Posts Tagged 'motherless children'

Mother and child

At term, he took Ugonma in,

the taxi had rattled, creaked, bounced

and chugged on the dirt road, all the way

to the maternity

 

A midwife, looking fazed in her faded uniform

walked Ugonma

feet and lips swollen,

screaming in pain, water breaking,

into the labour room

every dragging step slow,

laboured  and painful

 

A wait long and weighty like eternity,

and then a delivery attendant,

her face the picture of nonchalance,

eventually shuffled out of the labour room

to thrust roughly  into his trembling hands

a list of  items required

for the delivery.

 

 

The Okada rider, his machine idling,

spotted Obi as he hurried out from the maternity

signing and screaming

“chemist shop”, yes, “chemist”

the rider on sensing his desperation

doubled his fare, cursing the country,

swerving and swearing as he rode.

.

Places and people flew by and past on that mad rush

to the chemist shop, an airless suffocating place

running over in dirt and disorder

where a a dishevelled male plied a messy trade.

 

Items purchased,

Obi rushed back to the maternity,

straining his ears, lips moving in silent prayers

his hands trembling,

items handed over with haste

the attendant checking with  indifference and

troubling sluggishness, and then shuffling back

into the delivery room with the items.

Obi waited outside, counting the minutes,

the seconds as long as hours and twice as slow ,

his heart pounding,

fatherhood within reach at last ,

after seven heavy years of wearying waiting

 

Totally immersed in imagining what must be going on inside,

waiting for the beautiful moment, oblivious to everything else

vaguely aware of when his mother and Ugonma’s mum arrived

and how they both laughed at his fretting and fidgeting

assuring him that all will be well

saying that “God never sleeps”

 

 

He saw the midwife as she came out,

her apron all blood and stains

saw her signal the two women to follow her

and now alone, he dreaded his loneliness

soon he thought he heard a wail

that came from the soul, the wail of one broken

They brought the baby to show him,

looking so small,  fragile and delicate

and when he asked after Ugonma

Her mum,  her voice brave, but broken by pain

yet tinged with pride said

“Ugonma has left this world, “uwa nsi”, she spat out

“a woman at last,

to the shame of those gossiping tongues

who had chattered that she was a “male””

God gives and God takes, she said

and when Obi said “why, Ogom nwanyi, why”, she replied

“a man can never wrestle with his god, his personal chi

nor challenge the decision of God”

His groan was deep and heart rending

his voice saying slowly, chilled  numb

“This death cannot be a decision of God,

we wrong God when we blame Him for our failures

as humans”

 

“Chim, sudden total darkness has fallen on my life at high noon,

a driving torrential downpour has caught me in the middle of nowhere,

blinding me, my path has now become a thicket of dense inpenetrable prickly shrubs”

 

he cried and sang, inconsolable, lost and broken

His mum laid her hands on him and said slowly

“a woman who can do this,

who can abandon a new born at the moment of birth

must be an “Ogbanje””

and his look of pain, rage and disgust froze her.

 

He called the baby Chiwetalu (Brought by God)

and at night when Chiwetalu screamed from hunger

when Chiwetalu cried,

troubled by gripe and colic from formula milk

his heart bled, he cried and held her

and rememered Ugonma and still asked her why

even though his age mates had warned him not to,

had advised him to reject any advances from her

if she walked into his dreams from the land of dead

They had advised him to wear two tight underwears to bed

as she may return to seduce him

and then tear off his manhood

since they all knew how much she loved him in life.

 

In Obi’s mother’s village,

an unmarried teenage girl had lost her  baby

to fever and diarrhoea

one month after delivery,

 

a girl lost,  Nwadiuto

who had now lost virtually everything

– her baby

– her innocence in a moment of madness,

– her schooling as she was expelled from school

once her pregnancy was noticed

– and the support of parents

who had thrown her out for disgracing them.

 

Her mother’s village proved to be her sanctuary

there they welcomed her, kind aunts helped her

manage her shame and the pains of pregnancy

 

Her mother frequently visited her there

whenever she thought her dad was not looking

(her tough and puritan dad saw all,

looked the other way, said nothing,

but silently thanked God that she did)

 

Now her chest full of grief and still sore from her loss

her breasts full, swollen and tender,

her life emptied of meaning and attachment

she agreed to nurse and breast feed Chiwetalu,

this life so fragile, so trusting

 

The hungry ruby lips needed some coaching and guiding

flesh and rubber feel and smell differently

but soon the hungry lips tugged and sucked at nipples

engorged, tender, touching her,

awakening her and flooding

her with images of her own child

who now sleeps forever

 

and Nwadiuto cries for him,

for a father he never knew and would never know

a man whose heat she had felt

but not his love nor his affection

regretting their brief interaction,

rushed and unfulfilling for her

 

She laments this and her loss

laments her parents

who further lost her

when they threw her out

when she felt most lost and needed them most

and occasionally when Chiwetalu cried from hunger

she would also think of his mother

that the hungry earth had claimed and swallowed

 

 

And from a distance,

heart still broken, but filled with gratitude to Nwadiuto,

Obi watches these two lives and surveys his

united by loss, by losses that could have been avoided

 

And he ponders how one life had in coming

taken another life,

how another young life had flown

emptied the life of a teenage mum

but leaving her full sorrow and milk

how that milk now bonded

two lives and a third

and His tears never cease to flow

from a mixture of missing, thanking and wishing.

