A Turn of Events By Shanice Hamitoni

Feb 13, 2024 | 2023 Competition, Short Story Competition, University Prize | 0 comments

Boisterous cheers filled the air in the school ground as Dedza Government School Teachers unveiled the results of the Students. Roars of joy erupted followed by applause each time a name of a student who excelled was called. However, individuals who failed to meet people’s expectations faced reprimands. One of the lousy students from Standard 6 had become the subject of ridicule and mirth as she ranked last in her class. Overwhelmed by the teasing, her emotions took over and the tears flowed down her dried cheeks. I observed quietly from afar, feeling a sense of sympathy.

The relentless August Sun beamed on my face. Summer had just begun, and yet Standard 5 was already over. Today marked my last stay at Dedza government school. I would dearly miss this school. However, the future appeared even more promising.

My hardworking father, who had long aspired for a promotion, was finally appointed as a bank manager after years of dedicated service as a bank teller.

Thus, my parents decided to transfer my older sister, Yamikani, and I to Bambino Private Schools to get a more sophisticated education.

Bidding farewell to my friends was indeed one of the most challenging tasks, particularly when it came to my closest confidante, Tamara. The unique and cherished bond we shared was truly special, and the separation brought with it a profound sense of nostalgia. For a reunion, we opted to enroll at the same secondary school.

Returning home from school, my mother had diligently prepared, carefully packing our clothes and selecting only the items she considered essential. She was a nurturing and compassionate woman who took good care of the family and when she packed, she seldom overlooked any item. However, she was also a strict disciplinarian who would reprimand us when we were in the wrong. She firmly discouraged us from playing with boys or associating with any negative influences which she referred to them as ‘Ana opanda khalidwe’. This upbringing instilled in both Yamikani and me a sense of propriety, even though there were certain desires we longed to pursue but refrained from due to fear of our mother’s disapproval.

“My dearest Yamikani and Johanna, tomorrow uncle James will come to pick you up. Please behave well, obey and follow instructions…help with household chores. We’ll call you every evening and come visit you as frequently as possible!” mother and father said sadly yet happily.


The trip was truly remarkable, we stopped by a fancy restaurant to have a delicious lunch. Little did I know that amidst all this excitement, lay something traumatizing that could change my life forever.

“Arrange your things swiftly and get ready for dinner”, Uncle James’s wife, Aunt Clara uttered as we settled in our new room.

The food was delightful and the house surpassed even that. The dining table was made of glass with shiny steel chairs. A beautiful chandelier hung gracefully from the ceiling, its crystals illuminating light in all directions of the room. What a delightful home it was!

Despite the generously spacious room, with elegant furnishings and the bed being exquisitely comfortable, covered in soft linen, it was difficult for Yamikani and I to sleep that night. A ceiling fan provided relief from the sweltering heat but we still missed home. This would mark the first time I would be away from my mother for such an extended period.

In the room directly above us, Uncle James and Aunt Clara were embroiled in a heated argument. Faint words were barely discernible until suddenly, Uncle James cried out, “It’s been six years Clara, not even a single child!” his words were met with sobs from Aunt Clara. The argument persisted for hours, and we remained wide awake until their voices gradually faded, eventually drifting off to sleep.

On the first day of my new school, a wave of nervous excitement washed over me as I stepped into the front gates. The school’s beauty was beyond my imagination, never had I pictured myself learning in such a magnificent institution. I could discern signs indicating the locations of the library and administration block. As I turned my gaze to the left, I noticed three students in a heated argument. A teacher quickly came to break it up, but I could not hear what she said from where I stood.

As I found my way to the classroom, my heart raced with anticipation. The teacher’s warm welcome and the smiles from a few friendly classmates helped ease my nervousness. During break time, some classmates approached me, each one introducing themselves. I found myself having a hard time to recall names, most had already slipped through my memory.  In the corner of the classroom, I noticed a group of girls who did not extend their greeting and it was apparent that they were the type who stuck to their own troop. I sensed that forming connections with them would be a challenge. After the school day ended, I found myself in solitude for hours as Yamikani, now in form 1, was ending classes later.

The week soon ended and Yamikani and I had started to get a grasp of how things worked. During the weekend, Aunt Clara took us to her best friend’s house; Sofia. Her residence was truly remarkable, leaving me curious about her occupation. Aunt Sofia was also a single mom with a son named Mike. Mike was in standard 7, though he appeared older for a student to be in that class. His tall frame and well-defined features made him look beyond his age, and the faint shadow of beard on his chin hinted at early adulthood. His choice of clothing showed that he was an old soul in the youthful setting. His manner of speaking and behaviour clearly indicated that he was some pampered boy.

