Written by Shalom Adedokun
I half-dragged mama slowly and led her to her room.
With a kick, the door opened. She fell on the bed and started snoring the moment her head hit the bed.
I looked at her as a single tear trickled down my face. I wiped it off quickly and placed a blanket over her then quietly tiptoed outside.
This was exactly how my heart felt.
I stared into the night and looked up. The starless sky was black as a thick blanket stretching for miles and miles, and the moon was covered by murky clouds.
It was as if they felt what I was feeling and wanted to empathize with me.
“Why couldn’t mama just love me?” I sighed.
The cold air swirled around me as I looked at the house. Sleep was long gone from my eyes.
“Was this woman even my mother?” I thought to myself as pain hammered at the back of my head.
“Yes, she is your mother” Grandma had confirmed it over and over again when I asked. “You were born out of wedlock.” Was all she’d told me.
Was that fact enough for mama to hate me so?
I surveyed the environment looking for a comfortable place to sit. I just couldn’t bear to go back into the house.
My clothes were attached to my body like a second skin from all the water mama had poured on me. I shivered in the cold like a drenched puppy yet I was determined not to enter the house.
I settled down on a tree stump within the compound and held my head. The veins in my forehead thumped so loudly that I could hear them in my ears.
Tears burned in the corner of my eyes but I closed my eyes tightly. “No I won’t cry again” I told myself. Crying didn’t solve any problem.
I brushed my hands over the chills skirting down my arm and took in air. I exhaled slowly as I tried to calm myself down, but my thoughts attacked me like a pack of blood thirsty mosquitoes.
Who exactly was my father?
Why was it that anytime mama mentioned him, it always came with intense torture for me?
My heart was bleeding raw.
Didn’t I even have a right to know who my father was?
A solemn tear escaped from my eyes and fell down my cheek, my body looked calm compared to how tangled my mind was.
Cold licked at my face and crept under my wet clothes, spreading across my skin. My teeth chattered as I stood up and began to pace up and down. The least I could do was give myself little warmth.
“If I caught cold mama wouldn’t let me work tomorrow” I reasoned.
“So you want to use your beauty to take him away from me” Mama’s words flashed in my head.
“Heavens help me!” I screamed in my head.
“Who was this ‘him’ mama was referring to”
Who was I batting eyes at?
And then I remembered.
It was this afternoon. I was coming home from getting groceries when I’d spotted the jeep. It was a rare occurrence to see a vehicle in front of the house talk-more of a jeep. It was indeed a nine-day wonder!
Laughter rang in the sitting room as I entered the house. I tiptoed quietly through the back door into the house. I was badly in need of rest and I did not want to be seen.
“Olivia, come and greet chief.” My mum called out. “Oh my gosh, this woman has already sensed my presence” I muttered, striking my forehead with my palm.
“Yes ma” I dropped the groceries in the kitchen then went to the sitting room.
“Chief, this is my daughter” she said, smiling.
I turned to look at the ‘so called’ Chief. A puffy, dissipated-looking middle-aged man sat on the sofa, his legs crossed together sipping brandy.
“Good Afternoon Sir” I curtsied then turned to my mother, uninterested in the visitor.
“Good afternoon” He replied, dropping the cup of brandy in his hands and adjusting his glasses.
“Regina, I never knew that you had a daughter” He looked at me, perusing me from head to toe then turned to my mother.
“Wow!” He exclaimed, staring at me. “Your daughter is grown and very beautiful, Regina” His stare was getting extremely uncomfortable.
“So you kept this beautiful gem hidden in your house ehn?” He queried and stood up.
“Chief, Chief” My mother called and laughed. “You’ve not changed” She continued, shaking her head from left to right.
“This your daughter fine ehn” He kept on looking at me as if I was a specimen for observation.
“Chief, don’t bore a hole into her. This one that you’re staring at her like this.”
Chief did not even pay attention to her as he was busy ogling at me.
“Reggy, this your pikin na mammy water ooo”
I was getting really uncomfortable with the way he was staring at me and looked to my mother for help. It was not as if I was not used to people staring at me, but chief was practically undressing me with his eyes.
“Chief, I am getting jealous oooo” My mother coughed and adjusted her clothes.
Chief started to advance towards me. My insides turned as he looked at me brazenly with lust blazing in his eyes.
“Let me introduce myself to you my angel” A frown found its way to my face as he extended his hand towards me. I offered my hand to him lest I risked annoying my mother’s visitor. He took it and pressed his lips to my wrist leaving them wet and slimy.
He leaned in closer to me and attempted to hold my waist. I stepped aside quickly and cast him a look full of hate. “Ègó Óyíbó” He called, grinning like an animated cat.
“Let me look at you properly, don’t be shy na” His breath smelled of stale onions mixed with brandy. I glanced towards mama, her eyes had narrowed and her teeth were clenched together.
“Obim (My heart), You are so beautiful. I have never seen this type of your eyes before.” He continued oblivious to the look on my mother’s face.
“Áchalugo (Beautiful eagle), what is your name?”
“Olivia” I said, frowning.
“Ogbenye álŭ, poor man no fit marry this one o” He laughed, exposing a set of kolanut stained teeth.
Mama rose up from her seat and walked towards us.
She placed one of her arm on her hips and jutted it as far as it could go. “Chief, leave my daughter alone. Am I not entirely yours?” she smiled at him, twisting her body seductively.
“I know, I know Regina” He said, his eyes still trained on my body.
“Chief” Mama coughed to get his attention. “You’ve seen her now, let’s go out now. It’s getting late.”
She turned to me. “Olivia, you can go and rest now” My shoulders slumped in relief as I turned to go.
“Nwanyi oma! I’m going to come back for you” Chief called out, I could feel the heat of his eyes boring into my back as I hurried out of the room.
Was that it?
The reason why mama hit me so hard today?
Or was it because of my eyes?
My chest constricted in pain and my vision was becoming fuzzy.
I stood up and started to cough. The cold was getting unbearable outside.
I entered the house, changed my clothes and climbed into bed.
It was going to be a long night.
Watch out for episode three.
It airs next week Friday.
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