You could say that Kathy loved her son too much because he was her only child. Clifford was a miracle baby who had come when all hope for his parents to conceive a child had ran out. So when the bouncing baby boy was announced as alive and kicking, they were like a dog with two tails.
For Kathy especially, she was bursting with happiness. She felt like the Bible ‘s Hannah. Like Hannah, she had yearned for years to hold her own bundle of joy in her hands. Now that she finally could, she vowed that she would love him with every fiber of her being for as long as she lived.
She indeed did, only she did not know that too much of something is poisonous, even love.
“Don’t you dare cane my son!” She said to her husband angrily.
Her husband was astounded. He knew Kathy had watched as Cliff spit on their guest’s cup of tea not once but twice. He had thought she was equally enraged. Now he stared at her in disbelief then at a shocked visitor who upon seeing an impending domestic dispute asked to leave.
“Why are you embarrassing me Kathy? In front of Vanessa? Did you not see what Clifford did to her cup?” He asked in controlled temper.
“Vanessa understands how kids are, she has three of her own. Cliff is still a baby!” She yelled back at him.
“A baby? A six year old is still a baby? Why do you do this Kathy? You never want me to discipline him and he eventually gets away with so much.” Godfrey said, as if pleading his obstinate wife to see his point. She took her son and left for the bedroom to soothe him because daddy had been mean to him.
Back in the living room, Godfrey sighed in fatigue. He was getting tired of all these. He loved his wife but she was starting to get on his nerves from the way she pampered their son. Godfrey did love his son and he wanted to see him grow into a fine, respectable man. To get there, he had to be disciplined where necessary. Yet his wife could hear none of it.
Every mother agrees that their child comes before anyone else but for Kathy, she took it too far. She lost her marriage when Cliff was thirteen years old.
Clifford was watching a movie when his father came in. His mother was busy at the kitchen. Godfrey was shocked at the contents of the movie.
“Kathy, have you seen what Cliff is watching?” He spat angrily.
She came in curious at her husband’s bellowing. Cliff pressed the mute button.
“Cliff, what are you watching for heaven’s sake?” Kathy asked but Godfrey could almost taste the pretence in her voice. She had known all along what her son was watching.
He glared in disbelief at his wife perturbed by her parenting on the boy. Cliff pressed the volume button up in sheer disrespect. Godfrey incensed deeply, went and switched the TV off. Cliff clicked his mouth and went to switch it on. Godfrey could not have it anymore. Ire took the better of him and without a second thought, he kicked his son on the butt.
Kathy and son screamt. It was not a bad fall because he fell on the sofa but that was enough to make Kathy report to the police with exaggerated accusations. Lucky for him, Godfrey was not arrested because he had the little ‘chai’ the police wanted. He never went back to that house.
“We are better off without him anyway.” Kathy said when they finally realised that he was not going to come back to them.
Kathy did not only lose her marriage, she lost friends too. She shut her best friend completely when Shirleen lost her money from her handbag and insinuated that Cliff could have stolen it since he was the only one who had access to it. Her own mother lost her purse too when she had come to visit them. Kathy laughed that off, asking her mother if she was really sure she had come with the purse to the house.
“I used that purse today,while paying the cab and I remember clearly putting it back in my big handbag.” Her mother said confidently.
“Mum,” Kathy said, “You are aging and you are in denial about that. I am sure you forgot it in the cab or lost it on the way here.”
When it was time to go back, Kathy gave her mother some money to travel home. Her mother nonchalantly said her goodbyes and travelled back with disturbing thoughts. She was certain she had her purse as she entered her daughter’s house. Her guts pointed at her grandson. She had a bad feeling things for her dotted grandson would end very unpleasantly.
That night, Kathy went to bed with a heavy heart. As she tucked her sixteen year old to bed , she saw her mother’s pink purse. Cliff saw that she had seen it and he had suddenly changed his expression on his face. He became a like a bull ready to charge and gawked at his mother defensively. She became scared and did not talk about it.
Not only had her mother and best friend complained but her househelp had revealed to her that people in the streets were starting to complain of Cliff’s itchy fingers.
“You are the one spreading lies about my son!” Kathy had snapped.
“No Madam, I just heard that Danny at the cyber lost his phone and he suspects it was Cliff because he was the only customer when the phone got lost. Mama Mboga also lost the money she had hidden under the groceries she displays under the sack when she went to find change for Cliff. People are talking. ”
Kathy fired the househelp for listening to gossip. But too many people had complained. The principal had even suspended him for breaking into his fellows’ boxes.
