Mama Africa

The mother is sitting on a wobbly chair. Her hands are crossed in her lap. Her face is tired, the wrinkles around her mouth are slightly pronounced and run down the chin as if crushed by gravity. The weight is something you can feel. The weight of a back used to arching too many times and too often: for work or to hold a child. Her dressing is coloured: a strip of circles and a strip of triangles; a strip of circles and a strip of triangles. Little black braids come out of the rainbow of cloth, which rest gently on her back. She walked to school and has been summoned to talk. She is serious, perhaps worried. Every time the door opens, she looks straight into the eyes of the person about to enter the room. She is not intimidated, mothers here do not know fear. She is proud. She wore a blue skirt and a red short-sleeved shirt to go to school. She was sorry she couldn’t wear blue shoes. She wore the black ones. They clash, but that is all she has. Her fingers rub against each other, her thumbs begin to chase each other. Her full lips moisten at the passage of her tongue. It is hot, incredibly hot here in Nairobi. It is stifling: it soaks into her clothes, into her hair. Nevertheless, she is cheerful. Serious but cheerful. And here comes her little girl. She is actually thirteen years old. Being thirteen here means being a woman. Not for her mother. For her, she is still a little girl. She arrives smiling. She is happy. Her mother doesn’t get upset: she doesn’t hug her, doesn’t say anything. The headmaster arrives. She passed her exam with the best mark. Her daughter has extraordinary skills and abilities. How much is hurtful when your joy hurts? How terrible is a happy ending that has no future? The day when it was decided that the rainbow could not come out without the rain was an ill-fated one. Curse that day. And so the coloured dressing shakes its head; a smile goes out among the wrinkles and the forehead relaxes. She is happy, but from the dimness of her eyes we can see that it is a bitter happiness. The aftertaste weighs her down: it is another burden to carry on that curved back. She gets up, says thank you, and leaves with her daughter. She greets everyone. Her integrity and pride allow her not to go unnoticed. Everyone turns to look at her, while she thinks that she should not have worn those black shoes at all. But unfortunately, they were the only ones she had. They leave the school. There is only silence. Tears well up in the eyes of the mother, who does not flinch. Her daughter is happy but calm. Like her mother. There is no need to talk: they know that this good mark means nothing for her future. They know perfectly well that there is no money to continue their studies. There is no need to add anything. Therefore, they go on, they go home under the African sun that weighs them down, until some of her daughter’s friends arrive next to her. They congratulate her: she was the best to pass the final exam. The best as always.

And the mother steps back to look at the scene. Her eyes are now dawning, while her head, bowed, sets beneath that immense hill: it is her hump, from which, for a moment, a weight has vanished.

Pubblicato da Grandi Storielle

Siamo sei ragazze, Carola, Celia, Hannah, Livia, Morena e Sara che si sono conosciute in Erasmus a Chambéry e hanno ora deciso di mettere a disposizione la loro piccola ma grande arte per tutti.

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