Mama did well by me when she rushed me to the church that rainy night. She believed it was the right thing to do. She believed God was in that building and that man was His servant. She believed if she dedicated me, I would not be a lost course like herself. I believed her.
She had me in spite of herself. She loved me unlike any street-side mother would. She gave me the best of her years. Her strength was mine.
Don’t get me wrong. Mama was a drunk and a user. Used too. She was every man’s last option after a rough night. She wasn’t perfect. But Mama was home for me and three others; her bastard sons. She taught us to fend to eat. She tried her might to keep us off the street but we had known nowhere else aside the Perish that clouded the Parish.
‘Life is hard’, she’d say, ‘but life is fun when you cash in’. So she made lots of money and blew them up in smoke or drowned them in booze. Those were her fun. Sometimes she’d find God anew. Those times, she’ll be joyful, at peace and different. Those times, she gave offerings and sent us to school.
Mama knew God, and God knew her.
For her, that was enough.
She loved to see the light of day, better to make meaning of the passing moments, best to live each emotion and build character.
Character! She told me it was my innate strength. But the streets fostered it. ‘Take it!’ ‘You have to take it by force!‘ Mhmm. These streets on which many young men have shed blood to hate. Two years ago we lost Tony. He knew what he was about. It was his job, and that fed us well. But when the other two joined the gang and got killed after, I knew these streets took from us more than it ever did give us…
These streets of dust
These streets of doom
These streets without love nor shelter.
Mama did right by me when she gave me freely on that pulpit. She buried a seed she would reap. A leap of faith. If Only she knew what God knew.
Mama died too, of HIV/AIDS, she was only ten years older than her mother. She fought harder.