Yes of course I didn’t understand, because I had no interesting tale to tell about my father not to mention someone being so engrossed to him.
4 hours away from now, I was a free man moving about dreaming and believing. But it has dawned on me that the tears I promised mum that it would soon dry from her eyes had become elusive and would be imaginative forever. I rather left her to spend the rest of her years in tears. Even if I wasn’t so remorseful for my act, the hollow I had created in mum’s heart is not the type I think I would ever forgive myself of, whether dead or alive.
How would she start again? Who would she run to? Who has been her courage to live and push on?
I guess the world is cruel and presented a parcel that everything would definitely be against me.
We have had peace in the house and mum hasn’t got to cover this scar or that scar often. She was almost bruised any time dad came home and I wasn’t in the house. I deliberately decided not to be home as it became annoying and uninteresting. Mum would rarely speak up on the so many ill-treatments she was receiving from my dad neither was she ready to leave him. I wonder the spell cast on her by my dad; she would rather excuse it with the mere fact that ‘he is my husband in rain and sunshine’. It’s been 11 years now that things haven’t got better, and someone would wish and believe in one day?
Sometimes I left her, but I guess she feels with my dad the same way I do with her anytime I leave her for days. That is why I still stayed with them to gulp all the nonsense attitude dad puts on or develops.
Dad ended up getting a driving job with a micro-finance bank not so far from my village. The most reasonable engagement he has had in the past years aside drinking. He had been with this job in the past 5 months; it never meant standing up to his responsibility. It is just that his parasitic lifestyle had stopped and mum could have a lasting peace of soul and body.
With the nature of person he had become, that gravitational pull came upon his job, and he lost it again. This was why; he got engaged but never left the bottles. It was often reported that he would drive his boss to some functions and would disappear from the scene. Only to go and drink, he wasn’t punctual and had bashed the car most times he rode drunk.
I think his employers were patient enough to have spared him up to 5 months. Often times I have wondered what turned my dad to become a man he is today. But indeed, those were the thoughts that were similar to thinking on how God came to be. There was never headway out. I only wished and hoped I had a father. The only thing it created in me was to make a vow to correct his mess and become a father and a husband to my children and protect my mother in love, which she had long lost.
Often times too, I became a shadow of myself. I was cruel to a whole lot of things as I thought everything coming my way would never last, I became fast and pushy. I made friends that drank and smoke, and I did as well. I thought I saw family and friends amongst this people, aside when grandma came in and became my saving grace. She spoke words which I didn’t know how it worked wonders, they weren’t new to me, but they were mysteries.
Mum told her that she didn’t understand me anymore, and she was scared I was about taking the path my father was toiling or even worse. The truth is, she had tried to talk me out of it, but she had failed. She screamed and shouted at me, but the worse she would do was to hit me. She hasn’t done that in a long while, I was just 14 then.
Grandma sent for me, telling me she was sick and the curse of her being sick was as a result of having missed me for some time now. I had missed her too for sometime as well, and thank God it was a long vacation.
Aunty Chinelo wasn’t around and she was alone.
When I got to my maternal home, my greatest amazement was that my grandma I assumed was dying had prepared my favourite meal, ofe ede and pounded yam. She asked for my brand of alcoholic drink, and that came as a shock to me. I wondered how she got to know I now take alcohol. My grandma was a disciplinarian I was scared of falling into her disciplinary tenets. I was ashamed to answer until she dropped one for me and asked, “Are you not of age to drink alcohol yet?”
I never replied her but I perceived something was cooking, but I didn’t know what it was.
My 2nd day with her, she prepared breakfast early enough that she came to wake me. She would have called me for morning devotion as usual, but she didn’t. I was confused the more and didn’t know why this special treats.
It was later in the evening that we had our deep conversation. She started from where I was scared to ever mention or ever want to discuss; that was my family.
“If you were to be in your father’s shoes, what would you have done for your mum, which you think your dad is not doing?”
I was lost for some time and didn’t know what led to such a question, I thought for a while and replied.
“I wouldn’t allow her suffer the way she was suffering now and I would never for one day hit her even if she made a mistake”, I replied.
