A contented mother beamed proudly as hundreds of people thronged in, at the local primary school to celebrate the home coming ceremony of their MP , Honorable Tabitha. It was her daughter that had called this ceremony. They craned their necks to have a glimpse of the Member of Parliament as she finally arrived at the primary school in her entourage.
She had won another election. She had done well in her previous term. With the construction of state-of-the-art markets for the local farmers, repairing and building of new roads, raising awareness on contemporary issues and funding the local citizens’ projects, the voter in her constituency had granted her a second chance to continue with her work.
Peris sat,not in the dais with the high and mighty(her daughter included). She sat on the grass with the local citizens. She had flatly turned down the special seat for her as the mother of the main guest. She wanted to watch the ongoings from down there.
She watched as people scrambled to shake Tabitha’s hand. Some of them were relatives who she had conflicted with in her hey days. She saw Tabitha’s beautiful smile as she tried to touch everybody’s hand. She marvelled at her daughter’s leadership skills.
Tabitha was born a leader. Peris remembered how her daughter was always appointed prefect in her primary and secondary school days. In form 3, the students had chosen her as the headgirl. She loved to take the lead and this played a big role even in taking care of her siblings. She recalled how easily Tabitha took over as the second parent when their father left them. Indeed,this was her destiny.
Peris looked around and saw her other daughter,Tamara. She was standing away from the crowd with her husband . They had come from the UK. They both worked for an NGO that capitalised in humanitarian assistance and poverty alleviation. Peris watched as Tamara constantly explained to him what the MC was saying. The language was foreign to him. She watched as her ex-husband’s brother went to greet them.
Peris could not help but snort at his audacity. This was the man who had mocked her and her ex-husband for bearing daughters only. He had suggested that since they had born only girls,then her ex-husband did not need the share of land that they had inherited from their father.
“This ancestral land is supposed to be passed from son to son,but you William,have no sons. Or are you planning to give your daughters? Who will marry them if you do! Work harder William, bear a son!” He had said. That was when they had three daughters.
William and Peris had believed they would parent a son. They agreed that this would be their last try. The decision ignited a burning desire in them to achieve their biggest dream. This called for desperate measures.
With the help of a friend , Peris visited a traditional spiritualist. He was known to be very effective. He would plead to the ancestors for a boy for them. They always listened to him. So Peris went with that assurance. She could not trust the modern doctors again. They had failed them before. Not with their strange jargon of ovulation,Shettle’s theory, XY chromosome,etc of which she understood nil.
Peris spelled out to William the rules that the traditionalist had laid for them to get a boy. He was to eat goat’s testicles every morning of that week they planned to conceive. Peris was ordered to drink goat milk every morning during that time. They were not to touch their genitals with water that week. As much as it sounded absurd, the two followed the instructions to the letter. Nine months later, the baby came. It was a girl. They now had four daughters; Tabitha, Tamara, Truphena and Tayla.
“Mum!” Peris awoke from her flashback. It was Truphena. “You cannot sit here surrounded by this noise, come!” She did not give her mother a chance to protest. She pulled her away from the crowd and walked her to her car. Truphena was the headmistress of the school that hosted the party.
“Grandma!Grandma!” Truphena’s two sons called out to Peris. They were happily gobbling down a packet of French fries.
“Did Tamara not come with her children?” Peris asked as she hugged and kissed her grandsons.
“Speak of the angels!” Truphena said as she smiled at the three triplets running towards them.Their parents grinning and chatting, walked behind them slowly.
“I missed you all. I am so glad I get to see you again!” Peris was overwhelmed by the presence of her family. She was awed at how time flew. Here was Tamara with her husband and three children, Truphena and hers. Her once small kids were now parents.
“Did Tayla and Tiffany not make it for the ceremony?” Peris asked.
“Tayla called an hour ago, she was leaving the barracks then, so in about an hour she should be here.” Truphena said. She was the string that attached the family. She constantly kept in touch with not only her sisters but her mother too. “Tifanny will be late,she said she has a gig that might take long.”
