The face of grief_Michael Thang’wah
The banging of doors and the cocking of the guns all of a sudden
stirred the cool air of the sleeping night. The entire room was sprayed
with bullets leaving my dad in a pool of blood – dead, and my already
blind mother wreathing in pain: the pain of a traumatized and crippled
spirit; the pain of an uncertain future; the pain of delayed justice –
She had gone through thick and thin in her life. In her tender age, she
had told me, she often fell a victim of incest in the hands of my uncle.
In school, the head teacher would summon her to his office in the
name of giving her small tokens as a compliment to her success in
class and a superb performance in extra – curriculum activities. She
really was the perfect lady, but whatever used to go on in that office
left my mother feeling dirty, useless and misused.
Despite her qualifications, she could not get a job. She went from
office to office but the demands were the same: her certificates and a
bribe. She turned out to be on the ‘advantaged side’, because she
happened to be a woman, to quote the would be employer. She had to
meet his needs to win the favours and acquire the job she desperately
needed. To qualify, she had to pass a bed interview and satisfy his
lust. This she underwent, with frustrations and humiliations.
Life with its twists and turn knocked on my mother’s door after
becoming pregnant and the ditching by the boss. She was left to rot
alone in the land of oblivion. No one wanted to associate with her,
and this left her living hand to mouth; at least to maintain the
pregnancy. Everything turned out to be a dark tunnel with no spark to
quench the traumatizing darkness.
Life became unbearable to her as she gave birth to me. The world
welcomed me with its cruelty and hostility. In her desperate search
for a better living, she gave in to a marriage proposal to become a
second wife. At first, life became promising and enjoyable.
Nevertheless, things started to turn upside down. It became a cat and
mouse chase with my mum and dad busy hedging their bets by
supping with the devil, forgetting that to do so, they must use a very
long spoon indeed. Quarrels with the first wife, a non-supporting and
hostile husband, and mockeries; all this she persevered for my sake.
Am I a child of a lesser god? A destitute? Life at home was
characterized by poverty, with my parents ever in a ring – fighting
over a life gone sour and as a way of releasing economic stress. It is
in one of these fights that the eyes of my mother were gorged out by
my drunken father.
I bet life is cruel. After escaping my mother’s poisoning ordeal, I
have to deal with a life of loneliness. I could not stomach the pain,
yes, the pain registered on the swollen faces of my dead brothers.
Little did I know that a gang had been hired by my mother to make
sure that the soul of my father knocks at the door of hell; never to
No sooner had the murderers left than the sirens were heard three ridges
away. My heart started shivering, weakening with every beat. I could
not wait to see my mother being hurled into the police vehicle. The
instinct in me told me to flee, and off I left to an unknown destination.
Who need remember the day I was born? Why was I conceived in the
first place – to suffer? Why was I not a stillborn? Now I should be
resting in peace!
I wish I were dead and join the celestial world. There, the wicked rule
no more; the weary find rest. No more shouts of the oppressor are
heard. No class division, no status, no suffering.
What this world really my home? My only food is sighs and my
groans pour like water. Whatever I fear come true; whatever I dread
befalls me. My torments banish rest. The very things that my appetite
revolts at are now my diet in sickness. Like a slave sighing for the
shade, I have months of futility assigned to me; nights of suffering to
be my lot. If I say that my bed will comfort me; my couch will lighten
my complaints, I am frightened by insecurity and terrified with threats.
If I decide to stifle my complaining and wear a smiling face, fear
seizes me at the thought of my woes. If I wash myself in dusty sweat,
the world plunge me into the dung – hijacking and enjoying my
sweat. In pain I am left to toil. Is my life of a doomed destiny? Who
really need remember the day I was born?
The cloud is so thick and dark,
That nothing seems to work.
It is a thorn in the flesh,
A heart thrown into the trash.
Every cloud adorning a silver lining?
Why the cover the outer ring?
Leaving my eyes so blind,
That my vision is banished.
The pill is too bitter to swallow,
Rejection penetrates to the marrow.
The pill of insecure domain,
In pain I call to alert the nation.
Dirty and tatty,
I am no longer valued.
Tears have made my cheeks swampy,
Sorrow being my food.
Is it really my fault;
That I have to roast in the furnace?
My life remains a very long night,
Not even with a spark to quench the darkness.
Diseases to fight,
Poverty to erase.
At full of spite,
Bad governance to compromise?
The law of the jungle to embrace?
Each face turns to gaze,
With murmurs filling the air.
Fingers pointing with craze,
Yet no one seems to care.
Hauling me in a booze,
Stripping my heart bare.
Life is unfair. While I live hand to mouth, in abject poverty, with tears
ever wetting my cheeks; others wine and dine, soaking themselves
with tears of joy: affording a three piece meal for their pet dogs, with
frequent snacks to keep them going. But I, their house help, sleep in
the store and on a mat; eating of the remains of their plate, if any. I
overworked to earn peanuts. I bet life is unfair. Why do I have to toil
and my sweat benefits another. I fear to rise and speak, because
though crippled by poverty, I want to live, for my heart is strong.
