Yes. She married my mother’s husband. My mother’s husband was my father. It was ironic that I called someone who only came home to impregnate my mother, my father. I was their first son and he was home until I was born. My mother said he left home because he couldn’t manage how she ‘tasted' anymore because my birth had slackened her. I asked in anger how she met him. My mother told me she met him when she was still an attendant in Iya Sobu’s amala joint and on that particular morning, she wore the new set of waist beads she had acquired and the jingle it added to her inflatable buttocks was too great a temptation for my father to bear. After one or two mesmerizing words, she was all his to have. That my mother was slackened by just one birth was my father’s only excuse of marrying the woman he later called a witch. My mother fought and fought all because she was too young to be sex-starved. She didn’t fight because their love was so great but she wanted him home, she wanted someone she could always refer to as ‘our daddy’ while gossiping with other women. When my father finally returned home a year after my birth, it was for the sole purpose to shut her up with another pregnancy.
When he abandoned her during the protruding stages, she shouted again. ‘she wants me to poke my own baby in the head and I won’t’ was my father’s defense. This went on and on until I had five other siblings. Half dozen children and I was the ‘Godwin’ of ‘Mama Godwin’. My name from which everybody composed an unharmonious chant. They will chant ‘Godwin, Satan lose’ after me and call my mother ‘Mama Godwin Satan lose’.
When I was fourteen and my other siblings were running fast to catch up with my age that would continue leaping forward, I realized how separate my parents were. The only thing that shielded my mother from being referred to as a divorcee was the fact that we her children, were the cord with which a very lose knot was made to hold her and her husband, our father, together.
Not that money flowed endlessly into my father’s pocket but where he got the money to change women I just couldn’t figure out. When finally he left the witch, he came home briefly and ‘Ifeodopin’, the seventh child was born. My parents’ 'short endless love' was born. My father said his witch wife was the reason he didn’t move forward and that God was really on our side because he was scared one of us might die. It was as if my father’s witch wife heard him and was ignited with the passion to do what she had never thought of doing. Ifeodopin died when she was only seven months old and my father said it was his the handiwork of his witch ex-wife.
Ifeodopin’s death chased my father back to the streets where he belonged. He was dirtier now. A most terrible version of the dog he was, chasing after the dirtiest of sluts and successfully impregnating three more ladies. 'His seeds were thick’, people said and my mother added that his seeds could swim really fast. The result of which I attended three consecutive naming ceremonies of my half siblings.
Out of the three ladies, my father picked the one with ‘Pele wura’. A tribal mark that is written in form a ‘minus’ sign on her face. He had found true love at last. He called her God. Messiah. The one that had saved him from the deadly manifestations of the curses that were rained on him the day his witch ex-wife left. With the messiah, life had never been harder. She was to me the real witch. Mother developed hypertension and diabetes, I was denied the tuition for a private institute I was pursuing by my father. His wife said it very clear that private schools were a waste of money. Two of my sisters got pregnant and shame was the sheet my mother rolled in, her own shit was a plus.
I wanted to reconcile the whole household. I went to the ‘olori-ebi’ but he didn’t utter anything useful. I was hurt, frustrated and injured by current occurrences.
‘on pa eku… opa ejo…. Opa efon… come and see the medicine wey dey kill mosquitoes well well…’ was all I heard the middle-aged man screaming under the blazing sun. All the veins around his neck were visibly strained, perspiration had glued his faded Ankara on his back. And I approached him. ‘give me the one wey dey kill snake and rat’ I told him.
I got home and spiced my cold corn meal with the fish smelling rat poison. It was a delicious experience as I finished my meal and dramatically laid on the single old couch that separated the bed space from the living room, I was expecting death. I prayed to God for forgiveness and I imagined the golden gate of heaven opening and angels flocking out to welcome me. Six hours went by but nothing happened. Maybe the wrap I used wasn’t enough so I stood up to fetch more wraps of the poison but a very sharp pain sliced through my belly. It was as if something was inside my tummy with a huge knife and cutting through all my guts in vengeance. That was all I saw.
When I opened my eyes the first person I saw was the messiah with ‘pele wura’. She managed to smile and her cheek bone solidified into a ball scarred with a minus inscription. ‘Daddy and mummy… I… poisoned myself.’ There was a commotion in the room. My mother was weeping and I felt I betrayed her. I was her ‘Akobi’, her everything but I wasn’t man enough to push through the thickest fog and excel; I wasn’t courageous to stand against my father for my mother and I was a coward who couldn’t live to put a smile on his siblings’ face. I told them I wanted all of them to live in peace and if anyone was the messiah, it was me.
My mother was cursing my father, my father was shouting back but I just wanted them to live in peace. I was laying down myself as the sacrificial lamb so that reconciliation could be born but evidently, I wasted my life. The whole messiah was a title and me being one wasn’t changing anything. I started feeling the heat. I was dying. I was expecting songs and angels with crown in hands but all I could feel was a severe heat. 'Am I going to hell?’, I asked myself as I struggled for breath and laid still…

O’tobiloba S. Bankole

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