“Tifanny’s face is in almost all the billboards in the capital, endorsing all kinds of products!” It was Tamara.
“I even saw a billboard of her in the UK!” Tamara’s husband chipped in.
“Yea, she is thriving in comedy!” Truphena said, pride in her voice.
“Mummy,mummy! Funny Tifanny said she will take me to the Comedy Show so that we watch her performing!” Floyd, one of Truphena’s sons said.
“Me too!I also want to go!” The rest of the four kids started to chant! The noise attracted some crowd members.
“Shhh! Let’s join the crowd guys, this is our sister’s party yet we are here not supporting her! C’mon guys, let’s go!” Truphena said and they all left. They made it clear to Peris that they were all sitting at the dais.
Tabitha saw her family coming towards the dais. She smiled and waved at them. Her nieces and nephews ran towards her and she hugged them all, kissing them and thanking them for coming. Their parents had to tear them apart from their aunty. Then she beckoned to Truphena and whispered to her.
“Tifanny’s show has been cancelled so tell the MC to announce that Funny Tifanny is on her way. I am sure the crowd will be excited!” Peris watched as her daughters conversed. She had never been so proud. Then she saw Tayla from afar, in her military uniform prancing into the dais, her hands in her pockets. She gestured a salute to her sister Tabitha and headed to her seat next to her mother after greeting her family members with a firm manly grip. Tayla hated to hug and they all knew that.
She was the one William and Peris most expected to be a boy while Peris was expectant. Tayla was the one who had received the most prayers and the most rituals had been performed on her while she was in the womb. There was no doubt it would come out as a boy. When she finally came, Peris sunk into depression for a while. Fortunately, Tayla had enough going on around her from her sisters. She did not notice the disappointment she had caused her parents.
But Tayla grew differently. She was the one who first shocked her family members with an expulsion letter from school. The school had termed her as unruly and indisciplined. She was admitted to a nearby school for close monitoring. She had a short temper. She hang out with boys, older than her who would run to their mothers when they got into a fight. Her voice was the deepest of all the five sisters’. She even joined the boxing group in the town. So when she voiced her interest in joining the military, it did not come as a shock to anyone. She came back from training with short hair and a more muscular body.
“How is the military taking you baby?” Peris whispered to her daughter who sat with her long legs apart from each other and her left hand pressing the knuckles on her right hand.
“It’s good,it’s good! ” She spoke very little. Peris watched her daughter, her nieces fighting to sit on each of her legs. Her character reminded her of South Africa’s Caster Semenya. She had heard that Semenya had married a girl. Peris shuddered at the thought of Tayla marrying a woman. She wondered how the conservative village would take it. She pushed that thought away. If Tayla would do so, they would cross the bridge when they got there.
Back to the ceremony, the crowd had changed its attention to the gate. They was an aura of euphoria. The MC’s voice betrayed his excitement too. The coming visitor seemed to be more important than the political leaders. Children and even adults ran to her car. She alighted, much to the joy of her fans. It was Funny Tiffany. Tifanny had stolen the show from Tabitha who seemed not to mind. She looked on gleefully. Everyone loved Funny Tifanny! She had been named as the most influential personality of the year. She had won Comedienne of the year. She was everyone’s favourite.
Peris did not believe her eyes. She was stunned at the people’s immense love for her last born daughter. She recalled the agony she had suffered while pregnant with Tifanny. It was an unplanned pregnancy. William had stated that he was tired of bringing forth more children. When she told him the news of the fifth pregnancy, he hit the roof. He accused her of trapping him, he insulted her and even suggested an abortion.
While heavily pregnant, one of her market clients let her on the rumour about William. He had impregnated a local barmaid. They were due almost the same time. The lady delivered first. It was a boy. Two days later,Jane delivered her fifth daughter. His four daughters did not get any answers from their dad who came late in the evening, driving a pick up and packed everything he had bought in that house.
