The sun smiled with intense pride, a very hot afternoon. Outside, a hen basked on the carpet grass, together with two of her seven chicks. I think she was teaching them something. And they seemed to enjoy the weather.
I picked up a broken mirror from the dressing table; one of the pieces from my parent’s recent fight. It wasn’t thrown away like the others because it was big enough to see ones face in. It would serve more time, maybe until another fight takes all its life. My tears had dried on my face, leaving trickling traces on my earlier powdered face; like one of the diagrams in my social studies text book that described deltas and confluences.
Something I loved more than akara in-between agege bread was being with my mother. Not because I’m a girl. I love being with her. The visits to her friends were a simple feminist parliament. Discussions sometimes veered towards political and occasionally a friend complained about the sexual weakness of her husband. When a one complained, a thousand remedies were offered instantly. But if they knew much, why do they curse silently in tears? Why does mama bury her head in piles of threadbare wrappers, sobbing and sniffing?
The beating I got today was from my father. I am a cheap way of easing off the bitterness he felt from his shattered dreams. I think his dreams are too fragile. They are all broken. Not one came through; building a house, a good education for me, repairing his inherited Suzuki bike. None.
“Oghenetega” My dad called between puffs of cheap cigarette.
“You now have women boldness abi?” I stared at the thick air in our small parlor. Smoke making ringed sacrifices to the gods of lazy men.
“You have the oda-citi to ignore my call”
Papa must have called earlier in his smoke ridden voice. I didn’t hear. True. In Papa’s world, bold women are prostitutes. They became bold to kill their husband’s authority and be free to sleep around. That was his number one charge against my mother. But I know my mother did not sleep around. She was an average African woman; a bit frustrated and seeking a voice of her own.
“How many times have I told you not to dance and sing in that place again?” He barked.
“It’s not that place Papa, it’s God’s house; your creator”
“Sharaap…” It was a slap enveloped in words. Stars had a brief meeting within the room of my eyes.
“You want to end up like this country?”
It was my country’s Golden Jubilee year. And a lot was not in place. No light and no roads. The doctors were travelling abroad to get paid. Papa thought, like Nigeria, I would not be successful because I liked dancing and singing, which I did in Church. He always blamed the country for his problems. He never solved them.
“If all the jobs were not taken by those white pigs, I would have completed that flat at the village”
That was his favorite line; his nugget for laziness.
My sobs slowly melted into sleep. A deep sleep like it was helped by kain-kain drink. I dreamt of Nigeria.
Of how we had a female president, that changed things for the better. We now had light, roads and water.
Mama’s voice seeped through my dream, cutting my sojourn to a new Nigeria.
My eyes could follow the movement of the dusty ceiling fan, even at its highest. Voltage was low as most times.
It’s time to cook dinner; starch and banga soup.