Archive for the ‘short stories, prose’ Category

She had read from that famous book that her sixth daughter always brought home from school. The bible, was it? It had to be important if someone had gone through the struggle of translating it to her native language. In any case, she’d read about hell and a sulphuric river and fiery fire, and as she stretched her bruised legs in a futile attempt to ease the throbbing pain, she promised herself that the biblical hell would have to freeze over, literally go ice cold and douse all its existing fires before she went back to him.
Him. She would henceforth refer to him as Him.
A narcissist- another word she’d learned from her sixth daughter. Violent-a word her sixth daughter figured every woman in the village knew-and God, did they!
Disrespectful- all men in the village understood and practiced this trait. Him was not an exception.
Me, me, me not you- this selfish tendency, her sixth daughter supposed should be encompassed under the umbrella of narcissistic tendencies.  Abusive too.
And so with that list deeply etched in her mind, she confirmed to her bruised legs that she would only go back if hell froze over.
Sitting on a sisal mat just outside her lone hut, she watched as her seventh daughter jumped over three thin sticks to attempt to go on record for the farthest jumper.  She was rooting for her..nobody would dare support that other rugged child that stood at 3’4 and yet wreaked unfathomable havoc. So yes. She was supporting her child.
Hope, step, jump!”
That was the mantra echoing in the compound as limb after thin limb jumped over the thin sticks.
She feels her mind drifting to her first daughter. She was what the village considered beautiful. Courageous. Hardworking. Virtuous. Any violent man from the village would’ve been lucky to marry her if she wasn’t very dead. She remembers seeing the men, all crowded around a monstrous pot containing a lethal brew that probably wasn’t so lethal drinking from long straws as they watched their wives and children build houses, herd cattle and answer to their everlasting summons. Summons for food mostly. And she remembers, bitterly now, how she’d been the subject of one of those summons.
“Mother of Arika, we have a husband for your first born child,”
She hadn’t been surprised. This was after all, the tradition.
Looking back, she suspects that her only mistake had been to look up into the red eyes of Him Who’d been ingesting the lethal brew too.
“Our daughter is barely 14 years old, what business does she have getting married to an old man?”
Because she was sure an old man was the fate awaiting her 13 year old daughter.
“Woman! You would embarrass me like this in front of my friends? ” Him had been furious. His ego had been injured.  Tough.
In any case, she doesn’t like to remember what had ensued in the next two days. Just to satisfy the curiosity of the reader, she’d had a broken arm-no, two broken arms, a swollen head-and that’s not figuratively, a humiliating experience and a dead daughter.  Accidentally killed by Him. No. She didn’t want to accord Him the dignity of “accidentally” There was no “accidentally” in hitting someone’s head repeatedly against a stone wall.
A fly is eating away at her bruised leg now.  She swats it away just as her third daughter runs home from school. She smiles, preparing herself to listen to her rants about her English teacher. Dear reader, the third daughter loves the English subject just as much as she loves her English teacher.
The rant today is about “The River and the Source,” a book they’re reading in school.
“Mama, that woman in the book reminds me of you. “
“You have to remember that woman’s name at least, ”
“I’ll remember it by tomorrow, “
“Okay, “
“Mama I want to be a chief when I grow up. I want to make sure I punish bad men like father. (Him)”
“Just study hard,”
That’s the trend everyday. She doesn’t make any attempts to make her children have good thoughts about their father, because it would be futile. They have seen it all. The beatings, insults, violence.  All of it.
She laughs silently as she imagines what her fifth daughter would say. “Mama, we ought to forgive. 70 times 70,”
She laughs harder as she imagines what her fourth daughter would say
“Ma, we got no time for forgiveness, or anything else really. Except happiness. “
And she’s laughing even louder at what her sixth daughter would say, “Arrest him!”
She’s tearing up at what her seventh daughter would say.
“Where’s father? We haven’t seen him in ages,”
Her dead first born would have been the most rational. She would probably have suggested to kill him off. “We aren’t door mats Ma.”
V.O.