Saturday, 11 December 2010


In the heat of the early evening in the township Marygold, Tambumika (Tambu for short) and Janet prepare for the evenings activity. Marygold being the oldest orphan yet middle in age was the most experienced and lead the pack. Tambu the youngest at thirteen was naive but with a hunger for survival that spurred her on. Janet the eldest at fifteen and three quarters was world wise, or so she thought; but most certainly the beautiful one of the three.

Marygold's story

At birth it was official, she would die. Not from a childhood disease or from a genetic condition nor from old age. Marygold's mother had been given a gift by her husband the Christmas before Marygold was born. He had given her the HIV virus. As Marygold formed in her mother's womb, she drank from this cup, depending on her mother's blood for growth and survival. In so doing she partook in the death that her father had gifted her mother that night after yet another drunken excursion with Mr Topps at the local watering hole. Marygold was born sickly but she proved herself a survivor and out lived her mother, father and twin baby brothers and found herself an orphan at the hands of her uncles.

Tambu's story

A hot and passionate teen age love affair ending in disaster and despair was the heritage with which Tambu came into this world. She had never kown her father and her five siblings all came with a tailor made father each. This was normal in Tambu's world, as a little girl she had day dreamed of what the fathers of her children would be like. Though she often wondered at how her friends all shared a father with their siblings. She idolised her mother and was closest to her as the first born child. When her mother died her siblings were taken by relatives of their fathers and the family was irrevocably disbanded. As no one knew where to find Tambu's father or his people, and with the rejection she faced from her mother's people, Tambu found herself alone and orphaned at the tender age of ten years old.

Janets story

 Being a very beautiful girl, Janet had been the subject of many a marriage proposal from her fathers friends, all thirty and fourty years her senior. From the tender age of nine years old the propositions began yet with a wise mother she had escaped that form of life sentence as second, third or fourth wife to one of these. Her escape was one that she now viewed as an 'out of the frying pan into the fire' situation. Eventually the proposals stopped as her fathers friends started dying in droves. Eventually her parents followed suit and she found herself orphaned and a burden to her already oversubscribed extended family. Her mother had been keen on Janet getting an education and while she was alive, Janet went to school and did well but with her mother gone, education was no longer an option for her and the stigma of her parents illness left her without prospective suitors.

Their preparation completed  they take one last look in the mirror and then at each other seeking approval before they venture out. As the emerge into the streets they have one goal in mind; finding a way, anyway to earn enough money to pay for the one room they shared before they get evicted. Work was scare in their community and young girls with little  or no education, you either got married, got rescued by a foreign non-governmental organisation (NGO) project or you got a benefactor. Marriage was not something that was readily available for orphan girls with no family supporting them. Marygold had fled from her uncles, tired of the abuse she faced from slave labour to satisfying their friends sexually as payment for favours they rendered. Tambu was too young and again orphaned and Janet, well Janet's prospects were diminished with the loss of her parents. 

The girls were not at school so could not attract the help of an NGO, even those that focused on the girl child as these tended to help girls already in school or recently dropped out of school. There was no project that covered their circumstances, no boarding place for girls out of school, no help from anywhere...they were left to fend for themselves. Their only hope was to attract the eye of wealthy men in the community who may take a liking to them and be willing to help them...for a fee of course. So out they went on the prowl from one beer hole to the next, looking, seeking someone who would find them attractive enough to sponsor them... Marygold let the way. She was always first having experience of a man from when she lived with her uncles. Janet always attracted attention and she quickly learned how to please a man also but they protected Tambu as much as they could. Bringing her along only for educational purposes, just in case something separated them, they wanted her to know how to survive.

Trapped...a short fictional story inspired by real life situations.
By Rudo Nyangulu

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