A Story By Michelle Faith Aimufua
She stood right in the middle of the road staring blankly into space. The only sound she could hear was that of the trees struggling with the wind. Her torn dress and unkempt hair seemed to join in the struggle against the wind. Not even the goats or chickens survived it. Survived what exactly? She had no idea what to call it: war? Crisis? All she knew was that there was a struggle for power and the security agents came to restore peace. They just went overboard with the restoration that even this once busy and cheerful town ended up more peaceful than a grave yard. All that was left were houses and automobiles that have all been repainted black by flames. Then she remembered how it all began.
I just finished arranging the dozens of plantains mum will be taking to the market tomorrow. I felt very weak but I just can’t complain because my school fee, books and feeding depends on those bunches. Ever since dad’s sickness started, the burden of keeping the family fell on mum. I was not born with a silver spoon but having a loving family was more valuable. “Rose! Rose!” I heard my little sister’s voice. I turned to see her running towards me. That’s if what those tiny legs were doing could be called running. “Let’s act drama” she pleaded. “Not now” I said between my teeth. All I wanted was a good bath and rest. After returning from school, I had to prepare meal, wash the dishes, move over 200 bunches of plantains from the store room to the lorry taking them to the market tomorrow. The last thing I needed was grace bugging me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sis but I was really tired. “Roooossssseeee” she held on to my clothes. I definitely knew she would not let me be till she had her way. “Fine” I finally agreed to be bullied. “OK, you will be my mum and I’m your daughter ” Gracy said. “Alright, my daughter it’s night let’s sleep” I replied finally seeing a way out. I thought she would protest but she didn’t. We just went inside and she jumped on the bed. My head hadn’t made contact with the pillow when she screamed “kukuruku! Its morning!” that really frustrated me. “We are to sleep ” I tried to rescue myself. She replied immediately asking me if the night in the movies we watch take enough time to sleep. I gave up and told her she had to sweep the entire house, wash the dishes, cook the food, go to the stream to fetch water, before preparing for school. She stood staring at me. “What kind of a mother are you! Sweep the house, do this, do that, do those. Is that how mummy acts? ” she yelled. “Is that a way to talk to your mum?” I retorted. “You are not my mum and will never be” she walked out. Finally! Our little movies always ended in arguments. I just had to rest.
I woke up to find mum preparing for the market. Knowing the kind of mum I had, I knew breakfast would soon be ready. Sometimes I wonder if she ever gets tired. “How was your night? ” she asked reaching for her handbag. “Mum all I can say is that I woke up weaker than I slept. Good morning mum” she smiled at me. ” Don’t worry, all of this will be over soon ” she assured me. I felt bad. I don’t like making mum feel she wasn’t doing enough. ” I’m having my last paper today mum”. I tried to change the topic. She began explaining why I couldn’t enroll Neco: she really didn’t have to. I was surprised she had money reserved for me to enroll for Waec considering my dad’s hospital bills and burial rites were giving her tough time. I must admit she is really strong! Besides I am sure I can pass Waec so who needs Neco?
“Get your sister ready for school ” she went for the door. “Take care mum” I yelled after her but I didn’t make anything off her reply.
I slowly walked home happy that my secondary education was over. It appeared the sky was in a very good mood because the weather just made me feel like walking forever. I stared at the clouds wondering if the sun went for its daughter wedding. It was then I noticed it wasn’t just the weather, everywhere was a little bit calm. I got home to meet Grace at home with mum. That was strange because mum always comes late. “Welcome Rose” she said. “Get ready we were moving tomorrow” I was surprised. “Why mum?” I asked . She explained that there has been a struggle between the two sons of the late Iyase on who to be the next Iyase of Udo, and they have decided to sort things out with violence . Presently, both parties are sending thugs to destroy the properties of the their rivals. And I knew the house we lived belonged to the eldest of the brothers.
” But mum, you paid our house rent just two days ago” I said as if my mum was unaware. She told me our lives were more important, so safety comes first. I went to my room wondering why we always had to be victims.