She lies there; connected to the machine keeping her alive. Written on her skin are the answers to their questions, but somehow they don’t see them, or maybe they do but refuse to acknowledge them. I wonder if they are blind, yes, they must be blind like the eyeless fishes in the sea. The doctor says to her, “Madam Okoli, you need to learn to be careful one of these days you will really hurt yourself.” Hurt yourself!! Hurt yourself!! She is in a coma – what more do you want her to do?
“Don’t worry I’ll make sure she is more careful next time” that was the voice of the man that caused her so called clumsiness. Her so called, “she fell and hit her head.” I hate this man. Hate him because I have his eyes and when I laugh people think it’s him, but most of all I hate him because his blood runs through my mine.
My mother stirs; but doesn’t wake. Just stirs and mutters something no one can hear. Don’t worry mum, your hero is here to save you. This time I‘ll rescue you from him. This time, I won’t end up hurt like the last time. I was fourteen then. 2 years ago. Now I’m stronger, more powerful and I’m here to protect you.
I hold your hand and almost like you can feel me, you stir and smile. I see how this irritates him. Maybe he knows I’m here to save you. Maybe he would rather ___ he made you smile. You told me, he used to___ make you smile. That was a long time ago. Before I was born. You were both happier then ___ richer. You worked in the local secondary school and he in an oil company.
‘Her stats are fine, I guess we just have to wait.’
‘Thank you, Doctor.’
You told me on the day things changed, you sat in the living room waiting for him. It was 2 am in the morning. He was always home by 8 pm and called when he was going to be late, but not on that day. You must have slept off because when you woke up again he was on top of you. Trying to make love to you. He reeked of alcohol again something out of the norm, because he never drank. You tried to fight him off but he held you pressed to the sofa. You screamed; his response was a slap. You said he was startled, taken aback by what he did. But that didn’t stop him. You watched as he got up and took off his belt. Your senses screamed run but the part of you that loved him made you stay.
That was the beginning of the marks that now cover your skin. He was good; always made sure he only hit you in places where your clothes could hide it. The lies began that day, in the hospital his friend worked in. His friend didn’t ask how you got the marks on your skin, but he told him anyway, told him you fell and cut yourself. His friend didn’t look him in the eyes but he knew he would go along with it.
Later he apologised to you, told you it wouldn’t happen again. That he got fired; was scared of the all the debt he owed and took it out on you. He promised and you believed him, but he didn’t stop.
I rest my head on your chest. You love when I do this. You say it reminds you of when I was born. You used me as a shield to make him stop hitting you. You thought having me would make him love you again. Instead it was the opposite. On the day you told him, he went crazy. He walked out of the house and didn’t come back that night or the night after. It was a week before he returned home drunk. He had a present with him while stumbling through the door. Another woman.
You said she must have been a prostitute the way she was dressed. This time you didn’t wait for the beating. You attacked him and his mistress. In his drunken state he didn’t put up much of a fight. You managed to chase her out of the house, before walking back in the downgraded two-room apartment you lived in. He kicked you in the tummy, not once but five times, screaming how will we feed this bastard. He only stops because of the blood. He smiles at you and you hear it break. The heart that once loved him breaks as the smile on his face widens
The doctor comes in to check on you again. He listens for your heartbeat, checks your pulse and lifts up your eyelids. They fall each time he lets go. This seems to please him as he states you are improving and it’s just a matter of time. He smiles the man I look like and I smile too, but I smile because I know something they don’t.
I didn’t die. He thought I did; so he didn’t go with you to the hospital. The doctor said it was a miracle that I was alive. You went home depressed but heart filled with joy. He didn’t ask about me, so you didn’t tell him. He only noticed around the fifth month, when I became too big for you to hide.
You called me Vito___ life, because you thought I was dead. The beating stopped for a while, after I was born. The beating stopped but the drinking increased and so did the women. Each night he came home smelling of a different perfume, with lipstick all over his body. You got a second job, because he stopped giving you money. Said he didn’t have enough to drink with and feed you and your bastard.
When I was one I was diagnosed with asthma and the first time he hit me I was three. He stole your money, the one you were saving to pay my school fees. When he finally staggered home, you confronted him and he lashed out at you with his belt. I stood in the way wailing; don’t hurt my mummy! I think he heard, because he stopped and instead turned to me.
That was the day he started beating me. He started at age three and finished at age fourteen.
He stopped because I died age fourteen, died escaping another hiding from his belt. It started the same way all the others did, but this time ended differently. I was protecting you from the fury of his belt, when he turned on me again. I ran out of our apartment and into the busy street that ran in front of it. I didn’t see it until it hit me. A truck carrying food from the north, on the front was written, “Drive slow, speed kills”. People screamed as the truck ran over me crushing my bones. You went mad when you saw me lying there, but all he did was smile and mutter something like one less mouth to feed.
You open your eyes and see him. He smiles and says welcome back darling I’ve been waiting for you; the doctor was scared that this time you might not recover from your fall. He reaches out to touch you, but you flinch, the movement makes you see me. You smile and again it makes him smile. Mummy this time, I’ll save you from him. Just hold on to my hands and I’ll take care of it.
Your eyes open but you’re still in a coma. You squeeze my hand grabbing on to it. My heart fills with joy. I know what’s about to happen so I wait.
Beep……………..Beep ……………………..Beep ……………………………………Beep………………………..be……………..b
You are slipping away. He doesn’t scream, doesn’t call out for the doctors, nurses, just stands there and watches you and so do I. I am glad you are leaving glad I’ll be finally able to save you. Where you are heading, he won’t be able to touch you, touch us. I guess like me you will see the darkness for a while. Don’t be scared it will only be for a while and then the light will appear and just like the rays from the sun your soul will be filled with warmth. It will be difficult to see, to make out what’s in front of you, but then it will become clearer.
That’s when you’ll see me, I’ll be behind the gates, jumping up excited. Please don’t be angry that I’m disobeying your rules mummy. I know you said jumping will trigger my asthma, but here mummy it doesn’t. Here we are safe from all evil, safe from he who has written on your skin and mine.