Ogre is the nickname that neighbourhood children had given me. Whether it described my overweight body, the sweaty stench of days of not bathing or my scornful face, I had cared less to know. That was me as I single handedly struggled to raise my three boys in an apathetic society.
Trust me, the children were the least of my problems. After I had divorced my husband for being verbally and physically abusive we were kicked out of the house with absolutely nothing, no food, shelter or clothes other than the ones we were wearing.
The kids were quite young so I don’t think they understood what was happening but my oldest son, Tirivashe could tell that something was wrong. with tears in his eyes, he held my hand and looked me in the eyes and asked,’” Mommy, is everything alright?’ and at that moment I almost burst into tears, but instead I put on a smile on my face and replied,’ Yes my son, it’s all good.’ As we walked I felt as if someone had stabbed me in the heart and sadly up to this date, more than a decade later, I still have not recuperated.
We spent about a year or two living in a squatter, with barely enough food to live on because I was unemployed and none of the children were old enough to work or to be left alone. We would spend days without water to drink or even to bath hence the children were really prone to diseases especially Tanganai, my youngest son. I remember vividly how the health worker looked at me with contempt explaining how he had been affected by unhygienic living conditions and succumbed to leprosy. For two weeks I watched in horror as the poor boy battled with the dreadful disease at the hands of the unsympathetic nurses until he took his last breath.
Tanganai’s death really affected Tirivashe. He would wake up all gloomy and it really broke my heart me to see my son in that state and it moved me to want to change our life and so I then decided to get a job. This meant that I would have to wake up early and take the risk of leaving the two boys alone. It wasn’t a high paying job but I tried to make use of the little money I would be getting.
After a month of tirelessly working I finally received my pay check. I was overwhelmed with joy and I rushed home to show my children. Tariro was really happy at hearing this but Tirivashe didn’t seem as happy. Before I could ask him why, he mumbled out the words,’ Mom… I want to go to school’. That lessened my joy but what really finished it was when he told me the amount of money I had to pay. “Stupid and ungrateful child! Can you not see that I am trying to provide for your food”, I screeched, “Don’t be selfish, can you not see your brother starving! Do you want him to die too?”
I could tell that those words really hurt him, and I really hated to see him like that. Tiri was only 13 at that time and I knew he was destined for greatness so I then decided to pay it. On the other hand this meant that Tariro didn’t have someone to look after him but I took the risk.
After a term, Tiri’s results came in and he didn’t do quite well. We were all devastated, but there was something else….Tirivashe had won the greatest essay writer award, he had written an essay describing the beauty in me as his mother. Tears rolled down my eyes as I read in disbelieve how he had described the pain and tears behind my shinning eyes. He poetically described the strength and courage behind my wrinkled face. “Though my smile may look like I am fine, it is deceiving to the eyes of most, for they have no clue that the best smile hides the deepest secret. My name is Amai Tee and I am the world’s greatest mom” read the last part of his essay.