Wednesday, December 5, 2018

the iron hand of my father

I lighted the stove immediately and put some water into the kettle and placed it on the stove.
“Hope you’ve put the water?” My madam shouted from the sitting room.
“Yes ma,” I replied twisting my fingers in fear.
“Come and wash off these napkins immediately,” she ordered sending me running into the sitting room.
She handed me the soiled napkins and I zoomed off with it into the bathroom to wash it.
I had barely soaked the napkin into the water when I heard madam’s voice dishing out another instruction.
“I will skin you alive if you continue wasting my kerosene in this house!” She bawled. “Or do you want to tell me that you don’t know that this hot water is boiling?”
“Sorry ma,” I replied.
“Sorry for your stupid self!” she fired back.
I instantly rinsed my hands and rushed to the kitchen to bring down the hot water.
I didn’t know where the pap I was to prepare was, so I went to the sitting room to ask madam.
“Ma please where is the pap?” I asked trembling with fear.
“Idiot the pap is there!” She fumed pointing at the fridge.
I went to the fridge, brought out the pap, prepared it and took it to her in the sitting room.
Then I went to the bathroom to continue with the napkin.
The baby’s cry filled the entire house and I soon heard my madam’s voice calling me.
“Adaeze!” She called.
“Yes ma,” I replied rinsing my hands once again and running into the sitting room.
“Sing for her, sing for her,” she urged.
“Fine baby don’t cry, fine baby don’t cry,” I broke into an unrehearsed song.
Fortunately for me, the baby stopped crying and listened to my song as she gulped down the warm pap.
When she was done, I carried the plate into the kitchen and washed it off and then went to the bathroom to finish up with the soaked napkin.
Soon, baby went to sleep and madam went to sleep too and I had little time to myself…
The other two children, Nnenna and Chimaobi soon came back from school and scattered their school uniforms, sandals and school bags in the sitting room creating more work for me.
“Where is my food,” Chimaobi asked with an authority that was much stronger than his 3years of age would suggest.
“And mine too!” Nnenna added.
“Its inside the warmer,” I replied.
“Go and get it for us!” Chimaobi ordered.
I wondered how little Chimaobi and Nnenna would be ordering me around.
Little children whom I was older than with nothing less than 10years.
I brought their food from the warmer and gave to them.
If not for the presence of my madam, those children would have had it hot with me but madam’s presence was hell-fire on its own.
Not to talk of when she gets report from any of her children.
I hadn’t taken anything except the two slices of bread and mixed water that I took since morning yet I endured.
I cleared the sitting room and removed the school uniforms, bags and sandals that the children scattered there and went to the bathroom to wash the uniforms.
I had barely started washing the uniforms when madam woke up from sleep.
“Hope the children have eaten,” she asked with bulging sleepy eyes.
“Yes ma, they have,” I replied.
Then she went into the toilet to ease herself.
“Adaeze!” She called.
“Yes ma,” I replied.
“Have you washed this toilet today?” She asked.
“No ma,” I replied.
“If I meet you in that bathroom, I will tear you into pieces!” she threatened.
I rushed off to the balcony to get the mop and bucket to wash the toilet.
“Why didn’t you wash it since morning?” She asked.
“I forgot ma,” I replied.
She gave me a very hard push and I fell backwards and nearly hit my head on the wall.
“Silly a-s!” She cursed and went back to her bedroom.
With tiredness, hunger and exhaustion I washed the toilet.
When I was done, I went back to the bathroom to complete the washing of the children’s school uniforms.
By the time I finished washing the school uniforms, my stomach was tearing apart with hunger.
But I couldn’t muster the courage to tell my madam that I was hungry.
So all I did was to go to one corner of the kitchen and cry silently.
Madam’s husband came back later in the evening and observed that my eyes were red.
“Why are your eyes red?” He asked peering into my face.
“Nothing sir,” I lied in a bid to avoid trouble.
“Have you been crying?” He asked still peering into my eyes.
“No sir,” I lied again.
“Ok have this,” he said handing a can of fruit juice to me.
My face brightened up as he handed the juice to me.
“Thank you sir,” I greeted and went into the kitchen with the can of juice.
I gulped down the entire juice in no time and my stomach calmed a bit.
The family had dinner around 8pm but I wasn’t given anything till I finished washing all the plates and pots used for the dinner.
Then madam put one very small leftover of the food for me, the size of which wasn’t even going to be enough for a toddler and went to bed.
I ate the food fast and retired to my small room to catch some sleep as I was very tired and exhausted

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