This touching narrative is a rich exploration of love, grief, and the endurance of a woman’s spirit. Many readers will savour it for the insights it provides into interracial family relationships, the process of growing, survival, mourning, and flourishing. Lost Child is a rare touching account which focuses mainly on the author’s life, a woman of colour from Zimbabwe who later moved and is now settled in South Africa. The narration takes us through the extraordinary progress and liberation of a previously conventional woman, but in her case, the process of freedom is not only magical but emotional and heartfelt; which ultimately adds weight to the apt title of her book, Lost Child.
The book introduces us to a woman living in an ordinary environment and developing in extraordinary ways. Auxillia delivers an affectionate profile of the men in her life, how she grew to be the strong woman she is, whatever and who she lost and what she found in the process but above that, how God has been watching over everything for her.
The author unfolds her fast-moving story in a beguiling way. Many will consider her poignant work an intelligent narrative of a woman’s remarkable ability to fight and endure. Much of what’s wrong with her early life begins with the men in (her first husband) —and out of (her biological father) —her life. Terrified of loneliness, she endured many “things” and tried to leave Cecil, a man who, at that time, could only be called a successful sociopath.
Thus everything moved so fast when she was just a little girl, the absence of her father deprived her of anything like stability and along came Cecil and Michael who attempted to shape their idea of marriage in her mind, trying to assert, and instil it. There is a fascinating behaviour of men and women when they meet in the street and are on a course to bump into each other. Unfortunately, it is almost always the woman who diverges first to give way to the man.
However, in Lost Child, we meet a young lady who forges a path less travelled and decides to go where she wanted to go rather than allowing instincts to follow the easier and passive route. Auxillia writes about the daily conflicts that women encounter being women in a complicated, culture-consuming world. She approaches each aspect with a healthy balance acknowledging the messy, flawed nature of trying to live by a set of prepositioned principles.
The book contains many moments of extreme selfhood borne of a physical breaking point that enables her to forge her footing and in so doing, resisting the imposed, accumulated definitions of the masculine forces in her world. For example, the writer’s assertive character when she left Cecil, when she declined Rex’s kind of sexual appeasement and how she dealt with the notorious Annie. Yet what shines through in these stories is Auxillia’s respect for people and shared attitude whether it led them to triumphant advances or muddled retreats.
The one part in the narrative that would make a reader chuckle is when Annie came into the picture. She recalls, “I looked at her and said, ‘Annie, don’t see me quiet and think I am stupid. I know exactly what you’re after, and I have known it since day one, so if they are kissing, I hope they are enjoying themselves. And as for you, if Kevin does anything with you, for him, it would be the same as a paid girl: meaningless. With you, it could be free and still meaningless.”
By this time, the reader has a vivid, coherent picture of the powerful and bold woman Auxy has become. The way her friends and daughter almost manhandled the infuriating Annie, without Auxy’s telling them to, shows a natural commander behind her beautiful heart. Also, this incredible bond of female friendship subverts the false notion that women are predisposed to compete and hating each other.
I realized one thing is very different from her writing. She is not trying to explain or justify herself to the reader. Her character and heartfelt viewpoints are simply alive, unfiltered and understood. Whether flawed or flaming, badly drawn or richly nuanced, her passionate expressions are without any spin. Through this, we register emotional depth which unfolds with the same starkness as they do for the writer.
By the end of her story, we get a sense that she deserved rest and comfort after all she had been through. The author deftly blends history and autobiography into an unforgettable account. This is a wonderfully detailed retrospective and a profound exploration of the meaning of home, love, and family. The story builds and ends as the lost parts of life are found and refitted except for dear lives lost and missed. It can easily be read as a reckoning with the past at the pace of the writer’s unfolding life experiences. This refreshing perspective, along with her ability to uncannily tap into her memory, makes this book a must-read.