Where Are You Taking Me?

I tumbled on the bed and glanced at my window. The tintinnabulation of the alarm clock by my bedside woke me up. The sun was not yet up, but the clouds were not charcoal-black either. I peeped at the clock, it was five o’clock in the morning. Since I got fired by my inhumane and paedophile boss, I’ve not gotten off the ritual of waking up by that time of the morning. 


My ex boss is one hell of a man. I worked for him for seven months, and those have been the worst months of my life. My uncle, Ifesinachi, gave me his contact when I finished my SSC Examinations. I couldn’t further my education because mama didn’t have the funds to do so, coupled with the fact that I am the first born, and my three other siblings needed to at least reach my level. Mama’s husband passed on when I was seven years, and our last born, Nwanneka, was just four months then. I prefer referring to him as my mother’s husband than my father, because he was more a husband to mama than a father to us. Mama told me they had so many stillborn issues before I finally arrived, and that he was very buoyant then, but that things changed for worse when she gave birth to me; we began feeding from hand to mouth from then till date. Mama’s husband was rarely at home. It was mama that has been, and still is, fighting tooth and nail to make ends meet, to make sure we afford at least two-square meals every day. A very strong woman she is.


I got off the bed, made for the toilet and as I sat on the WC to ease myself, I noticed a stain on my pant; a signal that my monthly visitor had come knocking. I had forgotten to buy some sanitary pads from Mama Iruka the night before, even though I was expecting my period, because the pain and nausea that heralded it already manifested a day earlier. 

When my business in the toilet was done, I went to the kitchen to fetch a bowl of water I would use in waking Emenike and Junior up, so they would prepare for school. They were terrible sleep walkers, and if you decide to use the conventional way of waking people up, you might be there a while. Mama preferred using cane, but I feel it’s a bit too extreme. I’ll rather drench them in water than spank them. I remember one day we were preparing for church, mama had just left their room after waking them up, without the knowledge that they were half asleep, and half awake. Emenike, as if acting on a prompt, went to the dining, carried a chair, opened the back door and went straight to the dwarf fence in our compound. He dropped the chair, stripped his clothes and sat down comfortably. I watched him as he was acting the drama the whole while, and I couldn’t help but burst into uncontrollable laughter when his penis dangled free from his boxers. 

It was my duty to cook the food Nwanneka and my brothers would go to school with, and as I ventured into the kitchen, I heard a shrill shout from mama’s room. The voice was recognizable, it was mama’s. I dashed into her room to ascertain what the problem was; mama was convulsing and releasing some foamy white liquid from her mouth. To say that I was confused at the sight would be an understatement. I was stupefied, aghast and somewhat amazed. So many thoughts ran through my mind at that instant. This was a woman I bade goodnight the night before, a woman I heard her footsteps when she went into the toilet to ease herself around 2am; what then would’ve caused this sudden ailment? 

My first instinct was to pick up her phone and dial Uncle Ifesinachi’s number, because he was the closest thing we had to a family, but I thought against it and dashed outside the compound to call the neighbours. After much hesitation, one of them volunteered to take her to the hospital with his Peugeot 406 car. 

I sat at the back of the car with mama, her head was resting on my laps. Fifteen minutes into the journey to the only Teaching Hospital in the Local Government, she tilted. Her eyes were swollen. 

“Where are you taking me?” she mumbled. 

My voice was tear-laden, likewise my eyes. I tried so hard not to betray myself by letting open the floodgates of tears as I responded. “To the hospital mama, to the hospital. The doctor will take good care of you, you will be fine.”

Reaching the hospital, I ran inside and alerted the emergency unit. They responded swiftly and came out with a stretcher. A doctor was with them. He had a stethoscope. He told the nurses that were now rushing in with mama to stop. With the stethoscope, he examined her chest. I looked at his face, they were gloomy. He felt her pulse with his hands, rose up his head and said “She has kicked the bucket”.

Those words pierced my heart like the biblical spear that pierced Jesus’ side. I wailed without control. Mama was everything we had in the family, and now she was gone. If only the neighbours responded swiftly, if only we weren’t stuck in traffic at Ikare Roundabout, my mother might still be alive.

The assurances I gave mama that the doctor would take good care of her were all a lie. The last words I spoke to mama were lies. I don’t think I can forgive myself for that.

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