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BN Prose: Cow and Chicken by Bomi Ehimony

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On many nights, mummy sleeps in the garage outside, next to the Mercedes Benz 190 that no longer has tyres and is so dusty that Junior and I can spell words on the glass windows; she places her wrapper on the ground and lays on it then uses her head tie as a covering cloth. Even in December when the clouds come so close to us that we can see them cover the top of the mountains; when daddy tells us to always go to sleep wearing our socks and cardigans because the nights are colder than the days, mummy sleeps outside.
It happens on days when daddy goes to the somewhere. I know the name of the somewhere but I don’t like saying it. Many times, he goes to the somewhere with his friends and staggers back home the way the fluorescent in the backyard staggers – as if it is contemplating whether to stay off or come on. When he comes home and gets inside, he shouts at mummy and tells her to go and get him his food and calls her cow. He always calls her cow. On days when mummy does not shout back, she does not sleep outside. But mummy shouts back a lot, so she sleeps outside a lot.
Daddy gets angry in installments whenever he is back from the somewhere. Maybe because whatever he does there does not allow him to act as fast as he thinks. He would be slow in speaking and say, ‘you have started today, Cow,’ and ‘I will teach you a lesson,’ and then mummy would start screaming in pain and Junior would cover his ears with his hands and start crying. Joseph, the garden man, would knock on the front door and daddy would open the door and Joseph would say something stupid like ‘hope no problem, sir?’ and daddy would just shut the door on his face.
It is after mummy stops screaming that daddy would open the outside door for her and she would go and sleep outside. She used to protest before, but not anymore. Whenever daddy opens the door, she just quietly goes outside.
Junior always asks me why mummy screams; even though I know, I always say I don’t know. The next day, when we would see mummy, with her eyes swollen and purple with darkened eye sockets. Sometimes, she tells us that she needs to go to the hospital after she drops us off at school so we should hurry. If I ask her what she is going there to do, she lies and says her friend is sick and she is going to see her.
Last week, daddy came home from the somewhere again. His stagger was worse usual; he was tripping over himself and hitting stones with his foot. Junior and I sat by our window upstairs, looking at him. First, we saw his friend drop him off. The man offered to help daddy inside but daddy refused. He tripped many times before he got to the front door. He opened the door and shouted, ‘where is my food?’ as if he was asking the whole neighbourhood; as if that is the normal first thing people say when they enter into a house. I thought mummy was upstairs until I heard her voice downstairs responding to daddy: ‘You better go back to where you are coming from and go and ask them there for your food.’
‘You have started?’ Daddy said and for a while everywhere was quiet until mummy’s screaming began. She shouted and shouted until Junior began to cry and to ask me: ‘what is he doing to her? What is he doing to her?’ and I said ‘I don’t know.’ A while later, I heard our room door shut and Junior was no longer next to me. I went after him but he was very fast. He got to the staircase before me. Mummy lay on the stairs and there was blood on her forehead and daddy had blood on his left knuckles and blood had stained his wedding band and he was trying to wake mummy up, and then Junior began to cry again.

Daddy took mummy to the hospital that night and he came back to take us to school in the morning and Junior asked him ‘Daddy, how is mummy?’ and he said ‘She is fine.’
At school, in French class, Madame Kam gave me the marker, ‘Inara,’ she said, ‘go to the board and conjugate the verb ‘Etre’.’ and I knew how to conjugate the verb Etre but the only thoughts that were coming to my head were those of daddy calling mummy cow, cow, cow and so as I faced the board, I froze, and I did not know when I dropped the marker and began to cry and to say ‘my mummy is not a cow.’ Madame Kam and some other class teachers, who were nearby and heard me, carried me to the staffroom. Madame Kam said ‘What is wrong, Inara?’ and I don’t know when it came out of my mouth because I could not hold it in anymore, ‘My daddy beats up my mummy.’
‘How long has it been going on?’ If Madame Kam was surprised, she did not show it.
‘I don’t want anything to happen to my daddy.’ I said.
‘Inara, any man who beats up a woman is a chicken. You need to talk to me because it is the right thing to do.’

