Mama didn’t wake me up like she used to. Those Sunday mornings when she would pounce open my moldy bedroom door and without conscience, she would bathe me with a full cup of rain water “tashi, ka tashi dan dolo, je ka saár min ruwa nýi wanka mu je churchi”. I would only growl my frustration and wonder why she didn’t just fetch her bathe water as she had gone all the way already.
Preparations for church on Sundays were as important as on week days when we had to be punctual to school by all means. In fact, Sundays were more important for mama. she would often make us wake up in what seemed like the middle of the night so we could be the first ones in church. She had always believed the first ones in church would be blessed more than the others and we had to concur even though it sounded more like greed to me.
Mama took her faith very seriously and she was so devoted to serving God that she was nicknamed Mama Mary, also because she would attend all the masses and would also be the last one to leave church in the evenings. when we were younger, she had always made sure we stayed back with her all day and would always stress the importance of spending the whole day in the presence of God and that any less is not enough and we must give Him as much of our time as we could.
She usually left her shop at Jimeta Modern market on weekdays to take us home after school hours and would always stop by Saint Theresa’s Cathedral so we can spend at least an hour in the chapel before we got home.
My sisters and I had always envisioned mama as a living saint, like the ones we learned about in Sunday school. Mama was a super hero to the three of us, having brought us up all by herself in the light of hard work as pupils, commitment and devotions to the things of God even though her fears were that we grow up doing these things she teaches us, she had always held on literally to that verse that says “train up a child in the way he should go….” As it has been her Nokia 3310 welcome note for as long as I could.
Last Lent, mama developed an ulcer because of how she would starve herself all day in the name of fasting and abstinence. She would hide her pains until she could bear them no more, we would all join in the cry as we stood up all night beside her bed. “Pray for me” were the only words that would make sense since her pains can only allow for as much. Other nights, our neighbor who is a police man would rush in to help when he was not on night duty and in the morning mama felt better and would leave the hospital again to continue her fast this time she would take only six hours as we often force her into breaking it.
Mama believed her little sacrifices and devotion to doing God’s will were the only reason we had made it this far. That we were still alive and we were happy and comfortable with all God had given us.
Yesterday, Mama came back from her shop a little early than usual, she had that pale look in her eyes, I could recall noticing how slow she was, preparing my sisters for school that morning. She didn’t answer our greetings or asked if we had gone to the chapel like she used to, she just walked unsteadily passed my kid sister who was playing on the mat and before she could open her bedroom door, she passed out.