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Monday, July 22, 2024

Echoes of Fulladu: Not a maternal bone in her body. part 37

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The sun set gracefully over the open fields, casting long shadows across the land where pigs grazed contentedly. Among the villagers, Maria stood out not only as the matriarch of her family but also as the first wife of the Manjak chief. Maria was a staunch Christian, deeply committed to her faith, and she took immense pride in maintaining her family’s traditions and beliefs amidst a diverse community.

As the evening settled in, Maria stood near the edge of the pen, her keen eyes watching over the pigs. Her hands, weathered from years of hard work, gently coaxed a wayward piglet back towards the group.

“Kumbi! Kumbi! Come back here, you little rascal,” she called out, her voice firm yet affectionate.

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Anna, a neighbor and fellow Christian, approached with a warm laugh. “You have quite a way with them, Maria. How do you keep them all in line?”

Maria smiled, the lines around her eyes crinkling. “It’s all about understanding their nature, Anna. Each one has its own personality. Just like our children.”

As they spoke, Binta, a younger woman from the village, joined them, her eyes wide with curiosity. “Maria, I’ve always wondered, how did you start herding pigs? It seems like such hard work.”

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Maria paused, her gaze distant for a moment. “It’s a tradition in our family, Binta. The Majak have always been pig herders. My husband, the chief, believes it’s important to maintain our customs. And as Christians, we find strength and guidance in our faith, even in a village where beliefs differ.”

Mamadou, a respected elder in the community, nodded in agreement as he approached the group. “Indeed, Maria. Your family has always been a pillar of strength for our village. How do you manage to balance your deep Christian faith with the community’s diverse beliefs?”

Maria’s expression softened, her voice warm and earnest. “Respect, Mamadou. It’s all about respect. We live in harmony because we respect each other’s ways. My faith guides me, but it doesn’t stop me from understanding and honoring others. However, I am determined to ensure my family, especially my eldest son Ariosvaldo, remains steadfast in our Christian faith.”

Anna nodded thoughtfully. “That’s true. Even though we come from different backgrounds, we’ve always found common ground. Your family, Maria, has been an example of that unity and faith.”

“Thank you, Anna,” Maria said, her gratitude evident. “It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. The pigs bring their own blessings. They provide for us in many ways and remind us of the importance of hard work and care.”

Binta leaned in, her curiosity unabated. “Maria, do you think our younger generation will continue these traditions?”

A hopeful smile spread across Maria’s face. “I hope so, Binta. It’s up to us to teach them the value of our ways and our faith. I make sure to instill our Christian values in Ariosvaldo and his siblings every day. And who knows, perhaps with time, they’ll find new ways to blend our traditions with the changing world.”

Mamadou reflected for a moment before speaking. “The world is indeed changing. But as long as we hold onto our respect for each other and our faith, our village will remain strong.”

“That’s right, Mamadou,” Maria agreed. “We must always remember that. Now, how about we head home for our evening meals? The pigs are settled for the night, and it’s time for me to share in the blessings of the day with my family.”

Ariosvaldo and Fatou were walking hand in hand from their encounter, both doubtful about their future but reassured in their love for each other, when Ariosvaldo spotted his mother dispersing from a group and walking towards them. There was no mistaking the imposing figure ahead. He abruptly let go of Fatou’s hand and started in the other direction. But Maria had already spotted her son and began to call him out.

Maria, who herded her pigs with tender care and was much revered for her wisdom, was not a very maternal person to her own children. Given to outbursts over the slightest things she perceived to be wrong and temper tantrums, she was much avoided by Ariosvaldo, who took after his father’s warm character. In their home, his father was not only the head of the family, he was the gentlest, quietest, and most loving figure in the household. Ariosvaldo wished to be like his father when he had his own family.

“Ariosvaldo! Ariosvaldo!” Maria’s voice carried over the distance, sharp and insistent.

Ariosvaldo froze, his heart pounding. He glanced at Fatou, his eyes filled with a mixture of apology and fear. Fatou gave him a reassuring nod, understanding the complexity of his emotions.

“I have to go,” he whispered, his voice strained.

“I know,” Fatou replied softly. “Go. I’ll be fine.” Fatou took the other route and headed home with her farming tools in hand.

