Mum had been a very desirable, caring and lovely mother. Not until dad’s demise, everything about her suddenly changed; first of all, she stopped caring, not only about herself but about everything and everybody surrounding her. Abruptly, my mum who rarely talked become loquacious and spiteful, always at the verge of barking at you at any slightness mistake.
Although, we stopped talking like mother and daughter after dad’s demise, I wasn’t a bit astonished when mum demanded my presence in her room one late afternoon. I had wanted this so much, I had hungered for her audience like a fish for water.
That afternoon as I rushed towards home from school to meet my mother I was in a high spirits for first time in my life. I felt that so sure something was telling me that everything was going to be fine from henceforth. And just as the palm trees staggered from left to right like drunkards, I let my self into the house only to meet a strange face sitting in the room as if in wait for me.
It was a young man—in fact brother to my friend. But what I could not understand was what he was doing in our house.
“Good day, Uncle Willy,” I greeted as I searched around for my mother.
“She is not around.” And he stood up and accessed me. However, he walked past me to the door and shut it.
“Why are you shutting the door and what are doing in our house? Who let you in? Where is my mother?” I cried out as I sensed danger. He was coming too close to me and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the way he was looking at me with his tongue licking his lips clousing. I didn’t like the fact that he was in my house, alone with me. I didn’t like the air that was emitting out of him. It was so libidinous. And it gave me the chills of dismay and uncertainty. He didn’t answer my question, instead he came forward and grabbed my bag. Fear and uncertainty gripped me and melted me to the marrow. My feet wobbled beneath as goose pimples filled my body.
As Uncle Willy, threw my bag to the floor and grabbed me roughly by the hand towards the bed, my heart flew out of my mouth. I saw the earth shake beneath me, and the whole room whirled around as uncle Willy lifted me on his shoulder and threw me roughly to the bed.
For a while we fought, and when I saw that I was helpless and that I won’t win the fight even if I fought with all the might in me, I gave up. As I watched him pull off his shirt, I began to plead.
“Please uncle Willy, don’t do this to me, please I beg of you. I am still a virgin,” I cried in defense as I huddled at the edge of the bed, shivering.
“But I have to, I am so sorry, Lilian, but I have desired you since the time your breast started popping out till you blossomed into a woman.”
“But why Uncle Willy? I am your younger sister’s age mate and bosom friend. Think about it, would you be happy if someone should try such with any of your sisters especially with Maria, my friend?” I asked weakly.
I was already fagged out after struggles. I didn’t know my words would make an impact, not until I saw uncle Willy’s face droop, his countenance although remained the same, but he looked a little withdrawn. He sat up from where he hunkered before me, and took his shirt from where it lay beside him and wore it. Then he asked me to sit beside him.
At first I didn’t succumb to it. I thought that it was a deceptive ploy. Not until he assured me of my safety did I oblige. For a while, the air was still as we sat there in silence. I looked at Uncle Willy in anticipation. I was happy that he understood but I wanted desperately to hear what he has to say; it was like waiting for ages for he didn’t speak up immediately. He only sat there staring at me nonstop. His stare weakened my feet and made me shy. But I ignored it. This definitely won’t get to me if it was another strategy to lure me to bed. The first thing I had to do was to get him out of our house. Things would become more distressing for me, should my mother come home and meet him with me.
The last thing I wanted now was to kill the joy and happiness that was already starting to exist between my mother and I.
“Please Uncle Willy, you have to go now,” I said. The first time he blinked his eyes and gave a scrutiny. I guess he was trying to interpret that I have said something and tried to understand it.
“I mean you will have to starting going now, please,” I repeated as I watched him with rapt attention.
“Why?” he asked a little confused.
“My mother would be coming home soon and the last thing I want if for her to catch you at home with me. She might not understand and I cannot explain,” I said, trying to break my explanation down for his understanding. However, the sort of hilarious, mocking laughter, that exploded from him as a reply, got me short of words. I stared at Uncle Willy mouth agape in wonder.
“What is amusing you, uncle?”I asked innocently.”
“Nothing dear, it’s just that your mother isn’t coming home in the next five hours,” he replied with certainty.
“What do you mean, I don’t understand, I mean how do you know? how sure are you?” I stuttered and stammered, asking so many questions at the same time.
“Because, she told me so,” he replied still wearing a smile of certainty.
“How? where?” I stammered as I lost voice.
“Listen, Lilian” he began, very mean and dire. “I know that you might not believe me because this is truly strange. But the truth is that your mother actually planned for this.”
“What?” I let out a loud scream as I spranged to my feet as if I had just be bitten by a soldier ant.
“Yes, Lilian, but you don’t have to take it too hard on yourself it was for the best.”
“What do you mean. How can my defilement be for the best? how? Why?” I cried as hot tears cascaded down my checks in tourment. My heart was bleeding and my mouth was filled with unspoken words. This was madness? This couldn’t be true.
