I didn’t bother to ask her but she held my hand looking straight into my eyes. I knew she was about to say something when we heard a loud voice at the door.
One of the chiefs in the town barged in demanding to meet my father. However, my mother knew the main reason for visiting that morning. Chief Kolawole threatened to take the plots of land belonging to my paternal grandfather.
“If your husband refuses to refund the loan he collected from the community, we will take his plots of land. Is that clear?”
My mother paused and allowed him to finish his rantings. The chief looked at me and my mother strangely. He was one of the richest chiefs in our town and deliberately built his house near the Palace and the reason was best known to him. He once claimed he could cure HIV/AIDS with certain plants grown on his farm.
“Rebecca, excuse us for some minutes” he commanded me.”
I immediately left the sitting room without asking for the reason. My father once sat in the sitting room discussing with a friend about the local politics. I witnessed their arguments until it degenerated to the point of almost trading banters and my father was humiliated. My presence there infuriated him and he beat me mercilessly that day. That gory memory never left me.
Because of Chief’s suspicious look that morning, I hid behind the door to eavesdrop. What he told my mother shook me to the core. What I heard made me leave for my room with uneasiness in my spirit. I looked at the books on my table for so long imagining them becoming humans and wage war against the chief.
The smell of the burnt rice jolted me back to my senses and I ran to the kitchen like one of the children running to pick a fallen ripe mango in the community.
My mother had already gone outside with one of her friends selling clothes. Mama Bolanle used to visit my mother whenever she passed our street for her morning cry or personal evangelism. My mother disliked her for her constant preaching about Jesus Christ. As for her, she strongly believed in worshipping the goddess and ready to spend her all for the celebration.
I once asked her why she disliked her preaching but liked her lifestyle. She gave an awkward response, “Why hasn’t her Jesus given her a child?”
I reminded her that Bolanle was her daughter. She shook her head in pity and told me plainly the secret I haven’t heard before,
“Bolanle is her adopted child. She is so barren like the Sahara desert that no man wanted to marry her.”
This truth hit me hard and made me sad realising that Bolanle, a close friend was an adopted child. One thing about Bolanle was her honesty and steadfastness in her belief. Unlike me, she was ever contented and satisfied with her level and family. I remembered flaunting a rolex wrist watch my father bought for me from one of his business trips. Bolanle only admired it but I was expecting her to praise me to the high heavens and respect me the more. Her simple lifestyle like her mother usually humbled us.
On getting to the kitchen, in an attempt to bring down the pot from the stove, my left hand got burnt and my loud cry sent my mother running to the kitchen. The way she handled the hot pot made me feel as if she wasn’t a human being. I have noticed her several times carrying hot objects in the kitchen with her bare hands which made me concluded that mothers are wonderful beings.
“Ronke! Ronke!! Where were you? Were you sleeping?” She asked.
I couldn’t answer her because I knew no answer I gave would pacify her.
“Won’t you answer me, useless child? She shouted again.
At least, I was expecting her to comfort me or say some encouraging words but I have been used to hearing such foul words. Her attitude made me yearn for my father’s presence but his frequent trips wouldn’t allow. While still standing there like a jobless lady, her phone rang. As I tried to help her pick it, she warned me not to answer it when she realised it was my father.
“Travelling around the world like a rudderless ship. Who will deliver me from my woes?” She lamented as she prepared the stew.
I watched her talking to herself and murmuring. This was a regular sight whenever my father travelled. I didn’t even know whether I should pity her or not. Their lovely pictures adorned our sitting room and funnily, dad placed a bigger frame of their picture in the bedroom with a bold written words below it, “TILL ETERNITY, I WILL LOVE YOU”
Whether I should believe it or not remained an unsolved riddle for me. The way dad used to praise mum would make a young lady like me to yearn for marriage. However, my mother complained and murmured around the house as if she was forced to marry him. I could clearly say mum adored and respected my father. I knew something was missing in their marital bond.
Suddenly, two women in white attires came in unannounced into our house and my mother and I looked at each other…
To be continued in Episode 3.