Lessons from My Mother: by Prosper Makara

I’m sitting on the floor as my mother plaits my hair.

I always think of myself as a canvas, my mother the painter.

“You should be grateful that he wants to marry you.” My mother paints in light paint, her strokes very soft. Almost imaginary.

“Never stop opening your legs like a well-oiled door even if you don’t want to.”

She divides my thick hair with a comb.

“Nurse his fragile ego by thanking him for pounding you. It doesn’t matter if you are hurt or not sated.” She intones in a desperate voice, plaiting feverishly and yet, in a surprisingly soft manner.

“We were born to submit to our men.”

She yanks my hair; taken aback by the momentary surge of pain I yelp.

“Women are meant to endure the pain.”

I think of my father’s fists pummelling into her flesh in a kindness reminiscent of enemies. My buttocks become itchy. The floor is very cold.

“We can never run away from our culture.”

This time her work gnarled hands swiftly paint in a darker hue. Her strokes not so gentle. She, my mother, is a passionate painter.

In the moment before the paint dries I wonder what kind of culture prepares women to die.

I think of Ryan with his long tapering fingers, fingers which speak of a gentleness not common in men.

Will he pummel me that hard?

If he does, I will use those fingers as confetti at my other wedding.


Prosper Makara is a biotechnology undergraduate student at the Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe. He is a writer and draws inspiration from Chimamanda Adichie and Warsan Shire.

This story was published as a finalist of the 2018  AFREADA x Africa Writes Competition. Writers had to produce a 500-word response to a prompt from Warsan Shire’s poem, The House. It reads: “Mother says there are locked rooms inside all women.”  The winning story was selected by Warsan Shire and announced at Africa Writes 2018

Related country: Zimbabwe

All rights to this story remain with the author. Please do not repost or reproduce this material without permission.