Posted in Girls, Life commentary, Short story

Feyikemi

Feyikemi

(c) Folakemi Emem-Akpan 2020

Arms folded across my chest, seated in a locked and rigid position because my back wouldn’t budge, my heart beating in a pit-a-pat music of anticipation, I await the birth of my seventh child. I am seated on the rock at the far edge of the compound, away and removed from where the action is taking place, but I can still hear every land-shattering scream, every soul-searing cry from my wife.

They say it’s bad luck for a husband to be present as his wife pushes their child into the world, the same way they say it brings bad luck for the woman to cry so much during the painful process of delivery. I am aware that there are hardened leather strips thrust in between Feyikemi’s teeth so that she can bite on them instead of screaming, but I am also aware that my wife has a very low pain threshold.

It is a wonder she has done this six times in the past, is going at it the seventh time. And the stakes this time are much higher for both of us, for my entire family, for the posterity of the Akangbe clan.

“Somebody help her…Somebody, please make this stop…” But there is no one to hear me, no one within miles of where I sit. In this village, childbirth is such a common occurrence that the world does not grind to a halt because of it. My brothers have gone on to the banana farm to put in their daily quota of work, as has my father. I was expected to come along as well, but Feyikemi had woken up this morning with childbirth pains, and I couldn’t for the very life of me go to work.

The wives of the compound have gone about their daily activities too, two of them gone down to the river with the children to wash clothes and cooking utensils. My mother and the last wife are attending to Feyikemi, helping her usher our child into the world.

I bite my fingers down to the quick, cover my face with my palms, pull at the greying strands of hair in my beard, wipe the sweat off my brow that shouldn’t be there because it is a bitterly cold morning.

The stakes are high. This baby is the one to determine the future.

As the eldest son of the family, I was expected to produce the direct heir, the son who would pass on the family name to his own progeny, the chosen one who would keep our family stories and heritage alive. Of course, the sons born to the other brothers would do the same, but my son was to be the focal point, the main one, the first grandson born to the first son.

Only that I have failed so far to produce a male heir. Feyikemi has been with child eight times, brought forth six children alive, all of them females. When our first child entered the world, feet first, head wailing in a cry of indignation, my mother brought her to me wrapped in cocoyam leaves and dripping with the obligatory palm oil. My mother had been full of encouragement, and the sides of her eyes shimmered with tears.

“Next time. Next time, it’ll be a boy.”

She understood well the disappointment of having a girlchild as your first, of burying your disappointment under a well-disguised cloak of excitement.

The second girlchild arrived eleven months after the first, and there were those words of encouragement again. “It will happen, Ayomiposi…it will.”

Two days later, my younger brother’s wife delivered twin boys. It was like a blow to my person, an effrontery to my manhood and seniority. And it didn’t help that Mama spent more time in his hut caring for his wife and the boys than she did in mine caring for my new daughter. After all, sons are everything and girls are only good to be raised and sold off into marriage.

From children three to five, Mama lost her encouragement, couldn’t summon the words anymore. She would simply tell me, “It’s a girl” and leave me to my thoughts, to my shame, to my inner turmoil.

Feyikemi begged me then to stop sleeping with her, to quit trying to get her pregnant almost as soon as she is relieved of one child.

“My body is giving out, my love. I can’t do this anymore.” She pleaded.

But she did do it again, because of her love and respect for me, and because she wanted me to be able to hold my head high in my father’s compound once again.

After she pushed our sixth daughter into the world, she had wept disconsolately, her back against the wall, her face haggard and sunken like an old woman’s. Her spirit was broken, her wounds unhealable.

And then Mama and Papa came in that dark night to see us, the lantern they brought with them outshining the one we had hung on our wall. Our daughters, aged one through eight, were all in different stages of sleep, curled up on the mats, one of them sucking hard and furiously on her thumb. The new baby was swaddled against Feyikemi’s bosom, her eyes awake and looking intently at her mother.

“We have to do something to revert this misfortune that has been visiting you and your wife.” Mama began, her eyes huge and white in her dark face.

“There is a traditional way to set things right, a way to give you the son for your progeny.”

My heart sank to the bottom of my feet then, because I knew where she was headed, knew which traditional practice she was about to call upon. I buried my face in between my knees, let out a wail of anguish.

“It must be done.” Papa finally spoke, and I could hear the desperation in his voice. “Tejumade has proven himself to be quite the man. We will speak to him, command him if we have to. And Feyikemi must begin to wean the baby, begin to get herself ready.”

