I have a secret to spill and no one else must hear of this.
There is a woman in my life whose person I now tell you about. A woman whose life has dealt great blows on me. Before I tell her name, I shall tell you four sins that the world hates her for. Perhaps you will decide to be more liberal or kind to hold otherwise. So keep an open mind and tell the winds of scrutiny to be still until you are sure you can be as objective.
For now, it is safe to call her M.
‘Nnanna’, that’s what she calls me and my palpitation, in responding, betrays me. She looked into my eyes a lot initially when I arrived making ‘silly’ faces at me. Blowing me kisses every now and then and taming my tears to cease at her presence or touch and my body to giggle on her tickling.
Initially, I felt enslaved as it bothered me that two people could control my thoughts, emotions and physiology. I felt a little less than a baby. ‘I have my pride and power!’ often I would prove with loud squeals in the middle of the night and throw the whole house into World War II. I was entertained to see them all run around like zombies looking for this or that to pacify me. But then like a vision in white her two hands would reach for me in the darkness with warm palms clasping my sides, ascending to a warmer pillow, then as usual the milk works would follow. I loved my life.
However, with time M had grown more and more distinct as the thoughts my mind became more conscious of the tastes, textures and colours of the life I lead and the world she is now the centre of. I could recognise her even with my eyes closed. She teaches me every day to laugh, cry and be lucid. Often relaying that as much as I appreciate splendour, occasional lack and silence is healthy. There has always been this thin filament that gets thicker every day between us. Perhaps it is because of her four sins, the four faces of love:
The Face of ‘Sister’
M tells me great things. Little and simple in their packs. She always slips in gold nugget whispers at times when my mind was most wildly receptive and my ears impulsively itching to listen.
She beautifully steps back and forth in my life keeping at my pace and often a little slower and faster. She challenges my abilities to think, be answerable and gives me the chance to be a man. While she stretches my patience she strengthens my faith. She always applauds my feats and mildly urges me on in flashes of polite contempt. Then again she is not always present to witness my growing stupidity but always make me aware that she looks out for my explosive moments and prays for me in the silence of my tears.
When I am weak, she warms me with love and understanding. She always tells me that I am her inspiration, her pride. She inspires dad to. Whenever she is here dad is hardly ever in a bad mood. Again she knows when to step in to my rescue and when to side him for our good. This is one of her faces of love. A love which gives her the right to have…
The Face of ‘Lover’
With this face she is a shield to my immaturity. She flaunts me like a trophy to the world. In this new light she sees me as perfect and exclusive. She always listens to me and gives me several chances to grow up, appearing to understand even when I am most inexplicable. She never gives up on me and she is always kind.
She is humble enough to let me see her tears and but they are gone the next minute and love is sweet and simple once more. Her secrets are my secrets. My life is her life and all my projects are a joint priority.
However, she understands that she deserves her space and I deserve mine. She is not too coy to be silly around me and to let the whole know that she is in love. For this reason, most of the time, it is us against the world.
I admit that she completely owns my mind when she wants to. And no one takes our love for a ride. She teaches me to love in simple and most spontaneous ways. She trusts in my fidelity and fancies how I try to struggle from her charms to no avail. Funny as it may seem, I occasionally want to run away when the love explodes in multiple unconventional definitions. But those times cage me in the more. Then again to achieve this, she has to have…
As time passes in my life I independently accept that I can never be independent. She makes this so true. Often I find myself looking at her, inspired by the extent to which she has succeeded in outliving all that used to stand in her way. She sees danger in nothing and is fired up simply by the thirst to lead a wonderful life. Every part of her is a super-story. Her academics, finances, spiritually, family, love-life, career, purpose and gifts. She wonderfully bears this face to a lot of others besides me and has inspired almost everything to come alive and stay that way. She is good. She is beautiful. However, she is often misunderstood and challenged by those who believe that her speed is a threat and an eye-sore. But then, how she handles this so maturely marvels me all the more. When she tells me the bitter truth, she does not blink at all and that scares me. But she knows how to have a good time and does it properly. She does not pretend to be a fan of my madness but quite a lot about me gets to capture her undivided attention and I feel so V.I.P. when this happens. Truly, she can never achieve this without wearing…
The Face of ‘Mother’
After raising five kids- in collaboration with God and dad, she does not only have more than her own fair share of labour pangs, mood swings, morning sickness and the works, she has a stellar personality, great taste in meals, entertainment, fashion and books. She is such an amazing companion, hostess, student and coach. Often she plays all three at a time and suddenly the world to her is one big classroom. We still cook together once in a while and I have to learn to accept the painful Vitamin A that the onions cannot do without. ‘Run to wherever and return! This onion will not cut itself ’ she says in her silence observing you as she seems to be so engrossed with the vegetables or the stove. Who says that the kitchen is not ‘inspiring’?
The again, in some inexplicable way she manages to love and remember everything about everyone. Five kids and a husband should be competing for accommodation in that little heart of hers, but this seemingly little heart seems to expand with an amazingly explosive rate. No one can touch its ceiling, no one can reach its depth. She knows every subject of every homework. She joggles the expanding social circles, health, emotional and psychological needs of us all and even more. And she does this so perfectly it scares me.
From tooth brush lessons to puberty to sex and relationships, everything is on her schedule and in her purse. No wonder she hardly ever falls sick or cries. She enjoys a healthy marital relationship with dad and together they are impermeable. So it’s better they do not even sit on your matter because it is their way or the high way. In this light, I hate to admit, most of the time their way is the best way. Every stroke of the cane and TV deprivation was just perfect for our upbringing and maturity.
M is my mother, Mrs. Doris Chinyere Ikpo. I do not boast in her being flawless but no woman can be as perfect as she is to bear these four faces of love at the various phases in the lives of my sisters, dad and I. She is not only an inspiration to me but also a standard. Each day I wake up to her is a festival for me. She is every place I want to go to. She is everyone I want to talk to. In her, God shows himself to me ever loving, ever kind. Still, she may not be much but she means the world to me.
As you add a year’s feather to your hat, I declare that everything that means happiness to you is strengthened. May all your days be filled with joy, peace, complete happiness, inspiration and the All-preserving presence of the Most High God . We love you mum. We love so much. And we pray for grace for all mothers to love God; lead beautiful lives; raise wonderful kids and husbands; and to bear the four faces of love.
So this is the woman in my life, I hope you do not judge me so. You know my secret and now you owe me.
But I plead and plead again, if you see my mum anywhere, tell her that you know that we love her because we loves her so much.
Happy Birthday mum.
From your family.