So it was a long time ago. I have forgotten the exact date. We had just finished laundry and I was tired and hungry. Mother wanted us to brush the cobwebs and dust the chairs. Father wanted us to rake the leaves on the lawn and water the flowers. I just wanted to eat then sleep forever. I was contemplating my bed when the bell rang. When I got to the door, it was a man and a woman with some men dressed in police uniform.
My elder sister opened the door, so she had to answer them. They said that they wanted to see my father. They called him by name. When father came out, he did not seem surprised to see them. He just wore a shirt, told my elder brother to take care of the house and left. That was the last time we saw him.
Mother went to the police station with my brother and they were told that he was not brought there. They called his number only to find his phone on the bathroom window where he had forgotten him. The police offered no help to look for him. It was now left to us to find our father.
Mother never recovered. She always looked up whenever a door opened. She kept the windows always open and most times she asked strangers if they had seen my father. She had a picture of him on her person at all times.
One time, my brother heard of a police station burning some few hours away from our home. My mother boarded a bus to the location. Her reasoning was that those kept in the holding cell would find means of escape and it was necessary that she was there to pick my father in case he was one of the prisoners.
I watched my mother struggle with his unexplained absence. And when her family tried to get her to remarry, I saw how much vitriol she poured on them. The years passed. The house remained the same. She refused any changes to the house even though my brother had began to see some money in his delivery business. Her room most especially remained untouched except for the bed where she slept. Time stood still in our home. My mother grieved and it became a poison.
One day, the police came to our door again. This time we were all at the door to welcome them. Such was our trauma, our fear. It was my brother they wanted this time. Some customer claimed that the package sent to him by his brother living abroad had been tampered with. Three thousand dollars was missing. My brother was dragged out with my mother howling and holding on to his waist.
Nothing the police did could get her to leave him and they tried. I begged and pleaded. I cried as they rain slaps and blows on both of them but she would rather die than let her son get into their van alone. I ran to call our neighbours. I saw their curtains shift but no one came to the door. We were alone in our pain once again.
That night I slept poorly. Mother did not return. My sister did not sleep. She talked and cried to her boyfriend on WhatsApp call through out the night. The boy tried because he should have slept. I wondered and had nightmares of my mother not coming back. I didn't want to be left alone with my sister. I wanted my mother and my brother back.
The next morning brought my mother with it. She had aged within the few hours she was away. Her eyes gazed unseeing at the house before she entered. As soon as she entered, she went into her room. Soon enough the carrion feeders started gathering at our door with questions. My sister saw them, hissed and locked the door. We went to our mother and found her staring at an old photo album of us. We asked her, touched her skin, sat beside her but not once did she speak or turn to look at us. Not once did she cry. She just thumbed through pictures of old laughter, old love and the squeak of the plastic pages became a part of my nightmares.
I waited for my brother's return from prison. I watched the last pillars crumble and my mother became dust. She stopped eating. She never left her room except to bathe. She ignored us and the world took advantage.
My sister started leaving the house for work so we can have food to eat. I was preparing for my senior secondary exams when she returned one day crying. When I asked she said her boyfriend had broken up with her. I thought nothing of it when she began isolating herself, hiding her body from me in the room we both shared.
One day she went out and did not return. It was one of our neighbours that came with the news that she had bled to death at the betting shop where she e she worked. It seems that she did a failed abortion after her boyfriend disowned the pregnancy. When I told my mother the bitter news, she laughed. It had no mirth.
We had no money to bury her so the pastor of the church we used to do to worship at came over and handled everything. I and my mom did not go to the burial. A month after my sister's funeral my brother came out of prison. Years behind bars had done something to him. He was hard. He did not stay long. As soon as he heard that my sister had passed on, he packed his small bag and disappeared.
It was then I started going to church. It was where I could find peace. My home was like a barrow. It smelled of old tired grief and emptiness. I wanted to escape the ravaged body that was my mother. I wanted to be free and the church promised hope. If was there I met him. He was the pastor's son. He was about 7 years older but he cared. For the first time, I stepped out of the shadows and the sun warmed me.
I told my mom about him but she heard nothing of what I said. She only smiled and touched my face then went back to staring at the wall. He proposed and I accepted. I was just 22. The wedding was hosted by the pastor. In my head I thought that this was the beginning of good things and maybe I won't have reason to weep anymore. I was wrong.
The first time he stuck me, I was too shocked to react. Why would he hit me? He promised to protect and take care of me. He promised that I would never cry again. He is a pastor's son for God sake! Yet I had bruises all over my body. Then the miscarriages started. I lost the second baby after a really bad beating. Life obviously was not done with breaking me.
I went home to see my mom and when she saw me that day, there was this sudden awareness in her eyes as if she saw me. She saw the bruises and asked me what happened. I said I fell. She nodded and told me to watch where I walk. That was all. There was no sign, nothing to prepare for this.
Who would have told me that she would walk to my home and stab my husband to death. Who would have known? I don't know what to do. I am alone and pregnant. I prayed for freedom. Is this it?