Opinions Sun, 10 May 2009
Even when times are so hardThey are so cool, calm and collected
They do not run from anything
They do not run from responsibility
They stand and fight for what is right
God bless the woman, God bless the woman
The first day I entered the labour ward to observe and later to partake in proceedings thereof, my long held admiration and respect for mothers in general and for Daavi Julie in particular skyrocketed.
I mean here I was, uninitiated, in the delivery suite with a woman positioned to pu-uuush! Five minutes later, I walked to the attending midwife afflicted with doubt and anguish.
“Madam, I know that I am supposed to have more faith, but frankly speaking, looking at the size of the belly and the birth passage, I honestly don’t see how this baby is possibly going to come out. Isn’t there anything else we can do?” Midwife looks at me, smiles and says, “Well. You just watch. She will make it.”
When true labour sets in, woman pushes with contractions. Oosh! Out pops the baby’s head. Midwife grabs the neck of the baby and begins to yank it out! Meanwhile, as they say, something is doing my stomach-what is she doing pulling the baby like that, won’t she decapitate this baby? A few mighty pushes later, the strong cry of the baby pierces and simultaneously breaks the surrounding tension to my relief. On the labour bed, the eagle eyes of the new Mother, her forehead crusted with beaded sweat, shut in a sweet mixture of bliss and serenity.
I am thinking, isn’t that what Mothers do? Specialize in the impossible on a daily basis?
On gaining admission to Achimota many years ago, Daavi Julie would lay the law, “When you go, you have to go to Scripture Union. It is good for you. Also, this is your omo, your soap and the blue. Use the omo to soak your bed sheet, wash it over the weekend and then blue it to make sure it is not discolored. Here is your cabin biscuit...” I went with just enough shirts and pairs of shorts to see me through the week: not too many, not too few. Then I discovered how some ‘rich people’ had come with six white shirts, six cream shirts and so on and so forth. In due course, it would be known that some of these ‘rich’ boys did not know how to wash. As careless as I can be, they were even more hopeless. Additionally they were not given to hard work, a reflection perhaps of years of being served by others. By midterm, all their many shirts would be ‘missing’-left dirty to the vagaries of life on the drying line. One day, a ‘rich’ boy borrowed one of my shirts washed, ironed and hung on the peg. He who had many extras, needed my just enough!
Mother has since helped me develop an extremely different perspective on what it means to be rich and what it means to be poor. The rich is not necessarily he who has, but he who keeps what he has, he who cherishes what he has and he who does not belittle what he has. It was Daavi Julie who taught me this. If you are content with what God gives you and you treasure it like it is the best thing in the world, very soon, you would see people who rather than being thankful for God’s kind mercies, have time to look over their shoulder in envy. They are rich but poor.
Attorney certainly played his part but today is Mother’s Day, remember?
In due course, the Missus will give birth to the beautiful Aseye and the true extent of the impossibilities a mother dabbles in would be revealed. God knows the Son of Man snores. Curiously however, I would wake five times at night and five times, see the Missus on her feet rocking the baby to sleep and mumbling along some spontaneous nonsense rhymes or breastfeeding. I started wondering, when does she sleep at all?
I am thinking, nobody can survive like this!
Typically on those nights when the Son of Man assisted with these night duties, the whole world would know of my gallant efforts. Enroute to work the following morning, we would bump into Matron Tess Morgan. “Good morning Efo. How is the family?” “Good morning. Everyone is fine” And then the question I have been yearning for. “How is Aseye?” “O Sister Tess! Somebody should talk to that Aseye-girl o! Can you believe that she has barely arrived in this world but won’t even allow me to sleep? She kept me awake all night!” As I go yabbing away, the Missus would throw one funny look my way, refusing to burst my bubble. The mothers do this all the time without complaining. Your one night is disturbed and here you are blabbing off to the whole world! God forgive you! On a weekend, I would do my fair bit of carrying the baby. In the evening, I will run to the Mother of the baby complaining “Ei! It is not easy ooo!” Now I understand what you mean by, my feet hurts-that deep gnawing pain in the very sole of the feet. It is a pain the mother knows too well.
Mother is tired. Everyone sees she is exhausted. Father moves to prepare his own special pepper soup. Halfway through, Mother appears, offering to help. Father meanwhile wants to make the soup all by himself, but she really wants to help, her fatigue notwithstanding.
What is it about women and helping? How come they always want to help even when they are tired and we have not asked? Me, when I am tired and sleepy, it is not funny at all; eyelids swollen and heavy and shutting even if I forbid them. Mothers have a different constitution I think. God must have made them uniquely soft, beautiful and yet strong. They are the first in church; they are accused of being the greatest witches, chewing the child they nursed to adulthood. Nobody listens like a mother but the marriage is broken because she is a bad woman, we say. They walk to the farm while Baba rides majestically on a bike. On the return journey, they bear the loads of firewood. Husband gets home much earlier, sits, waits–the woman returns and he is served his water in anticipation of the sumptuous family meal cooked by mother of course. At night, she is beholden to a command performance. Of course he is not tired! How are the mothers, the aunties, the sisters able to do this? The women are stronger-physically and emotionally, I think! If not, I don’t see how they can multitask so flawlessly.
The grandmother will bring the asthmatic child to the hospital in obvious defiance of the irresponsible father. That is strength. A quiet sort of strength. She has not sued the father although his position is that he has sent no woman to bring his dying child to hospital He has no money, he adds. She knows no Beijing but she sure is a strong African woman because she will have her way ultimately, all the ravings and ranting of the man notwithstanding. She also has no money, but she will take the right decision because in her profound compassion, she determines that the little girl suffers too much.
What makes women and mothers capable of soaking so much pain and laughter and suffering and love and joy and warmth and all the time, come out winning? God must have created mothers differently!
Finally, the thing I love most about the mothers; their biased nature. Mothers are without exception so biased it is not funny. You can be an armed robber, a lazy drone or simply refuse to wash your clothes for weeks. It doesn’t matter, your mother loves you! If you doubt me, listen to the story of Hajia Kande Muntari, mother of Black Stars International Sulley Muntari as reported on myjoyonline.com. Apparently, on the Kumasi airwaves recently, some people have taken the player to the cleaners for gross insubordination to the Honorable Minister and for attempting to permit his girlfriend to access the dressing room against the rules resulting in a clash with the Police.
Hajia Kande is quick on the draw, “Sulley has not done any wrong to warrant the rampant bashing being meted out to him by soccer fans.” ‘Hajia Kande then said her son is an obedient child who was properly brought up, insisting that Sulley is very respectful and well-mannered, wondering why Ghanaians were treating him this way. She added that the criticism is being propagated by detractors who are keen on tarnishing the hard-won reputation…No Sulley, No Black Stars!” It really doesn’t get better than this. All it takes is one miffed mother on your side!
Well, you can even go and burn the sea for all she cares. Sulley Muntari is a well brought up ‘angel’, and that is all there is to it. He has a mother and she is the one talking. Case closed.
Columnist: Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi