‘i cant believe that ugly hausa corper is straffing the principal seriously…’ Henna laughed sipping from her drink ‘that “protect ur body for its a temple of God” woman, yuck!’ Henna sighed in disgust.
My friends laughed. The rumors had been circulating that our Geography uncle was straffing our principal…i really didnt believe the rumor but when i saw the picture of both of them kissing from Henna’s phone, i believed it.
Henna and Ralph were the only ones who had a phone in our class due to their father’s status and riches. A phone was something i had always begged father to get me whenever i could but he adamantly refused. If only i had a phone, i would have tried to contact mama or mama would have tried to contact me but mama equally did not have a phone.
I chewed slowly on the meatpie Henna had gotten for all of us..after that day i had eavesdropped on their conversation, i knew i became different…i was no longer cheerful..not like i was a very cheerful person right from time..but i became the dullest person i ever came across.
I needed a distraction…and thats why i hanged out with my so called friends more often to try laughing at their jokes and other stuffs.
‘heyy guys i’ve got good news…’ Henna said getting my attention ‘my brother is visiting the village next week..oh my gosh! I cant wait to see him’
My heart skipped a bit. Ifeanyi! I didnt want to see him…not that he was a monster or anything..but everyone was aware of my huge crush on him before he left the village to study in the city. He was a really nice guy…the richest and the most handsome as at the time he left. That was two years ago.
At the mention of his name, the girls turned to me, of course, they knew about my crush on him.
‘what? Why are you girls staring at me like that?’ i asked rolling my eyes and pouting.
‘it seems my bestie is going to have the best straff of her life now’ Ije said.
That made me angry but i controlled it…i didnt want to cause a scene.
‘heyy!’ Henna said flashing her fingers in front of Ije ‘my brother doesnt do straff and dump…he does the ideal thing…love’
‘and how would you know that?’ Oma interjected.
‘because he’s my brother…he’s really not the flirty type’
‘oh really? What if city changed him?’ Oma asked.
‘then so be it…whats the big deal about being a flirt?’
‘who flirting don epp?’ Ije asked and they laughed.
I tried to laugh too but i couldnt..thoughts of mama flashed through my mind. Truth is, i didnt know when she was going to die, i didnt know what was going to stop her from dying..i didnt know what to do to protect her…i felt so hopeless and useless.
A junior student came to our table that instant and Henna frowned ‘what the heck are u doing in our table Junie?’ Junie was an abb. of junior.
‘sorry senior…but someone asked me to call Ivyy Maduemezie…’ the junior replied.
My heart skipped a beat ‘who…who’s that?’
‘its a woman…she just asked me to call you. She’s at the gate..’ the junior said scampering away.
‘bae, dont tell me the D arent enof for u…u go for V too?’ Henna said and the other girls laughed.
I stood and adjusted my uniform ‘seriously Henna, u need to stop this sick jokes of yours…they arent funny all the time’ i said and hurried away.
What was aunt Chime doing in school? Had she come to inform me of mama’s death? No…she had never do that.
When i got to the gate…i nearly fainted at who i saw…mama!
I nearly jumped around…luckily there was no student is sight as it was break over.
She had tears in her eyes as she embraced me ‘nwam…nwam…’
She was weeping seriously.
Seeing how emanciated mama had become brought tears to my eyes. What had aunt Chime and papa done to my innocent mother? What was her offence? Why wasnt anyone telling me anything?
I held mama ‘mama, tell me please…tell me, what is going on?’
She shook her head ‘its not something i should tell you Ivyy..its something you’d be better of not knowing about..and its equally for your own good that you and Dada were taken away from me…because you…especially you Ivyy, would have been dragged into this mess with me’ she said wiping her eyes with her handkerchief.
‘mama, please tell me, i heard you were going to die’ i sobbed.
I saw the surprise in her eyes..then she smiled ‘very soon…but i want you to know that…no matter what, i still love u my children…you guys brought me hope when i felt i didnt have one..you guys brought life into my soul…you two brought all the joy and happiness i required into my life…no matter what…i will never stop loving you and Danke..i’m sorry i had to leave you both like this…but i had to see you one last time…this is the last time you’re going to see me Ivyy…i’m very sorry….someone is coming…’ she thrusted a thousand naira note into my hand and before i could speak, ran away like a mad woman.
‘break over…runto ur classroom..’ the gateman said.
I ran away in tears.
I watched as aunt Chime spoke over the phone. I knew she was discussing with papa and she was using coded words.
‘….really, so they have chosen a date?….when….okay, i will be there…i wont miss it for any reason…i would be there..bye…Ivyy is fine…okay, i would’ She hung up and turned to me.
I faked a smile and swallowed a morsel of eba…papa and aunt Chime were going to pay for what they were doing to mama. If anything bad happens to mama, then i would never forgive them.
I suddenly washed my hands and stood up.
She looked at me ‘where are you going? Are you satisfied?’
‘yes..i want to go and see my friend Henna, i need to borrow her Biology textbook’
She looked at me suspiciously ‘dont you have one?’
‘mine was stolen the previous week’
‘how much does a new one cost?’
‘a thousand five hundred naira’
She contemplated for a while ‘sit down, i will go to mama Chidi’s store, borrow some money and buy you a new one okay?’
‘but i nid it now for my assignment!’
‘i said sit down Ivyy, you’re going nowhere!’ she commanded.
I became angry ‘what makes you and papa think you can stop me from seeing mama if i want to…dont i go to school? Or you think i cant skip school just to see my mother whom you guys have falsely accused and framed? You think ur wickedness can separate mama and i?’
She was taken aback for a moment before she stood up ‘its not what you think Ivyy…i will tell you everything but when the time is right’
‘tell me now! I request you tell me now! Else…i will show you all how stubborn i can be…what kind of father would separate his children from their mother…isnt that wickedness?’
