You are a blessing to say the least. You loved me first before anyone else. Sometimes I think you care far more than other mothers. I once had a roommate who could not get how I talk to you every single day. And yet i’m a grown woman with two decades to show for. You sent junior to go visit Diana in church camp making all other children she is with tease her for being babyed too much. But that is just typically you. Always concerned on the excessive side of the scale.
Like all mothers, or at least most, if I started singing your praise, my song might be as long as the days I’ve spent on earth. So I’ll just highlight the perspective that is concerned with this series I’ve been on for bleeding out my scars. But it would be incomplete without pointing out that your children have been the reason you’ve done a lot of things. They are your existence. There is no doubt on that. Of your love, I am sure. Always has been.
If there is one thing I have never for the life of me understood, is how you could stay for almost two decades doing the same thing over and over again. When I was young, I never thought much of your job. Of staying in a shop year in year out January to December. In class six I couldn’t wait to start going for sales. To get into a vehicle full of goods and go into one village after another delivering goods. You refused to ever let me go into that ramshackle that was the first vehicle you and dad ever owned. But allowed me to go with the new Toyota pickup. Something I totally enjoyed. I know you know that I love travelling, but you don’t know to what extent. I love even the sound of an engine. Its that much.
As I said earlier, you never paid much attention to me when I was young. Rarely did people. Yes you ‘slaved’ yourself for me, but didn’t get into details on exactly how I was doing. And I understand you had a lot in your hands, including my small sister who has always been a handful. Personally I don’t remember feeling neglected by you exactly, maybe because I gave all that attention to the house helps I used to spend time with.
When I tell people you took me to boarding school in class three, most usually think its because you didn’t love me enough or something. The reason I’m biased when it comes to that is because I enjoyed staying in that school very much. But thinking of it, I have sincerely never understood why at eight years of age you decided to take me almost 500km from you. Yet I know you worried about me. I love how your friend usually teases you ,that when you came visiting, during parting time, when other children were crying, you were the one crying instead of me. But behind that strong facade, didn’t you think it weird? That an 8yr old does not cry when being left behind? Didn’t that not even leave you wondering how hardened and numb that little girl’s heart was at such a young age?
And there comes in something I have never understood about you. On one side you would die for me. Literally. On the other side, you do things and make decisions that kill me inside. How do you not see it? Is it because I’m a first born and thus you are always experimenting on what works and what doesn’t? If there one thing, just one thing, that I hold against you, is your marriage. And my involvement in it. Or rather how you ensured I was involved. I remember the first time i heard you and dad arguing was in class five. And a woman was involved. At least from what I heard. You argued till late into the night. And that night I couldn’t sleep. Any wink of sleep I got, I got nightmares. I felt as if a demon was at the corner of the room staring at me. You being as caring as you are, came and prayed for me. And went back to sleep. I didn’t sleep either but I didn’t want to wake you for the third time, so I just waited for morning.
For the next three years, the quarreling was once in a while. Frequently, but not so serious. But the tension in our house was real. Especially on the new year me going to class seven. You insulted me because of dad. And I have tried unsuccessfully to forget it. In class eight, I thought you were pregnant. The various baby clothes you bought did not go unnoticed. But you denied it vehemently. And instead, on that year, your best friend gave birth. You assured Diana and I that you didn’t need more children. Two were enough mouths to feed for you. Sweared upon yourself that we were only to remain two.
Did I ever tell you how dad broke the news that you were pregnant? I think I did. And I came home to find you almost 8months pregnant. I didn’t like walking you around for your ‘exercises ‘. You walked slower than a tortoise. We all knew you and dad wanted a boy. But you never mentioned it. But I was excited that we finally had a third born. Too excited that I called you almost each day when I went back to school, just to know if the baby was here yet.
And if my memory is correct, from then onwards, your marriage with my father became a war zone. He was in politics then. I was in high school then. My memory is really jumbled up on the specifics of your everyday fights. And as usual they were on women and how he paid us little attention.
To be sincere, and I know how heartless this sounds, I could care less on what you or your husband did or do to each other. It is none of my business. But I wish I knew that then. That your marriage has nothing to do with me. Maybe I wouldn’t be as wrecked as I am right now. You , for your reasons, made me the judge between the two of you any time dad came into the house and found us awake. And the next day, you kept on telling me tales and after tales of what he did to you. You were always the victim. And in my young 14yr old mind, I remember asking you to leave if this man you married causes you that much anguish. It was as simple as that. But do you remember your reply, “I’m staying here for you kids”. You repeated that to me over a thousand times. That if you didn’t have us kids, you would have already left him.
So technically speaking, what you were saying, is that we were the reason for your suffering. Plainly speaking. That our existence to you was torture. But I know that you didn’t see it that way. But that is what it looked like to us. And as if that was not painful enough, you laid the burden of saving you from him on me. According to you, since I was the reason anyway you were still in a bad marriage, I should go to school work hard, get into campus, get a job then come rescue you and my siblings. How that made sense to you, I don’t know. But you are my mother. And I would die for you too. So I believed you. That you are the victim. I am the cause of you tolerating the ‘abuse’. I am the saviour. I spent my teenage years believing that. Carrying around that huge responsibility. My best friend thinks you told me that as an excuse to work hard in school. Who does that to a teenager? Your own not so grown up girl?
