It was on April 1st, 2002. Mama was at home awaiting Papa’s arrival. It was getting late already, Papa was supposed to be back four hours ago from his security job; however he was nowhere to be seen.
Not like Mama cared if he came back or not, they were living cats and dogs, constantly at each other’s throats. Papa would fight Mama over her extravagant spendings on her looks; Mama would fight Papa over not giving her enough money to take care of her body and looks.
Mama hardly cared if we—her children—ate; in turn we hardly cared if she dropped down and died.
She was now tapping her feet on the floor, worry lines creasing her face. She was probably waiting to extract another money from Papa for cosmetics and the likes. We were waiting for Papa to come back so we could finally eat for the first time in the day.
Papa cared for us even though he was not our father. Yes, we found out from their arguments when Papa would retort with hot words like, “How many bastards will you fill my house with?” We checked up the word bastard and the meaning hit us hard.
So Mama had us with another man? we asked ourselves, reality washing over us.
In our mind we screamed and cried for Papa to please come back, we were really hungry and had not eaten since morning and it was nightfall already.
Mama picked up the remote with her perfectly manicured fingers. She hardly glanced at our side as she flicked through different news stations annoyingly.
“…The federal government has released twenty million naira for…”
“…tonight, we will be having a guest artist from…”
“…the price of oil has increased to…”
“…Lexco company limited has recorded…” At this everyone’s ear perked up. That was the company Papa worked for—Lexco company Ltd. “…recorded the death of two security men by the names Abiola Segun and Ikenna Obika…”
At the mention of the second name, reality crashed in hard again. Papa was dead, the rest of the news drowned out in the now cold and bitter air.
We glanced at each other; so this meant we won’t eat this night. We might never eat again. We would all die and meet Papa in heaven.
Tears fell from our eyes. Mama’s frozen face showed us that this was not in any way some joke or April fool. So no more cosmetics for Mama.
The youngest of us looked up with teary eyes and said,
“I’m just three, how will I make money? No job will be for a little me.” No one said anything. There was nothing to say.
The eldest of us was just seven, followed by the twins that were just five, and then the youngest just three.
We will die of hunger, we were sure of that.