Celebrating East African Writing!

Tears of the Mother by Nixon Mateulah

‘You know why I accepted your desire to follow your brother to Cape Town, South Africa,’ said his father. He looked up at him and then at his mother who was sitting quietly her eyes glistening with tears. He shook his head and stared at his father who was sitting idly on the sofa, his arms rested on its arms and his left foot tapping the floor rhythmically, like a woodpecker pecking on a hard wood.

‘Your mother here,’ turning to his wife, ‘does not at all want you to go to South Africa!’ His voice rising and it startled Zachariah who shifted in his seat and eyed her mother scowling.

‘Look…she’s right…your elder brother has almost made me and your mother to quarrel. She believes I am the one who encouraged him to go to South Africa and not pursue his Motor Vehicle Mechanic course after he completed his ‘O’ Level examinations. Look your brother is now over ten years in South Africa, he has never bothered to come and see us, he does not feel homesick or phone us just to let us know that he’s alive.’

He paused.

He turned his neck and looked at his wife whose face was buried in her wrapper as she battled to wipe tears from his eyes. When she finished, her puffy eyes met her husband’s. Her lips trembled and appeared oozing some inaudible words. Zachariah looked at his mother sternly expecting her blubber about her disinterestedness in his journey to South Africa.

‘I feel …as a mother that you should not go to South Africa,’ ejaculated his mother stiffly.

Zachariah got up angrily. ‘Why mother?’ he cried, wagging an accusing finger at her.

‘I cannot lose Hadrak and you! No…no… Hadrak has broken my heart and refuses to heal and now you want to stab me right in the wound,’ blubbered the mother plaintively.

‘Sit down…don’t fight with your mother…at 24 you are a man now.. Sit down,’ said his father. He felt a surge of anger exploding inside and eyed his mother with an innocuous gaze, he sat down and inclined his head forward and eyed his father penetratingly. Silence reigned for a while as the father conscience worked industriously hard to come with reasons that would entice his wife to allow their son to travel to South Africa.

‘Anambewe,’ he said turning to his wife.

‘Abeee…’ she responded.

‘Can we send him as a thief is sent to catch a thief? I think sending him to his brother would help to make his brother remember home. He will hear first hand information about home from his brother. If he still possesses his kind heart, he will definitely come home to see us,’ he said.

‘I think Zachariah won’t help us…he would also turn like him,’ snapped Anambewe. Zachariah as though had been stabbed at the back, got up and bared his teeth, he flared up his nose angrily.

‘Mother…I know you don’t care about my life. When did I finish my ‘O’ Level? It is two years now sitting at home and do nothing! Why can’t you allow me to go to my brother where I will build up my life as he has done!’ cried Zachariah.

‘Calm down my son, have respect, this is your mother. You are a child still, I can see you don’t understand your mother’s fears. Your mother has been very depressed for years now. You know many people are returning from South Africa, you have seen yourself on TV about the xenophobia attacks. People have lost their lives. We must be grateful that God has spared our Hadrak. So your mother is very disappointed with your brother,’ said the father. Zachariah sat down with a heave, his muscular built body attacked the sofa that creaked in protest. He looked up at him and at her Mother, a tear was meandering down from her left eye.

‘Sorry mum…I am only asking for your permission. I know it is painful for a mother without seeing her child for over ten years. If I feel pain in my heart for not seeing my brother Hadrak who left when I was fourteen, how about the Mother,’ he got up and consoled his Mother.

‘Don’t go my son,’ she said, wiping her tears. Then a phone rang, Zachariah got up and his father also ran to pick up the phone their hands met at the receiver. The father withdrew his hand and let Zachariah pick up the phone.

‘Hullo!’ said Zachariah, there was dances of smiles playing in his face, he turned to his parents and whispered at them, ‘Haaad.’ They both got up and raced to him and leaned their ears on the receiver.

‘Yes…I am coming, mother and father are here, they want to talk to you.’

Anambewe swiftly snatched off the receiver from Zachariah.

‘Muli bwanji,’ (how are you),’ said Anambewe into the mouthpiece.

‘I am fine mother,’ he said.

‘When are you coming home, my son?’ asked her mother tearfully.

‘Now…now mother, don’t worry, once Zachariah arrives here we won’t take long, I want him to help me with the goods and keep me company as I drive home,’ said Hadrak.

‘So you got a car,’ said Anambewe smiling.

‘I bought a Toyota Hilux last month mother, I maybe coming for good that’s why I would like Zachariah to travel with me back home as I have a lot of stuff,’ he said.

‘Okay speak to your father,’ she said, giving the receiver to her husband who was dying to speak to his son.

‘My son, is that you?’

‘Yes father, I am coming home next month, so tell mum to prepare me some foods, you know I like raw cassava, kapenta, marambe etc and give some Zachariah as he comes,’ he said.

‘Is that so son!’

‘It is father, I have stayed here too long, all I wanted in my life I know I cannot get them all, and no one in this life gets what his heart desires, am I right father?’

‘You are right son, we will be waiting for you impatiently and tomorrow I am going to Mchezi to buy a cow that I will slaughter on your arrival. A big family welcome is awaiting you’ said the father.

‘Anyway, I don’t have enough air time left, I will phone you again on Saturday, tell Zachariah that I am waiting for him. Greet mother, I miss you all!’ The phone went dead, the father overcome with excitement trembled visibly and every time the receiver slipped off as he tried to replace it in it’s cradle. He was so overjoyed that he left the receiver on the table and embraced his wife. Zachariah now wearing triumphal face looked on at them and attempted to join them, but something tugged at his heart and retreated back to his seat.

‘It is time to celebrate!’ yelled the father animatedly, ‘my son…my beloved son…is at last coming home!’

‘It is not yet time to celebrate, we will celebrate when finally we have seen him here!’ interjected Anambewe.

‘My son has himself indicated that next month he would be right here in this house!’ cried the father.

‘Mum, why can’t we celebrate? Don’t a couple celebrate before the baby is born and celebrate more when finally it is born, come on mum!’ said Zachariah jumping round the living room joyously.

‘I will celebrate when he comes,’ she said demurring, as she got up, she adjusted his wrapper around her waist, slipped on her Sofia shoes and walked out to the kitchen.

End of Part 1…

©Nixon Mateula 2009

If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.


3 comments on “Tears of the Mother by Nixon Mateulah

  1. Pete
    October 6, 2009

    The suspense is already building up…i give it a 7 because that is not the whole version.


  2. Auspicious
    November 16, 2009

    Wow!! Enjoyed this.


  3. lissing
    January 7, 2010

    Picture well drawn, I would swear you knew my mum!… please dont kill the Haad- waiting for part 2.


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