Just as lightening is so fast and heart thrusting, the moment and how destiny turn tables on them that particular day was also fast. It was like a dream to him as he sat in the middle of the sitting room weeping like a punctured tank rushing out. Four family members came inside and lifted the lifeless body of Uncle Dowd for burial. Many thought came and flogged him deep down into his brain and he felt like erasing the memory away and wished it was just a dream.
The memory of his dad, uncle Dowd torments him. It was like bush fire blazing through the forest, flogged by the harmattan. The voice of his dad early in the morning calling out to him to get ready for the Morning Prayer played an endless loop. Those smiles whenever he returns from school in the evening replayed too. As he turned sideways, he noticed the Panasonic radio switched off and more tears gushes out of his eyes. He cherished the radio just as he cherished his dad. Uncle Dowd and his radio were friends, as he never ate without it.
He remembered the dead look he always wears each time he prayed the five mandatory prayer when the time had passed. Thinking about all the little and big things about his dad ate him dry.
Beside uncle Dowd’s favourite sofa, his wife sat restless on the tiled floor. In her eyes were tears she could never shed. If she sits, she stood abruptly and when helped to stand, she sits. The pain and sorrow she was trying to endure was much and enough to get her crazy. Her hair scattered, her eyes bulging like that of a toad and tears drew the map of many nations yet undiscovered on her cheeks.
Bello you will die, you will die before your children grow up. You will go blind even if you have a long life. Unless there is no God, unless I didn’t gave birth to my five children and married the Dowd before you became governor. You starved us and still killed my husband, my only hope for survival because he stood against you! You will die a miserable death.
Some women tried to calm her down. But she was already out control. Her pain and sorrow was such that has no cure. How am I going to take care of five children, young children without a father, without salary for the past 20 months? All this and the death alone were killing her too. She wished she never gave birth to them after all. She also wished they all died at a time, all seven of them. In that case no one would be left to suffer afterward. No! She roared, maybe afraid of her own thoughts as well. No they will replace their father; they will repay Bello and his officials.
Muhammad sat where he was, sobbing like a vulture beaten by a heavy rain. His was not how and who killed his father, but why it has to be at that crucial time in his life. He was still in senior secondary one and the eldest among five. The task and responsibility ahead alone was a mountain he must learn how to climb, when he could barely walk properly.
After Mayo had been beaten, battered, dragged to his knees by the turbulence that dines and tarries with mankind. The gift in her was able to mend his kaput nexus with God and invariably led to the emergence of his true identity. The voice came to him expressly and pierced into his heart. It loosed him as his heart tilted. The tears of captivity was sluggishly shed and fountain of freedom installed at the center of his heart. The chains of murder was riven and relinquished to its murky background and began to shine like a star he was or rather he was.
We have been in this situation for so long I ought to have been changed, muttered Matrass
Mocachino who has vowed not to cease interceding for his sole to be renewed gawked at Matrass thoughtfully as tears rolled down his chicks uncontrollably. Matrass shook his head in dismay as none could console one another. Letters of frustration and disappointment printed in upper case at their faces seem glaring. Matrass became still instantly. Couldn’t fathom Matrass’s strange act until he sighted Mayo who tied towel round his waist.
Mayo raised Matrass up, picked his clothes he left there to straighten. Mocachino gazed at him, shook his head in amazement and muttered “come to our aid Lord for we look up to you”. The helpless and hopeless Mayo shook his legs inside his shoes as he headed out with his file seeking for a nest to shelter himself. Mocachino could feel agonizing weight exerted upon him after covering several kilometers in search of greener pastures to keep the body in conformity with the soul.
The ramshackle Mocachino gave up at the center of the road. His sole got disintegrated, fell apart and the centre couldn’t hold anymore. Mayo collapsed on the tarred road seeing a vehicle accelerating at high speed. Many witnessed the episode but Couldn’t intervene. The hopeless boy sighted Dorcas at his impoverished state,unusual strength came upon him and the wheel of fortune from her eyes drove him into the culvert. None could fathom how it happened.
He got up almost immediately and started pacing about searching for his file. “did anyone see my file? so much value was attached to the certificate- “ordinary paper” more than his life.Your file? Said a low beckoning voice that jilted him from the crowd, you survived this instead of you to thank God, you opted to shout your file? A file that has turned it back at you?. Hmmm! Take it, take your life. Mayo clothed with shame casted his head downwards with tears gushing out of his eyes like a water fall. He made his way back home. A footprint was planted in his heart by those words of Dorcas.
