in #fiction3 years ago


We could not understand it. Papa's sudden change of character came as a flash. Off course, a brooding hen could be aggressive. But we were not hens, why would father be brooding over us this way? Nowadays, his live glided over in phases. Today, he would smile, but for the rest of the week, smile would be rationed. Dinner time seemed to be the only time he would have reconnect with us.

"Tomorrow, I will be having a conference meeting to attend," he would say during dinner, his demeanor stoic. Even when mama would want to ask him how long he would be gone, instead she would keep at her munching. And he was gone for days, no messaging, no calls.


"No. I refuse to accept it. We can't continue this way," Mama had confronted him one night in between sobs, her voice found its way to Ikenna's room. The 41 inches plasma television was showing super story, and I saw few drops of tears trickled down Ikenna's cheeks, soaking his white singlet. He could get too emotional just about anything. I knew he wasn't emotional about the TV show, but what our lives had turn into.

"You know I love you and the children. All I'm doing is in the interest of our family," papa's voice, lowered into a whisper.

"The late nights? Gone for days, with our eyes trailing outside, waiting for your return? No phone calls or messaging? Switched off phone even when we call you? Denial of our freedom? Your business colleagues you are still keeping in the dark? You called all these 'in our interest'?" Papa kept silent. It was only Mama's grumble that kept hitting the dead night.

It was during the days Papa had taken a French leave, that Mama had sent me to the market to buy what she had skipped. Off course, Ken —the driver chauffeured me. Even when I tried to convince him that I was old enough to go all by myself. I knew he was not going to oblige. His face wore that 'Are you mad?' kind of expression.

As usual, he parked under the oak tree, which provided a natural shade for the hawkers, while I trailed along the path Mama had taught me to get to where pepper sellers stays. The market was laced with intertwined paths, like what we find in maps. The day has started to turn gray. From the way sellers were fast forwarding their movement, the snatching of their goods off the ground, the banging of their stores to a close, and the skies dripping down gray lights. Night fall was imminent. Luck stood by me, for I had met the last pepper seller and that was because I had doubled my pace. Going back to the car, I kept tracing my steps, like a trained dog sniffing the ground, being guided by a familiar smell. When I got to the main road and when I couldn't find the oak tree, I knew just then that I had derailed. I also knew that I was not far from the oak tree. Asking a person or two might be able to help.

Finally, I got to the oak tree, but the car was gone. He must have wandered off in search of me. With the day enveloped in darkness, I was sure he stood no chance of finding me. To walk home all by myself was the only option left for me. I started home. I took the narrow part, which I never knew could be so lonely like a lone bird.

***To be continued... ***



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