Before they took out their machetes and started slashing away; I wish they would ask why. Why I packed everything to my name in a back-pack and trekked down south. Why I left everything I knew to venture into the big unknown, unpredictable world knowing that the certainty was uncertainty. I speak for that girl who was barely of age, who had to say goodbye to life as she knew it, putting faith in humanity and the rosary she held onto for dear life. It does not dawn on you until you are called off the pick-up truck, in the middle of nowhere, in the darkest hour of the night. Barely a swimmer herself her feet froze on contact with the limpopo, fear clouded whether or not the water was as cold as it felt. The strangers held hands, brothers in arms , brought together by the desperate need to escape. When the water reached her waistline, she knew there was no going back, if the infamous crocodiles did not get her, the tsotsis across the border might, worst case scenario, she would get arrested meaning safer transport to her seeking asylum. But at the back of her mind she felt like these were just the last kicks of a dying horse.
If they had only thought for a moment before they broke down her door, invading not only her personal space but destroying everything she had honestly earned through hard work and diligence. She escaped with just only the clothes on her back and memories of the sweet taste of what hope was as adrenaline had her rationally run and not fight the armed men. When she did find safety she looked through the window to witness flames burn everything she owned, everything she was. Her asylum papers, groceries she had meant to send back home the next day . Her clothes, bank cards, furniture , her identity. The flames just got higher and higher and mercilessly devoured the hope and fruits of hard work she had painfully gathered along the years. Pain incapacitated her body, she did not cry, she smiled instead. She laughed hysterically, who would have known that it was not crocodiles in the Limpopo or the police she should have feared. It was the people; her fellow Africans, the people who hired her, the ones who processed her to be a legal refuge, her neighbors, her church-mates. Her knees grew weak with laughter, she huddled herself into a little ball on the cement floor, giggling. She could not help but remember how she was homeless the first few months after she crossed over. She moved from shelter to shelter until her first paycheck came into effect. She remembered how happy she was the day they granted her asylum, that was the key to the life she had always wanted, to be able to dream and knew that if she worked hard enough, she could achieve anything. That was her lifeline and also the only thing the situation back home cold not engulf; HOPE. Now it was just smoke and ashes. Honesty and hard work proved to be inadequate to have the machete-men show her mercy.
Not a single tear rolled down her cheek, she laughed herself to sleep that fateful night. She thought,”I could have been killed or raped”, but that offered little consolation. She lay there feeling dead inside, all she wanted was to be able to dream,to have hope, especially in mankind. The very thing that delivered her from hopelessness was what destroyed her.