“That is a wonderful reply, but, do you know you can do and be same for her now even without being in your father’s shoes?”
I didn’t know what to answer or reply her. I was still looking at her, and then she continued.
“Live well for her, listen to her, she is greater than an army of friends that you think you may have that would not teach you the right thing aside; how to steal, smoke, drink and womanize. Because your mother, wishes and prays that better things should happen for you and comes your way. Do not place her where your dad has placed her, otherwise she would die and leave you and your dad to lead your lives”.
I don’t know where the tears came from but having to imagine that my mum was dead was the greatest thing that broke my heart. I promised grandma to be better and live well and strong for my mother. She held my hands and prayed for me.
I felt naked and exposed in my assumed dark hide out. The rest of the day was like I swallowed a bone that had choked me and it was never the same after this moment with grandma. I went back home after 2 weeks, better and refined. The first thing I did was to ask mum for forgiveness and prayed that she lived long enough to carry her grand children irrespective of the challenges she was going through.
She was happy and teasingly asked, “How many of my grand children are you going to give me?”
I laughed and told her, “I would give you 10, so that you and my future mother in-law would always be in my house”.
We all laughed the joke out.
4 hours earlier…
Mum wasn’t feeling too well, and the virus that had eaten us up and is still eating until we break away from him has been at home for 1 week, looking a little sane, because he hasn’t touched mum yet. I guess he is still remorseful and mourning the loss of his job. I am talking about my father.
Mum was in high fever, but he cared less. I had to be that man for her. I accepted to harvest cassava for one of the men that were rich by village statute. We reached at an agreed price and I left early enough on Saturday morning to meet up with the work expected of me.
I was under paid after my work and when I pushed on. Demanding that my pay be made complete, the man told me, “see young man, if you weren’t going to leave with what I have given you, you better drop it and ago. After all, you would use it and drink like your father”.
Those words came as if I drank hot water that it spurred me up. I didn’t know when I threw a punch that brought the man to the floor. I ran home immediately.
As I was running towards my home, I was hearing my mum screaming and crying,
“What did I do? What is it again? Please leave me ooo”
I rushed into our sitting room as fast as I can, where I was hearing my mum’s voice from. I was bemused to see my dad sitting on top of my mum, blowing punches at her. I was crazy and didn’t want to know what the problem was.
I ran to the compound and picked a stick, which I used to hit my dad.
That is how I added salt to the sour.
It was not just an ordinary stick; It was later that I saw that the stick I picked was the wooden handle of an old axe head which had gone out. He fell on his face and blood quickly gushed out from his head and nose.
It was at that moment that the adrenaline disposition in my body dissipated. I have killed my father.
Mum’s fever quickly left her, and neighbours were already headed to my house as usual but the nature of noise made after I hit my dad on the head was unusual. This called more attention and within a space of few minutes, passers-by became our visitors too.
I don’t know what to think or say, I am a murderer now. That was all that could come into my head.
I sat beside my father’s corpse, asking him not to give up on me. For the first time I promised him that everything would be alright. There was rather no need for that now, those were words I should have told him 4 hours ago. He is dead now.
In a couple of minutes, I was arraigned first by the local vigilante group before I was handed over to the police; my mum was bitter and crying. My dad’s body was covered and moved by some of the village youths. I guess a lot of them are happy to see me end this way.
I don’t know what life may be for mum from now henceforth. It was both dishonour and loss that visited together. If I would ever come out from this situation, I would work on my anger issues. But I don’t think I would ever live to forgive myself. So, I think the best judgment for me would be to be done to me as I have my dad.
And these were words I wish I was opportune to leave for mummy;
I am sorry I have lived to disappoint you. I wish I could turn the hands of clock; but it is said that if wishes were horses, beggars would fly.
Sorry to have broken your heart with the so many promises I made you about the future, I doubt if it really exists. But live on and be strong.
You are the best mom I would have ever wanted, and if there is anything as next life, you are unarguably my mother.
I am very sorry for all the losses you have faced because of me. I don’t think I have ever brought joy to your heart.
I love you and would always do, even in the grave or behind bars. It is inestimable.
Take care of yourself and I hope you would find consolation.
Your own, Obiajulu”.
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