My name is Asithandile Tyulu, an intern at FunDza Literacy Trust, an aspiring teacher, and a creative. I grew up in a loving, Zion Christian home and as a result I’m a Zion Christian. I’m the last born of two children – two boys. My older brother is 14 years older than me. I grew up in the rural area of Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape until I was 13, when we moved to Cape Town.

I spent most of my childhood years with my grandparents: they raised me. I call my grandmother ‘Mama’ and grandfather ‘Tata’, though he passed away when I was young. Mama taught me to be a good, respectful child, and that carried into my adolescence. She was the strongest person I’ve ever known and I looked up to her. The worst day of my life was 3 August 2017. On that morning I was supposed to be going to school – I found her cold corpse lying in her bed.

Her passing hurt in different ways; emotionally it broke me – a piece of me died with her. I carry a mental picture of her dead body on her bed; it will never fade from my memory. Financially I was dependent on her for transport to get to school. I was doing my first year in B.Ed at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and her passing meant her social grant money was not there to support me. I had to find other means of getting by.

Life is a wonderful mystery, because what I deemed to be a curse gave me an opportunity that would land me at FunDza. Yes, losing a loved one hurt, but I will always keep her in my memory and cherish the memories of her. I will always do right by her teachings. The biggest teaching she gave me was to be a good person. In the words of Jon Bellion, my favourite singer, ‘Though I am just a man who loves, gives, tries, sometimes I lose my way.’ I can really relate to his lyrics.

I am a lover of music, poetry and stories. I was introduced to poetry by my brother, who loves the work of J. Ivy. My favourite book is The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds. I love listening to music that is not all about drugs, sex and money. I believe you are what you listen to and what you read.

I have built a personal philosophy from my life experiences, the books I’ve read, and the music I’ve listened to. Although I am still young, I am thankful that I was prepared for the world from when I was a child, by my grandmother. I’m grateful to her for her life-lessons and to God for His blessings.