For the past one-hour, rain thumped down from the sky in the gloomy weather. It was 6:30pm, now it had stopped but stayed on a drizzled level. I stood close to the window kitchen piercing my eyes through the glass to view outside. The atmosphere was cold. The cardigan I wore was of no use. I shivered. On my right hand held a cup of hot Lipton tea.
I, Ireti sighed and looked at my right direction to where my mother sat on a wooden chair gulping down a glass filled with whiskey down her throat. I shook my head in pity. I saw how rough and rumpled her hair was. She had refused to comb it and leave the house for the past three days, since the day her divorce was finalized, my father also left that day with all his belongings. He promised to come for me after he had settled down properly. I was willing and ready to leave. I detest drunkards!
I surveyed the kitchen one more time. I could not believe I was leaving the house, where I had wonderful childhood experiences, and nice moments with my parents who were madly in love with each other at that time. How can I leave my father’s house? He already gave it to my mother but I had no reason why she wanted to give it up for sale.
“Mom,” I said to my mother in a calm manner. “I do not think it’s possible for us to leave this evening. It’s getting late, let’s take it tomorrow.”
Her small brown eyes shot at me. Her eyes were mad at me. “What is that supposed to mean Ireti? We are going no matter what. The rain has stopped. Where we are going is only a forty five minutes’ drive.”
“You can’t drive under this condition.”
“I’m not drunk!” she defended herself. “I am perfectly stable to drive. Be patient with me.”
“I’m always patient with you and that’s why I agreed to leave with you.”
My mother shut her eyes. She took a deep breath and opened them slowly. She put down her tumbler on the table. She rose on her tired feet and walked to stand in front of me. She touched me by my right shoulder. She was left-handed. “I know you don’t want to leave this house but you have to.” She said sorrowfully.
"This is not about leaving. I’m worried about your health.”
She smiled. Her beauty was still there. Never left her chubby face. She dropped down her hand. “I will be fine, Ireti. Thank you for accepting to leave with me. If not that your father cheated on me, we won’t have divorced.”
“Dad cheated on you once. He apologized and asked for forgiveness.”
She turned her back to drink the remaining alcohol on the table. She spoke after she finished it. “He cheated on me with my useless best friend. I will forgive my ex-husband when the right time comes but I can never forget what he did. Ireti, I am sorry your father and I are no more together. I cannot stay married to him. I will be unhappy. I am happy you are twenty-two years now. You are old enough to understand what’s going on.”
“You should have stayed together.” I said. “You have me to keep you in the marriage.”
She grinned at me. “You’re my joy. That is why you and I will stay together. You know we are leaving to stay at your great grand-mother’s place. Drink up your remaining tea. Let’s go.”
********* My rich great grand-mother was one hundred and nine years old before she died five months ago. The day I heard she gave up the ghost, I drank, danced and celebrated. How could she live up to that age when her own daughter, my mother’s mother was gone? After her demise I vowed never to step my foot in her house. Before she left the world, my mother would force me, especially when I was on holiday to go take care of her whenever she was ill. Her house was a one-storey building, painted blue. It was in an area that appeared deserted. It had a big living room, dining room, kitchen, a toilet downstairs. Up were six rooms only, with their bathroom and toilet inside.
My black, dirty looking great grand-mother's body was small, fragile and shrink. For her to walk, she had a stick for support or I assist her myself. The sound of a particular slippers she used to wear irritated me. The sound of the slippers when she walked, ‘Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa’, annoyed me greatly.
Her sight disgusted me. She had few teeth in her mouth. Her clothes smelled.
The only thing that kept me entertained was that everything I needed was there. I had different games to play with, movies to watch and there was internet connection there for me to browse with my phone and laptop. The only time my face fell was the voice of her calling me to do something for her.
“Ireti, I want to shit”
“Ireti, I want to piss”
“Ireti, I want to drink water“
“Ireti, come and switch off the fan”
"Ireti, give me my drugs”
“Ireti, make hot tea for me”
I was fed up with her rants. There was always one thing or the other for me to do for her. Well, sometimes I could hit her on the head if I was angry. Suffer her with no food if she did not finish her breakfast, lunch or dinner. I punished my great grandmother by giving her, her drugs on an empty stomach. I did not care. I wanted her to leave me the hell alone.
I cannot forget the day she flooded her bed sheet with urine. I pushed her to the ground and mistakenly, it was not deliberate, her head hit the floor. I was shocked to see blood gushing out. I ran to the nearby pharmacy. After treating her, my parents came by and they were stunned to see her head decorated with bandage. When my mother asked her what happened, she lied to cover me up. After they left my great grand-mother would look at me and shake her head. I did not care. I wanted her out of my life!
On a particular day, I served her pap and akara for breakfast. With my effort that morning, she refused to eat. She wanted rice and stew.
I said to her, “How can you chew rice when you don’t have teeth? How can you swallow the food when your throat is almost blocked? Answer me. Mama, Mama stop looking for my trouble.”
She told me to get out of her room. I dashed out to pluck a stick from her guava tree. I flogged her mercilessly. How can she walk me out from her dirty room filled with worn out wrappers? I dragged her on the floor, carried her inside her bathtub, and poured cold water on her body. She was shaking like a worm covered inside salt. I cautioned her never to try that again.
Few days before she died, on her sick bed, she cried to my mother to bury her with a cutlass when she dies. My mother fulfilled her wish. My mother inherited the house. I was not expecting her to give me. I would have sold it or burned it down if she had done that. She and her house are worthless to me!