#BlogFest 2:0, Day 29 – #30dayscountdownto2016
Dad exchanged his ‘d’ for a ‘b’ and became bad. Things began to fall apart after seven months of Dad not finding another suitable job. He was sacked a few years ago after the company he worked for was sold out; the new owners complained of the availability of too much members of the staff. This made them to sack several of them, especially those above the age of forty. Dad was forty-five; therefore, he was blown out by the frustrating wind of a sack letter. He came home that day looking like a rotten pawpaw, announced the sad news to my mother who lifted her face to the sky and asked God “why him, why us?” She never stopped lifting her face towards the sky, pregnant with questions for God, who seemed to be as silent as a stone.
Gradually, we began selling our belongings until we became belonging-less like a peacock that has shredded off all its feathers, displaying ugly nakedness. We moved to our village from the city, to dwell in my late paternal grandfather’s hut (a red circular mud structure with rusted zinc for roof and broken plastered floor and walls, in which lizards and ants do hide-and-seek), because we had sold almost everything we used to have.
Dad became a man of two wives: Mom, his first wife, and a bottle of beer, his second wife. After a while, in the village, a bottle of beer became an expensive gold for him to afford; so his insatiable drinking spirit chose to succumb to local palm wine, popularly called emu. Every morning, he went to a palm wine joint to beg for or buy a calabash, gourd or keg full of emu. He stayed there all day because the joint was his new office and drinking palm wine was his new job. The palm wine turned him into an avid chatterbox and a professional palm wine drunkard.
At night, he came home chanting and cursing. The palm wine made Mom to look like a punching bag before his eyes, so he punched her until he dosed off while punching. Punching Mom seemed to be a sleeping pill that ushered him into Sleep Island.
In addition to the punches, sometimes, Mom became a football, and Dad kicked her about in our mini-stadium hut. He claimed she was responsible for his failures and miseries. Mom’s eyes would then become red cloudy skies and they would rain down a deluge of salty waters. I would sit beside her after every beating ritual, and offer my eyes as a generous contributor to the flood of tears. Mother and daughter would become one soul in the weeping epilogue.
Dad had become a two-year old professional drunkard before palm wine impregnated him; a semi-circle bulged out below his diaphragm. As his belly grew, so did his zeal for beating Mom. And sometimes after beating her, he would pull off the wrapper Mom always tied around her, throw her on the metallic bed that always creaked when he was on top of her.
He saw me as a dead shadow because I was a girl and not the boy he had always prayed for, and he did not bother my watching them making coerced love, watching everything he did to Mom – the hitting and entering.
Whenever he was doing his thing on Mom and the bed creaked, Mom too made funny noises, but that of the bed was thicker or probably, masculine. And dad made an annoying noise only whenever he was asleep. He often sounded like Pa. James’ tokunbo car whenever he claimed the engine had knocked out. Then, I began to wonder if Dad’s brain engine had knocked out for him to make such a noise that was more masculine than that of the bed. Or, is it that he usually dreamt of Pa. James’ car and he imitated the stupid noise of it to mock Pa. James?
One sweat-ridden evening, Dad came home drunk as usual with his mouth gushing with curses and chants.
“Olowo orimi, ekabo,” Mom greeted him as usual. She was sitting on a blue mat that had white stripes, with an over-washed multi-coloured wrapper tied around her apple-shaped body, a wrapper long enough to cover her from temple to thighs. She had been busying telling me a folklore after a dinner of eba and ewedu soup when dad came in. I was also wrapped in a wrapper with an array of colours like Mom’s, listening to Mom, enjoying a merry moment soon to be marred by Dad’s presence.
“Shut up, old witch behind my woes!” Dad barked as usual. He had lost his soft, sweet voice six month after losing his job and not finding any appealing to him; that soft, sweet voice of Bruno Mars singing a love song; that soft, sweet voice that used to win him my tender hug and a peck from me; that soft, sweet voice that made me to say to him three years ago, “You’re the best dad in the whole world. Other dads must come to you so that you can tutor them on how to be a real dad.” And he would laugh and hug me the more. That laughter had died; that soft, sweet voice had eroded; that man I called my best dad in the whole world had become a full-bloomed monster. Yet, I did not blame him.
“Haba, Olowo orimi, must we tread this path again tonight? How can I see a good gift and throw it into the fire? My husband, I have no hand in our misfortunes. Eledunmare is my sole witness. Let His thunder split my head into pieces if I am guilty of your accusation.” Mom’s voice carried a tinge of self-pity and self-defence.
A child is compelled by tradition not to interfere in any talk between adults (or elders); so I stayed silent, although there was a world of words in my heart that I wanted to smash on my father’s head, and even on my mother’s head too for seeming too weak for my liking. However, I remained as Dad saw me – a silent, insignificant shadow.
The madness of the man I knew as my father began to erupt like a tornado. Mom became drunk too, but on sorrow and abuse; the malady of her mouth fell like a malodorous rain on Dad as she tried to defend herself against Dad’s accusations that night. This made mad Dad to become madder. Dad became a red-eyed hungry bulldog, about to consume a piece of semi-meaty bone.
“So you’re talking to your husband like that, ehn?” Gbin! Gbosa! Kpa! Whoof! And the Third World War began. The beating ritual began, and my innocent eyes began watering with a mixture of anger and compassion as I listened to the rhythm of the beating, and observed Mom’s endurance. Then the unusual happened: Dad punched Mom from her head, chest to tummy; he kicked Mom’s legs until she fell into her last silence, hitting her head on the wall. Blood, dragging life along, quietly left Mom without saying cheerio as some mothers would say to their kids going to school. Mom became pieces of rag in a river of blood. Dad stopped beating her and fell asleep on the mat, beside the breathless, bleeding body of Mom.
I crawled towards Mom’s pieces with hot tears, heated by a great anger towards Dad. A dead grin hung on Mom’s battered face; her last smile into the beyond, so silent and stiff as death. Vengeance swirled in me. With eyes blinded with tears, I ran into our dingy kitchen and grabbed a knife. I ran screaming like a schizo, back to where Dad lay like a fallen pawpaw tree, and I began stabbing without stopping. I stabbed and stabbed and stabbed.
The squashy scent of Dad’s blood turned me into a beast, a vampire seeking for more blood and more blood and more blood. I stabbed and stabbed and stabbed. Fleshy shards in blood were all that were left of him. I had stabbed him with profound hatred, never wishing to stop. The man I stabbed was not my father; the man I stabbed was a monster in my father’s cloak. I loved my father but I hated the monster. So I stabbed on, listening to the fading shriek of the monster. I felt drunk too with bitterness, hatred, anger, and blood. My chocolate-coloured hands had turned red; a splattering design of red was all over my wrapper and uncovered skin.
Satisfied, I sat on the cold floor and cried my eyeballs to death. My face had touched blood; I smelt of sweat and blood. Life meant nothing to me at that moment. Dad’s drunkenness and Mom’s murder had turned me into a murderer. I stopped being the little sweet akara girl that everyone knew; I became a girl with a pebbled heart, a vampire, and this is my dairy.
By Samuel Oluwatobi Olatunji
Image source: Wikipedia
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