By Jude Nnadozie
In my first year in the University, I hung out all night with my truant friends once, and was unaccounted for back in the hostel where I lived with my elder brother. In the morning, another brother of mine was visiting from his school out state, and met our eldest worried. I didn’t have a phone then, so I couldn’t be reached. But the day before I’d cooked a fine lie to get me off the hook. Realizing that I could get drunk, I told my friends what to do in case I wasn’t fit to go home. They were to call my brother, tell him our friend was in an accident, and we rushed him to the hospital. I kept reminding them to call until my senses were completely gone.
I showed up at the hostel in the morning, meeting my two elder brothers. I was dirty from my falls and folly. I start to tell the lie that was prepared, unaware that my friend had called and said something totally different. He’d said “we” were in an accident, and my brothers had been to the hospital already, (even the morgue) that morning in search of me. So it was clear I was lying. They simply called Mom and let her know I wasn’t acting the script, and she summoned me home.
Mom sat me down and had a heart to heart with me. Everyone thought I was initiated into a cult group that night, and sought to pull me out when it was still early. Mom cried for me, reminding me of our journeys – she and I… The seven straight restless Christmases, because I was in the hospital around every Christmas, year after year; the Easter my immediate elder brother died – we were buddies, and had both been ill; and my general frailty. Mom’s tears kinda meant that… it would be a shame if all the troubles only led up to a wasted life. I lacked the emotional spirit to hug my Mom, or wipe her tears that day. But I knew from then on that I would not let her down. This pact we had, she and I, it was my turn to uphold it. It is a pact of love.
Today, my mother holds my children… those same hands held me, molded me, cared for me. Whenever my child cries in her arms, I blow her a kiss and almost whisper, “Be calm, child. Trust those hands. They won’t let you down.”