I wrote this a while back; well at least I started it then and only just finished today. It was inspired by a woman I am yet to meet but love and admire already. She is responsible for bringing into the world and nurturing three amazing young men, one of whom is the man who owns my heart. She, my dad and every other single parent, are the stuff heroes are made of. 🙂
It doesn’t show up in her smile. Neither does it make an appearance in her eyes. You can look as hard as you want but you will find no giveaways or chinks in the armor of this woman.
My father called her ‘Superwoman’. I sometimes wonder what he would call her if he were here to witness this new strength she has taken on. His brothers and sisters whisper among themselves about her supernatural abilities. They have resorted to labels- witch, murderer, husband killer…She bids us pay them no mind but it is hard. Sooner or later, cousins and playmates repeat the words of their parents.
Most mornings, she coaxes us from slumber with kisses and songs. She caresses our sleep suffused bodies and bids us awaken to a bright new day. The songs she sings are songs of hope and love. You can listen to her melodies for the longest time and still not be able to tell of what lies beneath the pillar that is my mother.
Some other days, she rouses us from sleep with the palm of her hand. Smack! Smack!; goes her palms on our pajama clad bottoms.
‘Wake up!’ she bellows in annoyance. We are smart enough to know that these are not the days to test her patience. We hurry to the bathroom to make ready before a cane replaces her palm. Even on days such as these, it is impossible to tell of the anguish that contorts her soul. You can only assume that she has had a bad night and nothing more.
She makes breakfast while putting on her work clothes. She multitasks all day long. Praying while driving, packing lunches while listening to the ridiculous notions of children, talking on the phone to demanding bosses while dressing up a 4-year old who doesn’t know what it means to sit still. To see her from afar is to admire her and her abilities. You would never be able to tell what ails her.
I have no clue what it is she does at work. I only know that when she gets home she is tired and asks for a massage. She lies on the floor and we climb on her back, our little feet ministering comfort to our mother’s solid back and shoulders.
She moans and we giggle. She laughs in response to our giggles and soon we are all falling over ourselves with laughter and love.
‘Tomi pushed me off the swing at school today.’ The little one tells her.
He is four years old and everything that aches his tiny heart shows up every time we watch our school mates get picked up by their fathers when school is out. All we have is Mr. Sammy, the school-bus driver whom our mother has entrusted our home trips to.
‘Hmmm.’ Our mother responds.
‘I won’t let her play with my toys when next they come here.’ He assures her with the confidence a child can only have with his mother.
‘Hmmm…Jesus won’t like that.’
‘Jesus won’t like her either because He said we should be nice and she isn’t.’
She laughs and the heave of her shoulders remind me of the volcanoes I learned about in science class.
The four year old is done talking and it is my turn.
‘Mummy!’ I say as I play with her braids, straightening them out from the knots they had gotten into during the day.
‘Ma!’ She answers playfully as the four year old snuggles even closer to our mother’s bosom.
‘My teacher said I should ask you if you think you have enough money for the school trip to Ghana now. He says he can’t hold a space for me if you don’t pay this week.’
The sun is setting and the day is done. Darkness has already begun to take away from the world all that was bright and beautiful. She sighs at my question and the shoulders that were earlier buoyed by love for her children slumps. She reaches out and pulls my skinny 7 year old frame to her bosom. Our shoulders heave in harmony even though our grief is not the same. She lost a husband and I lost a father. I am my mother’s child-proud, strong, but only until dusk.
Grief only shows up at sunset, when the world is shrouded by darkness and it is easier to fall to pieces. It holds off until the birds have gone to roost and people – uncles, aunties, neighbors are siting to dinner and finally minding their own business. It waits until the shadows fall across my father’s rocking chair before reminding his wife of how he will never again rock his children to sleep. It stays its hand until we are under the protection of dusk.
When grief finally makes an appearance, there is no one there to view the chink in her armor or the tears in her eyes or the pain in her heart. Except for me and the four year old. But we know, better than the rest of the world, we know, that the pain never left in the first place. She is Superwoman but even heroes have the right to bleed. The only difference between them and mere humans is that heroes wait till it is dark, when no one else can see, to tend to their wounds.
Song of the day: Five For Fighting- Superman