He made it home a little after two, in the morning
the familiar stench of waragi on his breath,
“I love you my Man” he shouts patting my chest,
And stretching out every syllable of the sentence
he’s too zonked to remember my name,
but I don’t mind, I know he means it,
same way I know he’ll take a cold bath in the morning,
make peace with his hangover,
and be a great father to us all.
I know he’ll wag his finger at me and siblings,
“stay away from the tripple B’s”, he’ll say.
Then he’ll order us all to recite the mantra,
And we’ll all add our names to the oath,
promise to avoid booze, babes & betting.
I know I love him too, but I can say it right now.
He’s in a rather bad mood today,
I reckon his gambling didn’t go well,
I have to choose my words carefully;
lest I’ll get a beating for an inexistent offense,
He heads to the table, uncovers a dish;
fried cow peas stare back at him,
he ignores the food, staggers into his bedroom;
mama is snoring like the “snoring General”,
he likes to call her behind her back.
But she doesn’t sleep for long,
she tries to keep it low but I hear her,
reprimand him for seeing other women,
he barks at her, angry and as disgusted,
he probably slaps her, there’s a struggle,
I hear her weak feeble sobs, she’s not asking for mercy,
I can hear her beg him to keep it low,
“kids are sleeping”, she reminds him
but today he won’t hear her out.
I check on my siblings; Adrian and Pascal,
as always they are sleeping to through it all,
Am waiting for my license to sleep;
but the loud drunken laughter,
that signals that he’s apologized,
and she’s forgiven him doesn’t come on time.
Am crawling out of my bed to check on them,
then I hear the struggles begin again,
I rush to their door and walk in on them.
They are on the dirty floor, he’s on top of her; restraining her with his body,or is it his foul breathe,
raining a fury of slaps down her cheeks and head.
she scratches at his neck, tries to bite his hands,
but they are beyond her reach,
like a vicious eagle, she holds nothing back,
she never allows him an easy fight.
I stand at the door, tears down my eyes,
am angry at him but scared, mum warned me against taking sides,
I’ve never felt so weak in my entire life,
I want to intervene and mediate,
overpower both of them, force them to make peace,
shake hands and embrace their scuffle away;
just like I do at school when my friends fight,
but the circumstances are different,
And even though I won’t say it out loud,
I’ve already taken sides like I always do when they fight.
He wants to know what am doing in their room,
I want to know why he’s so mean when he drinks,
but mine is a silent question he’ll never hear,
and an answer is something he won’t get from me,
instead I have a wish if he’ll just listen;
“don’t beat her, just chase her away” I say.
He looks at me, thinking about what I just said,
he doesn’t like the idea of it,
instead he’ll beats her up for putting those words into my head,
while I feel guilty for fueling an already hot fire.
She stares at me from her dejected and brutalised position,
she’s lost the fight in her, something to do with me,
I think she freaking hates me. I know I deserve it,
but I hate her too, for being weak and broke,
I want us to leave him, but she can’t take care of us, she depends on him, she loves him,
because of that love;
she’ll apologize for provoking him,
she’ll take a beating until he finally kills her.
Am angry. Not on drugs, but I feel strong,
I don’t just want to make peace anymore,
I’ll want to fight him and save her,
size no longer matters, my love for him,
can’t stop me anymore, I need to end this,
I grab the stool and whisk it towards his head.
He retreats from his position from above his wife,
leans against the bed, writhing with pain,
bleeding from his forehead, he giggles to himself,
” I knew you always wanted to kill me” he says,
but I don’t want to argue with him,
instead I help mama to get on her feet,
She moves out to wake up our neighbor,
she doesn’t say a single word to me,
I leave their room and return with a Panadol,
and wet cloth, am bandaging his wounds,
like he did for me last time I cut my hand,
but I can’t seem to stop the bleeding,
but he’s too weak to even raise his hand,
so I force two Panadol pills into his mouth.
Am not angry anymore, am scared instead.
Dad just continues wailing, he’s in too much pain,
he makes meaningless sounds,
I can’t understand anything, he says,
he’s struggling to stay conscious,
am trying to come to terms with what I’ve done,
tears are rolling down my eyes once again,
dad is crying too, I don’t know what to say,
so I finally reply to his earlier admission,
“I love you too” I say, “am sorry, please don’t die” .
But he’s not listening to me,
he’s never listened, It’s always been about him,
he closes his eyes, I stretch them wide open,
he allows it just for a second or three,
closes them again, speaks with them closed,
“I love you my man,” he says with a feigned grin
He pauses, gathers more strength,
“take care of Mama and the twins” he adds.
Am sobbing, I want to tell him that’s his job,
I want to say am just eight years old,
but he closes his eyes one last time.
Mama returns with our neighbor, Musiramu,
orders me to get away from her room,
I don’t want to, but she’s not given me an option,
she looks disheveled, almost inhuman,
I walk outside in the 4:00am air and empty my bowels,
the sound of sirens draws closer,
I can hear a loud knock on the gate.
A female officer, walks in without saying a word,
behind her three gun welding men in uniform follow,
They enter our two bed roomed house,
when they return a few minutes later,
mama is in handcuffs, I run to her,
I want them to let her go, I did it,
but with the little strength her imprisoned hands can dish,
she pushes me to the ground she doesn’t want me,
I run to the female police woman to explain,
but Musiramu intercepts me before I can get there,
I kick at his shins but he doesn’t loosen his grip.
They take her and our future along with her,
We’ll get evicted from our house,
an eighty two year sentence awaits mum,
but she’s taking none of it,
she will die four years later,
the twins will follow shortly;
first Pascal of malaria then Adrian of Typhoid,
the streets will forever be my hone.