Equilibrium


I sat outside the house gazing at the starless night sky. The moon was full and its bright light washed over the entire village. As the evening breeze hummed and zoomed by, the thoughts in my head began to play a haphazard peek-a-boo. The evening was neither hot nor cold, it was just there. Far from being serene, the evening was serenaded by the cacophonous harmony of crickets chirping and frogs croaking. Still, the starless sky held my gaze as the thoughts in my head enjoyed themselves.

Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw my siblings playing, oblivious to the cares of the world. All they knew now was food, play, more food and sleep. They were not bothered about chores or even school. Well, at least not anymore. After I struggled to scale through secondary school, education in my family reached menopause, many thanks to my father's erratic behaviour. How I hated that miserable drunk. The happiness on the faces of my siblings was in perfect contrast with the situation of things at home.

As I tried to collect my thoughts, the moon suddenly became dim. A restless and exuberant cloud had blanketed it. I hissed and turned my gaze to the children. From the kitchen, a delicious aroma escaped through the window and wafted towards me, tickling my nose. But instead of kindling my appetite, the aroma made my tongue quiver in anger. I felt goose bumps on my skin as anger, mixed with blood, travelled through my body. In the kitchen, I knew Mama was crying. She had been crying for six days now. Mama was a good cook but even the aroma of the egusi soup could not take away her pain. Our pain.

Ever since Papa got Mama Nkechi pregnant, things had become terrible. First, we had to live with the stigma that came with our father impregnating another man's wife. Then Papa began to put us through rehearsals for hell’s fury. He would come back drunk and beat Mama mercilessly. Whenever anyone tried to intervene, he would blame it all on Mama and my siblings. To him, I was not even in the family picture. To worsen the situation, he would sometimes compare Mama to the useless woman who had locked his mediocre reasoning between her legs. All the money Papa had went to that accursed woman who looked like an overfed ape.

Gradually, Papa stopped coming home often. I was never bothered but Mama was worried sick. She began to lose weight and in no time, she was looking like a great-grandmother. Our ship began to race towards icebergs with the malicious intention of sinking. Still, she kept on praying for her husband but God knows I never said a single amen to any of the prayers. To me, they were not necessary. I had already begun to tell people that I was fatherless. And in the real sense of it, I was.

But away from that and back to the house, Mama soon announced that food was ready and my enthusiastic siblings rushed inside to eat. I just sat down and continued to brood. Then I saw the man, who I once knew as my father, staggering towards the house. I did not move. I simply sat there and watched him fool himself until he finally managed to get inside. I stood up and followed in the wake of the grotty human being who looked like a misshapen vampire.

As soon as he entered, he began to shout for food. Mama promptly brought his own share of the pounded yam and egusi with fried fish. I just stood by the door, staring daggers at him. Then he began to shout and complain, calling her all sorts of names. He accused her of sleeping with other men so she could get money to cook. His senseless accusations behoved a drunken man and I was not moved. Until he carried the plate of soup and emptied it on Mama's head.

Mama screamed as the soup cascaded down her face and the hot pepper stung her eyes. Then Papa pounced on her and began to rain blows. My siblings began to cry and the whole room suddenly became chaotic. I stood at the doorway and watched as the wretched drunk beat up my mother. Tears raced down my cheeks but rage kept a tight rein on my limbs.

Finally, she stopped moving. I knew what had happened but Papa kept pounding her with his fists. Then the rage let go of my limbs. I rushed at Papa and toppled him. He was shocked and tried to push me off. As he tried to get back up, he slipped and fell backwards. And something snapped. I did not care. As long as he could not touch Mama again, I was satisfied. Then I called for help and the neighbours came. They helped Mama first. I was glad they did.

Well, Mama is blind now. But we are definitely happy with our new lives. Uncle Clement, Mama’s elder brother, took us in and made things beautiful again. The last I heard of Papa was that he survived the fall but is now confined to a wheelchair. I was a little bit disappointed. I wanted him gone forever. It would have been good riddance to terrible garbage.

I eventually joined the military and made a vow; Mama would enjoy the rest of her life and my siblings would never have someone like Papa as husband.

And as for Papa, I hope he enjoys the rest of his paralysed life.

3 comments:

  1. nice write up, if only people will understand that the pains left in the wake of alcohol far supersedes it's joy

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't even know what to comment...keep on the good work

    ReplyDelete
  3. And this one is a definition of a beautiful writing

    ReplyDelete

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