If you’re reading this then it only means one thing; that I have moved away and I’m safely out of your reach. That I have given up on you. On the illusion that is a possibility of us. That I have buried the skeletons that was our relationship. That I have made peace with the fact that things are better this way; with us having fallen back to our old ways.
All that time I stayed, I did it with the hope that I’d get to see you one final time. To look you in the face, at the parts of me that would stare back at me. Albeit in a state of lifelessness. Knowing too well that I’d never toss and turn at the thought of the fragmented person that I am. The demon of my incompleteness.
The little that was left of my sanity was held together by the thought of one day standing over a bottomless oblivion that awaits each one of us. It has always been a wish of mine that you go first, given your foolhardy ways; a thing I detested about you, about us.
You’d think that after so many years, so many sunrises and sunsets, so many beginnings and endings, things would be different. That the memory of you would have faded from my mind. But the scar of your departure has become a festering wound. A lot reminds me of you. The things you loved; fried plantain cooked in groundnut sauce, the way in which you’d draw thin black penciled lines over your naturally thick eyebrows. Your smooth soles that never cracked despite the many times you stepped on donkey shit.
Your far set eyes that were a little too small for your face. How your face would crease in concentration as you attempted to attain perfect henna patterns on friday evenings. How you made a habit of cleaning out father’s shop; mopping up the place, dusting the chairs, refilling spray bottles, washing up the barber capes and burning cut hair whenever you needed him to cut and dye your hair the way you liked it done.
When you left, I was just but a toddling boy oblivious to the struggles and hardships of life. Except that my precociousness kept me wind of the hot blood that coursed through your veins. You see Maama, each time you excused yourself in the name of attending to the needs of your obstinate customers, I knew. I knew that behind our backs you’d be slinking away to see others besides my father. You were never clumsy, neither were you stupid. But you forgot that I could sniff it on you whenever you’d get back. Them. The clandestine act. You forgot that I could see. The guilt on your shoulders. The apology reflected in your eyes.
I tried to fault father for the way in which you left. For not finding a way to make it work with you. For daring to replace you as soon as you left. For acting as if I could move on to another mother the way he moved onto another one of his concubines.
I tried to find purity of good intention in how you left. Was I really better off with him? A mother is to a child the spring of life. Yet you robbed me of that. Left as if I was never a part of you. Never looked back; as if the burden of motherhood was something you had never envisioned or wanted for yourself. As if I was just but an obstacle in your way. A tether around your ankle that you needed to shake loose. You made me believe that all that befell me after you left was what I deserved. For having made your life with him a living hell.
You must be wondering Maama, what it is that happened. What it is that tainted my image of you. It was Mohammed,the truck driver. Your cuckolder who owed me as much to tell me all he knew about your whereabouts. It was him that told me you’d moved further into the country and established yourself in the towns of Kitale and Kakamega. It was him that led me to you. Him that mentioned to me that you had remarried and then later on divorced. Him that let me into your secret of having had children by other men whom you left back with your father, my grandfather, somewhere in Uganda. And that you had gone back to being the night woman that you are.
When I set out to find you, I knew without a doubt that you wouldn’t recognise the man I’ve grown up to become. Granted, my skin is the same shade as yours, glowing dark skin characteristic of your roots. Other than that, nothing else can warrant second glances at me. You see, one thing you don’t know, I am not the same as when you left. It’s the things you made me do. Like moving back to your old town across the border and learning all I could about your language. Dropping my birth given name and picking one that best resonates with the person I’ve become. Losing my left foot trying to find you along the streets of Malaba, a town whose roads are jam packed with trailers awaiting clearance.
It is for these reasons that I chose Dumalu. To you he was like any other man that wanted a piece of you while to me he was my access point to you. For someone who exists in a world where trust is just but a fable, i needed to speak your language. The language of lust and money. I gave him enough to lure you. Enough to make you want to keep him to yourself. Enough to blind you against whatever lay underneath the beautiful man that he is.
You must understand Maama, that it was never my intention to get you hurt. Or burnt. I never thought that it would come to this. All I ever wanted was for you to notice me every time I came to your spot. All I ever wanted was for you to look into my eyes each time I called for you to pour my drinks. The extravagant tips could never work on you. You left me no choice Maama, treating me like a despicable hound in spite of my generosity.
If at all it is true what is being said along these streets, I want you to know that I loved you, still do. I want you to know that you are what broke me. That you were the only one that could fix me. I want you to know that your refusal to mend our already friable bond was what pushed me over the brink. That it is why I have chosen to do what I have done. It is why you are living your new life of counting days, of constantly checking your weight, of countlessly visiting the hospital.
I should be sorry. But we both know this was bound to happen sooner rather than later given your kind of trade. I should tell you that this alleviates the searing pain in my core, far from it! Staying around to watch you waste away, hoping for you to become someone you were never meant to be would crush me beyond my strengths. It is why I ask you not to find me. You lost me once, hence it should be easier settling into your life knowing you don’t have to run anymore. You don’t need to hide from who you are. Who you’ve been all along.
And if I ever have a family of my own,i will remember ; a mother is to a child the spring of life.