A mother runs a mile, barefoot, looking for her child. She collects thorns. The soles of her feet bleed. She leaves bloody footprints on the dusty roads of kiambu. She calls out for little Tim. Silence.

She pants. Her wound from the c-section hasn’t completely healed. Her breastfeeding girl Nyambura is home alone. She can tell Nyambura is crying.

“Tim!” she shouts. Her breath catches. Her throat lumps “No no no no no” she cries.

She sucks in a painful breath and the running tears.

She takes off again, calling for her son. Her leso loosens, falling from her hips. Her brown skirt will have to do. She keeps running.

It is getting dark.
She has to go back to her daughter. She can’t leave her son. It’s an impossible decision. She huffs, frustrated. Her husband should be here. What’s the point of fighting for his country if his family isn’t going to be safe at home. What security is he keeping in Somalia when there isn’t any here. The tears have a mind of their own. They fall like a river. Her vision is hazy.

She turns around. She will go get nyambura and come back out to look for her son. She has to find him.

She runs home, he breasts leaking of the milk she should be feeding her youngest. It’s all too much.

She gets home.

Tim is seated on the couch

He holds his sister.

He is laughing

Nyambura coos at him enjoying the faces he makes

The mother breaks

She wants to yell

She thinks of pulling out her slipper and caning Tim with it.

Instead she smiles.

She clears her throat

And asks Tim what he’ll have for supper

“It’s going to be okay.” She smiles. It’s going to be fine. Maybe even her husband is on his way home.

*a leso is a printed sheet of cloth that Kenyan women tie around their waist when working around the house and farm to keep their clothes clean
Photo by Dazzle Jam from Pexels

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