Home / Series / FAMILY BLUES

FAMILY BLUES

EMEKA

She comes onto the stage in a cage. She is wearing a shiny blue raincoat, a jewel-encrusted bikini peeking out of it. Tall platform heels. Her curly red wig bounces as she skips out of the cage and intimately into my life. We are not even properly introduced, yet her hands are everywhere. She grabs her own radiant derriere — she handles it, offers it — like it is a facsimile of Cain’s scriptural offering to God. She squats and spreads her legs, settles a hand between them, where it stays. Caresses her bosom. She masturbates a dancer with the help of a cane. She pretends to go down on the guitarist.

“Ewww!” Chisom’s disgusted voice pipes up behind me, startling me around. “Brother Emeka, what are you watching?”

“Shhhhh!” I hiss, my eyes snapping angrily at my ten-year-old sibling. “It’s just a stage performance –”

“By who this time – Rihanna or Beyoncé?!” Chisom squints at the television.

At that time, the performing pop star dips. Marches. Stalks. Jogs. Grinds. And straddles one of her dancers.

“Oh my goodness!” Chisom shrinks back from the telly, as though a communicable disease is wafting from the screen, and turns an accusing glare on me. “Shebi mummy has told you to stop watching all these…these…people” – she waves an indignant hand at the television – “…she says they are godless people. But you will not hear.” There is such a look of righteous rectitude on her face that I feel like the rascally little child getting told off by a stern elderly person.

The role reversal is not lost on me, and I feel a quick spurt of anger course through me. Chisom is such a Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. Mummy’s baby girl. Daddy’s little pet. Pampered lastborn of the house, who is blessed with an aptitude for her class work (something that makes our parents very happy), and an uncanny understanding that the more she portrays herself as the faultless child, the shinier her apple will be in our parents’ collective eye. Such level of manipulation makes her the most dangerous sibling in the world, I often think.

“You won’t shut up your mouth and mind your own business,” I snarl with such venom that she recoils from me. “If you dare tell mummy or daddy about this eh…eh…” I flail helplessly in my mental lexicon for the right words that will string together the appropriate threat, and then settle instead with snapping my fingers menacingly in her face. “You will see,” I finish lamely.

The shuffle of footsteps coming from the corridor is the presage that tells of Mummy’s approaching presence. I dive for the remote control and quickly snap off the television, plunging the pictures on the screen into a dark abyss that swallowed them up, leaving the screen blank-faced, a stoic chattel that will faithfully keep my transgression safely tucked away, until the button on the remote is flicked on again.

Mummy marches into the living room, rifling through her bag. She is a formidable figure, in spite of her soft matronly build and huge pendulous bosom that sway as she walks. The no-nonsense look she usually wears on her face every morning before school runs is back on there, its rigid lines perfectly ironed out on the contours of her face. Ever since I can remember, I have never seen that look leave her face in the mornings of Monday all through to Friday. It is that expression that warns us, her children, that when we are been woken for the day, we had better remain awake. Snuggling back in bed will not be tolerated. The same look promises all sorts of painful penalties if we don’t gobble up breakfast, whether there is milk in the tea or not. I have two younger brothers – thirteen and eleven years old – and we are all a rambunctious lot; that look is what keeps us from misbehaving in the car whilst she drives us to school. I am fifteen now, and fancy myself almost a man, yet that look keeps me in line as surely as a cane would.

“My car keys…where are my car keys? And that appointment book…ok, here it is… The envelopes for those invitations… Where are those keys sef? Is there enough money in my purse? The keys, the keys…” Her fingers dig inside her mammoth handbag as she mumbles off a litany of objects without which her day would not make sense. Then she looks up, and her eyebrows whip close together, forming one long, severe line. “Ele ihe unu mega ebe a? What are you doing here? And where are Kelechi and Tobenna?”

“They are outside in the car,” I reply in a muted tone.

“And why are you two in here instead of outside with them?” she snaps, her eyes darting from us to the inside of her bag, still searching for the car keys.

“Brother was watching Beyoncé and Rihanna in the television,” Chisom sings out with the temerity of King Henry Tudor pronouncing decapitation on yet another ill-fated wife.

I gasp. The little bitch.

Mummy’s head shoots up, and Chisom shimmies a little dance to buttress her point.  Mummy’s head oscillates slowly in my direction, her eyes now narrowed to slits. “You have been watching all those nonsense music even when I’ve warned you not to?”

I gulp hard, the silence that came in the wake of her question enhancing the sound of the saliva slurping down my throat. “Mummy…it’s not – it’s just…”

“How many times have I warned you, eh, Chukwuemeka?! But you won’t listen. You will spend your allowance on all these dirty music, buying CDs and not reading your books!” Her voice has turned strident with rage. “Instead of learning Christian songs, you’re busy warbling all that nonsense from…em…from…” She flounders, looking toward Chisom for help.

