When she handed the envelope to her mother, she knew she would get a reaction. Of what kind? That she did not know, but she knew there was going to be something. Nyambura stood there waiting. She was too nervous to go sit and wait in anxiety in her room. She needed to know immediately what would come of the contents in the envelope.
She received the envelope and was going to put it away. But her daughter just stood there. Expectantly. Although Nyambura was trying so hard not to show her emotions, her mother could see it bubbling just below her daughter’s stoic stance. A part of her was tempted to save the letter for later but she chose to put her daughter out of her misery. Besides, it would make for a tense evening for the two of them and today she had no mental or emotional capacity to get into any kind of unsettling environment with her daughter.
The envelope had the school logo on it so she knew it was school-related. Definitely not exam results because they had just reopened for the school term two weeks ago and no test had happened. Was Nyambura in trouble? Highly unlikely. Not that her daughter was a model example of good behavior. A few scapes here and there but she had never really been a rubble rouser.
Her mum took forever to open the envelope. At least that is what it felt like to her. Turning it over, examining the school logo. Making sure not to tear the seam as she opened it. Why not just rip it open. It was just a circular from school, why was her mum treating it as if it was precious cargo. Finally! The envelope is open! She is watching her mum’s face keenly. That is the only way to know how this is going to go. Her mum places the envelope on her lap and holds the circular. First with one hand, then with both hands. She is reading its contents. Her face showed no reaction. Nothing! Nyambura wants to shake any kind of reaction out of her. Her mum folds back the letter in the same manner the school had. Turns to face her and asks:
“Do you have a date?”.
She may not want an altercation with her daughter but at least she could savor the moment. She took her time opening the envelope. Being careful not to rip it open. Placing the envelope on her lap, she opened the letter. Nothing could have prepared her for its contents. In the next month, the school was going to host its first ever prom for its Junior High students. The prom would be held at the school and they were requesting for parents to give consent for their children to attend and to volunteer as chaperones. There was also a list of things parents would need to provide for their children leading up to the date. Her insides froze. She had to hold the letter with both hands to hide the fact that they were shaking. Her daughter was only 12. What business did they have going to prom? Her mind went immediately to all the coming of age movies she had seen on tv and how prom night was a significant right of passage for young people. A lot of shit went down on prom night. At least according to tv shows. And now here she was, needing to give her daughter consent to attend prom. Oh my goodness! Did she have a date? Was there someone out there who saw her daughter as more than just a friend? Her brain had no time to process and she simply blurted out, “Do you have a date?”
Yes, she had a date. Her insides felt like water. Like they would spill out of every orifice and form a puddle around her feet and mess up the rug. Then now she would be unable to attend prom because she had no insides left. And forever be known as the girl who lost her insides and never got to go for prom. She could feel the wetness forming under armpits from the sudden gush of sweat. Her stomach was forming knots and she needed the bathroom. No other words came out of her mouth. Her mother told her that she would think about it and asked her to go do her homework.
Nyambura ran up the stairs to her room as fast as she could. Well, it could have been worse she thought, as she placed her school bag on the reading table in her room. Her mom could have yelled, said no immediately or even berated her for bringing such nonsense at home. Instead all she did was ask if she had a date. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? She couldn’t tell. Also, now that she was asked to go do homework does this mean she forgoes dinner? The usual after school routine was dinner, a bit of tv then homework before she showers and gets ready for bed. Nyambura took all her confusion and nervous energy to the toilet to relieve herself.
Her daughter could not have left fast enough. Immediately Nyambura turned her back and went up the stairs, she could finally show her panic. Her hands were now visibly shaking and a sudden surge of heat rose in her body. Her mind was reeling! Just the other day she brought her little baby girl home and now she had to decide whether she should go out for what was technically her first group date. Call it whatever you want, for her prom was just a way for the kids to take each other on dates in a controlled environment. Placing the letter on the side table, she was soon pacing up and down her living room.
She did not want her child to be the one whose parent refused to give consent for her to attend prom. But deep down she knew her comfort levels were not there yet. Who was this her daughter was going with? Was it someone she already knew? Her mind filtered through all of her daughter’s friends. Was it another person at school she had not met? Does her daughter have feelings for this person or are they going together as friends? Then she started thinking about the dress, hair, makeup and all the things she would have to prepare for her daughter in readiness. Does this mean they now have to have the sex talk? Already!! Her pacing got faster. Now panting and trying so hard not to heave.
She heard Nyambura open and close the bathroom door upstairs. Then it hit her. She had sent her daughter to do homework. With no dinner and tv time. Oh my goodness, this really had her rattled.
She yelled out, “Nyambura!”