We sat down outside under the beautiful night light. She sat on a stool and I positioned myself between her thighs comfortably on the bare floor. I pointed at the sky and said, “Look, a shooting star! It is so beautiful!”
“You are much more beautiful than the shooting star”, my mother said to me while braiding my voluminous African hair. “Do not let anyone tell you otherwise”. She bent my head sideways and asked, “Do you know who you are? Who are you? What do you stand for?”
I answered, “I am my mother’s daughter, the precious child of the creator of the universe. I am the queen of the universe, the mucus from my nostrils formed the milky way galaxy, my offspring will inherit the fullness of the Lord and this earth. I stand for integrity, love, loyalty and trust”.
“You would give Solomon and the queen of Sheba a run for their money”, said my mother amazed at my response. “Your fantasy is overwhelming, but I like the idea behind it. I want you to grow up to become a strong, respectful and virtuous woman”, she said as she massaged some oil into my scalp. “You are created on purpose, in purpose, for a purpose. There is purpose in you. God did not create you on a bad day.”
Impatient and a bit dizzy, I asked my mother, “I have not seen my father in months. He is meant to come home this evening, but it is almost midnight. When is my father coming back home?”
“Very soon”, she said. She repeated with a tone of worry, “My dear, very soon!” She sighed as she remembered the good old days her husband comes back home early with the fattest and most bountiful harvest. He was the most handsome and most successful hunter when he came her way, with his sweet talk and showers of gifts, he drew her in, he made her feel like the only girl in the village and his love and care for her could not be denied. He loved her so much, he licked the ground she walked upon. The ground became so slippery that she fell, hard in love she fell for him leaving behind all her dreams and aspirations.
With three cornrows on my head, we both stared at the stars in the sky, the full moon and we were awed by the beauty of the firmament. A gently night breeze brushed against our skin, it felt like mother nature was greeting two queens. My mother wiped her hands and reached out for her bible under the stool. She said, “One day, you would understand better. The words in this book will bring you joy, they will make you laugh, they will act as a lamp for your footstep, they will calm the storms of your life. You should not just read it; you should meditate on it more often. It contains the ingredient of success, happiness and fulfilment.”
I asked, “Mother, I see you reading and praying all the time. Will that save us from the epidemic?”
She answered, “Which of the epidemics, my dear? Is it malaria, Ebola, Lassa fever? Whichever it is, the love, power, grace and mercy of our creator is more than enough to protect us.”
“No, I mean the epidemic of our married men being stolen by the ladies of the seventh river”, my 18-year-old-self answered. “According to the statistical data my friends and I have taken around the village, most of the married men have or have had extramarital affairs”, I explained reluctantly. “If marriage is not convenient or mutual for both partners, then why are we forced and groomed to please and worship the man?”
My mother looked at me straight in the eye with all form of confusion and surprise. “Maybe or maybe not”, she said. She looked at me with worries in her eyes. She was scared of leading me astray. She does not believe that being a helpmate is equivalent to worshipping the man. She willingly gave up on her dreams so that she could take care of her household and bring up her daughter in the best way possible. It was all good until her husband became impatient. He wanted more children, most preferably male children so that they could farm and hunt with him, so that they could carry on his legacy. But all effort was in vain, he gave up on them and rarely comes back home from his very long trips.
She continued, “Our ancient tradition teaches women to do nothing more than cook, clean, please the man and bear children. That is the way of life; that is how it has been done and would be done. We are created to serve and help the man. You see, our men are hunters, they are warriors. They travel across the seven mountains and seven rivers. Yes, some of them arrive at the seventh river and get carried away by the worldly women. A lot of them forget about their home and family, and never bring back home the harvest of their labour. But we are strong enough to stand on our feet and fend for our family, aren’t we?”
“Yes, we are”, I answered. “But why can’t we also travel across the seven mountains and seven rivers? I think there are a lot of hidden potentials in us that we have left buried from generation to generations. We don’t know and we cannot say, maybe we might just have the power to travel seven seas! We can never know until we try, mother. I believe we have the power to rule the world, command nations and at the same time be respectful, humble and be a helping mate to our husband. We can do it!”
“Daughter, you are still young and filled with wild imaginations”, answered my mother. “You do not understand.”
“We can do it, mother. Our voices can also be heard. We have an opinion and have our part to contribute to the world”, I responded. “We cannot just keep on sitting down outside and waiting for our men to come back home so that we can eat or buy oil for our lamps. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us”, I said while finally dozing off. My eyelids became too heavy for me to keep open. I slept off using my mother’s right thigh as a resting pillow. The next morning, I woke up in my bedroom. I ran out of the room with the hopes of seeing my father, but he didn’t come home. He never came back home and we never heard from him again. I looked at my mother and she looked at me. We did not say a word, but we understood each other perfectly. I picked up a basket and a cutlass and I went to the farm.
Years later, I came back home to my mother. I had just gotten a doctorate from the western world. I brought my husband and children along with me. She said to me, “My daughter, you’re doing well. You set your heart on it, you stayed focus and you are achieving your goals. I am proud of you!”
I bent over and whispered into my old mother’s ear, “Thank you for teaching me and telling me the secret. All the hidden treasures for building my family, career and business are in the word of God. I just have to keep on digging!”
Together, we watched my husband playing with the children outside. “This makes me happy”, she said. “It is just like staring at the stars in the sky at night. Look at your shooting stars! My daughter, the journey is not over, the goal has not yet been reached. You might have travelled two seas, but I am rest-assured that your daughters and sons would travel ten seas. Bring them up in the way of the Lord and never stop praying. Groom your daughters to be strong, independent, humble and God-fearing queens, and equip your sons to be kings that love, cherish, respect and uphold their queens.”
I stood behind my mother, who sat on her rocking chair. I placed my hands on her shoulders as we silently watched the children play in the sand. “You took the step thousands of women before you were scared of taking. I know it can be challenging to combine your family with a career but look at you now, you are making an impact in your generation”, she continued to talk. “I am proud of you. You are truly your mother’s daughter!”
Thank you for reading! Please do not forget to leave a comment and share with your loved ones. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.de/pin/485614772312991848/
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- SHADOWS: https://valtoybob.com/shadows/
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- MY UNTOLD STORY: https://valtoybob.com/my-untold-story/