How do you wean a two-week-old just so her mother can get pregnant again as soon as possible? And how do you sit outside your hut, waiting while your little brother went in to your wife? How do you start to process the unfairness of it all?

After they had left, Feyikemi trembled in my arms all night long. She was long past tears, but the heartbrokenness was there in the way her mouth hung agape, in the way her eyes looked like they were a ghost’s, and in the way her hand trembled uncontrollably each time her hand stroked the new baby’s head.

Because it is the way of our people, we did as we had been asked. I never for once sat with Tejumade, the little brother, who had fathered himself four sons by then, to discuss what was to happen and how. And I never spoke about it with Feyikemi again.

Mama made the arrangements, helped wean the new baby until Feyikemi saw her blood again, carted off the children with her and sent me on errands every time Tejumade visited my hut.

I had expected one or two visits, three at the max, but fate has a terrible way of rubbing pepper into your gaping wounds. After each visit, I would watch Feyikemi check herself for signs of pregnancy, listless, trembling, wanting so desperately for the ordeal to be over.

But the blood always came. And the visits continued.

Food started to taste like sawdust in my mouth, and even though I knew Feyikemi detested the process as much as I did, I dragged her into unnecessary fights. And there was tension between Tejumade and me as we worked alongside each other on our family’s banana plantation. The plantation is supposed to become mine, and I am expected to chip off little pieces of land as gifts for my brothers so that they can continue to sustain their families after our father passes. But I might never even come into my ownership, not without a son to pass it all on to.

Tejumade would dip his head in the customary offer of respect he is expected to show me, but the camaraderie we used to have is gone. We are now strangers, linked by blood and a sense of family duty. This is what your brother trying to help you father an heir does to families.

And then Feyikemi gets pregnant.

There is joy because the ordeal of the visits is over, excitement that perhaps this could be the child that changed our lot in life. And there is a fear that permeates the air, a fear that it could have all been for nought.

So here I sit this bitterly cold morning, waiting for news. The frigidness has begun to affect my fingers such that I can no longer feel them. An ant climbs my wrappers and begins a climb up. I watch it, fascinated by its doggedness and determination.

My mind is taking me back towards the birthing hut, and there is panic bubbling somewhere in my heart. But I concentrate on watching the ant, anything to get the mind off of what is happening, of what is to come.

And then there is the shrill cry of a newborn baby.

I bury my head in my hands, petitioning the gods of fertility to look down on me, on us, with eyes of mercy this time. There are tears in my eyes that a man should not be seen shedding, and there is a bitter taste on my tongue.

Then, the hesitant tap of fingers on my back.

I rise slowly, into the dark, bottomless eyes of my mother. Only that these are not eyes that I am familiar with. These eyes are dark, melancholy, full of regret, of pity, of shame. These are the eyes that make your heart burn and explode into flames.

“It’s a girl.” She says simply.

Posted in Girls, Short story

Saving the family

SAVING THE FAMILY

(c) Folakemi Emem-Akpan

You’d always known that this day would come. Yet, your knowledge does not equal acceptance, and your knowledge doesn’t stop your heart from threatening to beat out of your chest, neither does it stop you from breaking out in a hard, cold sweat even though the weather is bitingly cold.

It is early in January and the harmattan season has descended with a vengeance. As you rolled out of bed this morning, you shivered as your cold feet made contact with the even colder floor, and it had taken you all of one minute to be done in the bathroom. Because your family cannot afford frivolities like hot water baths, you take cold baths no matter the weather, not even when you are sick. So, you dumped the half bucket of icy water over your head and ran out of the bathroom

You had watched in front of the broken mirror you share with your youngest sister as the breath escaped you in icy vapours, and you had thrown on three layers of clothing.

But you are no longer cold. There is a heat boiling from deep inside you and the only way that your body knows to respond is to break out in sweat.

How could things have turned this sour just a few days after the New Year celebration. On that day, you’d worn your newly purchased second hand gown, but it had felt brand new to you. You’d felt like you were on top of the world, like you were a princess who had the whole world at your beck and call. You guys were a complete family again; your father, your mother, your four sisters and your three brothers.

All had felt right with the world. There wasn’t much to eat in your house, but you’d made the rounds to more prosperous homes with your siblings and had eaten so much you had a tummy ache for days. You had felt like a child again, not like a young woman, not like someone on whose shoulders lay a weight of responsibility. You had been a child again, and now you are to be one no more.

