Being a Mother

I am missing my mum. When I told her that, she gave a wan smile and was silent. I knew why she smiled , both of us understood that, you see, we had not started really talking properly to each other until a few years back. We only had angry whispering conversations before . Both of us were confused then, it took her a long time before she could tell me about being jealous of me.
I was shocked when I learnt that one could be jealous about one’s own child. I was close to my dad. She accepted it as a natural thing and was even happy about it for me, but we left her out of the circle. She had left my father when she could no longer come to terms with her pain. When we finally talked about it, I understood the meaning of jealousy. I had felt left out sometimes too by my own children when they will discuss me, make their own plans and rarely considered putting me in the picture.
I used to fantasize being able to tell Dr. Phil if he has ever wondered about women like me who live in a completely different world. I mean for people like him we might as well live on Mars. Hey, might be a good idea for a study.
I am from a village you have never heard of before, if someone dropped you there, you would be well and truly lost. I have this awful habit of just wandering around in my head. Quite a lot of space and rooms. You know some doors are shut tight, I know what is behind some of the shut doors but it is not the day to talk about them. Okay before you give up on me altogether, I was telling you about me missing mum. Thank heavens I still remember. I have been known to carry on a conversation and never really finish it. It used to irritate my husband no end. He says while what I am saying might make sense when and if I finally get round to finishing it…okay alright, no need for you to sigh. What was I saying? Yeah, me missing my mum. I said it before, why did I miss her? ..Oh okay, might have to pause for a nanosecond…
We were talking you know and she said something about being jealous of me and dad right? Okay got it.
Can you be jealous of your child? Feel left out in a closed out relationship? I go through that you know. First was the extreme happiness of looking at those tiny fingers, making a silent vow to be everything to the child. You dream, you ache and your heart lifts when the child calls you ‘mama’. Those first steps, the first fall, first day at school and your dreams balloon out of shape as your heart feels too small to contain all your excitement and you whisper your love for your child softly to yourself. It is bigger than having a secret love affair. “this is my baby” you tell yourself and you feel you just owned the planet. You are a mother now.
It is not important if your husband is thinking of a second wife or in my mother’s case they were already two other women sharing him with her. Those nights when he gave you his wicked smile and asks you to share his bed, you must hold your breath and release it slowly so as not to show you are excited. Feels indecent for village women to show they can enjoy lovemaking.
In the tradition, you are expected to be cool, calm and reticent when your husband reaches for you or else you are suspected of being flirty and thus not to be trusted. Stay quiet under him and should you feel like exploding, sigh and turn your face to the side. Who ever heard of a village woman having an orgasm?. That word never existed, good girls don’t show their feelings. I stared and groaned, “mother, please, you mean you felt love for my dad”? I asked her shocked and suddenly irritated. I stared at her wonderingly, suddenly feeling guilty as well. I am a product of my village too.
Did she feel jealous of me as a mate, I mean as co-wife? My thoughts were riotous, could you be jealous of your own child? I was about to say no, when I remembered my reactions to my own children each time they came home on holidays and showed preference to stay with their older sister. My sudden sense of being alone, feeling used and dumped. I remember my eldest daughter’s confusion and pain as she wondered if she was doing something wrong. I understood , when we are asked to share what we never owned. We could not possess the child, it was right to love, it is however greater to let the child go when it is time to for the child to fly out of the nest.
So I gave my mum a real prayer of love and gently unknotted one more thread and strengthened my prayer for her. Her smile brightened and I felt the glow from the door in my mind as I closed it gently, our conversation today at an end. Mother passed fifteen years ago.


Conversations…..Talking with Numen

I have been going round in circle in my brain. A couple of reason why I feel like my grandfather’s clock…you know the one that stopped working on the day he died. Remember that song? If you are from my side of the street, you might get where I am coming from. I did say I was going to use this blog to hold conversations. I never really asked you what you thought of that either.
You know this monologue thing is not going to get me anywhere. Used to think if I just ignored the gnawing fear that rides my back sometimes I might just see past my fears. It is like giving birth to a baby and you assume there cannot possibly a baby just like yours. Those tiny perfect fingers could only be just that of your baby.
When I wrote Numen Yeye, she started out under different names really. First it did not have a title just a collection of stories and cultures and then I met the lady one evening. I was actually writing a poem and suddenly in my mind I heard the first sigh and looked around wondering who was so sad.
Then she whispered in the nicest way possible. “Can I tell you about me”? I stayed my hands on the keyboard and waited for the voice to come again and without warning she changed the subject.
I have be in love too you know, though in my time we did not understand it the way you have done. My skin not the hair on my neck stood on ends and suddenly it was very cold in the room. My children were doing their home- work and there was no husband in sight. I had just started living in my state capital, one hour’s drive away from my village
No thanks, I did not believe in ghosts, folk tales and any of that ‘barbaric’ stuff I used to tell my mother. “so who was talking?”
“You really have no need to know my real name just want to chat, isn’t that the word you say in these parts’?
In those days, 1981, I was a scriptwriter more than a writer. So in one night, in long hand I wrote the manuscript. By the morning when my son came to ask me what was for breakfast, my fingers were stiff. My character(I did not know her name then) talked. Just soft whispers, she had a soft voice, and would occasionally pause if I indicated doubt and then I would sense her shrug, so I would ask her to continue or ask a few more questions, like clarifications.
One time during the long night when she sensed I was tiring she would break her story and tell me bits about the village gossip. She seemed to know everybody. I remember asking her if she was an old lady and she gave a small laugh and said it would make no difference if she told me her age but she painted a picture of herself.
“Just think of Woman as she ought to be and you would have an idea what you look like” she had answered in that voice that was beginning to be familiar.
“What I look like”? I asked taken aback, looking round the empty silent room.
“I am young, middle aged, and very old like from time” she said a small laugh in her voice.
“Yes, I can sense you so please continue” I invited knowing she could just stop talking and I was having an experience that I wanted to feel to its last conclusion.
She gave that soft laugh again and said she would be back the next morning or night as she was most times confused by our times and levels.
Then my mind went blank and I looked up. My son was staring at me in bewilderment.
“Yes dear, go back to sleep” I replied absently as I looked on the sheaves of paper in front of me
“Mum, it is morning. I left you here writing last night.”
“So what can we have for breakfast I am hungry” he looked at me strangely.
I stared at the manuscripts, the long hand that had gone in different directions and tried to picture if I had been writing in my dream. I had talked to a character all night. I had more than 300 pages of longhand writing and sighed as I pictured another day typing them. I did not have a computer then and I knew she was coming back.
I gave my sister money to buy something for breakfast. I started typing.
It was my first my conversation with Numen