You made me detest my father. He was someone you needed rescuing from. But that was at first. With each new scandal, my heart grew weary. With each new woman, a piece of me broke. And the worst part was seeing you tolerate all that. Yes you turned the house upside down every single time, but was I the one, I would have left the man and sued his ass off. But society had lied to you that that is how marriages are. With thorns in between the roses. I don’t remember any roses though.
The straw that broke the horses back, was when children started coming up. He did it so callously, with no respect whatsoever to any of us. Took her out to a good place, took pictures of her with the tablet that was the most used gadget in our house by everyone, then came to ask us who that is. She really did look like my sister. But that didn’t come to mind at all. So we called Diana so innocently to show her that she has a look alike outside there. Just in case you didn’t know, dad had done that before. There is a time he went to AIC Milimani, and came back with a photo of a small girl who looks exactly like a mini me but fatter. So it wasn’t that much of a suprise until he asked carelessly, ” unamaanisha hamjui sista yenyu?” (You mean you don’t know your sister?) . I don’t remember if you were there but from the way you didn’t cause a fight, I knew that you had known of her existence long before. And I remember your only worry was that she should not come live with us.
And before even the year could end, the worst thing that could happen ,happened. For me that is. For you it happened an year before. Your small sister revealed to me that the reason you fired the last househelp we had, who had stayed with us for three years was because, my father, your husband, had impregnated her. I don’t know what that did to you. But for me. It broke me. I couldn’t help but feel that I was born by a man who was an animal. And I share genes with him. Pregnant. What if this woman had HIV and she passed it to dad who passed it to you? That is a question my small sister asks me. How do you sleep with a man who slept with a girl two years older than me? How?? How do you share a room with a man who disrespected you in your house that much? How do you still protect him ? His reputation? Does he have any?
Mum, how much strength does it take to forgive such a man? Because despite how hard it seems, I want to forgive him. I want to let go of him from my heart. I want to stop being scared of men, because not all of them will take advantage of a househelp. I want to stop hiding this in my heart in the name of protecting the reputation of our family. Because that matters to you. Reputation that is. Remember how you used to go through my phone, and should you find that I had texted anyone concerning family stuff, all hell would break loose. How much love does it take to still care for him? And more so his reputation? Or is it foolishness? Are you so scared of being alone that that is who you choose to be with? Or do you still believe in the lie that on your own you can’t provide for three children? Or worse still, that we needed, a family so as to grow up to be healthy individuals since children lacking a parent are inadequate of something?
By now you must have already figured it out. That as much as I love you , I also resent you more than my father. You are a mother. I feel as though, you failed in protecting me and my siblings from irreparable harm. And I feel as though it was your duty to do so. I’m not victimizing you in all this, all I am saying is that you were a willing victim. If the man whose reputation you cared about so much cared about his, he wouldn’t do the disgusting things he did. But you didn’t see that. According to you, you were the one to fix his broken self.
I know if I told you all this, you would go on and on on how i’m ungrateful. You are a master at manipulation. But fact remains mum, you broke me. You destroyed me. You gave me a bad example. Would you like that I marry such kind of a man? Or would you prefer that Junior becomes such kind of a man? So why on earth would you prefer for us to be raised by such kind of a man?
I’ve said this over a thousand times in my head, that if I married your husband, I would rather kill him and spend the rest of my life eating beans in some prison. I’m that bitter. And angry. For the longest time ever, i’ve buried your bad marriage in my heart. But it had ways of oozing itself into my beliefs. I had vowed I would never get married. Till I superficially dealt with that. I kept on attracting broken men, and I thought I would get over it by maturing a little bit then I would date mature people. But one thing that has made me realize how much your marriage has affected me, is my total dislike of girls in campus getting pregnant. If there is a behaviour I find reckless, it is getting pregnant before you get married. I at first thought it was because of my high moral ground that I thought so, until I realized that I can excuse someone who sleeps with every tom, dick and harry but not one who gets pregnant by that one man she has only slept with. I never thought much of it until now when I’m peeling off my scars to look at what is under there,and I’ve discovered it is because I subconsciously blame myself for your tribulations. I know, it sounds wrong even to you who implied that a while ago. But in my heart I guess, I think that if I was not born, maybe you would have met better men than him, and lived a better life. Maybe you would have finished college and gotten a good job outside there and maybe flown even outside the country to start your life elsewhere. Subconsciously I know I crippled your success. And I take that out on innocent girls who got unplanned pregnancies just like you.
I am tired mother. I am tired of these burdens. To be frank with you, I don’t know how I’m even supposed to start healing. But I’ll do anything to be free. Because I would rather not live at all, than live this burdened. I am learning to trust in God even when my mind soul and heart are in chaos and in pieces. I am learning to love myself. I am trying to unlearn that I’m the reason people left me. That I am not the reason for your suffering. That there is nothing I did to deserve any of the things that have happened to me. I do hope that I’ll forgive you and my father for the roles you made in giving me a bad childhood or for stealing my childhood. Previously I thought I would wait for dad especially to own up to his mistakes before forgiving him, but now, I realize I might wait forever. Plus my life is too precious to waste it waiting on any of you. My childhood might have been lost or bad because of other people, but I’ll be to blame if I don’t allow myself to enjoy the rest of my life.
This is me faulting you as my mother, something you would kill me for. But it has to be done, if I am to live my life fully.
I love you above all that. And I hope that one day we will both have forgiven him.