“Alex, please drive off”

I said, still drowning in my pool of shame. He silently drove off.

“Bye Wonga, thanks for everything!!”

I shouted, as we drove off.

“Jeez, that guy”

I rolled my window up.

“Are you okay?”

I looked at Alex.

“I’m fine, why wouldn’t I be?”

He took a quick glance at me, and then looked at the road ahead.

“I mean, with everything that Wonga just said”

I explained.

“Oh, that? No, don’t worry about me. I’m fine”

He cracked a smile. I didn’t know whether to take his word for it or what.

“Well, for the record, I’m really sorry for what just happened. The last thing you need in your life is such stupid people”

I looked at the road ahead.

“Stupid people, huh”

He chuckled. We drove the rest of the way in awkward silence. We got home, still tied in the strings of silence.

“Da-da!! Da-da!!”

Junior screamed as we walked in. He was waving his hands in the air,

“Hey. daddy’s boy”

Alex rushed to pick him up. I greeted, and Aunt Veronica greeted back.

“I’ll be in my room if you need me”

I walked away.

“Okay Mandy!”

Aunt Veronica shouted behind me as I walked away. I got to my room and closed my door behind me. The way Alex was so chilled about that whole thing, got me worried. He was usually the forever-worried type of guy, but that day, he couldn’t care less. Later, Ntsiki came knocking on my door.

“Hey Mandy, dinner’s served!”

She shouted.

“Coming!”

I shouted back, getting up and walking towards the door. When I opened, she was standing there, smiling widely. I smiled back.

“Hey”

“Hey, dinner is ready”

She announced again”

“Thank you. Uhm, let me quickly go and wash my hands”

I replied. I went to the bathroom and washed my hands, and went to the dining room, where everyone was gathered. I pulled a
chair, next to Aunt Veronica, and sat down.

“Junior is such a happy child though”

Ntsiki said, admiring her excited son.

“He sure is a happy chappy. Always ready to laugh or dance”

Alex replied.

“Call people to gather around him, so he can charm them all”

Ntsiki giggled. They went on and on about their son, while Aunt Veronica and I enjoyed our food in total silence.

“So, Mandy.. How are you?”

Ntsiki asked.

“I’m fine, thanks”

I looked at her.

“And you?”

“I’m also fine. How did the meeting go?”

She asked. I was hoping we wouldn’t hold such conversations over dinner.

“It went really well”

I cleared my throat.

“I’m seeing them this coming weekend”

I added.

“Are they coming over?”

She asked. I looked at Alex, only to realize that he was also looking at me. He looked away.

“No, I’m going to visit them”

I replied.

“Oh okay. It would have really been cool if they were coming over”

“Uh, no”

Alex opposed.

“We need to give Mandy some time to bond with her children first, without getting in the way”

He explained.

“I hear you, but just to make them see that their mother also has a big family”

Ntsiki said.

“I know, but she needs time to connect with her children first, before introducing them to the whole family”

Alex insisted.

“I think Alex is right. I want us to get to know each other first, before bringing other people into their lives”

I said.

“Oh, I hear you. But just so you know, they have a place in our hearts and house”

Ntsiki sounded disappointed.

“Thank you. I will keep that in mind”

I replied.

“Didn’t they give you a hard time?”

“Some of them did, but I had no time to entertain any negativity. I was there for my kids, and I had to make sure that I got what I wanted”

I replied again.

“That’s the spirit”

Ntsiki excitedly cheered. After dinner, I got up and cleared the table.

“You can leave it like that, I will take care of it”

AUnt Veronica said.

“Its okay. I want to”

I took everything to the kitchen. As I was busy doing the dishes, humming a happy song, Aunt Veronica walked into the kitchen.I stopped humming.

“No, don’t stop on my account”

She said, as she walked over to the fridge.

“I was going to stop anyway”

I giggled shyly.

“So you can sing?”

“Not really, but I used to love singing a lot”

“Used to?”

She asked.

“Yes, when my mother was still alive”

My smile faded away.

