Things fall apart. Her home in Mayange, Bugesera District, once bustled with life. God had blessed Anastasia Habimana with a whopping 12 children. However, the same God took all of them away. And to add insult to injury, Habimana’s husband also passed away, living the old woman on her own. Once surrounded by a dozen children, Habimana is now a sad, lonely woman.
Joseph Oindo traced her in Kimisagara, where she was visiting one of her grandchildren…
God blessed me with 12 children, eight boys and four girls. Then one by one, and in quick succession, God took them away. And to compound my agony, He also took my husband two years ago.
I’m now a lonely woman who was once surrounded by a dozen children. Those pristine days were my days of happiness. Now I’m living in gloom, waiting for the day death will also come for me.
My first born child came in 1951. Then between this year and 1976, I had managed to get 12 children. The first one to die was my third born son, who was killed in an accident when he was only 15 years old. I mourned him just like a mother would mourn her beloved child. But I didn’t mourn for long. I knew that I still had 11 children who would help me in my old age, and bear me grandchildren to comfort me when I was now a grizzled old woman.
We educated the rest of my children – some of them went up to the university while other attended different higher institutions of learning. Despite our meager resources, we managed to achieve this great feat. Their father was just a carpenter, first in Kigali before we moved back to the village.
Some of them used to work in big offices here in Kigali while others were spread in different towns. My last born was working in Kampala.
My children used to be my pride. Whenever they came back home, the whole village would congregate in our homestead because they would come with all sorts of things. People would eat, drink and party. Some came in big cars that made the whole village to marvel at how fortunate our family was. They would come with their beautiful children and this added a euphoric atmosphere in the homestead.
Then in 1997, things started falling apart. Between this year and 2010, God took them away in quick succession. A year would hardly pass before we buried one child. People started asking what curse had befallen my family, people who had hitherto been struck with awe at the massive fortunes we had.
Two died in accidents while the rest died of different diseases. The merriment previously felt in our homestead was replaced with trepidation as death visited our homestead each year. In 2006, we buried three of our family members.
It was not only my children that God took away. We also buried four of my son’s wives and three grandchildren. These were very agonizing moments for us. I asked God what I had done to Him to punish us like this. I asked myself severally what curse had befallen our family. I believed that these deaths must have had a cause. My husband and I were born-again Christians, so God couldn’t punish us for not following Him.
I recall the death that stung me the most. It was that of my daughter who was married to a Canadian. Even though they didn’t have a child, they used to come home and bring us a lot of money. She even opened us a bank account where every month, we would go to withdraw money. When I heard that she was sick, I was frightened. Would she follow the rest of her siblings? It didn’t take long before my fear was confirmed. She was dead and buried in that country.
Right now my children and husband are a distant memory. I have their photos on my walls. Sometimes I blankly stare at those photographs and shed tears. I ask myself what could have gone wrong.
I now lead a desolate and lonely life. All my grandchildren, save for one, live in different towns. It’s the one back at home who helps me do some chores. I’m now old to even dig but how can I survive if I don’t? Even though some of my grandchildren occasionally send me money to sustain us, it is never enough. I almost live a life of indigence. I’m a poor woman who once upon a time had it all.