Sitting right opposite him, I could barely look at him, barely do anything these days. His concentration on the Daily Sun newspaper swaying carelessly from his hands to his outstretched legs, was an advantage as I did not have to worry about his usual quiver stare and gritty face. The Newspapers that lay beneath the centre table in our sitting room has seemed as permanent fixtures and a common furniture in the all large exotic furniture choking room. I didn’t bother looking at the fireplace this time. It had been my solace spot in which I gazed into and suddenly found answers to the troubling questions that seem to always rest on my mind from dawn to dusk.
The soft blues playing from the stereo had started to irritate me. My heart was racing, my life was tearing apart. How on earth would I reveal this painful truth? The truth about being lured to bed by this man sitting directly opposite me. The truth that this man, my father has put me in the family way. He behaved as though nothing at all had happened. This has got me more pissed with him. I could reason less or not at all. I didn’t know what to tell mom. Her reaction would probably be to throw me out and tell me never to come back. She never believes me. She thinks her husband is a saint and that I am the bad egg in the family.
Things were beginning to fall out of their places. I wished I could dig a large wolf-like hole and bury my miserable self in and never come out, at least, not in this lifetime. Thinking about all these, I didn’t hear my name from the kitchen as I was being called by mom. I only heard her mumble something about my not answering when I was beginning to regain my consciousness and focus on the reality. I just stood up from the sofa, transfixed and it seemed as though the marble floor had glued my feet to itself or probably, nailed it. I felt this sharp pain in my left foot. I felt like screaming and running off at the same time. I looked up to my dad, his face was still buried in the newspaper. Though I did not observe him closely, I knew somehow that he was on the same page as he was when this story began. My foot was still hurting, I only stopped to wonder why I was behaving so abnormal. It was at this moment I remembered that mom had called me earlier.
“Yes mom,” I answered as though I was just called.
Mom never really bothers about anyone answering her when she calls out. I guess, this made the situation worse for me as I realised how I forgot myself entirely in the sitting room. I still wondered what I was doing, sitting opposite that man, with his piercing stare that always posits his capability of scanning through one’s dress and revealing one’s underwear. This annoyed me most but now, I had to know exactly what mom was calling me for.
“Yes mom,” I blurted out again.
“Titilayo…” she started with her hoarse voice that almost made me pee on my pantie when I was in 8th grade. I did not complete my homework and she shouted at me in front of my class teacher and even gave my teacher, Mrs. Bayo, the permission to punish me severely. That was my first encounter with this harsh voice of hers which I guess she developed not long before the incident. Ever since, I have become used to it.
“Are you now deaf or has Obatala twisted your mouth with iron bars that you no longer hear and answer to your name. What are you doing in the sitting room, eh? Is that where a responsible 16 year old girl should be while her mother is making food? Don’t you know that your mates are already married with children? C’mon, will u get useful.” She said finally.
I was still trying to understand if her talk about my age mates getting married and having children was a mere exaggeration or if it was true. Of course, I knew that over there in the north, things like that happen but, not in this age, not for me.
I moved quickly towards the already overflowing sink. The dirty dishes where begging for attention and I guess, I was on a rescue mission to clear the miserable looking sink.
“What do you think you are doing? I called you in here to help me serve your father. Look, take that bowl over there and get some water for him” Mother said, almost calmly, pointing at the grey emerald bowl on the right hand side of the freezer.
I didn’t feel great about this. I took that call as an escape from father, to get away from his eyes, those strange peanut eyes plastered on the rough lined face of his. He probably will be reading his newspaper still. My guess was not actually right as I stepped into the sitting room with the bowl of water, only to have his straying eyes search me as it caught mine. I almost slipped ‘cos the gaze came unexpectedly. I dropped the bowl gently on the centre table and walked swiftly back into the kitchen.
Mother noticed my countenance, at least, this once. She never seemed to care much about my facial expressions. They were always moody, except on some rare cases when I had to supply a reasonable laughter to a joke. Probably, she was used to seeing my face in a rumpled way. This time, I knew it was so obvious that something was wrong with me.
“Titi, what is the problem? Kilode?” mother asked me as she turned sharply with a bowl of ewedu soup with steam evaporating from it. She placed it side by side with the bowl of amala, properly and carefully pounded. It seemed as though she had forgotten her previous question to me. I didn’t even attempt an answer.
“Serve the meal and come back here, you and I need to talk” I felt somewhat scared. Mother had never really talked to me. I quickly took the tray of food to the centre table as father preferred the sitting room to the dinning because he could watch TV and rest his feet on the table, those hideous legs that found their way in between mine, not a long time ago. I had this flash, going down memory lane, but I didn’t want to think about it. Didn’t want to talk about it, didn’t even want to be alive anymore.
I went back to the kitchen as fast as I could so I would not have any conversation with father, at least, not now.
“Titi, wash your hands and meet me upstairs, we need to talk.” She emphasized this talk and it really got me scared. What on earth will I discuss with my mother, that fiercely looking and never concerned woman who cared only about her job, her money and her career…
She went upstairs and I quickly followed. I didn’t want her to nag at me because of her irritable temperament. I found some space in the clothe obsessed room. Mother had her room always scattered with clothes and other women stuff. It got me thinking, maybe that was why father practically gave her some space and insisted on their separate bedrooms. Nonetheless, I didn’t have to bother myself with that at the time.
Mother seemed to get the room in order just a little bit. She sat down at the edge of the bed, close to me. That feeling was not right, so guilty and uncomfortable. At that time, I realised that I have not really been close to mother.
“So tell me, Titi, what is the problem? You have been extremely quite these days, withdrawing yourself from the family. Tell me, what is it?”
I was just thinking, what family was she referring to? A family of three, where the husband is always keeping late nights with less time for the family, the wife, always in her work place or hanging out with friends and the poor child, always alone with no friends or siblings to share her experiences with. What a family!
I didn’t even know where to start from. Many things were wrong with me, it depended on the one she wanted to hear first. I wanted to reply “Nothing” but I thought to myself, if I was to break free from this psychological bondage, I needed to take action, one of which is expressing myself.
“Mother, I… am… pre… pregnant.” It was as though a bomb blast had just occurred as the thought of what I said banged in my head. Did I just say that? Mother was gonna kill me, I was afraid of what she was yet to do. Hit me, kick me, flog me, whatever, she had done those severally. To my surprise, mother kept calm. She simply took a curvy look at me and asked,
“Who is responsible?”
I wasted no time in telling her who.
“What!” she screamed. Now that was more like her. “Your father? You must be joking.” I wish I were, she thought to herself.
“Ok, tell me, how did it happen?”
I narrated how father got into my bed, the day mother went for a vigil. I had complained of being scared to stay without mum in the house after I had a terrible dream. Father had taken advantage of that and deflowered me on that faithful night. It was too painful to even narrate and father acted as though nothing had happened. The story was even more complicated than this.
Mother became so mad and confronted Ade, my father, she could not imagine her only child being misused like that. She couldn’t think properly anymore. Soon, father’s blood was all over the place. The sitting room stank of blood, the same sitting room where he had his newspaper in his hands, reading it with a broad smile. Ade was dead, she had killed him…
updated by @americymru: 11/10/16 11:03:58PM