“Tuface,” supplies the smug little girl.

“Eheh! Tuface!” She swings her angry face back on me. “No matter how many times I talk, it feels as if the words enter one ear, and go out through the other.” At that juncture, she trudges toward me and latches one of the offending body parts between her fingers, pulling so hard that I wince at the sparks of pain that arc through my head. “You this foolish child! Since you won’t listen to me… Chere ka nna gi lota!”

And there it was. The words that send a cold chill slithering down my spine.

Chere ka nna gi lota!

Wait till your father comes back.

Those words that fell with the staccato weight of a death sentencing. As much as Mummy’s demeanor instills discipline in her children, Daddy’s cane does a whole lot more. Streamlined. Wiry. Supple. Whistling through the air with such a sylphlike grace, that one can never suspect the unimaginable pain one stroke against a culpable flesh can cause. The cane wields such a reign of terror that it has become embodied with my father’s presence.  Daddy works as a marketing executive in a bank, and as such, gets to travel a lot. Big man job. Stressful job. And so, when he returns from his trips, after having endured the patronization of his customers, the last thing he wants to come home to are unruly children.

So the cane is kept handy to correct any misdemeanors. When Chisom threw a tantrum over her night bath, the cane went ‘thwack!’ When Tobenna squealed his protest at the vegetables in his dinner, the cane went ‘thwack-thwack!’ When Kelechi and I had a skirmish over the veracity of me getting two-siki at the throw of the dice during our game of ludo, the cane went on a thwack-y rampage. Thwack-THwack-THWACK!

And after shouldering the responsibility of raising four children, three of them boys, Mummy devised the magic words that keep us in line. Chere ka nna gi lota.

Wait till your father comes back.

The words now echo inside my head, sweeping out tendrils of terror throughout my system, causing my heart to pick up a beat that can rival the rataplan of drums in a festival. I shoot Chisom a look of pure loathing. She looks wary, a little uneasy, as though she fears that the fury of the cane might find its way to her for being a witness to my misdeed.

TO BE CONTINUED.

 I am @Walt_Shakes on Twitter


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

Check Also

THE JOURNAL: A Visit To The House of God

Dear Diary, The other Sunday, I worshipped in a church. Yes, I know you have ...

55 comments

  1. Hehehe. In Ibibio we say ‘yak ete mfo ayong adi’. But my mum don’t wait for dad o, she’ll trash you weller.

  2. LoL!! My. Mum had that kind of cane… one time she flogged our dog for some wrong he did and mistakenly threw it near him……

    He used his teeth to tear it to pieces!! He was a hero in our eyes that day! 😀

  3. i remembered the day my mom caught me watching the uncensored version of sisqos’ thong song video. notime for wait for popsi eh, momsi beat the devil out of me that gave me the mind to watch “umu” jezebel in her sanctified house and I still collected double portion of the anointing when popsi came back…kai

    • shakespeareanwalter

      na dia e dey pain pass. When mummy will give you her own, and daddy will come home and add a second helping. lol

  4. Hahaha! Na body go suffer am.. I wee tey daddy for u

  5. On point. Much like those days, after being anointed by mum, you always know more is coming in double/triple portions whenever the magic word is uttered; ‘wait till your father comes back’. Mehn those folks took to heart the scripture ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’…

  6. hahahaha…nice one wally.

  7. Nice one, welcome back. Is this going to be the monday series? I can see myself getting used to this one

  8. Well, seeing as my dad lived miles away, my mum did all the “thwacking”.

    And she was good

  9. Lol…”two-siki” childhood days though. Sometimes you just smile at the thought of how you misbehaved back then. At least something “close” to replacing EGTS and CSI 9ja. Thanks for sharing

  10. Well-written. Reminds me of my childhood. Sometimes I wonder why mum didn’t just dump the tv in the gutter so we’d be spared from all the tv-wahala. Whenever she saw us watching tv, she got irritated. The more focused we were on the screen, the more irritated she would become. She would then “remember” all the chores we were supposed to do, and have not done. The next thing she would do is “division of labour”.

  11. As usual I’m already hooked.. still laughing!!! Thank you Walter.

  12. Wow! Wonderful beginning, tells it’s gonna be interesting!

  13. This is a beautiful piece.Its beauty lies in its ability to evoke one or two memories.We all can relate to mother’s attempt to organise her day,her discipline,that sibling who shoots her mouth a bit too much…and most of all….mother’s mean threat.

