Misery

Sundays are spectrum colored. Endless shades of yellow, green and blue, leaves and unexplainable art printed on our traditional attires. Sundays are loud happy chants and grown women dancing in circles. My chest always rises and falls peacefully, on Sundays I breathe easy.  Mother is dancing away yesterday’s quarrels on the altar painted cream and gold, she’s gesticulating frantically one foot after the other swaying her hips then bending, no malice or anger on her face, maybe there is good in mankind. All the women are surrounding mother; they wish they could sway their hips as much. I’m watching in excitement from the crowd clutching, my liite siblings, Taiye and Kehinde at both sides. Mother dances beautifully, whenever she was on the altar, I could feel my shoulders rise a bit higher, I wish Taiye would quit crying, he’s always hungry.

After church services I and my 6 siblings meet mother under the mango tree, we do not meet papa, he would never be in church in the first place, he told mama, he found God in the last drops of Alomo bitters. He worships at the bar at the end of the street, it isn’t far from our house “God always makes a way” he said. The haunting conversation still sends shivers down my back, it was last two weeks, I remember because that was the day Mama Bolu walked briskly to our front door,  tying her dirty yellow wrapper. It contrasted so much with her charcoal dark skin, she knocked violently with her fat arms, she knocked loudly waking the whole house, she’s lucky it’s a Saturday; papa is probably passed out in a gutter somewhere. He would have broken her head. The sun was just rising, that talkative of a woman, something was always chasing her. Mother is an early bird; she opened the door quickly and followed her to the verandah. Mama Bolu wasn’t exactly who you wanted to meet first in the morning, she was infamous as a deliverer of bad news, thankfully, they spoke in hushed tones.

For a minute I managed to drift back to sleep, that was until Mother’s loud wail woke me, I rushed out she was on the floor raining curses on papa, while at the same time pleading for his salvation. “Mama Bolu, has he fed these ones” she pointed at me as I stared blankly, I wish she would stop wailing in front of mama Bolu, everyone knew she was fueled by other peoples misery, Mama Bolu was always fully cladded in the latest gossip, she tried to feign sympathy “God sees you’re a virtuous woman, stop crying what we need is prayer.” I was irritated.

Later that evening Mother would serve Fathers Ogbono soup made with her tears and sweat, he would not be able to digest the food, choking on her accusations, I was in the next room when insults swarmed from both their lips it made disgusting buzzing sounds in my ears like houseflies. Their screams bounced off the walls filling the tiny room with more violence than it could permit. “Another child” mama was screaming “you are a useless man, it will never be well with you” , I was dizzy, Taiye was wailing loudly, my older siblings were separating them, papa was relentless, landing heavy blows over mothers face, her smile would not be the same. He occasionally screamed and slapped her, but today was different. He had something in his eyes, something desperate and vulnerable. “I am a man, I can do whatever I want” those words will stay with me a long time.   

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