The Girl who was raped (A story about picking your battles)

I realised I was overdressed but it was too late to do anything about it. So, I kept my long vintage leather coat on, accepted a glass of wine and wandered around the bookstore trying to very hard to blend.  It was futile, really.


I was there to attend a book launch. About rape. A young girl’s rape. 


The author’s mother, a psychologist, was in the audience. I turned around to see her smile. I thought about my own mom and jealousy, not sadness, flooded my veins. I knew that I would never again get that wink that only a mother can give.


So, overdressed, tipsy and a little jealous, I sat my bum down and brought my full attention to the moment.


The author had researched rape expensively for her Honours thesis and in a bloody cruel twist of fate, she was raped on the very night that she had presented her research and was out to celebrate.


My jealousy faded. My heart flooded with sadness. The kind of sadness that made jealousy incomprehensible.


“The Girl who was raped” seemed centered. Composed. Vulnerable but focused.  My heart saluted hers as I admired her dark eyebrows framing those eyes filled with courage.


And then came the questions. I could have sworn that three people had been planted by AMSA, the Association for Morons in South Africa. 


Moron Number 1 suggested that young women on her town square “provoke” men by the way they dress/act. Short-shorts and laughter. You know? A deadly “come get me now” combo.  I kid you not.


The other had it on good authority (someone she worked with 39 years ago) that it was “normal” for black people to rape/be raped. And no, she didn’t blur her face while making this statement.


Then the Chairman of AMSA spoke.  With a dead straight face, he pleaded with 50 women to be sympathetic to the plight of the man who simply doesn’t know if no means yes or if no really means no. Again, his true identity was not concealed and he didn’t intend to apply for police escort. He was just really “confused”.


My blood pressure was rising and I was starting to look crazy. I had already stuck my hand up twice. “I disagree” to the first woman’s input and “I object! I object!” while the second moron spoke.  I seemed to be the only person in the room on this vibration, possessed by the spirit of Joan of Arc.


That’s when I did the most sensible thing of the evening.  I called my Uber and took my ass home.


Rather that, than I be mistaken for Deputy Chairperson of AMSA.  Things were certainly heading in that direction….


© A Heart Full of Stories, 2016

Let your “feelings” guide you home (Sister Stephanie)

I really started to trust my “feelings” when I was about 14.

I was tucked away in a catholic convent school far away from everything I knew and loved. I learnt fast to develop a “feeling” about people.  I also learnt to trust that feeling.  It was part of my survival kit. 

The “feeling” I had about my angry room-mate was spot on.  She had undiagnosed dyslexia and her anger was really just frustration.  When they discovered her wrists covered in blood, my “feeling” was that more trouble was headed her way.

I also had a “feeling” about the nuns.  One nun in particular. Her name was Sister Stephanie.  In stark contrast to her colleagues, she was full of life!  Whilst the other nuns were obsessed with discipline, routine, suspicion and punishment, Sister Stephanie was more relaxed.  She was an avid photographer and delighted in her art.  She told me that she was not a trained photographer and that she used her intuition extensively.  I knew exactly what she meant when she said “you just learn to trust your feelings, to let them guide you”. 

I got to know her when I contracted mumps.  She nursed me and I helped her sort out her printed photos.  I could not shake the feeling that sorting the photos would change my life, and once more, it took me two days to know that my “feeling” was right.  The boy I was in love with had been spending lots of time with one of my “friends”. The photos told me everything I had not known before.

The same girl offered me some new shampoo. Thank goodness that my “feelings” warned me against using it.   It was laced with hair remover.  When I turned up at the sports day with my lovely, shiny locks in-tact, she proceeded to dream up another plan.  And, it worked.  I woke up with no eye brows!  I must admit, I did not see that coming.

You can imagine my “feelings” when more than 20 years later, I read about Sister Stephanie on the front page of the newspaper last week.  To read about murder was horrible enough. To hear that she was raped too turned my stomach!  There are no “feelings” that could adequately correspond with the words I was reading.  There are indeed no words that I could use to describe my feelings either. 

I had to dig deep.  I had to find the words to write this story.  I had to learn to let my “feelings” guide me back to the words.  And I had to let the words guide me back to my “feelings”. 

Aluta continua, friends.  That road is long (for me).

I wish you well as you listen to your feelings this week, and allow them to guide you home.

© A Heart Full of Stories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lee-Ann Mayimele and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.