As I watch my mama doze of on her squeky leather seatee I can’t help but smile and thank God for all the trouble she has been through but one way or the other rose above it. Age has beaten her up but you can see the beauty and grace that old age has not only spared but also had no guts to take away from her. Everytime she smiles I feel satisfied and complete because between the two of us lays a story of pain, tears, shame, disgrace and the cloud with a silver lining.
“KANJO! KANJO!…” is the last thing I heard and the next thing everybody was scampering everywhere. Mother picked her goods of trade( which time to time varied from socks to bras and hankercheifs depending on the season), held my hand and started running for her saftey. As we ran, I was somewhere in the middle off ground flight and jump-running since I was barely stepping on the ground. It was hard for mama to keep up with the speed of other hawkers since she had the burden of me, she tried, but this was one of those days when luck was not on our side. She fell down head first and even befor she could raise her head, the city council officers landed on her with clubs,blows and kicks.
Mother acted as my human sheild doing her best to protect me from the meciless beings who hit every part of her body like she had offended the public by trying to sell her ware so that she could provide for her baby. From under mama’s bossom I could see the smurk and satisfaction on their fat faces as they left her for dead. Each sigh and morn of releif was like a victory dance on their side. Their eyes were empty of humanity, and the way they swinged each blow kick and club, its like the haad mastered the art of murder using a blunt weapon. One of them with no shame of sense of pity or at the very least empathy, came back and took mama’s goods and the little money she had made and went away like her conciousness did not bother her any bit.
People passed by and just like in the Bible nobody looked twice nobody came near. The sad part was that this time unlike in the holy book there was no good samaritan. Nobody cared to atleast check if the lifeless woman with a five year old child lying in the middle of the street motionless was okay. They were all too busy to be concerned with the life of a lowlife. Beside, she had no value to them.Beside she was better off dead than the noise she made as she advertised her ware. It was her fault, all faces seemed to say. It was her fault that she was a woman, semi educated and not rich. It was her fault that she did not have a white collor job or a husband to provide for her and her baby. Isteada of offering help on in the very best consolation as a proff that we were al human, all their eyes did was judge. Their stares were icey cold as they waked briskly away with their noses hanging high in the air like we did not breath the same.
I had no option but to sit there and wait for mommy to wake up. Atleast I hoped she would, because that is the only thing I knew in my life. Besides mama, and the few friends i played with on the streets, I knew nothing else. I thus had no other option but to wait. After what seemed like an entire day sitting beside her under the scotching sun with nothing in my tiny belly, mama opened her eyes. she was so febble to stand and she uttered one two words only “mami maji”. I had no money or knowledge of how to use money to get her water, but my chilhood endless hope and belief in people made me stand and beg every one of them that passed by for water by simply saying “saidia maji”, like i had heard older street children beg from time to time. Many passed by not looking at me twice, and when they did it was that same old look of disgust. I could not blame them I was dirty and poor.
Luck atleast passed by my door after some time. A young man dresseed in a well cut and pressed suit passed by and was kind enough to throw at me his half finished bottled water and brown paper that had somewhat the remains of a what until now I can not disern if it was a hotdog or burger since it was mostly crumbs. I fed it to my weak mother . She had some and left me the rest. When she had regained enough composure and rest she held my hand and we started our journey home. Each limp a reminder of the brutality and animosity she had gone through. My childhood had been injured forever. How would I veiw people in the same way again?
Mama limped all the way and she did not complain even a bit. I could not help but admire her courage and grace, but what confuced me , was how she could take it so strongly. I was five and bitter. My little trust in people especially law enforcers and rich people had been scrapped away with every blow and kick they gave my mother. When we got home later that evening, I said to my mother out of sheer innocnce and bitterness “mum watu ni wabaya” (mum people are bad). I have never seen my mum as angry as she was that day. She went ahead to explain to me that people were not bad and that we were all children of God and that he created us equally.
