“Have you ever heard your mother cry?”
“What?” She turns and stares at him visibly annoyed.
“You couldn’t wait another hour or so to talk about this?”
She sits up, the long black braids cascade down as if to dismiss him. Marks of him written all over her, he could smell himself off of her skin, could remember every spot he has tasted, every inch of her mesmerised him.
She bent over deliberately with her back towards him and the braids made rustly noise as they hit the floor. In a swoop she held them into a knot ontop of her head, then turned and looked at him one arm on her waist. In that moment she reminded him of an angry haughty Princess.
She was a lot like his mother; always hiding what she deeply felt, you could never know if she was angry or happy or just unbothered. Maybe unbothered, she always looked unbothered. Maybe that’s why he wanted her, because she was like his mother?
“What were you saying about your mother?” He heard her voice from a distance.
“Not my mother, I asked if you have ever heard your mother cry…not mourning, but cry that sad silent hollow cry of hurt… Have you?”
She bit her lower lip, again just like his mother does when she was avoiding a question but had to respond.
“I don’t know, she is always happy… I mean I have seen her cry, but for my Jajja’s kuziika…”
“Why are we talking about this Philip?”
He heard the irritation in her voice again, she didn’t like anything that scratched her surface. She always calls him Phillip when she wants something to end, just like his mother.
She was crying again, he could hear her cry; long sad sobs but he couldn’t see her. He kept pushing through the darkness, when he saw a glimpse of her, she was disappearing further. The sobs became louder.
“MUMMY!!!” He heard his voice, but it seemed two decades younger than the voice he knew.
“You had that dream again Phil, you should lay off the blunts… You have it a lot when you hit them…”
She was staring down at him now, concern and confusion crisscrossing her face. She is beautiful.
“I have to go home, will text you when I get there..” She turns to leave, then pauses “I love you, I know its not easy right now but it will pass…”
She throws herself onto his chest, kisses him then rushes out.
“Lock the damn door Phillip!” She screams in the corridor leaving behind a trail of flowers whose names he couldn’t pronounce.
“She doesn’t know I know, but I have heard her cry. I didn’t know what to say or do but it was painful to hear her cry. I had woken up to go pee, then I heard her praying, she loves God you know and prays a lot. This time though, it was different. She was praying for him, she was praying for him like he hadn’t hurt her yet, I could feel the pain in every blessing she laid on his life. For every time she covered him with the blood of Jesus, she cried. It was not a cry I wanted to hear ever again but she prayed for his happiness, she prayed for his prosperity and cried some more then slept on the prayer mat.
He had found someone you see, someone new, someone more fun, someone sexy, she loved trips across the oceans, she drove his cars, attended family functions with her arms wrapped around him. He loved this new him, he was happy and he didn’t care who saw or cared.
He dressed different, started drinking, started coming home angry, started shouting at the signs of old him, the signs that he was once boring, once caged up.
When he got home, everyone hid in their room, asking him to do the things he used to do things he used to before brought thunder and hail in the house.
Sometimes there was no food in the house, he didn’t care, sometimes school fees delayed, he didn’t care, sometimes bills were not paid, he didn’t care. As long as he had this new person, nobody mattered.
He said vile things to her, he disrespected her, they disrespected her, they killed her businesses and tore apart her coffers.
She still prayed for him every night, she asked us to be polite to the new person, to greet her with warmth, to smile when she waved, to receive her gifts.
I grew to resent her, why wasn’t she fighting for him? Why was she saying God will fight for her, yet God didn’t seem to care about the rumours flying all over the village?
She still smiled like she didn’t cry when the house was quiet, she still praised like the blessings were falling in everyday, still testified to her God’s goodness even when the bed was cold on the other side.
She acted unbothered, untouched, she was stoic, full of grace even when everything started falling apart.
Nobody was to see her falling apart, nobody was to see her fumbling like she was affected by it all.. Just like you Ari. Un bothered, unmoved… Just like you.
I grew to respect her; I respected her strength and faith in this her God that she trusted so much. Her faith in his plans for her life even when he let the one thing she loved wholly, hurt her to the core.
I grew to see that it wasn’t my job to fight for her, that I couldn’t fix her. She didn’t need a knight, she was the warrior. She didn’t need fixing, she was never broken.
You see, I have heard my mother cry Ari.
It broke me…”