Raised in a violent environment, they pressed on for survival. The insecurity within the family was taking a negative toll on them all but they suffered and smiled, hoping for the best but prepared for the worst daily, referees in their home they separated fights and suffered injuries. They didn’t mind, maami mustn’t get hurt, she was all they had. Her brother was the oldest, chief referee. He loved maami most, he was her shield, he played this role without relent like a soldier at war. Papa would curse, “Worthless son! I’d rather not have a son” he pushed him away, as a tyrant in his house he scared them all away. Made him watch the football match from the window and her watch the kiddies show from the passage, they tried to adapt to the prison they called home, constantly guiding their cell mate who was being picked on by the warden.

Her little brother grew up in fear, timid as a mouse he couldn’t socialise, having a voice he couldn’t use, he tiptoed around the house afraid to be seen, for the fear of being beaten at the smallest mistake or provocation to papa. Her sister regarded as a failure studied and worked hard, trying to please papa in his chosen field for her. It wasn’t her choice, it was her weak point, but she tried to the life of her to make it her strength till she lost physical strength, all she got from papa were discouraging words that pierced like a dagger. She was the strongest at heart, open about what went through her mind and not afraid to speak up. She tried to be the glue, the bonding glue. Trying to bring everyone together to avoid a next fight, but all efforts proved abortive, the glue didn’t seem to hold rather it tore them apart.Her big brother was killed in school, it could have been prevented. The war at home led to his negligence and they lost him. Papa assured them it was God’s will, he wanted it to happen or he wouldn’t have allowed it, unsure if it was said out of guilt or nonchalance they let it go, for a life lost could never be gotten back.

She grew up beautiful but barely noticed, almost never. She went from social to loner, from glue to water. She was more or less a shadow, barely noticed by people. She got out of school with only a handful of friends, the lowest self-esteem one could think of, she wore like a batch. Years after big brothers death the fighting started again, mammi’s shield was gone, and her replacement was also being beaten. Papa hit little brother so hard his skin turned purple,the courage came from within, though her voice came in gasps she said, “Leave him alone! Do you want to kill him?” Papa turned to her, grateful for the distraction she received the merciless beating with a welcome heart, she could take it, and maami was too old to be treated that way. She never knew love, papa made money available but never his presence. He had a burning flame on the crown of his head, a roaring hot flame. Maami and her siblings were the center of her world, the few friends she had were all so far away. She didn’t mind, it was her given part and she was going to tread on it with courage.

She met him in her street on a Friday evening, she had been running away from a giant turkey when he ran into her, he was handsome and confident. She let him in without thinking twice, he made her feel like a queen; breakfast in bed, kisses on her forehead and he listened. She threw caution to the wind and fell in love, he was her best friend. It wasn’t just about how she felt about him, but how he made her feel about herself. She got it back; her self-esteem built up like a tower, her water thickened and became adhesive, she became a pleasant soul and one could see it from a distance. Then he broke her heart, she realized he never loved her, she was just company for he had a wife and a kid; a beautiful kid.

Dumping her puzzle in a jar, she picked up grass and puffed, made the bottle her best friend and started a journal. She had been misused and abused and she wanted the world to know that love was a myth; at least she had proven it. “Fuck love”and “fuck life” were her opening words, she had seen the worst of life. Consumed with anger and pain, she pushed everyone away, maami and her siblings; she locked everyone out and raised her voice at the slightest provocation. She was alone, in love with the solitude. She overhead maami apprehend her little brother, “don’t do that, you’ll make her shout and beat you”. She was hurt; she was becoming papa, the tyrant, the prison warden troubling the cell mates. She got up, took the jar for it was time to put the pieces of her lives jigsaw, she was going to start from the corners, till she got it done and lover herself till true love comes chasing.

Written by: Ehi-Sulaiman Miriam

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