She had a frown on her face. Perhaps it was the burden she carried, but in her heart she carried the heaviest of all burdens.
Her face was tired with age, that one could clearly discern the cruel marks of time, and then still be struck by the sightless orbs that seemed so lively and defiant in the face of such great contending odds.
Her heart clogged with grief, her face tortured by the ravages of age and a cruel harsh life, the woman tottered and blundered into each street alley probing and searching every dark corner for something she could not find. Her walking stick clattered on the dry cobbled earth. She used it to poke into every corner and dark recess. Its tap tap sound on the hard earth sounded like a sad anthem that beat a tattoo in tandem with the flitting of her worried heart.
The elements of nature seemed to be at war with her too. The clouds built up in their fury and thunder howled with such obstinate deference as to deafen her ears. It was as if the winds, in conspiratorial glee, were booing her, throwing sand into her eyes and wishing her to give up her frantic ordeal. She wavered, then, like a wraith in that blistering wind that blew away her silent prayers. Still she continued her relentless search. Tears dripping from her swelling orbs, she slowly mapped her painful progress.
Upon her back, she bore all her paltry belongings. All rolled up into a tight ball, wound in a dirty shawl. The burden stuck to her bended back, giving her the appearance of a hunchback. At the end of a long tiring fruitless search, she turned to the people around her and begged them.
“Has anyone seen my little Letwina? If any of you happens to see her, please tell her that her blind Momma wants to see her. I have to the brooks, overturning insinuating garbage bins but have not seen her.”
Please help me find my little Letwina. God knows how I dote on that child, the only product of my womb. I was raped by her father once, a damn beggar that threw himself in front of a moving train when I threatened to take the matter to the police.
“Mama Letwina, tell us, how did you come to lose your daughter?” The women that sold vegetables by the roadside laughed and scoffed and teased. They made signs at her, thinking she were mad and at one of her raving prances. Still, assuming her dejected posture, she answered them.
I was loitering at a food queue, and returned very late to find my Letwina gone. I do not know what time of day it is right now but she has been gone a long time now. Please help me find my little girl.
She is a little girl of seven, with toddler eyes, a bit tall for her age. I have never seen the colour of her skin, but my neighbours at the squatter camp tell me she is lighter in complexion.”
A pair of female street vendors, moved by her pleas, took her aside, literally dragged her down a muddy path to a deserted part of the city and showed her.
“Mama Letwina, we have found this little girl by the poolside. Is she your daughter? She has ghastly locks, caked with dust and smeared with slime. There is grease and blotches on her skin and bumps like those caused by mosquito bites. She has a torn blanket wound around her in the fashion of an oversized poncho. She stinks like a gutter rat and the primeval stench hangs around her like a rotting malicious cloud. We cannot touch her for fear of contamination. She has been in this faint since the last time we saw her, stripped to the waist and three street fellows running away from her. We guess they were about to strangle her. Mama Letwina, are you sure this is your child?”
Grim covering her disfigured face and the disabled eyes turning painfully in their disturbed sockets, she clamoured, “Bring me to her, so that I can touch her, my poor little one. Let me touch her, and smell her that I may know her.”
With tears welling up in her eyes, the blind woman bent down on one knee and cradled the mess in her arms.
“Speak to me once, my dear, dear daughter, so that I can know you by your voice.”
The child stirred and emitted a very soft croak- enough to confirm the sinking feeling in the mother and enough to break a blind mother’s heart. Mama Letwina bawled out a harsh animalistic cry. It tore into the crisp veldt like the crack of a whip on a tender-skinned animal. It was more like the shocked sound of a predator who, for once, has found his foot caught up in a snare and snapped into two.
“So here is your Letwina, battered and bruised, smeared all over with blood, half-dead. Are you sure this is what you want to take home. Are you sure this is what you want to take home?”
The woman emitted a beastly eerie cry. More like that of a fatally wounded animal. She bid them leave her alone to grieve. Flipping her arms and feet in their direction she shooed them away. The two women gave up (surrendered) and loped off into the coming gloom leaving Mama Letwina to sulk upon her wounded infant.
Sure, I will take her home .She is the only one that I have. I will take her home even though what I call home is under a tree. There I will nurse her till she comes to. I am not like these modern women who bear children and throw them to the dung heaps. I will take care of mine own and nurse her till she grows into a big, healthy, wise and learned woman that will take care of me. She will fetch me a rich son-in-law who will carry me in his big nice car.
Though I am a pauper I will see to it that she gets a good education. She will get a high-paying job in a tall office. She will wear her hair high on her head, wear long trousers and pointed shoes like what successful women do.
Silently, she wept at the nightmares that she knew would haunt her daughter for life. She gathered her up ii her arms and wept uncontrollably. The winds howled into a blizzard the she begged them not to haunt her daughter.
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