#5DaysToVals Contest Entry – Submitted by Christabel
How can one learn to love when being put in an environment of hate for too long?
Like the harmattan fog, memories of my past rush to the fore, swirling up and beclouding my mind.
I remember vividly many years ago… As a family seated at the dining which consisted of I, my three younger siblings, my mum and dad. I was yet to munch my fried plantains… or was it fried potatoes… when the next thing I saw was blood all over the floor, shattered glass and shouts…Which came from my parents… I got to know later that the reason my dad threw a glass-cup at my mum was just because she wore a beret to dinner. The scars are on my mum’s wrist till today. My age?… Seven years old then…
Time befriended no one and my journey transformed me from a withdrawn child to a loveless youth… I couldn’t engage into any relationship without been insultive, rude and aggressive. It was a norm I became comfortable with.
I read books on romance and I became disgusted about their happing endings… To me, happy endings didn’t exist. I envied the imaginations of the authors of such books but despised the lies they fed to the world in which I lived in.
Beautiful, jovial girlfriends of mine, the ones who understood the reason I wore my garment of loathing towards the male folks did their best to refine me like I was a dirty mineral found in the deep layers of the earth crust… I played to their tune as their words had power over my being…Soft… I slowly transformed… Weak, I gradually became until…
” Get out of my house this minute with your useless children”… my dad barked.
The man who should be a husband to my mother protecting her and a father to his children, loving us, charged at my mum like a beast looking for a prey to devour .
The love of a mother to her children, in this case (my siblings and I) was evident as she made sure a finger was not laid on us by shielding us away with her body from the impending doom. I watched the scene before me, as tears ran down my mother’s eyes.
” What has…has come over you, why display this in the presence of the kids?”She asked over and over again…
Something snapped within my system as he tried to strangle my mum in response. With my fragile hands, I struggled to pry his hands away from her neck. My action sent me tumbling down the staircase with the steps accelerating my fall in a ziz-zag movement. Screams rang out but it only suceeded to harden my heart…
‘ Mummy, let me deal with this man’…with a scowl on my face which was nowhere the bile and ossifying rage I had bottled up, I pleaded with my mum when having a mother-daughter talk some months later when he continued with his animalistic behaviour.
I had made friends at least with the opposite sex but I was drawn more to the ones who were regarded as the ‘bad guys’. Most of them being medical students. Underneath their white, unstained labcoats hid weapons that soiled their hands and cut down the life span of unsuspecting students. Little wonder why most of them were cultists because they knew the different parts of the body which would never withstand the shock of a bullet or a stab. These kinds of people were the ones I talked to my mum about ‘dealing’ with my father…
She smiled in reply…’ Dorcas, when you love someone, it is shown in actions and not in words…in good times and bad times…
…Your father was not like this in the beginning … I know he hurts me and you’…
She continued, sighing wistfully, touching my cheek lovingly…’ but I”ll continue loving him nevetherless…and so should you…
…With time,You will understand that love brings out the beauty in a beast, worms its’ way through the coldest of hearts and thaws hate, chasing it away forever…’
I hissed in reply… staring in disbelief at her words… words that gnawed at my insides threatening to put me in an emotional fit. ‘Love really is blind mum,’ I shouted in disgust.
‘Shhh…It’s not… Love sees but overlooks faults…’ she remarked.
Days turned to years…The seasons came and went…my father bordered on his insane behaviour towards my mum and I particularly, when I lashed out at him for being a monster in human skin. I earned beatings for that and even passed out on few ocassions.
I prayed earnestly for a job as a disguise to leave the house immediately after my National Youth Service because mum poked me with questions such as:
‘ Is there no sugar banana in your life?’
‘ Don’t you want to give me a son-in-law?’
They irritated me to no end… Soon enough,I got a job in a multi-national company as an accountant. My years in the University paid off.
‘Mama, mama, m..a, my little son patted me on my laps snapping me out of my reverie requiring my attention. A splitting image of his father, my husband, he reminded me that love exists after all.
Jan 3rd, 2013. I learnt my dad was hospitalised due to diabetes… He also needed surgery to amputate a leg because of a festering sore which wasn’t healing. Money was needed. I was the saviour but not willingly. To me, he was better dead than alive.
Mum cried, begging me to let go of my grievances…grudges towards him. I refused but fate had other plans.
‘Dorcas, I’m coming to your house right away. You are pig-headed…’ My best friend queried about my nonchalance regarding not wanting to meet my father talk less of paying the bills.
Half an hour later, a knock greeted my ears. I opened knowing she was the one after her signature style of rapping the door.
Speechless! Dumbfounded! Overwhelmed! Were the feelings at that moment…Right in front of me was a hunk of a man who stared right into my eyes…I couldn’t utter any form of greeting but trust my friend to chirp away like a bird…
‘Meet my brother, Austin… Just back from India…’
I stood transfixed like a zombie. I have seen, met, interacted with guys but this, right here, took my breath away, swept me off my feet and turned my insides to jelly. The proverbial ‘love at first sight’ was coming to play.
‘Hello beautiful’… The words awakened me from my stupor and I blustered out sheepishly…’Hi,h…hi.’
In some minutes, Austin was able to do what my mother couldn’t do admist tears and pleas… Convince me… He gave an expose on forgiveness and the fact that it’s meant for the victim and not the offender… His words soothed me like a balm on an arthritic knee…
It wasn’t easy to go see my dad in the hospital as he recuperated but Austin made the trips smooth.
Interestingly, my dad wept profusely over his past wrong-doings and apologised to me, my siblings and of course my mum who was the worst hit.
February 14th, 2014 after a series of unimaginable bliss in a journey we both agreed to embark on, the man who made me truly realise and appreciate all what my mum tried telling me in my early years on what love is all about proposed to me and I remembered with embarrassment how I farted out of joy… I winced in shame when he wrinkled his nose but slipping the ring down my finger…
The congregation watched as I wheeled my dad in his wheel-chair down the aisle as he took me to meet my soulmate. A beautiful soul residing in a beautiful body… Austin, my husband.
We recited our vows and I broke down in tears, that in places we cannot fathom, in times when we control, Love comes and if we are willingly, it stays…forever…