I watch your tear drops become litres, as they flow with mine forming a river. I watch you sob even with my own bitter, clouded eyes. Now, I do not know whose faults and whose regrets, who’s broken, who’s in pain and who’s ruined.
Let’s walk down memory lane together. I’d remind you how much love in hate I saw, how much hatred in love I was shown, and how much I could behold.
“Nooo! Are you the only one?! Should I not live my life anymore?! Go ahead and turn into whatever you want to turn to. Wàá bá èmi náà nbè!”
I would shiver in pity, seeing so much disgusts in your eyeballs. Is this not same woman that so loved me?
“Ma mummy mi. Don’t ‘mummy me. Don’t even….”
And then, you would burst into tears. Tears were so close to your eyes those days just as thorny words were close to your lips. You made me seem what I am not. I would leave your presence with dry face and go shed a million tears in my closet.
That was the beginning of your change.
What has happened to mother?
You stopped being my playmate. You said I was eighteen, that I could go do my plaiting, could choose friends among my schoolmates, choose career partners among the street mates, even church mates. That minute, in your voice I found hate. The harshness of your voice had bitterness in it. I couldn’t fathom the sober part but I noticed it was therein. And some fear-inducing shouts that went very far in creating a sane lout.
That day I was sitting on the blue couch, the right arm was going to fall off. I knew it but I was just there, absent in real life. I had brooded very far, very far into our past. And then you screamed! It woke me to life… back to that life of hardship.
“Ṣé bàbá ẹ lo ra shiaarr fún mí ní?! Was it your father that bought that chair for me? Are you going to destroy this again?”
You shouted like I had always destruct things in the house. But it didn’t even come to my mind because although you saw the ears, my ears weren’t there.
“Oh!” I sprang back to life. You wouldn’t even see the tears that brought out the fear in my heart.
I sat back when you left.
What had happened to my own mother..?
“Àbẹ̀bi, don’t even… Don’ttttttt….”
Someone laughed. Was it you or me?
Oh! We both laughed.
I didn’t hesitate to disarrange your crows. The ones I had meticulously weaved the previous morning when you were telling me Baba Sura was ‘chasing’ you about in the streets. I laughed it off and explained my own plight. “No,” you had said. “It is the power of your beauty, my dear lady.”
With pride running through my veins, I imagined Bàbá Súrá chasing you on the floor of Agbábíàká street, both of you playing ‘casha-casha’ as though he was Bolu and you were Kafila, the neighbor’s little ‘princess’.
“So, mum, wouldn’t you like to know the g….?
“Hey! My dear, wouldn’t I what..? I was going to ask you already.”
You let out a broad smile. I quickly sat before you, my knees meeting yours. I returned the smile.
“Do you know what they call TDH..?? No, you don’t.”
You were staring into the skies. I saw that.
I wonder how you saw my hand coming to your breasts. Like before, you slapped my palm away.
“Tee, your dad was…”
I gave a wry smile, never wanted to hear the story again. I mimicked that exact line— “He was tall, dark and handsome.”
“…A heartbreaker. Baby, kind hearts too break heart. Your father was a guy every girl sought.”
“Your head of class,” I put in.
“Yes. The most brilliant, very handsome except for his Klegs…”
“Those which the gap-tooth complimented.” I used ‘compliment’ just like you.
“Tolu, will you let me?”
“Oh momma! I’m sorry. Tolu thinks she has heard enough of it.”
“Will you just…”
“Tell me mum.”
“You know he was sweet, tall, dark and handsome, brilliant, very kind, yet he broke me. But, you don’t even know how he did. Kazeem indeed was man of the girls; the guy for the ladies, but he loved me so much. I read that in everything he did. Though we had this popular problem of premarital sex, I wanted a sweet relationship, short courtship before marriage. He wanted a sweet girl, one to be enjoyed before marriage.
We had this talk so many times. And one day after explaining to my mother, Mum said I was 24 and could allow my boyfriend have it if I want him to; not just keeping it for the sake of the noble saying and preaching against premarital sex.”
“But Kazeem was cheating and you had no problem with that.”
