In response to the daily prompt…

She held her breath as her son played his solo in the middle school band concert. He had been practicing all week for his big night. “Did good, Mom,” the woman next to her whispered. Jenni smiled at the woman and drew in one long deep breath. She sank down into the lightly cushioned auditorium chair, relaxing for the first time all week. The band played their rendition of the latest pop song as Jenni looked at her watch; a bit disappointed, there was at least 30 minutes left before the concert ended, “There is just not enough time in the day.”

Her concern was on parallel with most of the moms in the crowd that night. Homework, soccer schedules, parent’s group, the kids weekend art classes, dinner, breakfast, girl’s night out… she closed her eyes. She slept peacefully amongst the squeaks, squeals and occasional perfect notes played by her son’s middle school class. These were, indeed, the most restful moments of her week. Overworked.

Imani walked silently back from the market, a bag of unknown textiles strewn across her shoulders. The Nigerian sun struggled to force its bright, hot rays of light through the immense foliage that lined the dirt pathway she traversed. That bag of discarded t-shirts, jeans and shoes pulling on her shoulders represented enough money to feed her family for a month. She was taking them to her home village to sell. Imani was the sole provider for her family; her husband had been gone for many years.

The bag held in it the future. She bought the bag at market with part of the cash she made from the previous month’s sales. She did not know what exactly was in the bag only that it came from America. If it was full of stained baby clothes her losses would be too great and she would be done. If it had good discards, Abercrombie or Levi, she could potentially save some money for later. She wasn’t allowed to open the bag before she put a bid on it – it was simply a gamble.

She arrived home in the late afternoon; her eldest daughter had already made dinner and fed the younger children. “Can you help me?” her daughter asked, holding out her hand.

“Let me see,” Imani dropped the bag on the floor and unwrapped the bandage that had covered her daughter’s right hand motioning for her youngest to bring her a new cloth and some herbs. “Looks like it is healing well.” She finished redressing the wound, “Why do you play football with the boys?” Imani asked her daughter, a slight note of irritation in her voice.

“Mama, you worry too much,” her daughter protested, “I have to have some fun, right?” Imani smiled and announced to her other two children to get their books, “Study time.”

The family sat together, each working on their lessons. Imani looked at her feet, dirty and bruised from the two-day journey to get the bag of clothes. She stashed it in the closet, safe for the night. Tomorrow she would get up before sunrise to take the bag to the local market and lay the clothes out for sale.

For now Imani lay down on the floor next to her youngest child while he read his text; the sound of his voice was like a beautiful lullaby – lulling her to sleep in the safety of her family. Overworked.


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