He was drunk again. You would know from the intonation of his voice as he sang a popular Fela’s song: “Double wahala for dead body…” His voice kept rising as if he owned the compound. The Landlady was around yesterday to insult Mother for marrying a worthless man, asking her to leave Father in his wretchedness and seek greener pastures in the arms of a better man. Sometimes, I wished I could wrap Junior’s shit in banana leaves and throw it into that Landlady’s big mouth.
“The Igbos were fools, they should have swalalowed every bullet from the Federal army for their Biafra to stand as a soldier who the bullets cannot conquer!” Hiccups punctuated his brassy statement after every two words that dropped like cock’s faeces from his drunken lips.
Mother sat at the edge of the metallic bed that had a fleas-infested mattress placed on it. She tied around her slender body one of the three wrappers she claimed her mother gave her on the day before she ran out of the house with Father. It seemed she had been getting thinner recently: her neck bones were shooting out as if they were tired of staying inside her body, and her buttocks that used to make Sani (her teenage admirer) to stalk her for days, no longer swayed (it was just there below her waist like a plastered mould of dried Amala). Mother did not use to be as bony as this at all: a skeleton with skin as tight as spandex. If you had seen her that night, you would find out that her skin had holes like bowls awaiting the rain of sweat.
Father knocked like a zombie. Kokookooo! The sound of his knuckles against the door depreciated with each fall. He knew that the door was opened, but he would always knock before he entered. He claimed that he knocked thrice because if any man should come to share the creaking bed with Mother, his wife, when he was not at home, such a man had three seconds to disappear before he entered.
Although he was dead drunk, he managed to manoeuvre his way to the bed amidst the multitude of sleeping children sprawled on the floor like a family of rags – all on a collection of sacks, which were laid on the semi-cemented floor of the one-room apartment in Maroko.
“Welcome, shey make I serve you your food?” Mother’s localised voice was sharp, piercing like a hunter’s arrow.
“Food? The only food wey I want na di one wey dey play hide and seek for di centre of your wrapper.” The smirk on his face increased the degree of disgust I felt about him. Could he not see? Had the bottles of beer stolen his sight and reasoning? Couldn’t he count the number of children his penniless penis had attracted to this world? Nine children plus six miscarriages in twelve years, living in a murky room, where mosquitoes were our constant companions every evening! After this grievous record, why did he still want to implant another foetus into Mother’s womb? Ah, Father must have gone out of his mind!
“But abeg drink small water na if you no wan chop the food wey I sweat prepare for you. I no wan the smell of alcohol from your mouth to make me cough anyhowooo…” Mother seemed to extend the pronunciation of the “o” as she implored him, making her hands to touch his for a positive response.
“Okay. Bring di water sharp sharp. I no fit wait to do di real business, di koko of di koko, because e get as e dey do me, do me….” As Father sang one of P-Square’s hit songs, he pulled his sweat-soaked shirt, also his torn brown singlet, revealing a stomach that looked as if it would fall if one punched it down.
Mother moved quickly outside, and returned in less than three minutes. The drunkard drank from the cup of insecticide in her left hand, which she served him while genuflecting. Maybe if he had seen the hand she used to serve him the cup, or maybe if the smell of the alcohol he took had not overshadowed that smell from the cup, he would have been suspicious. Father, Mother’s husband, drank the substance in the cup – everything to the dregs.
About three minutes later, Mother lay supine with her eyes shut as if she was afraid to see something gothic. He battled with the knot of Mother’s wrapper. Then he made his hands to slide from the soles of her feet to the middle of her thighs, where he began to finger her as if he was picking worms from her privates.Mother tried to hold her breath, and to close her eyes tighter. As soon as he plunged into her, he began to foam at the mouth: white substance like ice cream spilled from his mouth. I had never tasted ice cream before so I felt like stretching one of my fingers to know how the substance from Father’s mouth would taste. Would it be as bitter as our lives? Mother refused to stir or scream. She allowed him to die still lying on her till dawn.
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