SWEET MA’ALE

by Blessed Abraham

“It can’t be! I broke into tears, my knees giving way as the curtains fell off my eyes. I woke up to a blotch of tears on my pillow. I am that spoilt brat and that lovely pitiful woman is my Mother. So hard did I tremble in regret as tears kept streaming down generously. I messed up. I need to fix things, I need to say “I am sorry”.”

My eyes scan her stout but plump unkempt figure, her hair riddled with suffer induced grey hair. It was anything but silver. Her once chocolate skin now mud-hue. My eyes studied her aged frame and fallen heroes with loathsomeness, her pathetic and lowly appearance nudging me into disgust. The sheer thought of walking in the public with her, and hearing chants of “Mama Blessed” was thousand yards away from appealing.

“Blessed,” Her gentle voice, reeking of pity – a noun I hate calling out to me whilst brewing anger in my bowels. “Bikonu, follow me go market. The load go too much for me, make you help me carry some abeg.”

“Abeg! No even bring that leg. I can’t follow you, I am tired. So don’t bother me.” My voice laced with the anger. Stomping hard on the concrete floor, I walked out. Her pitiful voice followed behind me, but I was in no position to care.

Abbie’m, Nna’m bikonu.”

I entered my room and shut the door, hoping to shut off the nuisance at the other side of the door. Laying on my ill-arranged bed, rage kept gyrating in me, regrets of the words I didn’t say. Of the words I wish I said. Slowly the rage turned ruth and topped with regret as sleep ebbed me away.

•••••••••••••••••••

In a dream, I stand before a house. A column of single rooms, unpainted but designed with masterful art of plastering. Something about it felt nostalgic, but frustrating enough, I couldn’t place a finger on it. A little boy caught my attention, probably between the ages of three to four. He walked to his mum who was cooking on firewood under the violent sun, the sun highlighted her melanin popping skin like a Belle X6 highlighter would. She glittered in the sun, her skin daring the solar god. The kid tugged onto the hem of her wrapper annoyingly.

“Mommy, Mommy. Gimme tea and bread.”

“Nna’m, there is no tea and bread. But I will give you plenty fish if I cook finish, you hear?” The woman sang out, as she went back to her battle with the fire, blowing to keep it. She’d take breaks to shut her eyes from the burn and sting. The smoke trying to cut her resolve.

The kid went into a wailing fit. “I want tea and bread.”

Slumping on the floor, his wail increased into a disturbing level. I got mad, the sight of the spoilt brat’s tantrum fits erupted new flames of rage in me. I should spank him and give him something to really cry about, but fortunately for him – I can’t interfere in the unfolding events.

As I watched on, I noticed the wailing brat’s wailing reduce to a whimper, a rather disturbing whimper. Then sharp distorted inhales as he started gasping for breath, with each sharp inhale he stretched. His life forcefully getting snatched from him by a force he couldn’t match. I let out an earth piercing shout but my chords didn’t register them, all my effort to draw the woman’s attraction to her baby failed. The sight of the convulsing child’s tugs with death, the woman’s world splitting and crashing with it made my eyes burn as warm moist filled it.

I watched as she took a taste of the beautiful looking egusi soup and nodded in satisfaction, scattering the fire, oblivious of the events going on behind her. She carried the hot pot of soup whilst singing melodiously to a song I know too well – A certain woman’s favorite song.

The best friend to have is Jesus,

The best friend to have is Jesus,

The best friend to have is Jesus,

The best friend I have is Jesus.

He will hear you when you call, He will help you when you fail,

The best friend to have is Jesus.

The song, the event playing before my eyes, the unconfirmed nostalgia in the air all teamed to betray me as tears welled up in my eyes and with just a blink to relieve the burn, they trickered down.

In slow motion, I saw her turn and suddenly her body froze. Her eyes shot out of its sockets as the sight of her baby, her world – though spoilt, losing to Death’s grip. She let out a heaven piercing scream as the hot pot of egusi soup slipped and fell, kissed the concrete floor and rebounded splashing on her legs.