Kathy tossed and turned in her bed. She did not want to make her son angry. He was the only she had left. People did not understand how she had suffered to get him. He was her miracle baby and she would do anything to make him happy. As for his stealing habits, it was just a stage which would wear off when he reached eighteen, Kathy consoled her sorry self.
But attaining eighteen years did not put a halt to Cliff’s crimes. He graduated by joining a gang. A gang that would be the end of one of the two.
It was on Friday night. Cliff was in his bedroom watching a movie from his 40 inch TV which he had been given as a gift by a friend, his words to his mother. His mother was in the living room, repairing one of his torn trousers. Suddenly, there was a harsh knock on the door. The guest could not wait to be welcomed, instead he burst in with four other goons.
Cliff had heard the commotion and rushed to the living room. However, one glance at the unwanted guests made him dive for safety but he was not so fast. The men caught up with him.
Kathy was tormented at the sight of her son being mishandled.
“Please leave him alone, leave my son alone.” She cried
“Shut up woman. Your son needs to be punished for what he did to us!” The man who let himself in first thundered. He must have been the ringleader. He was clad in black, unkempt short dreadlocks on his head and menacing bloodshot eyes in his face. There was a visible scar on his nose that made him look as if his nose was divided into two. His colleagues could have passed as normal friendly church going people.
“Mama Cliff, we are here to teach this idiot a lesson. He stole from us!” He roared. “After all the work we did to obtain that cargo!”
Cliff bent his head in an apathetic attitude. Kathy begged for the men’s forgiveness prayerfully even suggesting that they punish her instead of him.
“This imbecile thinks his mother should do all the talking for him. Well, let’s get the mother and see what he will do.” The master ordered as one of his obedient dogs rushed to her making her kneel next to her son. Cliff did not even blink an eye at his mother’s rude mistreatment.
The gang boss took out a pen knife from his pockets and started to study how sharp it was.
“Cliff, guess what, your mum will lose three fingers today on your behalf.” As soon as those words were uttered, Kathy made an ear piercing scream. Cliff was still like a statue. The boss snatched Kathy ‘s hand from her back and placed it on a nearby stool. True to his word , his sharp knife cut through deeply at Kathy’s pinky as the culprit searched Cliff’s face for any empathy but he was still like a stone piece.
Kathy’s voice was now lost. The pain in her lost finger was burning. It matched the emotional pain she was going through. How could her son stay there unemotional as she was being tortured in the worst way possible for his own sins?
“Mama Cliff, I pity you. Here you are ready to die for a person who cares less about you. As a matter of fact , I refuse to punish you anymore. He must be the one to pay for messing with us. Bring him here.” The crime leader ordered.
Kathy felt her heart skip. She was his mother. Cliff had now found his voice, screaming at the top of his voice, calling out to his mother to save him. Then his pinky finger was no more. Kathy wondered when this would end.
Not for too long. A neighbour,disturbed by the noise next door had called the police who were in a good mood that day. They came just in time to save Cliff ‘s second finger. The criminals were apprehended but they were only too eager to see Cliff behind bars too. They provided evidence that he was involved in theft too. Needless, to say, all of them were shut behind bars until a number of decades would pass.
It would be her first time to visit her son in jail. He had only stayed a week and she had heard he had not only been beaten but he slept on a cold floor.
“What are you doing here?” She was flabbergasted by the cold words from him.
“Son, I heard that…” He stopped her with his hand.
“Go away. I never want to see your face here again.” He said gritting his teeth.
“Why?” She whispered tearfully.
“Because it is you who led me here. You allowed me to get spoiled, see my life now.” He hissed at her and asked the guard to lead him away leaving Kathy in pieces.
She hugged herself and sobbed uncontrollably. Her son’s utterances were more painful than the pen knife’s slice on her pinky. Her son was brutally right. She had coddled Cliff too much and failed to show him that sometimes needs a firm hand.
She went back to her house dropping tears everywhere she stepped. She looked at the painting on her wall, of a proud Hannah with her obedient son, Samuel.
“You took your son to the temple, guess where I took mine Hannah,” she said to the piece of art unhanging it from the wall, ” I took mine to jail.” She put it on her chest as she imagined Hannah embracing her and assuring her everything would be alright. But the room was quiet, the painting did not talk as if they were afraid to tell her the truth, the truth that she had failed as a mother.