  14. I was very much like Chisom when growing up. I would always give my brothers away.

  15. And once again, I get perfect imagery. I remember when my dad used anything to flog even iron sef.. you don’t want to be on that man’s bad side. Nice one water

  16. This makes me remember my dad’s cane that will print the mark of it journey on our body those days. Only children of those olden days teachers will understand sha lol

  17. For us it was the other way around o. My dad would say ‘wait for mommy to come back’ cos we didn’t fear him, he was ‘our friend’. Mommy was d one that didn’t need cane, her hands and everything around did the magic.

  18. my mom no get that time. she flogs….no she beats you from hell to heaven

  19. You haf cut the story short abi? Chere ka Nna GI lota!

  20. Hahahaha, nice one walter but dis piece sound familiar to me as if I’ve read it before!

  21. When Chisom threw a tantrum over her night bath, the cane went ‘thwack!’ When Tobenna squealed his protest at the vegetables in his dinner, the cane went ‘thwack-thwack!’ When Kelechi and I had a skirmish over the veracity of me getting two-siki at the throw of the dice during our game of ludo, the cane went on a thwack-y rampage. Thwack-THwack-THWACK!
    Waltz you finished me there…I had to hold my nose while I gave in to silent bouts of laughter lest I disturb the sanity of this law firm and my Principal begins to wonder how he accepted a barbarian for an extern.
    Guy you rock! thanks a bunch for not forgetting me.

  22. Well written Wally…
    Oh memories of yesteryear when the cane went thwack! Moma was ruthless tho. She’d thwack you and report you to Pops. Fortunately, if her thwacking was laborious enough to send you into fitful slumber, Pops would overlook it.

  23. Nawa for parents sha. My mom trashed me so much i began to question her role in my life. Pops didnt stress himself. There was a tv but no vcd or dvd player and no decoder.So the too much tv palava never arose. I bought the first decoder in the house just last yr.

  24. LOoooooL i remember dumping my crimes on my baby brother when we were younger, he was the last born and precious in their eyes. After taking so much thwacking…… i resolved the to always put the blame on him, it was the best way to avoid thwack thwacking……….. 😀

  25. Chei! Dis story reminds me of my mum. D woman can flog for Africa!!! Every room, kitchen n parlour in our house had a cane within reach. Just to make sure ur mess up is treated instantly. Who dey wait for “nna gi” to “lota”? No time for such luxury. She dey very capable. And to make matters worse, i am d first child. So i had to be ‘moulded to perfection’ so my siblings will not emulate bad tins frm me. My sis once asked her weda dey were taught how to flog in teacher’s training institute cos of her level of expertise in the art. Even in 200 level, i was still being “thwacked”! Kai!! Dose were d days

  26. Guess this story is gonna draw me out from my shell… Actually parents of those days were firm n took no nonssense, but i wonder what is actually happening now, many children have lost focus and it really pains me, imagine where a child is being disciplined for a wrong in school and the mother comes to fight with the teacher, not once, not twice… Walter maybe you should use you writing skills to potray the ills of this ugly occurrance.. Thank you.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      That is a valid issue you pointed out. Wasn’t really going in that direction with the series. But I’ll factor it in, if not here, but with the next series involving children that I do. Perhaps, EGTS even.

  27. On the issue of parental beating, hmmmm…… I have a whole lot to say about my experiences, I shall just say a few;
    1. There is a plethora of disciplinary instrument when my parents want to beat…belt, cane, sewing tape, hanger, wire…my mum, for want of what to use, cut our electric rewinder and used the wire to unleash terror.
    2. The beating of my parents were conjunctive and not disjunctive i.e. my mother beats you; my father rounds off the beating when he returns.
    3. There are other alternative punishments…pick-pin, sit-on-the-air, drawing water from the well… most times they serve as dessert after the main dish has been served.
    In all, I must say, it brought out the best in us all… I believe my parents had to do that considering our number: I bet they didn’t want the misfortune of having 9 spoilt brats in their hands for the rest of their lives, I think it paid off. Now my mum hardly raises her hand to beat, not even my younger ones…I bet she used up all her energy beating us-the older ones.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Dear Goodness! :O Melexa, don’t repeat this to a certain British mum I know. She’d probably take your parents to court for what she’d term gross child abuse. lol.

  28. Hhahahahaha…in law we’ll say she lacks the locus standi because the wrong was not done to her and we are grown now and wont give her our consent to prosecute. Moreso, those cases that qualify as child abuse in the UK are only termed disciplinary (make d pikin no spoil) here in Nigeria.

  29. HAHAHAHAHAHA.Chai.HEHEHE.I was the Chisom of my family but you think that will help me.Mumsy will beat me for being a tattle taler.Dad was my saving grace but in his absence,my siblings would beat me within an inch of my life and mumsy will round up for past sins.Now she is my best friend.Those beatings would bring about a manual reset of our brains….Walter Walter,thanks for the ride down memory lane.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *