There is a certain admonitory look that a mother gives her child when they misbehave or do something that their mother disapproves of. I am sure most of you readers can relate. I can still vividly recall the glowering and piercing looks my mother would give me when I misbehaved. And whenever I received such a look, I instinctively knew that my goose was cooked and I would quiver like a leaf – preparing for my imminent hiding.
It was a warm Thursday afternoon when some women of prayer came to my home. The visit was one of the church programmes. Every Thursday, these women who resembled angels would dress up in their black & white uniforms and would visit one of the church members homes. They would come and pray for my family, for rain, for a good harvesting season; as well as to pray for the community and the entire world.
So on this day, I was playing on a heap of sand, building castles that I dreamed of owning one day. As they walked past, they greeted me and asked how I was fairing in school and Sunday school; and they then proceeded to the house. Some were carrying bags whilst others were just holding bibles. When they sang, I concluded that they were God’s intimate friends. I pictured them together with the priests on a particular Sunday, ascending the ladder to heaven after church, to go give God our money and have lunch with Him, seated at a glass table.
As I was minding my business in the sand, I saw my older brother carrying two empty bottles of Coca Cola en route to the store. I knew immediately that he was sent to buy some for the visitors. Most families didn’t have fridges that time and even if they did, it was rare that you would find Coca Cola in the fridge. It was drummed into me that when visitors were around, a child should play outside, as to not disturb the visitors. I didn’t go near the house until I heard glasses clinking in the tray. I knew it was time for them to enjoy Lemon twist and Coke with lemon cream biscuits – these were always kept for visitors whilst the children of the house ate dry brown bread. I knew they were inside enjoying biscuits, since even the woman who was hollering about the proverbial unparalleled patience of Job was now quiet.
I then forgot about what my mother told me. I sidled up towards the door and started playing where I knew they could see me. I watched intently as they guzzled down their drinks and I became even thirstier. I was so preoccupied with taking a sip of soda, that I completely forgot about my mother. This other old mama then called me over and offered me a glass of coke. As I was clapping my hands as a sign of gratitude and genuflecting to the old mama, I caught my mother’s disapproving look. I then knew instantly that my home was to be a mountain that day. I then turned my back on her, but I couldn’t enjoy the drink because I could feel her glare on my back.
When they left I wished I could leave with them. As soon as they had left, my mother called me into the house; I knew that punishment was inevitable. Even if I tried to escape, I would still come back and my punishment would be doubled. She then told me to break one of the supple twigs of a mulberry tree. I did as ordered and submitted it to her whereupon I received few hard lashes on my calves. She reprimanded me for embarrassing her and for behaving like an ill-mannered child. And when I cried, I was beaten for crying.
“O llelang!”(what are you crying for!) she would yell.
Isn’t that strange, you are beaten, but you are not allowed to cry. But then again, if you don’t cry, they say you are being defiant, so you get beaten again! I do not encourage nor condone unwarranted beating or beating of children at all. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate how my mother brought me up. Hence my favourite Proverb, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”
Tell us: Can you relate to the hiding that this girl received from her mom?