September 24, 2020

Sorry Child, I Am My Bitter Mother

old woman

By Mwangi Macharia

No one had told us that they were important. All we knew was that they were lazy, immature, insecure characters who posed as if they had it all figured out. Their cough was our call. We answered and despised them. They knew nothing about us. They meant trouble and each time we met we constantly declared and swore that we were better off without them. Yet here we were wailing for this ungrateful, disgusting, unlovable (as we had described them) species called MEN.

“Mama” My daughter called. She had just woken up from sleep. “Yes” I replied as I quickly wiped my tears and composed myself. “Mama, where is papa?” She asked as she rubbed her eyes and stretched. I was dumbfounded. I had no answer to that question. It was my turn not to show my tears. Her eyes longed for him. “He did not kiss me good morning…” she said. Before I could respond she continued “Is he angry at me? Mama please tell.” She held my skirt.

Her eyes were teary. I could not stand them. My tears began to flow involuntarily. “What is it Mama? Where is Papa?”

I could not stand the questions. Her eyes pierced my heart her tears melted my soul. Her face was a memory. A sweet memory of my relationship with my father. I could feel her pain. The cry of her soul was loud in my ears. I no longer saw my daughter. I saw myself.

What happened to me? I asked myself. I could not understand why I had loathed men so much. Yet my old man (my father) as I loved to call him was nowhere close to the description that others had. He was loving and caring. Each morning he would wake me up to announce his departure. A slight kiss on my face and my pardon he would earn. He would then kiss my mother and whisper something in her ear that made her smile.

He was an honest man…but above all he was a man with the failings of a man. And when this became a problem his honesty betrayed him. He could not hide the guilt and the shame. He could not defile my mother by luring her into a lie. He had to confess his sins but had not prepared for the consequences of his actions.

He was thrown out. Out to the preying wolves. He begged to be accepted again but my mother could not take it in. She loathed him yet it pained her for she loved him. “Men are Dogs!” she exclaimed. All this time she had forgotten I was there. There as a witness of brutality and shame. A victim of one woman’s opinion I became. I wanted to remember no more.

My daughter still stood there, waiting for me to give her an answer. One that I did not have. For before this day he was a dog but on this day I realise his worth. He was a King. The king of my heart. A prince and a frog. He was a father and a friend yet he was nowhere to be found. He went along with his species. Now we wail.

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