children. What was to happen now I wonder. Slowly as the dusk was clearing on my mind. I lift up my head and look at the police officer. She mentioned that I didn’t need to travel so far, that I needed to wait it out at home. But, just like me she was a woman and knew that was not going to be possible. I had nothing to work with as they didn’t charge him yet. Couldn’t see him too, so I sat there with pain in my heart. Wondering why didn’t I see all this coming. Everything he told me about starting his own corner shop, selling beverages and sweats, the money he had supposedly from the sales. The constant phone calls and midnight returns, the language that turned into street such that I couldn’t understand. Why didn’t I gave it all due attention. I sat there looking at the police officer. Telling my heart to silence itself. There was not much I could do if he was not charged. However, I knew now what happened. My son told the police officers that it was his personal belongings he was using drugs, they however thought he was selling. I didn’t want to think of either because both had destruction written all over it. I was advise to go back home. Home to wait for yet another call from the officer in a day or so. A call to advise us on his fade. I didn’t know what to expect the next day. Didn’t know how to pray, so I left. Again on the street looking for a car to get me back home. I had only one small request for the officer, to tell him that I was there. As I was walking back to the bus station, I looked back one last time, deep into the past which holds or experiences and I released myself from it. I was not going to blame, myself, him or the system. Choices were made and it will have to be accepted. All I knew was that after rising him good 22 years outside jail with so many obstacles to battle through successfully. I was not going to break now. Now I sit here looking back to the pass and appreciate the future. He came out on bail and I slept peacefully that night. I don’t know what the future holds for him, for us. I know the regret and rebuilding will be a long process for us to get through but like any other obstacle that we concurred this too shall pass. We start now a journey of forgiveness and we learn how best to spread love each and everyday. Not so that others can validate us but because we are human. We made mistakes and we have the opportunity to make right.

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