Fourteen Years old Natasha watched as everything came crashing down her feet. The very same people she called her family were the very same people who were laying claims on her father’s properties. What wrong did she commit in being a girl, was it her fault that she was an only child? She had no answers to this questions but they kept arising, how much she wanted to curse fate; of all the people to die, why was it her dad!
The fact that her dad died didn’t matter to her uncles, all that mattered was his properties which they were all rooting for and for the first time in her life she wished she was a male child. The beast in them finally came out and all she could see were five chameleons in red caps who posed as her uncles. How she wished she was older, she would fight for her mother; she could see the pain in her eyes and how she was slowly fading. Natasha was scared, not for herself but for her mother; the way she silently obeyed uncle Ude and his colleagues scared her that she wondered if her mum had forgotten that they existed.
The night before her father’s burial, as she walked to the kitchen to meet her mum, she heard her mum crying so hard and she felt so relieved because for the past two weeks they’ve been in the village for her mum had not shed a tear, it felt like she was trying to hold it all together and wanted to look strong. She stood at the door and watched as her mum released the pain; how could this woman tell her every morning for the past two weeks that all was fine when nothing seems fine, they were slowly losing everything.
She was lost in thought that she didn’t realize that her mother had noticed her by the door.
‘Baby come,’her mum called out
She watched as her mum opened her arms and beckoned on her to come;
She slowly walked towards her; all she could see was her mum waiting to hug her and the tears that flowed from her eyes…
Walking seemed to take longer than usual and before she knew it she ran towards her mother who held her in tight embrace and kept promising her that it would be fine, and in tears Natasha asked her how…
She waited for her mum’s response but it never came, the only thing that filled the atmosphere was the quietness and the feel of mourning that can be smelt and felt kilometers away. She just rested in her mother’s embrace, she wasn’t sure where she and her mother will find themselves after the burial but she was sure of one thing that this embrace was and is real. it was like that was what they both needed and it was their only solace, no matter the outcome they’ve got each other, they were each other true relative, each other’sallies and each other true friend.
Sometimes I wonder what’s the challenges men face, do they even have challenges, are they more special than me because if they are and if they’ve got it all figured out and are considered the perfect ones then I want to be in that male gender.
The next morning felt more like a celebration instead of the burial, only she and her mum seem to actually be mourning; well only both of them are the true family of Mr Frank, others were and are just hovering around for their share of the property.
She wanted to understand their perspective of a burial, her father just died but the celebration looked like a family reunion, pissed at the whole situation she walked into her mother’s room and caught her starring through her window lost in her thoughts.
Ignorant of how to bring her mum out of her little world, she walked up to her and stood opposite her and starred through the window too. The sight of everything kept upsetting her; how different women gathered by the fire and were busy cooking different soups and rice, others walking into the kitchen picking and dropping ingredients and things like it belonged to them, few were pounding yam, and some were washing the plates that would be used. Was this a burial or an occasion, why wasn’t her mother saying anything, why was she so quiet, even if her dad is late; in his absence she was in charge not his brothers or kinsmen nor their wives.
She thought she had seen enough until she heard wails of some women and voices telling them to cry more, what sort of display was this, there was no doubt in her mind that they had been paid. Everything became so cloudy, the very essence of living had been lost, her mum was now a widow adorned in white from head to toe, and she was just a fourteen year old girl with no clue of how to help her mum or the situation.
Our wife you will start coming out let’s bury him, Uncle Ife called out from the door.
How could she still be referred to as their wife when they weren’t treating her like one; she thought
Her mum nodded in response and started to leave but stopped half way in her steps and turned to her, as much as she tried to find expression in her mother’s eyes; she couldn’t all she did was break into tears and knelt down on the floor.
Her mum walked towards her and told her they would be okay,
Mum; when and how will we be okay, nothing is okay mum, we are not fine, you are not fine, they are taking everything you and dad worked hard for, you’ve been quiet every step of the way, dad is dead about to be buried; so no mum we won’t and are not okay.
This time her mother’s eyes were teary; the tears flowed so freely, she didn’t need to sniff, cough nor groan the tears just flowed.
Baby look at me, it doesn’t have to look fine okay, we are survivers and this tool will pass, don’t worry Christ is still on the throne and He’s got us, and…
Mum, did you just say he’s got us, I don’t think he does mummy because if He did we won’t be here for a burial, my uncles won’t be here seizing everything, we won’t be an object of mockery, and mum I won’t be clueless about our next step, so mum no we’ve been abandoned; Natasha broke down in tears, she wondered how long she had held in her tears.
Ssssshhhh!… look baby, after rain comes sunshine, this may be the storm for us but do u know what happens after the storm there is smile, freshness and beauty, so don’t worry the very person of beauty got us, lets just get over with the burial and go to lagos.
But mum why Lagos, Natasha asked
We will be staying with my parents, fighting with your uncles isn’t my plan now, so chill baby we will take one step at a time; her mum replied
She pecked her daughter and walked out to meet her in-laws, she wondered if the situation would have been different if her husband’s parents were alive.
Honey this wasn’t the promise, leaving me here wasn’t the plan, having to watch you buried so soon wasn’t the dream; sweetheart you’ve got to say something because this is hard;Mrs frank couldn’t stop her thoughts from flowing. Falling down on her knees in tears she watched as her husband’s coffin was been lowered to the ground and covered in sand.
Chinwe Laura Nwagu .By God’s Grace am a creative writer international about women recognition and growth. Most importantly i write with the help of my Father.