It was just another Wednesday afternoon and I was on my way from the office; heading home to Katlehong.
I had my backpack, my camera and equipment as well as my skateboard on me when I got on the train at Park Station that was heading home via Germiston. I’d used the train many times before. But although I preferred taking taxis, I was a regular on the train last year because I was fascinated with young people who sell their goods on the train and had decided to do a photo essay on them. So, any time on the train was an opportunity to take pictures of all the different things these young people sold. Sometimes they were selling snacks, body lotions and socks and anything from mealie meal to fruits and juices.
Everything was always cheap and I wanted to know more.
I was in a coma for five days
On this particular Wednesday everything went blank.
The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital, confused by the lights and the clothes I was wearing. I was surprised by the drips and other medical equipment around me. The next thing I felt was enormous pain. It was everywhere. In my head. My jaw. My hands. My legs. What was worse was that as much as I wanted to scream, I could not make a sound or open my mouth. Luckily the doctor came to check on me. She asked how I was feeling. When I tried to talk, I couldn’t open my mouth. My jaw had been screwed shut.
She explained that I had been in a coma for five days because I had been robbed and pushed out of a moving train.
Luckily someone had found me in the bushes somewhere between the train station in Germiston and Katlehong. They called an ambulance and that’s how I ended up in New Natalspruit hospital, in the East Rand.
I lost my memory and my possessions
I couldn’t remember anything about my life to this point, only bits and pieces from that day. I could not even remember my name.
Unbeknown to me, my phone was still in my pocket (when I got to the hospital) and one of the nurses gave it to me. My parents had been trying to get hold of me for five days and the nurses had called them back. That’s how my parents ended up finding me at the hospital.
I did not know the full extent of my injuries yet. But I later found out that three of my fingers and my right leg were broken. My jaw was broken, so I couldn’t eat, speak and was on a liquid diet for several weeks.
Piecing my life back together after three months in hospital
I spent almost three months in hospital before getting discharged into my parent’s care. It was hard getting used to normal life again. I could not do most of the things that I used to enjoy.
I could not, for example, have my favourite food with my colleagues. Because of my broken foot, there was no way that I was getting on a skateboard anytime soon. And due to what happened to my fingers, holding a camera was also out of the question. I could not even hold a pen; I had to learn to write again using my other hand.
It is very tough. I was depressed, frustrated and alone and it hurt.
It’s March 2016 and I have the full use of my hands again. I can walk, talk and I am slowly picking up the pieces of my life again. I lost my camera, my favourite hobby – skateboarding and all my work. And what is worse, I still have not reported this incident to the police because I still don’t remember exactly what happened on that Wednesday afternoon in November. To an extent, I still can’t get over that fact that I lost a big chunk of my life that afternoon.
Photography by Siyabonga Mkhasibe