Fiction · Musings · Short Stories

Still Promises


I stood before the mirror, again, this time in the ungodly hours of the night, deep inside hoping that I would see something different. I felt the urge to laugh at myself. The urge to burst into laughter at my thought. What did I expect to see in the mirror if not my own reflection? My own image staring at me. Revealing the person I had become.

Thoughts crossed my mind in successive ripples and I wanted to give up. To throw in the towel and abandon my rather seem to be ridiculous thoughts. That was what I had become good at after all. I had practiced and perfected that art of life-giving up. Maybe I expected to see a miracle. I heard a song lyric play in my head…
The man in the mirror is a miracle…
Or better still, I wanted to see the me I used to be before I was corrupted by the World and its inhabitants. And their ways. At least that was what Mama repeated to me till it got to me. She, Mama claimed that it was the ‘weird’ books that I spent so much time reading, devil-ish music and friends at school that was ‘poisoning’ my used to be ‘clean head’. If only she knew the books and all was a buffer-a hiding place.
I felt I always knew what she was thinking whenever I stole a peek at her and found her looking at me. I felt my conscience sting my heart for not being able to explain to Mama what was going on. And I felt miserable because somehow I had developed a belief that she would not comprehend my situation no matter how I would try to pour my heart out to her. Not that I had not given it a try, though as inconsequential as it was. But whenever I did, I found myself having to explain myself a lot it become hectic. Was that how the life of a teenager raised by a single parent, and a mother for that had to be? I wanted to promise that under no circumstance would I leave my kids to go through the ordeal that was now a part of my life.
No this was not life. It ceased to be the moment I stopped living and started enduring. It stopped to be the day I chose to stop feeling…the day my heart became so cold and dark. Even to the plight of humanity that was so glaringly rampant…the day I denied and still deny owning up and taking responsibility for the seed I had buried, sowed. Like I was a farmer. Farmers not only sow responsibly their seeds but also take pride in their work, they walk tall, heads high. I had no right to equate myself to a farmer. They know better.
I made a resolve. This time I looked at myself in the mirror and promised that it would not be just that, a resolve. I looked into my eyes and noticed how the sockets had deepened, how pepper-red my eyes had become, my temples so pronounced. The creases on my forehead had become furrow-like, prompting me to touch them and feel how hollow my entire being had become. This was not me. I denied owning the image staring back at me. I denied being the owner because it made me feel like a cold-hearted slave-master. I wanted to throw it away because it was not the image I had carried in my head for the longest time. I felt scared and wanted to jerk out of my skin.
I mumbled a word and noticed that I was saying I promise aloud. I promised that I would tell Mama the truth. That I would keep not a word from her. I promised that nothing would stand in my way to feeling, once again in a long time, how I used to as a ten-year old; when I used to share with Mama all that was in my heart-the good, the not so good and the bad. And to let myself be received by her stretched arms and to feel her motherly embrace, assuring me that it was all going to be fine, if not fine already. I promised that I would burst my heart open for Mama to have a look at the man I had become. To show her how a lot had changed from the ten year old I once was, the ten year old she once knew too well. To show her how my steps had changed, how I had grown and what the transitions had left in me.
Most importantly I wanted to show Mama the image of a girl still in my heart despite its darkness and the freezing cold. To show her that life was still present in me, even if meagre. That she, the girl, was going through hell because of me…me and my man-hood that had taken precedent over my head. That I was not man enough to stand by her side. To whisper into her ear that I was right there with her, just like I had always said I would. That my hands had become so lazy and numb so that I ceased to be the master strummer of her heart-strings, and too heavy to lift to be the drummer of her heartbeat. That I had become too proud to hold her hand and lead the way, what real men did. I promised to tell Mama that apparently, she, the girl, was not alone. That she had company, a companion, a partner in a mess. And to add that she, Mama, should not sigh with relief yet, for the companion, the partner with the girl is in her belly. That the companion, the partner, is the little me…a little better me.
I promised to tell Mama that I had lost grip along the way and went under. That the wind was playing tricks on my frail self, shoving me like a detached leaf. I promised to assure Mama that it was not her fault. To tell her not to drop a tear, not to feel guilty for what I had become. That it was my own path I had taken, and not hers that she had so frequently reminded me to take. To tell her that she did her part and now it was my turn to do mine.


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