“Luwere, luwere, (goodbye, goodbye).
Ingumba my husband, the love of my life
I am calling your name, please answer me
You always come back home to me, why is today different?
Awake and take your tea my love
The soldier who stayed up at night to keep guard while others were asleep
Its morning. Time for you to rest, but I don’t want you this still my love
Your kids are calling you, if you won’t answer me then answ…”
She sank her face in her palms and emptied her nose before she continued chanting a dirge, “I am angry, I am sad, is this how you say goodbye? Luwereeeee, luwe….” This continued for about two hours after Sophia received the news of her husband’s demise.
The clouds that morning were a dull grey, echoing the dull stare in her eyes. Her heart was clogged with pain and a collage of questions in her mind. She wondered why death was so cruel. Why her husband had to die in a public bus of all the places. Was he sick? He seemed perfectly okay to her the previous night. There was nothing unusual with him. Everything seemed to be stagnant at that moment. The only thing that was flowing was her tears.
Her husband’s memories were full in their small house in Kibera. She could hear his loud laughter. Smell his scent and at times feel his presence. Her thoughts kept racing along the past and every time she would remember him she would weep sadly.
Two weeks later her husband was laid to rest in their home village. She couldn’t come back to Nairobi because she had no means of surviving. She had been a house wife. Her husband was a night guard at a hospital and was not entitled to any benefits. She had to settle in the village with her six children.
Life in the village was completely different. She dreaded rainy season because her grass thatched roof would leak, pouring on them. Her children had to drop out of school because of lack of school fees. She was forced to work on people’s farm as a laborer so she could put a meal on the table. A meal that was not guaranteed. Many are the times they went hungry. She missed her husband, he had been just a night guard with meager salary but they never went a day without a meal. Her kids were not in the best schools there were but they were going to school never the less and most of all she had peace of mind. Now she wouldn’t go to the market without people pointing an accusing finger at her claiming that she killed her husband.
All this while she never stopped mourning her husband. At night she would curl up in her bed and weep silently So that her kids won’t hear her crying. She cried because she missed him dearly. She cried because she couldn’t offer her kids a decent living and she cried because after crying she always felt better. One day she was working in a neighbor’s farm and after she was done she demanded for her pay. The man she’d worked for hurled insults at her. She begged the man to pay her amid tears. Her kids hadn’t eaten the whole day and she was excited that she would return home with food. The man told her to go and eat her husband’s meat that she butchered. That night she wept silently as usual and decided she’d had enough.
Sofia decided to shut every pain out, she had mourned enough, she wasn’t going to mourn again. She wasn’t going to be insulted again without defending herself. She wouldn’t work for free again, she would fight for what is rightfully hers. She pasted a huge smile on her face to prove to everyone that she was okay, she wore a mask of strength on the exterior but deep inside she wasn’t okay.
Years passed by and her children are all grown. Her two daughters were victims of early marriage and are raising their own families now. Her sons are known as the village drunks. They are married with kids but do not take responsibility of their families. They insult people and pick fights with everyone including their mother. Her eldest son keeps threatening that he would commit suicide and out of anger she always tell him to go ahead.
A decade later Sofia was talking to a counselor, brought in by the solid rock widows. She is an active member of the group and the chairlady of the sub group in her area. Nothing much has changed. She still lives in her leaking house with a bunch of grandchildren whom she’s unable to educate. She fights the urge of crying now more than ever to prove her strength to her family. It is then that she realized that she’s not okay. The sleepless nights and severe headache she’s been experiencing could be a sign of extreme stress which might lead to depression. Her sons might also be suffering from the same and hide their pain in alcohol and especially the one who always mention suicide.
She sank into an old flimsy arm chair, her lips rose and fell as she wept in a husky weary voice.
“Tomorrow is missing. Tomorrow has been missing since you left me my love
I have failed in loving myself, more so in loving our children
I should have never stopped mourning you because people wanted me to. I should have mourned you until I felt it’s enough
I now understand what your absence really means, it means you are gone and I should let go
Fare thee well my love, until we meet again.” Sobs kept chocking her throat and the councelor encouraged her to let it all out.
She sniffled, wiped her tears and spread her lips into a wide smile that formed a couple of lines on the sides of her cheek. “I have discovered my sons’ hearts are troubled. I need help, we need help. Maybe tomorrow we will be free. Tomorrow is a new day another day and it will bring with it what it may but I am going to start living again. I have been dead too for the past twelve years. I arise today if not for my sake, then for the sake of others!”