Some people are never prepared for the answers to their questions, especially about other people’s life. Sometimes, it is best not to ask the questions and sometimes, the answers you get edify and boost your faith. Sometimes, it teaches you gratitude and that, not all seemingly good life is indeed good.
It’s been a while, since I saw my mom, so I decide to spend the day with her sometime last week, even though, I was more glued to my screen than her side, what’s important was we were in the same house and broke into conversations at intervals.
It was an opportunity to also see my second sister, whose house was close by and my beautiful nieces. The older one reminded me of the fact that, we have a 5th birthday to plan oh and she can’t wait. Back to my story, my sister had run some errands for my mom and gave back with some feedback, part of which was meeting an old family friend.
I was excited to hear about her. The last time, I had seen her was at her wedding, six years ago and then, she said, “She was quite heavy but had to help her mom man her store, as all the help, they were getting were stealing from them.”
At this point, I asked, “Is that her first child?” to which my sister answered, “You epp am born one before?” Typical Nigerian answer and a typical come back from my sister.
Don’t blame my question; I was pretty sure that over the years, someone had mentioned to me that, she was pregnant, only I’m not sure anyone told me, she had a baby. Perhaps, I had mistook, the birth announcement of her younger brother for hers.
When I said as much to my mom, she said, she lost the baby and that it was only by the grace of God, she had gotten pregnant again, after years of not conceiving at all. I wish, I hadn’t asked. But, I pray for a successful pregnancy and safe delivery for her.
For an older woman, even though, it’s been years and years after the death of her first born that I knew her, I have heard a lot about the first child that didn’t live. She would sometimes talk and talk about how that child would have been different, would have made her happier, would have grown up to be so and so.
She says these things in the present of her living children. I guess they have gotten used to Mama’s speech, because I see nothing expressed on their face but I know the death of that child still haunts that elderly woman. If she had a wish, she would probably wish her to live.
Honestly, I didn’t have to ask Mama, who was her oldest child, she told me several times in the course of our daily interactions.
She told me how she had been married off her by brother at a very early age. How, his wife hadn’t wanted her to go, because she was a hard working young lady and very useful around the house. How, her new husband had spent only a few weeks at home, before heading to his railway job, leaving her in the care of his mother, who was a taskmaster.
Her mother in law found out she was pregnant before she did but that did not in any way, made her to reduce her work load. She still kept up with her hard labour and sometimes, even had more work to do.
Even when, her husband came home, the situation didn’t improve. He was cut from the same cloth as his mother. Long story short, Mama had that baby girl as a still birth. She told me, how beautiful and peaceful she was in death. She spoke of her full head of hair, of her beautiful fair skin, her tiny tips and the fine nails that topped her fingers. The ways, she described that baby, I longed to meet her and even though, it’s close to fifty years, Mama still remembers the tiny details of her first daughter, who was born still. What caused the still birth, she can’t really say.
Mama had nine more children by her husband, one of whom died as a 22 years old lady. That is another loss that has shaken her life but she’s still forging ahead.
So, imagine, if you were to ask Mama, “Is this your first child?” or “How many children do you have?” You will probably be getting some complicated tale, which would most likely detail some parts of her motherhood journey and life in general.
Yet another momma, who has suffered two miscarriages, before having her daughter, has taken to telling the truth about the number of children, she has. She even compares her “first child” with a child who is the same age, as he would have been, if he had lived. My mom thinks these actions of hers, is taking things over board and has told her to stop telling people so many details about her life, saying, “You don’t know the people who are happy at your unhappiness. Be grateful, you have a daughter now.”
Well, it doesn’t look as if that advice has entered into her, as our casual conversation still led her to refer to her cute daughter as her third born.
Now, I’m telling my mom to take a chill pill regarding her, as, she’s getting pissed at her, for not heeding her advice.
She who wears the shoes, knows where it pinches. She’s the only one, who can truly determine whether or not to share her story and how much of it she wants to share and with whom.
So, before you ask that personal question, just give a thought to whether you are ready to deal with the answer or not.
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