Musings: “I trust you but…”

You never imagined your life will turn out this beautifully. Yeah, you always knew you’d choose career over much else, but the fancy husband, and fancy family… You never dreamed of those. Yet, you got lucky.

Seguñ is the most perfect miracle that ever happened to you. He loves you, you love him… And he caters to your every need. He is not one of those ‘yeye‘ men that will ask you to ditch your years of study at the university, accolades, degrees, certificates and all– just so you can serve his household better as a full housewife. He has the money to cater for you both, and a part of you thinks a part of him wouldn’t mind having you all to himself, but he respects you and respects your desire to be and feel responsible for yourself. That is a man that knows how to love and keep a woman.

And you… You are a good wife that wants to be kept. You are not one of those ‘yeye‘ ladies that will turn chance into chances. You plan your weekdays ahead. You cook your stews and soups during the weekends and preserve them in the Freezer, so that meal times are almost stress free for you and as quick as can be. You wake up early enough to serve him breakfast of sandwich and tea (after sex, of course, that’s the first course). And he is very understanding, and supportive… sometimes, he helps out in the kitchen and even when he doesn’t, he never makes excruciating demands. But you, you know what your man likes and you go to great lengths to satisfy him. The way to a man’s heart is kuku through his stomach, abi?

And now, you are pregnant. Seguñ would not have you work your butt off at work and then come home to make those almost daunting meals after which you service his wanton desires in bed. No, you need a helping hand. So he suggests to you that you get a house help– just someone to clean the house, make the meals and maybe if they get lucky, stay long enough to help take care of the baby. It sounds like an interesting idea, because this pregnancy is getting you in all sorts of testy moods… You hug and kiss him and transfer a dozen and one hormones into his body after a hot steaming thank you sex. When you both get back to your senses, you discuss more about what got you excited in the first place…

He would rather you hired a female help. They are very resourceful, homely, and can well take care of Junior when he comes along. Plus, there won’t be dangers of them keeping bad gangs and inviting criminals into your home… but you can’t stand the thought of a female help! You have watched too many movies of how they seduced the men of the homes and displaced the women. It is not that you don’t trust Seguñ, you tell him so, but there is only so much temptation a hot-blooded man can take. In fact, you tell him, there is no man than any woman with breasts, and buttocks cannot tame. No such man! Add to that the fact that she will be in charge of meals, what if she decides to put some love potion in it? You trust him but can’t take that risk! He can be vulnerable. You love him too much to even take the risk.

You would rather you hired a male help. Males are stronger, easier to maintain and manage, no worries about shopping for bra, pants and sanitary towels, no fear of the girl sleeping around and bringing some uncensored pregnancy into your abode, he would be able to wash the cars and help move heavy objects around when the need arises. Some men can cook, you would just have to find one of such. Plus a man can be taught how to take care of a baby. Besides, you can take care of Junior when he comes. You want to take care of him yourself… But Seguñ can’t stand the thought of a male help either. He wants to protect you– from rape, seduction, and the insolence and excessiveness of the male folk. You are a woman, fragile and vulnerable by nature. He trusts you, but it’s just too great a risk to take.

So, thirty minutes after, you sit face to face… unable to reach a decision, spent and exhausted, throats parched, hormones stretched. You both are not sure, but it appears maybe you don’t trust each other enough. But no, you do! You trust each other, it’s just… it’s just what it is.

“You don’t throw a compass overboard, just because the ocean is calm”.

Matshona Dhliwayo

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  • Do you think men are more vulnerable to sex and promiscuity than women?
  • Which do you think is the lesser of two evils? A male or female help? Or is the mere contemplation of this an acute sign of paranoia?

_____

Do be kind to talk to me. Have a great Monday and week ahead family… and Happy December! ♡♡

**

©The Short Black Girl, 2016.

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Secrets of a Virgin Girl (7).

See here for previous episode.

