By Bunmi Sofola
Victor just came back from a tedious time in the office when his mobile bleeped a message from his only sister.
“The message said our mother was in hospital after suffering a stroke and the hospital wouldn’t treat her if no deposit was made,” said Victor heavily. “My first instinct was to ignore the message – about time she died! But she was my mother and I couldn’t ignore the fact that no matter how badly she treated me when I was growing up, I owed it to her to make her final days bearable…
“My mother used to enjoy the good life. Right after she finished secondary school, she went into the beer-parlour business. She was barely 20 when she had me and five years later, she had another child, my sister, by another man. She was never married. What man would marry her? She drank like a fish and smoked like the proverbial chimney. When I was a toddler, she used to blow the smoke from her cigarettes into my face and laugh when it made me feel sick. In time, I was able to discern fumes from cigarettes and from cannabis which she used freely.
“She brought men to our one-bedroom apartment and I was lucky to have any decent food. So early in life, I’d learnt to hustle her customers at the beer parlour and eat their left-overs. Even at age five, she expected me to tidy up after her, and things got worse when she had my sister.
“My own father lived a few houses away and I used to sneak to his house whenever I could. If she caught me, she would beat the living daylight out of me. One morning alter her wild night with ‘friends’ who were always in the house smoking and drinking, the whole place was covered with cigarette butts and beer bottles. My mother handed me a broom. My sister was barely a year old and was crying. ‘Clean up this mess,’ she snapped at me, then see to your sister. I’m going back to bed.’
“I tried to do as she said, but I was very scrawny then and the broom she gave me was too big. When she came back to the room and saw me staring helplessly at the mess, she threw the broom at me, then picked it up and walloped me with it. ‘Now, clean up the mess,’ she yelled as if she was deranged. I tried again in vain. When she reappeared and started beating me, I howled for my dad and she shoved me out of the room and shut the door. I sat on a bench outside and cried. Some few minutes later, she opened the door and threw a ‘Ghana-must-go’ bag of clothes after me, yelling at me to go to my useless father.
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“I picked up the bag and walked to my father’s house. I was only six years old. My father nearly wept when he saw me. He cleaned me up, gave me decent food and from then on, I lived with him. He was a good father and told me he couldn’t take me away because according to customary law, a toddler should stay with his mother until age 10 or so. Since she was the one who threw me out, it was safe to stay with him.
“My mother must have missed the monthly allowance my father used to give her for my up-keep, because she tried to snatch me back a few times. I was really terrified of her and would run if I saw her coming. She engaged my dad in a few fights but in the end, she let us alone. It was when some of my father’s friends were discussing her, that it came out she was a prostitute as well! When I asked around what, ‘ashewo’ meant and they told me, I became really scared of her. I never let on to her that I knew what she was up to. In a funny way, I loved her she was after all the only mother I would ever have. I only wished she could change.
“When my father got married, his new wife really took me under her wings. She made sure I studied hard, saw me through secondary school then persuaded a relation of hers to help with my admission into the polytechnic. I will forever be grateful to that woman for turning my life around.
“As soon as I finished college, thanks to her influence, I got a good job, did a few in-service trainings and became a junior manager.
“My mother continued with her wild life and was always asking me for money, even when I was in school. I gave her whatever I could, knowing from her blackened teeth that she still smoked and she was still an alcoholic. I drew the line at her coming to my place of work. I’d already assisted my sister with her secretarial studies and she lived in a two-bedroom flat with our mother. Yet, my mother continued to be an embarrassment to both of us. When she first moved to the flat, she became like a real mother for a while, but her life-style took over her life.
“My worst nightmare was when she was arrested for prostitution and robbery! She was refused bail and sent to prison on remand. In a way, I was relieved maybe she would be able to kick her awful habit. Thankfully, she was eventually found not guilty and was released. Before her release, my sister had found a one-room apartment for her and moved her things there. There was a limit to how much she could take.
“A year after this incident, she was arrested again. She’d been soliciting persistently along one of the red-Iight areas and was herded into a police van with other prostitutes, we had to bribe through the nose to get her out. I was already married by now with a family of my own and I didn’t want her around me trying to play granny to my kids. My step-mother deserved that honour and she is a wonderful woman, the mother I wished my own mother would be.
“Her last arrest must have sobered her up because she started petty trading. Months later, she was selling alcohol on her premises! That was when I realized she had chosen her path and there was nothing I could do.
“Now this massive stroke of hers! I went to the hospital and saw her. She was in a coma. I paid the necessary deposit but she never regained consciousness. She died a few days later. She was only 54 years old.
“After watching what my mother had been through, I’ve never touched alcohol and I can’t tolerate smokers. Looking back, I don’t feel I’ve had a mother. Most of the time, I felt I was the parent and my mother was a wayward child…”
Love’s In The Air! (Humour)
Two voices – one male and one female are overheard on an aeroplane.
Man: Ok: I think everyone’s asleep. Let’s go.
Woman: This one’s empty. You go first.
Man: Oooh, it’s a bit cramped. Let me sit down. Woman: Have you got the condom? Quick put it on. Man: Ah, perfume, You think of everything.
Woman: (giving a long and contented sigh) This is great!
Suddenly, a voice comes over the loudspeaker: “This is the Captain speaking. To the people in the rear toilet, we know what you’re doing and it is expressly forbidden by airline regulations. Now, put the cigarettes out and take the condom off the smoke detector!”