mama stood, backing the horizon as the sun went down in the north. She didn’t move. She just stood there as darkness crawled in. Untill all I saw was the outline of her shadow as i tried to blink a couple of times for my eye to adjust to the darkness .

I don’t know long she had been standing there. But I knew it was a pretty long time. Because my little legs began to hurt from peeping through the hole of my broken wall as I tried to steady my legs on the stool that wobbled because one of its leg had been ripped off when papa slammed it to the wall one of those days. That was two nights ago . He left the house that night and he hasn’t returned.
I must have fallen asleep, resting my head over my hands , on  my knees.  I opened my eyes when I heard footsteps and the sound of the door that made unpleasant sounds opened up.

Mama walked in. Closing the door behind her. I got up from my knees, rubbing them. I sat on the stool , one hand rubbing my eyes while the other covered my mouth as I yawned.

“Mama??”  I called out in a little over a wisper

She tensed. And turns slowly.
“How long have you been awake didi?” She asked. She sounded displeased

“I was sleeping mama. I heard you come in ” I replied.
“Why were you outside mama. ??”

“Go and lay on your matt and sleep. And don’t ask me silly questions. ”  . I couldn’t see her face nor read her expression. I knew asking any more questions would reward me with lashes over my tush. So I swallowed the nagging question  ..and heard it hit the walls of my stomach. I left the stool and walked to the end of the wall where i had spread my mat. There I laid, and closed my eyes tight untill sleep came.

Papa came in the morning. I heard them arguing. Which is what they have been doing of late.
Papa never talks to me. Infact I don’t think he had ever looked at me ever since I turned 4. He doesn’t play toys with me. Or rock me to sleep like mama does. All he does is to drink and sleep. Fight with mama and go out returning days later. And it would continue again.

Mother stays by herself most times. She would humm that song she knew I liked. She would plaite my hair and hold onto my hands.  And let me sleep on her matt when father isn’t around. But as soon as he came, she would tell me..

“Don’t make papa angry. Don’t throw stuffs at him. Don’t pour water in his shoes. Just be quiet . Papa would come around. Give him time. ‘.

But it’s been too long. Too long I had my father look unpon me with love. Too long I had that father and child moment. I missed  it. I missed the happiness between them. The laughter and surge of love stifling the air that we breath. But that felt like forever ago.. just like the frame of our smiling  faces that used to grace the wall. Covered in dusts and broken glass. Papa had punched it. Spilling blood and he stomped out.

“Why is papa always angry mama. ??”

Mama would smile, touching  my face.

“He isn’t.  Give him time…to accept you. Accept all of this “…

“Accept all of what mama.??”

She would look into my eyes, her eyes filling up too…
“Go play didi. You are not yet ready to understand .just give him time. “…

So everytime papa came home. I would go to  my corner, holding onto the only toy I had. He turns away when he looks at me.  Anger flashing in his eyes..

“Take it outside. Take it out and leave it out. I don’t want to see it. I keep telling you. I don’t want to keep seeing it woman. !!!” He would shout . Pointing at me. Hitting the only table we had. Spilling food.

Mother would scurry to my corner. Pulling my toy and me with it… I turn back looking at him. Pleading for his love with my eyes. But he turns away. He always turns away

“Stay here didi. Don’t worry. When papa calms down.. I would bring you back in. And you can play with me later. We would play with your toy later. Please..stay here ” ..

I would sit by myself. Sometimes..i would fall asleep out in the cold. Beaten by the tiny creatures of the earth who rejoiced in my tiny bloods to stay alife.  And when the cold is unbearable. I stand at the door and knock. But no one answers me. No one hears me. My small arms aren’t enough for a cover. But I sit by the door, and let sleep take me. For the choice of warmth is not my own.

When the morning light comes, papa leaves for the day’s hustle. Passing me without a glance.

“Papa… will you play with me when you come back??” I call out.  He doesn’t answer. I get up running to him. I hug his leg. ..He stops . Turning.. I look up into the face . That once smiling face that pasted kisses over mine.
“Papa… I love you”  ….”Please forgive me. Don’t hate me. Whatever I did. I am sorry “….  I hold on to him tight..

He shakes his leg. Kicking me away. Turns looking back at the house. As though mama had called him. And walks away.

I am left crying. Shoulders heaving up and down. Curled on the earth. Pained. Rejected. Abandoned by the man whom I love the most in this world. My father.

“Hush now didi. Hush now. I am here. ” Mama gathers me into her hands. As I held onto the  red toy car papa had bought for me on my 4th birthday. He had saved to be able to get me something. Something worth more than i ever had. She rocked me untill all the tears dried up. She was the only one who loved me.

Tomorrow was my birthday. My 5th birthday. Maybe tomorrow papa would let me hold his hands at least.

Night came. I sat by the door and waited. Untill my eyes began to hurt. Untill my legs gave way and sleep took me. Papa never came.

“Sleep child. ” Mama sang to me. “Sleep my beautiful baby child. ” But I wondered why the tears that trekked down her chicks didn’t stop. But I was too tired to ask..