Equally she said. No lie but that little speech haunted me through my childhood and teenage years. I did not understand how we were all created equally yet some of us had authority over others. Mother being beaten up by a fellow humanbeing was part of it: It was just two months since mother and I had been chased from her father’s compound by her elder brothers telling her to go back to her husband my father. The same husband who had battered her almost to death, and if given the chance would have hacked poor me to peices. They wanted her to go back to the same husband who had the guts to put her aching body in pick up track and her belongings in a yellow paperbag and dump her body at entranceof the same compound she was being chased away. They wanted her to go back to my father’s house. The same house that he had refused to take care of a female child and her uncountable times because she could note bare forth a male child.
It still confused me how other humans were so mean yet had so much wealth to their disposal. Mother skipped from sand trucks to lorries to get the two of us to Nairobi and when we got here she was assured of a palce to stay at her grandmothers place, since she was family. But that was not the case when we got there. Nobody wanted to be associated in her. We slept by the chicken coop, as the empty beds were occupied by dust and cold. She worked her back off in their houses so that she could get something for us to eat. Their children were instructed not to play with me. I was poor and I would infect them with my poverty virus it was contageous.
It disturbed me how we were all fair and equal yet some of us had to work more than others, suffer more than others, cry and bleed more than others, yet we would not be as rich as them as hapy as them and as fulfilled as them. It was sad that it seemed to me that some people were built for the suffering while others werre born with a silver spoon.
That day when mama was battered in the midst of people on the streets of Nairobi was an eye opener and the beginning of life for mama and I. One way or another we got past that day and mama was able to establish herself again. It was not easy. Actally the longer road was that of struggle. I can remember of the nights she came home tired and weighed down yet she could still afford a smile because she still wanted me to keep my hope in life and a good days to come. I can remeber of the stinging balancing tears that I saw on her eyes everytime my chilhood curiousity asked her where daddy was, and why nobody loved me the way she did. Up till today, I can here her muffed sobs every night. She had no intention to let me in on her pains and struggle. she wanted me to live like every other child, but growing up I realised that i was nothing close to the nomalcy level of other children. My experiences as a child had recreated the way I think and went about doing things and iinteracting with other people.
I felt guilty growing up. I felt that it was my fault that mother nolonger had her youth. I stole her youth and its beuty when I was born. I blamed myself for every situation she had to go through simply because she wanted me to be comfortable. I worked hard in school each time and became excessively overcompitent because I wanted to impress my mother. I loved how the frays on her face and her eyes lit up everytime I brought home a good reportcatd, or was the best at games or drama, or each time I came home with the urgency to tell her somthing new. I always worked to be the best not because it was satisfying to me, but simply to keep my mother happy.
Each day I could tell myself that every time I burry myself behind a book, mother was breaking her back somewhwere to provide for me, anad thus I had no choice but to make her happy. I kept telling her that I would bw a woman lawyer one day, and that we would live like kings. I promised her that no other woman would ho through waht we did. This was my motivation every single day. I wanted todo it for my mama. I wanted to redeem her eggo and rebuild her pride. I wanted her to feel whole again. I wanted the best for mama, just the same way all her intrests were focused on me. I was my mothers daughter, so I told myself every time i wanted to give up on the dream.
As I watch mother sleep, old age eating her up, I remember that my priorities have changed, and all I care about right now was her. Whta other people said or did to me did not matter.All that mattered is that mama was happy and at peace with her. I had grown up as a bitter child, because of all the offensive things that had happened around me with time, but mama was that one person that kept me happy and going. She was my achor
With time I came to understand mothers little speech about God and equality. God kinnda like had a scale that he used to give people alittle of something and so much of the other. Look at mama and I for instance. Our lives were fulll of misery and mama sacrificing alot of her for me, but at the end of the day we were happy with each other. When we were together it was like our own little heaven we loved we laughed we cried. We had not so much cash to afford luxury or a big house with big warm beds and all kinds of food, toys and vacations, but at the end of it, we had each other. She had me and I had her, and that is all that mattered to the both of us.
Mama and I are each others strength and we keep pushing each other to the limits. I might not have mama forever, but I atleast know, MY MOTHER’S STORY will live on forever through me. I will be just like my mother, and more to my children, because trough all the dirt and dust we have gone through, I have realised that, she is my Superman, without the wind under her arm, but simply with her lesso and her unconditional love and selflessness.
Weak mothers work to satisfy their needs…strong mothers do their duty