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Daughters of the Sun

Daughters of the Sun

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Daughters of the Sun

Länge:
345 Seiten
4 Stunden
Freigegeben:
Jan 31, 2020
ISBN:
9781528977227
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

You walk hand in hand with the strong characters from the beginning of the story of a typical South African family of Indian lineage as they live with the oppression of the apartheid era in South Africa that lasted over forty years. The compelling story is based on true occurrences which affected the lives of ordinary people and how they dealt with it amidst sacrifices and hardship, love and happiness, comedy and tragedy from the early days, starting with the indentured Indian labour system in South Africa until the new democratic dispensation in 1994 in South Africa.
Freigegeben:
Jan 31, 2020
ISBN:
9781528977227
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Noorie Hammond was born and raised in Kimberley, South Africa, during the apartheid era. She is an avid reader, short story and poetry writer, as well as an award winner in a short story competition. She is a Literature and Psychology graduate who loves sunsets.

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Daughters of the Sun - Noorie Hammond

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About the Author

Noorie Hammond was born and raised in Kimberley, South Africa, during the apartheid era. She is an avid reader, short story and poetry writer, as well as an award winner in a short story competition. She is a Literature and Psychology graduate who loves sunsets.

Dedication

I dedicate this book to my late parents, Amina (Amy) and Mohammed Cassim.

Copyright Information ©

Noorie Hammond (2020)

The right of Noorie Hammond to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.

Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

ISBN 9781528977203 (Paperback)

ISBN 9781528977227 (ePub e-book)

www.austinmacauley.com

First Published (2020)

Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd

25 Canada Square

Canary Wharf

London

E14 5LQ

Part 1: Early Beginnings

Chapter 1

When Time Stood Still

The winter months were the most difficult times. The days were short and the nights were cold and long. Having to rise at five o’ clock in the dark mornings was extremely hard for a six-year-old.

Lutchman, hurry up. You and Mina have to go, said Auntie Mariam. People buy their fruits and vegetables on their way to work, she yelled, and since it’s school holidays, you better pack more as you’ll be out all day.

Lutchman looked at Mina who was still yawning and rubbing her eyes. I can go alone, he said boldly, Mina does not look well.

Uncle will be mad, admonished Auntie Mariam while fixing her bright-pink scarf tightly on her head like she always did when she was nervous. Mina does not have any excuse to be lazy. Now, off you go. It’s getting late.

Auntie Mariam was the only sister of Uncle Cader, who lived with him in the house with their five younger brothers, though they were not around most of the time. Uncle Cader’s wife had passed away many years ago. He was the head of the house and everyone was afraid of him. He was looked upon as a harsh man, yet when he agreed to take Lutchman and Mina into his home after their parents died in an accident, people said he has a heart after all and began seeing him in a different light. More so, that he did not even know their parents but was asked by a close friend who came from the same village in Calcutta, India, where their father had come from. The only part that stuck to his memory was being told that their father was a regal-looking man who resembled King George of England with a dark skin.

Carrying the boxes of fruit and vegetables, they walked down the long winding street to the bus stop to catch the early morning customers on their way to work.

Mina quickly revived and was happy to be with her brother. It did not matter to her if she had to be up early or if she had no time to play with other children or if she felt tired. What mattered was that she was with her brother, the only family she knew and loved.

Lutchman would let her rest in the sun on the cardboard boxes he had flattened and spread in the far corner of the pavement, well out of the paths of people scurrying to their destinations. They only left when the street transformed into a desolate place of crumpled packets, with banana and orange peels and empty cartons which the wind threw carelessly to and fro. Only then would they gather the rest of the fruit and vegetables into the boxes and continue with their door-to-door selling.

The dark clouds hung heavily over their heads in the afternoon. They had not sold much and as the late afternoon approached, they grew anxious. They knew that their uncle would be blaming them for the poor sales. All at once, the storm broke and rain gushed down on them.

They could see no shelter in sight, running with the boxes piled in their arms which eventually tore apart. Vegetables and fruits went sprawling all over the road as they tried to pick up whatever they could salvage. It was all in vain and they ran empty-handed looking for shelter.

We are in big trouble, Mina cried fretfully.

It’s going to be alright, he tried to convince her.

She smiled at him, her big dark eyes searching his face for reassurance.

I’ll always take care of you, Mina, he whispered earnestly.

We might as well go home now, he said as he led her out from under the shelter.

