I have tried to write something for you here, for this birthday. The words are hiding, I guess they are ashamed because they know they are not enough to capture you.
When people meet you, they always comment on your beauty, even now you still turn heads and it’s always hilarious when those primary school advertisers come for you, without knowing your last child left primary school more than ten years ago.
When they get to know you, it is your wisdom that enthrals them, your kindness that lifts them and that quiet strength they quickly come to rely as well as those delicious meals that cause people to “book” visits as often as they can.
When I first met you, the day I was born, I knew you were awesome. Bringing me to this world was harder than any of Hercules’ trials, yet you did it all and have NEVER made me feel like I owed you anything, It was Daddy who told me the stories, not you, never you. But as I grew older, I realised that was just the preamble, almost inconsequential even, because you outdid that all the time.
Remember when I was the hot-headed teenager who knew everything? I wonder now how you navigated that era without losing your sanity or given me brain-resetting slaps on per second basis.
Or that time in Bida when I needed to see you so desperately and you appeared like a hallucination with apples and digestive and that hug that made life right. Or how you know the times to hold me and let me cry and the times to tell me to wash my face and hold a sword.
Memories buzz in my head now, chanting release slogans and humming Redemption song but a blog post is not the place to let them out. Maybe I will write a book about you, how you made me love reading before I could read, just by watching you curl up and read- I wanted to know what power the black squiggles had and if they would made me as happy as they made you. How you gave me this fierce love for music that is one of the key joys of my life as you played your eclectic collection on the cassette player and on that Toshiba video player.
How can I forget the stories? You would make up stories on the spot, complete stories with made up songs too. Rather than flog or slap, you’d tell a gripping story and extract a promise from the mesmerised errant child, promises I haven’t been able to break more than twenty years later.
Then the writing, you would write my long letters to Papa Kenneth, Papa Vincent and okuko because I was too young to even write. How did you not laugh as you wrote? Instead, you sat solemnly like I was talking about matters of national importance, and you put the words on paper. Thank you for understanding just how important that time was for me and for that patience.
Or how you could make three children each feel equally loved, the centre of your world and make them best friends. If I were half as great a mother as you, my children will be triply blessed.
Or how you stand in the gap, interceding for us. One day, I’ll tell the rapture story and how you made fears melt away just because you were there. And how each day, you show us there is a God because only that can explain you, my precious, wonderful mother.
I pray for God’s favour and grace to continue to abide with you, for his love and mercies to remain your constant companion and that your prayers always get answered. As for blessings, they are yours already, abundantly.
Iya ni wura- mother is gold. You, Onyeomachi are all the diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Happy birthday, Nnem.