Ear 1 (The Right Ear)
This ear belongs to my elder sister, Dr Precious, and rightfully so because this is her first child. My sister is who the Igbo people call Omalicha. Her beauty is so obvious, it startles. And the source of this beauty is my mother’s genes. When I look at the two of them, I wonder how two people look so similar and yet be so different. But the beautiful thing is that they complement each other perfectly.
My mother is the only person my sister can really talk to. Sometimes when I go into my mother’s room, I see my sister lying on the floor, spilling out big medical terms from her small mouth while my mother nods and listens. I wonder how my mother is able to keep up with my sister’s medical lingua. I wonder how she is able to sit there, absorbing all these details.
And not only does my mother absorb them, she remembers them. My mother knows everything about my sister: she knows the names of my sister’s friends, former school mates, colleagues.
She remembers everything.
Ear 2 (Closely behind The Right Ear, but the same size as The Right Ear)
This ear belongs to the one who came tumbling into this world after me. My tall, graceful, handsome, charming brother. My brother who is going to be a SAN one day. My brother who can squeeze out a smile from the dourest face.
His name is Emmanuel, but we all call him Manny (pronounced Mannnnny!). When he hugs my mother, he towers over her, and when he smiles, I see my mother’s face.
Manny is a lawyer and as we all know, lawyers love to talk. And my mother is always there to listen to his legal drama. He speaks with so much passion, so much enthusiasm, and she also listens with so much enthusiasm, following every word.
When he gets agitated or moody, she knows the right cocktail of sentences to bring the smile back to his face. When he second guesses himself, she knows how to speak confidence into his spirit.
Ear 3 (The Left Ear)
This one belongs to the baby of the family. The baby who is a financial guru. The baby whose eyes are always firmly fixed on CNN. The baby who is no longer a baby. The baby who is 24 and whose name is Steven.
Steven is unapologetically intelligent; he knows what he wants out of life and he goes after it with an effusive zeal. His body is always moving and his mind is always running. This is because he is an accountant, you see; they always think and act fast. Sometimes he speaks so fast, I cannot comprehend what he is saying.
But my mother understands him just fine.
She can unpack his sentences and find every nuance. She can sit with him and talk about his ICAN exams for hours. Sometimes, when I see them whispering to each other in my mother’s room, I wonder what exactly they are whispering about.
She knows things about him that no one will ever know.
Ear 4 (Behind the Left Ear, but the same size as The Left Ear)
This ear is for me. Her second daughter. Her gist partner. Her hand bag. And being the selfish child that I am, sometimes I wish I had two of her ears, but my mother has a way of expanding this ear to accommodate my long list of needs.
Most times when I am speaking to her about something I am passionate about (mostly about religion), she always looks at me, and then blurts out: “You talk too much jo!” Then we both laugh and I continue speaking and she continues listening.
I am the child who has given her the most concern – my career has travelled to places none of us would have expected. But through it all, this ear has always been there for me.
There is a specific pitch of laughter that only my mother’s words can bring out of me.
When I travelled for my Masters, she came with me because she didn’t want me to go alone. By the time we got to Aberdeen, all the rooms were booked and when we finally found a room, it had just one tiny bed. But we both slept on that bed, together. We bore the inconvenience, together. And despite the cold and the worry, she still made me laugh that specific laughter.
Even yesterday morning, when I was feeling down, I called her and in about two minutes, I heard myself laughing that specific laughter. Then she sang to me, and while she did, all the tears in my eyes retreated back into my tear ducts.
It is as incredible as it is commendable that one woman could have FOUR long suffering ears. That’s my mother!
So, Happy Mother’s Day Min C (that’s what I call her).