PARDON THE NURTURE
“Hello? Mummy, kèdù? how’re you?”
“Nne’m, I’m okay, àrù dí”
“How is Father?”
“Err…emm… O di mma, he is fine”
“What is it, Mummy, gwa’m, tell me”
“Hm…hmm…he said my dead mother was a prostitute and didn’t train me well. You know how I react to things like this Nne, you know… it’s too much… I’m still here because…”
Sometimes Mother is fearless.
Like the time at Yaba market, after I had just turned fifteen, she stopped to slap an old man across the face when he screamed ashewo! at me, a vernacular for prostitute because I wore leggings that made my backside jiggle.
Other times I loathe her for letting herself be malleable, too bendable to the will of societal conditioning. Mother lived for what people would or would not say, became too quiet in matters that required vocality, stamping of feet, violence.
“I’m still here because of you and Chikamso.” A phrase she often wept to us between tears, mucus, sweat. Earlier on, a fight would have ensued between our parents. A fight Father would always win not that he was always right. There were two things involved.
One. Men from Father’s side of the family that he referred to as Nwa di ana’m, would come after a fight, their presence always determined by its intensity, to settle. They listen to Father explain what Mother’s crime was, over kola nut while she waited in the other room, unable to defend whatever was exaggerated, with the men’s wives who consoled her in frenzied whispers of “do you want another woman to come and take your place?”
Two. Father would flail his arms, when his temper lacked patience, to exert authority and mostly pain on Mother, to remind her who was in charge.
Both times Mother would lose, she would tell me that women never fought men. They were always wrong no matter how right they were. It is the way things work.
“I’m still here because…” A lie she told, sometimes too loudly to our hearing as if to convince herself it was the truth she believed with all her heart.
I know Mother wants so desperately to leave, but what other life has she known outside the one she started at 21 and has lived for the past 22 ?
Sometimes, I get angry at her for being too malleable, being the lukewarm Jesus rejected in Revelations. I have trained myself to always remember in times of anger, that the easiest person to forgive is my Mother. Now, all we do over telephone conversations is have awkward silences, sprinkles of laughter here and there while sharing battle memories like platoon soldiers on the frontline of the civil war.
About the Author
Amarachukwu is an undergrad Nigerian student. She wears the title of writer, feminist and other times, poet, boldly.
Her works have appeared in GreenBlackTales, Urights.com, Ukwumango and elsewhere. While Amara performs poetry on her podcast leisurely, she also tries to pass time scaring people into believing she performs witchcraft. Get at her on Twitter and Instagram @amaratheamazon.