**

Hola fam! This is another long episode, but the last of the series, SOVG. Thank you again for all the feedback. You are amazing! I say we do this again, sometime soon. What say you?  😍😘😉😊

_____

Relapse

It is Sunday—the weekend after, and you toss lazily in bed, snippets of last night slipping into your head. You and Sogo had gone to have dinner at your parent’s as discussed last week. He had arrived at your house something around 4:00pm yesterday and you had both driven down to your parents Magodo apartment in time for dinner. Mama and Papa had received you both warmly. Papa had seemed thoroughly charmed, as he engaged Sogo in a variety of discussions of interest—his major preferences being Politics and the state of the Nigerian Economy. Sogo’s responses, you reckoned, had been well thought-out, bold and independent—of Social media retorts and comments; and in fact pleasing to Papa, as you noticed the glint of approval in his eyes. Mama, on the other hand, appeared a little undecided, maybe less so than when she first set eyes on him that evening; but undecided, nonetheless.

She had asked questions, which you considered too intimidating and embarrassing for a first meeting; and had time not been so short, she would have gone on indefinitely. “What do you want with our daughter?” “Do you feel intimidated by her success?” “Do you know she is a virgin?” The way Sogo had confidently answered her, though, did so much to put your mind at ease. By the end of the meeting, Papa’s warm handshake as he bid you both goodbye, assured you that Sogo had won Papa’s love. The impish smile on mama’s lips however, did not give away too much; but the way she had held your gaze assured you that you would hear from her soon. You had held her gaze with matching strength too, in a way that said you would be ready whenever she struck!

Her call comes in around 8:00am, steering you from your reminiscence. You were not expecting her call this early but you pick it nonetheless.

“Good morning ma” you address her, your voice thick with rebellion.

“Morning Lara. How are you today?”

“Fine ma” you respond impatiently. You wish she would just get to the point already and not try to soften you up.

“See, I know you are angry that I asked your friend so many questions yesterday, but that is what any good mother would do. I must know what my daughter is getting into, and assure myself that she has not let love blind her judgement of her man’s character, worth and capability. And I must say, he is one fine gentleman.”

Surprise steals over your face, as her kind words ebb at the remnants of rage that seat in the pit of your heart, effortlessly. You smile. “I know ma. Thank you ma.”

“In fact—“ she continues, “—your dad and I called Daddy-in-the-Lord yesterday night to inform him that his god daughter will be getting married. He was very excited, until he called this morning to tell us that he prayed about it and you cannot marry him.”

Your rage returns. Daddy-in-the-Lord is your godfather, a spiritual and very inspiring man whom you respect and revere so much. Your family has always consulted him every time there is a big decision to be made, and his suggestions and predictions have always proved right; although now that you think of it, no one has actually ever dared to prove him wrong.

“It is frightening enough that he is Muslim and from a Polygamous family—“ mama continues, undeterred by your silence, “—but if those were the only considerations we had to make, the decision would have been an easy one. Omolara, this is bigger than us. Daddy says you must cease all relations with him immediately, and that if you choose to proceed, the consequences are grave for your future as a family together.”

You are speechless now.

“See Lara, I know you love him. In fact, yesterday, it was so obvious that you both care for each other but there is too much at stake. All I want is your happiness, because automatically, it becomes my own happiness. And your father, and Daddy want the same for you too. We know you’ll be needing a lot of time to take this in, and get over him; but I want you to know that we care for you and we are here for you, and in God’s time, your miracle will come.”

You still do not say a word. Tears are brewing in your eyes now; and soon, they start to fall mercilessly. You let them. You do not believe in miracles anymore.

“Hello? Are you there?—Lara?—Lara?” You do not answer. “MTN sha! They have started again this morning! Lara?— ”

“Maybe you have exhausted your call time.” You hear papa’s suggesting voice underneath.

“Lara?” mama calls out to you one last time before cutting the call. Immediately, you switch your phone off and resume your tears in full gear. Why?! Why has love never worked out for you? It has either been that the ones you liked did not like you back, or you did not like the ones that liked you. Yet, the first time you eventually meet someone who cares for you as much as you care for him, you are told you cannot marry him. You wish now that you were in a movie, so that you could just put a daunting soundtrack like Simi’s Love don’t care or Chidima’s All I want is you to your life as you diss mama and tell her you will marry the love of your life whether she or anyone else likes it or not. But life, reality—is a little more complicated than all of that.

