PART THREE

LITTLE GIRL WITH A BRAVE HEART

Written by Shankar Puri
"“Psychologically, your brain is amazing. You just shut down. I just decided that this didn’t happen to me. But your soul, your spirit. It’s all there. It’s like a big storm inside of you. "

Here’s the third part of the story

The coffee in my cup has gone cold, but the heat emanating from my hands is enough to trick my mind into thinking that it’s still hot enough to drink. It’s the sheer intensity of the story that causes my palms to feel hot and sweaty. Leonie continues at a pace that leaves me no time to come to terms with her thinking that she was to blame for the death of her stillborn.

“I managed to make matric, I managed to get away from this guy, finally. But even through Varsity (University), it was the same pattern,” Leonie puts her cup down. “Psychologically, your brain is amazing. You just shut down. I just decided that this didn’t happen to me. But your soul, your spirit. It’s all there. It’s like a big storm inside of you. So I did really well at Art in Varsity, but nobody knew what to do with me, because I was unteachable. I didn’t trust anybody. I mean how? Especially me. How do you trust a man?” I nod in agreement, hoping that it comes across in an empathetic way, rather than sympathetic – not in my entire lifetime could I ever feel what she felt.

Leonie made it through the 4 years and received a degree and a diploma in art and teaching. She attributes her success at Varisty to the “risk” she took in studying teaching with art as a second subject to get a bursary, as in her second year she changed her course to only focus on art, something that is strictly forbidden now. She was good at art, she tells me, even has a painting from when she was 15 years old that was so good, her school called up her mother to tell them to stop doing her homework for her. But she never saw herself as an artist or someone who could have a career in art because her mother’s voice hit the notes of self-doubt.

LITTLE GIRL WITH A BRAVE HEART

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