Is it by fate that we live? Now I am in the streets with nothing to
survive on. People are all over but no one to look at me – they see me
as a threat. I stare with sharp eyes; eyes that are in need of love. But
no one seems to care. All I get suspicious stares, pretending that I am
not talking to them; and the pace is the same, quicker and quicker,
they pass by me.
I sit by the pillar, in haunting loneliness, in that busy street, with
much hopes and wishes. I look forward to be given a love look;
accompanied by an invitation, “will you mind sharing a meal with us
tonight?” Gracious heavens, such invitations are rare, if any.
My dreams are shattered.
New wounds are opened.
No one to give me a smile.
No one to go with me the second mile.
All they can offer me is a frown,
Causing my spirit to groan.
I wait at the traffic lights,
But what do I get?
Serious men and women,
Hooting for the lights to turn green,
So that they may speed off,
And avoid dirty idiots,
That is what they call me.
I swallow that bitterest pill,
Cursing the day I was born.
They only see the tears,
But do not feel the pain in my heart.
I stretch my sticky and dirty hands – begging,
With high hopes of getting a coin from the passersby.
But no single coin,
No dropped morsel in the rubbish bins.
All I see are speeding Benzes,
Yes, all types of models.
No one seems to notice my presence.
A shadow has been cast on my bright hopes.
I am growing up unloved and despised!
The nights in the streets are a menace. This is the time that the animal
instinct in men pricks their ego with so much force that they can do
anything to satisfy it. I dread the sight of men. To me, all men are
beasts. What can you call a rapist? He maimed and deformed my
innocence; like a hot iron that burns any surface, he defiled my eight
years old innocence. Under his strong and bearded chest. I was
hopeless and helpless, putting up with the rough surfaced floor.
A choked yelling won me a hard slap; a hard sobbing could not move
him. He gulped and gasped for breath as if he was out for an
adventurous horse ride, not minding my tiny-ness. He was busy
defiling me to the core with no shred of shame, nor grain of mercy.
I was left there on the floor with a deformed womanhood. This
awakened in me the bitter memory of my tender days; the rejection I
received while in my mother’s womb and the emptiness of not having
had a father figure. Time did not bring healing despite the later
marriage of my mother to an alcoholic husband. I hate to whisper, ‘he
used to rape me, with threats.’ Fifteen years later, I am still
traumatized, living with it like yesterday’s.
Fate forced me to venture into a life of vanity. It shortened the
memory of my experience in the hands of men and I found myself
back in the streets; this time earning good cash on my own account. It
became a life of pleasure and pressure. I could have it hot or cold,
with anyone or anything – just for money. So many a foetuses went
down the rubbish pits in efforts of sustaining and retaining my
attractive figure. With thrills and fantasying pleasure, I earned a
living; but not without AIDS. Now my living is unpredictable. With a
skinny body that looks like that of a mal-fed chameleon, with no
vigour and no hips to swing; with a defaced womanhood and death so
violently peering – life is no longer the same.
It takes time to heal the yesterday’s, and much patience to wait for what
tomorrow will offer. With shelved dreams and frustrated hopes, I fear
to keep mum; I dread to rise and speak. Why is nature so cruel? Lying
in bed I wonder “when will it be day?” No sooner up than “when will
evening come?” This thought tortures me, living me in silent rotting.
Is this why I ever lived? To lie here helplessly waiting for death to
curl me back to the soil? Too near to the people, yet too far from their
acceptance; no iota of humanity is shown.
I wish I could rewind my teenage years! I would work tirelessly to
reconstruct my life. I wish you would heed my call! It is now, lest you
fall in a ditch to be alone without love, helpless, and desperate – in
The old dustbins are smelly, the underground water turning bitter. The
pillars are loose, how will the building stand? The spilling of the trash
sweeps me to an endless pit, leaving me breathless and in suffocation.
Never wish to share in the cup of pleasure; it is too thrilling to call it
quit, it nonetheless spits venom into your entire being escorting you
to the grave.
Dewy morning with ‘blood’ all over,
Cry blood of a deserted spirit.
Vested in black the grief to cover,
Mourning a life gone to waste.
Fare well our dear sister,
A wound you left no one to heal.
You never merited dying in flatter,
Fare well, meting again we will.
“We shall overcome,
Yes, we shall overcome some day.
When the human race will swim in the balm,
To heal the history and live in the day”.
Is there a Lord who reigns beyond history?
Such is the one we should seek!
He is the Healer of our folly,
The mover of our lost luck.
This is the wailing in so many hearts. All are looking forward for a
ready and willing heart; a heart that can offer solace and meaning in
life, a heart ready to go out of its way for the sake of another. Who
will cure the world of this cancer of corruption? Who will curb and
arrest this dreaded disease, AIDS. Who will heal the brutality in the
families? Is there a solution to all this defects of life? The answer is in