It’s been a while I wrote a story so I thought, ‘Why not?’ Hopefully, it doesn’t turn out to be a short story this time and I can’t promise a new chapter every week but I’ll try my best to see what I can do. I thought about this scene just before I was about to sleep last night and as usual, it has an African/Nigerian setting. This is because I want my readers from all over the world to relate with our culture. I really hope you enjoy reading this. This is Chapter One…
I watched her as she laid on the bed, peacefully in another world, probably one filled with a lot of milk, breast milk. Her hair was so curly and her face so gentle as she pouted. She was the sweetest thing ever and I couldn’t believe that I birthed her. I bent to turn her to her side, I had heard tales of people being possessed while sleeping, body facing upwards, I wasn’t about to let that happen. As soon as I touched her, she woke up and all the peace had vanished from her face, and before I knew it, she started bawling.
I carried a crying Mama from the bed and patted her back while making hush sounds to calm her down, she looked into my eyes and I could see the love she felt for me, the only love I felt. I placed her on my back and was about to place an old Ankara wrapper on her to properly tuck her in and firmly unto my back when I heard her father’s voice.
The shock made me stand up straight so fast, I didn’t want to be punished for not answering him.
‘Sir?‘, I began to speak, but I was replied with a loud wail, from my baby girl. I turned to see that Mama had fallen from my back. Oh my God! Luckily for me, only a half part of her body was on the floor. The other half, the upper part, had landed safely on the mattress, which had no bed frame, which was on the floor.
I quickly bent to pick her up, patting her back, repeatedly saying sorry as I did so. Her father walked in, obviously drunk. He had been getting drunk almost every single day for the past one year and some months, after he lost his job and that was when every thing just changed.
‘Did you not hear me calling you? Eh?’ He staggered as he walked towards me. ‘See. Better- better tell that thing to shut up. I want to hear myself think.’ I scoffed as I heard that. ‘Could this one ever think?’ I thought.
He looked at me, staggered towards the bed and slumped on it. I heaved a sigh of relief. Thankfully, he’d be asleep till the next morning.
Mama had stopped crying then, she probably was also thinking about how useless her father was. I looked at her again, caressing her head, my first and fifth child. The fifth I had conceived, the first I had ever gotten to see.
I went to the sitting room, sat on a chair close to the door and opposite the only window in that room, so I could feel some fresh air breezing through that dark evening as opening the door for fresh air wasn’t a mistake I was willing to make. As I sat, I thought about all I’d been through in the hands of the devil himself, my skin had been bruised, like a highway with several speed bumps. Only this time, the speed bumps were scars I’d gotten from his numerous beatings. I looked at my daughter, my only source of happiness, she had fallen asleep on my breasts, she looked so peaceful and for that moment, I felt everything in the world would fall into place soon. Staring out the window, I noticed there was a full moon that night and I wished to be like it, wished to be whole again.
I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed, almost like I had the most perfect dream. There was also this bold thought in my head, almost like it was screaming at me. ‘Run! Get out of that house!’ It was all I could hear that morning, beyond Mama’s cries, beyond the swishing sound of the broom against the chipped concrete floor, beyond the sound the rag made as it beat against the furniture. ‘Run, Emike. Leave this house!’
I had finished tidying up the whole house and preparing breakfast. Mama’s father was still asleep as I walked into our bedroom to call him out for breakfast.
‘Collins, your food is ready,’ I said, as I tapped gently on his arm. He opened his eyes wide like he had seen a hungry lion, grunted while scratching his nose and made that really annoying sound in his throat like there was a cockroach down there he was trying so bad to wake up. Collins didn’t acknowledge my morning greetings that day; like any other day. He just went straight to the sitting room to eat his food. After eating the yam and egg sauce I had prepared, like it was his last meal on earth, and with no appreciation whatsoever, he picked up his wallet and chewing stick and off he went. I knew he was not coming back till later that night and so, I had the whole day to myself. To perfectly plan and execute, because I had to leave him, for good. For my sanity and for Mama’s.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Tell me what you think about it ☺️