 

*****First raw and rough cut of a song  that invaded me in its inchoate form, begging to trapped on paper. MMR and IMR are my targets here – and I now agree that overt didactism ruins creative writing. This shambolic song is one good example. OK, I pack it here for now and will come back to retouch it later, hopefully. Noel

A long song for the boy who waits

He sits and counts the days and the hours

mama has been away to the market

for seven market weeks now

and they all say that this market she went to

is located in some very far away place

and he tells himself that he will ask her

why she did not wake him the morning she left

to go to this far market to say good bye 

He had woken up to learn she left for the market very early

at that time of day when the dew still holds back the lizard’s tail

and slows down their running,

at that time of day when night spirits

are hurrying back to their abodes

before their sworn enemy the sun catches

them out and abroad 

and so he waits and asks

“when will mama return from the market

other children’s mothers come back and go again

and I sit,  waiting for mine, mine who will not come back

mama, when  will you return from this market”

And he wished she would come back

prayed to Chineke and his personal chi

to hasten her return

so that he could tell her

how everybody had been so nice to him lately

and how papa no longer scolded him

how nda Uzoemena had come and taken

him to mama’s maternal village four days

after mama had gone to the market

and he had stayed two days

he would tell her of all the woman who hugged him

all saying Nwam-oo

and the nice meals they all competed to cook and bring for  him

and Nne, his grandmother who held and hugged him,

and the hushed whispers of the women when he was there

and how he thought Nne cried the day he arrived

and how when he asked why

she was said it was from joy of seeing him,

him, son of her only daughter Nwabuaku 

He would tell her when she came back

that once or twice in the night

he heard papa sobbing

when papa thought he was asleep

and he  smiled  as

he imagined how mama would then tease papa,

papa who always said men do not cry

yes, there was a lot he would tell her

how nda Nneka now came over to cook for papa and him

in the evenings and would stay to chat with them afterwards

how her onubu soup tasted more bitter than hers

and how he had resisted the first time she tried to bathe him

a boy of four was a man he prpoudly told her

and needed his privacy

he would tell how he overheard nda Uchechi and nda Onyemauche

discussing the other day

and one of them, he couldn’t remember which one of them,

saying that papa

would need another woman to look after the house, and how

they said Auntie Chimaoge would be perfect for the role

and he wondered why, but he would ask mama

and he knew she would smile softly and shyly and explain

as she always does

and he still sits and waits, missing her with each day that passess 

not knowing when she will come back,

very sure she would come home

but telling himself that he would not tell her any of these stories

until she had given him the ripe udala, the akara and yes, the utara ukwa

she would have bought for him from the market,

and then he would hug her and hold her

and ask her to never ever leave him lonely for this long again .

A song for the mighty

 by Noel Ihebuzor  

What has made snails take on wings
and to trade their shells for sails?
Why this rush and stampede by millipedes?

Is it the rumble of thunder or the dark heavy clouds
that announce the gathering storms?
Is it the fury of the beautiful ones in their impotent protests,
Is it the rage of the innocent
or the growing wrath of the wretched?

We witness a parade of childless mothers
and the march past of motherless children
carrying totems of their impotent fathers to lively graveyards

The silent whimper of the weak grows large
large as their numbers that also grow with each passing moon
but all this drowned in the strong assured voice of the righteous,
che correct voice of the mighty and the right

The raw raging roar of the mighty
rises high, hoarse and rough,
fills every space, crowds the waves
announcing swathes of freedom, liberation, redemption,
victory and defeat

The voice that defines night and day
also defines right and wrong,
as it clearly and cleanly
sorts out the right from the wrong,
the good from the evil
all this with power, passion, precision and conviction

The voice of the right erases doubts, suppresses doubts
generously traces and defines lines and boundaries of dissent
and discourages any further efforts to
distinguish expediency from morality in these climes and times
where expediency, necessity and morality have become warm bedfellows

strong assured voices waft to assert and to correct
and where the voices are not heeded,
strong arms move to assert and correct
Scattering droplets of peace and planting the seeds of war,
Implanting sign posts of order and the foundations of hatred and hopelessness

The lines are drawn bold and clear
Soon the standard bearers of the evil ones
will lie scattered in the dust of shame and defeat
And the standard bearers of the mighty and right
will strut around in celebrations of the triumph of good
soon the sparks from the voice and strong arms of might
will blight every sparkle from the eyes of weaklings,
will brighten the night with balls of flame and heat
and the flames burn, scorch and cleanse
and the deaf, and the blind, the lame and the weak
will swell in their numbers as the drumbeat and rumble and thunder of might arrive

The hymen of the neutral will be shabbily ruptured,
their emblems shredded soon to fly at quarter mast
as their voices and consciences wane weak
and their cowering voices speak with the same clarity of flames
from the wick of a weak palm oil lamp

The rising roar of the right and mighty wafts and floats,
grows and roars and soars
frowns at and drowns other voices
eagle eyes scan abroad for new signs of evil
The drumbeats and chest beatings become strident
Portending thunder from the earth and sky,
Announcing new storms, new down pours,

The approaching storms, the dark clouds announce the future,
they announce a harvest from which the snails now fly,
the lizards, the rats, the millipedes, the antelopes, the elephants are in preparing to fly
all abroad and in search of strong wings and kind winds

And I too should now learn to fly or fry


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