Tuesday, 30 June 2009

I think that this blog is one of the hardest that I have ever written.
You see my mama - she's the one on the right with the bright eyes and optimistic smile - died 20 years ago today. The Kodak moment captured the joy of just being married to my father. Check out the body language. My sepia moment of realising that there was a love at the beginning, before the recriminations and accusations started.

All of the time, I agonised about this, because I kept saying to myself, how can I write a loving memory of a woman that I didn't even know. I mean, she gave birth to me, she nurtured me to the best of her abilities, but she also let me down. What do I mean by this? Well, I didn't know her. Although, paradoxically, I knew her in a sense of the cultural significances she placed around me and the continuous struggles that she daily faced, as 'other', in the 'motherland' when she had to defend herself. But I didn't KNOW her. I didn't know of her dreams or her wishes for me. I didn't know that she must've struggled with having two set of twins, living in a far away place without any kind of extended family around her to give her the support that she definitely needed. I didn't know that she loved my father, unconditionally, but he let her down. So, by him letting her down, she subsequently, let me down.

My mother did her best. I have to give her that. But how did she know that by placing me in white foster care as a young black girl, that it would, in my informative years, have an impact on my cultural psyche, that I would be searching for her for ever more. Searching for her voice, her nuances, her touch, her smell, her being. That I craved my mother's fingers to braid my hair when my foster parents couldn't even navigate through the dense hair on my head. That I craved to look at my mother's reflection and see myself in her. That I craved for her touch and tell me that she loved me. That I craved for my mother's wisdom when I gave birth to my first child. All of these things were needs that I needed but were not forthcoming. I then, in my informative years rebelled. I did not have the respect that I knew she sought from me. Although I reminded the good daughter, underlying all of this was a seething resentment. A bubbling brook of bitterness.

But now, after twenty years of my mama transitioning to the ancestors, I want to thank her. Thank her for the bitterness that had stuck at the back of my throat like unsaid words that were too stubborn to be spoken and now, I can voice and put a name to. In all of this though, I want to thank her for making me the woman that I am and I am becoming.

This is for you, Caroline Wuraola Ogunnaike. May you rest in eternal peace and know that I forgive you. You did your best, and for that I can now appreciate your memory and the legacy that you passed to me so that I can pass onto my kin.


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