#81 Naked Grief

by Hannah Onoguwe

I saw my mother’s breasts.

The aureoles were a dark contrast against her fair skin, nipples puckered in the breeze. They were large with green veins faintly visible. The tips almost kissed her navel, robbed of suppleness by five children, age, and hardship.

The night before we had sat and swatted mosquitoes from our bare legs, lost in tormented thoughts. There was the promise of coming rain in the air as the lusty voices of bullfrogs rent the air. Frying onions wafted to my nose from next door. Normalcy in the midst of insanity.

Belatedly I realized she was speaking.

“Ma?”

“We’re going to Government House tomorrow.”

“A protest?”

“We want answers. How long can this continue?” The meager light from the bulb on the porch highlighted her drawn face.

The next morning, we donned black and carried green branches. Joining hundreds of other women, we sang and marched, the friendly sun turning hostile. Occupants of cars which drove past stared.

Eventually, the governor addressed us. The perpetrators will pay. Enemies of peace will be found out. Let’s pray for God’s mercy. The usual.

Fighting tears, I looked away from the older women with naked chests who wailed for their children and relatives. Heaped curses in their native tongue.

Samshak had gone to deliver some paintings when the religious riot broke out. I thought of his canvases, colours he mixed, brushes, rags, the turpentine fumes that made my eyes water.

They never found his body.

And the riots started again.

4 comments:

Jason Reed said...

I liked it, but I have only one suggestion. I think it would have had more punch if you started from: “We want answers. How long can this continue?” Any additional 'must have' details about the mother can be integrated a bit later.

Hannah Onoguwe said...

Thank you for reading, Jason! I appreciate your suggestion.

Daren Despot said...

it really captures the sense of foreboding and despair when one has to depend on those in power to fix a daunting problem.

HO said...

Glad you liked it, Daren. Thank you!