She shuffles her feet around the room like a lost chicken. One part of her panicking while asking how can she have left? Where to? How long ago did she go? Perhaps I can go after her. Another part of her begged to differ saying, she is long gone. Another one struggled with the reality that they, Nyambu and herself, were left alone.
(Read the previous episode here.)
Alone? Well, yes. She insisted inside of her as she bent to seat on her mom’s bed without realising she was doing so. Alone because even though her dad was going to be around, they had never felt at home around him. And especially after what she witnessed the previous night.
In fact, fear came rushing like wind being chased from the Sahara when the slap her dad unleashed on her mum replayed in her mind. And just how he pulled her hair like the way a savage boy would let out vengeance on a Barbie doll.
The realities that come with a house without her mum began to recite themselves under her breath. As if to prepare her for the worst that was only at the preface stage at the time. For starters, the warmth in the house that comes with a mother’s presence had already left. No pullovers, jackets, boshori, scarfs, leg warmers and thick socks would ever cover up for the missing warmth.
The forthcoming nights will be longer than all the nights she has had in her life combined. Sleep is like a lover that needs to be charmed until it falls helplessly into your arms. Her mom would see them off to bed every night. She was the charmer of their sleep. And once it (the sleep) would fall for the charms, she would seal it with a peck on both of their foreheads. An ideal way of adding ounces and ounces of love to their sleeping hearts.
What she didn’t know was that her mom also used to say a silent prayer for them as she tucked them in bed. The prayer would be extended to her prayer closet which the other members of the house just know it as a store. That was her war room. War Room, the movie. Rings a bell mjango? The small room smelt like junk and old memories to them while to her (Wangari’s mum), it smelt of prayer. Some times tears too.
The intensity of the expressions of her heart to the Almighty sooted the ceiling of that room. The residual marks of her prayers being violently forced into heaven’s gates lay on the walls of that room. You know, doesn’t the good book say that the Kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force?
If you had eyes like hers, you would see a panga leaning against the wall somewhere at the corner. That is what our African – selves would call it, but the less ignorant would call it a sword and the Christians would call it the sword of the Spirit. Next to it, a breastplate of righteousness, then followed by a shield used as faith and finally, the headgear; helmet of salvation.
These my friends, are the weapons she uses everytime she locks herself in that room. Some of them have dents because you do not go to war to caress your opponent. You will beat and be beaten!
Had Wangari known about all these, maybe that would have been the first place she would run to.
But now, her mum had left without showing her how to fight her battles. To fight them without having to shout back at someone or punch someone on the nose like a pugilist. She would have shown her how to defend herself before she has to bark at someone saying, “Don’t touch me! Have some respect!” And without having to follow that up with an insult; one of those nasty ones they learn from each other in school and junkies in the neighborhood. But it would be a wine and water situation because Wangari did witness her mum take the vengeance that apparently belongs to God into her own hands just previous night.
Or maybe then her mum would teach her how to defend herself when trouble has gone too far, kicked down the door to her life’s house and is about to turn it into an abattoir.
She was to start learning how to cook. Their mother – daughter moments would come to a point where momma feels it is about time she introduced her elder daughter to the realities and responsibilities that come with womanhood. Among the responsibilities is how to go about the kitchen, the most sacred room in a house, where all life in the house is sustained. Okay, some of you may beg to differ asking, “And what will you say the bedroom is? Because life may be sustained in the kitchen but it sure is made in the bedroom.”
Still debatable. Because so to say, this corrupt generation does not pay respect to the kitchen. They see it as an avenue of extension for the kinky things you know best – as if the space in the bedroom is not enough. Well, if you ask me, I agree that the change of environment does trigger innovativeness. So maybe they find the kitchen to be a suitable place to ‘spice’ things up. Again, debatable.
She would teach Wangari that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So she would make sure she learns how to make the best chapos ever. Maybe that is what will make akina Mjango to cause a stampede and ruckus at their home in a race to marry her about seventeen years later. (That is not a wedding announcement, mjango. So stay calm, hehe.)
