She didn’t want to be her mother. We all knew that. All her girls knew that. All her mashoga. She worked so hard in making herself the perfect little woman and that she was – both outside and inside. On the outside she will be caked flawlessly in MAC make-up, a wisp of Chanel perfume will hit your nose whenever she is in a room, sporting Manolo Blahnik pumps and a Louis Vuitton handbag.
On the inside, her gestures, comportment, words and conduct bespoke of wiseness, chaste, warmth, sense of measure, a sterling quality of reserve, impressive lissomness and an enterprising nature.
Though she had a maid, every morning she would make her six years old twins and four years old son lunch for school – something new she had searched on the internet the night before. A smiling face here, a cute note there.
Every morning she would drive her three angels to school, and she would pick them up from school in the afternoon, then go back to work – though there was a school bus and many friends had offered to have her three angels in their car pool.
She went to the gym religiously, keeping in shape, toned and healthy – not wanting to age. All the up-market health clubs and spas had her number on speed dial.
Every second Saturday of the week, she would have a dinner for family and friends or football night for his friends; every Sunday after Sunday school for three angels and after church for her, she would have over the twins and boy’s friends and cousins. On their lush garden there would be a jumping castle, and on the foldable tables hotdogs, burgers, ice cream and fizzy drinks.
She didn’t want to be her mother. We all knew that. All her girls knew that. All her mashoga. Her aunts could see it too. Probably the neighbours too.
Her mother. Vibrant, vivacious, out-going, socialite. Older women shunned her, older men loved her; younger women envied her, younger men salivated over her. Three times married and now at fifty-eight dating a thirty-one year old young man. The first Tanzanian woman to have botox, maybe the last.
“Un-African”, they would say in disgusted tones, “so un-Christian”.
“A cigarette, we can take in small dosed, but a cigar!” They would raise their eyebrows dramatically.
“And those slits! One can practically see her whatnots!” They would cover their eyes in shock, other making the sign of the cross as if praying for her, “and her skirts, I thought they were tank tops!”
She never understood her mother. Maybe it was because they never really talked. She knew about him and his assistant; but since she didn’t want to be her mother she persevered. She also knew about him and the waitresses at his restaurant; but again she chose to turn a blind eye. She also knew about him and some of his patrons. She knew that he sometimes used their country house in lush green, cold, hilly Lushoto with them, under the pretense of going away for business trip; but once again she held her head up high and went on taking care of her family, their family.
She also new about the child he had fathered with his Kenyan chef. The one his mother fired. They had made up a story about not having the right papers to be in the country – about her being a fraud – the degrees she had attached with her application letter were not genuine, her mother-in-law had told her.
She knew the truth. But she never asked. She never made a fuss. It was beneath her, she had told her closest girlfriend. Besides, will it stop? She didn’t want to be her mother. Maybe he also knew it.
It was a Tuesday afternoon; her baby sister, Lina, was visiting from Canada where she was doing her Masters. She had been with them for two weeks now. Lina – not that much of a baby really – a beautiful confident young lady. They always had the sibling rivalry which their parents found to be so sweet. She found the contention refreshing and a source of a challenge to be a better person.
Now that there was somebody in the house she could rely on completely, she felt she could leave her with her three angels and finally take that trip to Mwanza to see her old and ailing grandmother.
Between making lunch, rushing to school to drop her angels off and running last minute errands, she missed her flight. It wasn’t a first. She actually smiled when she learnt it.
“At least I will have more time to catch up with Lina before she leaves,” she spoke her thoughts.
Quickly she crammed her overnight bag in the boot compartment of her car before driving off home. She hummed merrily as she planned the day ahead with Lina – start with one of those delicious spa treatment at Lemon Spa, then head to lunch at Karambezi.
The house was quiet when she drove thru drive-way. Then she remembered that Lina had offered to take the kids to their brother’s house for the day after picking them up from school.
The house was dead quiet. Maybe Lina decided to take the maid with her. I don’t blame her, she mused, those three can be quite a handful. Excitedly she climbed up the stairs with her bag at tow and rushed to her Master bedroom.
The Master bedroom was almost as she had left it. Only that he was home – in bed – with Lina. Moaning, groaning, sweating, tossing, humping in ecstasy – on her bed, their bed.
She felt no pain. Just numbness. She just seemed to be drowsy. She shivered, she was terribly cold. Her strength was fading quickly. She felt light, very light. She had swallowed it all – but not this. Suddenly she realized she wasn’t that strong. Abruptly she fell, the full length of her.
Now she knew why her mother was her mother.
– (c) Sandra A. Mushi
From Tales of a Thousand Words