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Monday, June 25, 2018


Episode 2
My mother beat me like I was a little boy when I got home after losing the money to the boys that had been harassing Naomi.
She had used a stick, horse pipe, slipper and finally a belt. I had bruises all over my back but not once did I cry. And this time it was not because of my ‘men don’t cry’ motto but because I was in a different realm.
Whenever I would feel the blow land on my skin, I would zone out to a happy place in my head and I would not feel the pain.
My happy place of Naomi and I on a picnic. I could see us lying down on green grass with a basket full of all the foods I could think of eating. Naomi was lying on my chest and I was stroking her hair. Soft music was playing, i didnt think far enough to what sound syatem it coukd have been playing from. There was no way I could feel my mother's Blows from that realm.
Well, reality dawned when we all went to bed on empty stomachs that night but only I was happy. In the morning, my mom refused to pack 'toba mutwe' (maize meal cakes) and zigolo (sugar/water solution) that used to serve as my lunch because she said I was stupid.
I had come back down to earth from the world I had created in my head and so I was very hungry. But I didn't want to be beaten before going to school so I silently sulked and walked to school with the Rambo plastic bag that acted as my school bag tightly clutched under my armpit. I didnt argue with mother about food because I knew she woukdnt have wasted time in whooping my behind again.
I was late for school that day and received more lashes on my back by the teacher on duty. It was as if this Naomi girl had brought bad luck to my life with but I didnt care even though that thought crossed my mind.
I went through the day zoned out because I could only think about one thing,Naomi. After the school bell signaling the end of the day rang, I rushed out of class like a lightening bolt and set off to see the object of my desire.
I kept walking back and forth on her street hoping I would spot her but I didn't. I could not go to knock on her door because I didnt know if that would be OK. I went home tail between my legs and disappointed but luckily my mother had kept me sweet potatoes and zigolo so I didnt have to starve anymore.
Mom sat me down and said she wanted to talk to me as I ate. That situation was very unattractive because the way my mother spoke sometimes would make you lose your appetite but I was too hungry to lose my appetite so I figured it was OK. Besides its not like I could have done anything about It anyway. There was no arguing or seeing reason with my mom, she was always right.
"Lijat my son," my mother began.
For some strange reason, my mother always pronounced  my name as Lijat, not Lichard, not Rijat but Lijat :she just had to go all the way to ruin it.
I hated it because my sisters used to make fun and hence they used to call me that as well. The people in our neighborhood thought it was my name and so they all called me that.
It was only in school where I was called Richard.
"Yes ma," I responded with a sweet potato still in my mouth.
I received a hot slap on my check and I held it while I looked at my mother in shock. Bits of the food fell out of my gaped mouth.
"What did I do?" I complained.
"Didn't I tell you not to chew with your mouth open? What kind of man talks with food in his mouth?" she thundered.

I forced swallowed the remaining food in my mouth inducing a hiccup in the process.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"You had better be " She said.
She then cleared her throat and I saw her countenance soften. It was weird how fast my mother was able to change moods.
She could go from being mother Theresa to Dracula or versa in an instant. I had known her all my life but I had failed to get used to her rapid mood changes.
"You see, I discipline you not out of hatred but love.  You may not believe it but I really love you," she said.
She was right, I didn't believe her. I knew she cared for me because she showed it in many ways but I didn't think she loved me at all.
"I hate it when you steal, lie or do those funny monkey businesses you do. I dont want you to grow up becoming a criminal later in life. I dont want you to turn out like your father." she said.
My mother always said that about my father but she refused to tell me the whole story. She kept on hinting he had been a criminal or something like that but she never explained and she got angry whenever I prodded so I had stopped asking.
I remembered my father as a very good man. He used to bring me toys and a lot of foods but he was rarely home. However, whenever he was, he made sure we spent as much time together as we could.
One day, he left for a business trip, that was what he told me but he never returned. My sisters and I kept asking mom but she didnt tell us anything. All she said was he had to go away and he wasn't coming back.
"Iwe what's your problem?" my mother asked when she noticed I  kept zoning out.
"Nothing, *hiccup* I was just thinking about father."I said hoping that would not get me beaten before I hiccupped again.
"Mxxxm that useless man. Anyway, I want you to grow up to be a good and responsible man thats why I'm this hard on you."
I nodded. So she knew she was hard on me but she did it anyway.
After I finushed my meal, mom asked me to go to the market and buy some vegetables for dinner. She sternly warned me not to steal or lose the money and she asked me to get back home as soon as I could.
I rushed to the market and bought the veggies. On my way back, I passed through Naomi's neighborhood and I saw her walking into her yard.
I whistled to her in the highest pitch I could manage and she turned around. I waved at her and she smiled when she saw me. She gave me a sign to wait and she disappeared into the yard.
She came back 10 minutes later with a change of clothes and she shook my hand. I had hoped for a hug but maybe it was too soon so I settled.
Naomi escorted me home and we spoke at great length. I also told her I had passed through earlier that day but didn't see her.
"Oh I went for extra lessons. I come back home this time so if you want to see me, you should be passing through this time," she said with a smile.
I smiled back at her and she held my hand. It was unexpected but I loved it. I had been contemplating doing it myself but I didnt want to send off a wrong message.
That was the start of our friendship. Everyday, I would go to her house and wait for her by the roadside, then she would escort me home and I would escort her back. You know that thing of escorting each other back and forth with a friend? That's what we used to do because neither of us wanted to be away from the other.
I would usually ask my mother if she wanted me to run errands for her so I could have an excuse to leave the house. She thought I had changed owing to the conversation we had earlier but little did she know it was because of a girl.
One day after a seemingly long day at school, I went to see Naomi as usual but I waited a long time at the spot I used to wait but she didn't show up. Just when I was about to leave, I saw her approach uphill with a boy. She was laughing so hard at something he had said, the same way she laughed at my jokes.
I loved the sound of her laugh but that day,it irritated me. I hated that another guy was making her laugh in my place. I was the one supposed to be making her mouth widen like that in a smile. Why was she with him?
I got so angry such that I started shivering. She saw me and waved at me with a smile but I turned back pretending I had not seen her. She called my name but I walked away as if I had not heard her.
I didn't want her to see the tears that had filled my eyes so when I turned the corner where the road wound, I took a run for it and I stayed away from her for a whole week.
After my ego was fully massaged, I went to see her and she gave me a hug for the first time telling me she had missed me so much.
'Now I can tell her I love her,' I thought to myself.
"Rich," she called out my name.
"Yes Naomi, don't ever disappear for that long again." She said while still holding.
I nodded my head even though she could not see me from her position.
I had gathered up all sorts of excuse to tell her about my abscence but for some strange reason, she did not ask.
'I missed you Rich," she mumbled into my chest.

"I missed you too."
Naomi always insisted on cutting my name that way and I actually liked it because, well it was her.
Rich was so much better than Lijat anyway though I preferred it if my name was said in full.
"I have something to tell you,"she said all of a sudden untangling herself from my embrace.

To be continued

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