Every year when November is around the corner I find myself getting this lump in my throat. I feel tired and exhausted when I wake up (more than most days) and I try to convince myself its just the motions of the year ending. But my brain and my heart always know that feeling…And for the past 17yrs I have been welcoming it with less reluctance. I have learnt to mourn a loss and celebrate it at the same time.
It feels like a pat on the back,
a silent reminder,
a harsh reality,
a comforting peace.
A mother is a once in a lifetime chance. Majority of the people who know me know that my mother passed away but many do not know the story behind it. Even I still have foggy recollections and unclear circumstances of what happened. Knowing that it might be a mystery to me till the day I die terrifies me. I cannot imagine not knowing. Yet sometimes…most times; I have been scared of that truth. So much so that I have avoided thinking about it, talking about it, asking about it, writing about it, seeing her grave. Basically, Anything that would make me face the reality that I had to deal with knowing what happened. And yet here I am, all these years later, no closer to the truth than on the day I found her lying in that pool of blood and screamed my mind out.
More than that is also the feeling of appearing vulnerable. Many of my friends see me as this tough cookie, a very proud, stubborn and strong willed woman. When the #MisimuZangu trend was going on, a very dear friend of mine nominated me. I knew that if I did that challenge I would have to bare my soul and talk about my mother, one of the most defining moments of my life and which changed the course of my life indefinitely. Something I am yet to figure out whether a good thing or a bad thing. So I decided that I would. I got my notepad and pen but I was unable to write A SINGLE WORD. Me who always somehow has a clap-back had absolutely nothing to say. I clearly wasn’t ready to let go of the shadow that had haunted me all these years.
As I grow older, I am meeting new people. People who have never known me and probably will never truly know me because I am one of those people that can be as deeply attached as I can be detached. I do not know how to be gray sometimes. And in my short life, I have had to battle with being an individual on my own, to find my own voice and my own identity. Not speaking about my mother because Who wants to be called an orphan and pitied? I never wanted anyone’s pity. Who wants to be reminded of something that horrific? Not me. Who wants to be introduced as “Msichana wa ule wakili aliuliwa”, something that used to irk me to no end. I have a name. I’m more than “wakili’s daughter”. But then again that double edged sword would not just leave me alone. Wasn’t I disrespecting the memory of my mother by not acknowledging her in my every waking breathe?
Walking the fine line that is loving and confusing and missing and denial is a tough order. And what example was I giving my sister who barely knew her. I want her to know who she was, don’t I? I try to tell her stories of our mother but sometimes I fail miserable. Partly because the lump in my throat makes me unable to speak and I can feel the tears threatening to break down the dam that is my pride and partly because I’m ashamed to admit that I feel her slipping away from my memory everyday. Like turning blind slowly until all you see is pitch black and all you are left with are the images, the smells, the tastes, the sounds…until even those disappear and you are left groping in the darkness that has now become too familiar.
I miss her more than ever and even more so now that I’m in my twenties. She would be 42 now and I can’t help but wonder how her life was at my age, with a 4yr old child, dealing with Kenya School of Law and trying to figure herself out. But she did, I’m inclined to believe that she made it work for her and for that alone, I can never complain about how tough my life is. If she did it, then I can too.
Biko put it aptly when he said “No one ever tells you that losing your mother will break your heart…and not just once…”
I don’t think many of the choices I have made in life would have made my mother proud. Hell, she probably would call me right now if she could asking why I am writing about her in my blog and being so vulnerable (I can still remember her beating me for skipping school when I was in class one till I promised I would take school seriously. I managed 8-4-4…barely. soooo promise fulfilled mum! 🙂 ) But I think she would be proud, she would know that I have fought battles too big for my age and she would be proud that through it all…I have learnt. She would know that I am HUMAN.
Its hard to figure out who you are as a whole when you have always been part of something bigger than yourself. But until you accept all parts that make you…you, you will be but a wandering soul that cannot be anchored… and maybe that’s what I still am.
Cheers to you and may you Keep resting in Peace Mama.