Even When They Say You Can’t

By Dineo Nyakale

Based on a true story.


You know when you feel like the world is just swallowing you whole and you can’t breathe any more… Well that feeling resided in me for a long time and it was all because they said I can’t.

I thought it was going to be a smooth ride to my Matric year, but most of all, I thought my plans for varsity were all in play, but man was I wrong. Just when I thought I was in the right lane, my life took a left turn.

I fell ill in grade 11 just after the leadership camp we went on and I’d been looking forward to the exams that were standing in the way of me and my Matric year.

One Monday morning my leg was feeling so heavy and sore but I thought it was osteoarthritis (a joint disease that mostly affect cartilage) as I had been diagnosed with it the year before. So I did my routine to ease the pain. I went to school but my leg got worse; it swelled up and my foot couldn’t fit into my shoe anymore. I had to walk barefooted for the rest of the day. I called my grandmother and asked her to please check if my doctor was available and oh bless this woman, she did and told me to make my way there after school. As I predicted the doctor said it was osteoarthritis and he gave me medication, put me on rest for the remainder of the week and told me to come back on the Monday. To cut the story short I ended up being referred to hospital as my foot was getting worse.

I lost focus of everything and this situation really tempered with my faith, but I kept going on. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me: at first it was a fractured bone, and then it was a cyst, then I was told they would have to cut off my foot. I almost lost it but my grandmother kept me going. It forced me to stay home for almost over three months and I just made it in time for my exams in December. I wrote my exams and didn’t do too well but I didn’t give up; I told myself that I will work harder in Matric.

My Matric year started and just after my birthday I lost the one man that I called daddy, my great-grandfather. Just when I was dealing with that loss I fell sick again and this time around I stayed home for a month. I missed out on a lot of work to a point where my principal suggested that I lay off school and that I should do my Matric the next year. My grandmother and I talked about it and we both refused. So the principal said to me, “you won’t make it, and even if you do you might not even get a diploma pass.” I took those words to heart and it was then when I decided to prove her wrong. Not only that, I would prove to everyone that nothing you put your mind to is impossible.

My leg got better after I went to see my pastor at church and trust me when I say that it was then that I knew that God was right beside me. So, the second time I got sick was because I had an infection as I used a very dirty restroom a month before. I had to do pap smear just to make sure that the infection didn’t do any damage.

Friends people, friends… we’ve got to love them, but they showed me flames I tell you.

At that time I had a boyfriend and he was quite supportive of me during everything. So I let my friends know how that he had been there for me; how he would come and check up on me and at times he would bunk school just so he can check if I’m doing good. My friends decided to go to the principal and spin a story, saying that I was living with a man and that is why I was not attending school. I was so angry when I heard all of this but the most painful part of it all was that my friends did that to me.

The principal demanded to see my medical records so that she can be sure that I have been telling the truth. I did as she asked for I had nothing to hide. She not only read it but she called in her doctor friend to verify the document and, right there in her office, I had been medically checked by the doctor. She asked me why I had to do a pap smear and I let her know that I had an infection and it was standard procedure to check that all was well. She said, “the only time a pap smear would be performed is for women who sleep around.” I couldn’t help but shed a tear that afternoon and for hours I found myself roaming around not knowing where home was.

I must say that crushed my soul.

After that incident I was called all sorts of names by some of the teachers; “your highness” was one of the few, and comments like, “did you do the assignment? Were you well enough to complete it?” were usually said to me. Funny enough I would give them good pieces of work and in the given time.

There was another reason why I pulled through and that was to make those teachers that had faith in me proud of me when I did what they said they knew I could do. So my Preliminary exams came and my marks started to pull up. It was then when I would ask the teachers for extra lessons either in the morning or after school and indeed they helped me out.

The final exams had arrived and all they said to me was now is the time to prove why you fought to stay in Matric. Indeed I did! I pulled all night study sessions and even studied with friends.

It was the day of release of the Matric results and I couldn’t sleep a wink. I stayed up till I felt it was safe enough to walk to the petrol station with my friend to go look for the paper. To my disbelief I opened the paper and there it was in black and white. I had gotten a “B” and for a moment I was confused and I started asking around as to what that symbol meant. A kind lady said to me, “well my girl, you got yourself a Bachelor pass and congratulations.” My heart really skipped a beat and I just cried! I called my grandmother and told her the news all she said to me was, “I knew you could do it.”

So I got to school to fetch my statement and I was so happy that I would face the one lady that had said I wouldn’t make it. Guess what she says, “I knew you had it in you and I’m so proud of you”- all I said to her was I couldn’t have done it without the support of the teachers that always said I COULD!

So I say to you no matter what situation you may be facing, this is not the end of it. It will not always be easy, neither will it always be hard, but all you need to do is know yourself and your worth; know your goal and indeed you will achieve it.

One thought on “Even When They Say You Can’t

  1. Well Dineo, you certainly did it, despite all the ‘nay-sayers’. Sometimes I think of them as positive propellers in our lives. We tend to work harder when we have to prove ourselves. This is particularly one of the reasons that today’s woman is also so powerful, there’s a lot going against her. Proving herself becomes her life’s goal. You go girl!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s