LOYOLA JESUIT COLLEGE,
KARU-KARSHI ROAD, GIDAN MANGORO,
JULY 4TH 2013
I watch my mum; I can see her lips moving. Watching her face all I could feel was the fear I felt, the horror I felt. The hatred I felt a couple of hours ago on my bed in my dorm room. I jerk back when my mother slaps me, my palm trying to soften the burn she left behind. My eyes tearing up, I burst into tears. She grabs me by the hand and drags me towards the car saying a quick thank you to the security guard. The drive home is quiet; I cry silently stealing a glance at my mother every chance I get. She pulls into our driveway and in anguish I run to the front door, her screams and the sound of her shoes against the paved floor following closely behind me.
I run up the stairs into my room, with shaky hands I push the lock, her hand against the door stopping me; she pushes me in and locks the door behind her. She pulls me into the bathroom. I bend my head and cry, she hugs me. ‘Why did you get suspended? Your father has been shouting all day, you know how bad he gets. Nene why would you do this? He says you hit someone; Nene what have I taught you? Why will you fight in school? And with two people to worsen matters. Not only that, you decide to fight with Ekene and Ebere! Nene ehn.’ My head throbbing relentlessly, pushing her away I sit on the floor.’ you can’t even ask what happened. ‘You can’t ask for my side of the story?’ ‘I was getting to that ‘. She replies and sits down opposite me,’ what’s your version? ‘She asks. I wipe the tears from my face.’ I did a lot of cleaning this morning in my hostel, Connelly. Lola was sick so I had to do hers, and I was tired because we had school projects. I slept for a bit, didn’t even know when I passed out’ my voice croaking behind the strain of my nasal cavity.
‘I woke up and I couldn’t move or breathe, someone had my legs pinned and someone else my hands, the last person had a pillow pressed on my face. Mama eh we hom n ike kwome (Mama I was suffocating!) , I couldn’t breathe…, she held me muttering ‘ogbu ho nwam chukwu e ke kwe’ ( not my daughter, God forbid ) her hold on me tightening. ‘I’m sorry I didn’t mean to.’ I whisper from her chest ‘Tolu came into my room for her bag and they stopped. I was so scared, confused and angry I just pushed Teresa the last girl with them and Ebere fell. They all convinced the mistress it was my fault. Ebere said I was going to pay for the gash she got on her head. So she told the mistress that I did it intentionally, she draws me closer murmuring in our native tongue. ‘zela nwansi ke ezigbo nsi alin nwetei ehn Nene. I’ll talk to your father, I don’t want him to hurt you, you know how he gets.’ she said ‘no mummy, I’ll tell him. Just tell him you already beat me so it won’t be as bad as the last time. Don’t worry mama I can take it. I want both of you happy before your wedding weekend’. I smile burying my head in her chest I sigh remembering the last time he beat me. He used a belt, a whip and his penis. I was warned to keep my mouth shut or he’ll throw my mother and me out of the house.
JULY 4TH 2013
With my eyes counting invisible stars, and the hum of the air conditioner; I fight off my droopy eyelids and stifle a yawn. The clock ticks by my head as my eyes close. I jerk awake at the sound of my door hitting the wall behind and whimper when the lights flood the room, I see my father by the door. I push back against the bed rest, my blurry vision trying to make sense of the two arrows on the clock. I stand and back up against the wall ‘daddy biko nu, I’m sorry. Daddy please!!!’ I scream. The whip slices into my back; a second of severe pain and distension on my back forcing a scream to escape my lip. My father dealt my back again, with another lash; the pain again on my back, another on my right thigh, my hand, my back. He is in rage. I scream and cry begging for forgiveness.
I lose count and fall to the floor trying to shield my father’s whip from my face, I scream for my mother wondering why she isn’t coming. I scream more and more as I see the bulges on my skin. I crawl into the corner on my knees letting the whip fall on my back like the old times. I thought my body was used to the pain, it hurts so much… With my back numb from the persistent slashes, dizziness surrounds my vision. The sound of his voice in the distance yelling ‘ungrateful bastard’, the slashes stop coming he grabs my leg dragging me against the floor I stop struggling to lessen the pain. He pulls me to my bed and tears at the knickers I have on. The smell of hard liquor floods my nostrils when he whispers ‘ungrateful bitch’ the scream I swallow when he grabs forcefully on my breast, his nails digging more scars on already healed wounds. I stop struggling and cry remembering my mother’s warnings the last time. She said it was easier and less painful. He hits my head and pushes me against the wall, the whip slamming against my buttocks. With my body pinned to the wall, my father’s large belly unscrupulously hitting against my body and wounds. A scream escapes my throat when he grabs my hair pulling me forward, I weep trying to reduce my voice to reduce my mother’s pain in case she was listening behind the locked doors. He pushes me against the wall and slams into me after which I black out.
