“How can a mother fervently wish her daughter to join the convent and take upon her the sacred oath of chastity and celibacy? What?! Is her daughter a sacrificial lamb to her own God? What happened to her at age 22 when she was jumping from dark corners to meet father? Or do you think I have no idea that you had Nana out of wedlock? The date does not tally mother! It doesn’t. So drop the prim and proper act.”
Mother stood up and went to the window, the dusty streets lay bare in front of her and the cold harmattan air blew across her face into the room. I didn’t care. If she wished to catch her death in the harmattan air, so be it.
I stretched my legs on the stool in front of me and used my right hand to searched for the bottle of dry gin I kept on the table beside me. It wasn’t there. Alarmed, I moved to check under the table and it wasn’t there either. I made a move to walk out when I heard mother’s voice.
“Omoh, I love you.”
I stopped in my tracks then went out any way without acknowledging any of what she had just said.
Love? What is love? Forcing others to do what you think is best for them?
The tussle between my mother and I started after Nana moved out of the house. Nana! The ever obedient daughter. Nana did everything to hold the family together. At age 17, she worked at odd jobs, waited tables at restaurants, she even went as far as working as a stripper in a night club. The only thing Nana did not do was to sell her body for money. She had those advances from men, she often confided in me about the men who harassed her at these jobs she did to bring food to the table. I would have joined her but she wouldn’t let me.
“These streets are not friendly. I can’t be worrying about you, Omoh. You will be safe at home with Mama and Papa.”
Nana brought her money home – everything she earned; she held nothing back. It was difficult to buy clothes, so I had to forced her to buy them.
“I can’t afford this Omoh!” she would say each time I picked a quality dress or denim. With a lot of convincing, we would buy them. Mother did nothing. It was bad enough that we had a father who didn’t care about us, we also had a mother who did nothing to help us. We were like orphans with two extra mouths to feed – my father and mother.
You see, Father and Mother were not always like this; in fact, they were the best couple and parents. Father worked at the mines and mother sold clothes in the market. We neither poor nor rich. They trained us through primary and secondary school.
Father wasn’t a religious fellow but he would don his hat and pick his staff every feast of Saint Paul or Saint Peter, Easter, Christmas and New year celebration. Mother was the embodiment of religion. She prayed often with her rosary and made sure we attended every mass, Sundays and every other week day.
One day, the mines stopped working and ten men were killed underground. Father would have been one of them but he was unavoidably late that day. The government shut down the place after the disaster and Father became an emotional mess. That was the day my father died. He would drink to stupor and come home very late. There are days he would vomit, sleep in the mess he created and mother would have to clean him up. My mother tried to hold us all together for a year but after that, she stopped trying.
(To be continued next week Sunday)
©Booky Glover, 2020
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