My momma and I have had a very interesting relationship over the years. I remember as a teenager we locked horns a lot, probably because I am a younger version of her, and that she was older and much wiser, and could see right through me. Right now, I always want to tell her everything, she is one of my closest friends.

Just thinking about it makes me laugh a little, I mean, the minute I get some minor inconvenience … Moooooom! When I can’t find my favourite pair of socks … Moooooom! When I feel that the world is literally trying to scam me … Oh yeah, you know it. In some ways, I was more independent as a teenager than I am right now. I would say that I am wiser and more knowledgeable, but at the same time, I am needy and in constant need of a reliable support system. A friend joked one time that it was true, moreso because I had not faced the amount of hurt, pain, guilt, sorrow, humiliation, worry or insecurities back then than I have of late. I can’t stop thinking about that. To them, the constant need to go back to familiar space is comforting, reassuring even. Think of it as recharging.

My mother.

That woman!

Fiesty, kind, great, empathetic, hardworking, loyal, supportive, loving, dedicated, strict, tough, funny … I could go on. Yet, I feel that some things ought to be kept to myself, or confided in others. We all grow up at some point. Regardless of whatever choice we make, mothers will always be there for us when no one else will. That, is a mother’s love.

This reminds me of how we related back then when I was just a little girl. My mother is a beautiful woman. I do not say this because she is my mother, but Lord, how my father described the first few times he laid eyes on her. That, friends, is a story for my grandchildren. When I talk about beauty, I mean both inside and out. A beautiful soul. A kind person. You could say that I am prejudiced, but, who cannot be when talking about their mother?

The day was a … crap. Many years ago. I was in Standard (grade) four and my sister was in five. I had just gotten back from school. The routine was, take a bath, have some uji (I always preferred white chocolate. I would make sure my aunties were aware of that. As far as my mother was concerned, we had uji. So uji it is.) and two slices of white bread buttered on both sides. We watched cartoon on the telly from four to five and while my sister probably preferred to stay behind and read a book, I would go outside to play with my friends. The town was a small one, on the countryside, where the grass was always green, the birds always chirping, the cows always mooing and faithful always praying, well, mostly. The prayers of the Muslim faithful at six every evening was our cue to go back home. Homework was done as the auntie cooked super. My parents would arrive from seven to seven thirty and we would all eat then. I was a happy child, there was nothing I ever lacked. Ours was a simple yet very fulfilling life. It still is, in some ways.

Why this particular story is very vivid in my mind is because of the way my first teeth came out. A story my father will prefer to tell my children, so I will not go into the details. However, legend has it, that I knocked them out myself. Ah, milk teeth. There is more to the story, but it is of no concern to us. That evening, after having super, we watched the telly as was usual. My parents had checked our homework and we were free to join them. We had just learnt about teeth. I remember the book we used, Understanding Science, it had a purple cover. Mine was handed down to me by my sister, who, might I add, is one of the smartest people I have ever met. I felt like that needed emphasis.

I positioned myself sqaurely on the arm rest as I smiled from ear to ear at my mother. I was super excited to let her know what I had learnt that day. I placed my tiny feet on her lap and basically bullied her to listening to me. She was probably tired, but she never showed it. My father was on the other couch, observing keenly but not saying a word. He probably wanted to see how that would go. Very excitedly, I narrated to her how we had learnt about the various types of teeth we all had, their functions and how to take care of them. Not caring whether or not some sukuma was stuck in between my teeth, I opnened my mouth right in my mom’s face and began to show her all my teeth … Yes. My entire hand was in my mouth. I really hope I did not drool on her. She smiled, and let me have it. Pointing at my incissors, canaines and premolars, I proceeded to tell her the functions and characteristics of each type of tooth. The roots, I forgot the roots. I got it wrong because I confused molars and premolars, and she let me know.

As I took my hand out of my mouth, for a split second I looked at her … Really looked at her. She had a spark in her eyes, a warm smile and the kindest gaze I had ever seen in a human being. She lit up my world in a second, and in that moment I realized that she was proud of me. It was more than just a little demo of how gross I can be if I showed you my entire set of teeth. In that moment, I realized that I wanted to be just like her, gentle and kind and most importantly, patient. She was a patient woman when it came to her children, and she still is.

I am pretty sure my father was chuckling at how in her face my entire mouth was. Yet, no one seemed to mind. My father told me the story of how I lost my teeth at my hand, first using the remote and then by the sofa. My father is a story teller, I hoped I would be as great as he is. In one way or another, I tell stories through my pieces. I hope that I can share love and cheer through them, as my father always does over my mother’s great mukimo and boiled soup.

You can be sure that my mother is on my speed dial, probably out of convenience than anything else, I trust her that much. I love her, she knows that. I was telling her that I needed a telly of fifty thousand shillings because I did’t want to have my glasses on when watching anything on screen. I need a huge screen damnit! She told me that I should get one worth thate-five. I am 23 and broke, I love her sense of humour.

As an adult, however, some things have to be done alone. I realize that the need to confide in another human being, especially on matters of the heart is a better option compared to an African mom. I mean, she will probably throw that sandal at me , but she will come around eventually. Oh yes, my mom can still whoop my ass, a tough one that one. She takes after her mother. I hope I inherited some of that. I will definitely need the strength for the decision that could change my life. Regardless of whether or not the doctor confirms my suspicions, I know that I am not alone. Neither are you.

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7 Responses

  1. I don’t think I have said this before but your words touch my very soul. At least I think that’s what they do. I have no name for emotion they evoke. Just wow!

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  1. Haha! It could, as well, have been written by him, so many people had the same thoughts, and I am…

  2. Thank you! I am kinda sad that we were unable to keep writing for such a long time. However, we…

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