COLD (Chapter One)

She came home that night looking out of place. She looked as if she had done the job that was meant to be partitioned and done by hundred people. Her look was the direct opposite of what she left home with about thirteen hours ago when she left for her office. The kerosene lantern placed in front of the 14″ coloured tubed television was slowly burning that you could barely see the the lines in the palms of your hands.

The lantern was reduced to produce such dim light just to preserve the kerosene and to enable it burn longer. Nonetheless, the forlorn darkness in the living room was sent into extinct.

I could see grimace on her face. It was just one of the uncountable nights from office. She was dog tired. The Mary K and other make up she wore in the morning were washing down that you could see lines of sweat running through her face from her forehead like the mark left behind by a score of earthworms on a rainy day. She struggled to open the sliding door made of glass and aluminum – used to frame up the fragile door. I quickly dashed down to the door and effortlessly opened it for her to come in. ” Welcome ma”, I went down on my knees to greet her. Doing this wasn’t just a custom in this house. It meant another thing that I will probably talk about if need be. She couldn’t open her mouth to give a response. Though she nodded her head in acknowledgement to my greetings.

Adebimpe, the youngest child at home was deep asleep on the three-sitter sofa that criss-crossed with other chairs in the living room. You would have probably mistook her for someone that had just participated in the swimming competition at the Olympics. She already had traces of the night lizard she ate drawn from the corner of her mouth to her jaw. The temperature in the room could poach an egg, and this was visible on ‘Bimpe as she sweat profusely even while deeply asleep.

Mama snailed towards one of the chairs in the living room as she flung her shoes from her legs, which went stray and into nowhere in particular. Finally, her feet regained the freedom her leg had been deprived of since she left home that morning. The finely knitted gray polyester jacket mixed with cotton on her was thrusted off her body and jettisoned on the three-sitter sofa that the water making factory young ‘Bimpe was lying. In my confused state, I didn’t know the next combination of lines I could make that would descend the once in a blue moon knockout punch Mama normally use on occasions like this. To be on the safe side was to remain mute till she will peradventure starts a conversation.

Just about a fortnight ago, I was beaten blue-black by mama Sholape as mama is popularly called by our neighbours. Why I was mercilessly brutalized by mama still remains a dile-ma encapsulated in mystery for a young lad like me. I only expected just one person to reassure me that I was mistreated for what would have been termed her misdemeanor. She was back from the office and refused to eat th eba and ewedu soup she asked me to prepare before she left home that morning. I had already fed Adebimpe and myself while Mama’s bowl of eba was left on the dinning table. She complained that the ‘iru’ ( the traditional name for locust beans) that I used was the mashed one. She had always admired the sight and the sensation she derived from swallowing eba wrapped in ewedu soup that is filled with ‘iru-woro’ at the expense of ‘iru-pete’ that I used that night.

“Sholape! Shh…”, Mama Sholape cried out.
“Yeeeees ma!” I answered before she could complete the second call for I knew what that would cost me. It was really going to be the reawakening of Amagedon.
“How many times do I need to tell you not to use ‘iru-pete’ to prepare ewedu soup for me? Are you just delighted in doing what I ordered its abolishment or your cerebrum is just too small to contain and retain my countable instructions?” Mama yelled. I stood aloof as I politely tendered my case before her, somehow seeking mercy. “I am sorry ma” tears rolled out through my cheeks. A blind man could tell that it was not feigned. ” Mama Chibuzor was the only one that had iru”. I cleared my throat to free it from the phlegm that had managed to pardoned. He gets the beating of his life on the day he spills water”.

She looked away from me at once and concentrated on the stove and kettle before her. She filled the kettle with water and lit the stove. She brought out a small yellow plastic with red cover and forcefully broke the seal to open it. It was LADY B Custard. I thought of why she wouldn’t eat the eba.
She hurriedly placed the kettle on the stove and left for the bathroom to have herself washed and refreshed. It was almost 11 O’clock and my eyes were too heavy to remain opened. I decided to return to the living room to complete an assignment I was doing before her arrival.

Masquerades were chasing after me with canes. I had already exhausted my energy by trying to run from the plains to the roughs. I couldn’t even move my legs to continue my version of ‘temple-run’. Several strokes were already raining on me when I rolled down from the chair I had hibernated with a transitional effect from my dream into reality. Now, the masquerades that were chasing after me was Mama Sholape. She was with ‘pankere”. Her phalanges were doing wonderful job as she tightly grasp on to the golden-brown pliable cane that twitched here and there in ferocious search of anywhere on my body. I was about to cry out when I remembered that it was only going to complicate issues for me. I had tried on several occasions to cry out to our neighbours whenever I was in a condition like this but the intent of my cry got the opposite response I expected. The neighbours’ advancement to plea on my behalf only made her angry the more and she doubled the beating. For remembering this, I resigned my thoughts of calling out to neighbours for help.

I was almost out of breath when Mama Sholape left me alone. I sprawled on the floor and wiggled in pain. Tears couldn’t run out this time. It was preserved for when the pain gradually subsides. She left for the kitchen and poured some spicy soup without ewedu on the eba in the bowl. It was now dawned on me that the water in the kettle had completely evaporated and there was no kerosene in the stove again. The kitchen smelled into the living room and it smelled of burnt pots and stove wools. It must have been there for hours. I raised my head to see what the time was. “Oh!” It was few minutes before 02:00am. What would have mama been doing that she didn’t come into the kitchen to finish what she started? I thought of this. By intuition, I got to realize that she had also slept off. Tears flowed out of my eyes effortlessly and I wondered if this woman was my mother. Who would answer that question? No one of course.

Continues next week…..

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