The rain had somewhat abated as they made their way home down the streets. Darkness had already fallen when they saw the candlelight flickering from the house as they approached. He felt her hand tremble in his.

How long will it take to grow up? he thought, feeling as if he had been fourteen years of age forever. Time seemed to be standing still for him and he could not wait to be old enough to find work so that he could take care of his sister—to see her eyes light up, to make her happy like most girls her age should be.

Don’t be afraid, he tried to comfort her as they drew closer to the house. Soon, I shall be grown up and will take you away…I promise.

Will we stay in our own house? She looked up at him excitedly.

Yes, we will, he replied, and I shall buy you pretty shoes, he continued as he looked down at her tiny bare feet.

And a doll please, she pleaded, I always wanted a doll to play with.

Upon entering the house, the austere face of Uncle Cader was suddenly thrust in front of him. You are late, spat out his uncle.

Did you sell everything? he asked while looking at their empty hands.

Th–They got s–s–spoilt in the rain, stuttered Lutchman.

A heavy blow struck him and he felt as if his face was on fire. It’s not our fault, cried Lutchman, quivering, as tears rolled down his burning cheeks, running out through the backdoor into the yard. Mina was close at his heels sobbing bitterly and cowered next to him on the sand.

Come inside now! shouted his uncle. You children have no respect. I don’t know why I took you into my house in the first place.

That night, they were sent to bed without food.

Auntie Mariam can’t be expected to wait on your hand and foot at all hours, lashed out Uncle Cader, still fuming over his lost stock.

Lutchman could not stop the tears from rolling down his cheeks as he lay on his mattress in the small room, which was also Auntie Mariam’s sewing room during the day. He could hear Mina’s muffled cries as she moved restlessly on her mattress. He wanted to protect her but he was just a boy and the dream of becoming a man was too far away.

Chapter 2

Mina

Each day for the last six years, Mina never failed to climb up to the highest branch of the tall palm tree in front of the house to watch the road. She prayed that she would get a glimpse of Lutchman coming back home. And each day, she climbed down dejectedly. Life was never the same again since Lutchman ran away.

At first, she was angry at Lutchman, even said she hated him. She could remember crying for months on end. But now that she was older, she understood. He had promised to take her away, but she knew that had he not leave the house to try and find a better life for them, it could never be possible. She believed that when he was ready, he would still come for her.

Mina, called Auntie Mariam. I want to talk to you, she said as she sat on a chair in front of the ‘Welcome Dover’ coal stove in the kitchen, fiddling with her bright-coloured scarf and tightening it on her head.

You will be finishing up with school at the end of this month, she announced flatly.

But I’m only in standard four, exclaimed Mina incredulously.

You have become a young girl now, whispered Auntie Mariam.

Mina’s cheeks felt hot and she was sure it was not because of the red coals that were burning in the stove. She remembered how she had thought that she was dying a few months ago when she saw traces of blood on her underwear. She had tried to keep it a secret, but Auntie Mariam had found out and told her that what was happening to her was quite normal to all women.

As a Muslim girl, it is expected that you stay home now that this has happened, she continued. She paused for a moment while adjusting her scarf. You will concentrate on cooking for the family and doing the chores in the house to prepare you for marriage, she stated.

Mina could not believe what she had just heard. She could not understand what was happening. She was still a child and felt that they were taking away more of the world that she had got to know. School was what she lived for, where she learnt new and interesting things and played with her friends. Most of all, it helped to fill the emptiness which Lutchman had left.

Please, please, Auntie Mariam, please allow me to continue my schooling, she pleaded and burst into tears.

Your uncle has already decided and the school knows about it, concluded Auntie Mariam as she abruptly got up from her chair and left the kitchen.

Time passed gradually and Mina had blossomed into a beautiful young girl with flowing black hair and olive skin. She had resigned herself to a life of servitude, having to cook and clean for a family of seven. She felt that she had no other choice.

We can’t send Mina on the streets alone to sell the greens, decided Uncle Cader. What will the people say? Hence, Mina never went on the streets again, Uncle Cader and the rest of the family did not bother her that much anymore as long as they had their meals and clean clothing.

She had become an excellent cook and was even asked to help with functions. On one occasion, she even heard Auntie Mariam boasting of her cooking to another woman. More requests to help with functions poured in. She welcomed the life of being busy. In that way, time seemed to pass quickly. It was quite a while since she had climbed the tall palm tree in front of the house to look out for Lutchman. Although she still hoped that he would appear like a dream one day, she wondered if he still remembered her.

