The wind blew on her dress
Danced with her hair strands
then whistled by the trees near her.
A warm golden glow rested on her face
as she clung on her shoulders
staring at the sunset
with elbows crisscrossing her chest.
All things come to an end anyways
so no regrets.
She gave a deep hopeful sigh,
and waited for heaven to send a sign.
Subira had tried and tried again. She could not give up easily. She cleaned, washed, hung, dried, wiped, whipped, straightened and lined up all she could over the years, but nothing livened up. She prayed and waited but no change came her way. She dressed up, stripped down, applied on, smeared up and put on all manner of pigments and ornaments yet still, no good fruit. Instead she got reminders, time and again – less verbally, more implied – that their journey was coming to an end.
Never mind that people placed the onus of their success on her. It did not matter, it seems, whether he quite often indulged in too many a drink. It did not even matter that he entertained the company of illicit women. Never mind that she had been there for him, and loved him when he had not formed a name for himself, or that they had traveled so far only for him to toss his vows aside. No-no, they said. Never ever mind.
For men are blind and without control of themselves, while women are equipped with stamina, sensual weaponry and knowledge. Women are endowed with more ability to pray, more scab on their knees to grovel. And so if there is something wrong, guess who is falling short.
She bares the extra muscle, they say, that remains hidden from the naked eye. Is it not the woman who pushes forth newborn? Is it not the woman who nurses an infant, another tied to her back, while molding a clan sized lump of cornmeal for lunch? Don’t women give birth by the roadsides, by themselves, then solder on and live to tell? Do they not tirelessly till arid lands and walk daily to deathly manholes to quench the thirst of dusty cups?
Is she not a woman?
Yes, she is woman – feminine too. She bares bulky breasts that bounce with aggressive gait when she heads to the shamba, armed with a panga, to prune and tear down migomba. Swift and precise, with eyes on the price, she strikes at a brunch. With calculated poise, as by mystic mind control, she moves with experience on what it would take to fill her family’s clay pot.
She is woman, so her silhouette tapers down at her waist, her bum putting men’s aversions to test. Her legs – long and agile – coil, move and wrap around masculine tendons in the dark; conscious and alert; always consenting, non-questioning and never lost on the course. There is too high a cost. It is up to her that an heir is born.
She is woman, isn’t she? So what is beyond her? Why would her man look to another? Why would he feed from her guard, then from Lawama’s? Why would he now not touch her? When did a bull resent pasture?
Because she is woman, the buck stops with her. She holds the key that unlocks the door. She is stronger than ‘Iron Man’ of any comic character, they say. Like Queen Esther, the will of the king should bend by her hand – thus, the measure of her worth if palatial walls tumble down.
Doesn’t she wear long hair? Is it not dark, full and without compare? Is it not held in the best of the trending styles? Isn’t her laced long neck of the right size? And isn’t her skin soaked in milk? Is it not washed and perfumed when she goes to sleep? Is there no gap in her front teeth? Weren’t her limbs adorned with colorful beads? Had they not jingled, making men fight to pay her dowry? And had he not strived to incline her heart to his?
That is the past, they say, responsibilities have changed.
But how can she turn a blind eye to the fact that he has become a child? He is lost but should not be guided. He is lame, yet should not be carried. He is heading for a pitfall, but cannot be told ‘Look out!’ He is tooled but lacks know-how. She, on the other hand, remains gifted and wise, but is not to be renowned.
Play it down, they say, play it down.
Lest pillars barge and the lion’s roar be stifled. Lest the mouse outwit the elephant and mountain peaks flatten. Oh, what a day he is told that the tail has stretched further than the brain. How the rivers would burst and tree trunks plummet.
What a day! The moon would turn blue and the stars desert the nights. The wind would still and the clouds depart. The rains would cease and the grass fire-struck. The sky be reddened and the sun descended. Of what good is that end? It is a course they won’t defend. So it cannot be. He cannot be told. She can never be heard, only showed.
But carry her back to the day she did let him know, for no herb or chant tethered him from whores. In the end, the restraining effect of her name could no longer hold.
And so the clay pot broke. The roof plunged. The rivers burst and trunks dropped. But no, there was no bleeding in the sky or a desertion by the stars. Instead, silver clouds formed before heavy rainfall.
And oh, what a fall it was – fresh and purging, drenching and flooding – whisking her away to the land ashore, to a future beyond the ropes that held her back from hope. Away from those that constrained her potential, and from the satisfaction of abusers, who, intimidated by the wealth she exuded, refuse to acknowledge that, by her affirmation, utopia is proven.
On and on she let the current flow, letting it steer her through a natural course. Unshaken and unperturbed, she looked forth and glided on, holding no remorse. Raging storms too must one day halt.
A chirping came a-knocking
into Subira’s auditory
then a multitude
harmonious and unrelenting
for her attention prodding
urgency pitching their song.
Sleep was not yet fading
in her make-shift bedding
of twigs and leaves
so she opens heavy eyelids.
Sharp glimmers of light
eventually allowed her to sight
the feathered small creatures
perching on multiple leafy brunches.
She gleamed then smiled
They were absolutely right
A brand new day had dawned at last.