As Ariosvaldo walked towards his mother, Maria’s eyes narrowed. She had seen the girl her son was with, and her keen instincts told her something was amiss.

“What were you doing with that Fula girl?” Maria demanded, her tone harsh and accusatory.

“Nothing, Mama. We were just talking,” Ariosvaldo replied, trying to keep his voice steady.

“Talking?” Maria scoffed. “You think I am a fool? Do you not know the shame you bring upon this family with such behavior?”

Ariosvaldo hung his head, knowing there was no point in arguing. His mother was a force of nature, relentless and unforgiving. Despite her respected status in the village, her wisdom, and her care for the pigs she herded, her own children often felt the sting of her temper. The weight of her expectations bore down on them, and Ariosvaldo knew better than to challenge her authority. It was a futile endeavor, akin to trying to halt a storm with a whisper.

As the first wife of the Manjak chief, Maria was deeply involved in the community’s affairs. Her pigs were among the finest, a testament to her diligence and expertise. She spent countless hours tending to them, ensuring their health and well-being, her hands as skilled in veterinary care as they were in the kitchen. Villagers often sought her counsel on various matters, from farming techniques to resolving family disputes. Her reputation was built on a foundation of hard work and unwavering principles, which she expected her children to uphold without question. But the sharp side of her tongue was one that even her own husband, the chief, feared.

Maria’s influence extended far beyond the boundaries of their homestead. Her presence was felt in the rhythmic pulse of the village, her voice a clarion call that commanded attention and respect. She was a woman of formidable strength, her stature commanding and her gaze piercing. When she spoke, the village listened, for her words were laced with the wisdom of generations and the authority of her position.

Yet, this same strength that earned her the reverence of the villagers often translated into an unyielding strictness at home. Ariosvaldo and his siblings learned early on that their mother’s love was tough, her affection wrapped in layers of expectations and demands. There was no room for error in Maria’s world, no tolerance for weakness. Her children were to be as resilient and hardworking as she was, embodying the values she held dear.

Ariosvaldo’s mind wandered as he stood before her, his thoughts a swirl of memories and emotions. He recalled the countless mornings he had risen before dawn to help with the chores, the blistering afternoons spent in the fields, and the quiet evenings when the family gathered around the hearth, Maria’s voice a steady presence as she shared stories of their ancestors. Despite the harshness, there was a thread of warmth woven into these memories, a sense of belonging and purpose that came from being part of something larger than himself.

Maria’s discipline was rooted in love, a fierce, protective love that sought to prepare her children for the challenges of life. She had weathered many storms, both literal and metaphorical, and she wanted them to be strong, capable, and unbreakable. Her own journey had been one of perseverance and resilience, and she expected nothing less from them.

Ariosvaldo took a deep breath, steeling himself for whatever rebuke his mother might deliver. He understood her now, perhaps better than he had in his younger years. He saw the layers beneath her stern exterior, the vulnerability that she hid so well. It didn’t make her temper any easier to bear, but it gave him a sense of perspective, a way to navigate the complexities of their relationship.

Maria’s eyes softened for a brief moment as she looked at her son, a flicker of pride and concern crossing her features. She knew the burden she placed on her children, but she also knew the strength they possessed. “Ariosvaldo,” she began, her voice steady and firm, “you must understand the weight of our legacy. We are the keepers of tradition, the guardians of our people. It is not an easy path, but it is a noble one.”

Ariosvaldo nodded, his resolve strengthening. He would not argue, for he knew that his mother’s words carried the weight of truth. She was a force of nature, relentless and unforgiving, but also wise and caring. And in her own way, she was teaching him to be the same.

As they walked on, Maria continued, “We are Christians in a community with a majority of Muslims. But we are no less than anyone else. We believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and we are stronger for it. No one is better than us in any way. And we will not be swayed in any direction just because the majority believe themselves to be on a righter path than us. Do you hear me?” she asked forcefully. “Yes, Mama,” he responded quietly.

But in his heart, he knew that his love for Fatou was a powerful force, one that he would not easily relinquish. As they made their way back to the village, Ariosvaldo resolved to find a way to be with Fatou, no matter the challenges they faced. The love they shared was worth fighting for, even against the formidable strength of his mother and the rigid expectations of their communities.

To be contd.

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