“Wake me when papa comes”  I yawned. Touching her face. She only nodded.
I heard him crying. I heard the pain and agony in his voice as he wailed into the night.
I got up from my mat..

But all that met me was silence. The noise was coming from outside.  I dragged the stool as it wobbled to the wall. I knew going outside would make mama displeased. I climbed the stool and peeped through the wall of the wall..

From the shadows I saw them.. mama on her knees, holding onto papa. Or restraining him.

Fear gripped me. I braved myself and ran out. Careful to hide in the shadows as I came up behind them. Quietly. I didnt want mama to see me and punish me for disobeying her. I didnt want papa to see me and get angrier. But I also was scared. Scared of what was wrong. The fear felt farmilar but I couldn’t place it.

Papa had a bottle of dark drink. He looked like a man deranged as he continued to hit his chest with the spiked branch. Every motion taking a shred of skin away. Mama’s strenght was no match for his. He wouldn’t stop. No matter how much she pleaded. He wanted to hurt himself. He wailed. He cursed. He Bled.  And he cried. But he didn’t see me. They didn’t.

I fell to my knees. What could I do. A mere child. I felt pain I didnt understand.
“Mama.. papa” I cried.
“Papa stop hurting yourself. Mama please stop him”… but all I heard was the wind.

“Stop it please Peter. .. ” She begged

“No.. let me. It’s my fault. Let me die. Only then would I have peace. Only then will  i stop hating myself. Fighting you. And getting angry when i see her smiling face …let me woman. Let me die. “..

“No!!!! You have blamed yourself too much. We must move on. We have to. You have to accept it. God gives.  God takes. You can’t question him. So you won’t force him to take you. I won’t allow it. I won’t bear the burden of another pain. Not again. Now stop it. You must remember but you must forget. Despite what today is.. remember but forget. That’s all you need to do. Forgive you. Forgive yourself. All she needs is love. Then and now and forever. Don’t waste away like this. Do it for her. Do it for you.  Please stop it. Look…. look at her..” Mama points. His eyes followed.

“She lays out there in the cold everyday. When When it rains. When it shines. She needs to be in warmth with us. But she can’t. So let her live in your heart. It is done. We can’t change it. But we can move on. And remember but forget.”

Mama grabs the branch and flings it away. She wiped his bleeding chest with her scarf and gathers him into her arms as he sobbed. While I watched from the shadows…

“Papa.. I am here. Look at me. I love you” I screamed out. The wind danced again. .carrying it away.

Papa releases himself from mama. And crawled forward.   His eyes filled with flowing tears. He didnt stop untill he reached.
Stretching out his hands..He touched and rubbed.

I felt warmth wash all over me. More importantly I felt love flow through him to me.
I felt my heart contrict.

Papa closed his eyes and opened them, taking a deep breath.
“Didi, forgive me. Forgive me. I have been mad at myself for soo long. I had forgotten to love you despite. My little girl. My princess. It’s been soo long …I couldn’t look at your smiling face on my wall and not feel shame. Regret and anger.  I couldn’t see my gift and not remember my failure. My mistake. My wrong decision.  And knowing I had lost you shattered me. Shattered us. Today, another year gone. I couldn’t bear it i wanted to end it. Forgive me. Forgive me. I love you didi. I will love you forever” …..

Papa struggles up and staggers back in the dark into the house. Mama remains on her knees. Her eyes glistened

“What a coward I am….I tell you to love. Remember, forget and move on. But yet I cannot. For my pain is severe and I cannot let go… no I cannot”… she said touching and rubbing like papa. She followed papa silently

They pass me in the shadows. I don’t turn away from the spot they had left..because something drew me there. As i moved closer.. like a force calling me there.

I found, half buried in the earth. A large stone.
There I saw the picture frame of mama,papa and me. Smiling. The one papa had broken in anger.
I saw my red toy car laid beside it.
The words written “Didi”..Gone too soon”  on the stone.

I felt cold wash over me.
I felt myself choking ..
I saw I and papa.. I saw his smiling face.  I heard his laughter. I heard my happy giggle. Then I saw the truck. Papa wasn’t looking. I ran , chasing the dog. I heard papa scream.
Pain. So much pain. And then nothing.

I turn in the darkness facing the tiny house we lived in.
I knew why papa acted the way he did.
He never saw me. He never heard me. He never felt me holding him. Because I was never there. Not for a year . I have been beneath the cold earth. Cold and alone. Dead.
I am a product of Mama’s imagination as she refused to let me go. Holding on. Believing in things not there.
The fights. The pain.

I was never there.

“I forgive you papa.. I love you
“Mama….its time you also let me go. .. love me in your hearts as I love you both in mine. ” I wispered.

I felt the wind move….
I pray it carries my love to them.

I knelt rubbing the stone as mama and papa did. Then I laid down..as I would to sleep… on the earth which had been my bed for the last one year.. but I don’t feel cold anymore.  All I felt was love. For that’s all I remember as I closed my eyes to forget.

The End.

Ps: Happy new month everyone.!!!

Xoxo#Sweetness 💋 #Allthingsfinery
#IAmSweetness #StephanieEgberike


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