The birth of Farai changed Uzima's world.
She had grown up, left home, and found a mate, and together, they became the leaders of the Ziwa Pride - it was only a small pride, consisting of two lionesses as well as Uzima and Radhi, but Uzima had always been proud that she had started a pride of her own with a mate who loved her.
Something always felt missing in Uzima's life. Once the pride had settled, this became more obvious - for months, she tried to figure out what, when one day, it hit her - she wanted a child. Radhi couldn't object - all prides needed cubs in order to thrive. He did, however, try to persuade Uzima to wait until they were a bit older. Raising a cub was a big responsibility, and they had to be absolutely sure they were ready for it.
"Of course I'm ready for it," Uzima told Radhi shortly one evening as they discussed the topic for the uptenth time. "I'm a lioness, a leader, and it's what I'm made to do. Motherhood seems like the next natural step now. It'll be a big change for the better - you'll see!"
Radhi couldn't argue forever. A few months later, he and Uzima welcomed a daughter into the world. Radhi was over the moon, and the pride sisters were enthusiastic about the birth. But Uzima felt awkward. Her pregnancy had been difficult and the birth extremely painful. The lionesses told her it was normal, and she was bound to feel nervous - but Uzima was sure the feeling wouldn't pass.
The cub, Farai, struggled to bond with her mother. Everyone told Uzima that SHE was the one with issues - she was probably tired after the birth and her emotions were all over the place. But as the days passed, things didn't improve. Farai cried so much that Uzima was surprised her lungs didn't burst. She cried after feeding, after sleeping, and after her baths. Uzima was growing weary already, and she couldn't get the cub to stop screaming, not even with the help of Radhi and the lionesses.
"I swear she's doing it to annoy me," Uzima said, on the verge of tears herself.
"She's a baby, Uzima," Radhi said with exasperation. "That's what babies do. They cry. She'll grow out of it, you'll see."
Radhi was right. Farai stopped her screaming fits as her baby spots faded and she grew big enough to crawl. The change was so extreme - she didn't make much noise at all now. Uzima would sing her lullabies or tell her stories often, but Farai seemed uninterested. She would stare into space with a blank look on her face, or glare up at her mother as if she was talking utter nonsense.
'Something's wrong with this cub,' Uzima would think to herself. 'This isn't how it's supposed to be...why doesn't she love me? Why don't I love her?'
"Do you think she might be deaf?" Radhi suggested one day. Uzima's heart sank. Perhaps he was right - Farai never uttered a word, and she never appeared to listen when her family spoke to her. She would simply lie on the ground, or on a rock, and stare into the distance.
Radhi waved a paw in front of Farai's face. The cub blinked and looked up at her father for a few seconds before setting her head back on her paws and closing her eyes.
A part of Uzima hoped Farai WAS deaf - she wanted a reason for her daughter's strange behaviour. But, somehow, a nagging feeling told Uzima that there was nothing wrong with Farai's hearing.
She decided to find out while Radhi was patrolling the borders and the lionesses were out hunting. Farai was taking a nap under a large tree one afternoon while Uzima paced the ground, feeling anxious. She reluctantly snuck up on Farai, wondering if what she was about to do would have severe consequences - but she had to find out. Before she could stop herself, Uzima inhaled deeply, and let out a deafening roar, right in front of the sleeping cub.
Farai jumped so high into the air Uzima thought she might end up in the tree. With a terrified shriek, she tumbled to the ground, pinned back her ears and hissed defensively. When she realized it was her mother who had disturbed her, Farai dropped her guard and simply glared at her.
"Farai - I'm so sorry - I didn't mean to scare you..."
Farai simply rolled her eyes and wandered over to another tree, far away from her mother. Uzima felt her own heart racing. At least Farai could hear...but why didn't she speak? What was wrong with her?
Radhi was pleased to know his daughter's hearing was fine, but he was annoyed at Uzima for scaring her like she did.
"But what was I supposed to do, Radhi? She doesn't talk and she doesn't listen! How else was I supposed to find out if she blanks everything I say? All she does is glare at me with these angry eyes like she can't stand me!"
"Uzima, listen to yourself! She's just a child! You're being really paranoid if you think she's out to get you!" Radhi snarled.
"I never said she was out to get me," Uzima snapped at him, "but she clearly doesn't like me - or anyone else for that matter! Radhi, she's never said a word to anyone in this pride! Something's not right with her!"
"Are you saying our daughter is sick?" Radhi shouted. Uzima gasped.
"I don't know," she said honestly. "but something's not right."
Radhi turned around and began walking away from his mate, a frown appearing on his face. "Then maybe you're not trying hard enough with her."
Uzima wanted to shout at him, and tell him he was being unfair, but she had run out of energy. She collapsed to the ground and tried to fight the tears that were threatening to fall.
Uzima decided to take Farai on small hunting trip one morning - perhaps she could motivate her into doing something instead of simply lying there all day doing nothing. Perhaps she would finally bond with the cub.
As Uzima began pouncing on creatures small enough for Farai to hunt herself, the cub watched her intently. Uzima snatched up a mouse and dropped it at Farai's paws.
"What's the point in all of this?" Farai suddenly demanded. Uzima stumbled in shock - Farai had just spoken to her! Uzima blinked a couple of times and regained her posture quickly.
"Hunting? Well, a lioness needs to hunt in order to bring food for her pride."
"Why?" Farai asked.
"Because that's how it works," Uzima explained. She sat down, feeling happy that her daughter was showing an interest in something at last.
"I mean, why do we even need to eat? What's the point?" Farai demanded again.
"Because if we don't eat, we'll become weak and die," Uzima told her. She frowned a little as Farai rolled her eyes.
"But we'll die one day anyway, right? So what's the point in living in the first place?"
"I..." Uzima stopped, taken aback by Farai's questions. "Well...life is what you make it, I guess. You can be anything you want to be, Farai. Look at me - I left home and started my own pride - I chose to be a leader instead of a follower, and it's great."
"I think it's stupid," Farai scoffed, "it's all pointless and stupid."
Farai stood up and walked away before Uzima could say another word. She stared after her daughter in shock, completely stunned that her own child could be so negative and hateful at such a young age.
Sorry if this is badly written! I kinda rushed it since it's getting late...and I'm very tired!
made me a wonderful picture depicting Farai's childhood, and it inspired me to make this. Uzima and the Ziwa Pride are names she came up with - so credit to her for those!
Here's the wonderful picture and story Nichers made for me!
Farai won't be getting her own comic, but I do plan on doing a few pictures like this with mini stories to go with them. Some might be more detailed than others.
I wanted to include so much more in this first one, but I'm so tired. X_____x I'll explain things better in the next one!
Open Canvas work