At about 8.30 PM yesterday mum was still trying to swallow her spoon of rice when the main door shook with a very loud knock. Her spoon fell from her hand in panic. The last time a knock like this was heard it was made by the gentlemen of the street who were in to demand with pistols and daggers their own share of the money they had heard from rumours,
that my older brother in London sent us. That was two years ago, but until last night I did not realise that mummy still lived in those moments. We had told the story of what happened that night to my dad. He was not at home at the time having gone out to drink with his friends. But so was he not also around yesterday.
So when the knock blew in and her memories flashed back two years before, and the spoon in her hand fell down, and her eyes popped out wide open with fear and trembling racing through her veins, the first words I heard from her were: ‘But we don’t have money to give this time.’ True, big brother was yet to send money home. But she had even worse reasons to worry- she had heard from personal experiences of people that when robbers came to you for money and
you had none to give, they either beat you till you’re half dead, or they raped your daughters before your eyes as compensation. She had told me these stories times on end each time she heard of new experiences.
The knocks again fell on the door, this time even more loudly. “OPEN THE DOOR!” A pause. “DO YOU WANT US TO BREAK IT FOR YOU?” Mum was helpless, but you know, when there is a hawk roving the sky the mother hen always covers her chicks. “Run, Ada, run quickly. Hide under your father’s bed. No, hide inside his wardrobe. No, hide behind the cupboard.
No, hide inside…” I was confused and even more so was she, but she was not as concerned about herself as she was for me. What could she do? She was only a woman, she thought aloud with tears in her eyes. “I am coming, pleeeaaasssseeeee,” she responded, almost tearfully. Oh, Emeka. Emeka why are you never around when these things happen? Ohhhhhh!
“IF I COUNT TO THREE AND THIS DOOR IS STILL NOT OPENED…” I was freezing with fear inside the toilet room in which I hid, peeping through the keyhole and begging God not to allow them remember to look into the toilet. “Please I am right at the door with the keys,” mum pleaded.
Hands shaking, bones fidgeting, legs cold with fear, heart beating as loudly as a war drum, eyes unable to recognise which key in the bunch opens the door, mum spent forever trying to open the very door she normally spent about five seconds to open every time. There was sweat all over her body. Then, click: the door opened.
She was expecting to have a loud slap on her face for her delays when heard a mild voice instead: “Hey darling, how are you doing?” It said, “It’s me, Emeka, your husband. C’mon, it was only a joke.”