#83. Today, Today, Happy, Happy…..


Today, Today

It’s that time again

The bittersweet reminders of spring

On wet, gorgeous green grass

In open fields,

-Lemonade sheds and picnic tents

Flowers bloom, their spicy sweet scents

Chasing away winter’s gloom

I heard the happy whispers in the corridors

Behind the tabernacle housing the sacraments


And the excited chatter of mothers and fathers

The secretive looks of their offspring

Impatient for the sermon’s end

So parcels can be unwrapped

To songs and hums of Happy, Happy Mother’s Day


I wait silently for the pastor outside the sanctuary

As he disrobes of his garment and puts away the chalice

He comes out, walking with a slight limp

He stares coldly at me and I smile warmly back

The older pair of brown eyes in fear and hate

An identical innocent pair with freedom and power


Today is a bright, happy day for mama and I

I wave happily at mama, she’s still seating in her pew

She stares blindly, a film of tears in her eyes

I wondered briefly if she sees me at all

She has not seen me for years, blinded by her veil of pain

Then, slowly I see her hold up my Crayola scribbled note

I think perhaps she could make out the verse that I wrote

She’s crying and smiling and crying and smiling

She finally sees and recognizes herself in me


Head bent, she re-reads it again,

Head shaking, eyes tearing, she reads again and again

In my childish scrawling writing, I’d written it last night:

 -‘Today, Today,

 Happy, Happy, Mother’s Day

 For you mama, lovely gifts and not harsh fists

 Today, today, happy, happy mother’s day

 For you mama, no more rouge to mask the bruise

 Today, today, happy, happy mother’s day

 For you mama, you’ll soak in the scents of fancy perfumes

 And not the smells of stale whisky or his cheap women

 Today, today, happy, happy mother’s day

 For you mama, a bouquet of roses stripped of thorns

Because I know you stayed behind for me…’


One week ago, yesterday, yesterday

It was my birthday; I had just turned thirteen

Mama baked me a cake layered with cream and love

The pastor sat in the corner, sullenly drinking his coloured water

Just as I bent over to make a wish and blow out my many candles

I heard her agonized cry as the whiplash of his belt hit his only target

She falls face down into soft, pretty flames of my burning candles

My friends screamed in shock, and I guess my party was over…


I prayed and prayed everyday for a week

And for seven whole days there was calm in my sea

And daily I’d daydream and play with the gun in his desk

Till the day my daydreams flowed into my my reality

Fingers shaking, I pulled the trigger at the pastor, in shock

-Yes, his shock, for this was the birthday wish I wanted fulfilled

He reached for me as I called the cops

I’d hugged him tight and I whispered coldly to him:

-‘Touch her again and my next shot will blow out your brain!’


They found me cradling his body as he writhed in pain

Everyone said it was a miracle that we both made it alive

The pastor said it was a burglar who attacked the church

The newspapers took pictures of me in the pastor’s arms

With blood splattered on his white shirt and on my new pink frock

We made the evening news and the anchor asked me if i was okay

I told her I was  fine. My daddy was my hero; he took so many bullets for me


Hand in hand, today, today, we all walk out of the church

To celebrate with the congregation my mother’s very first

Happy, Happy Mother’s day picnic

Today, today, I’m so happy, happy

We were the model family, the pastor, mama and I.

Tomorrow, tomorrow,

All is swell and well

Tomorrow, tomorrow,

All is dandy and happy.


© Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido
(All rights reserved).

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