Juggling through life is quite an extreme sport. Life throws us hurdles when we least expect it, and how we handle them leaves us with a title that most of us carry to our graves.
As a teenager, my mother referred to me as the “careless dishwasher” and whenever she would let me do the dishes, she was sure to lose a plate or two. True to her words, I have broken at least a water glass when helping out in the kitchen. If you love your utensils, please don’t ask me to help you wash them, you know the consequence.
I do not take pride in being careless, neither do I condone it but rather, try being more cautious when going about my daily chores. One such title I have embraced, however, is ‘the widow’s daughter’.
I lost my father to cancer six years ago. His death is still a bitter pill to swallow since there has been no day I haven’t wished he was alive. This life-changing situation came along with titles I never would have thought to be mine and every day, I have to remind myself that although I am not lacking for food and school fees, I’m still a widow’s daughter.
Defining myself by these words is completely out of the question. I doubt if anyone would appreciate an introduction like, “give a round of applause to the world’s most dreaded terrorist” but everyone would love to be identified as, “welcome to the podium a reformed rapist and children rights activist”.
We live in a very social world, all thanks to social media and we identify ourselves as, renowned author, political analyst, singer, model, name it all. Very few people refer to themselves as a cancer warrior, widower, step-mother, or even proud male feminist. Men in this case would prefer to be referred to as ‘Gender experts’. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has echoed one too many times that Feminism is an all-inclusive party.
In platforms where we should be social and open about who we truly are and what we stand for in the world, we prefer to show off our careers and status quos, new cars, shoes, expensive bags. I am not saying it is wrong, but I am suggesting that we use social media to share our cultures, passions, what aspects of our culture need to be reviewed and certain situations changed. Allow me to refer you to Chimamanda once more, “culture doesn’t make people, people make culture”.
It is for these reasons that I choose to embrace my title ‘the widow’s daughter’. Many communities around the world have different traditions performed by widows to prove their innocence. It was and still is a norm to blame women for the death of their husbands when medical reports clearly show that the deceased has been ailing. My mother is no exemption and the repercussions are heart-rending.
My mother has single-handedly borne the burden of raising us for the past six years, with little or no support from both our paternal and maternal relatives. My siblings and I have not only seen but felt our mother’s pain. We have been around people who have been very mean and unkind to her, we’ve heard her sob silently in the wee hours of the morning, praying and questioning God. We have felt the emptiness in her smiles, tasted how salty the sweat of struggles can get but every morning she feeds us with the hope for a better tomorrow even on her darkest days.
Single widowed mothers’ are unrelenting in the quest for their children’s future. Every day they try. In a world where they are viewed as murderers, potential husband snatchers, and a burden since they always seek the help of how to fend for their children, they wake up to try for their children. Very few people acknowledge the fact that they are the sole breadwinners of the family and a little respect in how they treat them will go a long way.
Embracing the fact that my mother is widowed has been an eye-opener for me. I have taken it upon myself to tell my mother’s story, not for my sake but for hers. I sincerely hope that many other people will come out and tell their stories because when we come together, we will create a much greater impact on the lives of widows.
You might not be a widow’s daughter, but you might be a rape victim or a cancer survivor or might have been an apart of someone’s journey to mental wellness. Whatever the case, embrace whatever life has thought you, acknowledge it and the titles the situation earned you then the go forth and tell the story.
Speaking with one voice is empowering. Telling your story will impact and motivate other people to speak up and with one voice, we can put an end to period shame, rape culture, and together we can change the future of our generation.
Power is not tied to holding political offices, ‘power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person’. –Dangers of a single story, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.