Days rolled into weeks and I got my visa to study in Germany. My mother was full of thanks to her sister and I was already dreaming of my time in Germany. My mother warned me not to tell anyone about my travelling. It remained a top secret until the day the Priestesses came to our house unannounced.
“Mama Ronke, your time is up!” said the older priestess.
Mama Bolanle had already warned my mother never to argue with them again.
“How? What do you mean?” She demanded in anger.
“You haven’t redeemed your vow!The gods are angry!” They warned her.
“I have done several sacrifices and what are my gains. I have found a true Saviour” my mother replied confidently.
Her words enraged them and caused them to change their usual approach. They left without uttering a word again which indicated another warfare loomed ahead but my mother didn’t succumb to fear.
After some days, the thought of my father crossed my mind as I was reading a novel in front of our house. He didn’t disclose to us of his whereabouts and some of his friends pretended as if all was well. I have heard my mother praying for him during her evening prayers. Just few weeks to my departure from Nigeria, I summoned courage to ask my mother whether she knew of my father’s marital integrity or not.
“Your father had some female friends before we got married but after our marriage, he had been faithful to me.” she told me.
I wanted to clear my conscience before travelling out of the country and to set things in order.
“Mum, is he aware of your abortion before getting married to him?”
The shock on her face was sudden. She turned to me to find out how I got to know about it.
“Mrs Cole told you everything? Or who told you?” she probed further.
I didn’t answer her but asked another question.
“Who is Acampona?”
She shook me to demand answers from me,
“Why all these questions? What do you want to know, Rebecca?”
I maintained my posture with all readiness to know the truth that day. She bowed her head as if to decide whether to say something or not.
“Mum, why did you hide all these from us since all these years?”
She snapped back, “Hold it Rebecca. Who is us? Your father committed a lot of unpardonable offences and I forgave him.”
“But Mum, I thought you said he had been faithful to you all these years”.I asked placing my hands on her thigh as we sat outside the house.
“Women bear a lot of things and if we talk, the society will not believe us and will put the whole blame on us” she lamented.
I tried to comfort her but still determined to know more.
She continued, “I did abortion and I hid it from him when he refused to tell me his past evil lifestyles. Even one of his former female friends almost broke our marriage then.”
“Who is Acampona?” I asked again.
She didn’t want to touch that aspect but dwelled on the part of her husband.
“Your father refused to defend me before his parents and his friends when the pressure of delay in childbearing set in early in our marriage. His parents still refused to accept me as their daughter-in-law for giving birth to one female child.” She said that looking at me passionately.
Immediately, my mind went to that boy I saw with my father in the photo. Questions arose again in my mind and I was troubled.
“And you endured all these for the sake of love or what?” I asked her.
“My daughter, we have deep wells in our hearts to absorb and store insults and secrets but men aren’t so. Your father once called me a good-for-nothing barren woman and threatened to leave me if I refused to give him a male child” She further said with few drops of tears on her face.
“Mum, did you express your grievances to him? Did he apologise?”
She kept silence for some minutes before she proceeded, “If not for Jesus who forgave me all my sins, I wouldn’t have forgiven him. He hardly apologised because of the societal belief that men are always right. I have shed private tears many times but he preferred to shower his love on me with gifts. I wanted only his attention and care but he didn’t care.”
There were many questions I wanted to ask surrounding my birth, grandparents, the constant evil occurrences and the like but what she said next changed my perspective,
“In all things, we should give thanks to God. Like Mama Bolanle told me yesterday, Saul was a hardened sinner who later obtained the mercy of God. I pray God will have mercy on you and your father” She admonished me.
I still believed she was hiding some secrets about my birth and the mark at the back of my neck and I probed further,
“Mum, you are still hiding something from me?”
She rose up in a jiffy to warn me, “Rebecca, there is nothing to hide. Don’t talk in that direction again. I have told you all you needed to know. Is that clear?”
Her attitude infuriated me and I went inside my room. As I sat on my bed ruminating on what we discussed, I heard a dog barking and I knew none of our neighbours had a dog. I ran to the sitting room to check if my mother heard it but she wasn’t inside the house.
Suddenly, I heard a loud cry and ran outside the house to find a rabid white dog wagging its tail and barking with blood on his mouth …
To be continued in Episode 15.