The time is 6:09 pm and ‘Superman’ by Five For fighting is playing quietly on my tab. Mothers’ day is barely a week away and I am drawing inspiration from my mother and writing a song of praise for mothers all over the world.
She is a vessel, She is a medium;
The arch connecting dust and soul
She is invincible, She is fair;
She gives life the final word
She sees in the dark; her heart illuminates
Far and beyond the physical into realms unknown
She speaks in a lingo only the other can discern,
And in her tongue lies the law of kindness
She is faith; supporting what we see
Unto the scene that we do not
She is faith; that which works by love
Unwavering even in doubts overwhelming presence
I am being interrupted by the familiar Nokia tune of my cell phone notifying me of an incoming call, quickly I scribble the next line of my ‘song’,
She is love; her brand infinitely intoxicating
She is truth; mighty above all things
I do not want to lose the plethora of words roaming free in my head but the ringing is persistent.
I pause, sigh and then pick up my phone glancing at its 6” screen and then smile when I see ‘Ma Mere Calling’ boldly displayed across it:
“Aku ke k’ime?” is the first thing she says like I had already guessed she would. Those words are her trademark opening lines.
“I am fine, mummy. How you dey na?”
“I dey fine o. Only say hunger dey worry us for here.”
I laugh. And she laughs too.
“I know say una dey flex for house and this one wey you dey talk na just because you no want make I ask you for money. You be just scam.” I tease her and she laughs some more.
“Why you no dey call me na? I never hear your voice since.” She queries, the laughter gone from her voice.
I smile. I had spoken to her the previous day.
“Sorry ma. I would try to call more often.”
“Ok. Try to dey call ehn. You no say na only you dey that Akwa Ibom.” There’s genuine concern in her voice.
She’s referring to my state of deployment. I am currently serving my country under the mandatory NYSC scheme.
“Ok ma. How is everybody at home?”
“We dey fine…hope sey you dey call your sisters?”
“Ngwa’nu ji si ike o.”
“Ok ma. Thank you ma.”
The call comes to an abrupt end, but I’m not taken aback because in a lot of ways my mother and I are a lot similar when it comes to phone conversations.
Say what needs to be said, a joke or two when the mood calls for one… No lingering and definitely no awkward silences. Once she’s ascertained that I’m doing well and fine, her mission is accomplished. Over and out Sir.
Every other thing left unspoken I guess we both already know in our hearts.
“I love you Akunna.”
“I love you Mother.”
These are words we have never said out loud to each other. Ever!
But despite the fact that throughout my adolescence and teenage years I never had a cozy relationship with my mother, there had never been a time I had cause to question my mother’s love for, and loyalty to me.
Rather this love which has never been voiced out in the 3 words ‘I Love You’ has been expressed in so many different ways, and it’s no longer an abstract concept to me.
This love is her struggle to cater for myself and my elder sisters when daddy left because all she could give him were girls who would grow up to bear another man’s name.
This love is her willingness to take daddy back three years later when he realised the folly of his ways, just so her girls would grow up with a father figure in their lives.
This love is the constant worry and countless visits to the hospital because for the first fourteen years of my life I had difficulty breathing from my nostrils.
This love is in the tears she shed and the burden of guilt she bore after she found a six year old me bleeding from my vagina due to uncle Jude’s paedophile behaviour.
This love is in her insistence I study accounting so one day I would head the world bank.
This love is in her taking me from Warri to Benin to see a publisher after reading my first novella.
This love is…
I am jolted back to earth by a sudden whiff of gentle breeze from my standing fan.
Nepa don bring the light.
I still have a ‘song’ to complete but even as I write these fancy words that aptly describes a woman I would give my all to, I know without a doubt in my heart that the love I have for my mother is surpassed only by that which she has for me. Unspoken yet as true as sunrise.
She sees in part; She understands the whole
She is sprightly comfort, She is a safe haven
She is like an Eagle soaring on summery wings
With her young She propels towards heavenly splendor
She is a higher being; She is truly divine
Basking in zephyr She embodies all that is sublime
She is priced far above rubies
She is silver, gone through fire, free of impurities
She is all blood; sweat and tears
Yet her beauty is far beyond compare
She has the strength of a unicorn
She possesses a wisdom born of pain
She is Man, She is a Woman, She is Mother.