You love each other, but is love really worth sabotaging your future for? Would it not be selfish of love to ask you to pick short-term happiness over long-term sustenance and fulfillment? But then again, what is a fulfilling life without genuine love? You are confused and angry! Why? Why did God make you meet him? Why did He make you fall in love? Why did He put that sign in your way on that Sunday morning when you asked for His direction? More questions and no answer, and your rage intensifies. You force yourself to sleep now to douse your heart’s heat, hoping that maybe you will wake up to realize everything is a dream; no love, no heartbreak.

You wake up an hour and thirty minutes later to the reality of your woe, when the smell of something tangy fills your nostrils. You head out, puffy eyed to find Sogo in your kitchen, fixing breakfast.

“Good morning Sunshine!” he coos upon seeing you.

You break inside as it hits you that, perhaps, that is the last time you will hear that voice and see that smile. “Good morning–” you manage a smile “—I think we need to talk.” You continue, wasting no time.

You catch something that looks like fear pull his eyebrows together in a brilliant squeeze, but you do not let that deter you; as you recount the gist of the discussion you had with mama to him before you change your mind. Once you are done, for emphasis sake, you add, “We cannot continue seeing each other, Olorunsogo. And I am sure you understand that I am doing this for us.”

“So… so that’s it?” he questions, his voice spiralling higher and higher by the second “that’s—that’s it, right? After six months of love, courtship and friendship, you want to break up just like that, and you do not even care what I think or feel? You think I have not thought about our vast differences severally? You think I have not had people tell me to give us a rethink?  I have… but I have not been so quick to dismiss what we’ve come so long to build; something you obviously do not appreciate the gravity of!”

You are angry and surprised. Angry that he thinks it was an easy decision for you to make; surprised that he would speak to you in that manner, lashing words at you like a weapon. But you have not got time for words. You have not got the time or energy to explain to him how you wish he had never been a part of your life to start with, so you would not be in the dilemma of whether to rescue the moment or save a very uncertain future from some foretold danger. “Thank you for making breakfast. I would appreciate it if you leave as soon as possible. You do not have to tell me when you are going. I am sorry, and thank you.” You walk away from him now, but he pulls you back into a defeating kiss. You break down again, as you melt in his arms; renting apart in a fresh round of tears. He hugs you tightly, like he has never done before; like he will never do again.

“Omolara, you are a believer. Where is your faith at a time that we need it most? Why are you proposing a break up, rather than a prayer battle?”

Faith? Fighting? You wish he had not said a word so that maybe you could have stayed in his arms longer. You pull away now with resolute purpose, as you say your final words to him before leaving for your room “Goodbye Olorunsogo Martins. I hope you have a good life.” He does not try to stop you now. Even if he did, it would make no difference; because your mind is made up. In less than thirty minutes, you hear the loud bang of your front door, the sound of a vehicle being kicked into ignition, and the screeching sound of angry tyres or perhaps an angry driver.

And then, it dawns on you– he is going; he is gone. Your best friend, your first love. You remember the hope in his eyes, and how he had wished you would not end things so quickly. You remember the last kiss, and how you had wished it would go on for eternity. You soak up in tears. You miss him already. You feel like love has failed you; and maybe it has—or maybe it has not. Maybe you failed love. Maybe you should have fought.

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation”

– Khalil Gibran

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

“Guess what, he said he wants a divorce!”

th(6)

Good morning again Lovelies! I got a Daily Post prompt yesterday, which read “call someone, or ask the person next to you what he/ she is thinking, and write about it!” My first thought was what?! And then, I burst into a feat of giggles as I dared myself to take on the challenge.

So I called! And she said, “Guess what, he wants a divorce!” And I’m like “Halleluyah, but what?!”

While it might have been so much more fun writing about what we discussed, I am a little angry typing this post out. I don’t get it, that some men can be so damn insensitive and too old for reasoning sometimes. Okay, this is a little gist about the issue on ground. It’s a typical rich wife, struggling hubby story, and as you would guess, hubby feels so threatened that his wife is thriving. In fairness to the woman, she tries! She is one very generous and giving woman who hates to see the people around her in need. So she just gives, even without expecting a dime in return. She pays the rent, fuels the car, buys foodstuff for the house once in a while, and just about keeps the house running. Just so he doesn’t feel less than a man, she consults him on things and asks him for money for basic house needs – not because she doesn’t have it, but just so he can feel in charge!. She buys him clothes, and gifts – so he looks good!, she pays his tuition fees – dude is yet to bag a proper degree!; but the silly lot that he is, just writes off all the debt he owes to a never- ending tomorrow. She works 8am – 5pm, and so does he, but he’s too much of a man to help around the house. No, I don’t get it. I just think it is grossly unfair!

