Anne Thobakgale from Gauteng talks about the pain of missing her
daughter’s wedding and being in a psychiatric hospital due to depression.
Anne Thobakgale from Gauteng talks about the pain of missing her daughter’s wedding and being in a psychiatric hospital due to depression.
It was Saturday, 4 May 2019, when Gift Thobakgale walked down the aisle to the husband of her dreams.
Although the hall was full of people singing and celebrating, Gift’s mother and father were not involved.
Gift had told her mom if she dared come to the wedding, she would be removed by police.
Anne Thobakgale said her daughter went to the police station to get an affidavit to stop her from coming to the wedding.
However, Anne said she was not badly hurt because of all that happened before the wedding.
Just a few months before she was told she mustn’t come to the wedding, Anne was in a psychiatric hospital due to her mom taking her daughter’s lobola and lack of support from her husband.
Not only did her family negotiate and keep the lobola of her daughter, but they even planned the wedding, deciding the number of guests Anne could invite.
Anne was of the understanding that the lobola goes to the child’s parents, especially because her daughter was a Thobakgale. It is only when the parents of the bride are dead that the lobola can go to another relative. So, Anne felt it was unfair that other relatives were calling the shots.
This led to her suffering from depression and she ended up at the Akeso Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria. While at the hospital, she tried to mend her broken relationship with her daughter. However, even though the psychologist invited her daughter for a session, she refused to come.
Due to all the fights between her and her daughter, she says Gift had told her when she comes out of the hospital that she would prefer her to stay away from the wedding to avoid triggering her depression, as she was on heavy medication.
But things were not always bad between the two. They were once so tight that she was the first person she told about her engagement to the guy she ended up marrying. However, even on the day she told her about the engagement, she told her to not tell her grandmother, to avoid causing friction. This led to another fight as Anne says she couldn't understand why her daughter must feel bad for telling her first before her grandmother.
For Anne, the biggest problem is she feels her family is fighting for her daughter and her daughter doesn't understand that no matter who raised her, she will always be the one who gave birth to her, and thus her only mother.
She says she had Gift while in college and was forced to give her mom the responsibility of looking after her daughter while she pursued her studies.
A few years after Gift was born, Anne and Gift’s father got married, but their marriage was rocky. This affected Gift in a negative way and caused more friction between her and her mother. Things were so bad that the couple separated, and Gift had to seek maintenance from her dad. During this time, it was her grandmother who helped her with the maintenance court applications. Because of her dad failing to support her, Gift ended up having a bad relationship with her dad. Though the parents later got back together, Gift's relationship with her dad remained rocky.
Anne says that although she did not raise her daughter, when she started working she tried all she could to provide for her and instill principles in her.
But things took a turn for the worst when one day she tried to discipline her daughter after she found condoms in her bag. She says her daughter ran to her grandmother’s place because she did not want to be reprimanded for having sex at a young age. This is just one of the few times when she tried to discipline her daughter, but her daughter would run to her grandmother.
Speaking about this, Anne says one of her greatest regrets in life is allowing other people to help raise her daughter on her behalf, instead of teaching her daughter to be content with what she could provide for her, and for the two of them to struggle together.
“If I could redo things, the one that I really really regret is to have a child and give it to someone to raise," she says.
"If I didn’t do that, the child would be knowing mama [Anne] as the source of everything. There was a time I didn’t have anything, financially I was not coping, my mother, my family was the one who was trying to help. Today, things turned upside down. Is not like they were helping as if they were doing it for them. So, now we now fighting for a child.
"Yes, my mother is the one who raised the child financially and my sisters, but today the child is not mine," says the heartbroken Anne.
"So, that is why I am saying I am regretting to have a child when I was still at university and then my family taking care of my child. I was supposed to have a child when I am working, be responsible to do everything for my child and then she would know that my mom could do this. Like the three I have now, they know that mama is the source. If they don’t have, they cannot call anyone. They cannot call their aunt or granny to say help. So, that is the thing that I regret a lot," she says.
Anne adds that if there is one thing she could tell her daughter, it is that she loves her.
“I would tell her I love her and nothing will ever change my love for her."
She says she will continue to fight for their broken relationship to be mended. She also adds that she is very proud of her daughter's achievements.
"I can say I am very proud of her because she is the one who experienced a lot of things in the family, in my marriage, but through that, through thick or thin, she managed to go to university".
Anne's daughter is currently studying for her PhD. So, Anne says she is very proud that she never let the family struggles get in the way, but she went on to achieve.
"When I was at the psychiatric hospital, my wish was for Gift to come back, be on the right senses and let us build a mother-daughter relationship.
"The love that she is showing my mom and my sisters, she is not showing it to me."
Anne says she longs for that love.
She says she wishes her daughter can come to her senses, and the two can reconcile their differences. She has no grudge against her daughter, only wishing she could remember that she is her mom and she loves her unconditionally.
*Names in the story have been changed
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