Vituperate means to criticize in a harsh or abusive manner.
“12:00 am” My alarm ticked and I stirred up with Joy, ” Happy birthday Jachi,” I said to myself before I picked up my phone to check my WhatsApp messages. The best part of birthdays is the part where your pictures are everywhere, even if it’s not genuine at least for a day you were popular and to me, that’s all. I scrolled down with joy reading every single message and screenshotting the ones I wanted.
“6:00″ my alarm sang out shaking violently like a dog under an attack, I lay still waiting, maybe this year they will remember to come in and sing for me. I waited while watching the clock tick down and by 6:30 it had dawn on me that no one was coming and I was late for morning devotions which meant a long talk on my head. I slowly sat down on the sofa and bent my head as mum was praying. I could feel my whole body shaking as the Grace was shared after the apostles Creed.
” Aaah Madam you decided to join us after all” Mum said smiling at me with disgust written all over her face.
” Sorry ma,” I said still with my head bent, I didn’t want to look up and meet her eyes or eyes of my elder brother Joel and younger brother Joseph neither did I want to see my father’s face, I was disappointed they had all forgotten it was my birthday, not like it was the first time but today was different, I turned 20, it wasn’t worth forgetting.
” You are becoming something else this child” she started ” Hun I have told you before let me call my prayer warriors again so they can deliver her, ” Mum said to my father who has been quiet all the time may be shaking his head like he always did.
” Sorry Mum,” I said this time louder than the first just to cut her words.
” Sorry for yourself stupid girl,” she said and walked out. My head was still bent when everyone left then I sighed softly out of relief then clashing my chest I left the room to look for the broom.
I hummed a popular hymn as I swept the whole compound, this used to be Joel’s work along with washing the cars but when he grew older Mum came up with the theory that boys shouldn’t work as long as there is a girl in the house, even Joe who is 18 has stopped working. All the responsibilities were on my head including washing the cars once in a while. I considered using my hands to pack up the few leaves I had swept together. if there was anything I hated it was the way “ube” tree’s had been planted right in the middle of the compound so when it sheds, it’s leaves are carried to every Conner by the wind.
I walked into the kitchen to find the packer and found the yam peeled and cut, just to avoid any other insults I washed them in the sink and put them on fire before I left to continue my work.
Breakfast was and is still the most important meal in my family, no one cared about lunch since everyone was always busy working or playing games, and dinner? Who cared about that except the person cooking it and the person who did the dishes which in every case was me. Sometimes I feel like a slave in my own father’s house, been ordered around by everyone, I had no say in anything it felt like I was in chains and to add it all up Mum always said harsh things to me and if I ever complain? Dad will say “Nne, it’s just your mum training you, one day you will be married, you need to endure most of these things inugo? Have you heard?”.
” Please who cooked this yam?” Joel said snapping me out of my world
” Ogini? What’s wrong with it?” Mum asked and my heart skipped a bit.
“It doesn’t have salt oh,” Joel said and I almost fell off my chair, in my rush to please Mum I had forgotten to add salt, Christ!
” I’m sorry I forgot,” I said avoiding Mum’s eyes. ” Ewu , foolish girl, I have told you times without end that you are useless, all you do in this house is eat and eat and eat, look at how fat you are becoming, look at your breast?” She started I looked at Dad trying to figure out if he was going to hush Mum but he was busy eating the yam ignoring the whole talk.
” You are good for nothing, you should have just died in that car accident in…” ” Ijeoma stop ” dad cautioned Mum but it was already too late because I already had tears dripping from my eyes ” Thank you, Dad, Mum,” I said standing up from the table with my plates. I stumbled into the kitchen and dropped my plates before heading to my room. I lay there in tears as I clung to my teddy bear the one that I always hid from everyone to avoid Mum burning it. She hadn’t forgotten about my birthday, No one had forgotten they all knew it was my birthday but they had chosen not to celebrate me, including dad they were still mourning my twin who had died 10 years ago. I rolled over and I could see that day playing again in my head, my 10 years old self was playing outside with Jessica my twin, when Mum came out and asked us to go inside and dress up for our birthday outings, I didn’t want to leave but Jessica wanted to, she use to the social one, so I went on to dress but Jessica said she was done dressing so I should come out with her, so we can stand outside the gate like our brothers used to do when they were around since they too had gone out with Dad, but I refused and she Left, the next minute we heard a crash and a cry, I saw Mum rushing out and I followed suit just to see my sister in a pool of blood, even mum’s clothes were blood stained, her car that Joel had scrubbed that money had blood stains as she manovered the way to the hospital, I kept trying to wake Jessica but she was moving, I could still remember crying and calling her to wake up and stop the drama but then she coughed and stopped breathing, she didn’t make it to the hospital. When the hospital confirmed her death mum asked to take her child home, I remembered seeing her carrying Jessica and crying as she left the hospital, with bloodstains all over her body, she staggered and walked like dad whenever he came back drunk at a point she would stop then bend her head and bury her head into her clothes, I stood rooted on the ground until I felt a hand at my back, it was Joel and I turned and held his hands squeezing it tightly as I saw Dad talking to the nurse, I had watched as his face fell before he walked to where Mum had stopped crying and burying herself in Jessica’s clothes.
” You know some days I wonder if you are Normal this girl” Mum’s words snapped me out of my world of thought making me jerk and sit up ” Mum!” I said more like what is it ” are you seeing how you are lying on the bed with your legs wide open, don’t you know there are guys in the house? If you should get raped now, they will blame me for not raising you well” Mum said now pointing her finger at me as I adjusted my self on my bed ” Be acting stupid and useless, Better go and wash the dishes that you all are with,” she said before turning to go ” or am I to wash it for you?” She asked facing me, making me get up. I watched her walk out of my room humming a popular anthem that the Anglican Mother’s Union.
