From a far, Ejiro, watched his mother who was seated on her favourite arm chair in the veranda enveloped in the evening’s cool breeze and the tranquillity it brings. This had become her daily evening ritual. As usual, he knew she had travelled off in thought, leaving an absent minded body behind. He observed the paleness of her rich chocolate skin, which was much more darker with an unmistakable glow. As the wind blew, it carried along with it her luscious black hair, now stained with strings of grey, as it caressed her face. This moment revealed a much deeper aspect of herself she rarely talks about, the stress that flowed through her veins, the pain and anguish of years of hardship. Things were really hard.
His father, he knew, played a major role in this diminishing demeanour of his mother. Their constant quarrels with his mother’s voice piercing through every wall in the house and his father’s stormy exists. Even though they have been separated for almost a year, a part of Ejiro reserved hope for a reunion. Sadly, as the months go by, his hope becomes more of a mirage as the distance between them widened yet the more.
His mother was the strongest woman he had ever known. Her ability to multitask, juggle several mundane jobs and still have time to cater for her family was one quality that made her look extraordinary. Ejiro often wondered where she drew such strength from. Her compassionate heart that forgave so easily was rare. Even when his father’s infidelity got to its peak and eventually that saw her receiving three other children from his father’s mistress. She was his yardstick for what a virtuous woman should be like. Lately, somewhat pitiful, he watched as her strength dwindled and gradually she began to rely on him for strength.
She would cry to him whenever they had a quarrel, trying to align him to her side. Unfortunately, Ejiro was too much of a rational being, always judging issues with logic rather than emotions. He despiced the fact that he had to be his parent’s judge, unable to escape the dilemma.
He missed her old self. From her daily yelling to her constant teasing, added an unusual flavour to her old personality. He remembered avoiding her after he mistakenly poured a pot of soup to escape her yelling but still heard it distance away.
“Ejiroghene, you too slim o, try to dey chop abeg, make you get small body. If not the wife wey you go marry go dey beat you wellas o,” she would tease in a thick Warri accent.
Things weren’t always this sour, growing up was more peaceful. He and his family didn’t have everything they wanted but they never lacked the needful. Despite the fact that both parents were uneducated, his father was diligent in his handcraft and so was his mother in her little provision store. Though his father was barely around, he made sure his family was well catered for.
Would Onyinyechi understand that this was why he was afraid of committing to her? How about his friends at the university who frequently made jest of him being too reserved and withdrawn. Would they understand if he told them his problems? Could telling them solve all the issues he had to face? At least he tried to open up to Onyinyechi once but ended up saying, “Onyin, i wouldn’t want to bore you, it’s just too complicated.” Maybe it was the lack of words to really express himself or his belief that some things are better left unshared.
Ejiro feared for the future, knowing if he never detached himself, he would live their very lives never being able to create his. This was the reason he was leaving home. For his sanity and peace of mind, he had to make this decision.
He clutched his bag and walked towards her. As he drew closer, he heard her humming her favorite song, the song she only sang when she prayed. He could tell she had been praying. He had grown used to her prayers that sounded like the bellows of a bell cutting deep into his sleep. Nevertheless, he was thankful for her prayers, for he felt they shielded he and his siblings away from the evils of the world.
Even though, amongst all his siblings, Ruky was the only one slipping away. Exploring ventures he shouldn’t be found in. When he tried warning him, Ruky simply tapped his shoulder and replied, “Bros, calm down! Me and my guys just wanna have fun, no big deal”
“Do you know you’re now responsible for your actions and their consequences that come along with them?” Ejiro had warned again.
“Abeg no dey yarn all this your grammar. I’m just trying to live my life, live yours,” Ruky replied as he flipped on his dark shade and walked out of the room.
Still Ejiro believed his mother’s prayers had saved Ruky from going wild and totally loosing it. He felt Ruky needed more than prayers, he needed attention and a sense of belonging.
Most times Ese, his elder sister, said Ruky was acting under peer pressure and with time he would outgrow it. He always agreed with her flow of thoughts. He admired her intelligence and manner of approach to issues. Her ability to be calm even when things are not going as planned and her new industrious side which sprang up when she couldn’t go for a masters degree due to lack of finances at home. Her spirit was never broken, she pushed on.
“Mummy, migwo” (greetings), he finally said.
“Vrendo” she replied softly.
Even though she was against his decision, seeing him now with his bag, she knew he couldn’t be stopped. Between them, there were no more words to be uttered. He wished he could say more but the words got trapped in his throat as his eyes met with hers. He had to do this for himself.
One thought, though, that always left him perplexed was how a home could suddenly turn into a building filled with strangers and furniture. In the mist of it all, he believed there was a light at the end of this seamless tunnel as he for the last time had a gaze at the home he was leaving behind in lieu for creating his future.
Written by: Jennifer Chioma Amadi.
Edited by: Alli Oluwatomisin Farouk
“IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER”