The Promise

The Promise

Months back, and the time before that, people used to talk to me about darkness, and I used to wonder what they see. That blackness they described. That hollowness that empties you of everything. That constant running in a passage with no end; all that seemed nothing to me. Because I was yet to experience it.

But it has been slightly more than a month since I have been stuck here. Since I have been knocking, furiously, against this glass window. Since I have been sweating profusely, because even the window does not slide open, no matter how hard I push. Since I have been waiting patiently for someone to appear, and let me out of this hole. Since I have been begging myself to let go, and accept that I am going to be here, alone, for the rest of my life.

That henceforth, this physical darkness is going to be my companion. It is going to hold me close when I break down to cry. It is going to listen to me whenever I talk. It is going to touch me, always, even when all I want is to be left alone. That this darkness I see around me, is similar to the colour of my skin, and the hollowness that lies within me.

And even on days when I will crave light so much, this darkness will tap my shoulder and say, ‘you really cannot go anywhere, you know?’

And I will sink back to the floor of my little wooden cabin, and weep for the people I miss. The life I miss. The memories I crave so much, it hurts. I will bury my head in my arms and weep for the hole in my heart that is begging too hard to be filled by light.

It has been slightly more than a month since my world went blank, and an intense amount of pain crippled my heart, body and soul. Since my body lay, wounded, on the black road, as if preparing me for the darkness that awaited me on this other end. Since my soul left the body, and joined the strangers to watch as my body lost its blood, first, then its meaning, second, then its life. Since my body was dragged, like a dog’s, and locked into the coldest refrigerator I had ever imagined. Since I heard wails from a distance, for me, and there was nothing I could do.

It has been slightly more than a month but the wails, for my life, are still fresh in my mind. The distinct voices asking whether I really was gone. The sharp cries when it finally dawned on them that no, I was never coming back. I was never going to walk with them in the light. They were never going to hear my laughter, then say to me, ‘you laugh so softly, as if you are afraid of hurting your insides. As if your very intention is to let your laughter heal our wounds; we who are lucky to hear you laugh.’

It has been slightly more than a month since I held you, peered into your tiny but lovely face, and promised you that I wouldn’t be gone for more than an hour. That I would be back, within minutes, and we would pick up from where we left; you crying, and me taking a guess at what you could be in want of. Food. Sleep. Warmth. Cold. Cuddles. Me.

It has been slightly over a month since I failed to get back to you, and my heart breaks into a thousand pieces every time I think of you. Every time I think of you crying your lungs out, for me, and wondering why I am taking too long to show up. Why you are being passed from one pair of hands to another, while none of those hands belong to me. Why you are looking for my face in a pool of humans, and failing to find me. Why, when you grow up, you will see pictures of me and wonder why it had to be me. Why I had to be the one mother, out of all mothers in the world, who failed to go back to their three-month-old baby, forever. Why I had to leave you in the hands of people who did not birth you, as if I was sure you would turn out just right.

Every day, I try to convince myself that everything will be alright, at least in the light. That when you cry, you find a way of remembering the songs we shared. That the memory of my voice filters through the windows and soothes you to sleep. That the memory of the soft feel of my hands soothes you to sleep. And that when you dream, you make space for me, so I can sneak in and hold you close to my chest, so that a little bit of this darkness fades away.

It has been slightly more tan a month since I settled into this darkness, and I am beginning to accept it as mine. I am learning, slowly, how to make out the faces of the people I love. How to carve out the hands of the people I held. How to retain the memories we made, in the hope that with time, this darkness will fade away.

And I hope that one day, I get out of your dreams and into your hands. And if I do not, I hope I get the strength to forgive myself for breaking my promise. For not coming back to you. I hope I accept, and stay in peace, that it was not my fault. That it is the ways life is; things that are meant to happen, will always happen. That life is only a pathway to wherever I am. That everyone is headed where I am, just that no one knows their day or time. That this darkness I am whining about is everyone else’s final destination. And that no matter how hard it hurts, whatever happens, cannot be undone.

I hope that someday, when you grow up, you look at pictures of me and know that you will always be my favorite. That you will always be at the centre of my heart. That I will always think of you with a smile. And that forever, you will carry me within you; even in this darkness.

With love,


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Meet Eunniah Mbabazi
Eunniah Mbabazi is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer with a deep passion for books and literature. She has authored Breaking Down (a collection of short stories), If My Bones Could Speak (a poetry collection), The Unbirthed Souls (a collection of short stories), and My Heart Sings, Sometimes (a poetry collection). She has also co-authored Kas Kazi (a novel) and When a Stranger Called (an anthology of short stories).

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