As the world celebrated Mothers Day last week, I found myself thinking a lot about you. Oh what painful thoughts I have of you mum. I remembered (painfully) what I went through as a child and my heart was sad. Today, I keep asking myself if I would the same to my kids and I can only come to one conclusion.
Just in case you have forgotten mum, I haven’t. I don’t think a day passes without me remembering you mum. Please take a seat and allow me help you remember:
Unfortunately, the earliest memory of my interaction with you is when you had to carry my sister to the hospital after every 6 hours. I don’t know what had happened to her but I remember you carrying her to the hospital on your back every 6 hours day and night for a certain shot.
I also remember when my creative madness inspired me to make a car out of an old calendar. Proud of my brand new innovation, I stepped out to test drive it. I had just left the house when I glanced at the rear view mirror clearly fascinated by my latest achievement that I forgot to look in front.
My joy was short lived as I had a head on collision with a pot of githeri that was on the jiko boiling. The pain must have been too much because all I remember was you coming out of the house running. You put me into the family ambulance (your back) and rushed me to the hospital. With half of my thigh severely burnt, you took up the role of the “night nurse” taking care of me all through those long and lonely nights. (Back then, there was nothing much to do at night since TVs closed down at midnight and there were no DVD players.)
I also vividly remember a day when my madness “told me” that I was a grown up and I could reinvent circumcision. I decided to take a “short cut” as foolish as that sounds now, at that time I was convinced I had found a way to evade the pain of the cut. A few hours later I woke you up again in the middle of the night with “minor complications”, you put me in the family ambulance and off to the hospital we went. Thank God you did not listen to that drunk doctor and whatever prepositions he gave you.
As if that was not enough, I decided to put a bean in my nose. We tried everything but the silly thing wouldn’t come out! It just kept vibrating inside my nose. Oh dint you have fun! You laughed at me and teased me that the bean couldn’t be removed so it would have to grow out of my nostrils and branches would grow out of my nose and ears. And people wonder where I got my madness from?
Long story short we had to go the hospital at night (in the family ambulance) and I don’t remember how the doctors managed to get the bean out but I do remember we got home very late. You would think I would learn from these experiences. I did not. We were back to hospital because I was playing with a knife and it fell and cut my leg and many other times including broken toe nails and constant nose bleeding.
Strangely, I never got injured from the beating you gave me. You threw anything and everything at me: plate of food (with food in it) salt shakers, shoes whatever was in your hand at the time. You threatened me with fire, with hot water and even with a knife! I mean how bad was I really? Nobody answer that. Its not about me.
Schools have nothing on what I learnt from you. Respect for you was key. We had to give it. Disrespect was never punished later. It was an “on the spot reward.” I remember when “the demons” came over me and I would run (yes run) to smell the seat every time a visitor left. I still don’t know why on earth I would do such a thing but thank you for “the exorcism”. No Mpesa was needed, no seed, just laying of hands and feet repeatedly and I was good to go.
I remember trying to impress you by snitching on my sisters and their boyfriends but even this did not spare me the beating any time I did something wrong. You taught me to be God fearing (those are two words). I actually literally feared God. I feared Him because of what you told me He would with me in hell (that I would be the one He uses to turn other people as they burn in the eternal fire). I also feared God because of what you did to me when I “ate” the offering. Those triangular sweets that cost 10 cents get me into trouble (yes dot coms I lived in times when 5 cents and 10 cents was enough to get you in trouble. And that was after the Second World War)
Its not just my sisters and I (your kids) who had the opportunity to experience your transformational life lessons. You went out of your way to help strangers. I remember many occasions when I would find you feeding strange women at home. Which by the way I often thought was a contradiction of what you always told us about strangers.
I remember us hosting one of your colleagues who was a victim of domestic violence. She stayed with us for such a long time that we almost called her “Auntie”. People came to you with their problems and you helped them as if they were your own brothers and sisters. You never had limitations when it came to helping people.
I only saw you cry once. When your mother passed on and after that your world seemed to have passed on with her as well. Nothing else was left in this world for you either. Come to think of it did you cry at your husbands funeral? I don’t think I remember you shedding a tear. Well I wouldn’t be surprised if you did it behind closed doors and then came out to encourage everyone else.
I know I still have a long way to go. Especially now that I live alone there must be some “demons” that came back and found the house clean and “the strongman” asleep. But I am eternally grateful for teaching me by example what is important in life. That it is OK to pause and give others a helping hand even if they don’t deserve it. None of us do.
Thank you for leading by example. Everyday I wake up and dance because you taught me that standing on the sidelines will only lead to regret. I take risks (most of the time, very foolish ones) but am happy you taught me to take them nonetheless. I dive into the deep end, I laugh I cry ( a lot) I reflect and most of all, I am grateful for what I have however little.
I couldn’t have asked for a better Mother. (Well, uhm, maybe I could actually)… One day when I am in my right mind (as I always am) I will tell the world of the sacrifices you made and the cost you paid over the years just so that my sisters and I can have a better life than you did.
So yes mum, I do have painful thoughts of you and what you did for me. When I pass an opportunity to do good, when I am blind and deaf to other peoples needs, when I am so engulfed in what only makes makes me happy, when I am ungrateful and don’t pause to consider how blessed I am regardless of where I am, painful thoughts of disobedience haunt me. I should know better!
I should give more, Love more, respect more, believe more and risk more. I know that’s what you would want from me. So on this Mothers Day, maybe I should go back to the basics. Maybe I have “grown up” so much that I don’t see the value of the simple lessons you taught me? Maybe I need to loose to mind every now and then.
If I could afford the world, I would get it for you Mum. But I know that’s not what you want. More than anything else in the world, I know you would want me to find the joy of living for something more than just myself. You would want me to know the joy of giving and most of the time, without expecting anything in return. That would be best gift I can give you.
I know I should do all the things that you taught me Mum, but I still don’t do it. Do you think I’m Mad?
Here is some inspiration of who Mothers are to the world: