A Woman of All Shades

My Mother, Sarophina
If you ever get to meet my mother, Sarophina, you’ll notice the way her accent lugs her attempt to speak English. Each word is calculated and every sentence weighs down with  her determination to get it right. She picked up a little bit of the language when she was  working as a housemaid abroad.

My mother gave up on education at the age of fourteen. She was forced to join the family’s local business as a liquor hunter. At dusk, she would pick up a fairly large rubber tube and set out to fetch liquor from sellers. Dressed in her older brother’s faded khaki shorts and pants she looked like a little ruffian who meant business. But the danger of getting caught by the police always followed her like a shadow. Her charm and cunning ways at full display, older men could not turn her down. “It’s the way you approach people and speak to them that makes the difference,” she’d tell me in later years.

My mother has been good at imparting advice, having imbibed life’s lessons the hard way. I hardly spent much time with her growing up as she was often away as a housemaid at different homes. The years we were living apart caused me to drift away from her emotionally.

Ever since my sister died three years ago, she has been depressed. But her strong voice, quick ways, clever talk and a tenacious spirit to fight the odds hide the reality of her grieving state. After long hours of questioning for my book, I finally got to understand my mother better. I am now less judgmental of her stubborn ways, and her constant habit of lying and seeking sympathy. But a little understanding, a comforting hug and a listening ear would turn her into a loving woman.

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