I’m shaking all over and feel physically ill. My stomach is upset and my whole body is tense, and I’m worried about my blood pressure, because, thanks to the overwhelming debt due to Megan, I haven’t had enough money to get more hypertension tablets, so I’ve rationed them, taking one one day, and then going two days without to allow me to wait until the end of the month to get more. And today I called in sick to work so that I can go to the doctor and get myself checked out. Hopefully it’s not too bad.
This time I am not going to write this and delete it, and this time I am going to write it all. It’s time to burn this bridge.
After my mother died on December 7th last year, I was struggling with depression. When I heard that Megan was in trouble, I naively thought that having her here might help. She could help with Josh’s homework and maybe finally make some kind of bond with her son. Aishah could be in a stable and secure environment, and go to Josh’s school. We could be a family. I was wrong. And I should have known.
I paid for Megan to come here from Cape Town. Four times, I paid, and she didn’t get on the bus. Eventually her mother informed me that Megan was locked up in a police cell for five days (which didn’t explain why she missed the other three busses and I should have realized something was wrong). There was a case against her, for stealing someone’s phone. Under the impression from her mother that the case had been dropped, and having been promised that this time would be different, I allowed her to come here, with Aishah who was then five years old.
They arrived in late March, so she was in time for Josh’s birthday on April 2nd. And things were good at the beginning. Too good. In the first week, she persuaded me to take out a loan, for R120 000, with a company called Direct Access. The repayments are steep, R5 500 a month, but I thought that if I used it to consolidate my debt, that would be OK. But that didn’t happen.
Late in the first month, I was told that she had a court date, in Cape Town. (1400km away. We live in Johannesburg.) Again, I was assured that this was a formality, that the case would soon be dropped. “What if it gets postponed?”, I asked. “No, that will never happen. Van Graan (the lawyer) says it will be dropped”. Of course it wasn’t.
I ended up paying for her flights, four times up and down to cape Town, each time leaving me with both children to take care of alone. The last time, she stayed for a month, and in that month, I paid for two flights back, where she failed to get on the plane. Each time… a story. A ridiculous lie about why she didn’t catch the plane.
When she finally returned, she showed up with Jenna, from her her previous relationship. Jenna who was on the run from the police, apparently because she stole a car. Jenna who used to abuse her and pimp her out. Jenna who she had run away from. Needless to say, I didn’t let her bring that person here.
Eventually that case was settled, but she has to complete a NIKRO program to avoid getting a criminal record.
In those four weeks, and the various other times when she left Aishah alone with me for days at a time, we ate takeout. Yes, that’s my fault. We blew that money on food, flights, dentist bills of over R10000 for Megan and her new dentures, Aishah’s bicycle for her birthday in May, watching movies, going to Gold Reef City with her cousin who came to visit for two weeks, my new phone, and various other things. That money is long gone, but the debt isn’t. With my bond, the loan repayments, and my other expenses including old debt that I’m still paying off, I am struggling to pay my bills. Actually I can’t pay all my bills.
Aishah was in school. We found a good creche nearby, and Megan’s aunt paid for it. Again, I asked her, “What if your aunt stops paying?” and she assured me that would not happen. of course that was not true as well. her aunt stopped paying at the end of July, and I didn’t know straight away. After two months of unpaid fees, the told us she can’t come back to that school. It broke my heart because Aishah was doing so well there. I dropped her off every morning, and collected both children from the two schools in the afternoon. And Aishah would pretend that, like Josh, she also had homework. She ask me to help her with it, with her Abacas maths.
In around June, Megan asked me to buy drugs. (Meth, our preferred drug from the past.) When I refused and reminded her that I was almost six years clean, her response was “Who gives a fuck?” (I do.) So she found a friend in the area, and started going out some nights. Other times, she had a friend further away, and would stay out for four to five days at a time, again, leaving me with both children. I have never known where she goes or what she does.
In these six months, I’ve build quite a bond with Aishah. We’re close, not as close as her brother and I, but close all the same. And even when Megan was here, she never spoke to us or interacted with us. Also has the headphones on, always singling along to the same songs in that awful flat voice of hers, leaving me to attend to both children. Aishah loves to play hide and seek, or Monopoly, which she’s got quite good at for a six year old, although she prefers using the board and the paper money to the Xbox version of the game.
The last time she stayed away was at the end of August, and she returned on September the 2nd, a Monday. I remember that Sunday before clearly… Josh was at a friend and I’d taken Aishah to the shop with me. She chose a toy, and I let her take it but insisted I can’t buy her anything else. The she picked up this powdered milk…. called Nespray Fortigrow and cried to get that too. Eventually I relented, and she put the toy back,asking me if she can get it for her birthday next year. I agreed, but reminded her it’s a long time until then.
After that last time, I wrote on Facebook about Megan being away for a few days, she returned on a Monday. That night I went to an NA meeting and announced I was six years clean. When I returned, I heard Aishah’s excited voice as I closed the car door, shouting “Jerome’s home! Jerome’s home!” We then called Megan’s uncle who had tried to call me when I was at the meeting as he wanted to speak to Aishah. Then Megan went out with her local friends.
