#Article (Archive)

An empty world

Mar 17, 2011, 2:06 PM | Article By: Isatou Dumbuya

Papa likes his tea bitter-black, black like his moustache and favorite shirt. Ever since mama left us, he retreated into his own world speaking only a few words to me and my little brother. Just 12 years old, I do the cooking and washing.

Mama used to do my hair for me with those soft and slim hands she proudly took care of. She would do my hair into a famous Wolof pattern called ‘Sabarr bu tass’. I can remember Fatou’s envious eyes whenever I go to school with a new hair style.

Now that Mama is gone, I tie my hair into a pony-tail. I can remember her sweet melodious voice when she sang and her menacing ready- to –kill voice whenever she became mad. Mama isn’t a beauty, but she has a charm and a great sense of humor that makes people want to be near her all the time. She has brown chocolate eyes, a perky nose, white teeth, black lips and a ready smile.

She has chubby cheeks and a thick waist-line. When we were together, she never worried about losing a few pounds.

At night when everyone else was tucked in bed and sound asleep, I would hear raised voices in my parents’ room. It was very difficult to know what they always argued about.

In our presence they put up a farce, holding hands, staring into each other’s eyes as if they knew a secret that we didn’t know. They acted as if all was fine. There were times when we all felt like family and the arguing stopped. One of such times was when mama’s papa died and we were all brought together under the umbrella of grief. That feeling didn’t last for long and papa’s “I wish that it was her I married and not you,” was the last straw mama could take. They both knew it. The line had been drawn and I could feel the tension growing.

Sobbing, she called a cab. Rolling her eyes skywards and blinking those blue tears from her pinched ashen face as if in pain, she took her belongings and assured me and my brother that everything was going to be fine.

But I knew that things were falling apart even the dark pregnant clouds said it all. Moments later, they released their burden as if helping me cry. But I couldn’t cry. I forced my self to, but tears couldn’t come. I only kept waving back at mama as the engine of the car revved up until all I could see was trails of smoke in its wake.

When bed-time comes, I hear no bed-time stories and the night becomes dark and darker as I wish for sleep and mama’s feathery good-night kiss on my baby-smooth face.

Her deep chocolate eyes, soft black lips, sweet smile and her name on my heart-shaped lips are all I take with me into the world of nothingness when sleep finally comes.