***
Some men in uniforms came a few days later and picked daddy up. I wondered, as daddy left with them, if he would still be able to go to the somewhere wherever they were taking him to. Mummy was nervous about it but I told her what Madame Kam told me, ‘Any man who beats up a woman is a chicken.’

***
As I awake from the tap of her cold hands, I notice that everything is packed. Save for the bed, the blanket, and the linoleum carpet, our room is empty. All she says is ‘it is time to go.’ Without asking questions, Junior and I follow her and we walk to her car, Joseph, the garden man, opens the gates for us and waves at us and we wave at him, too and she smiles and for the first time in a long time, mummy’s smile is a happy smile.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Atholpady

Bomi Ehimony is a writer from North Central Nigeria; he is currently working on his first book. He blogs at diaryofbomiehimony.blogspot.com and tweets @_ChampKing

8 Comments

  1. Nne

    July 21, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Domestic violence! We need more public awareness, men and women experiencing it should speak up.

  2. Josh

    July 21, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Any man who raises his hands to hit a woman he had vowed to love is a chicken. True!
    But then, what do we call the woman that allows the chicken to beat her up and let her sleep by ‘the garage’ each night.
    Walk out.

  3. anonymous

    July 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    That’s a rhetorical question. The writer already called her a Cow.

    • Daddy's princess

      July 21, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      lol not nice…on the other hand ,The kids who have to witness dis tho. My dad used to beat up my mum,I never witnessed it kos i stayed with relatives but my siblings have one or two stories to say. few years ago, I almost married a man dat is violent.he showed his true colours after our intro and I was bold enough to walk away. when I told my family about his violence guess who led the protest…yep!! my dad. his vibration was out of dis world. and I just kept on wondering….did he suddenly see the light and realize the evil in his actions or he couldn’t just stand d fact that his princess was being beaten.

  4. Ruth Dulac

    July 21, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I Cried because I felt he was talking about my family but not the cow type nor the sleep in the garage type. It was worse but I still love my dad and i hope he has become better now that he’s in “somewhere” so when he comes back, we would be happy again.

    ruthdulacblog.com

  5. molarah

    July 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Me sha, I’ve just been wondering. Bear with my wandering mind.

    The way domestic violence cases are resolved – or not resolved – in our society, is it really the best? So we tell the woman to report to the police, or walk out – both of which I think are excellent – but what happens next? Is she now officially ‘on her own’, especially as far as raising and supporting her children are concerned? Does anyone – family members, police, law court – put pressure on the man to continue providing financial support (financial at the very least) to the estranged wife and children? Because, this story seems to end on a happy note, but really what’s the next step? Where to from here? Especially for the family that was mainly dependent on the man’s source of income. Yea I know everyone’s telling all women to get their money, but this message has not fully permeated to the lower ranks of society, so the women still bear the full financial brunt of the split resulting from domestic violence (and related) issues.

  6. sheedah

    July 21, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    OMG!!! This is so sad; glad mummy got to smile again. But the truth remains there are many families where mummy never gets to smile again. I have never gone through any of sort but i pray to God to help every woman out there going through such, to walk away from this smiling. whe never know who we are getting married to; its all by the grace of God.

    sheedahventures.blogspot.com

  7. Dr. N

    July 21, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    If u r single, decide beforehand and spell it out that u will not tolerate even a “tap”. Make it CLEAR. If u r undecided, u may feel u r in too deep shd d worst happen.
    I pray we raise more responsible men and women going forward. Take d case of a colleague who fractured his wife’s arm. I ended up not only prescribing medication for his kids (he abandoned), I still had to send her money to buy d drugs. Now she has gone back & is preggy wt d 3rd child.
    May I not be invited to her burial

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