When your mother pushed you out into the world eleven years ago, it was unwritten that you would one day follow in the footsteps of all the women of the family. By the time you were born, your mother had already given up two daughters, already knew what if felt like to send daughters off into modern slavery.

And, she knew, even as she breastfed you and stroked your head, that she would one day give you up too.

You are the last daughter and your mother has already done this four times. What you don’t know is that it has never been easy for her, has not gotten easier with regularity, and that she cries into her pillow almost every night.

“Beatrice, you should be ready. She will be here any time from now, and we don’t want to keep her waiting.” Your mother calls to you from just outside the house, where she is spreading freshly washed clothes on the clothesline.

She is talking about the woman who will convey you to Lagos, the woman who took the last two of your sisters, the one whom you blame for wringing the joy from their eyes. And now, she’s coming to take you.

You feel the tears roll down your cheek, feel the sadness overwhelm you from the inside out and you feel like you are drowning in a sea of misery.

You sigh, rise to your feet and pick up your luggage, a tattered hand me down travel bag that has been used by many siblings before you. You take a last look at your room, the one you share with your littlest brother, the one where you have felt warmth and love and security. Then you close your eyes to your childhood and step out into adulthood.

You are going to the big city to become a house help, just like all four sisters before you have been. Born and raised in the dry arid village, with no viable means to support a family, most families sent their daughters to Lagos, Abuja and other affluent cities to serve as house helps to big madams. Your mother was a house help before you all, came back home when she was eighteen, met and married your father by the time she was nineteen and proceeded to have a whole parcel load of children.

When the rainfall comes, your father’s tiny piece of farmland manages a meagre harvest at best. Your mother had tried not to have to send you to Lagos and had been making do with what she could sell from your father’s land, but then there has been no rainfall in forever, and there is no produce, nothing. Nothing.

So, to Lagos you are headed.

You are next in the long and unending line of daughters sold off into modern slavery as house helps.

You are not supposed to know, but you know that your parents have already received the payment for your first year of service, and it was that money that was used to repair the collapsed roof of the house. There had been that initial gush of hope when your sisters made plans to return to their duty posts and had their conveyor come get them two days earlier. You were not included in their travel plans, and for a full day, you’d dared to hope, had dared to exult that you were not going to be called upon to save your family.

But yesterday, Mama had called you into their room, kissed you on both cheeks, held you to her chest and told you were going to leave the following day. She’d smelt of palm oil and freshly fried garri, and you wanted to cling on to her forever, to take in the smell of her and never let it go. You’d wanted to go back to New Year’s Day, to take a stroll through your cold dusty village, to sit in a circle and eat from the same bowl from your siblings.

But as all good things do, your dream is fading, ending, forever gone.

You hold your childhood in your fists one more time, then release it, let it blow into the four corners of the earth.

When you step out of your room, you are ready. You are simply the next girl in the Asiegbe family to go work to feed your family and even though you’d rather not go, duty beckons.

Your tears are gone, your hiccups are gone. And when you face your Mama’s emaciated face, it is with a broad smile on your face. But that smile does not reach all the way down into your belly.

Posted in Girls, Short story

Scorned

african baby

When your water breaks, you feel a dull roar of panic. You are not afraid of the delivery or scared for the baby. You’ve put to bed five times, and this pregnancy never gave you problems.

It is the scorn on their faces that you fear. It is the snorts and hmphs of ridicule. What makes your heart contract in fear is the fact that the birth of this baby could mean the final lid in the coffin of your condemnation.

From the day your belly started to swell, you suspected that it would be a girl. Again. Just like the others, this baby sat very high in your womb, close to your breasts in that delightful way girls are wont to do.

Soon your contractions are fast and furious and you send for your mother-in-law in the next hut. When she appears at your door, it is with a scowl on her face. This woman has single-handedly run her family for twenty-eight years. Widowed at an early age with four sons and a daughter to care for, she drew on an inner strength no one knew she had, raised her sons to be good farmers, selected wives for each of them, filled her late husband’s compound with dozens of grandchildren, majority of which are boys.

You are the only wife yet to produce an heir for the lineage.

When you got swollen with child this last time, your mother-in-law paid you a midnight visit and laid down the ultimatum. A boy or another wife for dear Leke.

That night, you cried yourself to sleep, your husband’s back turned to you. You don’t blame him. You don’t blame your mother-in-law. It is the way of your people to care for sons more than they do daughters.