It took Mayo several hours to get to his apartment, walked sluggishly as though the ground forbade him from treading on it. The handwriting of frustration, rejection, disappointment, bitterness has transposed its font size on his face. ‘This is unbearable’, he muttered as he clouted the door with his leg and fele to the ground immediately . ‘Am tired of living, take my life God for you have been unfair to me, I have been humiliated, despised and rejected where others were accepted effortlessly. Why is my case different?’. He increased the tempo of his voice as he lamented continuously. A voice came to him expressly. He couldn’t detect whose voice it was but he knew that it must be a divine voice Just like Angel Gabriel speaking to Virgin Mary about the birth of Jesus. ‘you always put yourself before me as though you own your life. Treated me like an outcast, failed to acknowledge me. you make enemy with me and peace with men. You have changed my agenda for your life to that which suits your taste. That’s why you have not discovered that which is in you. you are loaded son indeed, you are a star. I ought to interrupt your plans but you shut the door of your heart at me. you put all your hope in your certificate and knocked me out of your life. He got frightened and lost in thought. He shouted out of amazement “am loaded? A star? “ but stars are meant to shine……
The voice vanished Being more worried, he opted to end it all. He picked a rope, tied it to the roof and the other end to his neck. Just as he was to sway himself to the air came another voice…. ‘Life may have torn you apart , waged war against you. you may have been drawn in the ocean of stagnation, bruised and cobwebbed in the negative circumstances of life, rejected and reduced to nothing, engulfed with Shame and reproach. I beseech you to look up to him who is mighty to save.
In him was life and the life was the light of men.
something stroke his heart as soon as he heard that of life, the rope was removed off his neck.
He rushed to the door shedding tears uncontrollably fell down at dorcas feet. He confessed, ‘you made me live once more’. Why would you take a life you can’t give? Says Dorcas, She led him to christ and his life transformed. He became a staunch follower of CHRIST. Many souls were won through him. YOU ARE REDEEMED FOR OTHERS TO BE REDEEMED.
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.
Yesterday, I could barely sleep, and then I thought maybe you were awake as well and I kept thinking about you till its dawn.
Whether I live through this or I don’t, I wish the memory of you stays intact. Whether there is life after death or not, all I wished and prayed for was for those stories about you to remain intact. You were afraid of losing me so much that you gave your own life to save mine! So I heard; if I ever meet the one who created you I will but only ask this once, I don’t want both life and death! Just your voice, the warmth of your hands to be felt by me is a prayer answered. Many a person pray for paradise, but all I pray for is a world where I could be with you till eternity. With that, I have no other desires.
Whether death or life, I don’t care as far as we can be together someday.
I never knew my mother or felt what motherhood was to a child, so each time I look at her pictures on the wall I begin to think of her based on her looks and appearance. Her full hair, small eyes and long eyelashes as though they were fixed made me think of her as an elegant woman. Many of her pictures, she looks so very serious as though she were forced to snap them but believe you me, she was still beautiful.
The only picture which I kept beside my bed was the one she took on her hospital bed, pregnant. She was carrying me in her belly; smiling and rubbing her stomach as if caressing my big head. I kept it there so it would be the first and last thing I see every day before and after waking up from sleep.
If not for God I would have worship her. Each time I do things that were so weird; my dad would always come closer to my ear and shout HADIAT. That makes me feel cold every time.
Hadiat was my mother’s name and I was named after her even though I was a male. Hadi was the male equivalent of Hadiat.
When I used to be a kid, maybe because my dad refused to marry another woman early, I used to miss my mum so much that I always wept to bed, most especially when I watch family movies. That scene when mum’s kisses their kids goodnight was like an arrow in my heart.
My dad refused to marry until recently when I was leaving home for good to the university. He married one young lady in her mid twenties. I always imagine what kind of name I was going to call her; Auntie, sis or mummy. I can’t call her mum or any of such. I can’t be in my twenties and be calling someone in her twenties mum! It’s awkward to me.
Anyway that’s not part of why I decided to write this little piece. I noticed my dad’s love for me wasn’t mine but that of his wife. All the things he is done for me were just because he saw his wife in me, the way I do things and all that. He has said that many times that I could not even count.
You know it sorrowful to remind a man about his pains that’s why I didn’t ask him to confirm the stories I have heard about my mum and how she died from him over this few years; recently I broke the silence. Mum died while giving birth to me. she was just 22 years old.
“the doctor ask her to choose between her life and the baby and she choose yours” he said with cloud of tears all over his eyes. I wasn’t happy about her decision when I was told by the doctor but by then it was already too late he added.
I became shocked as chill ran through my vein. Mum today is my birthday and also the same day you left this lonely world. I ask God to protect you for me wherever you are because am living just to meet you one day….
FROM YOUR SON el-HADI (CALIFORNIA).