“Hehehe! Tueh! I did have some problems with that, but you know dear, the love I had for your father. So, I was going to share the great news. How excited and naive I was that I didn’t give a call…”
“And you got to his place and you were caught off-guard. Nothing caught you actually, you were just surprised he wasn’t on another lady as expected, but home alone under the influence of alcohol that you knew he didn’t use to drink”
The look you gave that moment, I laughed so hard but you were still calm. I was interrupting your story and acting like I knew it all. And you gave that where-did-I-even-get-this- girl look.
So, I did apologise and you…you dropped it:
“Tolu, he raped me!”
Before the sobs would be heard loud, I moved closer and hugged you tight. I could hear the pants of your heart. I pictured it too: a drunken man that was your boyfriend forcing his harshness into you, his ideas, his sentiments.
He wasn’t even apologetic…Just as you had told me.
So, you saw from that moment he wasn’t someone you could marry; a bitter patriarch that would later force his religion on you, which might end up hitting you for earning more through your diverse businesses. You said you had seen him finish and wouldn’t like to marry him although you loved him.
You also told me how your father chased you to his house when he discovered you were pregnant. How you stayed in Granny’s house till you gave birth to me and live an awful three years with him until you left. We talked of the hits every day, the swollen faces, the emotional abuses, the verbal abuses.
You were losing your sanity, and then your gut got you out.
We cried a million times together. We cried a million tears. And I made up my mind to forever be there, to be there for you and with you.
But you later wouldn’t let me.
At a point, I was feeling you were transferring old-time aggression, bitterness, hatred, disgust to me. You stopped caring about my point of view, about how I felt, about how school went, who I was going out with, my new teacher, the neighbor that was always winking at me.
You did not care a bit. I even wrote to you mum, about the imagined family.
“Out at eight
And never in till late
You go hustle for your kids
And care not how they feel
Monies on the table
Gadgets so stable
But hearts keep breaking
The love that made you work all day to keep us. Why didn’t it spare some hours to nurture us?
The love that made you wake at dawn. Why didn’t it make you return at dusk?
How you blame our shits on our teachers. And shamefully forget you’re our parents.
You could make it to parties but never our open days
You left our upkeep to social media, to peer group, to neighbors.
To shape our lives and prepare our fates
At the end when everything turned out as ‘planned’, you blame it on ‘our bad habit’
Dad, when did you ever had time?
Even mum was a total stranger.
Now, it’s late.
We’ve turned ‘what we want to’
All thanks to Kate”
I remembered how much you cried reading this. I thought there would be change. Yet, the days still turned darker. Who would I explained to, that my mother was inflicting pains on me, physically and emotionally? How could I explain that what Papa caused you, was being rained on my poor head?
We used to have best moments. I could have told you about my silly, shameful acts. Silly and shameful, you would call them but they wouldn’t have been escalated into so big an angst. You could have scolded me and admonished me. We could have retraced steps and ironed things. But here, we sit. I still do not know who’s ruined, whose regrets, who’s pimped, whose wound.
I cry for the days I was shunned. For letters I wrote but couldn’t give you. I cry for the day I was tamed, by the little man I fell in love with. I cry for days you never heard me, days I cried to Kate who was so quick to give wrong advices.
I’m sorry for letting you down…but mum you were never even up before.
Did you not scream and look down on me just when I needed you most?
Did you not keep from me whatever it was that always made you cry, that always broke you down?
Did you not hide from me your teary eyes every night?
Even those drugs I see you take morning and evening, did you not hide them from me?
For fear or whatever it might be, you made me feel bad for not helping you out from whatever it was, just as you made me worse, deteriorating my pains and anguish with piercing words being lavished.
You pushed me to drugs and never saw a sign, how much ruined I was getting. You pushed me to incessant sighs and never worried what I had on my mental health.
What do we call what came between us? The Devil….?
You were going to give your best. Of course, you were giving it. Until, we had things turned out. And I became your worst enemy. Isn’t that what it seemed?
You will give reasons.
But then I would have gone ‘too soon’:
To a place where shame wouldn’t come after me and anguish wouldn’t be my most sought to relieve. I will not live and relive, and I won’t even care if you leave because of this.
Till we see no more.