My name is Jeji and as cold as this may sound I will still say it. I wasn’t sorry when I heard Mama was dead. Stone-cold right? But I’m really being honest and I’ll tell you why I said that.
You see, Maale (as I called her) was the most wicked mother that ever existed. She would scold, knock, poke, smack, pinch, flog, kick and you name it at any slightest opportunity. She did some unspeakable things that I can even put down with words. Sometimes I used to wonder if she was really my mother. But then she was and how did I know? The uncanny resemblance I had with her. I had heard people say how much I looked like her, how I was tall and dark skinned like her, the open tooth, how I was her male version and blah blah blah. However accurate as these descriptions were, it didn’t stop me from packing my bags a number of times to leave home but then again changing my mind almost immediately upon realising I had nowhere else to go.
Don’t criticise me just yet because that’s not all. You see, amongst the numerous painful and annoying things she did, I grew up to learn that Maale was a witch. Yes, a witch and there were facts to support it. I learnt that before I was born I had elder brothers and sisters who died under mysterious circumstances and never for once had Maale cried for their loss neither did she deny the allegations. Now, it wasn’t just a mere hearsay and I’ll tell you why.
I had a little sister- Nana. Nana was a very bubbly girl and I really loved to play with her. She was very chubby and would giggle in a way that would make you laugh even when you were close to tears. We used to do a lot of fun things together and some mischief too. So I never really cared when Maale had to spank me a couple of times, Nana was always there to cheer me up and I don’t think Maale liked this very much because on several occasions after flogging me she would insist I kneel at a corner in her room.
“Kneel down there my friend!”
“Shut up my friend! You think I don’t know you want to go and make fond of me with Nana? Her day is coming, when I catch her she will hear *wyinn*”
And that sealed it. After the threat, I shut my mouth because I could not bear Nana being beaten and on my account. She seemed so fragile at six. You need to see the way I fought to defend her in school. I felt like her guardian angel.
My fun days with Nana came to a halt when out of the blues she fell ill. I had hoped and prayed she would scale through it. Despite the illness, she still found a way of making me laugh my heart out. I made sure I stayed by her side most part of the night till she fell asleep and hugged her in the morning before I left for school, I would promise and also bring her toffee sweets which she looked forward to. I loved her so much and going to school without her was not a happy one for me at all. Then tragedy struck. I returned from school only to find out she had passed on. I had wished the earth would open up and bury me but it didn’t happen. I could see the pain in everybody’s eyes EXCEPT Maale! At this point I just had to believe she was a witch. Why didn’t she cry? Why did she carry on as if nothing happened? A child just died for goodness sakes! She had taken away my amebo buddy, my only companion and I wasn’t going to forgive her for that!
I haven’t mentioned my father because his presence never really was felt. I knew he wasn’t happy the way my mother handled me and some other issues but he never really did anything about it. Unlike Maale, Papa was calm and unassuming. People had said he was a “vegetable” but he never really cared. The one time he rebuked my mother for her callousness and high-handedness, his fabric shop caught fire the next day and yes, people said Maale was behind it. I liked to think he was calm to a fault but then I preferred him to Maale. He was gentle with us. Six years after Nana’s passing Papa joined.
I had become of age and looked forward to leaving home if not for any other reason, I wanted to be a far away as possible from this woman. Now don’t get me wrong Maale wasn’t all evil. At least she still sponsored my secondary school education. But she swore that would be the end of it, if I wanted to further my education, I would have to do that myself. With this in mind, I studied as hard as I could and was lucky to win a scholarship to study Surgery in Australia and as cliché as this may sound, before you could say Jack Robinson off I was and boy was I glad!