Showing pages tagged "My submission"
The first thing you know is that you don't know how to run until you know how to run.
"Do you plead guilty?" The Judge asks, his glasses perches on the bottom of his nose.
"Do you -"
Although the ceiling fan whizzes faithfully, the room is still hot. It is still still hot.
You are held behind a dock not just by chains washing your hands and feet but by betrayal spoken in silence. Your hands, those large elements of bloody lust, gasp for the air of freedom, at least.
Anxiety is carefully sketched on the brown faces of the court.
The eyes in the room shining brighter than your future peep into your past.
Your anger started the day you met Mama sitting on the verandah; her wrapper had come undone, finger prints, five of them, kissed her cheeks, disheveled hair, and eyes blood red from crying. And Papa walked around like four walls with the paintings of Mama's curse words hanging on them.
Whenever they quarrelled, there was a cold war; minutes grew into hours, hours into days, days into weeks...
You know the air in your compound smells of their daily quarrells, yet you do nothing, can do nothing but run away. Away from it. It's now normal that if you see Papa saying I love you to Mama, you wonder if something is wrong, if it's a dream.
You keep on dreaming but the pain from the cuffs whisper reality into your eyes.
"Do you plead guilty?"
The atmosphere is now condensed like the hot thick pap Mama does for you and Ike every Saturday morning.
In nanoseconds, you could be kissing Mother Earth goodbye just from one statement of one man. One! One!
You look around, wanting to say the truth. Say it anyway!
But then you keep quiet.
That fateful day you were greeted by distant sounds of fighting. You know it's Mama and Papa again!
"Not again," you mumble and walk into the sitting room sluggishly.
Your sight beheld a liquid on the burgundy carpet. No, it was not water, it was blood, that sacred stream of life's mystery, Mama's blood!
"Daddy, stop, please, stop," your younger brother, Ike, screams, kept on screaming. He tugs at you to do something because the overflowing blood scares him. But you do nothing, can do nothing but run away. Away from it.
The punches come in quick successions. Mama's body lay half-dead, half-consYou'vehalf-consYou'vehalf-consYou'vehalf-consYou've
The punches come in quick successions. Mama's body lay half-dead, half-consYou'vehalf-consYou've on the floor decorated with blood.
on the floor decorated with blood. on the floor decorated with blood.
The blood melts into thin air, into your eyes, forming a dark cloud, maybe an envelope on the canopy of your eyelids.
You can no longer take it.
So, you grab Papa by the neckcollar of his shirt but he pushes you away. Once, twice, thrice.
Your anger gets the better part of you when you forget the scissors in your hand in his neck.
Blood gushing out, Papa dies within minutes. The same minutes with which everything falls apart.
Papa is dead. Dead!
You know you should run. But you also know that you don't know how to run until you know how to run. Instead your feet glues to the roof of the earth and your tongue embraces silence.
Your mother's eyes, though dull with darkness, will you to run away. Still, you don't run, you don't want to run. You don't want to run but still run. Still, run!
Don't run again. The police are waiting out of your house.
"Who called them?" you kept asking.
You pose, one knee up, one knee down, before a congregation of rifles about to blow your dream off. An eye closed, you remember minutes of memories that you never can forget. Memories such as your younger brother calling the police against you, in fear. Memories such as the night you mixed rat poison in Mama's drinking water instead of Papa's.
You tiptoe through life into the bars of death. You are now your own fate. Can you run away from it?
(All characters and events in this story are fictional)
I hated myself and everything I was made of. The two people I loved the most in this world made sure my life was hell and I don’t blame them. If you were in their shoes I'm pretty sure you’ll do the same. And every single day of my life I asked myself if I was really worth loving, or if I should have never been born.
I lived in a small district area in Abuja, the state capital of Nigeria. My family is Ebira by tribe and we were an average in terms of livelihood. I have an elder sister by name Karen and she was my mother’s pride. Everything about her was wonderful and appealing but it was never the case with me. My mother hated me and she taught my sister to hate me as well. On the other hand my dad loved, accepted and cherished me; I was his little girl! Until one day a car accident took him away from me and I was left all alone.
You might be wondering why my mother and sister despised me, well the answer is simple. I was fat! Very fat! And my mother made sure to remind me of it every day.
She said I was cursed because I looked nothing like her. Karen had a really slender figure and she could put on any dress she wanted and it will fit her body perfectly. I on the other hand owned and always wore baggy clothes. I could never get a beautiful dress because my size was very hard to come by in the market and my mother would always say she would never sew anything pretty for me as it would be a waste of her money, her time and the tailor’s energy.
Every morning as Karen and I prepared for school, I would watch my sister swing her hips in front of the mirror, twirl around and pout as though she were a model. And truly, she did look like a model. Everything about her was beautiful. She had long hair, long eyelashes, and a small cute pointed nose. Her lips were full, her neck was graceful. She was tall and her legs were really long.
