Patron of matrimony
Jolomi’s mother sat stock still. Silence smothered the room, as though Grandma’s bullet had murdered the words in her belly. The silence was so thick until Grandma sliced it, “Nothing must happen to her and her unborn child.” She said with juxtaposition between threats and advice.
Grandma dragged her maid, the new pregnant wife, to kneel before mother. It all came hitting her unaware like a spray of bullets. Mother felt a stab of betrayal. Her countenance seeming to be carved out of granite, as grandma’s words hovered over her like a savage bird of prey. Mother shuddered and tried to speak, but the words vanished somewhere within her lungs.
She cleared her throat, and tried again, “Ade, tell me it’s not true.” Mother passionately called father’s name. Father had the world-weary look as though he was coaxed into it. He said something with a nasal voice as if he had spoken with his nose.
“Get up and beg your wife.” Grandma yelled, feigning concern.”Tell her you will take care of her.”
Father stood tall, “Sorry,” He said as though sorry could give back life to the murdered heart and if sorry could be a resort for crime, court would have no jobs.
Father begged and Grandma did the same, as if it had all been a coincidence. Like a caged dog that was about to be used for sacrifice by his decade owner, mother felt betrayed. She wept bitterly. More than a decade. Her face was acrimonious. Jolomi looked around the single room. This one room of love would soon be divided. She went over to the shelf and tuned off the Panasonic TV. She drifted towards the only window. Beside it was a calendar hung onto a screwed nail. She blinked at the date on the calendar. It would be marked in her mind forever. She sat back on the wooden four-legged table, folded her arms and miserably beheld the wall clock as it ticked farther and farther into the future.
Grandma glided her maid’s Ghana-must-go bag under the bed. Four pipes supported the bed with a spring on it which accommodated the mattress. It had occurred to Jolomi that the love would be divided, but she had not anticipated the future of the matrimonial bed.
The day that followed was like dust had just settled on the battlefield, but the night that followed had resurrected the dust. It was time for bed and the bell of asunder began to ring. Mother would never allow the new wife to share her matrimonial bed with her. Mother sprung vehemently into dispute, and all grandma’s effort to cow her into submission were availed. Father transformed into a different man that night. His fickleness was like the sunny weather that suddenly rained. A rain of merciless blows battered mother. Father beat the hell out of the helpless mother and ultimately threw her out of the house. Jolomi’s mother clung to her children. In the dead of the night, they went to Baba John’s house. Week went after week before Jolomi’s father came for them and took them back home. Grandma had travelled back to hometown, only to return and live with her son. An epiphany painted itself before Jolomi’s very eyes, she saw a sharp edge of knife piercing the love at home, truncating the peace, and murdering what was a home. It was really a home!
Father caught the sight of the blemished scars on mother’s body. He felt her pains, but not her broken spirit and confidence; not her lost prestige, neither the burning wound on her heart inflicted by the man she loved when he scolded and abused her, and beat her almost to stupor. Father was no longer father!
Back home, Jolomi gazed into mother’s eyes, she imagined how she would feel whenever she recalled one of their lovey-dovey days she was always happy to narrate. Those days when father would whistle at mother’s window to call her out, and tell her how much he missed and cared about her. The night they returned home mother slept at one corner of the bed, father in the middle and the new wife on the other side. Jolomi and her brother dragged the table to one side and slept on the mat. That night, and many nights after, mother had succumbed to fate, and endurance to bear the loud moaning and screaming of the new wife, as though she was being given pepper to eat and caramel to savour at the same time whenever father was making love to her. Nauseating, disgusting, and a scandalous act!
Patron of matrimony