Most people blush and feel butterflies in the lit of their stomachs when you ask thm to tell you about the love of their life. I form tears in my eyes, which I let freely meander down my supple cheeks as I smile in gratitude, when I remember the love of my life.
It must have been love at first sight, when she first laid her eyes on me. It could only be. She didn't need to tell me that she loves me, neither did I. We just knew. With no words and no actions, it's as though over time and space we had found a telepathic way of communicating with each other through dreams and the sound of our beating hearts. I was just her baby. And to this day, she remains my heroine and inspiration. She was not just my mother, no, that would be an insult to her memory - she was my heartbeat, the air I breathe and when she died in my arms, I felt like I too died a different kind of death and my heart had been ripped into a trillion pieces.
I smile today, however, because she left me a legacy I could never have inherited from anyone else. She had been raised in a polygamous household at a time when fathers did not feel the need to educate their daughters because they were only good for marriage and increasing the size of the family kraal. Yet, to her very last breath, she made sure that she and my father gave me the best available education in order to empower myself. "I do not want you to be like me. Don't get me wrong, I am happy but I stopped dreaming. Don't stop dreaming. Study hard, so you can one day fulfil those dreams." I write this with tears in my eyes because I am the first woman from both my father and mother's clans, to successfully complete high school and be on the verge of completing a post-graduate degree. I haven't stopped dreaming, I won't stop working towards my dreams. I owe it to her and to myself, my unborn children.
"You will rest when you die.", she always used to say when I refused to rise up early in the morning as a child. She would have woken up at the crack of dawn, to work on her garden, in which she grew almost every vegetable you can think of and was already getting ready to go and buy her wares in order to sell them by the local primary schooschool at home time or sell her vegetables in town to the small fresh produce store. The most hardworking and enterprising person I knew, who was never idle till the last days of her life when cancer had taken its toll.
She had been raised in a patriarchal rural society and had most of her life dictated to her through the norms and values most African societies hold in respect of women but in her last days she taught me the most valuable lesson of all - As a woman you must find your voice, make your rules and write your own story. When cancer came back the second time around, she had chosen not to seek treatment unlike before. Not because she decided to be a coward or she decided to give up, like most people thought, no. For the first time she chose to live her life the way she wanted to, chose how she would fight it and if the end came (which it did) she chose how it would happen - in the comfort of her home, surrounded by the people she loves and that adored her, in the arms of her only daughter. If that is not inspiration, then I don't know what is.