I never saw her stomach increase in size throughout my life. She could eat whatever she wanted and she would still remain as slender as ever.
I was the complete opposite! Everything about me sucked. When I was still a very little girl, I was so chubby that I couldn’t do most things kids my age did. Like run around a lot while playing or compete in athletic sports at school. Anytime I got sad that I wasn’t picked for an activity, my dad would always carry me on his lap and tell me how special I was and would constantly say I was beautiful. I had no flaw in my dad’s eyes. He would always pray for me and tell me I would be great someday.
He always defended me when I got picked on and would scold my mum and sister when they tried to look down on me. And then one faithful evening, we got the call that he was gone. I cried so much! He was my hero and the only human being who truly loved me. I knew that things were going to be different from now on, but what I didn’t know was how far my mother was willing to go to make me suffer till I die.
After the burial ceremony and all the mourning and crying, my mum called my sister and I one afternoon to the living room. We sat on the couch. Karen was seated directly next to me and the words my mum uttered next are words I will never forget for the rest of my life.
“Karen honey, move away from your sister. I don’t ever want you that close to her, she might affect you with her obesity.”
I heard her loud and clear, and I didn’t know what to say. Her words stung so badly. Was this real, my own mother telling my sister to stay away from me? My God!
Karen looked at me. I knew she wasn’t happy with the comment either but she moved away from me anyway. She did whatever my mum asked her to because she knew the benefits she enjoyed from it. She didn’t mind not defending me at all, as long as she got nice jewelry and clothes to match her already gorgeous looks. My mother continued.
“From today henceforth, Katherine you will be in charge of most of the house work. You will wash the dishes, wash all our clothes, and sweep the rooms in the house”, I could taste the venom in her voice. “While Karen you do only the dusting”, she finished with a smile.
“But that’s not fair”! I yelled. How could she? Those chores were not shared equally, we had been doing everything together, why did it have to change and why did I have to get more of it?
“Will you shut your mouth”! Mother spat out. “You have no right to argue with me and I'm giving you more work for a reason. See it as exercise for your whole body. The more work you do, the more calories you will burn. My God look at you in the mirror! You're so ugly! You should be ashamed of yourself…”
My mother kept talking and every word she uttered stung like hell. My eyes began to tear up but I refused to cry. If I did, things would only get worse. Karen laughed in between my mother’s comments and that hurt me the most.
And as my mother had commanded, from that day on I did most of the work around the house. She insisted I do them before school every day and it started to affect me. I would always get to class late. And when I tried to apologize and explain things to my teachers, they would shut me up and use the opportunity to body shame me. Also, some days she would force me to go to school with very little food and she would say it was for my own good.
“The only reason you're late is because you're too fat to treck. See how you're sweating sef. So don’t give me useless excuses. Carry your round self and take your seat”! My teachers would yell.
My classmates would laugh and I always hung my head low in embarrassment. This went on for a long time and I started to get greatly affected. I was so young and being called hurtful names because of my size really tore my self-esteem. I started to believe my mother’s words. I really was ugly, no wonder nobody liked me. I swear I started to feel like I was the fattest girl in the entire world!
My dad died when I was 9 years old and every birthday after that my mother would get me a scale. It was the only thing she ever did buy me. She would buy it and tell me to use it to weigh myself every day. She would constantly taunt me and say I will die from being very fat and was ashamed of me.
Sometimes I would ask myself if it really was the same woman who had given birth to me. Mother hated me!
The year I turned 15, on the 14th of February that same year; my school organized a small valentine day party. A week before, our form teachers had written down all our names on small pieces of paper and rapped them into small balls. We all picked a name at random and whichever name a person picked, we were to buy a gift for that person. I was super excited. For a moment I forgot about everything and I just couldn’t wait to get a present on the “day of love”.
I picked the name of this really cute guy in my class. His name was Kolawole. He was tall and very dreamy. After school that day I couldn’t help but keep thinking about what gift to get him.
I got home and I still couldn’t decide on what to buy. So I went to Karen’s room. My sister would definitely know what I should do. I knocked on the door and she told me to come in. Karen had just turned 17 at the time and was in her final year in high school, so she was preparing for her JAMB, WAEC and NECO examinations. My sister was smart. I knew she’ll get good grades. And if she didn’t, my mother would find a way for her to enter college without delay, even if it meant using illicit ways. My mother would do anything for my sister! She was obsessed with her! And I was completely neglected.
So I went into the room and I found Karen applying some makeup.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“What’s your business? But if you must know, I have a date this evening”.
“A date? But what about your studies? Your JAMB is next week Monday.”
Karen turned to me and she had a disgusted look on her face. I had pushed a button I knew I shouldn’t have. Okay, maybe she wasn’t that smart after all, to know when to do the right things at the right time.
