She said she was fine, but when he insisted, she only told him that conjunctivitis had been disturbing her for some days now. I knew mummy was lying but I couldn’t say otherwise.
Days became months and months to a year with some few months. We found ourselves thriving and pushing on in our untold condition, until it was a year and 6 months in our found condition.
Dad had sold his car, to pay the bank the little he could and gradually, things in our house began to leave; our electronic sets, the chairs in the sitting room and I think I saw dad sell some of his shirts, trousers and ties to his colleagues. It wasn’t about what was sold that got to me the most, but what my dad turned into; he became a chronic drunk and soothed himself with snuff. He smiled at some rude customers who came to buy some of our properties. I can remember an occasion where one customer told him,
“Oga you know say na help wey I dey help you so. No be say I need all this things wey you wan sell”.
My dad simply smiled and told him, “No problem, just give me the money. Na money my body need na”.
That was when I understood how hot and boiling the soup we were in was. How can a man who was meant to be my model simply stand, gulp and assimilate a nonsense coming from a man who I knew how the children visited our home for food, in the fair days? The wife once came to our house like a beggar, mum took her to her room and gave her two sacks full of clothes she needed less and the ones she could no longer wear.
Today he stood to talk to my dad as he wishes because of a thwart in the hands of the clock. I felt disappointed with my father and our situation. But what surprised me most was that, before evening, dad had come to ask mum to help him with some cash. “How could this be?” I asked myself.
Mum had got a kiosk where she fries akara, plantain and yam. That business had sustained the family in a long while. It was with the help of her elder brother and her other 2 surviving siblings. Thanks to grandma who talked sense into them, after 2 years of Oguadinma’s death.
She told them,
“You don’t get angry at your blood until it turned to madness. If she had seen the death of her kid brother that was like her first son, do you think she would have allowed it to happen? It was an accident, so, let us forgive and forget what had happened”, those words were my grandmother’s peace statements that brought my mummy back to her people again.
They couldn’t bear her going about asking for help and food for the family. So, they aided her with the little fund they could raise to help sustain the family.
But dad had turned into a masquerade of himself, sometimes I wondered if termites had infested his brains. He hasn’t shaved in months now and always comes home drunk. I have never seen my parents really go into a heated argument before now, but of late, my dad slapped my mum in one of his drinking gatherings amongst his bear friends. That was a peripheral act to what we were going to be seeing in the house later.
The brain that was filled with ideas and an elegant, bold looking man who had a voice savoured like a woman had gone. I have heard some of my mother’s friends in the days of their gossip tease her that they knew she fell for Mr. Uwaezuoke’s voice. But now that voice is chaotic and had failed. He often speaks with terror and authority now.
We are 8 months into the rent expiration of our flat, and the landlord had become a regular visitor. He had respected my dad because of their long-lasting relationship of tenant and landlord. My dad has always been up to date in his rent aside now. I guess today was totally different.
There was a heavy banging on our door, we became accustomed to the landlord’s style of knocking as we need not to see him, before we know who it was that was knocking. Dad ran inside quickly and asked mum to get to the door, the way he ran wasn’t a surprise to me. After all, he runs from his own shadows now.
The landlord presented my mum with a piece of paper and screamed, “2 weeks! Just 2 weeks!!” and left. It was an early Saturday morning. Mum came in downcast and just threw the paper to the floor. She no longer cries in situations like this. I bet she had developed stronger epidermis to our situation. I cried more now, especially days I was left without food. But mum’s fries were now the saving grace even days I didn’t feel like eating it. It was a ‘QUIT NOTICE’ from the landlord. It has been long perceived, just that it was yet to happen.
When dad came out of his hiding after he was sure the landlord had gone, mum presented him the letter on the floor. He looked at it and only said, “I am grateful I have my own house in my father’s house. No man would come and insult me”. He tossed the paper aside and went out to his drinking business.
He was not joking when he stated so, and that was how our journey to the village came to be.
Mum has been knotting her wrapper to meet up with my school fees, while we were in the city. I was in primary 3. But our coming to the village would draw me back; my maternal home wanted me to stay with them while my parents travelled back to our village. Mum told them I was of great company to her, since she wasn’t accustomed with the people in the village, while my dad kicked against the idea entirely.
“Is it for the world to know I can no longer take care of my family again?” he said, when mum mentioned what her family had suggested to her.
This particular suggestion brought up a strong misunderstanding and dad left to marry his bottles of bear.
I had to drop an academic year, due to the time we left to the village. Coming down here was the worst decision I think my dad ever took for our family.
He now mingled with his kinsmen that had no direction to life nor had come to experience the dimmest light of education. I saw my dad die daily to ignorance. I wouldn’t doubt one of his colleagues who mentioned that his case was a spiritual one because it became worse everyday. He emaciated daily and left hairs often bushy before he shaved. If mum suggested that he at least went to the saloon, it would result to a fight.
We all had that touch of poverty visibly manifesting by seeing us, but my father’s was close to madness. In no time, village people began nosing around and making speculations that my mum was controlling my dad with some voodoo or whatever the speculations were. Overtime time, my dad began to see my mum as the potential cause of his downfall.
“If you weren’t messing up at your workplace, we wouldn’t have found ourselves in a tougher situation”, he began telling my mum often when he wanted to shift blames.
One of the days, my mum woke up to a distasteful sight in our sitting room. She had long borne a lot, but what she saw this morning, she would not allow it go just like that.
We didn’t know dad came in last night; he slept off in the sitting room. The place was pungent from alcohol and urine. Daddy threw up everywhere and urinated as well.
Mum could not take it that he brought a cup of water to wake dad with it.
Dad jerked out from the floor he was, fiercely. He was mad when he knew my mum used a cup of water to wake him.
There was exchange of words and my house generated a heat which could steam the whole village. As if that was not enough, Dad pounced on mum and began to beat her. I tried separating them it wasn’t working; 2 of our neighbours in the village came running to our house when I went outside to scream.
I thought daddy was going to kill mummy that day, as he kept strangling and twisting her neck. Before the 2 young men who were coming could arrive, I jumped on my father’s back. I began to bite him so that he can leave mummy.
He flung me so hard that I used my head to break a side stool. That was the much I remembered, there was a total black out.
Have you been following the series? Do well to leave your comments and contributions as well. If you started with this, try to read the others till here.
Anticipate the next episode come Wednesday next week.