It was on a very dark night that everything began. Many thoughts ran riot in my head and I couldn’t sleep even though I wanted to. I turned several times but that wasn’t enough to put me to sleep. I lifted the bedcover and came down from the bed and unclenched my fist. My legs having become heavy, they trembled. Because the heat was at its peak the door was open and I staggered outside to urinate. I remained outside after I had finished urinating staring at the bright moon and stars.
In a split second, grandma shouted my name from inside and I ran straight inside to lie beside her. Most times when I was unhappy and depressed her embrace was like a paradise to me. I curled beside her on the bed like a millipede waiting for sleep but it was all futile.
“Mama when is mummy coming home”
I asked with tears in my eyes but she wouldn’t say a thing. My mum used come home as she pleases; most times once every three month. Grandma hated to be reminded of her. From the clouds of tears in her eyes it was clear enough to tell how she regretted having a daughter like my mother. Whenever she was around, the house was like a wrestling ground as every of their little argument always turn to fight. Even though grandma was old and weak, she wouldn’t mind as she beat her like her own baby. Her excuse always was that whatever she does was none of grandma’s business after all she was the one feeding her and likewise myself. I was young and childish that I couldn’t understand a thing that was happening at that time.
“Your mum will come soon”
She said sniffing her nose as though she were suffering from cold and catarrh. She was silent and it was clear she was also suffering from the same thoughts that her one and only child deserted her to an unknown destination.
Almost two weeks later, my mum came home. That day I was returning from school when I sited her from afar alighting from a car. I was overjoyed and could not control my gladness. I ran without stopping and I stub my toe on a stone but I didn’t mind. When I came face to face with her, I jump in embrace and buried my face between her rapper which she tightly wand around her small waist.
ME: Mummy where is daddy?”
MUM: are you not happy to see me?
ME: but you promise to come with him last time
MUM: don’t worry; we shall be going together tomorrow
I was baffled as she alleged the words that I had waited for, for a very long time now. I couldn’t control my joy and celebration, as I ran straight into the sitting room where grandma always lie in the bed.
There, I found her lying in the bed facing up, which was unlike her. She never lie facing up because on many occasion she had cautioned me not to, which according to her leads to nightmares. I went closer to her and touched her hand and it felt cold.
I shouted but it was already too late for her to answer. I went outside and found my mum struggling with her bag which she drags on the ground as though it carries the weight of a mountain and I began to shiver.
Whats wrong “Idimi?”
That was the name I was called by my mum; even though I had no idea what it meant, I never like the name for once.
Mama is not answering me and her body is very cold
I said childishly and innocently. For a moment neither of us spoke; she looked at me as I does same. Abruptly, she dropped the hand bag which she carried like an egg that would break any moment on the ground and ran inside and I followed…
She touched her hands, neck, legs and almost everywhere but grandma wasn’t responding a bit. She bent her head maybe trying to feel her pulse but nothing… Mum what is wrong? But she wouldn’t say a thing. She folded her hands on top of her head and at once she burst into tears. She shouted and wail to no avail.
Soon the compound became a stadium. I was still confused and couldn’t understand what was going on. I was just four years old and everything seems like a joke to me. She was gone forever.
My grandma took all she had as time to bring happiness to my heart and smiles to my face. She never mind if she had to cry for me to smile. In spite of everything I wasn’t happy.
Many months later, after series of disturbance from me that I wanted to see my father couple with the fact that my mum had no idea what being a mother was, she conclude we were leaving for good.
Life in our new environment was like hell for me. I stopped going to school and I was always alone in the house. Most times she would not even return and on rare occasion which she does, she was always drunk. As young as I was, I regretted the mother God had given me.
Every morning, afternoon and evening all sorts of men troop in and out of our one room apartment and most of the times she would say they were my uncles. At times I would stay outside for them to finish what exactly they were doing before I could go inside.
One cold night which I will never forget; I was outside till day break. The cold went in and out of my bones. I became stiff and I was shivering till it was dawn; I cried but my crying never helped me.
Few days later, I felt sick and I was admitted to a clinic where it was confirm I was suffering from anemia. I battled with it for many months before it was all over. After I was discharge, thinking she had learnt her lessons but I was wrong. The same pattern continues until I was fifteen years old.
At fifteen, I left home for good. I went very far away from home and believe you me without any intention of returning. It was from there I struggled with education which I sponsored myself through odd jobs. I finished secondary education at the age of twenty three.
Few years later, after I got admission into the university I decided to travel back to my state to get my state of origin. It was at this juncture that I bump into my mum. She was working as a cleaner at the secretariat. Stunned and confused I looked at her as she does same; for a moment neither of us spoke. She looked ruffled as though she was in her fifties and she was just dirty.
I pretend I didn’t know her and walked past her. She followed me but I refused to turn back. I was happy I had finished my mission before I saw her. Even though I didn’t know my father’s name I never bothered. I was using my maternal grandfather’s name.
From where I stood on the road I could hear her screams and cries but I refused to turn back. I stopped a bike and climbed onto it and that was when I turned my head and I saw her on the ground rolling.
“Stop please” I commanded the motorcyclist
I sat on the bike staring at her as she was being asked what was happening but she couldn’t say a thing as she just kept staring at me and pointing one of her finger directly at me…
Do you know her? One of the women asked
No I said as I gave the motorcyclist go ahead with the riding.
People say blood is thicker than water but mine is no doubt lighter than water… I left my mum that day and all I could hear from afar was IDINMI! IDINMI!! IDINMI!!! But I never stopped nor looked back, for I knew I was a legal bastard and the blood we shared was lighter than water.