By Mwangi Macharia
I could not let the silence continue. It was weighing me down Papa. I no longer saw Mr Mukandi nor hear his name being mentioned. It was sacrilegious even to think of him. This was Mama hurting. She could not imagine repaying her former pains to a dead woman. Yet Mr Mukandi was a rude reminder of all that she desired to forget. At the same time he was the only person who kept Mama sane.
Mama was still in the bedroom. I was used to daily sobs as she lamented to the almighty on why he could let her face such an episode in life. “Why do you punish my son for what neither of us knows?” This was her wakeup call and her last call at night. I could not bear it any longer. I had to. I had to commit the taboo. Yet Mama could not know of it till it was done. I would go to see Mr Mukandi.
The ambiance of the compound resonated with the clear sky. The sun had made up its mind to smile rationally to avoid the damages of its laughter. The sky blue gate displayed its brilliance as if it were summoned to do so. But I was not here to admire the beauty from the fence. Nay! I was here to get a solution.
I pressed the doorbell twice and waited. I did not search for any posture for I could not afford the luxury. My patience was wearing out. I could not hold my frustrations any longer. I pressed the doorbell six more times. “I am not deaf!” Mr Mukandi shouted from the other side of the gate. His footsteps were drawing nearer. I could not hold my tears neither did I want to hide them. Mr Mukandi opened the gate with furry painted all over his face. His mouth was as ready arsenal awaiting to release its content. But at the sight of my teary face he grew speechless.
“Yusuf….” His eyes were filled with compassion but he did not know what was happening. “What is happening? Why are you crying?” I could not utter a word due to my uncontrollable sobs. Mr Mukandi ushered me in his compound. As soon as I was in he closed the gate behind and placed his hands on my shoulder as he carefully caressed my arm. He said nothing as we walked to the house.
He opened the door and signalled me to enter. He returned the door and went straight to the kitchen. He did not say a word. It’s as if he knew what was happening to me yet his face showed a clear sign of bewilderment. His house was bright. The ash colour on the walls resonated well with the golden curtain rails that were fitted with matching curtains. Above the fireplace there were pictures with well in scripted calibrations ‘My loving wife Raquel’. Her beauty was splendid. Next to hers was Mama’s picture. Though it was a picture taken in her youth I could recognise her.
The puzzle of what Mama’s photo was doing in Mr Mukandi’s house begun to hound my thoughts. I stood up slowly and headed for the photo. Her smile warmed my heart. For a minute my troubles were long gone but they cruised back when I saw an inscription on the frame made by a red marker pen. “Never shall you leave my heart.”
He loved her! Yes! It was a sign of good things but worry flooded my heart.
Would he still love Mama now? Did he even have the slightest idea that Mama’s glory had been taken away by the depression and the stress? I could not contain my tears. They flowed freely. The vivid images of Mama kept crossing my mind, intensifying my sobs. But I remembered I am a man. I had just committed a sacrilege for men do not cry (So I thought). “Do not hold it back” the voice of Mr Mukandi resounded in my ears. I quickly turned only to find him standing behind me. He had already placed the glasses of juice on the table and had stood to watch me.
“Son…” The sound of this was heaven. At last one of my longings had been fulfilled. I always wanted him to call me son. “Yes da…” sobbing could not allow me to respond fully. The sound of Mr Mukandi calling me son had overwhelmed my heart. He did not wait for me to respond. He moved and embraced me. “Do not worry, all will be well.” He said in a reassuring voice. He then ushered me to sit next to him and handed me the glass of juice. “I knew you would come my son. It was just a matter of time.”
“How did you know?” I asked as I wiped my teary face. He could not respond to that. “Leave that alone. Your school fees has been paid.”
“What?” I could not believe this. “How did you know about my fees?”
“I met your mother the day she was fired.” He said as he reflected. “She was so sad and wanted nothing to do with me. She kept cursing about how men were dogs.” This was new. I could not believe that Mama could do that.
“I asked around from her friends at work who told me that she was fired.”
“Why?” I asked
“Because of her dignity and stand.” Mr Mukandi said turning to face me. “She is a good woman. She is worth more than treasure.” Mr Mukandi said and gave a big sigh as he shook his head slightly.
We took juice silently. No one dared speak. The silence was tangible. By this time darkness had started to set in. “I will take you home now.” Mr Mukandi said calmly. “What about Mama?” I asked. “It’s time she knows how I feel about her”