It’s been six months already since she walked out that cold morning after the brief light showers. Earlier that morning, I threw hissy fit of childish foreshadowing but she made sure I didn’t hang on to the hem of her skirt for long while the bike man drove me and my other siblings away.
It’s been a long wait since that morning and I still don’t know why she’s still not back. I look to the tall black gate every evening after school expecting to see her walk through and call me her last born. And even though she always picked me from school, waiting for her at home wasn’t so bad.
Christmas is coming and I see other Mama’s hurrying off to the designers shop or to the okirika seller by the bend of the street to get ready-made wears and first grade okirika for their children and I wished Mama was one of them. I know Papa didn’t give her much but he gave her enough to make us smile and look better than the other kids that don’t even know what Christmas is.
This evening as every other, I sit in our parlor, my siblings are in the room bickering at one another, Papa had gone out very early, he now plays Mama and Papa. Papa he does well but at Mama, he’s a recluse. Grandma is in the kitchen making moist indomie noodles for everyone. She has become the new Mama since Mama never returned. Everywhere is noisy but I feel it in my heart, that same silence I felt that morning before leaving her in childish tears. Where is Mama? I asked myself looking up the portrait on the wall.
She was there, smiling, her teeth all white, she was hugging Papa in one of the photos while the others had me and my siblings in them. I was on her laps looking tender and innocent and her hands secured me as if to say ‘I’d never leave you’ but she did leave barely before I was two.
She left and never looked back. Come and play with us, the other children called at me, startling me out of my glaring gaze up to Mama. Soon I was running up and down with them forgetting for a moment that Mama was yet to return from wherever she went..
Christmas day rang bells, everyone had decorated their house, father was too busy for that, grandma was quite old to think about such things and my siblings were too young to care. Only Mama cared about how the house looked and when Christmas comes, she’d take extra care of the house.
She’d buy those cheap Christmas light that switched their lights from blue to red to green as they played ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ and put small decorations to make the house look like it was Christmas. And she would buy air freshener, clean the refrigerator and all the utensils like Christmas was a public holiday for special cleanliness.
Soon the other children will be holding their over-sized balloons their Mama bought them and those cap and wristwatches and glasses. They’ll wear them and make shakara for us because our Mama is not around to buy for us.
Christmas day came and I ran out the door, perhaps Mama will remember its Christmas and drop by for a hello and maybe she will stay to prepare the Christmas chicken and salad. Just maybe, she will come by only for a moment and stay with us.
I waited from morning till the ingested rice and chicken was dropping off my bum, Mama never showed up, then I knew her only presence for our Christmas will be the beautiful picture smiling on the wall.
Mama was gone and this was the First Christmas without her. Where did she go to that made her forget about Christmas? Somebody? Anybody? Why is Mama not here to celebrate Christmas with us?
For every child who will never know the Joy of Motherly love at Christmas!