‘Know the whole story, judge not by the days
Or truth will be misplaced’.
The prettiest face I have ever seen
A heart full of warmth
And her skin very friendly
Her laughter makes the world go round
Her strength brings life to souls
My mother, whom I sat and watched cry
She was indeed a warrior in a sheep clothing
Her life was not always full of colors
But she was a black gold virtuous woman
My love for her was beyond any man’s understanding.
There was a time things seemed out of place
Quite hard to explain for it was too dramatic a reality
But what was clear? Father and mother were at war
No days came without the house rising in uproar
As father threw mother’s clothing out into the cold wind
Things grew more intense when they began chasing after each other like cats and dogs
Mother became a daylight thief as she took to the veranda to get out of the house
One day, a lion came in form of a family member to bite her finger off
She almost lost it; through the weakness I fed her little grains of rice
Home where they say is safe became a nightmare
My village was a disastrous zone as they treated her as though an outcast.
Another day, Father came home furious with anger needing to hit something
And mother became the victim
She was broken into pieces, her emotions totally disfigured
Mother was loosing it and her whole kind of person was changing.
I REMEMBER THE TIME,
I watched my mother
Cry all night and day
Her tears soft and pure as though life had snatched her good radiance
She had been stripped off her dignity
By a violent possessed creature called ‘father’
Her pride stolen away by ‘family’,
I despised the disgust look her face formed into when she arose to a new day, everyday
I longed so much with compassion in my tender age
That the days would end faster
And the internal troubles would cease.
Mother will sneak out in clothes of shame with a pretense of glow
They thought they knew but they were truly only deceived.
WHAT COULD BE SAID OF THE DAYS?
I had only old worn out rags to put on,
Meat torn among my siblings and me for satisfaction
Or the days we had to plead with neighbors to give us a little out of their water
We were like beggars with the pleasure of shelter and beds.
My father even with his shadow and character of a masquerade was no better,
For he drove round the edges of Lagos City in a far too old vehicle to make a living
Or the day, my mother washed her colleague’s underwear to make it through the day.
There were also days I was chased out of school
Maltreated by relatives who were nothing but against us.
We had to write letters to mother has father’s behavior warranted an immediate action
My family was falling out of a place and I was still only growing up
I could barely focus in life as it had been scattered with worries of never seeing mother again.
THEY WERE LUCKY AND I WAS STARTING,
Nature became pretense to me as I had tangled my life with it
I desired to be happy
I longed for things to be happy, as the vision of a happy family grew more rampant
Each time something destructive occurred at home.
I prayed at a very little age under the scorching sun
As my feet bled to scars
What was wrong? No one could tell
I asked God to come down and do what seemed out of place in a positive light.
At night, I will wrap myself under the skinny arms of my sister
As I folded my body to shield it away from cold
After years of yearning to be taken away
From the valley to the mountain top,
I realized they were lucky and I am just starting
To feel the warmth of true comfort
Mother and father became two peas in a pod
Life could not be any better.
My family grew from grass to grace
Broken glass to a solid foundation
It falls back on me
As my memory was still young to capture everything
Because the moments you think it is over
It suddenly comes like a flash back in a story telling
Just like a night, I crawled onto my father’s bed to have a good night rest
He pounced me as though I was a stranger
Immediately I thought all hell had come down as I began to scream through the thick air
Mother ran to my aid and I fell into her light arms of comfort,
I could not look father in the eyes, as all I saw was fear for him and me.
There were times after the past incidents, father acted as my hero
Like when a car hit me, threw me up and slammed me back to the ground
Or when I had the worse nightmare that almost took my life.
After the changing period, he became as sweet as an orange, as soft as a banana.
Though, through the entire plight it seemed impossible for my family to exist beyond then
NOW IS THE TIME
Let me enjoy what I was denied
If I am spoilt, my life deserves it
Let my rough and hard days of hustle fade with time.
Let me breathe a new kind of air.
Time is going, time I forgive
Today was not in any chapter of yesterday’s book
But today realistically exists.
Photo Credit: Adisak
Bibiana Ossai© 2015