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).
Zahra’u stood by her doorstep with one of her hand to her waist and the other at the top roof of the door. For a moment neither of us spoke. I stared directly into her eyes, because the PHCN (the Nigerian power distribution company) didn’t disappoint us that night, there was light which made it difficult for me to talk. I was bewildered and couldn’t utter a single word as I fumbled at my own self.
The moment I opened my mouth to talk my hand began to shake and as though there isn’t a single bone in it. How cowardice of me, I sighed.
‘ba hausa’ you’re not saying anything! What is the froblem (problem)? She said silently as my heart quakes as if she were going to punish me for being so ungrateful.
Thank you Zee, I didn’t even thank you earlier. Nagode… I said leaving cowardly. That night I couldn’t sleep proper as I ponder over my cold nature and slowly I dozed off.
Times passes so quickly as days turned into weeks. Because I was too big a coward, I could not even sit and have a gist with her not even for a minute. Each time she came closer, I become too cold with her until she become tired of me. It was visibly clear she didn’t like any of it a bit. In spite of all that, she never gave up trying to cheer me up. Little by little I began to catch some hausa lines and also was able to muster small courage which was an improvement.
Sometimes later, the session came to an end and I left for home for the long vacation. Very stupid of me, I didn’t even say good bye to her.
It will be without any sense to talk about how my vacation was and how I felt throughout about her. When the vacation finally came to an end, I headed back to school with a gift which I bought for her. It was a wrist watch with an inscription ‘Zee’ inside. Immediately I arrived I became nervous and I was like I need to see her first hand before anyone else.
When I finally got to my lodge, I came down from the ‘achaba’ (motorcyclist) and walked slowly to the gate. As I opened the gate I met people in small groups and some cluster together as chicks do to their mother and I became nervous. We have never had such crowd before in my lodge as far as my memory could recall. Some wore cow faces and other just sat with their gaze fixed to the cemented floor as if counting the little sand on it or perhaps as if discussing with some sets of insects. I became confuse as this has never happened before. I muster the courage and opened my door. As I was about entering inside the room a loud wailing came out of one of the rooms and my heart paused. …….
PART FOUR COMING
It was very early in the morning… she was waiting, waiting for the day to break, but the moon was shinny, coming like a dead light, mixing with the early dawn, through the space between the earth and the atmosphere, the day was breaking silenty as if it would take a century; such was the manner of the awn that day.
In the midst of this; I saw someone on the dark platform. Even though it was very dimmy, I could see how the cloth was swaying as if it were in the air.
Assalamu alaykum (I said even though I wasn’t sure if the person were a muslim).
A gust wind blew the cloth off the strangers head. A GIRL!
The day had already become clearer. Dark black, but little eyes. Her hair was full and thick as she left them uncovered.
Hello! Did you miss the night bus too? What is your name? where are you going? Her answers were nothing. When she stood up, staring at me straight in the eyes. Her looks were full of magic and my heart beats faster against my chest. It was so violent that I could hear its beating.
All of a sudden, as if pearls were falling, she says something but I didn’t hear it. What did you say? (I said moving closer) Tea please! (she said as if scared of me)
I got her tea and she was still silent. I stared at her and it was if I had not seen a girl before. I didn’t know why I was misbehaving. How could love happen this weird? Am I crazy? Those were questions running riot in my head. I couldn’t stop stealing a gaze at her as well.
Few moments later, the park became filled up with people and cars. Could you please tell me your name? she was still silent but her eyes were cloudy, yet I didn’t give up. My wouldn’t give up either.
In a split second, she stood up and walked closer to a driver. I turned my face away, facing down as if counting the stones or discussing with some sets of insects. Abruptly, the man roared.
Do you think we run a charity home here? Get out of my face please!
I turned and in front of the man, she knelt. She was begging and sobbing. I couldn’t bear it. It was as if I was in a frying pan being fried. The pain in my heart was hell. I knelt in front of her and everyone turned and stared at us. I raised her head and her eyes were moistening with tears.
I can bear your silence but I cant bear to see your tears, not a single one drop. (I said staring at her).
I didn’t know what had come over me. Tears roll down my cheek too.
Why am I even crying?
It was like a charm or perhaps magic. Why I had become like this in a moment I could not fathom. She was begging the driver to help her because her money wasn’t enough.
Today is going to be different; Tofa is going to make your table turn. Stay here and wait for me a little longer, I said running towards the road to stop a motorcyclist.
I need to go to an ATM, I said humping the bike without wasting a second. I collected the bike because I wasn’t satisfied with the speed and from one ATM machine to another we went till I got money.
On reaching the park, she was already inside one of the bus, about to move. She looked at me straight in the eyes as I dropped five thousand Naira notes on her lap and she extended her hand giving me a note which she had written.
The person I loved the most drugged me three months ago and impregnated. When I discovered am pregnant, I decided to leave home. I can’t bear to disgrace my family. My name is HADI. Please forget me and forget love because nothing as painful as love.
I watched the bus until it went out of sight and Hadi too left me like a wind without any direction or any known destination.
That day Hadi became a household name…… Pls is love that painful too? Don’t just read, please comment as well.