For a woman who recently lost her husband, Aunty Uwem glowed more than the
morning sun, you thought. You could bet she must be using a toning lotion. That
was the only explanation you could give for the transformation of her well
pronounced dark skin to this striking light shade of brown that she now flaunted
around in skimpy outfits. You felt she intentionally paraded herself like a peacock
displaying her beauty for everyone to notice. This was obviously what must have
lured your father into marrying her as a second wife.
It was an obvious truth that she did not marry your father for what he claimed
was love. Love was far from what you saw in her eyes. Her eyes were filled with
so much fierceness and greed. Even when she touched you, there was nothing
close to tenderness, all you perceived was pretense. Though you wonder why she
still had to keep up the appearance after your father’s death a month ago. After
all, her charming performance captivated and blinded only him.
You were conceived she killed him. There was no other explanation to his sudden
death. Even though you may be sixteen, your instincts were as sharp as a sixty year
old and you would never buy her cock and bull story of “he slept and didn’t wake
up the next morning”. You had thought she was smarter than such a cheap lie. Her
dry eyes and elegant catwalk the days that followed made you conclude she was
a sham all along who only wanted your father’s money.
You wished your father could see her now. To see what he brought into the home
he had built with your mother. You could still remember the look on your mother’s
face when he said he was getting a second wife. Her eye balls swimming in tears of disbelief. Till, she welcomed Aunty Uwem warmly and gave her tips on how your father liked his meals.
Prior to that time, you had thought your father was too modern to consider having a second wife but you were wrong. He was still a traditional Igbo man that wanted more than one child and was in desperate need of male children as show-off of his manly strength and retain his last name for decades after he is gone from earth. You wished he was bold enough to say this
rather than hide under self pity.
“Adaeze, your mother no longer loves me. I’ve been lonely for many years now,
suffering silently until Uwem crossed my path,” he had said the night you
confronted him about his awful decision.
You blamed him for being too blind to see the clear signs of doom surrounding
his choice. It was your mother you pitied for. The poor woman had been crying
herself to sleep since the day he died. She barely ate her food or paid attention to
her skin. She now looked slimmer and darker than she had even been. She wore
black clothes that hid her luscious figure to avoid attention of any kind. She knew
it wasn’t about her and was never self centered. This was true mourning to you.
Now you sat at the dinner table, while writing a poem that had been locked in
your heart since the morning of your father’s death, you slyly observed Aunty Uwem and her friend who were in the sitting room laughing, and giving themselves high fives as they spoke.
“A green snake like the deceptive chameleon
blended with the colour of an overgrown green grass,
Taking a pleasant figure like a companion
While it trails behind you slowly till__
“Ada, go to your room now, give us space, mbok,” Aunty Uwem shouted breaking
your flow of thoughts.
You wanted to hesitate and rebel but instead you hissed, packed up your books
and headed to tell your mother about Aunty Uwem’s new attitude. She had no such right to tell you where and when to stay or leave. Only your mother does.
As you made your way through the quiet hallway, you could hear your mother’s voice in a whisper on a phone call. “Nne, that medicine worked like magic, just once and I got rid of that fool,” she said and chuckled.
“He thought he could humiliate me by bringing that Calabar woman to reap where
she did not sow. Oh, I showed him pepper before he died,” she said but paused
when she heard your footsteps draw closer to her half closed door.
Quickly she dropped the phone on the bed and like a professional actress took up
a believable role of a mourner, sobbing uncontrollably, dropped to the tiled floor
and pressed your father’s framed picture against her chest.
You stood at the foot of the door, watching her with terrified eyes. No! Why? How could she? You questioned yourself. You would never have believed that your mother was the
cold blooded murderer. The one who had excellently delivered a performance
that could win an Oscar for a movie titled, ‘The Pretender’. The green snake who
trailed behind you till it strikes.
Until this moment, through your eyes, your mother had been nothing but a saint. She hardly did anything wrong. Looking straight into her eyes, you realized then that your eyes were clouded by false judgement and maybe if they had been clearer, you would have seen what laid before you the whole time.
She knew you heard her and was certain you wouldn’t spare her. Her pleading eyes would have stopped you but in your world, everyone faces the consequences of their action. You could only assure her that you would visit her often in the prison where she would spend the rest of her life.
Written by: Jennifer Chioma Amadi
“IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER”