She looked stricken as she heard the tale and tears flowed unhindered down her cheeks.
‘No, it could not be. This could not be true,’ she muttered silently to herself.
‘It is true, my child.’ The voice of the storyteller reached her ears and she looked even more stricken.
She walked out of the house and half-ran to a particular destination. She had not forgotten the way there though it was several years since she had stepped there. She pushed open the door, her heart pounding heavily in her chest. She looked at the empty bed and her heartbeats increased. Then her heart stopped beating when she heard the sound of the door opening. She looked back and saw her.
The woman who walked into the room was wrinkled but her bones sat firmly on her body and her confident gait was not lost. They looked at each other for a while. The lady who walked into the room took a step forward and soon, they were in each other’s arms.
The reunion was tearful as the tears fell fast.
The healing was complete.
A week after, the two ladies sat side by side in the living room. It was time for a heart to heart talk.
‘What made you come to see me?’ The older woman asked.
‘I went for my best friend, Becky’s father’s burial and her mother told me everything.’
‘I am happy she was able to reach you where I failed to.’
‘All that is in the past, Mama.’ The name sounded foreign on her lips.
‘Thank God for that, Abigail, my lovely daughter.’ She tried not to remember the many times she wanted to tell the lady the true story but was silenced.
They hugged again and together saw the years that had gone before them.
Abigail was an only child. She lived with her mother, her father having died while she was still a teenager. Her mother told her he died in an accident. She heard from Becky’s mother what type of accident it was. Their house had caught fire and her mother burnt her hands trying to save her from the fire but her father perished in the flames. Abigail grew to hate her mother. She was ashamed of her mother’s hands and stopped her mum from touching her or preparing her meals with the filthy hands as she called them.
As soon as she could stand on her feet, Abigail moved away from home and left her mother, heartbroken in the village. Then she learnt the truth that her mother burnt her hands trying to save her.
What a sacrifice of motherhood!
Abigail was crushed and guilt-stricken and vowed to make amends. That was why her mother was seated with her in her living room. She smiled at her mother as they returned from their journey to yesterday.
A month after, Abigail came into the house excitedly.
‘Guess what I brought, mama!’ Abigail said excitedly as she fingered the gift wrapped in brown paper.
‘I cannot guess!’ her mother said, as she burned with curiosity.
‘I got this for you!’ Abigail placed the gift on her mother’s laps.
Her mother opened it carefully as if it contained a fragile child. She gasped as she saw the contents. It was an oil painting of a pair of hands, placed in a praying position. Underneath it were the words, Mama’s Hands- In celebration of a A Mother’s Sacrifice.
Abigail’s mother, Madam Dorothy looked at her daughter, the force of her emotions racing down her eyes. She was so overwhelmed by the gift.
‘Do you like it, Mum? I painted it myself,’ Abigail said excitedly.
‘I love it dear. I love it so much, she said, staring in awe at the portrait.
Abigail was happy that she had pleased her mother after all the years of neglect. She arranged that a replica of the portrait be placed in the city’s art gallery to celebrate the bravery of a mother who sacrificed her flesh that she might live.
The portrait became a favourite of many art lovers and was sold for lots of money. Abigail became a celebrated artist because of that work. And each time she went for art exhibitions and interviews, she told the story of her mother’s sacrifice that inspired the painting.
Mama’s hands that kept her alive.