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BN Reader Keside Anosike Writes Stirring Tribute Titled ‘Feathers’ – To His Mom On the 18th Memorial of Her Passing Away

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When I was 4 years old, my mom died. I do not remember how I transitioned to the absence of her being, or the lack of a voice that shot me up with startling happiness. I do not even remember her voice. Most of what I have are pictures – square shaped, often peeled white around its edges- memories destroyed by wear and tear orchestrated by time.

Time is ruthless in the way it operates, and it does not permit me to remember my mother’s love as everyone else does. Other than the assumption that it was there, just in the right proportion, the validation of those months inside of her and the likelihood of the presence of a sheen quality in her eyes when she first held me. I know my mother loved me in the way that I know the skies will change in the morning. It is the only way I can tell you, the naturalness of a mother’s love for her offspring.

I can’t tell you of a time she fell asleep on the plastic chair next to me, in a narrow hospital ward, after she had watched the fan roll her eyes into dizziness.
I can’t tell you of how she held my wrist as we marched to the field, her feet pounding the soil that she would eventually return to, three or more steps ahead of me, where she would pull the ears of a boy who tried to bully me.
I can’t tell you of a time where I held out my plate to be served in our fluorescent lit kitchen inhabited by yellow cupboards, and on voicing my satisfaction, my mother would go ahead and add an extra spoon of rice, or another square-shaped stone quality of fried beef.
I can’t tell you of the sense of kinship in someone who would have known what my pain feels like just by looking at me, whose eyes were easily wet with worry.
I can’t speak of a time when I wrapped my hands around her waist so thin; they met each other at the back, and sobbed silently into her belly because I didn’t want her to leave the house.
I can only tell you that she gave birth to me, and after 4 years, she died.

My father was grief stricken in the way that I know that I could never survive if I was in his place. He lost a lot of weight and locked himself in his room and sang hymns. The love of his life was reduced to a 6 feet portion of soil between the shadowy ranks of trees in the backyard of his father’s house. He had to run away from the ghosts, the voices, and all the smells of a life that was imagined and planned. My father stayed with his sister several hours away from the place he had met and fallen in love with my mother. The place, on which, seeing her, said she looked like something that was carved from ivory. He ran away from those pictures that hung on the wall of the living room in Mbieri: my mother, in a white turtle neck wedding gown laced intricately by someone who didn’t know her but could understand that a beauty like hers existed and deserved to be wrapped in it; her white teeth escaped from lips coated in red.

Every time I went back to Mbieri, I would stare at the photo. I would force myself to remember something. A distinct quality that came with every human- whether it was a hiccup-sounding laugh, or hand gesticulations that accompanied conversations. Sometimes I made things up. I do not tell myself that I am doing just that. But I close my eyes and a reality that has no means of alteration presents itself to me.

It is peaceful, with the smell of wild flowers that blossom even in the presence of a delicate wind. I can see tufts of feathers falling and floating in the air like the laugh that travels into places that didn’t hold the joke that was just made. It always feels like short-lived kisses, and how they leave you with the possibility of a forever. In that space unbothered by noise, it is just us: my mother and I, as it was, those nine months I was inside of her. I can communicate with her, and she, like the time I kicked restlessly, is the only one that can understand me. Often times I forget that I am standing just by the door, until my sister calls me…or a visitor comes in. Or the sound of fireworks brings me back. That is when I leave that space where the TV my mother and I were watching was so big and colorful, you could see the writings on a football as it is being kicked.

The next time I go back is when I am watching a movie. Many people do not know, but I will have to get them to rewind that last scene, because I had gone to meet my mother. I could be with you, my eyes meeting the expanse of your forehead, but I would also be with my mother. And each time I returned to the present, it always feels like there is a gap hope in the middle of everything. The world I exist in, suddenly disoriented. I start to feel faint and it is as if the ground is too soft to hold me or I have forgotten how to stand.

One time my mother asked if I was happy, that I seemed to be moving through life like a flash of lightning. I tell my mother that I understand the world through loss. It is the one way I can put it- that I read books to find something I couldn’t name, but felt essential to my wholeness. That I move through life with the possibility of loss- the memory of loss and the inviting presence of loneliness. That sometimes loneliness tails me, even though she gave me the loveliest siblings in the world, it tugs me and pulls me from the back. It is as though it wheels me to fall.

