I Am Woman – Episode 7
A Story By Brian Ngoma
Uncle Richard and papa never got along that much. Papa attributed the friction between them to how they were raised. They were fathered by one man but different mothers. While they were still young, they got along just fine till their teen years. Their mothers always quarrelled and this later affected them and their friendship. Things turned sour when Enoch came to visit us some months after momma had left papa. Enoch, been a troublesome child, like he had always been beat up a kid in the compound and papa beat him up. Enoch packed his things and told his parents a different story from what really happened. His mother came to shout at papa and claimed that papa was jealousy because he didn’t have a son for a first born like his brother. From that time, she harboured hate for papa and all of us.
Looking at her as she stood on my bedroom door and talking about papa like she respected him made me loathe her even more.
“He’s a friend who was helping me with finding momma,” I answered her.
She looked at me suspiciously and said, “It is our hope that you don’t turn out like that mother of yours.”
I clenched my fist as I felt a rush of adrenaline through my body. If it wasn’t for Kasuli I would have said something to her that would have left her speechless. I held and controlled my anger.
“She’s my mother still and no one can take her place,” I grinned.
I saw her stiffen and nodded her head in defeat and left my room. Immediately she left, I started thinking of momma and what she was subjecting herself to. If I knew better, she was being abused and didn’t do anything about it. I thought of talking to her if at all she would return because having me witness all that, I feared she might never want to see me again.
At 8 in the evening, after having our supper, everyone seemed to be in their thoughts as they sat in total silence staring at each other expressionless. It was only the children that were making some noise there and then. The silence probably reminded all of us that papa and Gary were no more. I thought back of the noise Gary would make whenever he was awake during this time of the night. If it was papa, he would be in his bedroom reading some books or working on his work assignments which never seem to end. I looked at Kasuli and she was fast asleep with her bright smile on. I envied her because I had developed insomnia since papa and Gary died. I would watch everyone sleep but I couldn’t. I tried so hard but to no avail. My eyes were now sore. Every time, I kept thinking about what the future held for us. Being 17 and almost an orphan with a little sister to take care of, I didn’t know what to do.
At exactly 10pm, momma showed up to everyone’s dismay. She had come after I had put Kasuli to bed. I saw her sitting with some women who seemingly didn’t want anything to do with her. She stared in the darkness with a blank face deep in her thoughts. In as much as she tried to conceal her grief, she was hurt like everyone else. She had lost a son. I stood up and walked to where she had sat and demanded to talk to her.
“What was that momma?” I asked when we were in my bedroom.
Trying to make herself comfortable on the bed, she looked at me and instantly away.
“Momma I am talking to you,” I was becoming impatient.She looked at me again and played with Kasuli’s hair.
She is playing me for a fool, I thought to myself.
“My daughter, you are too young to understand some things.” she forced a smile.
“What are you talking about momma? I saw a man slapping you in the face and you couldn’t do anything about it. From the looks of it, this has been going on for a while,” I lowered my voice.
Her eyes teary and her palms sweating, she said, “As a woman, there are some things you have to endure my daughter. I cannot do anything about it because Terry is my husband.”
I became so furious instantly. How can she regard that man as her husband? During her marriage to papa, he never laid a hand on her and she was proudly telling me that that was her husband. I couldn’t take it, I reacted.
“Get out of my room momma,” I pointed to the door.
“Take care of your sister Tinashe. Goodnight and goodbye,” she left my room.
I was so angry that I just wanted to sleep. I pulled Kasuli closer and said a silent prayer and slept. I didn’t realise it was morning when I heard some voices chattering. For the first time in days, I had slept peacefully. I woke up to an ever bright and cheerful smile. She looked at me with her big wide white eyes in excitement.
“Good morning Tina.”
“Morning Suli,” I pinched her cheek.
“I am hungry Tina,” she bitterly complained.
I got out of bed and went to the kitchen to check on something to eat. I made us tea with some bread I found on the table. Getting back to the bedroom, I saw uncle Richard and some elders talking in the sitting room. From the way everyone sat, it was obvious it was a heated discussion. After washing our faces and brushing our teeth, we had our breakfast. It was lovely sitting on the bed with Kasuli hearing her stories. Even though it was early, I felt my presence was vital for her to move on. Similarly, she was my stronghold to endure the grieving process. Kasuli and I only had each other and under no circumstance would I have let her out of my sight.
“Tinashe you are being called by the elders,” a relative told me.
I left Kasuli in the bedroom playing with her dolls and went to the siting room where I found everyone sitting with their serious faces on. I looked around to see if momma was there but she wasn’t. I sat on the floor.
“We know it’s been hard for you but we thought of talking things now. This is the best time we have.” My father’s uncle broke the silence.
Everyone nodded in agreement.
“Where is momma?” I asked.
“About her, we will talk about her after this.” Uncle Richard said calmly.
Looking at him with curiosity, I said, “Let’s talk about her now. Where is she? She has to be here.”
I heard some murmuring from everyone gathered in the sitting room.
“Tell her,” Grandfather said looking at Uncle Richard.
“Your mother has left and told me to give you this,” He handed me a piece of paper.
What did I expect of momma? I was so foolish to think that she would stay for us. She bailed on us like she did some three years ago. Little did I know that the goodbye she said the previous night meant she was gone again. I was hurt that I didn’t even concentrate on what was being said. I kept looking at the piece of paper forcing tears back. I couldn’t even open it. I was brought back to conscious when I heard my uncle say something that evoked me.
“What did you just say?” I glared at him.
“We have agreed that you will be staying with us and Kasuli will go with your grandfather to the farm in Chongwe.”
To be continued