“This is insane,” I cried out.
“It’s true, Lilian, you have to believe me,” Uncle Willy said, getting up as he took my hands in his hands.
“But why? Did my mother hate me that much?” I said with tears as I sat back a little relaxed. I wanted to be as relaxed as I could be in other to understand this whole episode enveloping in front of me.
“Your mother asked me to sleep with you for money,” Uncle Willy said and paused when I threw a quick unbelieving gawk at him. “Yes, she complained to me about the poor state you people are in how much you people are suffering,” he went on. I shallowed hard, released a sigh and listened, “When I told her of my secret desire for you, she picked it and asked me to sleep with you and pay her.”
“What?” I shouted, unable to hold it any more, I sprange to my feet and paced around in disbelief, stopping in front of Uncle Willy. I looked him in the face and spat at him. “You are a devilish, destructive liar,” I told him. I watched him laugh stupidly before wiping the spittle that clung to his left eye with his hand; I thought he was going to clean it up, instead he took it into his mouth and sucked it. I threw my face away in disgust.
“You are so disgusting, Uncle Willy,” I said unable to hold the fact.
“And so are you,” he replied with a smirk
“Now, please leave our house,” I said gently as I headed towards the door and flung it open for him. I thought he would hesitate but he didn’t. He stood up to my command and headed towards me, to the door. But before he let himself out, he threw a huge wad of money at me and told me to give it to my mother.
“It’s true that I didn’t touch you but I still have to pay her at least for your upkeep,” he said and before I could say anything further, he walked out and vanished in his motorcycle that I hadn’t noticed when I entered because it was hidden behind the huge beds of flowers.
I wanted desperately to find out the truth. The whole episode that had just taken place between Uncle Willy and I it was too hard to think about and too difficult to forget. I picked the money he had given to me, dropped it on the table and went inside to freshen up as well as eat something. But how could I eat when I had lost the appetite too, so I decided to freshen up and wait for mother’s return.
Mother returned when I was washing some of my dingy clothes in the bathroom. When I entered the room to greet her, I saw her with Uncle Willy’s money, she was smiling as she scrutinized it by turning it round and round her hands for a while; she just stood there, turning the money and kissing it without noticing me. It all made sense, I thought as hot tears began to cluster in my eyes. My mother had actually planned my rape because of money. This was unbelievable, I thought as I shook my head from side to side.
“Oh my dear,” mother exclaimed with excitement when she saw me standing at the door way. “This is money, can you believe that it is fifty thousand naira in a row? This is too much money,” She went on as she counted the money over and over again. I froze as I stared pointedly at her.
“You look tensed dear. Was it that painful?” mother asked with concern, losing, all the excitement that was beautifying her face a while ago. For the first time, she looked concerned and a little sober.
“So it’s true mother? So it was really you?” I said, letting out the rivers of tears to flow down my beautiful face. “Oh this is so unbelievable! oh mother you are so horrible. You are very wicked!” I blurted out.
“Oh please my love, it’s not what you think. It’s really not like that, it was for the best—”
“Oh you shut that deceptive gob of yours,” I retorted furiously. To my astonishment, mother shut up and gaped at me. I went on, without allowing the tension in the air to die down. “You called me your love, yet you planned for someone to dishonour me. Tell me mother, how can this be for the best? For the first time after father died you showed your love and concern only to smear it with your deceit and wickedness. Is this really how much you hate me?”
I watched her drop the money in her hand on the table and advance towards me with outstretched pleading hands. “Don’t you dare touch me.” I shouted in rage and went on. “You are not worthy to be called a mother. It’s most disheartening that you are my mother, but not anymore,” I said and ran into my room and began to pack everything that were my things, including the wet clothes.
Mother watched on, she was so short of words that all she could only mutter was, “please don’t go, please I’m sorry.” She was on her knees but she didn’t touch me. I guess that somehow she was afraid and wary of what I might do if she touched me, owing to the fact that she had not only hurt but had also disappointed me.
It was only when I carried my bags, grabbed the whole wad of money on the table except for few that littered on the ground and made to the exit, did she hold me. She refused to let me go. I knew as much as she knew that she has lost her daughter and only child. For a while, we struggled with my bag. However, when I gained my ground, I threw her to the ground and ran out. Luckily for me I saw a taxi and I immediately flagged it down, entered it and zoomed off.
I didn’t know why I had this sensation that I was safe, maybe because I had left my house and was in a taxi, nevertheless I felt safe. And as the taxi zoomed off, I looked back and saw mother fall to the ground weeping. And as my mother and the house I had grown up in began to fade, I saw mother raise her hands and wave towards me just as the car bent towards another road. When I sat back, I wondered if really I had done the best thing by running away. I wondered if I should have forgiven my mother. I knew right there that even in the next thirty years, when I must have been married with kids and my mother must have been old and in need of my support that the same question would arise because old wounds like such do not heal so easily. And the question would still be should I forgive my mother?