Auntie, there’s blood on your dress.
Listen, don’t tell anyone about this, Okay?
It’s our little secret, hmmm?
Akello dashed into the house, even though her legs suddenly felt like dry leaves being rustled by the wind.
Once inside, she took off her white dress, raised it up like an offering to a powerful being, a being residing beyond the ceiling of her house.
How could you do this to me Father? How could you?
The sermon from the early morning Sunday service came rushing back to her mind, Pastor Mark’s voice drowning her sobs.
“Praise His Mighty name!”
“Praise Him, for He is the author of miracles.”
“Yes He is!”
“Whatever your heart’s desire, consider it fulfilled today. Because He is able!”
“Yes, He is.”
Didn’t your servant say you are able?
How long must my shoulder carry this load?
From her eyes to the floor, tears rolled. From between her legs to the floor, blood flowed, abundantly.
It was the fifth miscarriage in three years.
Today, Kiden sits under a mango tree in Grandma’s home and remembers Auntie Akello.
She remembers their blood on your dress secret. She smiles.
Then she remembers the day Auntie taught her how to mingle millet bread, how to eat sugarcane without getting a cut on the lips, how to winnow, how to cut onions without tearing, how to put the right amount of salt in the food, how to tell that the potatoes cooking on the stove is running out of water…
Her reverie is cut short when the twins come running, chasing a ball.
They roll on the grass, grab the ball, throw it against the wall and run again to catch it. Their infant voices tear pierce the sky, the energy in their bodies, abundant.
That energy reminds Kiden of Auntie Akello again. The day Auntie delivered the Opio and Acen, she was possessed by the mother of all energy. She pushed even when the TBA told her to wait a little. And when she pushed the last of the twins out, a calmness descended over her.
The sweat that had dotted her face, started drying off, like dew exposed to the morning sun.
Then she breathed, a loud, lengthy breath as though it would be her last. It was.
Looking at her grave stone now, Kiden finds herself smiling – smiling that her Auntie didn’t die a child-killing witch like Laliya Village believed.
She died a mother.