“Yes.” Chibuike continued. “He died because there was no money to pay for what Mazi Ogbulafor said our mother should buy. Father, when asked to bring money, recited his usual slogan, no money. Mother sold all her goods when her husband wouldn’t turn up only for daddy to take the money where mother kept it to use it to pay Nwanyiawka for the debt of beer he had owed her when she threatened not to sell beer for him until he pay for the ones he had drank.”
Chika breathed out heavily.
“When mother asked daddy where he kept her money, he said he is the head of the family and that mother had no right to question him on whatever he does with whatever is in his house. Mother begged him to give her the money he took that she sold all she had to be able to pay for what Mazi Ogbulafor told her to buy for the treatment of Emeka.” Chibuike looked at his sister who had started crying.
“Mother cursed and yelled. When she saw that yelling on him didn’t do anything, she changed tactics. She began to massage father’s ego. She praised, and called him sweet names maybe he would pity her and the boy, his son who was dying in Mazi Ogbulafor’s shrine. It was after so many of praises that father said mother shouldn’t waste her time begging him, that he had already used the money to pay all the debts he owed Nwanyiawka.”
“Mother started shouting again. She called father all sort of abusive names she thought he deserved. Her endless yellings got father angry. He started beating mother. Chekwube and I could only watch as we were powerless. Our neighbours too stood in distance watching our mother being beaten because they didn’t want father’s trouble. I am sure they remembered old papa Ebuka and the merciless beaten father gave him for trying to stop him from beating his wife.”
“I remember that I told mother to stop fighting with daddy as I saw that doing that wouldn’t yield anything.” Chekwube picked up from where Chibuike stopped.
“I told mother that we should go to Nwanyiawka and tell her all that had happened whether she would be compassionate and give us the money father gave to her. Mother saw sense in what I told her. She left daddy, who had already redesigned her beautiful countenance with his God-forsaken punches. I helped mother to clean up her wounds and battered body as we journeyed to Nwanyiawka’s place in other not to attract people. But no, the wounds on mother’s face that day were so big and fresh that it kept attracting people to mother as we journeyed to Nwanyiawka’s place. Many questions were thrown at us, we answered few questions and ignored thousand others. When we got to Nwanyiawka’s place, I told mother to wait outside while I went quietly into the store to call Nwanyiawka. At first, She refused to follow me to where mother was but when she reliazed that I wouldn’t take no for an answer, she stood up from where she had sat, and I led her to where mother was waiting. Mother pleaded with Nwanyiawka to give her the money that father stole to pay her. She refused. Mother and I knelt down on the miry earth laced with broken bottles to beg her, with the hope that our gestures would made her to change her stance instead Nwanyiawka walked out on us. Mother ran after her as she entered her store, she ordered some boys to throw mother away. Some of her customers who were moved my mother’s physical condition and her narration helped us to plead with her, everything they said fell on deaf ears. We left Nwanyiawka’s place when help wasn’t forthcoming. On our way home I asked mother what she saw in father that made her to marry him. She looked at me. I am sure she was wondering in her battered head what might have made me to ask her such a question. She kept quiet. I asked her for second and third time, she said amidst tears that she got married to father because age was no longer on her side and that the society was laughing her.”
She stopped, looked back, her brothers and her made way for an oncoming bike to go its way. “I asked her again if father had always been this way before she married him. She feigned deafness and I let her be. Mother decided to go to Onitsha to beg her brother for money, she was at home dressing herself when Mazi Ogbulafor’s acolyte came to relay the death of Emeka to her. She cried and cried. Father didn’t show any concern. He kept generating bottles for breweries.” Chekwube stopped her long naration.
“Still, all that you have said didn’t change daddy from being the head of his family”. Chika retorted.
“I decided who my head is. Nature or some societal conventions might bestow the right on father, but I know better than them. I know who my head is. Mother is my head. She provided all that I needed for me and not that miserable drunkard who didn’t even know the direction where his life is heading-” Chika cut his brother.
“How would you feel if your children give what rightfully belongs to you to a lesser character?” He asked.
“They are free to make their decision. I wouldn’t force them or sing to them every day that I am the head of this family like my father used to do whenever he is being corrected, instead I would make them to judge by the way I treated them. Mind you, that mother is not as strong as father in her physical composition doesn’t make her a weak or lesser. Be guided.” Chibuike declared.
“I heard you”. Chika said indifferently.
“Chika”. Chekwube started “If you live your life the way father is living his life, no one, trust me, not even your children would give you regard-” Chika cut her.
“I don’t think so. Some persons admired father-” Chibuike cut his brother Chika.
“Some low life like him.” He said. Chekwube chuckled. Chika gave both of them a bad look and chose not to talk to them again till they reach house.