Aishah has nightmares, and she had a cramp that night. She insisted on sleeping next to me, which is fine with me. In my room, we have two beds, my queen size bed and Josh’s old bed. Normally myself, Megan and Aishah all sleep in the same room, and Josh has his own room. After Aishah went to sleep, I got up and was busy on my computer. I recall being on there until after midnight and Megan had still not come home. I heard her return and make a lot of noise at around 4AM.
The next day, although Aishah wanted to go to school, Megan complained that she wasn’t feeling well and Aishah could “take care of me”. Josh was also not feeling well so he stayed home, but I went to work leaving all three of them there.
When I returned, I complained as I walked in the door that I was low on petrol. “You’ll lose everything because you touched my child!” Megan accused. Aishah was sitting in the lounge, looking afraid, huddled next to Josh on the couch. I didn’t know what she was talking about so I pressed further. “Aishah told me everything!” she shouted, as she waved the knife around that she’d been using to cut vegetables. That also doesn’t mean anything to me. Eventually it came out that she claimed Aishah had told her something (I still don’t know exactly what) and that I had exposed myself to her on the bed, and told her that if she told Megan, I wouldn’t give her a birthday present the next year. No such thing ever happened, and the only conversation I had with Aishah about her birthday was the one I wrote about earlier, where she had to choose between a toy and powdered milk, and asked that I give her the present next year. Wen Megan asked Aishah to repeat what she’d said that morning, it became clear that the child had no idea what Megan was talking about.
But that’s not all… Megan was moving around nonstop. Twitching, scratching, twitching some more, then turning her head from side to side. And mumbling to herself, “Mmmm, mmm-uhmmm”, then singing. I heard her later that night, as she did fuck-knows-what in the kitchen around midnight… In between the mumbling, and singing, she exclaimed “Aishah!” as if the child was there in the room, but Aishah was fast asleep in bed.
The next morning when I drove Josh to school, he asked me if it was his imagination or if Megan was making strange noises throughout the night. I answered him honestly… Megan was probably high. I asked about the things that Aishah had supposedly told her the day before and he remarked that he was in the same room as Aishah all day and no such conversation had taken place. Aishah confirmed this to me as well.
This is what I honestly believe: Megan is using. I don’t know when she started and I have not found any evidence of drugs here, but she must be. I think that was the only day she used here in my flat, but that night when I got home and she was acting strangely and accusing me of molesting Aishah, I am convinced she was high. And hallucinating. I am certain she hallucinated the whole conversation and she actually believes it – she doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what she has hallucinated. I believe Aishah is in danger and I don’t know where she has taken the child.
I need to get to my doctor’s appointment and then I need to get some rest because I feel ill. So I’ll have to stop writing this now.
But to end off… Megan was away with Aishah for the whole of September after that week. She only returned last Friday. Then she stayed for the weekend, and left with Aishah yesterday while I was at work. Josh was here; it was his last day of school holidays. She told him she was just going to give away some clothes that were too small, then she left and didn’t come back; taking most of her clothes but leaving all of Aishah’s toys.
This breaks my heart. Every day Aishah told me what she wanted for Christmas. I love her as much as Josh, even though she isn’t my daughter. To be accused of molesting her… It’s unthinkable. To think that Megan actually believes this? It kills me inside. I am broken, deeply hurt and in despair.
And to top it all off, I didn’t notice until I got home yesterday that money was missing from my wallet (and laptop bag where I hid it from Megan). A little over R3000 altogether… There was R2000 in my wallet and there’s R700 left. And there was R3000 hidden in my laptop bag; with R1000 remaining. The rest is gone. And she did this knowing I drew the money out before my debit orders could go off, knowing how much I am struggling. And this is after I bought her a phone on Saturday – honestly that is all she cared about. I went to the police, and they won’t let me make a case because I didn’t witness her stealing the money. That’s crazy – there was no one else here.
So that’s it… I haven’t written everything because there’s too much. But it’s enough. Everything I have written is 100% true, and I’m going to share it to my Facebook and hers. I know her password, so I’ve changed it, locking her out of her Google account and both Facebook accounts, and I wrote a status on both of them last night asking that if anyone knows where she is, they contact her mother. (You can reach Heather on +27 84 795 1607.) Maybe she can have more luck at the police and Child Welfare… whatever it takes.
[Edit: She has the main Facebook account back. And she deleted my status there. I can’t share this to her wall.]
I’m terribly worried about Aishah. We only applied for one school for next year, Josh’s school, and I don’t know if she was accepted because Megan would have received the message. I don’t think she has any plan, any thoughts about getting Aishah into school even though she legally must do so next year. I don’t think she is thinking at all. Also, her mother was supposed to come here and help, so I heard, but we have been waiting for three months now, and now maybe it’s too late. We don’t know where Megan and Aishah are, or how much danger Aishah is in.