Sons carry on the family name. Sons contribute to the family wealth by farming the cocoa plantations. Sons are an honor.

Two of the other wives arrive to help. Soon you are on your back, the leather tong clenched in between your teeth. Screaming during delivery brings bad luck to one’s husband so you bite hard each time the pain hits.

Your legs are held apart, your wrapper discarded as the women probe and prod you. You are instructed to push and you do so with all of your might. You push a second time, a third time.

The wail of a newborn rends the air. The three women fall absolutely silent.

You are exhausted but anxious and ask to see your baby. They don’t show you the face; rather your mother-in-law almost shoves the genitals in your face.

You’ve had a sixth girl.

But instead of the panic that plagued you all through the pregnancy, you suddenly feel a sense of calm. Love washes over you.

It doesn’t matter if you are scorned. It doesn’t matter that Leke will be given a second wife. It doesn’t matter if all your children are girls.

What does matter is that you are a good mother. There is tremendous love in your heart for this little baby just as there is for her siblings.

You cuddle your baby and look up into the eyes of your mother-in-law. She frowns. You smile. She shakes her head. You nod yours.

She walks out of the hut.

 

***In most African communities, male children are preferred above females and a woman who produces only girls is often ridiculed.

Posted in Short story

Blank page (Part 2)

Read part 1 here

https://folakemi.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/blank-page-part-1/

Blank page (Part 2)

Julie cannot sleep. In the sweltering heat of the night, she has stripped to her panties and has taken a cold shower. But she still cannot sleep.

Somehow, she and Hannah had cleaned up their faces. Somehow, the three girls had sat at the kitchen table and done their homeworks. Somehow, Hannah’s mom never noticed that anything was wrong.

Back home, Julie picked at her dinner and escaped early into the refuge of her room. But sleep did not come. And sleep still has not come.

The agreement is that Hannah will tell her mom that she is fine. By all means, she is going to keep her nausea under control, so that her mom doesn’t have the same idea to give her a pregnancy test. Then, Hannah will tell Bode that she is pregnant. Then Lisa is going to help procure some pills from one of her classmates. This, she had reluctantly agreed to, after much begging from the younger girls. This is because she knows that her life will become so much harder if her parents find out that her younger sister is pregnant.

“Just four little pills. Put them under your tongue, and you’re done. Pregnancy gone.”

Julie had a mind to ask Lisa if she’d used them herself before, but the words wouldn’t go pass her throat.

Despite herself, Julie finally falls asleep, comes wide awake to the insistent sun at her window in the morning.

She and Anthony are waiting before their mom is ready, Anthony out of impatience to be at school already, and she out of an implacable fear that something is about to go wrong with all of their lives.

Hannah and Lisa are also waiting, and this morning, Hannah looks scrubbed clean and not so much sick. Julie is happy that she is keeping to the agreement.

And Lisa keeps to the agreement too, slipping a little pouch of pills to Hannah and Julie as they wait to be picked up in the afternoon.

“Mom’s going out this afternoon. I won’t be in either.” Lisa tells Julie. “So it’s best if Hannah takes the pills when she is in your house. Will your mom be around?”

“No. She has some presentations scheduled for this evening.” Both moms work, Julie’s for an insurance company and she sometimes has sales pitch gatherings in the evenings.

“Perfect.”

The cold fear grips Julie again. “But what if something goes wrong? Can’t you just stay? You’d know what to do.”

“Nothing can go wrong. It’s simple.” Lisa turns to her sister now. “Hannah, let the pills dissolve under your tongue. Wear some pads. You’ll bleed a little afterwards. Voila, problem solved.”

Hannah exhales, and so does Julie. Both squeamish, both scared at the sight of blood, they nevertheless know that Lisa has helped as much as she can. This is their problem now, and as Lisa has said, nothing can go wrong.

 

*

 

Something does go wrong.

The cramps hurt like a thousand hells, but Hannah cannot cry out because Anthony is in the living room watching a game show. She walks around Julie’s pink bedroom, will sometimes hang on to Julie for support, is sweating and crying silently.

“Shh. You’ll be okay.” Julie keeps saying, solemnly swearing off sex until she is thirty or married, whichever comes first.

In four hours, Hannah has used three pads. The fourth one is now completely soaked, and there is the need for a fifth one.

“This is not normal. Is this normal? Where is Lisa?”

When Julie goes to their house to check, Lisa is not yet back. In the next hour, she checks again four more times. But Lisa is nowhere to be found.

