Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my mother. My wife and children call her Nana, having stayed in the UK for a while, and having brought back that name with her. My mum has always been a humble person who likes working in the background. But she has been a powerful force to reckon with in my life. As way back as I can remember, I can see her warm smile on her face. And I see her praying and singing all the time. She is my nest whisperer. She has a nurturing spirit that put a sail on my boat, and slipped in an anchor too for any stormy weather of life.
When I was young, I used to be fascinated with ants, beetles, grasshoppers, bees – both honey, carpenter, bumblebees, hornets, wasps, birds, fish, frogs, tadpoles, crabs and other small creatures. I loved rivers, brooks, streams, pools and dams. I was fascinated by trees, shrubs, flowers, grass and fruits. And mountains always spoke to me. I tried keeping the animals alive, and later on started keeping a collection of preserved beetles. I got bitten, stung, and pinched many a time but this did not put me off. I even tried to start an anthill of flying ants with my old friend Chifundo Luphale. His pair of ants survived, but mine died because I had compacted the soil too much. Then I was into planting trees, fruit trees especially. I am told that wherever I could find a piece of soil, I would plant something. Some of those trees are still standing to this very day. And who got to support all these projects? My mum. She was there to help provide boxes, containers, safe corners, anti-inflammatory creams, and quick rushes to the hospital when things turned south.
One day, when I was in junior primary school, she came home with a sealed envelope that had little holes perforated on each side. When I opened it I found one giant grasshopper that had been caught at her office. She knew I was particular about the general health of each animal I handled, and this one was intact. All the legs were there. Grasshoppers tend to detach their hind legs when trying to fight out of a situation. This one was perfect. I think its inside wings were tinged red. These were very rare and most difficult to catch. I proceeded to build a roomy house for it, and provided only the freshest vegetables, including its favourite, cabbage. That day my mum became a connoisseur of all things with refined taste. Later on, I released the hopper. I always enjoyed releasing them back into their ecosystem.
Then came my hunger for books. There was a lot of books at home, mostly for my dad. I have never paid attention to classwork but have always had a curious mind. I always enjoyed reading books when I was young, and my mum watered that passion. Any comic book I wanted, she’d get it for me. She provided all the science books including the ones that discussed space and possible human colonisation of the other planets and moons. I remember the bicycle tyre design of an international space station, that would be capable of housing communities with mothers, and fathers. Children were playing a football game, while floating away in space. I saw myself being part of this space community. And who fertilised all that? My mother.
Over the years, she taught me how to pray, read the Bible and sing choruses. We still sing one of the songs whenever she has paid us a visit. On top of that, she also got me a lot of discipline. And I have been told by one of my uncles that my mother was very time-conscious. This is one attribute she did not transfer to me. I have always been late, and it is only of late that I have made a turn-around and try to arrive at an appointment early. If it was transferred to me, it must have been laying idle in seed-form somewhere inside my mind.
Fast forward to the present day, I think I also got persistence from my mother. Once I am interested in one thing, I abandon everything else and follow that one thing to the end. It has not been consistent, but has repeated often enough to leave behind a pattern. She has been that type of a woman. She sets a goal, and will not relent until the goal has been accomplished. Whatever skills I may have inherited, or observed from my father, it is my mother who has nurtured them over the years, and together with my family, have produced something in me which is proving useful on my outdoor adventures.
I love you, mum and I wish you a long life ahead of you. With what you imparted on me, you have to at least see me on top of Mount Everest soon.
This is my tribute to my beloved mother. God bless her lovely soul.