The nights were the worst as she lay on her mattress in the small sewing room. She felt that no one loved or cared about her. She relived the happy days when she was still at school over and over again, smiling when she remembered that the children used to call her ‘princess’.

Uncle Cader was very strict and she was not allowed to have friends or leave the house except with Auntie Mariam and then only to work at functions. There she would see young girls talking and laughing. They wore pretty dresses and scarves and shoes and were surrounded by loving families.

She did not see her own beauty and, comparing herself to the other girls, she thought she was ugly. She wore plain clothes which was haphazardly sewn together by Auntie Mariam and would sometimes imagine what she would look like in the flowing dresses and silk scarves worn by the other girls. She would play games in her mind and her imagination took her far and wide, dancing on the feathery clouds high up in the sky close to the moon. The moonlight would transform her into a princess.

Only then, she could fall into a sound sleep until the voice of Uncle Cader pierced loudly through the thin walls of the sewing room that it was time for her to get up, being brought back to reality was always painful for her.

Chapter 3

Barber

Barber, the tall lean man with his long Indian hair swept back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck, was a barber by trade like his name suggested. Not many knew his real name and everyone referred to him as Barber. He had come to South Africa on one of the many ships that brought indentured labourers to the sugarcane farms in Natal, South Africa. Many Indians from South and North India had opted to come. Life in India was difficult at the time. They were given a five-year contract to work on the sugarcane farms and could either return to India or remain in South Africa thereafter. It was considered to be one step above slavery. The Zulu tribe in Natal was not interested in working on the white farmers’ sugarcane farms, and the implementation of the indentured labour system solved the problem cheaply.

When his five-year contract ended, he decided not to return to India and remained in South Africa, where his trade as a barber flourished. Being the innovative man that he was, he opened his own business and eventually bought property in Kimberley, the thriving diamond-mining town in the Northern Cape and had a seemingly good life.

He was happy that he had decided to move away from the sugarcane farms and everything that was associated with it. Many of the labourers stayed after their contracts to work at the sugar mills and some of them went back to India. For five years, he had worked relentlessly without much compensation. He had resolved not to get distracted until the end of his contract when he would seek a better life somewhere else in South Africa. Those who returned had young brides and family anxiously waiting for them in India. He had no one as his family, including his young bride, was massacred during the outbreak of riots between Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus. He had no hate in his heart as their closest friends included both Muslims and Hindus, but blamed colonisation by the British which he believed inflamed the differences amongst the various sects in India.

Barber, said Abdulla Bin Sayed woefully, I have a baby boy and since I do not have any legal papers, I will not be able to take him back with me to Saudi.

Barber looked shocked. He had known Abdulla Bin Sayed for some time but was not aware of his personal circumstances.

I’m asking for your help, he pleaded. I need to go back, but first, I will have to get to Marrakesh, and from there, try to travel to Saudi. It will be a dangerous journey and I cannot risk taking my son with me now.

What about the mother? asked Barber, Is there no family that can help?

I have known you to be a good man, replied Abdulla Bin Sayed, ignoring Barber’s question.

Please say you will take care of my son, he said pleadingly.

Barber saw the fear in Abdullah Bin Sayed’s eyes. He felt that he was in a position to help him even if it was just for a little while.

Alright, said Barber, I will help. Abdulla Bin Sayed’s eyes were moist with tears as he warmly embraced him.

I will be grateful to you forever, he said. May Allah reward you with all His blessings, insha-Allah.

Barber was a man of integrity and did not persist in delving in the affairs of others and, without further questions, agreed to take care of Abdulla Bin Sayed’s son till he returned.

At that time, Barber was living with a South African Coloured woman and her children. He was sure that he could comfortably afford to feed another mouth as he was a forty-seven-year-old businessman who thrived in the small mining town he now called home.

He began to feel excited at the thought of having to care for a baby boy, particularly as he had no son of his own.

The boy became his pride and joy. Not only did he feed and clothe him, but he gave him the best. Not only materially, like the velvet suits which were especially tailor-made for him, but spiritually as well. The child had a gift and could already read the Quran fluently at a very young age. He loved him as his own and had almost forgotten about Abdulla Bin Sayed, who never came back nor contacted him since the day he had bid him farewell.