Her mum would teach her about what would probably be called the first nightmare that comes with womanhood. Only that this particular nightmare is not wished or shooed away by umpteen sessions in the War Room, praying. Prayer solves everything, you might say. But the reason why it will not solve this particular nightmare is because, well, it is probably the only nightmare that is not caused by the Devil. But it’s still a nightmare, also because it recurs monthly after it commences. Aha, it’s a biological nightmare they’ve called, periods.
As much as it is a nightmare, it is a perfect sign of womanhood. Womanhood is not womanhood without it. No life will be sustained without it because you know what? No life can ever be made without it. It precedes the second biggest biological nightmare which turns into joy afterwards all the time. It’s called giving birth.
So at the end of the day, it is not really concluded as a nightmare but the beauty of being a woman.
And so momma would teach Wangari that anytime then, the first beauty of womanhood would show up and she should not get scared or call for an ambulance. All she will need is to Always stay calm. (If you know what I did there, keep it to yourself.)
She’d make her understand that the beauty of womanhood comes with a package of biological elements that the Maker, in His wisdom, creativity and an undeniable taste for what is good – made to support the beauty. Because beauty is not just beauty, it is responsibility.
“My daughter,” Mama Wangari would say, “The breasts, widening of hips na kurembeka in general that you will start noticing on yourself is a God given responsibility.”
Maybe Wangari would be seated on a stool next to the kitchen counter, legs together like the good girl she is being taught to be and palms tucked beneath her thighs – facing her mum who is multitasking, like all women do. She would be cutting veggies, watching Nyambu through the kitchen window while still speaking to Wangari.
She’d continue to say, “They will continue to grow so that your body can host what will differentiate you between just a girl and a woman. Now I must tell you Wangari,” She would now turn and face her daughter. “All the physical changes I am saying you will experience sana sana on the outside – will make you a sweet target amongst boys. Sikuambii ndio uringe, I am saying that so that you should always take care of yourself. You won’t just play with boys kama watoto wa rika ya Nyambu! You must keep your distance and don’t allow anyone to touch touch you! Ukiona yeyote anajaribu usiogope kumwambia aache tabia mbaya! Na if you see nikama hasikii, you’re allowed to fight your way out. I am your mother na nimekupea ruhusa ata ya kuscream and defend yourself with all the energy you have. Usikubali! Na usikubali! Umeniskia vizuri?”
And Wangari would nod vigorously in comprehension. Her mum would wrap up that mother – daughter talk that day by telling her about how to dress. Maybe she would even run late in finishing the veggies just because it is important that her daughter learns these things as early as possible and learn it from her mum. Asifunzwe na ulimwengu, as the Swahili saying goes.
She would teach her to cover herself with a leso around her waist whenever she is doing chores and whenever she is around boys or men while working domestically. For that matter, maybe immediately after she would bless her daughter with one of her own lesos from among a few in her wardrobe. It probably would have one of those hilarious yet sensible inscriptions like,
‘Mwanamke sio pikipiki wa kupanda na kushuka upendavyo.’
She would warn her about wearing short and revealing clothes. “Funika mikono kutoka kwa mabega at least mpaka kwa,” She would tap a part of her body constantly and say, “Si unikumbushe!”
Wangari would immediately get what she is trying to say and will utter quickly, “Elbow!”
Aha hapo! Funika mpaka kwa elbows.”
Sticking a firm index finger out she’d say, “Funika mapaja! Umeskia? Na pia you cover your chest!”
She’d tell her that as she grows up, through associations with her friends and the longing to catch up with the latest trends, she would be tempted to wear such clothes. And such as that do beckon the devil to take advantage. She would use two terms that would have stuck in Wangari’s mind; decency and self respect.
But sadly, Wangari is still seated at her mum’s bed. Trying to fathom the inevitable realities but no where close to knowing that her mum left rather too early. She left before she could teach her all those things. Most of those things, she would come to learn the hard way.
She tells herself that she has to be her own mum now and maybe her small sister’s mum as well. But her naivety bars her from knowing that she is not even close to knowing how to take care of herself. The lessons she would have learnt from her mum mentioned in the previous lines would be the blueprint for her growth from a girl to a lady and to a woman eventually. That it would be her defence manual from ill hearted souls of men. She doesn’t know that her mum left without giving her the blueprint. She doesn’t know that her life is about to take a rude turn as a result.
To be continued…
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Written by The Mjango

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4 years ago

Very cool n many should read it

3 years ago

Sad reality. Good storytelling though.