TRUE COLOURS - Episode 1

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - makeshift building, rusted corrugated iron sheets, mechanic workshop, beer parlors at Artizan Market, against the iron walls of their apartment, father beats his mother, Mama, father, game of cards, control his emotions, beats.

“Shut up Maria!!! I said shut up!!!” Ikoro shouted at her. He was panting like a lion that had just come off an unsuccessful chase after a zebra. “Don’t I have the right to ask you anything, Ikoro?” Maria asked. She was rather demure and scared of his temper. “Yes, we are not married even though we live together, but for how many years have we lived together? Am I not the mother of your son? Can’t I ask you a question and not end up being shouted at like a brainless teenager?” She added. “And that is what you are!!! I cannot see the difference between you and those little girls in the street that cannot tell their left from their right,” Ikoro hurled further insult on her. “You mean the ones you go running after? The ones you are willing to do anything to get into their pants?” Tawam!!! Ikoro dealt her a robust slap with ferocious forces. Maria staggered backwards, covering her face with her palms. By the time she finally regained her balance, she could see tiny speckles of stars that darted in all directions. Tawam!!! He slapped her yet again, this time she fell to the ground. “Why Ikoro? Why do you treat me like this?” She asked as her face was doused in a sea of tears. She sobbed as she lay on the floor holding her bruised face.

“Next time, you should think before you talk, idiot,” Ikoro warned as he left the room. They lived in makeshift building made of old, rusted corrugated iron sheets. They had a single tiny bedroom and a living room that was not any bigger. There was a detached kitchen at the back also made of iron sheets. The apartment was consistently hot that in the dry season, they spread mats on the floor and slept outside, at the mercy of marauding mosquitoes that showed no mercy on any exposed human skin. He walked outside and sat under the mango tree in their backyard. Relay quarters was one of the poorest slums in Enugu, South East Nigeria. “Mama! Did he beat you again?” Dubem, their only son asked her. He had come in through the front door, so he did not cross paths with Ikoro. “I am okay my child,” Maria said wiping her face. She had been trying to hide Ikoro’s terrible treatment of her from their son, Dubem. “But you are crying mama?” “It is okay Dubem. I am fine,” she insisted. Her black eye told a different story. “I don’t like it when papa beats you,” Dubem added, ignoring his mother attempt to mask the beating she had just received from Ikoro. “Everything is fine my child. Go outside and play with your mates.” “Who wants to play when they know their father is busy pounding their mother?” “Don’t talk like that, Dubem.” “But it is true, mama.”

Dubem walked outside. Reluctantly, he joined his friends outside under a tree. The tree shades were the only solace from the prowling sun rays. “Do you want to play in this set,” Kelechi asked Dubem. They were playing a game of cards. “No, I will just watch,” Dubem answered. “You don’t look happy,” said Anuli. “I am okay.” “No you are not. I know when you are not happy, Dubem,” Anuli insisted. “I am fine!!!” Dubem shouted. “You don’t have to shout like your father. Are you going to beat me?” Anuli retorted. “What do you mean?” Dubem asked jumping to his feet. “I mean, are you going to beat me the way your father beats your mother?” “That is mean of you to say,” Chioma shot back at Anuli. “But it is true after all. Everyone knows Dubem’s father beats his mother,” Kelechi added. A feat of rage went through Dubem. He wanted to pounce on Anuli and Kelechi and beat them silly. I don’t want to be like my father, he admonished himself, fighting hard to control his emotions. His hands shook while his heart pounded vigorously against his rib cage. He walked away from them, refusing to act like his father. He was only twelve years old, but watching his father consistently beat his mother had imbued him with wisdom that transcended his age. He walked to the field a short distance from his friends. He sat under a tree and cried. “Why can’t he stop beating my mother?” He said as he vented his rage and frustration.