This goes on for a while, and a cute baby comes along. There’s even more responsibility! Diapers, school fees, baby upkeep, plus the usual rent, clothing’s, foodstuff and all! But hubby is still blinded by hate to step up his game. Wifey still pays his tuition, takes care of rent, takes care of his parents and hers, provides for the baby’s needs (except baby milk and diaper which she has refused to add to her long list) and makes life a little worth living for all of them. Who better than he thanks God for having such a capable wife, and prays to be able to own up to his responsibilities one day so he can pay her back and feel as he should, a man! Yet, all he would do is go to work, come back late (claiming he is not responsible for the traffic on the road), expect already made dinner when there is the baby to care of after a long day at work and he won’t even offer to take care of the baby while she rustles something for them to eat. Osiginni?! I shudder at the thought, and hurt for she who is on this spot! Why?

After a long time overdue, wifey decides enough is enough! No more loans or bad debts, especially because most advances/loan he takes remain unsettled for a very long period of time, until they’re forgotten! No more paying of his school fees, no more birthday gifts (it’s bad enough that during wifey’s birthday, hubby will always say ‘alert never chow!‘ and for the life of me, I can’t believe he almost rendered the same excuse on his son’s birthday! Bhet why!), no more buying of clothes for him (if he can’t buy for wifey and baby, at least let him buy for himself), infact, the list is so longgggg!!!!!

And while we are still thinking, trying to find a reasonable and tenable explanation to hubby’s inhumanity, he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed one bright day, with a dead soggy brain, and says he wants a divorce, simply because wifey said enough is enough? Oh yes, please bring it on! You won’t be missed!

*sigh! It’s sad, more for the little one, than even the mother involved. But hey, if he files that divorce, i’ll be the first to congratulate her!

And so once again lovelies, she said “guess what, he wants a divorce”, and I said “Halleluyah, but what?!”

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To y’all going through this kind of trouble, or something similar oe even worse, I say the Lord is your strength!

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Dear Mother (4)

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Saratu-

Thursday, the 13th

**

Maryam is long gone now. She had rocked me till I had no more tears in my eyes. She made me dinner of roasted yam and palm oil and saw me to bed before taking her leave, promising to see me tomorrow. I lay my head to rest now, and allow myself take the painful trek down memory lane… for the last time again.

I had been married to Kamil for six years without a child. His family had cast aspersions time and time again calling me a witch amongst other horrible names. It was the normal practice for Hausas to marry as many wives as possible; but somehow with Kamil, that was not happening. I guess my luck shone so bright that out of a zillion girls, I found and married a man who promised to stick with me alone till death. Things had been going fine, despite threats from both our families to break ties with us. Our love kept us strong and together, until that Sunday…

It was sometime around 1:00am on that Sunday in Yelwa village near Shendam. The village was very much asleep when the riot began. At once, we knew they had come for us. The Herdsmen. Homes were invaded, women captured, men tied down, houses razed to ashes, and farmlands ripped to earth. Kamil and I took to the backyard to escape before they came any closer. He said he knew a path through the farmlands where only a few people trod. We were headed to Langtang for refuge. But fate was not smiling down on us that morning, as we were assailed by a gang of herders who had been stationed in the fields to watch out for any escapees. Kamil was tied up from mouth to feet and made to watch as the five men took turns to have sex with me. Kamil lay there in misery, protesting with muffled screams which earned him a hard knock from a herders rifle per time. I begged too, and went on to pray for death when they failed to heed. And it felt like I died for three hours or so… until my eyes flew open again to the reality of Kamil’s bruised and lifeless body and my own pain and shame. That was when I screamed. Why did God bring me back?

