A Love Letter To My Mother On Her Birthday
Sweet Mother mine,
Happy Birthday Mum.
Wow. I miss saying those words.
You would have been seventy-two years today – and I cannot help but think what your day would have been like.
If there’s anything I know definitely sha, it’s that by now, you would have been at almost all the cinemas in Lagos. Except the one in the Surulere shopping mall. I don’t like that one.
But you definitely would have been to most.
Today, I would look for a romance movie. No, don’t worry that I’m broke. Don’t worry that the car is somewhat out of commission. I would look for a correct romance movie – not those ones that seem to be looking for an excuse to have sex; I know you would find those offensive.
No. I mean, a proper romance movie. A tear-jerker if you will, and that is the one you would watch. I would sit beside you quietly, maybe hold your hand at points and laugh when you do, but I would want you to enjoy that in quiet.
And then, afterwards I would buy you correct shawarma and we would talk about the movie. I know; you don’t like to talk while you eat but I would be pretty insistent. I would nag and nag and nag – until you start to talk.
And then I would listen quietly while you talked about it, particularly I would watch your eyes dance with lights, and how you would take the time to tell me why you enjoyed the movie – while extolling the finer points of love and romance.
You see, you taught me everything I know about love and romance – you and your Barbara Cartland novels and poetry from Keats, Wordsworth and Byron.
Oh no. We’re not going to talk about my love life; not yet anyways. You should know; the sun did smile my way some time ago, I found someone who didn’t mind all the drama and stuff. And I did what I do.
Anyways, your granddaughter’s fine; she has your eyes: deep mysterious shades of brown. She has your tongue too; sharp and witty. Everybody says it comes from me – but we know the truth, don’t we?
Do you remember that birthday – I cannot recall what year it was in – but it was your birthday and there was nothing in the house. All your kids were broke; I had to meet with a client so I had just enough to take me there and back. But you had said the night before that you would love to have a burger, so I went to my meeting and walked all the way back home just so I could buy you a burger.
Of course, I didn’t tell you that.
But it was something for me to be able to give you something you wanted; I still remember the look on your face when I gave it to you and said; ‘happy new year mum’. I know; you’re probably thinking how awesome a son I am to have walked all the way from Ikeja to the house just because I wanted to give you a burger – but I don’t want you to think like that.
No. Instead, I want you to think of how amazing a mother you must have been to command such devotion. I did that because it was the least you deserved; and I would do it all over again without hesitation – not just because you were a mother in all sense of the word; but also because we were best friends.
I remember your shocked expression when I told you I was done with religion; with God. You thought it was because I was in the university and I had joined ‘bad gang’ but no, mum. I had been feeling that way long before that; school was just the excuse. I simply stopped believing in something that didn’t make any sense to me then –
But then, I found my way back home again. I don’t doubt your prayers had a lot to do with that!
People talk a lot about a mother’s love; I am glad and privileged to be able to say; I know firsthand how that works; what that is. I am so grateful that we became the best of besties; I am so honored that we were able to work out our differences. I think about it now, and laugh when I realize there was actually a time I thought you hated me and wanted me dead.
How absurd. How childish.
You know, I smile when I think about when I moved out and you would call me; night after night to ask if I had had dinner. Remember those times I would say no; and you would say; ‘it’s as if you’re losing your skills o; else why haven’t you been able to convince one of those fine girls in your office to go home and cook for you?’
Yeah; you made jokes like that even though you were a feminist at heart – and I’m not talking about these angry frustrated women. I’m talking about a lady who knows what she’s about; a lady who won’t take crap from nobody; man or woman.
Wow. You taught me so much.
Did I tell you about the TEDeX talk I gave? Well, our conversations concerning how to treat those folks of your sex were more than useful. Remember the conversation in which you told me ‘how you treat a woman is not a reflection of who she is; it is a reflection of who you are’? Remember that? I haven’t forgotten o – not for a second, and it has always come in handy. You sure raised me right.
Things are still not the best between me and your husband; I know that breaks your heart because I am what he was all those years ago and you wanted us to be friends. But mum, it’s kind of too late for that. I cannot manufacture love and affection out of thin air; anymore than you can subtract three pigs from five apples.
But you should know; I take care of him now. That counts for something, doesn’t it?
And yeah, he misses you.
I’m trying hard, momma. Trying so hard to be the man you always told me I could be. I’ve been through my share of it though; things have happened, things I know you would be surprised – and in some cases devastated – to hear about, but I’m going through them. I’ve grown through them and I’m thankful.
The career is blossoming now; six books and counting. That’s the thing that gets me most; that you are not here to read any of them. I’m not so sure any of them would be allowed where you are, but I am thankful you got to read one of my stories; the one in that anthology.
I remember what you said when you finished.
It still gets me that you died a day before your birthday; it still slows me down and puts needles in my eyes. But I have come to realize; you are alive and well in me, death is nothing but a temporal blip on the horizon of your life. It’s why I decided to dwell on that, but instead let you know how much a big deal it is that you graced this earth with your presence. How you will never be forgotten; everywhere the story of me is told, there would always be a mention of how awesome my mother must be. And you know; this is not wash – we do not do wash in our family – the truth simply is; I wouldn’t trade you for anything, not even heaven, because you were all the heaven I needed – all the heaven I needed to know.
Mum, I looked at you and I realized; there is a god.
Okay. I have prattled on long enough. I hope they have a ball for you, momma. I hope Sam Cooke comes and serenades you; I hope they make enough cakes and chocolates and ice cream – some of your favorite things. I hope Tupac’s Dear Mama is on repeat; he wrote that for all of us with mothers like you and his.
And I hope they let you see; that we your children are doing well.
That I, your black sheep am doing well.
Thank you for being, ma.
Happy New Year.
With all the love this tiny heart is capable of,