Seven years had already gone by, and still there had been no sign of Abdulla Bin Sayed. He tried to make enquiries but did not succeed in finding him. He was sure that something must have gone wrong.

Maybe he never reached Saudi, thought Barber gloomily. Perhaps he died before he could come back to claim his son. What he was sure of was that Abdulla Bin Sayed had given him the best gift he could ever have wished for.

The boy continued to excel in formal schooling, sports and Islamic education. Barber always encouraged him. He knew that, someday, he would have to tell the boy that he was not his biological father.

Be that as it may, thought Barber, he will know the truth but it is not necessary to tell him just yet.

He did not want to burden such a young soul with the tragedies of life. If he could delay it a little longer, he would. He wanted him to have a happy childhood without feelings of loss and rejection.

His own childhood had been a happy one, until his family had so brutally been taken away from him. For five years, he worked like a slave and would not allow anything to deter him. Since the indentured labourers did not speak any of the languages of the new country, it made them all look stupid in the eyes of their masters.

He made up his mind to excel in the languages of the country as he believed that it was a means of upholding his dignity and felt proud to have succeeded.

Chapter 4

The Proposal

His voice resonated melodiously as he recited from the Quran, which brought a tear to the eye of many already proficient religious leaders. They were impressed with this young man who appeared to have a special gift.

By this time, Sharief had mastered the Quran and the Arabic language. He was an avid reader and began digging deeply into the works of scholars, philosophers and Persian poets, his favourite being Omar Kayyam.

Regardless of being in his early twenties, he received invitations to lead the Friday prayers at the various mosques in Kimberley and surrounding areas. The community was highly impressed with him.

Although Barber was proud of his son’s achievements in the religious field, he still insisted that Sharief work with him at the barbershop so that he could learn the skill.

A man has to have a skill, said Barber prudently.

Sharief had many admirers amongst the young girls in the community as he was a handsome man with emerald green eyes accentuated by his dark hair. Although he was not very tall in stature, he carried himself confidently which made him appear much taller than he really was. He was occupied all the time, working at the barbershop with his father during the day and giving Arabic language and Quranic classes in the evening. He also enjoyed sports and took part in boxing and running activities. Hence, he had little time for girls. Also, he was not particularly overwhelmed by any of them.

Cader Bhai came to see me, relayed Barber to Sharief. He mentioned that the community was very impressed with you. He asked if you would be able to give him Arabic and Quranic lessons.

Sharief agreed and promised to make the necessary arrangements on a weekly basis.

And during the following months, he went to Cader Sulaiman’s home each week to give him lessons.

On all occasions, tea and biscuits had already been prepared and was placed on the old dining room table occupying the corner of the congested lounge. He never saw anyone else but could hear movements and hushed voices filtering through from the other rooms of the house.

On one of the evenings, Sharief noticed that the tea was not on the dining room table as usual.

They will be bringing the tea now, said Uncle Cader, noticing Sharief’s eyes falling on the table. These women have been helping with a function and have just come home.

Mina entered the dining room carrying a tray. Sharief briefly caught her eye and it struck him that it was the saddest eyes he had ever seen—beautiful eyes like dark rivulets. Her scarf hung loosely from the top of her head obscuring part of her face. Yet he knew instinctively that she was beautiful.

Sharief found himself looking forward to Uncle Cader’s lessons.

Perhaps I will get another glimpse of her, he thought hopefully, but she never entered the dining room again. He found that just being able to listen to the murmurs coming through from the kitchen where he imagined she would be was enough.

You look very happy, observed Barber. He had noticed a glow in his son.

Papa, why does Uncle Cader still have such a young daughter? he enquired coyly. I’m aware that his wife died many years ago and that he lives with his sister and brothers.

It’s not his own daughter, Barber replied, moving uncomfortably on his chair, remembering the time he had told Sharief that he was not his biological son.

Cader Bhai took the children into his home many years ago when their parents died, he explained, but the brother ran away from home and was never found.

How sad, said Sharief. The poor girl.

True, he said. I heard that they had a rough life with Cader Bhai. Could be why the boy ran away, he continued.

A strange feeling came over Sharief. Suddenly, he felt that he wanted to make the sadness in the young girl’s eyes disappear. He felt attracted to her with her beautiful sad eyes and slim childlike frame. She seemed so vulnerable and now more than ever, he wanted her.

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