I have long eyelashes. They curl upwards and are pretty cool so mascara companies don’t get any of my money. 🙂 I got them from my dad. His are even so much better and fuller. This was inspired in part by that and also by my relationship with my mum.
Parents are pretty special people. Let us remember to appreciate their sacrifice always. Merry Christmas people. God bless you.
‘Roli! Stop rubbing your eyes,’ I tell my child as I follow her journey from her bedroom into my kitchen.
‘But it itches! My eyelashes keep getting into them. Besides you have been telling me the same thing since forever. I haven’t listened yet.’ She answers me with a smug smile, all the while rubbing her large doe eyes.
People tell me all the time how much Roli looks like me. I think she is a lot prettier than they give her credit for. Her face is shaped like a heart. Her lips are inordinately full and will be the downfall of many a man. Her eyebrows are full as well while mine are sparse and thinning out. She has towered over me since she was fourteen and has the kind of body that models would die for while I am squat and plump.
It is the eyelashes; those long curly eyelashes are the reason people are misled into thinking that we are more alike than we really are. Roli is more of her father’s daughter than she is mine in that respect.
‘Do you need help, Mama?’ She asks when she is done blinking and rubbing her eyes.
‘I thought your eyes itched.’
‘I will be fine.’ She answers taking the knife away from me and starting to cut the ugwu.
She cuts almost the same way as I do and I smile. I have taught her well. She is as ready as she will ever be; ready to be a woman, ready for life, ready to face the world without my hand in hers, ready for it all. I look at my child and tears blind my eyes so that I cannot see anymore. I find my way to a kitchen stool and pretend to rub at something that got into my eyes.
‘Oho, look who is rubbing their eyes now.’ My daughter says to me. She has her father’s smile.
‘Must be the onions I was cutting earlier,’ I lie.
‘Why are you looking at me that way?’ she asks when the ugwu is all cut up.
I smile at her from the stool. ‘What way?’
‘The way mothers look at their children. The way you always look at me.’ She smiles back. ‘Do you need help with something else?’
‘I think I can take it from here’ I say as I get up and turn on the stove. I know she is in a hurry to get back to her packing.
She leaves for her room and I chuckle to myself. My daughter can only stand the kitchen for so long. Even as a child, it was never her favorite place to be.
That thing that people said all the time about children growing up fast was not really true. Growth requires some kind of slowness, some kind of waiting, a period when the seed you plant remains the same for the longest time before it eventually sprouts. There is nothing of that sort with children. They don’t wait for us to notice and say ‘oh your flowers are beginning to bud so I shall water, fertilize, build you a sun roof…’ They fly past us like they are in a hurry to get somewhere and we are slowing them down.
One minute they are relying on you for their everything and then just as you are finally settling into this motherhood part you have been chosen for, you find a woman in place of the child you were just making cooing noises to. Our children don’t grow, they fly past us and we have no clue until we are being dwarfed by six feet tall 17 year olds leaving home for college, until we are watching them drive off into the sunsets while we are left with the empty homes we built just for them to fill.
I place the wet pot I washed a few minutes ago on the stove to dry out. The hissing noise it makes fill my ears so that I do not hear the footsteps that steal behind me. I only feel the arms that circle my waist and hold on for dear life. It is the same way she used to hold onto my legs when she could not reach any higher. ‘Roli and Mummy’s circle of love’, I called our hugs. It has been a while since we indulged in one of these circles.
I turn around and take her face in my hand; a face that is exactly like mine. It is covered in tears but my own mother taught me to never look a gift horse in its face so instead of asking questions, I close my eyes and cradle my six-footer baby. Underneath those eyelashes, our pain is the same. I cradle her and kiss away every fear of the unknown, every waterfall, every empty nest syndrome, every gray hair that has found its way to my head. I kiss whole every bruise, every hurt, every disappointment that life holds in store for her. I kiss my child whole and goodbye.
We stay in each other’s arms till the smoke alarm goes off and we burst out laughing.
We make dinner together for the last time for a few years. The next time we get to make dinner together, our circle is a little bigger and there is another little girl with long curly eyelashes in our lives.
Song of the day: Andrea Bocelli – The Prayer