By now, Hannah is on the seventh and last sanitary towel. And the bleeding does not let up. And now she is in a state of pain that cannot be explained. She is lying on the floor of her friend’s bedroom, weakened by the hard work her body is doing, bewildered beyond belief.

“I am going to die, am I not?” She asks again and again.

“Should I call your mom? Or my mom? Do you want to go to the hospital? Is the pain very bad?” Julie is beside herself with fear and exhaustion.

“I don’t want to die.” And now, Hannah starts to cry loud tears. The cries explode out of her in boomerangs and weaken her even more.

Julie is crying too. She doesn’t want her friend to die. Nothing was supposed to go wrong, but obviously the pills are doing what they shouldn’t be doing.

Finally, she runs out of her room. In the living room, Anthony has fallen asleep as he usually does. Julie uses the rotary phone to dial her mother’s cell phone.

“Just come home. Come home, please.” When she hangs up the phone, she finds that her legs can no longer hold her up. She kneels first, then curls up. The tears cannot stop shaking her body.

*

Julie’s mom tears into the house, the panic threatening to engulf her. Anthony is sprawled on the sofa and Julie is curled up on the floor in the foetal position. They must be dead, she thinks, they are dead.

For an insane moment, she is frozen in her tracks, the irrational thought that if she left and pretended Julie’s phone call never came through, everything would be fine. She’d go back, and when she returned in one hour as previously scheduled, she’d meet Anthony watching TV and Julie and Hannah in Julie’s room, giggling and laughing the way they always do.

Then she sees a shuddery breath escape Julie, then she is by her side, holding her up.

“What is the matter, Jules? What happened? Are you okay?”

Julie dissolves into tears and clings to her mom for life. She has not willingly hugged or kissed her mother in more than a year but tonight, she wants nothing more than the comfort of this woman’s arms, nothing more than to lose herself in the soothing warmth of mom.

“Is Anthony okay? What is the matter, sweetheart?”

“Hannah. Something’s wrong. She’s upstairs.”

Upstairs, Hannah is curled up the same way Julie had been. But this is where the similarity ends. She is not wearing her skirts, only her blouse and bloodied pants. In between her legs, a pool of blood. On the floor all around her, congealed and congealing blood. On Julie’s pink walls, bloody palm prints where she had tried to stand.

Julie stands by the door, unable to enter, watching her mother take in the scene. She hears her mom’s sharp breath intake, then her exhale. She sees the horror dawn on her mother’s face.

“What happened? What happened?” She is bewildered as she steps into a little pool of blood, the more so as she touches Hannah’s clammy skin.

Still by the door, Julie closes her eyes and prays for death. A quick painless one, nothing like the agonising one Hannah must have gone through. Nothing can go wrong. She remembers Lisa’s words. Well, everything has gone wrong, she thinks.

 

*

 

For the next three hours, they all wait in the hospital’s reception as they transfuse almost two litres of blood and try to surgically repair Hannah’s torn uterus.

For these one hundred and eighty minutes, Julie has told the story of what brought them to this point thrice, once to her mother, once to Hannah’s parents, and finally to her father who has been in a perpetual state of disbelief.

Julie’s tears are depleted, but her eyes would not stop hurting. They burn and ache and close uncontrollably. Lisa, the big sister who’d procured the abortion pills, has not cried once. Not even when her father slapped and punched her repeatedly. Not even when their mother had told her, “Pray nothing happens to Hannah, Lisa.”

“Can I see you in my office?” The admitting ER physician finally comes out and beckons to Hannah’s folks, and they follow him mutedly down the hallway.

When Hannah’s mom’s wail rends the still hospital air a minute later, they all know.

Hannah is gone.

 

*

There is no funeral. On an unseasonably hot June morning, they bury Hannah in a hastily purchased cemetery plot.

They live life the way they know how best to; Hannah’s parents in unbearable emotional pain and unable to sit in the same room with their elder daughter. The elder daughter in a cloud of uncharacteristic depression. Julie’s parents in subdued tones and unapologetically accusatory towards her. Anthony seemingly oblivious to it all.

And Julie in a catatonic state that would not lift. For several days, she would be sure that her heart was dead and couldn’t feel any hurt. Then a wayward memory would make her feel a heart ache so sharp she would think she was having a heart attack.

And nights are the worst, for she cannot lose herself in sleep. On her bed, in her now green room, she’d still see Hannah’s prints on the wall, her blood on the floor. When she finally manages to fall asleep, nightmares would shoot her out of the bed.

