“Mum! What is wrong?” My sister asks her despondent mother, who was seated on a chair motionless. She asks again, but this time around with desperation. Mother says nothing; she continues looking outside as if there was some form of movement that captured her attention. “Do you have AIDS?” My sister asks. I look at her, and wonder to myself, how does someone get AIDS by being silent? We were all lost. I was 10 and clueless about what was going on.
My Dad came back from wherever he was. He parks the car. Walks in the compound towards the room where mother was seated. He asks my sister, “What is wrong with your mother?”. My sister replies, “I don’t know,” with tears falling down her face. Where am I amid all this commotion? Maybe she’s dead! My thoughts speak to my heart.
“We do not know what is wrong with your wife, but we can recommend you to a doctor who is in Ongwediva.” We drove from Ohangwena, which is in the Northern part of Namibia to Oshakati, imagine driving 145.6 km, about 1 hr 45 min drive to hear those words from a doctor. My father makes his way to Ongwediva, with three young children and a sick wife. We made it to Ongwediva and waited for endless hours.
My father walked toward us. “Your mother has depression.” “What is depression?” I wondered in much confusion. “Just know that your mother is sick.” He drove us back home. Nothing was said, nothing explained. The following day, we got to packing our clothes. “We are going back home, to the city; your mother will get the best health care there.” I wanted to ask him, “What is depression?” however, I couldn’t bring myself to do so. The best way to deal with pain is never to mention it. I guess that was how we dealt with things.
Mom made it to Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. We all made it alive. But were we all fine? Dad called all family members, and as soon as he said depression, all stared at him blankly. No one knew what depression was, including me. They did not know about this illness; henceforth this made me more convinced that my mum was misdiagnosed with depression; instead, she had AIDS. I got a book on depression, and the more I read, the more I felt my mother’s invisible emotional pain.
She was in a dark hole like an underground cistern; she lost her self for almost two years. She was mad; I couldn’t recognize her. Physically she looked okay. Mentally, she was wounded. She was the perfect mother, she cooked, cleaned, took us to school, helped us with our homework, took us to the park and read bedtime stories to us. There were no warning signs. Her depression came just like an uninvited guest. She inherited not money, but pain.
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