The Thing That Made Her Stop Smiling

Mama Samson.

That was the name I knew her by until I was 32.
We always called our maternal aunties by their children's names. 
Even they did it too. 
So she never really had an identity until I was an adult.
I didn't like her as a child, I thought she was always angry, she never seemed to laugh.
It wasn't really a frown, the expression on her face;
It was the absence of a smile.
And a reason for it.
Mouth turned downwards at the sides, almost permanently,
Eyebrows slightly creased, eyes unlit.
Decades later, I realised it was not a frown, it was an expression of resignation;
As much as is possible on the face.

 She had been a pregnant teen and lost out on education with her siblings.
 She had then become deeply religious and married a faithful but poor man
 And had 5 more children, only one of whom was successful
 In the way parents counted success.
 Then the man had fallen gravely ill 
 Exhausting all medical and spiritual options 
 And all financial resources 
 And died
 Life had dealt her blows and she had finally become winded.
 That was the thing 
 You cannot smile when you are winded

''No'', I thought in my youthful postulation, ''one must always soar above life, regardless''.
I tried to soar on my career.
Higher and Higher I went until swop!
My wings were clipped.
Gender, jealousy, mismanagement, insecurity.
I thought to live bright in my personal life.
 I love yous and blissfull coocooos.
'' I'm pregnant!'' , ''But I just got married!''

With a baby in tow. 


I would soar with God I determined.
He has Joy Original,
The creator of smiles.
Alas he entrusted them to cashiers.
Offering by offering my faith was demolished from under me
As they fell off the pedestal.

But I had to soar for this child even at that.
Even though I am staggering and my back is broken.
She has to see me soar.
And I tried.
In the way an Ostrich will attempt to soar.
In the way a chicken tries to fly.
Wings flapping, feet pushing upwards.
Little flight but lots of trying.
Then, my daughter asked twice in one day
''why are you not happy?''
''why are you not laughing?''

And I froze.


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