Mama You Are the Enemy!

I remember a certain glass verse
stuffed with colourful hibiscus
ravishing and riveting
“don’t touch this vase,
I starved to buy it”
mama would always warn.
But I was just ‘five’
One day, Mama returned from daily hustles,
met the glass vase in fragments.
An unintentional booboo.
Spurred by ingenious curiosity.
It broke mama’s heart.
Mama yelled.
Grinding her teeth and snarling under gruesome breaths.
“May your children ever disobey you!”
She raved, saying more vile things I can’t remember now.
At night,
mama washed my feet and body, clothed, and fed me.
The broken vase didn’t break our bond.
She sang me even songs of the moon and little stars.
She told me success stories of our great-grandfathers,
and at night she dreamt of my Grande future.
Oh, how I love mama.

Days, and weeks faded,
and the broken vase along with them.
But I remained stubborn and adventurous.
Mama swept,
and redecorated.
We were expecting august visitors that day.
“Please my son,
Be of good behavior,” she commanded.
I pledged my allegiance to her,
I tried keeping our pact,
but then inspiration struck like thunderbolt.
My curious fingers irked,
urging me to nourish my ingenuity.
I whisked myself to business.
I gathered sand, water and wood.
“I must cook mama a pleasant surprise today”
I’d said to myself
as I made fire in space.
I made Eba and Okra soup, in space too.

Time to dish.
I found the base of the broken vase.
I also picked a broken rubber platter.
One for soup, the other for ‘Eba’
I dashed to the spackling living room.
I thought mama would need more food for the coming guests.
but I never thought my soup would be leaking.
I never thought the glass vase would slip again, either.

Mama returned, hoping she’d find me where she left me.
Hoping I’d kept my promise.
But she found a heap of sand and shards of glass.
Hell was let loose!
“What have you done?
They have sent you to kill me?
Destructive child!
Good for nothing child!
Never do well!
Your children will do same to you!
Useless child!”
She raved thunder and lightning,
and deafened me with countless curses.
I wondered why she didn’t notice I was only expressing my love.
Mama even cursed a thousand times more, after, often.
Even as I embraced puberty,
and raced through the university.

Thirty years into the future,
failed job interviews upon failed interviews.
Always among the rejected few
I opted to learn a trade.
“Not everyone was destined for white collar jobs”
I’d consoled myself.
Two weeks to my valediction,
my master choked on his breakfast,
his very last breakfast.
Mama wouldn’t accept defeat,
she won’t let my future die with my master.
Mama emptied her jewelry chest,
she sold off her wrappers,
she borrowed more money from family and friends.
I ventured into my master’s trade.
But then another long story—
something led to another,
fire from nowhere guzzled the market,
and my fortunes along.

Mama won’t stop casting and binding her enemies:
Demons and humans alike.
She goes from prayer-house to prayer-house,
warning her enemies to leave her son.

Mama, there’s only one enemy.
You are the enemy!
Yes mama!
You are the enemy!

First published, Pride Magazine, Lagos Nigeria, @2018.

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