Tonight, I saw a lone star in the sky. Its frantic twinkle seemed like a spirited fight against oblivion. And I wished for its sake that its light would become stronger and its look thus more like that of a star. I wished- not that that was as important as the first- that a star party would be formed around it, its mates more inclined to be friendly once it looked more like them. And that’s when the tears came. Bidden. As though from a deep and full reservoir bubbling to be released. For I knew that that might never happen, even,that one day it would indeed go into oblivion, its pitiable twinkling gone. A face came to mind. My Nkem. It was just like her to give a once in a while change: a remembered spelling, a smooth reading anything different really. But with every glimmer of hope, a question always swam beneath the surface- what if, what if my hope is in vain? What if one day, she does withdraw forever into her own world?
I remember the other day while in the midst of the other parents. I started off angry and then, simply confused. They laughed and joked among one another as though all was alright with their world. Didn’t they know how it felt like to have to shield your child away from wide eyes and unfettered lips? Didn’t they feel the pain grow as their bodies grew everyday but not their minds? Didn’t they…didn’t they ever feel like their heart was going to burst open from the weight of all that pain? Didn’t they..didn’t they…. At that moment, I smiled at a joke Mummy Teni made that I hadn’t heard. I thought how in the normal world, I would have rushed aside to cry, my chest heaving up and down with the sheer weight. But then, it wasn’t the same. You didn’t feel like every joke was an indirect sword to your side. You didn’t feel like every mention of ones child was an indirect criticism of yours. We were all the same there- parents of special children, special only-at least to the world- by reason of their problematic peculiarities. I understood then why they laughed so easily. That was the only place they could without undercurrents.
My Nkem was born a beauty with the fairness of Snow White and jherri curl-like hair. My most momerable moment for years after her birth remained when she first grabbed the index finger of my right hand with her tiny dainty fingers. I was enraptured, smiling for several minutes as I looked from those cute fingers to the depths of her twinkling brown eyes. Her birth had brought light into our lives- mine and John’s. It had strengthened the cord between us- a strength that lessened with each spelling she forgot and each short falling she had.
I remember the first number she wrote with a pencil. I had laughed heartily at her teacher’s description. She had held the pencil as though she was pounding yam, he said.