As Lydiah lay down prostrate on the ground, so many questions ran through her mind. Her confusion was so great and she felt like she was in another bad dream. You know those times when you think you are dreaming but you are not?This was the exact state that Lydiah was in at this particular moment; All the things she had witnessed did not add up; she turned back and looked at the closed door and she could not help but wonder who that man that had taken over their house was. She resolved to head over to her mother- in law’s place, at least she was convinced that her questions would be answered there.
Her mother-in-law’s house was only a stone throw away and as such, it took Lydiah just a few minutes to arrive there. Her mother- in- law was seated outside the biggest hut in the compound selecting cereals. On seeing Lydiah, she stood up in fury, hands held akimbo. Lydiah slowly and humbly walked towards her. She greeted her with all the due respect that one could accord her mother-in-law. To her disappointment, she just kept silent and looked at her from head to toe. All these confused Lydiah even the more; she was very close to her mother-in-law and such cold greetings had never occurred to her in the years she had been married to her son.
“Mother, how are you doing?” she repeated the greetings with the assumption that maybe she did not hear her when she greeted her the first time.
“What do you want me to say? That I am good even when all things are at their worst?”
Lydiah was taken aback and she did not know exactly what to say; was this about her? Or was it her husband? Was it her mother’s business perhaps? However, despite the confusion on how she would keep the conversation going, she knew one thing; she had questions that she needed to be answered and chickening out was not an option.
“Mother, what has been happening?” Lydiah asked.
“Don’t you dare ask me and pretend to care; You were gone for two months. You had just put to bed but your senses told you to run away together with our new baby, leaving us sick with worry.” She stopped to shake her head slightly before adding, “I am deeply disappointed in you.”
“But mother, I can explain. . .”
Her mother-in-law signalled her to take a seat and clearly, she knew she had a lot of explaining to do, and she had no option but to explain herself really well as if her life depended on it. She started explaining the pressure her husband had subjected her to, wanting her to dispose their girl child. Even before she went on to explain her losing the child in unforeseen ways, her mother-in-law interrupted. At this time she was breathing so hard and fury was clearly all over her face. She stood and looked deep into Lydia’s eyes and said, “Lydiah, you have always known me to be a reasonable person; a liberator; a person who would not do injustice for the sake of traditions; why did you not consult me?”
“Mother, I wanted to solve the crisis alone … and …”
“And you brought another crisis to yourself and to all of us in the name of solving the crisis!!!
Lydiah fixed her eyes on the ground; she was now so embarrassed, worried; a cocktail of feelings was what she was experiencing at that moment. She gathered all her courage and decided to ask, “Mother, where is Basaja?”
This question was like a bomb that had been dropped and had not exploded. Her mother-in-law just looked at her; no change of facial expression, no words, nothing. This confused Lydiah even the more. Her mother-in-law then signalled Lydiah to follow her and she did. They manoeuvred into the shamba and what met Lydia’s eyes was deeply astonishing. She could not believe her eyes; a grave had been planted next to the father-in-law’s grave and the cross on that fresh grave read, “ R.I.P Basaja; Sunrise- 22nd May 1965; Sunset- 21st July 1985.”
Lydiah broke down; this was too hard for her; the arguments that they had had did not blow away the fact that she still loved her husband; this was too much for her; what had happened to Basaja???
“Rest easy my child, all will be well, at least you have your daughter as a consolation …” This statement made Lydia’s heart beat so hard; how could she say the child got lost in mysterious ways?
Lydiah and the mother-in-law after a while walked back to the compound and as they walked back Lydiah had a lot of questions and deep remorse in her. The questions she knew that she would be answered; questions like how Basaja had died but the remorse was something that was irreversible; the remorse was because she had failed to consult her mother-in-law regarding the disposal of the girl child and as a result of her failure, she had lost the very two things that she fought so hard to keep; her marriage (As Basaja was now no more) and her child.
Author: Anne Mumbi Njoroge