As soon as we heard raised voiced, we ran out of our room into the sitting-room. We huddled in the corner, all three of us, watching and listening as daddy called mummy all sorts of names. He said she was useless and that even dogs were better off.
The moment he saw us, it seemed like he got all the more enraged. He yelled at her to get out from the parlour. She got up from the sofa, and was walking towards us. She was about two paces from us when the wooden side-stool which we usually used to serve our visitors Coca-Cola hit her head. She buckled, fell, but managed to fall on her knees and not flat on her face. She immediately stood up, turned around and started screaming at him. She was asking him what she had done to him to warrant this kind of treatment.
‘Emeka, o gini ka m mere gi? What have I done to you?’
‘You better get out of here before I kill you’.
By this time, Chikamma and Chike had started crying. Mummy kept asking him what she did to deserve this, and it seemed like this enraged him all the more. Next, he picked up the wooden plaque that was given to him at the last village meeting we attended. On the plaque was inscribed the words – ‘philanthropist of the year – 1995’. He walked menacingly towards her, grabbed her by the neck, and started hitting her on the head with the plaque, continuously, with increased intensity after every blow. She screamed even louder, crying, trying to block her head with her hands.
‘Emeka, hapu m aka biko, leave me alone’.
Her wrapper fell off her chest, revealing her saggy breasts, flabby belly and cesarean scar. She bent down to pick up her wrapper, to protect the last shred of dignity she had, from her teary-eyed children. Daddy grabbed her by her hair, yanking her up by her thinning hair. She screamed in agony and was begging him to leave her alone.
I rushed forward, forced my way in-between them both and started hitting daddy with all the strength I could muster, all the while I could hear Chikamma and Chike crying for daddy to leave mummy alone. From the corner of my eye, I saw that mummy’s wrapper had fallen off her chest again, but this time around instead of picking it up, she scooped me up from the ground, turned around, ran towards Chikamma and Chike, held all three of us, and ran out of the parlour into our room.
She sat down on the bed that all three of us shared and cried. I understood a little bit of the igbo she was speaking. I heard her asking God why he was letting this happen to her. She was wailing a different tune today, sounded almost like Pater Noster…
We were all huddled around her, my arm around mummy’s neck, Chikamma was wiping mummy’s eyes with her little hands, while Chike stood behind mummy, rubbing his palm against her head.
‘Mummy sorry, mummy sorry…’