Living History

Beyond what you see

Living History
Episode one

When it hits one in the face, when it comes, with a force that cannot be contained; it is the truth.

It’s like she knew what she was in for. The banging of the door left the wooden victim creaking silently on its hinges. Her mother had looked at her menacingly in the face and pronounced those words that left her shaking, her nerves trembling furiously; they were trembling still. Their impact was so intense and like an echo in the …valley, they resounded in her aural membrane, the words, those words ‘You cease to be my daughter!’

The previous day, when it all started had been fine, when she had gotten home and decided to tell Mama, was just fine for an evening meal, for a night out with Danladi, for the smile that caressed her lips, for the lonesome feeling she shared towards an unfeeling yet seemingly emotional man. He shared in her smile, his, a grimace that masked the feelings of revenge he harboured.

You can never achieve anything without tending to get in on the inside; a childhood of endless detective cartoons had enhanced that desire to avenge his father. The muse was dead, yes, but didn’t the good book say that the child would partake in the sins of the father and that vengeance will be wrought by generations after? Well, he admitted, the latter was only a fabrication to conform to this burning need his heart so feverishly hunted. He tried not to seem like Hamlet yet he knew the drive was alike. Rather than an elixir of poison in the ear, his father had been tea-poisoned.

One might wonder how Funmi had gotten entangled with a man whose face was a true reflection of his heart. His eyes seemed to search endlessly into the depths of one’s heart. At first, she had feared those huge bulging eyes until three moons after when they became a part of her: having watched them on nights of passion, ecstasy and on angry days when they nearly popped out from their sockets. His frame was the same as any man’s. It was intimidating, his arms large enough to snap a neck into two.

Why hadn’t he done so he sometimes asked himself. Why hadn’t he wrenched hers off its root and perhaps hung it to a stake, making it a premier of a collection of ornament, of the heads of a family doomed to his vengeance.

‘Do you know who his father was?’
mama waited for no answer
’… he was a pain in the neck. He had to go, had to die; for some people have to die for you to move on.’

Funmi stood still as her mother relayed Danladi’s history. Did he know? Did he not? or if he knew, was this all a pretense in order to avenge his dead father on her? Was what they ‘shared’ false? The thought of it alone would make her go insane. These questions ravaged her mind, made her begin to doubt and distant to her mother’s outbursts.

Mama continued waiting for no answer from her mute listener, ‘his father sucked at your father’s marrow. He was a pest, a pain in the ass as you would say. But then he died, he died. Yes he did and you know what? We were happy just that I didn’t know whoever it was who killed him. Otherwise, I would have thanked such a person all my life. You know why and how your father died?’ she continued in the same rage, ‘he did not die as a result of cardiac arrest as Doctor Bamiji told us, NO. His heart gave way to so much excitement at the news of the death of Mustapha. He saw this world last when he got to know that a man who had tormented his life so much, that had made him smell the other side of life was dead. You know what it’s like to be that happy at the death of someone?’ she asked then sneered
‘it’s like when Abacha died. Nigerians were happy. You know it don’t you? You must have read it in one of your books; but you didn’t learn how to be sensitive. You never learnt from history and so you bumped into this temporary façade called love.’

All these she said to a sobbing little body. A little body that harboured a bright mind but a large heart that Mama had always known would be her undoing. She was just like her father, too soft, too open and trusting people without caution. Life was hard, she, Mama was hard. To rule the world, you had to be. There were no two ways about it.

Mama’s philosophy had helped her train six children; what with the money she had fought for after her husband’s death? Relatives who had been ashamed to cross their front steps suddenly became men who ordered her out of the house her money had built its foundation.  Five sessions in court and she had won the case. The race was not to the swiftest but to the diehard man ready to bite fingers that held down his legs on the ladder of success. If possible, chop them off. Mama did not mind.

And so, it was no wonder that her daughter’s connection with  the son of a man who had made life unbearable for her father and who miraculously, had been poisoned by a Good Samaritan who was possibly one of the various victims, dazed her. Thus, she said without thinking twice,
‘I have trained you all and I expect good returns. I toiled and expect good success! But if you decide to stick to this enterprise and refuse to heed  to your mother’s warnings as your children will do to you, you cease to be my daughter!’ with that she left and slammed the door that still creaked from the impact.