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Mothers Must Sit with the Ancestors

A few days later, she went back to visit Joke. There was still a sad look in her eyes, and Ife pretended to ignore that.

“I have always wondered if I should not finally talk to my mother you know, I have been trying all this months to ask myself why I should bother. I have been thinking though of those times I knew her for the first time, you know before I was born in fact.

I remember her willingness to leave her faith behind and embrace a new faith if that would make me stay. I realized I never gave her much time. I never understood the power of love that will make her sit quietly sing songs, and watch me from a distance. I thought she was too closed in by her faith, but then, it was the only weapon she had to fight a life choked with mysticism, hate, ignorance and real superstition.

Things are different now, and we have medical help to dispel some of our ignorance, but… I still notice the herbs parents bring as they watch their children give birth. They still tie pebbles in their wrappers, and they still hope I am going to miss my mum when it is time to be a mother.

I am going to miss the secret hot water tubs of water filled with herbs she will sneak into my bed and ask me to seat, so I could sit and allow the hot steam heal me from within. I am going to miss the suppressed screams when they do the hot tummy towel rub to ensure my stomach muscles contract and my tummy returns to normal.

Mothers do those things you know. Most times, we don’t care for their interference, always assuming we know better. Then the love of the mother to her child spans beyond even her lifetime. They could also call to you from the beyond, still anxious, still wanting to teach you something. I couldn’t be close to her because we were almost oceans apart. She tried to embrace me across the oceans, now I feel I should have allowed her to talk to me from the vast loneliness of her own heart. I think I should have allowed her to weep into my heart her own longings too. Those silent nights of dread as she watched me terrified on my sick bed, thinking I was going to cross over too soon.

In our tradition, it is terrible for your child to precede you to the grave, and I think that was why she decided to leave with Dad. I mourned dad and shrugged off mother. I didn’t even have a pet name for her. Children had names for their mothers, but I never did have one for her. She was willing to share me, and effaced herself when I showed an exclusive preference for my father’s company. Now I sense how lonely that would have been for her. Losing the love of her husband to another woman that rapidly increased, and holding all that alone and prayed. Was she able to pray passion out of her system?

Not just love sustains a marriage, but also a physical passion that wants to be exclusive. A sharing of passion that vibrates as healthy passion between a man and a woman, and welds them together on a single purpose. In my tradition, a woman is forbidden that physical joy in her mate as more often than not, it is frowned upon if she asks for an exclusivity. They, therefore, pour all that repressed longing into their children. My mum did not even have that pleasure. It is time for me to do her second burial and get her a seat with the elders so she can finally sit with Dad, and know he will turn round on that golden horse of his and invite his Jasmine to ride with him.”

She looked up at Joke who was sobbing quietly, “Sister from another mother, call for your mother, let her in, both of you have suffered enough, tell yourself that mother must sit with the ancestors now. I will go now to prepare mother’s seat too.”

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