Two days later…
“How can you allow him to continue beating you like this,” Mbgafor asked Maria. “But what do I do? Where do I go? My parents died when I was only ten. I bounced around from one relative’s house to another, slaving for them only to be thrown out at will. I lived with seven different relatives and none of them wanted me. They kept me reluctantly because they were happy to use me as their maid. One of my uncles…He raped me when I was only fifteen. I ran away from their house Mgbafor. I had nowhere to go; no one to run to. The only one I knew then was Ikoro. He said he loved me. He had a mechanic workshop near my aunt’s shop and he had been pestering me. I ran to him in the middle of the night and he took me in. Soon, he was all over me like my uncle. I had nowhere else to run to. I felt maybe, that is how men love women. That is the way the world works, so I gave in. Soon, I was pregnant with Dubem. He is the only reason I live. He is smart, wise and calm. I have to be strong for him.” “But Ikoro will soon kill you. Everyone knows he is running around with little girls. He does not pay rent. You sell wares to support him, yourself and your son, while he uses his money to chase after little girls. And, when you confront him about it, he pounds you like a child. No my friend, this has to end.”

“I wish there was an easy way out of this Mgbafor. I have to live with it for now.” “You have been saying this for years now. Move on!!! After all, you are not married to him. If he cared about you, he would have formalized his relationship with you. What sort of man lives with a woman this long and not marry her. Soon, he will come home one day and throw you out. Find your way out now, my friend.” “I have nowhere to go Mgbafor.” “No you do. You will soon collect the contribution you have been paying for at the market. With that you could set up your own shack around Artizan, near the market. My husband knows someone with the Railway Corporation. If I talk to him, he will make sure you get allocated a piece of land. I am worried Ikoro will kill you one day or throw you out when you have nowhere to go.”

Weeks went by and Maria pondered her best friend’s suggestion, but she had no courage to see it through. One night, Ikoro returned home slightly drunk. He had been out with one of his numerous young girlfriends, on whom he lavished his earnings. “Stupid woman where is my food,” he asked. His breathe reeked of alcohol. Earlier that night, Mgbafor had come over to tell Maria that she had spotted Ikoro with a new girl at one of the popular beer parlors at Artizan Market. She looked at him in anger wondering how she could possibly make food for him. “Don’t sit there and look at me like a buffoon. Get me something to eat idiot,” he said caustically to her. “Go and make the food yourself if you want to eat. Maybe you should bring one of your girlfriends home to make food for you.” “What did you say? I will do just that. Get out of my house!!” He shouted as he charged towards her. “Don’t touch her,” Dubem shouted running out of the bedroom to help his mother. Ikoro swatted him aside like a fly and began to pummel Maria. “Die witch!!!” He shouted as he punched her. “You are evil. Leave her alone!!!” Dubem shouted, hitting him on the head with a bucket. Ikoro grabbed him and flung him against the iron walls of their apartment. His head hit hard against the corrugate iron sheet and he dropped to the floor. “Leave my son alone!!!” Maria shouted. She fought hard, but Ikoro was too powerful.

Dubem lay on the floor with blood gushing out of his head. Maria saw the blood and reached for him. Ikoro punched her mercilessly. Then he grabbed her by the neck and began to choke her. “You are going to kill my son and I Ikoro,” she said. Her voice began to fade as her eyes bulged out, yet Ikoro would not let go. It was raining ferociously as raindrops jangled against the iron sheets. Maria looked down. She wanted to see if Dubem was still breathing. She mustered every strength in her to look at him. She was not sure what she saw. I can’t let this man kill my son and I, she thought. She mustered every ounce of life left in her and held Ikoro between his legs. She squeezed hard and pulled like a wounded lion. “Ayoo!!! Ikoro exclaimed in pain and let go of her. Dazed, she ran outside in the rain. She wanted to run away from him forever, but she could not bring herself to leave without her son. She stopped, looked back and Ikoro was not coming after her. She sat by the gutter and cried. “God, why did you take my parents from me at such a tender age?” She queried thee Almighty as she pondered her hard life. “Could  you not give me a decent man afterwards? Do some people have to repeatedly suffer in this world?” She cried bitter and shouted in pain. The rain drowned out her voice to some extent, but not to Mbgafor. She could hear the muffled voice of her friend crying outside in the rain.


Written by:
Victor Chinoo
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TRUE COLOURS - Episode 1
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - makeshift building, rusted corrugated iron sheets, mechanic workshop, beer parlors at Artizan Market, against the iron walls of their apartment, father beats his mother, Mama, father, game of cards, control his emotions, beats. An African Literary Blog
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