The days that followed are a full blur. But I returned to near- sanity some weeks after in a church, where the in-house doctors attending to myself and other survivors informed me of the growing child inside of me. I was stunned. Me? Child? I was at war with myself. I was happy that all that time with Kamil, I was not the problem; but uncertain I could embrace the truth surrounding a child as the one I carried. The pastors insisted it was an evil child that should be aborted, and that if I wanted to abhor evil within me, I should find some other place to live in. It was surprising but I couldn’t blame them, I guess they were afraid the child will grow to be like his father or fathers? My parents would not even hear of it. They swore to disown me if I kept the child. Kamil’s parents were the last people I would dare to visit… and so, it was just me against the cold world. Those were tough and lonely days when I chose rain and sun for shelter and the dirt- piled ground for bed, simply because I wanted to save and have a child whose only concern now seems to be of his father’s. Ah, where is God? Where has he been all this time? I have tried. I really have. And I don’t know how it is that I have kept it together until today.

I scream beside myself now, mourning my own truth afresh. It’s sad enough reliving the memory, talk less of sharing it with any other soul; and as I shut my tear- filled eyes eventually, in a bid to find sleep, I hope death visits before the day breaks.

THE END.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Dear Mother (3)

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Saratu-

Thursday, the 13th.

**

The cock crows repeatedly announcing the birth of a new day. I open my eyes with indifference, as I have done every other day for the past couple of years. I guess it’s just how you learn to live when you live in a community where tomorrow is far from being certain. I raise my self from the half slice of foam that makes my bed, and get ready to go to the farm. There is a lot of weeding to be done in preparation for harvest. I am tempted to await Byenchit, my son, but it is needless. Who knows what tomorrow holds? Every now and then, a smile fleets across my face as I look forward to the weekend when Maryam is due home for her weekend visits, with a letter from my son. The smile keeps me hopeful, as I pluck up weed after weed with my matchete. Once I am done, I head back home. Clearing will have to wait till tomorrow.

I am surprised to meet Maryam at my frontyard. Quickly, weariness deserts my body as I hurry towards her with my best smile.

‘Eyyy! Sannu fa! How the journey? How Jos? How Byenchit, my son?’ She offers me a warm embrace despite my farm-fresh stink.

Sannu fa. Fine, fine, Aliamdulilah!’

‘Bhet I think weekend na. The other time, weekend. The other time again, weekend.’

‘Yes Saratu, the children are on break. No school today, that’s why.’

Yowa! Toor, Sannu fa. Siddon, let me Gaan bring Gote.’

‘No, no Saratu. I have a letter for you.’
My eye does not miss the unease in her. I become a little worried as I turn away from the entrance to sit beside her at the frontyard.

Yaya gajia?’

Ba gajia Saratu. I just want to read the letter to you first.’

Toor.’ I watch her fish the letter from her bag, and take a minute before reading. I assume he has written it in English, and she is trying to see how best to read it in a language I can understand. I appreciate her kindness.

Dear Mother,

I want this letter to be perfect, so I have asked Mrs Maryam to write it for me.

How are you? How is the maize farm? And my beloved community? Mama, I have missed you terribly, and I hope you are missing me too. Are you getting enough rest too, since I am not there to help you or stress you? Mama, I hope you still find reasons to smile? I hope nobody is troubling you?

I am very happy about my new school but mama, I insist staying back home with you would have been better for both of us. My teachers are very friendly, and the students are nice too. Infact mama, I have made a lot of new friends, most of whom I play football with in preparation for the state competition. Mama, my coach and team mates think I will make a fine striker in the nearest future.

Mama, there is more to this letter than the usual ones I would send you every week through your friend, Mrs Maryam. I am writing this letter to you because I failed at a classwork where I was told to write to my father about school. Mama, I have asked you about him severally, but you have been hesitant about it. What was he like? How did you meet him? Did you love him? Did you marry him? Is he alive, or did the herdsmen kill him? Was he a hunter, or a blacksmith? Did he marry more wives to show his might as a great Tarok man?

Mama, these questions and more plague my mind and the older I grow, the more they haunt me. Mama, I am no longer a child in my eyes; but if you insist I am still a child, I feel I deserve to know the truth nonetheless. Mama, my social studies teacher taught me that knowledge of my origin is what truly makes me a man; and I fear that if I grow to maturity without this knowledge, I will lack identity for the rest of my life. Mama, each time I ask about him, you promise to tell me in the near tomorrow; but mama, I fear that if the herdsmen kill you today, I may never get to know the truth.

