Fiction: Like Walls Crumbling

November 8, 2015 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Ibeh Leonard Ebuka

 

 

“Never let a man rule over your life” Mama began in low tones, adjusting herself on the cane chair to face Oluoma squarely. “Your life belongs to you, only you. And it would be very foolish of you to allow a man to take charge of your decisions.”

Oluoma stared at her mother. The jagged scar on Mama’s cheek, and the wrinkles on her forehead made her look a bit older than her actual age. She looked away stifling the sigh that struggled to escape from her lips. It had been four days now since she missed her period, and even though Obinna had told her “It’s normal, nothing serious, you know I pulled out quickly enough and emitted it on the floor,” she was still not convinced. Four days of distress, while she had watched each passing hour with anxiousness as her blood refused to flow and her sanitary towel remained immaculate white, and crisp as though unused.

She hadn’t vomitted yet, and she wasn’t feeling dizzy, so maybe that was an assurance that it was just a delay, probably an infection, but even the thought of a ‘delay’ sounded stupid, even to her own ears, and the fact that she had seen Obinna pour the sticky mucus-like substance on the floor when when he jerked out did nothing to relieve her fear.

Mama was still speaking with a painstaking slowness, a pattern she adopted when determined to press home a point. “The worst mistake any woman could ever make is to trust a man. Men are wicked. Ekwensu!”

Mama paused to catch her breath and to make sure Oluoma was following. Oluoma stared at her. The swiftness of her tone, and the venom with which Mama spat out the ‘Ekwensu’ startled her. Ekwensu, devil. Did it really mean that Obinna was really a Devil? And that his night of pleasure with her was just one of his destructive agenda?

She felt a tight knot form in her stomach, and a heavy pang on her chest.

Mama continued “You know what your father did to me?”

Mama paused.

That question was a question that did not require an answer. Oluoma had heard it over and over again, and the mere mention of it now wore her out, but Mama was always determined to tell the story over and over again, with flush and ease, as though it was a new story.

“This womb has housed six children that never saw daylight.” Mama slapped her stomach slightly, a thin haggard smile stretching her cracked lips. A smile that made Oluoma wonder if Mama saw the abortions as an achievement. “Six children” Mama repeated, looking at her foot. “And what did I get in return? Empty promises from hopeless men whose faces I never get to see again; immediately their rotten seed germinates in me.” Mama paused to brush something from her leg.

“Your father was no exception, Oluoma. He tried so much to make me abort Ojiugo, your elder sister, but then, I decided that enough is enough, so I bluntly refused.”

Another pause.

“Oluoma, you need to see what I went through. Dejection, teasing, hatred. Am I even talking about the beatings from your father that nearly forced Ojiugo from my womb? But I survived, all thanks to your father’s mother who needed a grandchild badly. Oluoma, I was thrown out from the house by the very woman who saved me earlier, simply because all I could produce was two girls.”

Mama paused again, and allowed the delicate silence to stretch for a very long time. When her voice came again, bold and confident, it startled Oluoma. “But I don’t just have ‘girls’. I have vessels of honour who would turn out to be a force to reckon with in their generation. Ojiugo has failed me, Oluoma. You know she gave birth to that bastard of hers in this house three years ago, and I had to throw her out. Up till now, I still have to cover my face in shame when I go to the market.” Mama exhaled loudly. “You, Oluoma, are my only source of hope. Pastor Emmanuel said it himself at the time of your birth that you would definitely go places, and I believed him.

Mama was smilling pleasantly now. “Isn’t that prophecy comming to pass? My own Oluoma, a recipient of that Oyinbo schorlaship. I tell you, nwam, its a miracle. And to think that at 17 years of age, you’ve still not known any man. My daughter, you’ve made me proud and God will bless you for me.” Mama heaved. A sign that she was through with her speech.

Oluoma sighed. Mama’s scrutinising gaze saddened her, as did the cement in her soul. The finality of a reality too surreal to be true. She wasn’t pregnant. Why was she being so stupid and unecessarily paranoid? And yet, even the assurance she gave herself made the finality become more of a reality, and the cement in her soul made her feel disoriented.

Mama was still looking at her closely, unfazed by the fact that she wasn’t smiling at the compliments. She looked at the jagged scar, and the wrinkled forehead and the vacant wide eyes once more before she looked away. Those eyes contained stories, stories she would never know.

“Mama.” She spoke, for the first time since the discussion began.

“I’m pregnant.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ibeh Leonard Ebuka

Ibeh Leonard Chukwuebuka was born in Nigeria in 2000. He started writting at the age of eight, and has since then written sevral shortstories and plays including ‘The Power of a Rain in January‘, published by Tuck Magazine, and ‘Price’ which won the JohnVic Interschool Shortstory competition. He cites Buchi Emetcheta and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as his models. According to him, “‘Second Class Citizen’ and ‘Purple Hibiscus’ by two remarkable African women I respect so much irked something inside of me, made me see the need to pen down my thoughts”. Ibeh Leonard Chukwuebuka has been described as ‘”a writer to watch out for.”

2 Comments

  1. FlorEmma January 12, at 14:00

    Am speechless...is there a word for more than a writer?.This story gave me readgarms.

    Reply

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