Author’s Note: Mum was involved in a ghastly motor accident in the year 2000. She was bed ridden for years, and as a result experienced some setbacks in life. This didn’t stop her from achieving her goals. One of her favorite expressions remain “I was unequivocal in expressing my thoughts.”
Mum was (still is) partial to Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door perfume. Its sensuous blend of rich floral and fruity notes always announced her presence. The difference between a runway model and her was height and weight-she moved with grace and poise, the world was her runway. My greatest fantasy as a child was to grow up fast- share her wardrobe of tasteful-colorful-fashionable clothes, shoes, and handbags.
On the day of the accident, I came back from school downcast, hoping that Mum was home to cheer me up. My friends and neighbor, the twins, had lost their dog- Wisdom. I got wind of the sad news when I walked past their house on my way home from school. Wisdom was a gentle and smallish dog. I loved him.
When I got home, I learned Mum was involved in a terrible motor accident. The grown-ups were whispering something about her being in ICU. That was a new and strange word, so I looked it up in my Oxford English Dictionary. The definition I saw in there sent shivers down my spine. My body grew cold. Goose pimples sprouted all over. I understood the critical state of her health. Her life was hanging by a thread.
Deep down my heart, I was hoping to hear “it’s all a joke” the words delivered in the usual high pitch used in telling someone they had been pranked. The grieving faces in the room told me otherwise. The air was thick with despair, I could inhale the pain exhaled by the grown-ups.
I begged my elder cousin to swear she wasn’t putting me on. Her exhausted body pointed me to a red dress without saying a word. Mum wore that when she left the house in the morning. The bottom of the mid-length dress was now a deeper shade of red- not part of the original design. It was dried up blood.
I remembered how beautiful she looked that morning, dressed in her long sleeved, high neck, red suede midi dress matched with red strappy sandals. She looked like the models in her Marie Claire magazine.
When we visited her at the hospital, her left leg looked heavy- embedded in a cast. It was resting on a high prop of comfort. Two metal contraptions passed through the leg like they were holding it together, else it falls apart. It reminded me of a hinge holding a door to its frame.
I saw pain and worry in her eyes, but her words tried to reassure me that she would be home soon. She was away longer than we hoped, however. My 12-year-old self and 2-year-old sister missed her so much.
When mum eventually got discharged from the hospital and came home, she found it difficult navigating her life wearing a cast coupled with the healing pains of a broken bone held together with metals pins and rods. It was challenging but didn’t stop her from getting back to her normal life. Aided by crutches she supervised household chores and helped out when she could. Still wearing her cast she resumed her work as a lecturer.
Mum wasn’t perturbed when students booed her for sitting down to give her lecturers. I was in one of the large classes she instructed. The ridiculing wasn’t a pleasant experience to witness.
Unswayed by her circumstances, she went on to supervise a good number of dissertations and thesis. Over 50 publications in reputable journals and books across the globe are in her name. Her tenacity and intelligence earned her consultancy positions with the World Health Organization (WHO), Heinrich Böll Foundation, and so on.
Today she is an Associate Professor of Medical Entomology, currently working on the control of mosquitoes using plant-insect interaction under chemical ecology.
Do you have a dream? Hold on to it.