COULD HAVE BEEN


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amazon.com/author/matildembulo

I watch her closely and try to understand. She is a nice person and I don’t understand why life hasn’t blessed her with the abundance she deserves.

Ever since she came into my life, I’ve felt a positive change in me. She is the best example any child could ever have. I saw her sacrifice for her children, now all grown up, ensuring that they had a normal childhood, and everything they needed. She helped her siblings and extended family whenever they were in need. She treated her parents like royalty, provided for them and made sure they had comfortable lives. Her other brothers and sisters never made any sacrifices for their parents. Her parents always praised her for being an exceptional daughter! Unfortunately, they died without leaving any Will, and her siblingstook all the property that their parents left behind, leaving her with nothing.

She is a dedicated wife. She cooks and cleans even though she has a full time job that keeps her busy throughout the day. I’ve always admired her courage and generosity, and I’ve always wondered why people are only nice to her when they need something from her. Sheslaves for others but they never do anything in return for her, anddon’teven show her any gratitude.

I watch her closely and with curiosity. Why has this woman so captured my attention?

I see the children she painfully sacrificed for now wasting their lives away. She did everything a good mother should do: she sent them to the right schools, ensured they had fashionable clothes so as to fit into the best clicks at school, she treated her daughters like friends and her sons like princes. She put up with her husband’s extra-marital affairs, alcoholism, and physical and emotional abuse in order to keep the family together. She always kept the house tidy and intact, and did everything a good wife is supposed to do.

Now her children, all grown, refuse to talk to her. They live in their respective houses and never visit her. Her husband no longer works, is ill and depends entirely on her. One of her daughters passed away recently, leaving her with three little children to look after. She adores her grandchildren and looks after their every need.

Her house is exactly as it looked thirty years back even though the painting has faded, the floor is not as new as it used to be and there are some minor cracks in the walls.But other than that, her house is still intact, clean and neat as ever. The beds and beddings are the same but the sheets are still very clean. She’s always smiling and happy whenever I see her, even when her husband is not happy with her services.

We spend some hours chatting,and then I hug her and bid her farewell. As usual, she accompanies me all the way to the door of my house. I can’t help but wonder how anyone could mistreat such a pure woman.

At the door of my house, I ask her to come in for tea but she declines. Her ailing husband will need his medicine soon and she also has to feed him and their grandchildren, in addition to other chores. As usual, we hug and she insists on waiting until I am indoors, in the safety of my house, before she leaves. She never ceases to baffle me.

I watch her from the safety of my house, as she rushes away. “What a nicewoman!” I think to myself. Then suddenly I am pulled back to a scene in my childhood, many years back, when I was only seven years old. Someone said something very similar about me. It was a woman from our neighbourhood and I would never forget. “What a nice girl.” She said pointing at me. “She’s beautiful, quiet, always obedient and never makes any waves like the other girls. Good girl!” she praised me!

For many years after that tiny incident, I paid the bitter price of always being the nice girl – until one day life slapped so hard in the face that I had to change. Luckily for me, I learnt, slowly but painfully, the importance of loving myself!

As she disappears out of sight and my mind returns to the comfort of my house, slowly but surely, I am engulfed with terror as the alarming truth dawns on me: I have been staring at the person I would have been today, if difficult circumstances had not forced me to change my beliefs!

amazon.com/author/matildembulo

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