Whispering Meadows- Chapter 07

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“Isoke?”
I asked following her. She moved around like a mother duck. Her hands were faster than I could assume. It took less than a minute for her to put everything in order in the messy kitchen. Mother’s cake was baking in the oven. The aroma of the freshly baking cake made funny things to my nose yet I wondered how long it would take for this woman to take out the cookies she had promised a few minutes ago. Reading my mind Isoke unzipped her string bag and pulled out a neatly packed parcel. Watching her unwrapping and placing the butter cookies on a dish, I swallowed a bit of saliva. Refilling the coffee pot with hot water and some fresh coffee seeds she chuckled looking at me.
“Have it missy, homemade cookies…clean and tasty” she said invitingly. I looked around just to make sure none was around.
“Jake boy loves them,” she said. I smiled hearing his name. So he loves butter cookies and why not I love them too? I snatched one cookie and Isoke’s toothless smile widened.

“It means satisfying gift,” I heard her distantly because of the noise of the opened water tap. Isome she washed the dishes.
“What?” biting a piece of butter cookie I asked.

“Isoke means the satisfying gift,” she said.
“Oh!” I felt bad. How could I forget what I asked her few seconds ago?
She was right, the cookies tasted divine. I hungrily crunched the remaining piece of it.

“Have them all missy, I can bring more tomorrow,” as if she had read my greedy mind, Isoke pushed the dish close to me with a broad smile. A dirty spit splashed when I tried to smile with stuffed mouth. Isoke didn’t frown the way mother would have. Rather her smile widened wrinkling her skin around her mouth.

“You know my mother?” I asked her. Isoke smiled once again. She looked very much familiar now. She nodded affectionately.

“You knew Grandmother too?” I questioned once again and she nodded again. Perhaps she would nod for everything I ask instead of answering me. So I waited without shooting another question at her.
Isoke sighed, a forlorn sigh. I counted my breath until she found her voice.

“It wasn’t easy to survive here in our lands when white men ruled. Black skinned we were…another kind of animals sweat for them. Hard working was our fate, we worked until our palms bled but were left with not enough food” her memories carried her to the bleeding past.
I could read the hate she had for the white men. Although I was lucky that we were not experiencing the same today I could feel the agony in her heart.

I always had wondered why many of us have differences. If God loves why couldn’t he create everyone in the same manner? Why were blacks and whites, reds and brown? Why couldn’t they be just in one color? Maybe father was right. Perhaps everything was formed naturally. If not, then the God is not to be trusted? A smile stretched my lips as I remembered how my father would reason this.
‘God was all confused and busy identifying himself whether he was the father, the ghost or the son so he neglected his duties to be just” can that be the reason for HIM to be unjust over few and favor some?
But still nothing forms naturally, do they? Not even Isoke’s butter cookies, they were molded and baked by Isoke. So how can so much of complex objects form themselves alone?

“Your great grandmother was one lucky woman among the blacks to be treated well,” Isoke interrupted. I looked around. Probably my great grandmother was lucky to be prosperous and keep herself away from discrimination faced by her folks. My growing mind tried to know how but I failed for I knew nothing about my great grandmother, in that case I knew nothing about my grandparents too.

“Is your family with you Isoke?”
I asked her. Her happy face clouded. Her lips twitched upwards. I understood that each wrinkle in her face has its own story.

“They forced us to move from our lands, we were unworthy animals, we worked until we died, we sweat to make their lives bright, thirty years…thirty years of my life I saw their brutality…my husband was taken as a prisoner being a Bantu, they wanted us to eat dung and my sons refused and they were slaughtered during the protesting, I was too late to hold them by my side…they were gone…they were all gone forever!” I couldn’t understand her but I knew she was angrily. I got back with fear. Have I hurt her? But then she cried. I lost the appetite to crunch the rest of the cookies.

Racial segregation was what she was referring. It wasn’t a pleasant piece of history to learn about. Maybe I was too young to understand why one particular group of people would treat another group of people so badly. But then, I had to agree that Apartheid did exist and still exists. Because that’s something similar I experience every day at home.

“Cry not little Missy,” she said with affection forgetting her sorrows. I tried to smile but I failed to. I watched her with admiration. How painful was her life but here she still smiles through tears.

“We were forced to move to the slum lands. We were born here and they were the strangers but still they ruled. We had no voice Missy ;we were mute until great men strived to fight against”

“I know, Sir Nelson Mandela,” I promptly said as it was a question and answer session in school. How I adored the hero of all time, the rescuer of black.
“Twenty seven years he had lived in prison, I studied for history, Isoke” I said proudly. She smiled innocently. But then I stared at my old friend carefully. She was not an ordinary house maid or a slave. She looks knowledgeable.
“Did you go to school Isoke?”
I asked her with curiously. Her lips parted and the toothless smile confirmed she wasn’t uneducated.
“We were not allowed to learn, but then they formed schools for blacks and education was based on low level, slavery was what they wanted to promote. Beaches, parks, towns every such place was forbidden for us to enter, the slum houses had no water and was built with poor sanitary…..hell of a life it was. I’m pleased to see children like you have much freedom than anyone of us had” I was much grateful too. Who would desire to be uneducated and live live like a slave?

“I had a dampass, a dummy pass to enter the city…a slave I was for the ‘Whiteman school hostel. Not every whiteman was cruel and supported the discrimination. There were a few good men and one such person…”
“Isoke? When did you come?” a stern voice interrupted and both our gazes turned towards the owner of the voice. My mother’s disapproving gaze met mine. My brows went up for being guilty. Breaking the moment’s silence the oven dinged. I gulped trying to escape from the bitter accusation from mother as soon as possible.
“I thought you were in your room,”
“I gave some butter cookies Miss Emma…the young lady likes just like her uncle”
Isoke promptly rescued me. I saw now ease in my mother’s emotions. I jumped down the stool, giving a pleasant smile to my newly found old friend Isoke before I left the kitchen. I could feel the warmth of my mother’s gaze following me. I was glad I had an injured arm. I twirled as I paced to my room.

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