Often times I feel as if my heart is outside my chest and hanging idly on a hook like a trophy, and I stare mindlessly at it, unable to understand how it got there, or how to put it back inside. Yet I am incapable of doing anything, and at the end of each day, it ends up looking nothing like it did the previous day. It was as if it shrinks.

Some nights I feel incredibly lonely without her. I cannot sleep, and do not ask me why, for I do not know. I stay awake and wait for her and the restlessness is like a line of ants crawling on my belly. It feels like I am under a black canopy of despair, and don’t have the slightest idea on how to get out of it. If I am lucky, I sleep at 2am but when it is fully morning, everything blurs into a distinct vagueness and I am clogged by a gush of disjointed thoughts and memories of what may have occurred in my short sleep, and then wait for the fog to clear. Sometimes it takes hours to get out of the bed. I have to make an effort to be nice to myself on those days. I would also wish to drag around big lamps with great eyes around, so that I could cover up all that darkness and make it through the circle once again- so I could go home to nothing but the apprehension of witnessing another day that I had survived become night, just to gaze at a million lonesome stars camp on a wide-open sky and wait for her to come.

Other days I feel proud of myself and ready to fight. I notice that as the years move on, I am either getting stronger or time is shifting its weight. Time is ruthless sometimes, but time can also be kind. I feel lightened up on those days, the relief of an uncomfortable knot slowly coming undone.

When I am at my desk, a bottle of wine opened and halved, my first sentences come in a voice that I know could only belong to her. I wonder if she knows that I write to find her. That I write about loss in the way that requests the acknowledgment of, sometimes, the beauty of it. If not something as generous as beauty, but something that passes with intent- gently, a reminder that it was meant to happen, and in return makes me, somehow, okay with the present. On those days I don’t feel a need to forgive myself of something.
I feel something like feathers. It is not happiness I feel but a peaceful emotion. And that eventually turns out to be what sustains me. I don’t go for happiness. Happiness is great but often so far away. In those quiet moments, it is as if a wound had healed itself but left a scar that was still willing to bleed, if it brushes against something.
It was a wound that didn’t want to be completely heal- the sheer finality of healing, too much a thought to bear. Memories shouldn’t float like feathers.

My mother died when I was 4 years old, and yet, many years after, I am still trying to find her beauty with the words I write. I know she is still there. She has never left. But I don’t have to go into that space with the big colored TV anymore. I can just write.

25 Comments

  1. Ngozi

    May 31, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Tough but I am glad you still wrote a wonderful piece, I think you should give writing novels a try, don’t know your relationship with God right now but only He can help you and lead you so much that your story does not end up like the stories of those who just couldn’t handle life. Losing a mother puts a person at a disadvantage initially because women fight a lot for their children spiritually, financially and socially but God is the only one that can make a King out of David who said though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord took me in. That’s how great God is. A lot of people miss it at this point and give excuses, join the occult or just give up on life. Jesus is the way. Get close to a good church family.Please keep your writing skills up, it’s poetically stylish

    • ShineShineShine

      May 31, 2015 at 10:55 am

      Ngozi, That was deep.

      As l read this, a certain fear and sadness came over me. My mother is advanced in age, she has lived a good life yet, anytime l think of her not being here, l just get scared, l experience fear that l am unable to comprehend. I cannot claim to understand what Keside has gone through or is going through, l can only respect the manner you have eloquently expressed what you feel. I strongly believe that “The Lord is my Sherperd………….” He will be your Sherperd…You just must allow him to CONTINUE to be.

  2. Author Unknown

    May 31, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Keside, I hope you one day find completeness of your being, in spite of your void.

  3. Ayoola

    May 31, 2015 at 5:36 am

    This is so beautiful…i almost cried….i do hope you find peace and comfort in every word you write.

  4. janeth

    May 31, 2015 at 6:01 am

    it is well..May her beautiful soul rest in peace…lost my mum too at 9 years old no father also..its been tough but God is always there through it all…..May almighty God continue to be with everyone of us.

