I later went home, but I was not accepted like the lost son I was hoping for. My Grandmother was glad to see me but wanted me to apologise to my uncle and my Grandfather.
I decided not to apologise. I could not see how any of what happened was my fault. My Grandfather was not pleased with my attitude and badly wanted to discipline me. But he restrained himself. It was also a Sunday, so the alcohol was finished, and he was sober. So he gave me an ultimatum. I can continue living with them and obey his rules or leave if I was not happy. So I took my stuff and leave.
The people I was working at during holidays also had a truck stop. So my plan was simple. Drop out of school and work full-time as a petrol attendant. I knew that petrol attendants at least had a place to sleep and shower while doing their shifts.
When I got there, someone I respected a lot was working. She was like a mother to me at work. I explained to her what happened and told her that I could not take it anymore. I also told her of my plan to drop out of school and become a full-time petrol attendant.
Like a mother, she listened carefully and attentively. After listening to me, she explained that I was making a mistake; I was busy chasing a fantasy. She also said to me that I, too, knew that this was not the path. She asked me to consider returning to my grandparents and apologise for my behaviour. I knew she was right.
She also said she knew it would be difficult for me, but I have to because I could not look after myself. My best option was to stay with my grandparents and get through high school. Then, once I completed high school, I could start thinking about living on my own. She asked me to take my time and think about this. She encouraged me to return home when I felt ready.
I later went home with my few belongings. Everything I owned fit into a plastic bag. When I got home, I apologised to my grandparents and uncle. I said I was sorry and that it will never happen again.
I was never really angry at my grandparents, but I was pissed at my uncle. Hence, after that incident, the fighting with my uncle continued because he disrespected my Grandmother. But as I got older, I let it go. He only did it because my Grandmother allowed it.
My Grandfather and I, after the incident, had many arguments. But I learned to handle it better. I started running and made sure I left when they started drinking. I knew if I stick around, it would not be long before I was called “Grietjie se gemors” (Gerthel’s rubbish). So I learned to avoid certain situations, and I still do that until today.
It would take me another four and a half years before I could finally escape that abusive environment.
To be continued