She sits on the slim mattress on the floor and looks at her sleeping children, the youngest being four years old. They are all so young but they are asleep with troubled faces. She does not think that is how her children should have to live forever but she is also trying her best to make ends meet. She turns and lies down but she cannot seem to get a wink of sleep.
Being a single parent has not always been easy. Finding a stable job is not any easier either. Moving from employer to employer is very harrowing but she has to make do with. She has met all kinds of employers. From the ones who hurl insults, to ones who have an air of sadness around their huge mansions, to the ones full of joy and laughter in their homes, to ones with disrespectful children, to ones with a small house that feels like a mansion inside, to the ones who would rather give animals food than let you have a bite. But, she was thankful for all that because it helped from paying rent to fees even to food.
There were times getting a dime was hard and she and the older siblings had to sacrifice to have a meal a day so the small child would have a cup of porridge in the morning. She would look at her hungry children and she would feel like a failure. Then she would swear to try harder so they would get a more comfortable life.
She turned again, careful not to wake the 4-year-old and remembered how hard it had been two years ago when her husband had left. He sold “mali mali” and most of the time he’d drink himself silly with the money he got from taking rounds selling the goods. He said it was his salary and he could do with it whatever he wanted and she honestly had no strength to fight him. One day he left home and never came back. Not that he was dead but has moved to a town far away and was now a cobbler. Not once did it cross her mind to get on a bus to go find him because her children were her first priority and the bus fare was too much anyway.
The worst part was how she was the topic of discussion in her estate for some time because it is always the woman’s problem when her husband left her. There had to be something she wasn’t doing right. So much was said and she stomached it all and gladly, her children understood the situation and did not ask questions. They did have them in their eyes but they chose to make it easier on their mother. Such loving children. They survived that phase and life went on.
Her eldest child was a girl and she was their hope. She is a bright one, that Hope. Thinking about her brought warmth to her heart. She tried her best to be there for her and advise her the best she knew how to. She knew that at church they were told to abstain till marriage but she also understood that being 17 and almost in college, she could make choices on her own. She educated her on contraceptives and she always told her how much she would love to see her walking down the aisle one day in a white gown. That would be a dream come true for her as a mother.
She tries her best to save some money so that her girl could use it for pocket money but it is not easy to save what you barely have. She walks to Gikomba to buy some clothes for her children so they don’t walk around without clothes knowing how sensitive teenagers could be. Only on rare occasions does she buy herself anything. When she is lucky, the gets employers who give her their old dresses and skirts and even some of their children’s old clothes. This saves them some money.
Some times when she was sick it was difficult. Her children would go to sleep hungry and wake up to go to school early still on empty stomachs. On such days she would feel so awful and would even at times cry herself dry late in the night when the children were asleep then she would give them a smile in the morning and tell them that it would be alright. She does not know how much they believed her but they knew how to be patient. And in such troubling times as during this COVID-19, when people are staying in and trying to avoid being sick isn’t any easier. Employers are hard to find because they are locked up in their homes in order to be safe. Nevertheless, she is still resilient and does not tire looking for a job so they won’t sleep hungry.
She makes sure that the little radio always has batteries so the kids know what is going on even though they cannot afford a TV.
Once in a month, she works an extra job so she can cook them a nice meal. They then would all sit around the little table and talk and laugh about school and their experiences, even funny childhood memories. She cherished such moments because she got to spend quality time with the younglings. Not once has she ever given up on hope for a better future for her children. That’s why shecgave them education and instilled morals in them.
You see, just like the rest of the people who don’t have it rough, they do have hopes, dreams and aspirations. They dream of a time when life will be a tad easier on them, so do not work so hard to disrespect and oppress that house help. Like any other human, they have feelings, they get hurt, they are happy when they see their children and families doing great, they appreciate it when you do good things to them. It is better to be kind than to be right.