Mama, I love you so much. Despite the times when you hit me so hard, I felt you were punishing me for a past I had nothing to do with, I love you. I love that you save your smile for my return after every school term. I love that you love me so much that you have sent me to a faraway land so the herdsmen don’t harm me on one of their surprise attacks on the village… but mama, I need to know.

I am confused about how to feel towards him. Love, or hate? Let me know him, so maybe I may understand you better.

With love,
Your son Suleiman.

Misery is me right now. I hold my head between my hands as I break into sobs I have tried to hold back in all these years. He has asked me that question over and over in the past, and each time he did, I would beat him without mercy. I thought I had beaten the thought out of his senses, but I guess not now. He doesn’t deserve to be haunted by the tale of what went down many many years ago. He should be happy he has me, or have I not been enough?

Maryam holds me to her chest now, rocking me back and forth. This feels good. At least, for the very first time since 16 years ago, I find someone willing to share my pain with me. But I can’t tell her the story, neither can I tell Byenchit. Everyone who knew the story back then walked out on me. Maybe it was fear, maybe the knowledge was too great a burden to bear,  I don’t know. But how do I know they won’t do same too?

__

Sannu fa- hello
Aliamdulilah- we thank God
Yaya Gajia- any problem?
Ba Gajia- No problem
Yowa/Toor- Okay

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Dear Mother (2)

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Ms Maryam,

Thursday, the 13th.

**

I have come across a lot of children in my course of teaching, but none strikes me like Byenchit Suleiman. To the ordinary eyes, and maybe to his mum even, he is just a lanky fifteen year old Tarok boy; but to me, he is the definition of light. I took interest in him from the day Binwai, my younger brother, had brought him home from football practice because he feared his mother might beat him if he went home in his bruised state. The sound of that gnawed at my heart. How would a mother beat her child because he sustained injuries, rather than see to easing his pain? I decided at once that I will go home with him, and the sight that met mine was disturbing. There was Suleiman’s mother seated at the front yard with a horsewhip in her hand. The instant she set eyes on him, she launched attack. What had he done wrong? Quickly, I pulled him out of her reach, and once our eyes met, her anger softened to misery. One could tell she was trying so hard to keep it together.

‘What happen?’ she had questioned, willing me to explain my unwarranted interference. ‘He come home late, I beat him. I have tell him not to be going and playing with his friend like that. Have I not tell you?’ she turned to Suleiman now, aiming the horsewhip at him again, but failing terribly on my account.

‘I am sorry madam. My name is Ms Maryam. I was the one that made him late. Ya akuri mana.’

She eyed me viciously before addressing me again. ‘why you keep him? It is good? If you have child and I keep him, you will like it?’

My heart seemed to shred into pieces at that statement. That was my point exactly. I have no child, and I fail to understand why someone who has been blessed with one will not take good care of him.

I choked back a sob as I shook my head. ‘Please just don’t beat him, I beg you. He is a very good child.’ She nodded half- heartedly, and dismissed me by leaving me standing at the front yard after which she beckoned on Suleiman to get into the house.

After that day, I made sure to visit Saratu every weekend before going home to take care of my mother who lived in the same Magama village as Suleiman and his mother; it was more of a need to see Suleiman, than to make acquaintance with Saratu. But with time, her heart softened towards me, and I was able to achieve both. I told her of my childlessness and how my husband divorced me so she would reckon she isn’t the only one with problems in life. I had often wondered about her and why she always seemed too hesitant to share her problems despite the fact that they were obviously tearing her apart at the seams. I wondered why Suleiman bore no more semblance to her than the strikingly similar facial features; his gait, laughter, smile, eagerness to learn and love for life did wonders to conceal the abuse he faced in the hands of his mother whose love seemed to border on the lines of hate and regret. And I began to wonder maybe his positivity had a little to do with his father’s personality?

I started to give Suleiman lessons at his home every weekend and after a while, with his mother’s consent, I enrolled him at the school where I teach and promised Saratu I will take very good care of him. She was very much hesitant, I could tell; but hearing her say ‘thank you’ to me for the very first time in about three years made all the difference in the world, and at once, I knew I had gained the complete trust of a broken woman. It gladdened my heart.