“Oh, I’m so sorry”

I wanted to roll on the floor and cry the lump in my throat away, but I had to remain strong.

“Its okay. I’m learning to accept her passing, even though I don’t know how she died, or where her body is”

I looked at her. Her mouth hung open.

“So yeah, I’m okay”

“How do you know that she is dead?”

“I know. That monster killed her. He was so abusive”

The mere thought of that monster brought me to my knees with hatred and resentment. He brought the worst out of me.

“I’m sorry to hear that”

She said.

“Its really okay. I am making peace with it too”

I replied.

“So, which song did you enjoy singing?”

She asked, in a jolly voice, evidently trying to change the mood. I smiled.

“We used to sing my mom’s favorite worship song. Can I sing it for you?”

I excitedly asked.

“Yes, please”

She replied. I cleared my throat, wiping my hands with the dish cloth.

“You are Alpha and Omega
we worship You my Lord,
You are worthy to be praised,
we give you all the glory,
we worship You my Lord
You are worthy to be praised”

 

I sang, with my eyes tightly closed, almost imagining my mother backing me up with her sweet melodic voice that sent chills
down my spine. I remembered how my mother used to smiled at me proudly every time I sang that song for her. When I was done,
I opened my eyes and there she was, standing there, looking at me with a smile on her face. I smiled back.

“Wow. That was beautiful”

She said, and I giggled.

“Thank you”

I replied.

“No, honestly..That was very beautiful”

I blushed some more.

“Thanks. My mom loved that song so much”

I smiled and replayed a couple of highlights of our time together.

“You miss her, don’t you?”

She walked closer to me.

“Every minute of everyday”

I replied.

“I always wonder how that man killed her. Was she screaming for help? Was she begging for his mercy?”

I could feel eyes welling up in my eyes.

“I always ask myself where her body was ditched. She should be decomposing in a pit, in some God foresaken space. She could have been drowned in a dam somewhere, or even burnt beyond recognition”

I blabbled.

“No, don’t think like that. Your mother is in a better place, resting in peace. Let her rest in peace”

“No, I don’t think she is resting in peace. She left me in the hands of a man who was nothing short of a monster. There is no way that she is resting in peace. I’m sure by now, she is watching over me and hating herself for leaving me”

A tear escaped my eye.

“I’m really sorry. May the good Lord comfort you at all times”

She said.

“Thanks”

I replied. Nothing shredded my heart like my mother’s death. Losing a mother feels like one has lost a part of his/her own heart. It’s one of those wounds that never heal, but rather stop bleeding. One’s entire existence loses its meaning for a while, until one finds his way to deal with the loss.One’s sense of belonging is at risk of being questioned by circumstances. Losing a mother feels like someone ripped you open and snatched your heart out- you feel empty and incomplete. Till this day, I still maintain that, if my mother was alive, my life would have turned out differently. As I was caged in thoughts that ripped my spirit apart, a trace of hope rose like the sun, rising from a deep sleep, to claim its position and taking over from the owners of darkness. Hope brought along, a package of self forgiveness. The universe was telling me to forgive myself, for everything that I did. I lost a mother, at a tender age. I was left to mother my baby brother. I was desperate for a better life, so much that I found myself being used for sexual pleasure by an evil man who left me with an unwanted pregnancy. I stayed with whoever had their door open for me to walk in. All my life, I was striving for survival. One thing I needed to accept was the fact that I was only a child when all that happened. I wasn’t thinking straight. I mean, show me a child who would make sound decisions under all those circumstances. Children panic, and its in their nature. Threaten to take away a child’s sense of belonging and comfort, and watch a child panic like a headless chicken. I had to forgive myself for all the times that I stumbled on my morals and values, on my journey towards survival and a better life. Those were life lessons for the older me, the future me. All those tears that I let out, formed a bridge for me to cross over to the world of positivity. I smiled to myself, almost patting myself on the back for being able to rise against all odds, and still soldier on, even in times when my fighting weapons were lost somewhere between fear and doubt.