Hey!
Today’s post is courtesy of yours truly and a deviation from the norm.
Enjoy!

MAMEH

I suddenly remember the little oval scar at my mum’s shoulder. I remember it dark, larvae-like, and memories of how fascinated I had been as a child, of that little oddity makes me smile. When Mameh tied her wrapper to her chest, I’d climb in her laps and sit down, my little hands straying to the scar. I would prod it, pinch it, even attempt to open it which made my mum laugh even though it hurt her. She’d prise my fingers away and tell me to stop touching.

I never could bring myself to ask her the question, intent on discovering for myself the secret of the atypical scar.
One day, I couldn’t hold it in any longer and with the seriousness only a six year old child could muster, I blurted out the question. “Mameh what happened here?”
I remember the small smile that tugged at the corner of her dark, full lips as she  removed my prying fingers for the umpteenth time.
“A nail entered into my back” she said simply and I remember how wide my eyes had gone. I didn’t ask the obvious questions of “How or When?” even though I was burning to.
I was that kind of child.
All I did was absorb this new piece of information in silence as my mind tried to picture the nail Papa had once shown me during one of his DIY repairs, doing the damage.

After minutes of ruminating, my little mind got tired.
“Did it hurt?” I asked finally.
“Of course!” she exclaimed, laughing at the memory as her fingers played with my tough black hair that seemed to tangle at the slightest opportunity.
“Very bad?” I asked again.
“Very bad. It bled a lot.”
Again, I absorbed this new piece of information. The idea of blood gushing out like a fountain I had seen at the amusement park Mameh took me to once made me smile. Again, I had been that kind of child; fascinated with the bizarre.
I inferred at that moment that my mum had cried when she had that injury. I suddenly giggled and my mum looked at me in askance.
I was wondering what her face must have been like when she cried. Did she have catarrh dripping down her nose like I did when I cried as I begged Papa to take me with him on his journey to Yola or when Mameh put vegetables in front of me and forced me to eat the vile greenies?
“You cried mummy!”

Note, this hadn’t been a question. Was it the excitement in my voice or the look of absolute triumph in my fce? She laughed long and hard! I remember her laugh now; unrestrained and full, as if coming from the very pits of her rotund stomach. Her breasts would jiggle against me with the force of exhalation like it did that day.
“No o! I did not cry! Big girls don’t cry!”
Now, I laughed too. She was obviously lying. I didn’t know how I knew this. I just did. It was the glint in her eyes; the glint she had whenever she wanted me to help her ask Papa for money. I was an astute child; Mameh always said I had an uncanny way of ‘knowing’ things. She’d later chide my ‘knowing’ as I got older. “Ask questions! Don’t assume!” Not that I ever see the need to; my assumptions are always right.

My fascination with her scar lessened as I got older. In fact, up until now, I hadn’t thought about that oval scar in years.

I stare at her impassive face now and suddenly, the urge to feel that little mark fills my head. I lick my lips, fighting for control of my fingers. I fight the urge to stretch my hand and push the starched white shirt they’ve put on her and feel her scar like a doctor feels for a tumour. It had been our bonding point.
I giggle as hysteria tries to take chunks out of my mind and I feel my elder brother’s worried stare beside me.
I smile at him. ‘I am fine’ my smile says even though my eyes tell a different story.
I stroke her cool face, marvelling at the mortician’s skills in making her look presentable. She looks almost…alive.
For a second, I thought I saw her lips twitch, the beginning of a smile. I blink quickly and it’s gone.
It is when I feel my brother’s arms around that I realise I had been in tears.
“Big girl don’t cry” I whisper to the woman I loved since the day I ‘knew’ her. “But I am not a big girl… I still want my mummy…”

I hold her hands for a second and feeling the insistent tug from my brother, I decide to move away from the casket, making space for other viewers.
A small song she used to sing comes unbidden to my head and I murmur softly.

“Good night. Good night.
Close your eyes, Keep them safe.
For soon will be morning…”

My voice threatens to break as emotions well up in me, clogging my throat.  I cannot complete the song.
“And you would need them healthy then…” my brother murmurs, finishing the song.
I smile up at him.
“ I’m fine” I tell him again, trembling smile in place.
He pulls me into his arms and hugs  me tight as sudden powerful sobs rack my body.
He murmurs the song over and over again to me, rocking me like a child; just like the way Mameh did when she sang the song to us as children.

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