I see her today. My mother. She’s behind one of the hibiscus trees, those tall ones with their bold blue colors; the makeshift fence that separates my maternal grandfather’s hut from the Shi river.

For a long time, she refuses to come out. I think she’s shy or scared… or maybe both. She’s as I remember her — gangly, with expressive eyes and a glowing aura. I hug her tightly because I’ve missed her. It’s been ten odd years since we’ve seen each other. Shortly after, we sit on the cool sand. My attention settles on the vamp of her red shoes shimmering from the full moon reflecting on them. Soon enough my feet will fit just as perfectly as hers does but only in my mind can this manifest. No one can know me or the things I like.

We, well, I eat the sizzling hot, spicy puff-puff she brought and drink mango-juice from her flask. As I fill up my tummy, I satiate her with details of my life from undergoing the rites of passage to becoming a man, graduating secondary school, having my first love, kiss, and heartbreak. I notice she isn’t her jovial self because half the time she’s quiet. I don’t mind it. This silence is consoling. It’s nothing like the ones at home swaddled in brittle tension once the dust settles after an altercation with Mister Baby — father’s angry voice comes rattling the bones inside of me causing me to cringe. I honestly wish he doesn’t exist and I feel no guilt.

I blink my eyes and study her in one of those moments it seems her mind has wandered and I see a tear slide down the side of her face. I try to speak but she swats the tear, quickly disregards her feelings, and gifts me with a tender smile. When she speaks, her voice feels like shea butter on my dry skin — soothing — until it becomes rough like sandpaper. These lines, This will be our last meeting. Our time is up, snarl up my very soul. The word last feels like a vampire’s fang, nipping deep into my heart and draining out all of its blood. I’m confused. I want to ask her what she means but she quickly scrambles to her feet, gathering her little belongings into her tote bag. Right before she kisses me goodbye, she says, Shula, her cold palms cupping my sad face. My dear boy, her eyes boring intently into mine, tomorrow your sun will rise. And mine will at last, set.

Her lips still cold against my forehead, I watch her hurry away, the evening wind tousling her braids and dress in one direction. When she’s at a distance that I can no longer tell the shape of her, the scent of her final words wafts through the air, coming to rest on me, bringing everything to a standstill.

When you seek me, look to where the blue hibiscus dances. There, you’ll find me.












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