The late Teddy Pendergrass once said, “life is a song worth singing”, but when I look at what is happening in the world around me, he couldn’t be more wrong. Life seems to be a song one has to sing because there is no other choice. I have seen people struggle their whole life. A friend of mine Michael was born to a loving family, they went to church every Sunday wearing suits that look alike. He was around thirteen his brothers Hloni and Tumi were 11 and 9 respectively and younger sister Nono.
When he was fourteen their mother was struck by lightning, as they were young and their father working in Gauteng they were sent to live with their Gogo (grand mother). During those years men lived in single sex hostels and went home once a year. Like most men, he discovered a new woman and later he moved in with her. He forgot about his kids and moved on with his life. When Gogo died kids were left to fend for themselves. Michael came to work in the mines. He didn’t do much to uplift his siblings either, and it was not long before bad luck strike again. He was retrenched for joining a union (NUM) and went to sit at home. By now his siblings were living separate lives like strangers even worshiping at different churches.
I went to initiation school with one of his young brothers by then he was trying to reopen their neglected home, which still bore the scars of lighting years later. He wanted them to be a family again as he worked as a seasonal worker in Cape Town. During off season he got another job as a security guard for Security Company that was transporting money. Before cash in transit heist were in fashion in South Africa his boss told him not to come to work on a certain Monday. On that Monday his colleagues were ambushed and undisclosed amount taken. He was the prime suspect because he was not there on that day. He was never convicted, but he lost his job anyway.
He stayed with a relative and he seemed fine except that they were wonderers again. The families were not keen on taking them back. Unfortunately a relative he was living with died. He was forced to leave as the relatives were fighting over the house, but another relative called Thabiso took him in. It was not long before news broke out. Thabiso’s wife was pregnant and Michael was the father. He went to ground for sometime.
Sometimes God can see when you are desperate, a big supermarket chain called Boxer soon employed him. Three years later he lost his job under unclear circumstances that he doesn’t want to discuss with anyone. By then he had build a life for himself and his younger sister. By then he was married with a kid. He was back to square one, but now there were two more mouths to feed. Forced to reopen their home with the hope that they will make it. His wife became a hard working hawker in Town. Luck was still on his side. He got the job in the farms of Cape Town and he was looking after his family well and in the process of stopping to drink. One evening I received a depressing call from him he wanted us to me as he was coming to Tygerburg Hospital for a check up. I agreed and I was living just a stone throw away from the hospital in the nearby Parow Valley. He was diagnosed with Throat cancer. This was so advanced that the hospital applied for grant and order him to stop smoking and stop working. The only good news is that he is still alive living on the meagre grant with wife and 3 kids. The kind of life they live thought them to be independent, but no one went to school beyond standard 7 (grade 9). He is depressed drinking cheap home brew beer to forget about his worries that he wake up to daily. The circle continues as his kids are already struggling to pay school fees.
Will there be a happy ending I don’t think so.