They knew later he had gone to stay with his son and the mother. Peris came a week later after waiting in hospital for her husband who never showed up. It was a good samaritan who helped her get discharged from hospital. The mother and her daughters managed to survive from the meagre profit Peris gained from her groceries sales.
The hullabaloo had calmed down. The ceremony proceedings went on. Tabitha thanked her constituents for voting again for her. She promised to do more for and they cheered and sang mantras for her. The invited political leaders promised to work with her. People ate to their full. There was song and dance. It was only until dusk started to peep in that the crowd started to disperse.
Tabitha and her immediate family were welcomed at the home of the hosting school headmistress for supper. Peris sat at a corner in the capacious living room. Her grandsons sat on Tayla’s thighs as she showed them how to play a game on his phone. Tamara’s husband and Truphena’s left to tour the surroundings. Truphena and Tabitha were conversing about a school project that needed funding.
Tamara was on speaking on phone while Tifanny was showing her nieces pictures and videos of her in various countries. One could see the reverence they had for their Aunty Tifanny. Peris smiled at no one in particular. She had five daughters and no son but she was pleased. She called out to one of her grandchildren and asked for a pen and paper. The paper was handed to her quickly as the child went back to her fellows. Peris wrote some writings and folded the paper then clenched it in her left hand.
“Mum!” Tabitha called. “Are you asleep already?” They laughed at how comical she looked while asleep and continued with their activities . Two hours later, the nanny came with another thermos of tea. Truphena knew her mum loved tea. She was surprised her mother was still asleep, in the same position. She touched her neck and let out a scream. Her mother was cold. There was a turmoil for seconds then Tabitha took control.
“Nanny! Take the kids and let them stay as far as they can . Tayla, Tamara hold her lower part. Truphena and I let’s hold her upper part. To your car Tifanny! Fast! Nearest hospital.”
But it was too late. She was pronounced dead on arrival. The five women fell to the floor in a disheveled heap as grief poured out in a flood of uncontrollable tears and heart-wrenching wails. Then each at their own time, Tayla first , stopped to wail, sniffled and only let the tears course down their cheeks. Tabitha sniffled loudly and coughed.
“Sisters, mum had this in her hand. I think she wrote this when she asked Floyd for a piece of paper and pen.” She unfolded the paper and they gathered to read it.
My dotas, am so imotional when I si how mach ich of u has saksided. I am praud of all of u. I can dae a happi woman naw. I love you Tabitha, Tamara, Truphena,Tayla and Tiffany.plis stay as unaited as u ar.
It was their mother’s first and last trial in English writing. Tabitha bit her lip and she looked away. Tayla wiped her tears so frequently that her eyes swelled up. Truphena and Tamara held each other and moaned quietly. Tifanny sat on a chair and closed back her tears.
They buried their mother days later. Their father and his family also came to pay their last respects. They did not fail to notice his damaged look. His wife and son portrayed impoverishment. Their father came to greet them. He had a stench around him and his breath reeked of alcohol.
“She was a great woman. I was stupid to leave your mother because she only gave birth to girls.” He spoke, avoiding their eyes. “Look at you now, look at that son I desperately wanted.” He said as he pointed at his son who was busy puffing on a cigarette. “He refused to go to school and he is out on bail after being arrested for stealing a bodaboda.”
He paused for a while as his daughters stared sympathetically at him then said, “It stung me when people talked about my girls, I felt inferior , yet now, as I speak to you, pride is all I feel for you but I know I played no part in your success. It was your mother, she kept saying,these girls will make us proud one day!” He was silent. He wanted to speak some more but stopped himself when a tear fell down from his cheeks. He turned and walked away.
They gathered around their mother’s grave and held each other’s hands. They were silent as if listening to a voice. When they left, the tears were no more. They ran back to the vehicles chasing each other, laughing playfully. Like their mother, they never cried for long.