Book Reviews

Now I Understand Why It Had to Happen: How life would be if we were to give up.

 Author: Patrick Neo Mabiletsa (Dec 20, 2012)

 In his memoir “Now I Understand” Patrick sensitively explores the themes of love, loss, pain and relationship against the earthy backdrop of South Africa. He is exposed to the often harsh realities of life. These realities shape his personality and destination. He questions life and implements truths he has learnt to achieve his goals. One of his challenges is to understand what love is. His love for his mother grounds and shapes his awareness of love which serves him in the many choices Patrick makes.

 As a child, he lived in a time when South Africa was divided by the laws of Apartheid. Patrick searches for truth. Despite the injustice of Apartheid, Apartheid provides an opportunity for his growth as a forgiving and questioning person. His courage to battle adversity speaks of heroism. Patrick’s story is a story similar to the myth of Sisyphus, but Patrick breaks free. He sees his way past incessant blame and mental pain.

 Early in “Now I Understand” Patrick asks his mother “but, where is my father?” Patrick’s mother does not tell him. He suffers greatly in his loss—it was the not knowing. Even through this event, Patrick loves and trusts his mother. It is his initial love and trust in his mother that enables Patrick to love more widely, more fully and to grow in faith. Patrick goes beyond himself, and beyond the often dreariness of human existence, to discover the mystery of God and God’s love.

 This is an open, honest story of survival under difficult and heart breaking circumstances. Through his journey into fatherhood, adverse circumstances haunt Patrick in many ways. Today, while Patrick has found love and some peace, he still struggles, as we all do, to live a life of grace. His struggle is sensitively depicted; a poets voice. His triumph over tragedy makes Patrick the hero of his own story.

 Patrick’s unique voice came across in a way that drew me into his story. One would not want to change this. However, because the work could use a tidy up I have given four stars instead of five. Patrick knits his story together neatly. The difficulties he faces means there is plenty of conflict.

 Some moments of “Now I Understand” are:

 The best story my mother ever told was when she said that she used to be an athlete, she use to run in school and she used to win, I sometimes looked at my mother and laughed simply because when I looked at her she did not even look like someone who could run. It was funny listening to my mother talk, she would smile first, revealing the most white and fabulous teeth ever, …

 

“My mother taught me that prayer is a communication between God and people and that if I ever feel like I am in trouble or I feel like something is worrying me a lot, I should use prayer and also use faith. She used to say;—”If ever you are in trouble, and mommy is not there, just say God help me” God will fight for you; she said.

Patrick  writes of his first wife:

 And that is how I knew, I loved her, because her sufferings were my sufferings, …

 

She finally passed on after giving birth to our daughter Tlhogi, and since then the pain I endured was the worst I have ever felt, …

 Patrick’s story is a story of how to live when life hurts. It’s a story of hope and faith—a story of the heart.

Sandra A Jobling

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