“JESUSSS!!!” The earth’s frame would be shocked. I knew the scream wasn’t because of the hot egusi soup scorching her legs but the sight of her baby struggling with Death. With the scorched leg, she raced forward stomping on the spilled egusi soup in her first three steps, pulled her baby to her bossom and raced to the streets. Her wails drawing the neighbors, her wrapper fell off her chest. She cared less, her speed on barefoot and just shorts and bra were remarkable. She wouldn’t trust any cyclist or man to race faster enough to bring her baby to salvation.

The sight was too nostalgic, then it hit me.

My mum had an ugly burn on her legs, very similar to those that will eventually surface on those woman’s legs. It can’t be!

I broke into tears, my knees giving way as the curtains fell off my eyes. I woke up to a blotch of tears on my pillow.

I am that spoilt brat and that lovely pitiful woman is my Mother. So hard did I tremble in regret as tears kept streaming down generously. I messed up. I need to fix things, I need to say “I am sorry”.

Rushing out into the kitchen, she wasn’t there, madness tailed behind me.

“Once I see her, I don’t care about anything. I will rush and give her the deepest hug ever, I will kiss her forehead, her arm and bow before those legs. I will cry out to her begging for forgiveness. I will change her wardrobe this month’s end, I will spoil her. Let me just see her.” This I proclaimed in between tears.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

It’s now 7:48pm, Mum left since 4pm. She doesn’t stay this long at the market, maybe she branched to the church. But today is Thursday, the only thing we have in church is Youth’s fellowship – something I last attended before I gained admission five years ago.

I took a glance at my siblings watching Music videos on Galaxy TV, they were too engrossed in the videos to care about their mum’s late return, they will when by 9pm they’ve still not had dinner. My eyes fell on the news bar just beneath the videos.

The first passed, then the second. I noticed its the same news being repeated, an emergency news?

“Tanker falls in Omoku main market creating an inferno, no words or details on the number of casualties.”

A sharp javelin pierced my heart, “Omoku main Market”? That is our market, where mum is. Something gripped my heart, squeezing it. The burn was intense, my head tripled in size, my legs gave way as I slowly fell to the ground. I couldn’t rely on my nasal cavity with the huge task of breathing, so I opened my mouth to aid it. I couldn’t scream or do more than slowly die.

‘God please, I beg you! Don’t take my mum away from me. I still have a lot to say and do for her.” I prayed, hoping someone somewhere is hearing.

Knock! Knock!! Knock!!! I freeze waiting for the voice. As I prayed.

“Make Una open door for me na.” Mum’s voice, never been so beautiful and delightful to my ears in my entire life.

Blessed Abraham is a budding writer, an Electrical Engineering student from Akwa Ibom state. Loves movies and having intriguing conversations. You could reach him and read more of his short stories on his Facebook wall:facebook.com/edidiong.inemesit.7. Also read Blessed’s other story on Afreecan Read, The Awakening

 

 

 

Eyes of Age

Youth waxed us with ideals

But age has shown us the real

 

Love is a maiden’s song

Of an eagle beyond the clouds

 

Beauty is a boy’s dream

Of a dove beyond mountains

 

Generosity burns to stumps

Fingers trying to stretch out

 

Charity is the arrogance driving

Those who keep others indebted

 

Unity is a shadowy pool where

Minorities are silently drowned

 

Truth is what lions posit

And that which guns guard

 

Lies are the bulwark of power

Crowned with a veneer of gold

 

Equanimity is the diamond tip

Tapering arrows of suffering

 

It draws out poetry from anger

Coiling out of incinerated hopes

Bruce Zondiwe Mbano (Mzuzu, 1984) is a lecturer in the Department of Language and Communication Skills at Chancellor College. He has authored short-stories, plays and poems, some of which have been published in The Fate of Vultures (BBC prize-winning poetry), Heinneman and The Haunting Winds (published by Dzuka). His poem The Viphya won second prize in the 2000 Peer Gynt Literally Award.