“… You’re beginning to add weight, you know?”
At this, I cringed inwardly; “There she goes again” I thought to myself and pretended not to hear what my mum had just said. This was supposed to be a happy Sunday; couldn’t there be a respite from this continuous shredding of my spirit and unpleasantness?
“Mummy please don’t start now” My younger sister, Sweet said; she and her husband had come with their 6month old baby (Anita) for the Sunday early dinner which is a weekly ritual. She didn’t like situations like this especially with her husband present.
“Don’t start what, tell me? Honestly your sister has become a great disappointment to me and your father. Take our lane for example: How many girls her age are not married? Let’s say they misbehaved, at least, they have kids to show for their sluttish behaviour”
“Mum!” Sweet screeched;
“Don’t ‘mum’ me, I’m sick of seeing your sister’s face. What has she done without getting in to a situation which your father and I have had to wade in and pull her out before she drowned both herself and us?”
Several emotions had begun to brew inside of me, ranging from shame, sadness, melancholy, frustration and then anger. I have never been one to trade insults with my parents; wasn’t the way we were brought up. The appetite I had worked up had all but disappeared. I looked to my dad to put a rein on mother but the way he kept quiet showed he was in support of the way she was slicing me up with no regard for my dignity in front of my sister’s husband Kola and our family friend, Uncle Jay. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I opened my mouth and began to speak:
“Mummy, Daddy, tell me where I went wrong; I’ve always listened to you, obeyed you, walked the steps you insisted I take. I gave up my love for Engineering and instead went in for Medicine; when my colleagues and friends started getting married, it was you daddy who stopped me from attending weddings, which according to you, ‘they’d distract me’ and so I listened to you. I drove my suitors away in the name of completing my studies and specializing; why do you hate me this much? Why can’t you let me feel safe and happy being a part of this family? Look at Sweet; you allowed her get married while still in school and not only that, she studied English Literature, her first love without any objections from you; where exactly have I gone wrong?”
Despite the outburst, it wasn’t enough, I could barely keep it in, my chest heaved; I almost burst in to tears but didn’t want to give my mum that satisfaction. Uncle Jay lowered his eyes in embarrassment. At that time, I didn’t even care what anyone thought and to hell with dinner!
Daddy cleared his throat and declared that we pray for the meal before us, whether out of a desperate attempt at humour or relish that the words mum had uttered had reduced me to a bag of tumbled emotions, he cynically smiled and asked what all the ‘noise’ was for while everyone else tried to settle into a semblance of normalcy.
I looked at him in astonishment; all this had happened in his presence and he wasn’t even bothered, like I didn’t even exist. My heart shattered to pieces. I mean, this was too much! Just too much for even me to bear.
“This isn’t over!”
I blurted out angrily.
“You can’t keep doing this to me, I’m also a member of this family, look at me mummy, daddy, tell me what it is that I’ve done to you that is so bad that I can’t be forgiven”
All at once, everyone began to talk but not that I cared anyway:
-“Sis, take it easy now, let it go, why did you have to bring it up again?”(Sweet)
-“Jackie relax please, it’s done” (Kola)
-“Obviously, I won’t be enjoying this dinner” (Uncle Jay)
-“Would you keep quiet?” (Daddy)
Everyone was speaking. Mother looked at me with all the spite and venom she could muster and said to me:
“Everyday I see you and look at you, I hate you more; without mincing words, you’re one mistake of a daughter, bringing me nothing but shame. You think you’re something? You are nothing! ‘Think you have paid your dues? What do you think you can do to make me forget the shame you brought on this family by stupidly getting pregnant for that son of an unknown man, that fool!? And yet you sit here and talk to my face like you deserve some respite, something good; I’d be pleased the day I never get to see you again”
“Mother!” Sweet wailed.
Mum held up her hand to halt any further statement from anyone. I stood up, feeling blood rush into my head, this kind of numbing pain that I didn’t know where it emanated and said:
“For as long as you live mother, you would never see my face”
Amidst the shock and bewilderment that heralded the faces at the table, I quietly left the table for my room. There, I began to pack up my belongings. My mind had blanked out what had just transpired between my mum and I for at least a while. How would I get a new place to live at such short notice?
..I had gotten pregnant for Frankie and decided to keep it even though he had protested vehemently that he didn’t want to have any baby with me and not outside wedlock: I wanted to settle down at the age of 26 which was as a result of mother’s continuous nagging. I thought that with time, he’d get used to the idea and come around but with time, he just froze me out when he saw that I was adamant. My folks couldn’t believe it; I was assaulted by them verbally and psychologically each day; I was even denied food! Like magic, I suddenly went broke and had to depend on them, life was chaotic.
Finally, I caved in to my parents demand to terminate the pregnancy; I went with my dad to remove a four month old pregnancy which fortunately wasn’t all that visible because of the kind of physique I had. After the pain and trauma, I vowed never to be caught in such a situation or any other irresponsible act again and I have never since looked back but tried my best to please my parents and make them proud which obviously didn’t count for anything as they love to remind me of my past indiscretion.
The voices downstairs brought me out of my reverie, I then made a call to Aisha, my friend and colleague in the hope that I could stay with her temporarily before I get a place of my own to which, she readily agreed. As I waited for Aisha to come pick me, I stared out of the window of my room wondering what life has in store for me.