In everything in life my mum seems to be a success, in her office she is the branch manager, she had the good looks and shape after 4 children who have grown up 2 graduates and 1 undergraduate, she had the best kind of friends and to top it all she was zealous with the word of God, she is the President of the women in her diocese and currently the Chairperson of this year’s Mothering Sunday, during youth fellowship I use to hear people wish that they were her daughter, my friend’s too who had met my mum fell for her and Never believed anything I said about her. She seems to be a success at Alot of things except making me feel good or maybe it’s my fault.
“Sorry about this morning,” Joel said sitting on the fridge.
“It’s cool, you know I have gotten used to it,” I said smiling sadly at him as I dried the plates and arranged them
” happy birthday Sweetheart,” he said bringing out a cupcake making me laugh
” Too much American movies Joel,” I said laughing and drying my hands to take the cake
” Whatever? Are you going to eat it before mum comes in or are you going to stay here holding it and let her come in” he said causing me to cut the cake in 3 and eating my share
” Thanks, bro,” I said hugging him as I fought the tears that were in my eyes
” This is yours and the other is Joseph’s” I handed him the cake and watched him go out. I wondered why God gave me such brothers, caring, loving and understanding the only problem was just like me they couldn’t save me from our mother’s wrath, I let my mind wonder of how much I was going to miss them if I go through with my plan. I turned and finished washing the dishes before I went ahead to sweep the kitchen and clean it, I was lost in my world when someone tickled me causing me to scream before clutching my mouth.
” You seem too off this days” Joe my younger brother, best friend, and strong pillar
” Been thinking much I guess?” I said dropping the sweep as I faced him fully ” is that what comes with 20? Lemme just stick to 18″ he said making himself comfortable with a glass of chivita juice ” I got your cake, thanks” he said belching out ” you know that’s disgusting Joe anyway thanks” I said rolling my eyes on him ” I have a gift for you, at night I will send it to you” he said then left the kitchen.
I looked at the time 5:00 it was time, it was also time for the women’s meeting which Mom was hosting and Joe and Joel had gone out leaving me alone with Mum since Dad worked late. I had survived this day Mum had rained brimstone and hot Ash on me all day, insulting me at every little mistake. During the meetings I wasn’t expected out until it was time to serve them food which was always around 7:00 So I had time to do everything I wanted to do, I sat on my desk and brought out a pen and paper with tears I started my letter
Then the tears fell spoiling that particular part I folded the paper and threw it down, as much as I was sure of what I was about to do, I was afraid
“Hey Family!!! !”
I wrote again holding the tears so I wouldn’t have to spoil this particular paper I looked at the time 5:30 the women’s meeting had long started
“How much I wish I could even call you all this in real, I was robbed an Alot of things in life, first my sister and best friend, then my purity and a family.”
I started then pulled my cloth up to dab my eyes to avoid it spilling… 5:40
“There is no doubt that I love you all, including you Mum, I love you Joel so much, you have been there for me ever since I needed a shoulder to cry on, I love you Joe you seem to like my pillar and I appreciate.”
I was so going to miss my brothers but… 5:50 the clock chimed
“As much as I want to stay and hope that things get better, I can’t because I want to go to a place better, don’t worry crying for me, I know where I am going to, I know how it’s going to hurt but I will take the risk”
I looked around the room admiring the room that held all my joy and happiness plus tears that I couldn’t hold back. 6:20
“Mum, never for once did ever regret having you as a mother, although everyone could see that you always wished that I was the one that died and not Jessica”
I moved my face immediately to avoid the tears falling and spoiling the papers… 6:25
“Sometimes I wondered if I was the one that died would you still tell Jessica that you wish she was the one that died? Mum, can you remember when I was 14 Uncle Arinze came to the house to stay and raped me? “
I almost choked as the imagines flashed in my head …6:30
I looked at the tears stained paper on the desk before my eyes caught the clock again 6:45 it was almost time, anytime now Mum will come upstairs to remind me of either how stupid I was not to hear her call me or how useless I was before asking me to go down and get the snacks
“Joel and Joseph, I’m sorry I have to do this, but I have to trust me, I love you both so much, thank you for always being there for me even in school Joel you made sure I was happy, Joseph if only I could give you my certificate since where I am going to I wouldn’t be needing it but obviously I can’t.
I love you both and I will be watching you guys from high with Jessica”
I could hear Mum’s “tatata” slippers steps as she made way up, with a shaking hand I grabbed the snipper bottle and drank it down ignoring the bitter taste of it, no wonder the rats died, the liquid was not just bitter but it is so bitter, I stared at the clock 7:00 I continued staring at it until my room opened and Mum came in, then I started feeling dizzy, my eyes started blurring but I could still hear my mum’s voice screaming although she was near and I was in her arms it felt like the scream was coming from another side, I felt pain, I felt sharp ticklish pain then I turned and saw my brothers rushing to my side and my dad running out maybe to find the car keys. Then I felt the air squeezing out of me, I felt mum’s hands-on all part of my body trying to press out the content “too late, I hope you guys see the letter” I wanted to say but I couldn’t speak with one last look at the clock although it was blurry I knew it was time.
” Happy birthday Nne, Happy birthday Jachi” I heard mum and that was the last thing I heard and with a painful smile, I closed my eyes and felt everything go numb.
David Vera Sorochi
Edited by Okafor Stellamaris thank you Ma