Stagnant

I never saw her cry,
maybe she didn’t know how.
Always dry-eyed
wide
waiting for the next blow.

I never heard her cry,
she probably didn’t know how.
Her matriarch to be mirrored
strong
unmoved by each blow.

I’d teach her how to cry,
but I have no idea how.
Without crumbling her fortress
fragile
rebuilt with each blow.

If only she’d learn to cry,
let them rain on her now.
Her dry eyes will soften
freed
with the knock of each blow.

© LaYinka Sanni, May 2015

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A Homecoming of Uncertainty (3)

A laugh bubbled in her throat as my eyes widened, glued to the bowl she’d placed before me. We’d just returned from a stroll to the local bakery where we’d scooped fresh croissants, pain au chocolat, and baguettes, dutifully watching our waistlines by avoiding the display of sweeter pastries.

“We drink tea like this back home,” Mama said, sitting in a seat across from me. I tried to envision Madagascans and Comorians sipping on massive bowls of tea in the sweltering heat as palm trees swayed above, but the sight before me wouldn’t allow it. It wasn’t so much that she’d prepared and delivered my tea in what I considered to be a cereal bowl – I’m a Brit, and handling tea of any proportion isn’t a huge feat – it was the yellow label that clashed with the red ceramic on the side of the bowl. It was Lipton tea.

I smiled weakly. If forcing the corners of my mouth upwards and willing my eyes to sparkle could be considered a smile, that’s exactly what I did. My smile was shaky, but not as bad as my hands as they slowly approached the bowl. Her eyebrows rose a little, as she lifted her eyes from her own bowl of steaming tea.

“Is it okay?” Her voice chimed despite the flash of worry in her smile.

“Yes, it’s fine…” I managed. What more could I say? I could not divulge, during our very first breakfast together, that I absolutely abhor Lipton tea; I couldn’t tell her that I used to beg friends and family to bring me super size packs of PG Tips whenever they came over to Cairo several years ago; and I most certainly couldn’t tell her that I would much rather drink water from my washing machine than an entire bowl of the yellow label atrocity. So I gulped, flashed her my pearly whites, and downed the hot liquid as I held my breath, internally praying she didn’t take my haste for thirst, leading to another offering of tea.

‘Tomorrow, just accept the orange juice,’ I chided myself. ‘Even if it kills you.’

© LaYinka Sanni, February 2015.

A Homecoming of Uncertainty (2)

“I must look awful,” I muttered, tugging at my scarf and smoothing the sides of my perfectly crumpled dress. My eyebrows knitted as I mentally scolded myself for not wearing a crease-free dress that could endure hours of restless sitting.

“Don’t be silly,” she laughed. Her eyes still beamed without once blinking their gaze away from mine. She folded me into another embrace before my sister in law cleared her throat to indicate it was her turn to give me some loving.

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A Homecoming of Uncertainty (1)

I was scrunched on the plastic seats as she walked in with my sister in law. It hadn’t been planned that way. No one plans to meet their mother in law with their mouth slightly ajar, eyes twitched shut, and luggage buried beneath their legs. My eyes fluttered open at the recognition that I’d been discovered in such a state; it didn’t matter that I’d been in the airport for 12 hours – it was bad form.

I ran my hands over my face, as though they could wash away the sleep I so craved. She was beaming. Her face illuminated with the joy of the news that I’d travelled out to see her, unannounced. After almost a year of transatlantic calls between London and Melbourne, the woman who birthed my other half threw her arms around me and cry-laughed, “I can’t believe it.” And neither could I.

(To be continued…)

© LaYinka Sanni, February 2015.