My mother

My Mother

The earliest memory I have of my mother was of her with a pestle and mortar, she was pounding spices for porridge. I remember that day so clearly because of the strong scent of the spices that make me sneeze. I sneezed loudly and repeatedly that mama had to put a dirty rag in my mouth. “You will wake up the neighbours,” she said. She had my brother tied to her back with a wrapper. She pounded the spices for a long period. I remember looking at her, with the rag in my mouth and wondering when she would stop.

My mother went out most of the time and came back with food. Sometimes she came back empty-handed. She was always in a good mood when she came back with food but in a terrible mood when she came back empty. At first, it started with a slap. I would look at her hands so I knew whether to prepare for a beating or a feast. She never hit my brother, “He will take us out of this wretched life” she always said. Sometimes I wondered why she never looked at me with love, it was always with contempt. I never went to school. A waste of money, she said, I was too afraid to refute so I stayed at home and started helping her pound her spices, she was obsessed with them.

When I was sixteen, my breasts were bigger than most girls my age. I discovered that I was taller than most boys. I hated the way men looked at me. I was disgusted by the way our landlord gazed at me, his son was worse… Sometimes, he’d hit me and say I was a prostitute like my mother. My mother continued to hit me, sometimes with the pestle; and other times with my brother’s belt. My brother grew up spoiled and. It’s hard to imagine we ate one meal per day, he somehow managed to be the poster child for idiocy. I didn’t go to school but I helped clean my neighbour’s house. She was kind; she taught me in exchange and at seventeen, I could read fluently.

My mother came home empty-handed one day, she slapped me for not feeding my brother at the right time. “With what food,” I asked. She glared at me, “you think I don’t know all about you and Kemi? She gives you delicious meals all the time, why don’t you ever give your brother some?” I don’t know what came over me, I told her that it was because she never gives me any meat. “Labode takes it all.” I talked back to her for the first time. My mother looked at me and cried, it shocked me more than the pain from the pestle. “You are just like your father,” She said to me and threw me out for the night. It was worse than the beatings. I was terrified and cold all through the night. I was sure that I hated my mother almost as much as she hated me.

The landlord visited my mother the next day to demand the rent payment. As usual, she begged for more time. My mother and the landlord kept me and my brother outside while they “discussed” in the house. I was tense and afraid because anytime they had their “discussions”, my mother would be in a sore mood and I always end up suffering as a result. I watched Labode playing without a worry and my heart filled with so much anger. I saw a stone nearby and was going to hit him with it. My mother and the landlord came out at that time, so I dropped the stone. It was a short “discussion”, I thought. The landlord passed me by and gave me a pat on my butt. I should have known better but I didn’t. I followed my mother inside, she stared at me and laughed bitterly as she shook her head.

Labode didn’t sleep at home that night. I woke up to Samuel, my landlord’s son, holding my hands while his father held my head. My mother pushed that dirty rag into my mouth before I could scream. I watched her leave the house while Samuel and his father had their way with me. She came back crying and pushed the landlord off me. I can still remember his laughter as my mother sent them out of the house.

It was already too late; I had their scent imprinted in my head. My mother didn’t comfort me, she cried while I just stared at the space. I didn’t talk for two days. I didn’t move or even bathe. Aunty Kemi came to look for me, and my mother told her to mind her business. It was a Sunday. I started talking again when the Landlord came to look for my mother. He saw me and smirked. “We have unfinished business,” he said with a toothpick in his mouth. My mother saw the way I looked at him. She said I scared her and I needed to get over myself. “What was the point of pushing him, he was already inside me,” I asked my mother; she gave me no answer. That night I discovered Aunty Kemi had gone for a vigil. I went to the Landlord’s house at night and knocked. He was surprised to see me and let me in. Proud and cocky, he asked me to take off my clothes. I did it while hiding the broken glass in my thick hair. He stood tall and proud as he called his son. They admired my naked body. The Landlord held me in his arms. I took the broken glass and slit his throat. Samuel stared in shock, I brought him close and stabbed his eyes. Before he could scream, l jammed the dirty rag in his mouth and watched him squirm until his death. I went to the kitchen and opened the gas. I went back home naked, tied my mother’s hands with her wrapper and woke her up. She looked at me in surprise, I put the rag in her mouth and made her watch while I stabbed my brother in his sleep.

I left her sobbing and lit the house on fire while I left her alive. I have no idea if she lived or died. But I hope she survived so she hates herself as I do. I have no idea who my father was (or is). I know my mother, I know what and who I am. My mother made me, she was everything to me. I do not need love. I still kill from time to time. No one ever thinks it’s the girl with an innocent face and a broken spirit. I kill to remind myself of where I came from. I don’t kill innocent people, just people who use the same wrapper as my mother.