ODUFA – A story about redeeming Love.
Mum had a black eye and swollen lips when I got home. She drank alcohol from her favorite old mug in the kitchen. Her hair looked funny. Front of her blouse was rumpled and the side was torn. I knew it was Dad. They fought every day. Mum was always quick to use bad words for Dad and he would strike her hard across her face. He would kick her on the floor until she looked dead. I saw him do it many times. Yet mum never learnt her lessons to run away whenever Dad wanted to hit her. She would always want to hit Dad in return and got beaten even worse.
Once when my sister, Enegwe tried to stop him he hit her too. My sister was a very nice person but she was also always on her own. Suspiciously quiet. She didn’t have friends who came to the house and didn’t talk to anyone at home. She was also very pretty like mum and intelligent but she cried most times at night. She was as sad as me. I hated my family and I wish I wasn’t born into that family. Nobody said anything nice to anyone.
“Good afternoon mum.” I said as I walked into the house. She didn’t say anything and I didn’t wait for her to respond. Everyone in my house was always unhappy about something.
“What’s wrong with mum?” I asked Enegwe when I got into our bedroom. I already guessed it would only dad that would have given her a black eye but I wanted to know what caused the fight this time. Whenever they fought someone got injured, most times it was Mum. There was a time she hit her head on the wall and got it stitched. That day I saw so much blood from what looked like just a small wound. Mum didn’t even wait for the wound to heal before she resumed fighting with Dad again.
“She had a fight with Dad.” Enegwe said coldly. She also witnessed the fights and she got hit too. Her left eye was red and it looked like she had been crying. Enegwe didn’t also deserve to be born into such family. She was always trying to make mum not talk back to Dad during their arguments. Many times she screamed, “Stop it Mum, don’t do that” during the fights but I guess Enegwe was too young for Mum to listen to her.
“What happened to you too? Did he hit you again?” I felt sorry for her.
“Yes. He hit me twice. He called me a good-for-nothing. He called me stupid.” She sobbed. How does a man treat his own family with such wickedness? I wondered
We really didn’t even know why they fought or why they always argued. Or maybe we were too young to understand. But I think it was partly because Dad was a drunk with many girlfriends. Once I heard Mum say, “I know your girlfriends. I know all the women you are sleeping with.” Mum also called him “Jobless and shameless fool” many times. Then he would hit Mum so hard that he will be panting and throwing things in the house.
Sometimes mum said he didn’t have a job and nobody could employ a useless drunk like him. Mum also said that she made the money used in paying for the rent, school fees and feeding us. It was hard to believe her because Dad drove his car out most mornings and came back in the evening looking dirty and tired. He said he went to work but mum would say he went drinking and partying with women.
There were many times I wished my life was different like the other girls at school. Most of the students were accompanied to school by a Mum or Dad or a relative. I had to walk from my home, alone. I only get Adaku’s company sometimes on my way back. I didn’t even want the other children at school to meet my parents. I was not proud of them.
“Do you girls see how your Dad beats me? Do you see how he treats me like an animal?” Mom was standing at the entrance of our room and screaming. I was not sure if it was the influence of the alcohol or anger that Dad gave her another black eye.
“You girls watch out and avoid a man like your father. If you must get married don’t do it with a man like your father. If you fall into the hands of someone like him kill him. Kill him I say!” Mom did this almost every time she had a fight with Dad but she never killed him. She obviously wasn’t having a good time being married to him but she never left him.
Enegwe and I didn’t pay attention. We were used to it and we could repeat word for word everything she said. After each fight Mum would give us a sermon on how to marry right and how to avoid men like Dad. She stood there cursing Dad and threatening to do something bad to him. Enegwe got upset.
“Mum, I am having a terrible headache why don’t you wait for Dad to return so you would tell him what you are saying now.” Enegwe looked like she was in pain.
“I just want you girls to know what I am going to do to him. I am going to kill him soon.” She left still cursing.
That night sleep vanished from my eyes.
“Ene, are you still awake?” I knew she wouldn’t be sleeping. She had not stopped sobbing. “Do you think Mum and Dad can ever stop fighting?”
“Why do you ask? Are you afraid that Mum would truly carry out her threat to kill Dad?” It wasn’t the kind of response I was expecting from her. Mum and Dad often threatened themselves but it never went beyond words.
“One day Mum will kill Dad so we can all live in peace.” She said quietly but firmly. I jerked up surprised. The room was too dark to see the expression on her face. I had never heard her talked in that tone.
I really wished my family was different. I heard Dad banging the door as he came in, was drunk as usual. He and Mum had another round of arguments and name calling using bad words for each other. Mum threatened to call the police to arrest him. Dad was too drunk to make much meaning from whatever he said back to Mum. I heard him say something like someone was pregnant. Mum always said words spoken when one is drunk should not be taken seriously but even she never listened to her own advice.
“Your girlfriend is pregnant again and you are not going to get any money from me!” Mum yelled. “You always want more money, no money. Go and work! Go work with your hands lazy bones.”
Dad had a girlfriend? Pregnant again? Has Mum being giving Dad money for his girlfriends? There were just too many things I never understood about my parents and my home. It was better not to bother.