 

*

She is no longer in her room. She is sitting at the dining table, doing her math homework. And she is still making the same mathematical error, as the events of the past year unravel in her mind.

Her notebook is so rough now from the writing and erasing. She tears off the page and is confronted by a blank page. A new start, a chance to correct her mistakes.

 

 

Posted in Short story

God’s girls – Short story

God’s Girls

© Folakemi Emem-Akpan

 

Seven girls. Stair-step look-alike sisters, with the same enormous eyes, pink lips, and black hair. My daughters.

 

“Mommee, can we eat now?” Yemi asks, already reaching for the simple fare on the table.

 

“We always pray before we eat.” Funmi, the youngest of the triplets by two minutes replies, looking to me for affirmation.

 

“That’s right, girls. Now, who’ll like to bless the food?”

 

“Me, mommee.”

 

“Me.”

 

“No, it’s me…Mommee, remember you promised me. See, I’ve even learnt how to pray.”

 

I smile at Funke and nod my head. “Go ahead.”

 

She smiles back, “thank you Jesus for our food. Bless the hands that cooked it…and bless all of us too…”

 

Soon, they are lost in their food. My eyes travel over all of them, from Lucy, the eldest at ten to Funmi, the youngest at three. I try to look over them as dispassionately as a stranger would. Threadbare, passed-down clothes. Thin, but well-scrubbed faces.

 

Sighing, I return to my food. It’s little and can’t fill my rumbling stomach, but it’s all that’s left after dishing the girls’ food.

 

My thoughts turn to the girls’ father and his crooked grin. He’d smiled once and I’d fallen, heels over heads in love.

 

I’ve always wanted three kids. One girl and two boys. He’d told me on our wedding night.

We’ll try just once more. Maybe we’ll be lucky this time.  He’d said after the fourth girl was born.

 

Then the triplets. James came once to the hospital and that was the last I saw of him.

 

It’s as if he never even existed. He’d taken every scrap of his and moved out to God knows where. The older girls are beginning to forget him, and there’s not even a single picture of him to remind them. But I still remember him, his larger than life approach, his smiles…and the beatings…

 

Lucy’s voice startles me to the present.

 

“Take…” she says as she pushes her plates towards Funke. “I’m filled up.”

 

Before I can say a word, Funke quickly dumps the contents of her sister’s plate on hers.

 

“Lucy?”

 

“Honest, mum. I’m filled.” She starts to protest.

 

“But you had no lunch in school?”

 

“I’m okay…really.”

 

While cooking, I’d caught Lucy dropping something into my bag. It was the fifty Naira note I’d given her for her midday snacks. I wasn’t hungry, she’d said.

 

But I know she is hungry. I push my plate towards her. “Eat my food. I don’t feel like.”

 

“But mum…”

 

“No buts. Eat.”

 

Watching her devour the food, I know she’s starved. Only that she puts the needs of others ahead of hers.

 

I make my way to the kitchen, calculating how much we would need to get through tomorrow. My job as a seamstress pays very little, but I need to stay at home to take care of the children. But we’ll make do. My mother sent us four tubers of yam last week, and I still have some cans of soup, so food’s taken care of. There’s three hundred Naira in my purse…now three-fifty counting Lucy’s addition.

 

It seems I spend every minute sighing, because I do so now. The girls’ voice come to me faintly.

 

“We are all going to help mummy, Okay?” Funke says. “Tomorrow morning, it’s my turn and Yinka’s to say we aren’t hungry. Lucy, y’re supposed to help her in the kitchen…”

 

The tears I’ve been trying to stem all day now threaten to spill out of my eyes. Such precious kids. And who had taught them sacrificial living?

 

“James, you don’t know what you’re missing. They might be mere girls, as you used to say, but they are God’s girls.” I say softly to the almost bare kitchen. For the first time in three years, I am not angry at James. Instead, I pity him.

 

He is missing the warm embrace of our daughters. He is missing watching them grow in God’s fear. He is missing life at its finest.

 

“We might lack a lot of things, but we’re not poor.” I tell God, resting my back on the kitchen wall. “You’ve given me these wonderful girls and I’m going to spend my life loving them, mothering them, and pouring the abundance of your love into them.”

 

Tomorrow will come with its problems; unpaid school fees, unwholesome meals, and patched clothing, but we will make it. Resting on God’s arms just like we have always done.

 

In the meantime, I will be grateful for being mother to God’s girls.