I remember her very well, the way she used to carry me on her back to the fields, she never left my side, not even for a single moment.

She taught me all her values, all her talents: mom was good at making pots and making hairstyles. A bunch of ladies would gather around our grass-thatched house, she used to earn more for my upbringing during my childhood. As for the pots, she used to sell them to vendors, then they would sell the pots in town. Mom used to wake up early to draw water before the wild animals made the water go dirty.

I was always on her back, I remember clearly her dress she liked the most and her mpango she used to wear, all her happy moments. My mom was friendly, she laughed with a lot of people in the Washi village, even when I was little, but I remember a lot about my beloved Mom. Our farms had a lot of fertile soil: as such, each crop had a lot of yield. My uncle, he loved me very much. He was the village’s top farmer, he used to harvest more than a hundred full bags of maize, and over fifty bags of ground nuts. My uncle had two kids, Monalisa and Mervis, we used to play zawana, jingo, phada and masanje together.

We played a lot, even at night we all settled under a huge mango tree with Mother, Grandmama Shila, Aunt Tamara, Monalisa and Mervis and Uncle. Grandmama used to tell us her young-age stories. I used to laugh at her as she slept during the narrating, then she would wake up and pinch me on my neck and then say, “I can’t wait to see you grow up.” Grandma Shila, she was really loving and hardworking, she went to the farms even although she was old.

I was really jealous when I saw other kids calling their fathers. When I asked mom about my dad she just started talking about something else and I realised that she never liked to talk about Father. Then I promised myself never to talk about Father again. Even if I never got an answer, Mom was just enough for me. When I turned ten, Mom used to encourage me to work hard at school. I was really a genius, always top of my class. I was loved by many teachers and I really enjoyed spending time with books.

As always we made our ridges, waiting for the rain. The planting rain came just in time. I remember I was absent from school to help Gran planting. My teachers gave me a punishment the other day but I wasn’t worried at all as I loved my gran so much. As the maize was at 10 meters high, the rainclouds disappeared.

We used to say, maybe tomorrow it will rain. The sun was above all day as October sun, it was really hot, maize started wilting, the leaves in the trees start falling down, the elders would say the ancestors are upset with us. Different types of things performed, we used to cook beer for the ancestors, we killed healthy goats. We danced, but still, the sun.

I could sense the fear in elders’ eyes. The smiles vanished, we just grated one another and there was nothing else to talk about. We started fighting for water as many sources dried up, all the maize dry, there was nothing left in the fields, elders were helpless, the food was saying goodbye. We had a little as we lost much to the vendors, now we used to eat lunch only to save the food. But the food was out, nothing to eat, Mom looked for food but returned home with nothing at all, she would hug me with hot tears coming down her cheek.

Then Mom decided to go to town to search for food. It was the first time Mom left without me, I pretended to be strong, not to cry for her, but I increased my volume and cried at the top of my voice for her. She was unable to leave then she turned her face and left, I noticed her sad face. I had a sleepless night as she was always by my side each night, I was staying with my uncle. My uncle was really happy for me there but Aunt, she used to slap me all the time in Uncle’s absence.

Then I rushed to the corner and cried for my mother. That made me miss my mom more as I never knew when she was coming back. When Uncle went out, Aunt, she didn’t give me food at all and I was weak as I was the one doing all the chores. Each night I would cry for my mother, I missed her a lot, one week passed but I was worried about my mother, then the other week l heard her voice calling me. I dropped the dishes I was cleaning. I ran while tears were falling down, she dropped the bag on her head and rushed to hug me. I felt really happy and safe in her arms. She brought maize, fish, vegetables and some snacks I never ate before. Mom was really happy to see me and we moved to our house and we talked a lot, she told all she saw in town and she also said she managed to buy food by helping a lady cleaning her restaurant dishes. The chief called for meeting, we rushed there the other morning, and rain fell the whole night. The villagers were happy. There was a visitor from town to talk to us.

She was tall, she looked educated and well dressed. She said that the rain wasn’t coming because we had destroyed the trees. She encouraged us to plant trees and to practice good farming methods. We planted trees and the king set some rules not to cut trees: the one found cutting would be sent to jail and have to pay a ten thousand Kwacha for each tree. We planted trees around our house and all the mountains as well as our fields.

We used to have a lot of problems with food shortages for many years but as trees grew our rivers started flowing and the rain started falling well again, the water wasn’t a problem at all. This time we were back to our old life, a happy life. I was at secondary school still performing, good grades, my aim was to make my mother happy and help her produce more, and, on the other hand, to support my gran. She stopped going to the farms, she become old. All she knew was to make us smile.

Mom was always happy for me, every time I spent time with her I felt like the whole world was in my control. I am proud of you, Mother, and I am really lucky to have a mother like you. Thank you for giving me this amazing life and keeping on making me smile, you’re the best mother in the whole world. Keep on giving me strength and supporting, Mother.


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