Today, I make my way to Magama, hoping that news of the fresh attack by the fulani men spared my people from its gore. I know Saratu and mama are not expecting me until weekend, but the midterm break at the Government Secondary School has afforded me the opportunity to travel home earlier. I am hoping I meet everyone well, and I am sure Saratu will be glad to see me because she knows I must have a letter from her son. But more than that, the letter worries me. I am afraid of how she will react to it…
_

Ya akuri mana- please don’t be angry.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Dear Mother (1)

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Suleiman-

Wednesday, the 12th.
**

It is barely 7pm but the evening sun is long gone, now replaced by a mass of black cloud. It looks like rain. I sit in my room before this flickering candlelight, because it is a reflection of my own life. A small torch of light that illuminates the world but is so frail it may go off anytime.

A lot of thoughts are rummaging through my mind but the most distinct one appears to be of my mother. I miss Mama. I miss how she would spank me when I tease about the wrinkles round her eyes or when I fail to do the chores before going for soccer practice. I miss her Special delicacy- tuwo shinkafa and miyan kuka, my favourite memory of her. I miss her sad eyes, and forlorn smile. I wonder what she will be doing now. I am sure she will be missing me.

I am wishing she didn’t insist I go to the new government school in the distant city of Jos. Left to me, the lessons of the Langtang community are just enough to last me a lifetime. Events of yesterday morning now rush to my head. Mrs Maryam, the English teacher at my new school, had been teaching us letter writing for about a week, and decided to give us a small classwork on it. She had asked us to write a letter to our father, telling him about our new school.

There was so much to tell about school but the idea of writing to a father whose existence or non-existence I knew nothing about belaboured my heart. You see, I tried writing something down but the firmer my grip on the pen in my hand, the more insistent my heart became on telling of its sorrow through the tears in my eyes.

And I began to cry.

For a 15 year old, I am not ashamed to cry. It is my therapy; my only hope to sanity. Mrs Maryam had approached my table and read through the drops on my class note and she had been very much understanding as she awarded me an undeserving smile. Then, she moved to the front of the class, commended everyone’s efforts and made us take it home as mid term assignment so we could do even better and get more marks. There and then, our eyes locked and I knew she had done that because of me… I was flattered.

I wipe off a lone tear from my eye now. And pick up my pen to write a letter to mother. I want to ask how she is faring. I want to know if the vicious herdsmen have not been to destroy her farmlands or cause trouble for her. I want to know if she is missing me. I want her to know I miss her. But more importantly, I want her to tell me about father- What is his name? Where is he? What does he look like? Has he never asked of me?

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Red Rage.

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He came home last night. He had been away for a month, leaving me and the kids without a dime. I didn’t know whether to be angry, or happy as I heard him pull into the compound. I had been thoroughly worried about him the past days, calling and texting him without response. I feared something might have happened to him. What will I have done? Where will I have gone? He would have made the trouble much bearable if he had told me where he was going in that note he stuck to the Fridge before leaving that Sunday evening… but then, it didn’t matter. He was home. I hurried to the kitchen to rustle up something for him to eat. That’s a wife’s duty after all, to cater for the husband in good and bad times.

In thirty minutes, the table was set yet he hadn’t come upstairs. I looked through the window by the dinning room to find him seated in his car in a relaxed mood, holding his phone to his ear, laughing so gaily about something only he knew. A laughter I hadn’t heard in a long while. I strained my ears to pick his voice over the generators loud hum…

Mama, iyen o ki n se problem na. Ma to pada wa, e ma wori.

Mama? I felt a tear drop from my weary eyes. He had been with his mother all this while? Yet she gave me no clue all those lonely nights I called to seek her advice? What responsible mother allows her son leave his own home, wife and kids, to suckle from her sagging breasts after every long day at work for a whole month? He had come in now, his presence dusted with whiffs of alcohol. I shook my tears back and played the nice wife… for a few seconds.

Ekaabo.’

Ekule o. Where are my kids?’ he settled in the dinning area.

I turned to the wall-clock, it was 11:00pm and he was asking where his kids were? I chose to ignore the question. If he cared, he would have been home the past days instead.