My father is a very traditional and strict man; he believes in discipline and hates embarrassment. Anything that would grime the name of the family, despite his abundant wealth he hates the banks, he discarded every idea my mother had about keeping money in the bank, he said it was not safe. Instead he kept it scattered about his room in little places; places only my mum knows. He loves my mother but as the ‘diokpa’ he was forced to marry Chidinma to join Lohumime nyi and Akoli tribe together as his father said. Three years into the marriage my mother had me; Chidinma had my half sisters Ekene and Ebere. She had given birth but she was still pregnant, with a tummy bigger than when she was actually pregnant. Seven years into the marriage my mother had my brother; Chidinma had my other sisters Onyekachi and Ngozi. The day my brother was born my father moved my mother into his house with my brother and I; Chidinma made a fuss, she was locked up in her room away from her children. Only years later did I find out she was beaten by my father. She lost the baby she carried for him that night. It was a boy. My mother, she knew how much it’ll anger my grandfather if she let my brother stay; especially after what happened to Chidinma. She took him to live with her sister Amechi and talked my father into liking the idea…
JULY 4TH 2013
I jerk up wincing from the pain flooding my body, the hard mattress pressing into my skin relieving my wound, I cry out. My mother covers my mouth and helps me off my bed; she leads me out of my room, up the stairs to where she and my father spend their nights. Closing the door silently she faces me and whispers ‘Nne, it has happened! Hurry call Amechi, tell her to take your brother to Calabar, tell her to make sure she does not mention it to anybody, tell her we will meet them there the minute the burial is over. Tell her the deed is done that they would come for us next so we have to hurry.’ In confusion and pain I stagger and shake my head ‘what??’ with blank eyes she stares at me ‘My daughter your father is dead but you must not cry, you must fight for now they want us all gone’ her voice was with the wind, for with each word she mentioned I felt it pass through my right ear and out the left one, my skin fuming from the assault he dealt on me.
I watch her in awe, trying to answer the question stuck on my throat ‘mama how?’ I watch as she carefully searches my father’s room for bundles of money he kept around the house, I watch her grab each bundle in different currencies in a bag. ‘Mama please, talk to me!’ My voice croaks ‘mummy, what did you do?’ I ask in a voice barely above a whisper, my eyes watering. She stiffens and drops the duffle bag on the king size mattress, she pulls me into her arms mindful of my wounds and places a kiss on my head. ‘He is with baba. Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers too. Look at what he did to my beautiful daughter. You might not understand now but I don’t have time to explain.’ I nod in her chest, she pulls me out of her embrace and put her phone in my hand, I search through the device for aunty Amechi number and dial, she picks up after the second ring ‘Ify?’ ‘Aunty Amechi, its Nene.’ ‘My darling what’s wrong?’ I smile. My mother and I always make fun of Aunty Amechi. Her 3 months first ever trip to London a couple of years ago changed her completely, she became the lady who used the words ‘darling, dear’ at the end of any sentence and she developed an undying love for tea, no matter the weather. I try my best to repeat everything my mother said hearing her voice quiver over the phone. ‘Tell Ify to not make me worry and to send a text whenever she can’. With that she hangs up.
‘She says you should not make her worry and text when you can’ my mother smiles warily, she seems to have aged so much in just a few hours. In a daze I make my way to the bathroom, in front of the door I sit on the white soft carpet and let the tears flow, my father with his briefs on both his ankles, his magazine on the floor and his protruding belly covering what’s left of his privates both slouched on the floor, brown liquid beside his legs, and his white singlet above his head, white liquid foaming where his head is. I choke on the smell of his faecal matter. Like that of treason. I can’t see his face, fighting the urge to hold him and cover him up so no one could see him like this I wipe the tears from my eyes before standing up to join my mother in search for our future ‘mummy what about Chidinma?’ my mother hisses and pulls out a bundle from the mattress she and my father spent most their days. ‘Chidinma is not stupid.’ with firmness and placid disposition she ends the conversation.
Just a few hours ago my father had come into my room after work to scold me. His idea of scolding was a good beating. I had gotten used to that till mid may last year when it became rape. The beating stopped when I fainted. My mother had come in to clean up my wounds. 3 hours after, dozed with heavy pain killers she comes into my room and tells me not to make a sound, with stuporus eyes, through the darkness and hums from the air conditioners I had followed her to the fourth floor of the massive house where my father’s room is located. Now 30 minutes later my father’s body is still in his bathroom and my mother has a bag of money in her hand.
‘Nene, take’ she pushes the black bag into my hands. Take it to your room and hide it. Make sure nobody finds it Nene… I mean nobody!’ I nod thinking of places to put it. ‘Go now and be very quiet, nobody must know you were here. Do you understand?’ I nod again. Making my way out of the room I tip toe to the second floor, the cold tiles leaving goose pimples in their wake. I push the door of my bed room open feeling the warmth of my rug almost immediately. I lock the door behind me. Dropping the duffle bag on my bed I make my way to the bathroom and put on the light, with the reflection of the yellow light on my mirror, I could see my bed. I walk into the bedroom and with the strength left in me I push my mattress off the rug towards the window and pull the rug from the tiled floor careful not to make a sound. I look at the clock on the wall 3:17am. I have 13 minutes left. I remove 4 tiles from their place and push the duffle bag into the hole in the floor, I grab my wrapper from the chair beside me and push it into the hole to hide the bag, placing the tiles back in place I cover the dusty tiles with the soft brown rug and pull my bed in place. Turning off the bathroom light I lay on my bed waiting. Then I hear it, my mother’s screams above me. It has begun, now everybody will know my father is dead.
About the author
Ezinne Oduah is a student, and an avid reader. She escapes into books when she is not busy trying to find her place in the world.
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