I’m here with you. I hear your melodic voice deep within my soul. My heart melts for I long to hug you. I miss you. I’m unable to hold back my tears. For two years I’ve cried. You’d think there can be no more tears to cry. Yet, I cry. I cry out of loss.
It is a loss of my inner self attached to the lies of culture and society that says my worth is the measure of marriage and selfless giving with little in return.
How long do I wear a mother’s mask of duty when inside I cry for my freedom?
I’m here with you. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to sit with you, Mom, around an open fire. Did you take pleasure in digging for the vegetables from your garden, grind the corn, heat the tawa to cook roti and throw feed for the chickens before sunrise? Or as I suspect, your stoic dark brown eyes hide much hardship, shackled to believe you are less than a cow to be used and abused.
I’m here with you. I want to laugh with you as you relive your experience of giving birth. Was it a difficult birth or an easy birth? Which part was unbearable – giving up your body or to be left to raise thirteen children on your own?
I’m here with you. I want to know what you feel kneeling at the river, scrubbing clothes until your knuckles are red against a washboard. Do you hurt inside from the weight of unfulfilled dreams? When you walk miles to market, did you ever want to never look back and keep walking towards the you who is brilliant and full of sunshine?
I’m here with you. I want to sit in your lap, caress your silky brown skin and thick dark long hair while you sing in your own off-key special way.
I’m here with you. I want to hear your story of courage against the hard lashes on your face and body, the mean vitriol of words on your dignity, and the vile disregard for your heart to endure with a smile each day. It’s like the song says, ‘smile even though your heart is breaking’.
I try to remember your boisterous voice of tales of long ago to fill my dreams with adventures that I too can be anything I choose. Not some man’s version of a slave or a maiden.
I need your wisdom, Mom. It’s the map to who I am. I can navigate towards the best me. I know you can see the amazing life I live. I’m a Chief Information Officer. However, like you, I’m mired in the trap of forsaking myself to please others. The purity of my soul stripped out and replaced with someone who I think is me but is it really me. I’m mocked, vilified, gossiped about, lied to, cheated on and still I forgive. Is this what you needed to do to survive? Despite all the desecration to your soul, you let it go.
I cling to you watching me on your sick bed with your deep, sad loving eyes. I wonder if you truly saw me for me. Or am I the dream you once wished to be? You see it’s kind of hard to be in a life of unrealistic expectations. When life projects misogynistic, antiquated social construct and laws counter to what I know, I simply want to be. I fell for it. I really did. I dress the same as everyone else. I laugh at stuff I really haven’t a clue about. I put myself into debt to buy the latest cell phone. I chase after friends who neither help me grow nor cradle my weary head when I need a shoulder to cry on. I trade sandcastles for skyscraper walls. Quite a contrast, don’t you think?
I love how you let me feel whole and safe. You take hold of my hand even when I pull away. By the way, I’m glad you didn’t let go. It’s the one true gift of love I wish I can give back to you each day you’re not here. I hold you for you are the strength that pushes me to stand up and move forward when the world outside tramples my hopes.
I’m hungry. My stomach growls like a stalled truck. Geez. I crave your chicken and dumpling soup right now. Mine is not even close to yours, that’s for sure. Your mother’s love touches the core of me that I hope to share with those I love. I can really use your wisdom right now. Oh boy. Someone rattles the doorknob and then knocks on the door.
I lean against the locked door. I brush curls away from my temple. I sigh. I unlock and open the door. My older sister greets me with her big perfect smile. She’s witty. I give her a nervous smile.
I follow her down the marble tiled hallway of the parlor. I can hear murmurs in the distance. She stops, turns to face me, and hugs me limp.
I stand at the open double doors. I stare like a deer in headlights at family and friends who smile back at me. I wipe a single tear from my left cheek. I don’t care whether my eye make-up smudges.
I’m here with you. An angel is forever an angel, I hear Mom’s voice deep within my soul. I grab the train of my wedding dress and flee the church to my freedom.