‘I made you Eba and Efo.’ I said in reply, and turned to get him some water to wash his hands with before he asked any other stupid question.

Soon after, he had finished the food and appreciated me with a loud belch and stinking fart which both happened fast, that I wasn’t sure which came first. I swallowed it all and just mused on how a man I loved and adored so much had now turned to the insensitive bastard I could only manage to harbour. The atmosphere was laden with so much hurt and anger and hunger too. I was hungry, I hadn’t had a proper meal in a long while because he didn’t leave any money and I was saving the remaining soup that I warmed that evening, for his return. I deserved some explanation, I thought, so I broke the ice.

‘Where did you go ‘Laitan?’

He stopped fiddling with his phone and spared me an accusatory look.

‘What do you mean by where did I go? Work, of course!’ he spat.

‘Olaitan, you went to work for almost a whole month, from Sunday evening up until this Friday evening. You didn’t call, you didn’t text, you didn’t reply my calls or texts, you didn’t leave any money and you know I don’t have a job to cater to myself and the kids. Olaitan, Olaitan… is this life?’

‘Don’t start o, this woman! Let me breathe please, ‘ve only just returned.’

Tears poured down my face and my empty stomach started to wail too. It was too much to take in all at once. That was what I got for worrying over and about him for a month, in his conscious absence.

‘Olaitan, you make me cry everyday and I can’t but wish you the same kind of pain you make me feel. Olaitan, I am hungry. I haven’t had a proper meal all this time, and you know I am a nursing mother. Bolu is just 2 months old, have you forgotten? Olaitan, your children missed you. They cried to sleep every night because you were nowhere close to throw them into the air after a long day. Olaitan…’ I racked in sobs, as my voice trailed off but he just sat there wearing a stone cold face after which he stood up angrily and made to get his car keys. I crawled after him, holding on to his legs.

‘Olaitan Oribogunje, you are not leaving this house without me and my children!’ I screamed a little too loud.

‘Bukunmi! Bukunmi leave my leg. Bukunmi leave me o.’ he dragged himself on, pulling my fragile frame with him but I didn’t let go still. Toke had woken up now and was staring in horror. She cried, but I didn’t know if she was mourning her lost sleep or sad for me. Either way, I shared her pain.

‘Do your worst ‘Laitan! Do your bloody worst but you’re not leaving this house without us!’ I yelled. What more pain could he possibly inflict on me? I was numbed by weariness, too tired to feel anything more. Then he started to punch me and drag me by the hair, slapping me everywhere he could lay his palms on. I screamed to the neighbours ‘hhe…elp me! Help me from this bloody bastard I call a husband! Egba miii o!!’

‘Daddddyyyy! Daadddddyyyy!’ Toke’s screams tore at my heart and that seemed to strengthen me because only then did I start to fight back. I ran to the kitchen to grab a knife and threatened him with it. The neighbours had begun to knock on our door now but we were too absorbed in our own little world to care.

‘You’ll either kill me today or come back to your senses!’ I spat breathlessly, burning with red rage pent up from too many past years. He carried a chair and made to fling it at me, while I raised the knife in readiness awaiting his strike. That was when Toke made for the door in one swift movement because her eyes couldn’t take it anymore and like a flash before my very own eyes, she fell to the ground in a pool of blood.

Everything went stark quiet in that second. I dropped the knife quickly, and raced to my child. ‘Toke! Toke mi! Akanke! Toke!’ she wouldn’t respond. By then, Olaitan had already walked out of the house and started his car downstairs. Afraid, guilty, or ashamed, I couldn’t care why he left. The neighbours poured in now like flood, running here and there trying to revive her. But I knew she was gone, because the instant I held her, I knew she saved that last gaze for me, telling me to be strong. I wailed in my head, but I didn’t have the power to cry out.

That was a second or so ago.

I am too tired now. My soul retires. But before I slump to the ground I note that time has well passed. It is 12:00am and it is Valentines.

_
‘Mama, iyen o ki n se problem na. Ma to pada wa, e ma wori.’ – Mama, that is no problem at all. I will soon be back, don’t worry about it.

‘Egba mi o!’- Please help me!

‘Ekaabo’- Welcome

‘Ekule’- Response to welcome.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.