Bite Muko: by Adolphine Umukobwa

Has anyone checked on you since you told the elders that you could no longer bear the weight? I know it wasn’t an easy conversation. They’ve raised us to bear it. Trained us, even. And you’re the only one who has had the courage to tell them it is unbearable. Unmanageable.

The only one that we know of, at least.

Muko, I’m sure they weren’t exactly surprised when you called the meeting. You are known for rocking the boat with your constant questions and interjections. Everyone thinks you speak your mind a little too freely, unsure of whether it’s a blessing or a curse.

I too am uncomfortable with this weight, Muko.

Did they answer you when you asked them how they’ve been able to bear it for all this time? Did they give you any tips?

How about when you asked what the weight is? Did they tell you what it is that we all have to bear? I hope you didn’t tell them your theory. They wouldn’t take it kindly if you accused them of asking us to bear fear, pain, loss, secrets, and other dark things. Because what kind of elders would they be to pass those types of things down the family line? What kind of family would we be, harboring such darkness?

But what else could weigh so much, Muko?

My guess is that they don’t even know what’s in there. They were asked to carry the weight just like we were, but they were “good” kids and didn’t ask questions.

Any chance you talked to them about releasing the burden? Understandable if you didn’t.

Ever since we discovered this trick, I’ve done it a few times. I’ve let it go, little by little over time. Can you tell? I hope it’s not too obvious. But, Muko, my shoulders aren’t as tense, I stopped clenching my jaw, and I can sit up straight. Remember how they would comment on my posture? Shaming me for never sitting up straight and for never standing with my shoulders behind my ears.

I wonder if they were just mad that I couldn’t discretely bear the family burden. I was never like you, Muko. You carried your share and the share of others and were still able to be a powerhouse. Standing upright, chest out, always smiling. That’s why you got away with your questions, you know. That’s why they tolerated your rebellion.

But, Muko, it’s time for you to start releasing the burden. I can see how bearing this weight has affected you. Your eyes have bags underneath; they’ve lost their sparkle. You no longer walk with purpose. I can see you doubt every step. I see how the weight affects your relationships.

Please just release a little bit. I’ll show you how. The elders won’t even notice because you’ll revert back to your old self. Please tell me you’ll release it, Muko. Before you become what you are bearing.

Adolphine Umukobwa is a Rwandese-American woman based in NYC.

Related country: Rwanda

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