Most children go to God with series of prayer requests, asking for toys, clothes and many other things. But, for many years, I had just one prayer request,
‘God deliver me from my father’
My mother was my angel but she had one fundamental flaw -She was long suffering, too long suffering and very forgiving.
For as long as I could remember, my father would pick up fights with my mother. He would throw punches and slaps, leaving her with scars and bruises. From an early childhood, I had learnt the meaning of tyranny, I had to, I lived with a tyrant.
My younger sister and I would cry beside our mother, with tears in her eyes she would try to comfort us, and then gently whisper,
‘Your father will change one day’
My father was indeed a wolf in sheep’s clothing, there is a saying that if you live with wolves you would learn to howl. That saying may be true for many people but not for my mother. Years went by but she didn’t learn to howl, she didn’t learn to fight back, she just whispered, she just prayed.
‘Chineke biko zam ekpele, God please answer my prayers’
Perhaps she was too scared; maybe, just maybe it was because of us – her children. She repeatedly whispered to us,
‘I must remain in this marriage because of you my children’
Sometimes, I could hear in her voice that she wanted to give up. She had become like an eagle confined to a small cage but presented with the view of the mountain side.
I watched in disdain as my father would treat my mother like dirt and worse still, he looked like he couldn’t hurt a fly.
I hated when people described my father as ; A gentle man, a handsome man, a good father, a God fearing person and the likes.
Sometimes, I felt like telling them who my father truly was; a snake, a wife beater, a drunk and a con artist. But they wouldn’t believe me; after all I was just a child.
On one occasion, my mother got to the church with bruises on her face. The pastor was concerned and enquired to know the cause. She initially tried to cover up but the pastor insisted until she told him that she had been beaten by my father and, it wasn’t his first time.
Pastor was angry and sad, more angry than sad. He called a few of the church elders and they too were very disappointed with my father. They immediately sent for my father and he came dressed in false-remorse and pseudo-righteousness.
‘Brother Titus, this behaviour is not expected of a born again christian’, Pastor began.
The pastor and the elders didn’t mince words of their disappointment; my father wasn’t defensive at all.
‘I admit I was wrong to have beaten my wife’ he began.
Then he promised that it would not happen again. He didn’t try to defend his actions, he just admitted and apologised but he then added,
‘Na devil work no bi ordinary eye’.
His performance that day was very convincing; it could fetch him an award at the oscars. I stood outside, close to the office, and I heard everything. I was also fooled to think he had changed. But, my mother knew better, ‘the church people’ had just added more fuel to a wild fire.
That evening, my father removed his belt and beat my mother blue and black. He dropped the belt and pounded her to a pulp, he was careful not to place a bruise on her face.
He then threatened her,
‘If you ever report me to anybody again, I will kill you and your useless girls’
My mother was too scared to even cry, I peeped through the key hole to look at what had become of my mother. I hated the ‘wife beater’ even more.