When this morning, perhaps out of Mother’s Day routine, I picked my phone to call her, the whole conversation played in my mind before the call connected:

“Hello my only child.” With eagerness she would receive the call. Of course, I am not her only child.

“Happy Mother’s Day!” I would respond with excitement. I have to admit that I am, in most scenarios, a calm person over the phone. Only the enthusiasm in her voice always proves hard to dismiss.

After the pleasantries, a full minute lull would follow. During which the slushy words I had planned to say to her would desert, or sometimes choke me.

“Today is Mother’s Day?” She would inquire, to break the silence. In the high pitch of her voice I would detect the feigned surprise.

“Yes. And your special day for all that you have done for us. Words are certainly not enough to express my love for you.’ I would manage, with pauses in between, to recite the response.

But she didn’t pick. I dialed again and once more the call went unanswered. I felt the urge to keep calling until she picks; maybe she is in a fix and in need of my help, I imagined. ‘Why is she not picking?’ My entitled self, the part of me that faintly feels she should, and will always be there for me wondered. Then, the rational part of me weighed the situation and reasoned that perhaps she is busy, and thus, I should leave a message.

I opened my messaging app, scrolled to her contact and instinctively began; Happy Mother’s Day! I hesitated. The words sounded too commonplace in my head, I immediately deleted them. I desired to compose a spontaneous sentimental text. My routine message seemed to fit the description. Thus, mechanically I typed; The words are certainly not enough to express my love for you… I paused to think of my next line.

How is it that words are certainly not enough to convey gratitude to the one person who deserves my appreciation? Be it that I ought to recite a thousand ‘thank you’, be it that I should compose a thousand poems. Without hesitation, without question I should. Ah, but clearly even if I scribble all the conceivable words of affections, that won’t measure up to the tender love with which she held me in her protective arms.

The memories of the times, distant and present, when life buckled us in a corner strayed through my mind. I reminisced our talk minutes before I was wheeled to the surgery room, the morning of 5th May, 2016. She never tried to conceal her fears. The pain in her voice still grips my heart whenever I remember the moment. And I recalled the devastating hour, three am, when she woke me up to help her in pray for my dad’s lifeless body. Dark and dreadful was the hour!

But the out of count hard times are not without merry moments. Every time I travel home, we must discourse, heatedly, on literature. In a theatrical tone, she would dramatize Mulili, her favorite character from Betrayal in The City. In a nostalgic tone, she would recite to me the cherished poems of her youthful days: Grass will Grow by Jonathan Kariara. The opening paragraph of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the beautiful prose of Muntu by Joe de Graft.

It is in such moments that I am most alive. Talking with her. Watching laughter dance in her eyes. Listening to the wishful dreams of her younger days. Listening to the hardship and the anxiety of her youth. I recalled these moments with mixed emotions. My heart overflowed with affection. In the instant, I dearly missed her. What were the appropriate words for me to write? I could type a thousand ‘thank you’ but that would still be lacking. Certainly, words are not enough.

‘Dear mom, I am lucky to be your son. Thank you, mom.’