Recently, I met a neighbour in the village where my mother lived. This neighbour told me how one day, a long time after my father had left my mother and taken us with him, she saw her standing outside her home quietly in the dark. When this woman’s mother asked my mum what she was doing, my mum told her that she was waiting for her children to come home.
Then, a long while thereafter, when my mother had become destitute and mentally ill, my dad visited that same village, as a guest of honour at a harambee. My mum went to the harambee and started shouting at my father asking him to return her children. She said she would not leave that place until he gives back her children. Then when she started walking towards him, she was grabbed by some guards who swiftly bundled her into a nearby van and took her to wherever. The harambee then continued without further disruption.
This underscored for me the truth that being my father’s daughter meant that I too was capable of treating someone in the same way as he had treated my mother, if not worse. I now also realise that the worst thing about being the daughter of a couple whose break-up is so marred by hatred and devastation is that my bloodline is plagued by an astute inability to know what to do with love. I find myself torn between trying to justify my father’s actions and trying to quell my mother’s suffering. Ultimately, I must divorce myself from taking sides and focus on me. Both my parents are dead. However, I can find a way of reconciling my emotions by doing what I believe both of my parents ought to have done.
When my marriage broke up, I did for myself what I believed my mother ought to have done for herself. I broke away from my temporary relationship with my ex-husband and immersed myself deep into my eternal relationship with my creator. As far as my father is concerned, I believe the right thing for him to have done was to restore honour and respect to my mother. This is what I am working on at Marys Manger.
At one time, my mum’s home was a place, which she settled into with the expectation of living a good life. This, however, was never to be. It is my job now to transform her home into such a beautiful place that many will visit. In the fullness of time, I know that I will forget the past and be free. The realisation that it is now about 40 years since my parents separated and I am still struggling to overcome the effects of their separation on me is a profound confirmation that indeed, pain never just goes away. Compensation must be paid and amends must be made if we are to overcome.
The writer is a lawyer and a blogger