THE DAY MY MOTHER CRIED

THE DAY MY MOTHER CRIED- By Leo

The first time I saw my mother cry, it was after my younger brother asked her what the word ‘bastard’ meant. I remember how strange it had felt, sitting opposite her, watching her nose run freely in response to her tears and how angry I had felt towards my brother for asking her that question even though I didn’t know what the word ‘bastard’ meant, didn’t know why it made her cry. My mother had never been much of a crier. She was too strong, too impatient for tears, with a brisk air about her of one who could not stand weakness. She had never cried in the past, not even when she lost her father, my avuncular grandfather who liked to call my brother ‘Nwanna’ even though he knew quite well his name was Okechukwu, not even when we woke up one morning to see our bedspread soiled with blood and she later told my sister and I that we had lost our baby brother. On the day she cried for the first time, Okechukwu had asked her what bastard meant because Obiefunna had refused to play with him saying his mother had beaten him up the day before and warned him sternly never to go close to a bastard again. My mother stopped stirring the soup and turned to look at him and asked him to repeat what he had just asked. After he did, she sat opposite him and stared at the tiles, and for a long time, the word ‘bastard’ weighed itself solidly between all of us. Finally, she began to cry.

 

Storried The Day My Mother Cried

The second time she cried, it was after she received a call while cooking one calm evening from an unknown number which Mama was initially reluctant to take because she assumed it was one of those lenders again calling to furiously demand payments and issuing threats. She stared at me after the call was disconnected and asked me where my brother was.

“In school,” I replied, already feeling a rush of heat flooding my face.
My mother descended to the floor. It seemed so surreal- her undignified descent, and I wished she would sit on the sofa instead. My brother had been kidnapped, I knew it even before she told me in between tears and hiccups. Kidnapping had become common in our neighborhood. Afterwards, she told the neighbors she was cooking when the call came in and she said it over and over again as though it held some sort of grotesque significance.

The man had a kind voice, and he laughed too often as though we were both involved in some interesting game. Of course, he knew my mother had no money, but then boys had to eat, didn’t they? My mother often asked me to speak with him, as if the sound of my voice would somehow conjure him to release my baby brother unconditionally, but I knew it was because she could not bear to listen to my brother’s tears and pleas over the phone line. On the fourth day of our conversation, the man suddenly began to shout and afterward asked me to speak with my brother for the last time. After the phone was disconnected, we knew, my mother and I, we would never see Okechukwu again.

And now, only two weeks later, Okechukwu is pulling at my mother’s hair and laughing at a funny incident that occurred during his abduction, and I am sitting opposite them, watching my brother laugh, and my mother cries for the third time.

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THE DAY MY MOTHER CRIED

By Leo

The first time I saw my mother cry, it was after my younger brother asked her what the word ‘bastard’ meant. I remember how strange it had felt, sitting opposite her, watching her nose run freely in response to her tears and how angry I had felt towards my brother for asking her that question even though I didn’t know what the word ‘bastard’ meant, didn’t know why it made her cry. My mother had never been much of a crier. She was too strong, too impatient for tears, with a brisk air about her of one who could not stand weakness. She had never cried in the past, not even when she lost her father, my avuncular grandfather who liked to call my brother ‘Nwanna’ even though he knew quite well his name was Okechukwu, not even when we woke up one morning to see our bedspread soiled with blood and she later told my sister and I that we had lost our baby brother.

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