‘i’m so sorry about that Ivyy..its really isnt our intention…its all your mother’s fault…we dont want you children to suffer for the mistakes your mother made…’
‘what mistakes? Why wont you tell me whats going on in this place?’ i said violently kicking the tabel causing our meal to pour all over the sitting room.
Angered, aunt Chime slapped me ‘you’re very stupid! Now, get into your room immediately before i handle you in a way you would not like’
I ran to my my room but not after mouthing “you will pay for this” to myself.
I wan going to teach them a lesson…i was going to teach them a lesson whereby they would pray for death but death wouldnt come..i knew exactly what to do.
I fell on my bed crying and praying for mama. She needed God’s mercies like never before.
The time came for my plans to be set into action when papa paid us a visit and aunt Chime sent me to the garden to pluck garden egg leaves for abacha.
I had smiled within me…they wouldnt know what hit them.
As i strolled to the garden which was not faraway from the house, i hummed mama’s favourite tune to myself ‘nnem nnem oo, ezigbo nnem ee, nnem nnem oo, ezigbo yoyo nnem mama…’ as i sang i remembered my mother and i cried.
She normally sang that song whenever she told us tales of how her mother struggled to bring her up as she was the only child and her father died at a very tender age.
I plucked the garden egg leaves..then moved to where the Imezi leave had grown as a weed.
I had come across it several times in the garden and also told myself to uproot when next i come but i always forgot…now was the time for it to come into use.
The Imezi leave was a very dangerous leave. Once it enters a human body…it doesnt kill, but it slowly weakens every system in the human’s body thereby leaving the person paralyzed with pains…it also causes different types of illness…ranging from terrible fever to diarrhoea and stroke…it was a terrible leave and it would eventually lead to death..but it might take years of pains and paralysis.
I smiled and plucked five leaves from it.
I went to the kitchen and sat on the stood…took the knives and sliced the leaves together.
When the meal was ready, i served it and took it to the sitting room where they were sharing a hearty laughter.
I watched as they ate with a smile on my face…it will take only a matter of hours before the leave began its effect on their body.
It took minutes after clearing the plates and hearing papa complain of the bitter taste of the abacha for me to realise that i had plucked the utazi leave instead of imezi.
Yes, the utazi and Imezi do look alike and i must have mistaken it for imezi.
I seethed in anger…why do God spare the unjust and endanger the just?
Maybe they were spared this time but next time, there were certainly going to die because i wont use the imezi next time, i was going to use Otapiapia or indoseed.
I blinked twice clutching my books tightly to my chest to ensure i was seeing the right person.
My friends went ahead hugging him while Henna just stood by his side clutching his arm. Yes, she had told me he was going to be arriving this week but maybe i really wasnt prepared to see Ifeanyi again.
‘hi Ivyy’ he said coming closer to me.
I percieved his masculine scent and i felt like relaxing in his arms..before i could speak, he came closer to me and engaged me in a bear hug. Due to the books in my hands, i couldnt hug him back but i relaxed my head on his shoulders.
‘how have you been? I missed you’ he whispered into my ears still holding me tightly.
I saw my friends making funny faces and snide remarks.
I paused to think…did i really miss him too? Maybe i was too preoccupied with my family problem to even miss him.
When he had left the village recently, i had missed him. Because i no longer had my companion with me. One who would hold me close to him tightly shutting my ears to prevent me from hearing mama’s screams as papa pounced on her.
One who would climb the roof with me so i could give food to mama who had been locked up in a room to mama and also help clean her wounds…then climb out through the roof before papa comes back.
One who encouraged me and helped me in anyway he could. Yes, he had left the village without keeping in touch with me..not even replying the messages i sent to him through Henna….i really felt his absence when he newly left but i soon got accustomed to it.
I got used to it.
We sat under a pawpaw tree opposite aunt Chime’s compound…aunt Chime had gone for one of their numerous women meetings and i wondered if mama had been killed yet.
‘i’m sorry i didnt keep in touch Veebeauty…’ Ifeanyi said calling my per name.
I was still angry at him and he knew that ‘you havent still told me your reason of coming here..you really have to go before my aunt sees you here’ i wasnt smiling.
‘Obim…’ he said holding my left shoulder ‘i really wanted to contact you but…but…’
‘i just felt there was no need..i felt you might get into problems with your father again and i wont be there to take the blame…and you might suffer everything all alone’ he said.
True, papa had been wary of our closeness and he accused Ifeanyi and i of having a sexual relationship…and whenever papa tried to hit me, Ifeanyi was always there to take all the blame for my sake.
Tears came to my eyes…papa had always denied me happiness for no just reason…was i really his child? Why did he favour Dada more than me?
‘Ivyy…’ he said wiping my tears with my back hand ‘i never stopped thinking about you’
I didnt say anything. I couldnt say anything.
‘i asked about you countless times from Henna…and i told her to safeguard you from boys’
I nearly laughed. Henna? Henna whom had been trying to force me into a relationship? He made a mistake entrusting me to Henna.
‘i heard everything about your mother from my father…’ he said and i abruptly turned to him ‘but i’m sorry i wont tell you…because i know how much you love your mother and i…i dont want you to see your mother negatively…because i know how highly you think of her…heck! You wont even believe me when i tell you all she has done’
I quickly stood up grabbing his shirt ‘Ifeanyi! Tell me what is going on with my mother! Tell me!’
‘heyy calm down…’
I held his shirt even tighter ‘tell me all you know about my mother please…please i beg you…is she dead?’ i cried.
He drew me to himself and kissed my hair ‘my baby’ he breathed ‘i’m so sorry for all the pains you are passing through right now…i’m here, so everything will be alright henceforth’
Mama…please dont die…i cried.