The house was deserted. The wrapper around mother’s body used to be brown. Muffled voices could be heard from a distance, followed by bouts of wailing, then silent sobs. Feet paced in pairs and then converged gradually. Despite the mildness of the morning weather, the sweat that began to gather on mother’s forehead was like she had just finished the arduous task of tilling the farm under the mid-day sun. Soon the doorsteps brought to her ears the cries of the crowd outside. It filled the empty spaces in the house. A loud bang came from the door. She buried her eyes deep in mine and then the door opened.
Like a log of wood, she lay there, motionless and stiff. The wrapper covering her body left the legs exposed to the morning Harmattan. A chill ran down my spine. Her name echoed in my head and I could feel her restless soul as it prickled my cold skin. Mother followed closely behind me, her eyes shoring up tears, causing her vision to blur. She missed her steps. I rushed to her side and helped her up, but she restrained herself. Her voice crackled like fire, breaking after every word. The crowd retreated as she ploughed through them. Finally, she knelt beside her. The fiery wind that blew across took the covering along, revealing her body etched with marks, but mother didn’t struggle with the wind. She didn’t fight back to cover her child’s nakedness – a child that disgraces her mother deserves to be disgraced as well. There it ended – the love of a mother. And there it began – the resentment of a lover.
No dirges. No threnodies. No cenotaph for the fallen. The rite of funeral she received, was her body lowered to the ground. She was a devout Christian. That compliment always irritated mother. She was brilliant and even the director of academics at the students’ fellowship, her friends wouldn’t stop saying. But they knew quite well she followed a guy – tall and lanky, that drove a Toyota – and never returned. “How did she cross paths with those who used her?” Mother would ask and her friends would leave the question hanging in the air. She wanted to feel among, use an iPhone, ride in a Mercedes. How could a child turn rogue overnight? As wary, and disparaging thoughts lurked in mother’s head, so also did the resentment – it grew intense.
Very early in the morning, just like the pronouncement of her death erupted, it began. The house was desolate as usual, except for the dead, rebirthed as wall-gecko, lingering. Tires screeched to a halt. I peeped through the tattered curtain, a small group of people cloaked in obsidian suit disembarked from the car. They were young and evidently wealthy. They slugged to the door, their faces belied the metaphor, or perhaps the paradox, “Wealth is Happiness.” Before they could knock on the door, I opened it up for them, but they waited outside and implored mother to come to join them. Something about the young men – they lacked respect and bent everyone to their will. All of them, three gentlemen and a lady, exchanged glances as mother forced her weary body outside. Then the lady among them spoke up, “We want to speak about how Mercy died”.
The narration came from a contrite heart, and it was concise. “The society is one of intimidation, and we must survive. Mercy was a good girl, and not a “runs-girl” as the stereotype about her birth would breed. She only came visiting me at the wrong hour, and subsequently, became a scapegoat that brought about my Mercedes”
Bleep. Gag cords. Muffled voices. Breath. No pulse. Death. That sequence. The dividend of their unruly act. Their lives journeyed to hell, while Mercy had died for a Mercedes to be.