Stories of Home II – Afrobloggers WinterABC2022
Nana, the nearest thing to home I’ve felt since you, must be Kwesi. I was fourteen when he was born. It felt as if he was my very own son! Ma was in the hospital for days, because of some complications. So we were all excited when they finally came home. He was born very very dark! The other kids had much lighter skin and grew darker with time. Kwesi was a beautiful black baby right on that first day. He was also a happy baby. He fussed when he was hungry of course, or when he needed a diaper change. Oh, and when he was teething. Otherwise, he was a content baby. I was responsible for him almost all the time.
I cried at his sixth birthday, not only because of how much he’d grown but because he reminded me so much of you. He was an assertive 6-year-old, constantly telling tales, and keeping everyone on their toes. Even Pa is much livelier when he starts his antics. Now, almost overnight, he’s turned fifteen, and decided he wants to be an actor. Ma and Pa still don’t want to hear about that, but it makes him happy, and that makes me happy. Plus, he has a way of getting them to agree to what he wants. He makes all our hearts swell! I wish you’d met him!
With the others, I felt odd pangs of jealousy whenever Ma did something I wish she’d done for me. Like if she made someone’s favourite meal on demand, or if she took the day off work to nurse one of them whenever they were ill. Or if Pa took one of them on his trips. I’m not proud of that, but I’m human, and I just wish they’d done the same for me.
When I was eight or so, I remember this one time when I was so sick. I don’t even remember where Ma and Pa were. I remember how you stayed up all night, praying over me, sponging my body, crying, telling me to live. I remember how you frantically carried me to the neighbour’s house, asking for help to get to the hospital in town. I don’t remember much after that. I just remember that the Sunday after I got better, you wore white, and took me to church, to praise God. I don’t even remember if we ever told Ma or Pa.
Just before Kwesi was born, I got really sick. Pa was out of town, and Ma was heavily pregnant, still working at one of the shops. The kids were at school. I lay in the bed all afternoon with a fever, crying, and wondering if I would die. When I managed to reach Ma’s phone, she absentmindedly asked me to hurry to a hospital. Of course, I could not get myself to any hospital. That day, for the first time in a really long time, the memory came to mind. What was most vivid for me was how you run with me at your back, begging the neighbours for a ride to the hospital.
You see, at fourteen, I was no longer a child, but still not an adult either. Mama got home a little after 8:00 PM. I was still in the bed, barely able to move. I had peed the bed multiple times. I barely registered when she entered the room. I did see a look of panic across her face. She took me to the hospital, where I was admitted for four days, and treated for severe malaria. She was glad when I got better. But of course, there was no church thanksgiving. It felt as if some part of the ritual was missing.
So whenever she took a day off to watch one of the kids because they had a cold or the chicken pox or something, I just wondered deep inside… Why not me, Ma?
About a year or so ago, I had a fever. I was stressed from work, and with the workload I had, I knew I needed to pause before I got much worse. I took three days off for the first time in my entire career.
There’s a man that I was seeing at the time – he constantly reminded me of Pa. We had been together for about two years at the time. He thought I was overreacting. Typical. “Who takes three days off because of a fever?” Maybe it wasn’t so much what he said as how he said it. Maybe it was how it made me feel. Maybe it was a long time coming. Maybe it was the straw that broke my very tired back. Whatever it was, it gave me the courage to let him go.
Remember the day we talked about growing up? When you said I would find someone like Pa, and I would love him? Apparently, most girls are inclined to end up with someone just like their father? Well, I’ve met a lot of men that are like Pa. And that day, he made me realise I don’t want someone like Pa. Pa has always loved me the best he knew how to at any time. And I’ll always be grateful for that. But it’s not the kind of love I want – an unsure love, that gives the barest minimum, only attempting to give more when it’s a little too late?
I want a sure love, Nana. A love like what we had. A love like what little Kwesi and I have. A love that takes me home.