The thought of a woman in her eighties would naturally paint pictures of a hoary-headed female who most likely should have lived long enough to have her own children, her children’s children, and now be having them act as the much-needed pillar of support in coping with old age vulnerabilities.
However, this is quite the opposite in the case of Annonciata Mukarukaka.
Born in Rwanda, Annonciata was unfortunate to have lost her biological mother at only four months old, which left her in the care of her grandmother. Fate would, however, deal the poor little child another fatal blow as the cold hands of death snatched her grandmother away a couple of years later, forcing her to be at the mercy of her stepmother who made life unbearable for her.
In a bid to get away from the domestic abuse, Annonciata moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Life, however, didn’t get better in the DRC, as she later found out, and she had to move back to Rwanda when news reached her that her family had been circulating news around that she was dead and had been buried.
Pouring out her heart to Afrimax English in an interview, she said, “After a while, I found out that my family was telling everyone that I had passed away. When I heard this, I quickly returned home.
“When I got there, people were surprised to see me, and some thought I must be a ghost.”
Coming back home didn’t change her luck, however, as her father died not quite long after and she was completely left at the mercy of her stepmother who never relented in her hate for her.
“Even though I was back, life didn’t become easy for me. My stepmother who was taking care of me didn’t make life simple. She kept causing problems for me and made my life difficult,” Annonciata narrated.
The grief that followed her father’s death and the urge to get married like the other girls her age forced her into a union with a man whom she thought would finally give her love and a sense of belonging.
Things didn’t go as planned, the octogenarian said, as the man she married turned out to be a serial cheat and a fraud who was only interested in taking other people’s properties.
Recounting her ordeal, Annonciata said, “Right after my father died, my life became bad and the whole family hated me, and that was when I married that man who also behaved badly, and kept sleeping with other women and taking property”.
Annonciata got married to her husband but remained a virgin till this day because her husband, for some strange reasons, refused to consummate their marriage.
They lived in the same house and slept on the same bed for years, Annonciata said, but they never had any sexual relationship. The aged woman said her husband regularly went out to sleep with other women but neglected to have any sexual relationship with her.
“How am I still a virgin at 80? I married a man, but he used to go and sleep with other women. I did not know anything about the act of love until my friends talked to me about it.
“I asked my husband why we didn’t make love but he ignored me and left. Until now, I am still a virgin”.
Forced to move on from the disastrous relationship, Annonciata has been alone ever since, with nothing to call her own except for a rickety hut she lives in, a wooden bed, and random pictures of people from newspaper cuttings pasted all over her bed space.
In these strange faces, Annonciata has found company and a connection. “When I feel lonely, I look at these photos around the house because they are people I live with. I don’t bother to go out and walk around because I have nowhere to go”, the poor old woman stated.
Annonciata lives on the meager proceeds she makes from weaving mats from dried leaves and twigs.