It is ten o’clock in the night when your mother angers your father, for the third time this week. He has read the text message that Chief Agboola – the highly influential politician whom your mother works for – sent to her phone, and it is not pleasant. Chief Agboola texted
I cannot wait to lick you like a lollipop tomorrow, my dear Bunmi.
Your mother is cheating on your father with her politician seniors, not even only Chief Agboola, and your father knows, yet he won’t send her away. Your mother is not apologetic either, because she knows your father knows that her infidelity is the reason he has a job today.
But today is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The lighting from the fluorescent bulb is dim, casting over your father’s angry face dramatically. He stands in the middle of the room, resembling a warrior ready to slaughter his opponent in cold blood.
“Bunmi, you whore!” he snarls at her. You see the muscles on his back tighten, his shoulders taut.
At first, your mother does not say anything. She sits on the bed, but her body is restless. She looks at you and your siblings uncomfortably.
“You really are a good-for-nothing prostitute-“
Your mother jumps to her feet, fuming.
“If you’re going to insult me, at least not in front of the children!” Her eyes don’t meet his.
He takes a dangerous step toward her, laughing mirthlessly. “Are you trying to play the victim? You slut, at your age-“
In a flash, your mother stretches and slaps him hard across his face.
It all happens like a sped-up movie. He pounces on her and starts to slap her, pulling her hair and you hear her dress rip. Frightened, you don’t know what to do. At last, you jump in between your parents and try to separate them.
But before it ends, you hear your mother say, “I’ll show you that I am a woman!”
* * *
Your grandmother sits heavily on the only durable couch in your living room. Your father sits on a wooden chair, while your mother’s body rests against a wall. Your siblings are inside the bedroom, sitting on the bed with fear written clearly on their faces, while you lean against the door in the passage that separates the bedroom from the living room. Your ears are pressed against the wall.
Your mother carried out her threat; your father is now jobless. Chief Agboola has also ensured that no other company will employ him in the state. So, your father begged your grandmother to come and help him beg his wife.
While your grandmother does this, your mother feigns anger and obstinance. But you know she will agree in the end; because your mother needs your father just as much as he needs her, although he doesn’t know this. Nobody else will marry your mother because she is known for her wayward ways, and she needs to be married in order to be respected in her constituency. Nigeria is not kind to unmarried women.