Mama was buried a week later after a poorly-attended funeral. The cost was paid off majorly by donations from neighbours, friends and the only uncle we knew. On the night of the funeral, I slept in the room Adun and Mama shared. A few neighbours called the next morning to condole with us. Some even brought food and cash donations but we could not eat. We were both stricken by the great loss of the only family we knew.
After three weeks of mourning, we were visited by a woman who was about Mama’s age. She claimed to be our paternal aunty and wanted us to visit her if we ever needed anything. I did not know if it was her kind words or if it was just our common lineage that re-awakened that yearning. All of a sudden, I wanted to know my father’s whereabouts again but chose to be methodical about it this time around.
Adun sat by me on the bed as she had always done since Mama’s demise and we chatted about her new teaching job, my school, our family, the future and every other thing that comes in between. As she rose to retire back into Mama’s room, I held her hand and stared earnestly into her eyes.
“What is it?” she asked looking a little tired.
“Where is our father?” I did not give any preamble to my question.
Adun was caught off-guard. I read the confusion on her face as she reeled back into the ragged sofa in the corner of my room.
“Adun, I am a man now and I am old enough to know the truth”, I blurted as I sat up on the bed.
“Tell me where our father is.”
“He died before you were born,” she said solemnly
“How?” My question denying the lurid reality of his death did not faze her.
“Mother stabbed him four times on the chest with her scissors,” she whispered.
I was more confused than ever and hastily pressed further.
Sobbing silently, Adun told me about the father I never knew. Our father, a taxi driver, was a drunkard and a chronic womaniser. He met my mother while she was an apprentice at a tailor shop owned by his friend. They married quickly and Mama was carrying Adun in her womb when she realised that her husband had several concubines. At first, she protested and threatened to leave him but the birth of Adun compelled her to stay as she could not cater for the baby alone.
“Mama endured a lot of humiliation and battering from him,”Adun said with open resentment and deliberate defiance as she consciously referred to our father as “him”.
“What happened between them?” I asked impatiently.
“Mama came back from one of her routine check-ups when she was pregnant with you and was so upset. I heard her weep once she locked herself in the bed-room and came out looking composed moments later”
After a heavy sigh, Adun narrated how Mama sent her to bed as soon as our father honked his distinct horn outside. He trudged-in reeking of liquor as usual and Mama confronted him with myriads of questions presenting a rumpled sheet of paper to him. Adun told me how she saw our father tear the piece of paper into shreds and pummelled Mama as he usually did every night he came home drunk.
The only difference this time around was that Mama did not receive the lashing passively. She reached for her pair of scissors on the chair and stabbed our father in four places.
I did not know how to react to the murder of the father I never knew. I could even avenge him as his murderer was now dead and I heard she did so in self-defence. The court ascertained this when a charge of manslaughter was eventually levelled against my mother. Mama was discharged and acquitted of the crime but the stigma stuck. She lost her friends and family members stopped visiting. Even her neighbours dispersed once they see her approaching their group. She became a subject of gossip and ridicule on the street. She realized that her son could not be raised amidst such hostilities. One dawn, she just packed her most treasured belongings and moved to our new apartment where I was born.
It was difficult for us after Mama died so Adun and I agreed that it was in our interest to pack paraphernalia which reminded us of her demise. As we packed that morning, I stumbled across our special medicine and memories woven around it came pouring back. I remembered how it was our secret of anticipated victories, how I was told never to miss a regimen and how Mama coaxed me into taking it every time I resisted.
It dawned on me that I had missed it for nearly a month and was tempted to take it there and then, but I could not withstand the pains of sweet memories shared with my mother. I also did not know if I should have forgiven the fact that she killed my father. At that instance, I vowed never to touch those medicines again because I could not trust my mother. I was angry at her for a reason I could not exactly pin-point. I did not know if perhaps, my anger stemmed from the fact that she had left Adun and me all alone in this world or if it was because she murdered my father or if it was because she kept me in the dark about everything.
It later turned out that there was still more to be angry at Mama for.