As my mother was about to say whatever she planned to, a neighbor sluggishly dragged himself to our doorstep looking very tired and stressed. He looked tired, probably from the constant noise he had to put up with from us; and especially this Sunday night. Behind him was his wife.
As he got to us, he greeted my mother and signaled that she said nothing. He looked at my sisters and I, and he looked at my father, who by this time was trying to act like the learned person that he was.
He told his wife to get us inside first, while he spoke with my father. So she took us into their house, brought out cold bottles of coke and biscuits for us to eat. We were so happy, because we had not had dinner.
The fight had started since the afternoon, and only grew bigger by the hour.
My neighbor’s wife spoke to my mother in their apartment, while her husband was speaking to my father in ours. After at least an hour, my mother come to wake my sisters and I up where we were sleeping to return with her to our apartment.
We got in as quietly as we could. My Mother went immediately to the kitchen to get us a glass of water to use the pain reliever she always carried in her bag.
We all used it, except for my father. He probably didn’t have any pain to relieve himself off.
… Three weeks after
Of course, things went back to normal.
Normal meaning they began to talk to each other, fought on little things and then made up and made out shamelessly.
By now, you can tell that I already hate the word love. I didn’t understand why two people who claimed to love each other so dearly would hurt each other like they meant nothing to each other. I didn’t know what to think of it, so I just assumed that I was too young to understand it.
After about three weeks of the ugly incident, father travelled to Abuja. I am not sure what he went for, but I heard mother complaining to her sister about how she saw a text message on his phone that indicated that he was going on that trip with his co-worker, Aunty Caro.
For all that it was worth though, there was peace. Mother was herself and jovial for the most part; and so I didn’t care where my father went or with whom he went with. I just wanted this peace to last as long as it could.
One evening, my mother came back home extremely happy. She had been talking on the phone for long, and was calling everyone. I decided to drop my novel, to ask her what had happened. I was hoping that perhaps, I will hear that father had had an accident and had died.
It wasn’t that.
She just got admitted to study Food Nutrition at the University of Ilorin. One of the things my father insulted her with was that she only went to a College when her mates were Degree holders.
Not that anything was wrong if you only went to the College of Education, but mother always wanted a degree, and father knew that and so, used it as a weapon against her.
She was happy about the admission and as she contemplated how to manage work, family and school; it occurred to her that she had not even told my father about her application to the University.
She knew that it didn’t matter if she could manage it all, if father didn’t think she could, then she could not, because he won’t allow her pursue it.
“He is returning this evening, so fingers crossed,” she said to me.
“Good day everyone o. I’m back,” Father called out that evening.
As usual, Bimpe, Ronke and I rushed out to give him a hug and welcome him, but mother stayed in the room; probably pretending to be asleep or in the toilet.
She has to wait for about five minutes after his arrival to know what mood he came with.
“Welcome dear. How was your trip? You didn’t even bother to call us, or send us money to feed. It has been tough here,” mum greeted him.
Oh No! Mom didn’t just say that. Not now, not here. Calm down mom, was all I kept thinking to myself.
She apparently was mad that he went on the trip with Aunt Caro, but she quickly forgot that the man she was dealing with was unrepentant and never sorry.
“You should have said that from the streets, why are you not feeding the house? After all, we both work,” he retorted sharply. Things were about to become ugly very quickly.
Mom continued, “Sometimes I wonder why you act so carelessly. You leave us for days to go to wherever and you don’t think you should be apologetic.”
“Apparently I didn’t stay out long enough.”
He surprisingly walked out of the house and of course, didn’t return until late in the night. He returned at precisely 11:30pm.
I know because I was still reading for my exams. I was preparing to write my jamb and post jamb afterwards.
“What’s for dinner woman?”
Momreplied, “Rice and fish stew.”
“I don’t like fish, and you know rice is not one of my best meals. Make me beans and plantain.”
“Beans and plantain by this time? When you know I am going to work tomorrow. Why didn’t you call me to tell me what you wanted?”
“Why didn’t you call me to ask?”
“I did, you didn’t pick.”
“Why didn’t you send a text?”
“I expected that you would call back.”
Then again, there was a minute silence and then a rush of wind, which happened to be my daddy beating mom again.
He beat her so hard, she started screaming my name.
Mom never screams my name because she was always scared father would hurt me if I tried to get in. I rushed in to where she was and father screamed that I go back to my room.
Not knowing what to do, I went to bang my neighbor’s door but got no answer. It was the last Friday of the month, and they had gone for their monthly church program.
I rushed back upstairs as fast as I could, but daddy was already in the sitting room, eating the rice and fish stew he hated so much. I tiptoed back into their room before he got mad that I wanted to alert the neighbor.
I saw mom on the floor bleeding, he had beaten her so bad with the iron tip of his belt that her skin had bruises. She waved me off to bed, saying, “I’ll be fine, just go and check on your sisters. Go to bed”.
The next day, I saw her all dressed and ready for work like nothing happened.
She was bruised and you could see the marks on her face, but she didn’t care. She probably had a story she usually told her colleagues when this happened.
On her way out I heard her tell daddy that she had gained admission and she would be resigning to relocate next month. She also told him that she had gotten another school in Ilorin for my sisters.
She said she intended to come home every Friday and return on Monday mornings or Sunday evenings.
Daddy didn’t say a word, but you could see that he was shocked. He didn’t expect that she would have time to think of developing herself. Mom proudly walked out with my sisters to school, while I returned to my books.
A few minutes later, I heard my daddy’s phone conversation.
“Hello Prof, my wife just told me she gained admission to your university. Is there a way we can make that history? It’s too far from home and you know if I tell her not to go, women and their wahala, she won’t understand. Thank you Prof, I owe you one.”
Daddy hissed as he stood up from the bed. “Unilorin ko, Unilorin ni. Let’s see who is going to Unilorin now”, he said.
I was dumb founded. I didn’t know if I should run after mother to tell her not to resign just yet, or tell her about the incident that had just happened. I wasn’t sure what to say, because the last time I opened my mouth about Aunty Caro, we almost got thrown to the streets.
I didn’t know what to do, but I knew hell was about to visit our apartment again.
*P.S: If you missed it, you can read Episode 1 here.