Lara fell on her knees and shut her eyes, waiting for the wailing storm to pass. A dark ferocious wind circled her and lifted her into mid-air. It held her for a nanosecond and then dropped her. She fell flat on her back and became unconscious for a timeless period. It circled her still, growing darker and longer into the night. She saw the face of death – the face of her mother, just as she has always known her — battered, tattered and teary. “Ma…” She cried out. “Help me, I’m dying.” “Who are you?” Her mother asked, puzzled.
“It’s me your daughter: Lara.”
“Don’t you remember me?”
“You’ve her voice but not her face.”
“I’m a woman now Ma.”
“Why is your face scarred?”
Lara touched her face — a deep scar runs from her cheek to her chin — ridden with the mark of the beast. “I don’t know how I got it,” Lara replied, her hand still on her face, sizing the scar. “You’re one of them.” Her mother gasped, blanched with fear.
“One of who?”
“One of them. You’ve the mark.”
“The mark of the devil. You’re the devil.”
“No I am not. I’m your daughter.”
“You’re not my daughter. Get away from me.”
“Please don’t leave me,” Lara grabbed her mother’s left leg. “Get behind me she-devil.” Her mother pulled from her hold and disappeared into the night.
Lara stood in front of the wall mirror, preening. Life had been fair so far. She was the wife of one of the richest Don in Nigeria: Chief Obim Macaulay. She was sitting on wealth she never envisaged she would have in her lifetime. As a young girl growing up in the most impoverished part of Lagos, she dreamt every night of a wealthy father appearing in the frame of their rickety door and taking her away in his arms, leaving behind her poverty and despair. But her dreams never saw the light. She woke every morning to hunger and a room filled with holes and reeking of lack. She hated her mornings; it was a reminder of how vain and unreal her nights were. She was usually the first to wake, chasing the rats to the door, releasing the stale air out of the window and sweeping out yesterday’s memories as dirt. Her mother usually woke with the sound of the activities, bloated and bruised. She looked around the room, everything was the same and old but there was something absent.
“Where is your father?”
“He didn’t return last night.”
“ What! Not again,” Her mother exclaimed, pulling hastily from the bed. “Where are you going Ma?” Lara asked.
“He must have fallen in a gutter again; we should go and find him.”
“Let us not go.”
“Why not?.” Her mother looked at her, surprised.
“The neighbors would laugh at us again?”
“Let them laugh. Wouldn’t it be worst to let him remain where ever he is?”
“Why do you help him Ma?”
“ Why shouldn’t I? He’s my husband and your father.”
“But he’s wicked.”
“Don’t say that of your father Lara.”
“Is he not Ma?”
“No, he’s not.”
“Then why does he beat you, even in your pregnant state?”
Her mother became speechless and pensive for a beat and then drew closer to her: “Your Father wasn’t always like this you know. He was caring and loving. He was a good husband and a good father. But since he lost his job, he has become different but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love him. He’s still your father and he still loves you I know.” “No he doesn’t,” Lara protested. “Don’t argue with me Lara. Your father is not wicked and he loves you and that’s it,” Her mother shouted at her.
Lara nodded affirmatively — it’s not like she believed her mother but she didn’t want to anger her. To her, her father was the devil.
“Now come let us go and find him.”
Lara staggered to her feet with the last of her strength only to be lifted by air and lunged back to the ground. She staggered again – lifting herself up, struggled with air and fell back to the ground. She did this for three futile times and then gave up. Lying flat on the ground whilst the dark cloud shadowed and lifted her without stress and sailed into the formless dark sky.
TO BE CONT’D