The continuous bang on the door jerks mother from her sleep. I was unable to sleep so I was fully aware as She gets up from the bed abruptly, tripping over Olivia and I cuddled up on the floor. I feign sleep, knowing she’ll be worried that I was still awake at this time of the night.
Moreover, I hear her mumble some words in annoyance, definitely annoyed that we almost made her fall but probably worried about why we were sleeping on the floor of her bedroom. She covers us both with the blanket which now only covers me due to Olive’s incessant turning throughout the night. Olive didn’t move an inch even when Mother placed her head properly on the pillow. Mother was right when she said Olive could sleep in the den of lions unperturbed.
The bang came again, harder this time, reminding Mother why she woke up in the first place. She rushes into the sitting room. I glance at the wall clock at the extreme end of the room once she left the room.
‘1 am?’, ‘who could it be?’
I hope it wasn’t a thief or anything. The memory of thieves that attacked Victor’s family, a classmate of mine who lived just down the street came to my mind. I instantly regret snickering at the story Victor told in class about the incident. The part where the thieves had flogged his father after the miser had claimed he was penniless seemed scripted, like a scene from one of those bad Yoruba comedy movies Father watches with his friends.
We didn’t own anything of value except some of the electrical appliances in the house and father’s little black box which for some reason he despises anyone touching. It must be of value as he reverences it even more than his children. Anyway, nothing in this house could do a thief any good.
I immediately knew it was a father when I heard a man’s voice shout, “open the door this good-for-nothing woman’
Father, He had not been home for two nights. After beating Mother up after church on Sunday, he left to God knows where and he’s back again probably drunk. I wish Mother just stopped letting him in.
I shut my eyes as I hear the wooden door creak open. Mother had unhinged the lock.
My suspicions are confirmed when I hear him yell at Mother, “How dare you lock me out of my own house “. I say a silent prayer that this does not become an issue that warrants the neighbors’ intervention again. I already knew in the neighborhood as the eldest daughter of the couple that was always beating each other.
The sound of slaps and curses radiated the apartment. Being a small apartment with thin walls, you could hear what the person in the other room was doing.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you will be home tonight” I hear Mother say in between muffled cries”crazy woman!” Father bellowed, hitting her again.
I cringe, trying not to focus on the sounds emanating from the sitting room. Also, I pull olive closer into my arms, shielding her ears from the noise.
I find it hard to believe that Mother was the same woman I saw in the photos lying deep in the cartoon under the old shelf in the room. The woman in the picture was happy, young, beautiful with a strong gait. Different from the woman in the sitting room beaten by an alcoholic man.
The woman in the picture looked like she was posing for a magazine cover. The picture was old, years from before she got married. I wondered if, at that point, Mother envisaged this kind of life. She probably thought she’ll be riding in limousines and attending fan meetings. Mother had once bragged of being a model in her college days. I didn’t believe until I stumbled on that forgotten picture.
Matthew, don’t wake the children” mother begged in a raspy voice.
“I don’t care about those bastards”
I hear the loud squeak as He slumps on the only settee in the room loudly mumbling gibberish. However, I have a sigh of relief that no neighbor came to knock on the door complaining or Father pushing Mother out to sleep by the front door. It could have been worse.
All the while, Olivia was sleeping peacefully clinged to my arms. She really could sleep in the den of lions. I hear Mother’s muffled cries mixed with father’s heavy snoring as I force myself to drift off to sleep. The only thing I was grateful for was that Olive was not awake to witness what had just happened. She was too young to be scarred for life like I already was.
Akinola Marian, a 300 level Law student of Obafemi Awolowo University. She is an enthusiastic writer and reader of different genres. She enjoys staying indoors, watching movies, baking, and researching during her leisure.
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