  5. princexx

    May 31, 2015 at 6:48 am

    The lingering pain

  6. princexx

    May 31, 2015 at 6:49 am

    The lingering pain we feel*

  7. Mz Ebonite

    May 31, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Awwh… so touching, Keep resting in the Lord’s bossom.

  8. chizz

    May 31, 2015 at 7:33 am

    My heart. This is so beautiful and honest. The words are true and so personal.

    Thank you for sharing.

  9. Ebuka uchenna

    May 31, 2015 at 8:04 am

    So touching my her soul rest in the bossom of the lord. Visit my blog for all round health tips and environmental hazards how to keep fit bandwellness.blogspot.com

  10. victor

    May 31, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Seriously, anything this dude writes touches the soul. I have always wandered where his mom was because he never puts her up on IG or talk about her like his siblings or dad. Truly a gift to our generation. Thank you for sharing kecyfa. God be with you always.

  11. Izuchukwu

    May 31, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I read and I thought every word was beautiful. You’re finding her beauty through writing, she is looking at you through the words of your pen and she is decorating them thoroughly with a beautiful smile, saying, I’m proud of you.

  12. oge

    May 31, 2015 at 11:13 am

    So touching.May God give u the grace to move on with life after the lost of a love one at a tender age.Move closer God,he is the perfect healer.

  13. mama dazel

    May 31, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Profound and deep! God will give you all the strength you’ll ever need!

  14. Naked

    May 31, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    She is in the place where angels fly. A place where only the good prevails.

  15. nnenne

    May 31, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Keside,
    I can relate. Most Mbieri women are socialized to be hard working. faithful wives and good mothers.
    Take solace in the fact that we will all go one day.
    Yours may have gone too early but God gave you the privilege of seeing her face. Keep representing her as much as you can, She is alive as long as you live and do the right things.

    I enjoyed reading you.

  16. somtochi

    May 31, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    grief is truly like feathers. the writing in this is so remarkable. and what a true beauty she was Keside.

  17. PurpleiciousBabe

    May 31, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Beautiful Lady…
    Beautiful smile..
    Isn’t it amazing to have pictures or something to remind you of her(You are lucky I say).
    She loves you so dearly and if she had a chance she would come back.
    The amazing thing is, despite all , you have HOPE.
    Hope is good, very good infact.
    Time they say heals all wounds but yours will be much better.
    I hope she is your guardian angel and she sprinkles loads and loads of sunshine and laughter your life. May this experience build you up and not tear you down.
    May you always have a reason to be grateful and strong.
    xoxoxoxo

  18. Ifiii

    May 31, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    So beautiful and heart wrenching. I know for sure that, she would have loved you the way only a mother can.

  19. Cheeker

    June 1, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Keside, I can totally relate. Lost my mum also at four. The events that happened from when I was born till she died remain blurry. I remember following her to school on a few occasions, I remember rewarding us with choco milo and baba Dudu whenever we behave ourselves. Asides that,the main thing I remember was seeing he shuffle from home to the hospital. And the smile she probably fakes when we tell he “mummy sorry” each time she grins in pain. Asides that, all I do is wish, imagine what would have been and all what not. May God continue to grant them eternal rest.

  20. Adaeze Writes

    June 1, 2015 at 10:32 am

    This is one of the most beautiful write-ups I have ever read, I am a writer and I can spot one quite easily. You are a fantastic writer dear. May your mother’s soul continue to rest in God’s bosom.

  21. mhystique

    June 1, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    I LOST MY MOTHER WHEN I WAS 10 YRS OLD.ITS BEEN 10 YRS AFTER AND I STILL CANT GET OVER THE PAIN,WISHING I AV A PICTURE OF HER.MAY ALLAH GRANT ALL DECEASED PARENTS ETERNAL REST.

  22. Melanie

    June 2, 2015 at 3:52 am

    This is beautiful, from the beginning to end. I am certain your words touch many lives and most important heal even more than you can dream of. Continue sharing, please.

  23. ChrisSamurai

    June 2, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    It takes one with absolute understanding of reality to put together a piece like this and most definitely one who has come to accept it. I’m glad you can let it out and not bottle it.

    And man, this is one stylish way to write! #Superb

  24. Kaybellae

    September 22, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Beautiful words.

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