Published on September 18th, 2012 | by Marilyn Eshikena57
Hey people, Toolsman here stealing a few minutes from the Betty Tuesdays team to formally announce something we’ve been working on for a while now. It’s official, the month of October has been declared Women’s month on TNC. (*Insert dancing and jumping up and down*).
So, what does this mean? All through the month of October, every single post (except the series currently running) will be written by women. We have spent the last couple of months combing through the interwebs to locate exciting female writers and trust me, from what I’ve read so far, you will not want to miss a single day. During this month, we will also have the female version of the For Coloured Men series we ran a few months ago so there’s more than enough to look forward to. Oh and by the way, this doesn’t mean the men will be taking a break (-__-), we’ll be in the comment section and online joining in on the conversations, after all, we go where our women go. :D. Now back to the Betty Tuesday’s team.
Marilyn here and today, we have a guest post from a friend of the house, @kimeclectic. Please read and share your comments when you are done. Thanks.
Contrary to my initial plan, I decided to board a bus home. Sitting in the midst of nine strangers does not exactly count as having company but somehow I feel better. At least I am shielded from the light chill clouding the bus. Human beings have always interested me. The fact that there is probably the same spiritual fuel that keeps people going, yet on close watch, they act so differently… weird. Like the graying man by my side that tugs at his right ear almost every five minutes… I timed it. Or this lady that has been yelling into her phone, threatening the person at the other end with fire, brimstone and the police if her five hundred thousand naira is not refunded within a week. From where I sit, I know for sure that there really is nobody at the other end of the line. It makes me wonder who she is looking to impress in a bus filled with strangers. I notice the baby bump underneath her dress and I turn away without thinking.
The journey home is taking longer thanks to the construction work being done on the road. For the first time, I am grateful for the traffic. I need the time to wake up. Everything still feels surreal and the reality of what I just did is yet to hit me. I wonder how I will be received when I get home. Will my mum look at me and know? I hate how void I feel. I am certain that a pin dropped inside me will echo. I expected a storm to rage in me, to feel guilt and have tears flow unrestrained in mourning of what will never be. I expected to be a guilt crippled wreck, to feel something profound and memorable to mark this day. But there is nothing, my eyes are as dry as the harmattan breeze that has chapped my lips. My thighs move of their own accord – open and close – like I am impatiently waiting for something to happen. Or maybe they move to distract me from what happened between them.
The bus finally stops. I find myself out of the bus but I cannot recall how I got out. I pull my jacket tightly around me as the cold dry draft of air hits me. Suddenly, I feel like going back on the bus. It takes me some minutes to remember I had forgotten to collect my change. The bus conductor smiles at me as his driver speeds off. Today is his lucky day. I just want to get home. At the same time I do not want to get home. I move like I was programmed to. The road home is one my spirit will remember even after I die. This street with the houses adorning it on either side has been my home for my score of years but today, it looks different. The houses feel like giant eyes staring at me. My steps surer, I walk to the black gate that has been in my line of sight.
I step into my home and take a deep breath. I take off my shoes and walk on the carpet grass that covers the soil. I love how it feels beneath my feet. I move closer to the back door, then I hear a platter of feet. I brace myself for this. He moves so fast! All I see is a blur as my four year old brother, Chima flings himself at me. There is a sharp pain in my stomach and I am not sure if he is heavier now or if he kicked me in the gut. It is a miracle we both do not end up on the floor. I become frantic. I am almost sure I can hear the thumps from inside my stomach.
As I climbed up the stairs, I dropped my shoes, then my bag. I put my brother down and unzipped my dress. The left hand of the dress drops to reveal my purple bra strap. Kunle’s favourite colour. The colour of the shirt he wore on the day I learnt that actions have reactions. I remember seeing the first line slowly form and then the second line and opening my eyes and closing them back. Wishing for the strip I held between my thumb and index finger to disappear. I remember Kunle’s eyes and how shiny they became from tears. It felt like I was looking through a water shield. Everything seemed so far away and I had to read his lips to grasp what he said. I remember the vibration from my phone jerking me to the reality before me. It was a text message from my mother. She reminded me that I was her pride and jewel and doors of success will continuously open to me even as I opened her womb. Then the dam burst. I cried until I passed out. I was a disappointment. I told myself it was the right thing to do… the unselfish thing. I could not bear to put my family through the pain. Not my mother. So I ignored Kunle’s plea. It was not just about us. I had my family to think about too. Hearing him re-affirm his love to me was supposed to make me feel better but I really did not want to hear about love just yet. I had not picked his calls in two days. I doubt he will have any fingernails left when next we see. This is for my family. For them.
I walk into my mum’s room. I watch her at her reading table, writing and humming to her herself.
“Good evening Mummy”
She turned and smiled at me. The dimples, gap tooth and the wide heart-warming smile I got from her today felt like a fist over my heart. Squeezing, not letting go.
“I bought boiled corn for you. I hid it inside my wardrobe because your sisters were lusting after it”.
Lusting has to be my mum’s favorite word.
I do not know where the tears came from. They weren’t there one minute and the next minute they poured. I sit on the floor and place my head on her laps. She rubs my back and I try to imagine the expression on her face right now. Her forehead will be furrowed and her eyebrows drawn closer in worry. I cannot look at her. All of a sudden I have so much to say. I want to tell her I had my insides scraped out today by cold steel and I still feel the phantom scraping. I think I am going to feel it for the rest of my life… something scraping then sucking the life out of me. I want to tell her that her baby was to have a baby but I ended the life that grew in me because I feared she was going to kill me. Now I feel her warmth and the love that oozes from her pores and I know for certain that I may have disappointed her but her love for me is non-ending. I want to apologize for not having enough faith in her.
That has been my pet name for as long as I remember. It meant more to my mum and I. It was our code.
“Mama Mama” I reply.
“Odin ma” she says It is well.
How can it ever be well? I am empty. I do not know how to be the person I used to be, I do not know if I would ever stop looking at the world in hues of black.
“Nma, what is the matter?”
The harder I try to explain, the more violent the storm becomes. Suddenly, I am hiccupping and hyperventilating and stuttering all at once. I can feel my mum’s fear now. She lowers herself to the floor and holds me tighter. Rocks me.
“It is okay my daughter. Tell me what the problem is Nma, talk to me”
I take deep breaths to calm my self down.
“I failed the test I wrote last week mummy. I am finding school so hard. I do not know what to do”
Her long hiss brings an unexpected smile to my face.
“That is why you are crying like a widow? I thought somebody died”
My mind wanders as she goes on and on about life and hope.
It is well.