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When I looked at the mirror, I am stunned by my appearance. I am beautiful, gazing at myself on the mirror, i could see the enjoy and excitement on everyone’s face from the mirror. The room was packed full of relatives, those I knew and had never seen, except for my mother.
I wish my mother was here. The sudden longing for her takes a hold of me and there is this tightness I cannot explain in my chest. It is hard to breathe. My mother should be here, weaving my hair and telling me how beautiful I look. She should be here. I remember her like I saw her yesterday. She was so beautiful and in my eyes she walked on water. I did all I could to make her laugh more often, my father took her laughter with him when he left. From what I am told she caught my father’s eyes at her coming of age dance and in no time he had paid her bride price and taken her to Ibadan with him. They had being married for six years in which she had given birth to me before the fever caught him.
The overseas fever. He became obsessed with going overseas, going to the land of opportunities. It was all he talked about. Eventually, dream became reality. He went overseas when I was six years. I remember the departure day in bits and pieces. My mother was so happy. She kept on telling me my father was going to the white man’s country to make money for us to come and join him.
That probably was the plan initially but I guess things changed. In the beginning, the letters came weekly, then monthly, then once in three months, and then they stopped altogether. I learnt early on in life how powerful hoping is. My mother functioned on hope; hope kept her going those three years. She went to the post office everyday and even when she came back empty handed, she would say “I would go back tomorrow”. I cannot recall when I stopped hoping. At a point I just knew that we were not going to hear from my father.
I was nine when the envelope came. It was big and brown and the handwriting in front was really ugly. My mother danced and sang praises to God for his faithfulness. I sat quietly in a corner; waiting. When she read the letter that followed the documents in the envelope, I saw hope drain out of her. I know now that when a person becomes hopeless is when they really die. As long as you have a little faith, something to hope for, you go on pushing.
I wish she had shed some tears that day. I wish she had screamed and thrown things and cried, maybe I would still have my mother. Instead, she became still. She called me and sat me on her laps and told me my father is no more my father and he is no more her husband. I did not understand but I could not ask questions. I could not ask her what we did that he did now want us anymore. I later learned that he had to marry a white woman for a green card and when the white woman found out about us and told him to divorce us to remain a citizen.
Some days I am angry and I want to see my mother and ask her if I was not enough to keep her going, I want to ask her who she left me for. Other days, I am just a girl that needs her mother. I was ten when I came from school and met her on her bed. I knew she was not just sleeping. Then I saw the empty bottle of drugs on the floor. I picked it up and threw it in the dustbin then I lay beside her. She felt so cold when I touched her. I do not know how long I lay there; I just lay by her side. Time passed but it did not matter. I did not want to leave her side. My mother’s best friend found us like that. She alerted the neighbors and took me away from my mother. That singular act made me dislike her; I was where I wanted to be.
The doctor said she had a heart attack in her sleep. I know that is not true. She had just run out of reasons to live. I never mentioned the empty bottle of drugs. It never seemed right. It is our secret. I do not think of my father, I do not hate him. I come up empty whenever I try to connect him with any sort of emotion. I feel nothing. In a perfect world I would have the unconditional love of both my parents but in my world my father chose a green card over his family and my mother ended her life because she saw no reason to keep on living without my father.
It’s my day, the compound is packed full of relatives and well-wishers. If the dead see, I hope my mother sees me.
image via Piecebypeace
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