From mother to daughter
“What Yemaya wants, daughter, Yemaya gets.”
I was born on a kitchen floor at the beginning of the cyclone season. My mother, fearful of her fresh wash being ruined, had run outside to pull the clothes off the line. The moment she stepped indoors, her water broke. Mixed with that water, was blood.
I arrived on a pile of rain-dampened clothes, two months early and at the same moment, in the same place when my mother left this world. I like to think we met then as spirits going through one door to the next. I have no memory of her.
It was the year our country was changing. The Portuguese had just been defeated and had retreated, leaving burning piles of wreckage in their wake. It was a time of hope and great sadness. My grandfather told me these things. He was the keeper of our history.
My father, grandfather and I, moved from Beira to a small coastal village where my grandfather had two brothers. The fish were abundant and we ate very well. It was the year the civil war broke out, dividing our country yet again, breathing more death and explosive destruction.
There are two sounds I remember from my childhood, the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean and the decisive crack of machine guns and exploding mines. For seven years we lived by the ocean, my father, my grandfather and I, until danger crept too close, the death and screams taking over the air we depended on.
We left one night by foot. Our lives carried in a bag on my father’s back. We were among the first group from the village to leave, to head south, away we thought from the fighting. Ghost people, we roamed from shadow to shadow.
Copyright 2013, Sojourner Walker