“I'm sorry, don’t be angry”, I quickly said.
She hissed at me.
“Why are you here? What do you want”?
“I need your help. I don’t know what to buy for my partner for the Valentine’s Day party”.
“Okay, how much money do you have”?
“#1,500 naira. It’s from my savings”. I quickly added. I didn’t want her lying to my mother that I was stealing. I didn’t want to get into trouble.
“Okay, give me the money. I’ll get you something nice. Your partner will love his gift. I can promise you that”, she said. I gave the money to her and I was extremely happy. I was especially happy because this could be a sign that we could start to get along very well, despite my mother’s plans of making her stay away from me.
I got the present back from Karen. It was already wrapped when she gave it to me and it felt like it was in a box, so I couldn’t open it up. The day of the party, I didn’t have any nice gowns to put on so I wore a white jean short, a red shirt and a black hooded jacket. My mother insulted me of course, but I thought I actually looked nice. So I ignored her insults this once.
I got to class and all the girls looked stunning in their dresses. We played a couple games, ate some food and it was time to exchange presents. The adrenaline running through my veins was so high. I was super excited to see my present! I gave my gift to Kola and he unwrapped it. Everyone kept peering to see what it was. Why couldn’t my classmates just mind their business!
I also wanted to see what was inside.
Kola frowned. Oh no!
“What is this?” he yelled. He brought out a bottle and it contained mouthwash.
“Are you trying to insult me? Does it seem like I have bad breathe? You're really stupid Katherine! The fat in your brain is messing you up!”
Kola threw the bottle at me and it hit my face. I couldn’t answer him. Gosh what would I have said! That my sister whom I trusted to do me a huge favor had broken my heart into a million pieces?
Did she do this to me intentionally because I spoke to her about her JAMB examination? I remained quiet. I was really sad. My classmates laughed at me and hurled all manner of insults at me. Now Kola hated me and it wasn’t even my fault!
I went back to my locker and when I opened it; my present was waiting inside! It was long and pointy and wrapped in red gift paper. Oh my God! What is it? I thought. I quickly took it out and unwrapped it and what I saw was a huge blow to my chest.
There was also a small note inside the gift paper.
‘I hope you enjoy your present. It will help you lose a lot of weight, you need it. A carrot a day keeps the fatness away!’
There was no name attached. I looked around and by the corner of the classroom I could see some boys whisper, snicker at me and laugh. It had to be one of them who put the carrot in my locker. But I was so torn, I couldn’t yell at them. My eyes began to water; I shut my locker and ran to the restroom. I locked myself in one of them, sat on the toilet seat and the tears spilled out. I cried and cried!
Was I really that unlovable, that even for a day I could not be allowed to be happy? Why are all these happening to me? God I know You're there! Please I need answers! I couldn’t take it anymore.
I stayed in the restroom till school was over and went straight home. Karen was in the living room and I didn’t say a word to her, I entered my room and locked the door. I lay on my bed and stared at the ceiling for hours.
“I hate myself”, I kept repeating. I repeated it over and over and over, I don’t know how many times and it stuck in my brain like a virus. I didn’t leave my room even when my mother got home and kept banging on my door demanding I come out and cook dinner.
Every other sound around me was drowning and the only sound I could hear was my own voice saying, ‘I hate myself’.
I don’t know for how long I lay like that on my bed but I didn’t care. I just wanted to die so that these could all be over. The only family I had didn’t want me. I wanted to go so I could be with my dad in heaven. I missed him so much and I couldn’t wait to see him again.
My mother kept yelling at me to leave my room and when she saw I didn’t budge, she called a carpenter to come and get the door opened since I had locked it from inside. He did whatever it is carpenters do to unscrew a door and it fell in jolting me back to reality. My mother stormed into the room and pulled me by the ears.
“You're a very stupid girl. Do you not know that there are things to be done in this house? And you're lying down relaxing”.
I was super provoked. I couldn’t contain my anger anymore.
“I'm tired! Am I the only child in this house? Can’t I be allowed time to myself for just a little while. Haven't I suffered enough?”
“Yes! You're the only fat child in this house and no, you haven't suffered enough. I told you these chores will help you lose weight. You should be thanking me. Or do you really think you will find a husband in the future by being fat? No man will look at you, you're hideous. I don’t know what happened in my womb but I know you are not the child I was supposed to have. Now, stop these silly tantrums and go wash the toilets. Mtcheww, stupid girl!”
My mother walked out of the room and my head was spinning so fast. I needed to get out of here! I took out a small bag and put in a few clothes, my toothbrush and the little money I had left saved up in my piggy bank. I grabbed the bag and peeped out my room. Thankfully, neither my mother nor Karen was in sight; I left my room quickly and raced out the front door and hoped to never return home again.
TO BE CONTINUED…
THE WAY I SEE ME