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Monday, December 7, 2009

A mother’s love is everlasting

Denda wondered why this woman loved him so and could not wait to find out, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza

Denda stood in front of the mirror. He was going to meet her.  Two small eyes stared back. A memory struck him, making him smile. But it was crooked, not the pure smile of his boyhood, years ago.

There was a woman called Feda, at the small trading centre, who oftentimes served him affectionate looks and hugs saying, “You remind me, little boy, with those small sweet eyes of yours!”

She would go behind and return with a big bowl of porridge, which Denda gulped down as the chubby woman grinned, winked and made him feel what those experienced in these things called “motherly love.”

Their “arrangement” went on and the fonder Feda grew of him, the taller Denda grew. But with time, he began to feel uncomfortable whenever she sighed and had him hugged, grinned and winked at.

One day, he cut a fair bargain with himself. He abandoned the highway to trudge the lone meandering path in the blistering, sometimes showering afternoons, homeward from school.

Three years later, Denda decided Feda had outgrown her open spoiling of him. He wanted to voice his gratefulness for her old generosity and with the money he had worked hard for, fetching water and firewood for the neighbours, buy her bowl of bushera, which he had terribly missed.

Feda jumped up, sweeping him into a cuddle, and running her surprisingly soft fingers down the boy’s face all the time murmuring how she had missed “those small sweet eyes that remind me!”

Denda felt strange between his legs and tried to draw away. But the woman pulled him back saying it has been long. Suddenly, she disengaged herself, and with an odd look in an odd voice asked, “Boy, do you have a nail in your pants?”

The P.6 pupil darted a glance at the front of his shorts and saw it pointed like the bill of a young marabou stork. Red with embarrassment, Denda dashed off, never to see the woman again.

A lopsided smirk appeared as memories gushed in torrents. He searched his heart; had she been close to Feda? Had she loved his Dad? Why had she waited all these years?

Sema had called last night: “Dude, she’s at mine and won’t leave until she has seen you.”

Many things clamoured for control in Denda’s mind. How was he to handle the reunification; would he stretch his arm in greeting? Would she cry to see him?

He was in S.2 when he first overheard the whispers. Another woman, not “Mommy”, had brought him into this earth. That’s how he lost the charm and wildness that coloured his innocent days. He thought he would go mad, and then found the books.

It was all quiet when Denda finally entered Sema’s gate. He was about to rap on the door when he heard voices. He pinned his ear on the door.

“I went through a difficult time before I had him,” the longing voice said. “His name means ‘comforter’ because when he came he took away my sorrows.” Sema asked: “Was his Dad there when you delivered?”
“I was alone, about 3a.m., but I didn’t have any trouble pushing.” A nervous laugh. And then: “My baby would wake me in the middle of night and say, Agandi Mama (hello mom), and ask for water. He didn’t like sweet liquids children love. He loved water and milk. One day I was nearly raped on my way to buy him milk.”

The ticktock of the clock cut through the next silence like a gladiator’s sword.

“It hurt but it was the only option,” she said struggling to smother emotion. “My best friend, Feda, promised to take good care of him. Did you say he’s really coming to see me?”

The tenseness and resentment dissolved like salt in boiling water. He inhaled deeply and knocked on the door softly.

--Sunday Monitor, June 28, 2009