I shut my puffy eyes in solitude, away from the unsightly compound overgrown with pig weed, as the only word I could find to ascribe to Onosakponome swims about in my head.
“Onosakponome, my Bitterleaf,”
Next thing, I feel kicking inside my taut belly. Strong vigorous movements that make me heave and groan. I know they have nothing to do with any baby growing inside me. For, this time yesterday, I was rid of my twins, the only true companions I had since five months ago, by Onosakponome.
The air is heavy with the stench of stale shit oozing from the pit latrine some distance away. Sitting on the crumbled block of the verandah of our one room apartment, I await Onosakponome’s return from work. I’m sitting facing the narrow path through which he walks in, my scars ridden thighs spread out. His dinner is in the brown cooler inside the room to keep warm. For dinner, I prepared his most favourite soup. Bitterleaf.
Yesterday, as the blood from my miscarriage ran down my thighs, I swore by my dead babies that I will never see the light of another day after today here. Dead or alive.
Now, I remember Mama; how she used to sit outside and wait for Papa to return home. My mind spirals forward to the last time I was together with her.
“You should be more concerned about passing your SSCE, ” Mama had thundered that evening I told her I wanted to get married. That was two days after my sixteenth birthday. My response to her had sent the kitchen knife in her hand flying towards me. I raise my hand to the deep gash the knife had left on my upper left eye, still fresh and sticky, and wish it had caused much worse damage. Probably, blinded me, so that Onosakponome would have deserted me, or better still I would not have been able to find my way to his place. Caressing the wound, I sob myself to sleep.
My slumber is terminated by a knock on my head that sends me tumbling.
“Die in your sleep!” the familiar voice growls. The next moment, like a stone tied to a rope, I’m dragged into our room.
Onosakponome reeks of burnt grass, the kind that makes me want to double over and empty my guts.
Inside the room, I kneel in appeal till he walks away from me. I do not wait for him to demand for his meal before I serve it, praying that he found the ceramic plates clean enough not to be thrown at me. The dark green leaves and chunks of stock-fish floating in yellow broth prepared with weed killer solution is too much of a temptation for Onosakponome to resist. He settles onto the floor to eat, ordering me to join him. I obey. The time I spend moulding a ball of fufu, he has swallowed three large balls. As his eyes bulge on swallowing the forth one, wearing a smile of victory, I excuse myself out of the room.
Getting outside, I walk away without turning.