Life came back to the house later in the evening, I was back to myself and the home was filled with life again. Though our trip to the village was cancelled for Christmas due to my temporal illness and it was rescheduled for the New Year.
At this point I felt the hot droplets of tears on my cheek rolling down from my eyes speedily, it was reflex and I didn’t ask for it neither could I stop it. I feel it was an expression of words which could not be uttered, and that was the much I could say for the condition I found myself. Every man has a breaking point definitely and this was not just a breaking point for me, it was a dying point. I wished for a stray bullet to hit me and just end the story or a landslide that would swallow me up instantaneously.
While I was hurriedly carried away, my home became a tourist point of wailing and tears with an expression of hate from my unprecedented guest to me. They don’t need to tell me, I heard their many voices in my head, voices expressing disgust which could not be hidden from their eyes which seemed like hot embers.
For the first time I couldn’t look at my mother’s face nor her direction. It became taunting and hurting. And I desired to be quickly dragged out of the scene not to comfort, but so that whatever should happen, would be quick and fast.
So, this was the turning point of my life.
The 2nd term break was on, and Oguadinma spent it with us. That was the best holiday I could ever remember. We went to mum’s shop daily and when we got back we would go to our room and play games ranging from whot to ludo and he would always beat me hands down in those games. I insisted we continue playing any of the games, so I could beat him at least for the first time and he would tell me he was tired and needed to sleep. But I would disturb until he says, “Let’s switch to the game you can play and win”.
It was 2 days for Oguadinma to go home as school would be resuming by next week. We were at the shop; mum just came in from work and was tired. A customer bought some snacks and needed a balance which we didn’t have. Mum, unmindfully sent Oguadinma to go look for a balance and I wanted to follow him but he said I should wait so he can be faster, I grudgingly accepted.
In less than 1 minute, there was a screeching sound of a tire with a very loud ‘gbua!’ sound that was accompanied with shouts of ‘Hey! Hey!!’
Mum seemed like she came back from a trance and rushed out with the waiting customer. The scene was awry, covered in blood, and to my mum’s amazement, her kid brother’s life had been snuffed out of him under her watch.
She threw herself to the road and cried profusely. There was no need to ask, Oguadinma being alive would be a miracle. The car that knocked him down was out of the scene and there was no coming vehicle willing to help. People held mum but she couldn’t be controlled. I was taken out from
the scene by a neighbour. As I followed them after they ran.
Finally, after 15 minutes Oguadinma was carried in a pickup van to the hospital where he was confirmed dead due to loss of so much blood and the severity of the injury sustained. That was when the night became long, thick dark and cold. If Oguadinma had stayed 2 months ahead, he would have turned 14.
The death of Oguadinma was a nightmare that gripped and never left me, ‘my only brother and friend’. That was the first time life clouded me with shades of confusion and left me to ask questions which the answers were yet to come.
On mum’s side, she went into a long misunderstanding with her immediate family as they blamed Oguadinma’s death on her; they said it was as a result of her carelessness that led to his death. That accusation was like a huge stone hung to her neck, she wasn’t going to forget it soon nor forgive herself in a long while.
She closed down her shop, which she called ‘the cause of her sorrow’, and 2 months into Oguadinma’s death mum was visibly confused and lacked organization. She readily got mad at things that didn’t matter and would shout even if she was at fault. She would keep things and forget where she kept it. I bore most of these acts alone which made me miserable and uncomfortable. Less I forget, I was hospitalized for 2 weeks after the death of Oguadinma, as the reflection of seeing Oguadinma lifeless in the pool of his blood kept creeping into my head, I was psychologically drained and put asunder. At mid days and sometimes night, I would recite my conversations with Oguadinma or call his name out. I would be patted at my back and called to sanity, I would sleep off and my fever would rise.
Dad was rarely at home these days. When I asked mum why it was so, she said he needed to work more than usual to keep his work. She said they were facing some financial setbacks in the office. I barely understood what she was trying to say then.
I really regretted being the only child now. My few demands from mum had become a crime. If I needed to make myself uncomfortable I would tell mum to buy this or that. I would be reminded of how I wasn’t paying her salary and sometimes I caused Oguadinma’s death. I would cry and cry, there was none to console me, I had to learn how to console myself. If she asked me to remind her about some things she needed to do and I didn’t, I was expecting hell to be let loose. It got to an extent that I began to ask and imagine if I was picked up or truly ‘this woman’s child’, as I saw her then, but the feeling could not be expressed as I was just 4 but that was how I felt and it developed into a feeling of disgust and hate for mum then. The responsibility saddled on me was way more than my age and I was stressed and sapped of vigour and happiness.
I started seeing little or none of those relatives of mine again. I wondered what happened. I was about asking mummy why my so many brothers and sisters weren’t coming as they used to anymore, as I opened my mouth, I remembered it may be an issue and never spoke about it.
I woke up one morning crying bitterly and mom rushed out to me. She demanded to know what happened to me, but I couldn’t express myself, I was lost in tears. I kept calling Oguuu! As it was the most expressible way I called him.
“Oguadinma what? What happened my boy?”
I still couldn’t tell her anything. She held me to her bosom and cried with me, she encouraged me promising that everything would be fine.
“It must have been a dream”, she said.
Indeed it was a dream, I saw Oguadinma turning his back on me, I called and called on him, he wasn’t willing to look back at him, I ran until I caught up with him but I couldn’t touch him. His countenance was bad and he was in red tears. Immediately I got the glimpse of his face, I woke up.
I noticed mum’s better change of attitude towards me, after a long while. That never meant she wasn’t still crazy and forgets, but definitely not towards me like the usual.
I had wondered if she wasn’t doing anything again in the office, she seldom goes to work. Even if she does, she comes home earlier than the usual, looking angry and confused. But now she looks better and organized. I came back from school with Googoo and stayed in their apartment while mum came back from the office, and would pick me from there.
One day mummy came back with a colleague from the office and they had to work on many sheets that were spread out across the table. I didn’t know what it was but then I know she was busy. She forgot to pick me up from Googoo’s place while she came back today. It was Googoo’s elder brother Chiadikobi who checked up on her to know if she was back from work. That was when she remembered that I wasn’t in the house; I had already slept up off. But then my eyes were clear as I entered our apartment. I was calm for a little while, and then I started to play with few of my toys while mum was still busy with what she had to do. I had already eaten at Googoo’s place, so mum was relieved to know I wasn’t hungry. I slept off while playing with my toys.
Mum woke me up earlier than usual to prepare for school and while I was reluctant to get up from the bed, she gave me a spanking that made me prepare for school in tears that morning. Though mum kept apologizing to me as her colleague rebuked her for hitting me as such. Aunty Nneka was a nice person from the little I know about her, she embraced me and told me not to cry. Mum was acting under another influence I presumed.
Mum came to pick me up from school which has not been ever since the term began. Her eyes were swollen and reddened. I kept asking her whether she was ok but she said she was fine. I wasn’t comfortable because I know that if she was busy in the office she wouldn’t have made it at the time she did or she would not come around at all. I would have left with Googoo as usual.
We came home; mum changed my clothes and fed me. She held me close to herself as she wept bitterly, I was left in outright confusion, she cried until I slept off.
Mum wasn’t in haste the next morning; she tenderly prepared and took me to school, she was looking all sickly.