Coincidentally, Mike happened to be in same school and this made it easy for us to become friends.

School had progressed well, I consistently ranked among the top performing students in the class. I managed to make friends, even though they frequently boasted about their possessions and often made negative comments about students who ate unappetizing meals or brought the same food to school. I had to adjust to sustain these friendships, even though deep down I knew this was not the right way to behave.

What was even more unsettling was Uncle James coming home late almost every night, drunk. Each time, his arrival being accompanied by a string of profanities and arguments with Aunt Clara. On some worst nights, their disputes would extend into hours-long fights, disrupting the entire household. During one particular intense fight, Yamikani intervened to stop the fights. I watched with a sense of shock and terror. That night, Aunt Clara slept in the guest room.

Amidst all this chaos at home, my friendship with Mike was blooming. Mike would visit our home regularly as Aunt Sophia would come to console Aunt Clara. As adults had their serious talk in the house, us children usually played cards but Mike often seemed preoccupied with his phone. On one occasion, I discreetly glanced over and caught a glimpse of a picture of a scantily dressed lady before he hastily concealed the screen. I felt too embarrassed to bring up the matter for discussion. Often times Mike’s overly affectionate behaviour and unsettling gaze on me caused discomfort. However, we got along very well and that’s what matters, right? Without a doubt, this could not be the kind of friend mother would approve of.

It was a bright and breezy Friday. The sun was shining making everything warm and the wind was blowing gently refreshing the air. It was a perfect day to be outside. Aunt Clara was going to drop us off at school when she suddenly received a phone call, “Oh, sorry, sure that’s fine, I’ll come get his clothes at noon”, answered Aunt Clara. “Mike will come live with us for a few days, his grandmother is seriously sick, and his mom needs to go take care of her” explained Aunt Clara. Yamikani and I were very excited because Mike was such a person who created an atmosphere of joy into his surroundings and his laughter had such a funny charm that was so contagious that it made everyone around him burst into laughter as well.

Time passed quickly and before we knew it, we were done with school. Aunt Clara had come to pick us up and was waiting for us at the car park. She dropped Mike and me home and immediately left, claiming she had some unfinished business. This meant we had the whole house to ourselves for the very first time.

As usual, we decided to go play outside. Out of nowhere, Mike roughly pushed me against the wall. His voice lowered to a hushed whisper, “I love you, Johanna”. Without giving me a moment to comprehend this unfolding situation, he pressed his lips firmly against mine. As though he had not traumatized me enough, he gripped my hand tightly and dragged me towards the front door of the house. My head felt hazy, as I tried to process this unexpected turn of events. I was utterly astounded.

Dragging me in the house, he pulled me towards my bedroom. He pushed me onto the bed and hesitated whether to unzip his trousers first or lock the door. I froze and was unable to utter a single word. He then decided to unzip his trousers first, leaving the door open. My mind finally started to function again and as he threw himself on top of me, I rolled to the edge of the bed. I dropped to the floor with a forceful impact, resulting in a painful twist to my ankle. This, however, did not stop me from sprinting to the nearby room, which happened to be the bathroom. I rushed in and hastily locked the door.

Leaning against the bathroom door breathless, I waited in anticipation of what Mike would do next. Would he come push the door? I silently sobbed and my chest heaved as my mind replayed what just happened. I examined my hand, which had turned red with finger marks from his tight grip, but the tingling pain from my twisted ankle was more attention-grabbing. Had I not taken action quickly, I would have permanent scars.

I now fully understood why mother had been cautious about close or intimate associations with boys. At this point in time, there was one thing I truly desired above all else: to return home to my parents and kind friends. I had grown weary of the unkind friends at school, Mike’s sexual abuse, and the late nights caused by Uncle James’s late arrivals at home and quarrels with his wife.

“Beep, beep!” the sound of Aunt Clara’s car resonated in the distance moments later, interrupting all my thoughts. It was a relief, my heart gradually calming down, like the soothing embrace of a gentle lullaby. Yamikani and Aunt Clara’s voice echoed as they neared the house and it felt like an eternity before they finally entered the house. Getting into the house, they immediately sensed some tension, recognizing that something was amiss. I cautiously unlocked the door and peeked through, just in case Mike was waiting outside. With my face red, I rushed to them and burst into tears even more. Falling into their embrace, all my worries disappeared. I would finally get justice.








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