I go to the back of the house, I enter into the small hut and sit on the floor. The rain is falling hard and the hole in the thatched roof paves way for drops of rain to enter the hut. I’m shivering; goose bumps rise like hard grains of garri above my skin, my hands shake badly, not from the cold but because of what I am about to do. I shift a little to the left to avoid the drops of water sinking into my hair from the roof. My skin is cold, it reminds me of grandpa’s cold body in the coffin. I cringe when I think that I will soon be like him. I begin to think once more and fear creeps in; but I’m being a chicken, am I not? Everywhere is dark and eerie, the voices of wind torment my inner being. The cackle of thunder grips my heart, and then I set my jaw…
Wait! Have I introduced myself? I am just a sad boy; these waves of emotion won’t let my lids be. Tonight in this hut, I write this letter to my parents.
In our home, every arrival of Aurora is filled with shouts and screams. Before the sun sets, it leads to a few slaps and weighty blows. I cower when the tantrum starts and hide at a corner. Daddy notices; he comes to me and says: “son, you know I love you right?” I nod my head, but he clears his throat and becomes mysteriously deaf when I ask “do you love mummy as well?”.
When I collect my report card in school, my teacher looks straight into my eyes and says “you were the most brilliant student in the class, what changed you?” I cannot answer; I cannot tell her of those moments when mum wears sun shade to hide her black-blue eyes; when dad stays at home for some days because mum poured hot water on his feet. I cannot speak of when dad says mum is stubborn, and she says he is beastly. I cannot tell her that on the day of my exam, while mum was making breakfast, they had had an argument; mum insulting dad while dad pummels her heavily, and then she holds his shirt and rips it apart. They had continued while I slipped out of the house to school. They hadn’t noticed. I couldn’t tell her that home was a place I dreaded going. Those were times I deliberately stayed back at school and mum had come to fetch me, pulling my ears and dragging me home. I must not forget the slaps her hands which her hands were so swift to dish out.
Sometimes, it is okay.
It is those times her skin glows in the rays of dawn, when she drinks from the goblet of beauty and her skin is golden beneath the silvery moon. When dad whistles while ironing and taps his foot on the deep brown wooden floor. It is moments like this – when dad cuddles mum and kisses her on her forehead, when they play old blues, swaying left and right, their arms wrapped around each other, you know those times when the boisterous wind cheekily walks away with their robes. Those times when we go to Honeywell and dad laughs at mum for ordering fried rice and chicken when she cooks a better one at home, when they hold hands while watching a movie; those times when mum changed the bed sheets, had her bath and lit scented candles in preparation for dusk. Those times last awhile and then the duse of quarrels revisits…
Everything changes one Sunday morning, when the usual shouts of argument rent the air, when mum slaps dad hard across the face; her face loses shape and contorts in fury, he grabs her head and hits it on the wall.
There was hush – dressed in flowing black hooded cloaks.
For a moment, she stays still, her hands flat against the wall and then gradually her head comes down, leaving a trail of red blood on the white wall. For days, daddy staggers while walking, his adam apple sticks out from his neck, his veins crawling across his shins, his eyes turn red and then gradually turns yellow. In the weeks that follow, when mum is discharged, they become cordial to each other. They live like neighbours who are friendly, yet do not want to pass boundaries. Dad tells mum he still loves her but she says nothing. The house is robed in tension. They are strangers now… dancing to the broken beats of lucifer.
It’s been six months now and the situation has gone from bad to worse. I am caught up in their web and I do not know where I belong . They do not know I have been traumatised, I have been hearing whispers in my ears; telling me I am not important enough to make them reconcile, I have been going crazy, the home feeling like a wilderness bearing only fruits of doom, with a brook of bedlam. They do not know I have been doing drugs and have been smoking. They do not know I have been taking pills too, to stay sane. They do not even know I am missing in the house; that for 7 hours, I have been in this hut. They do not know because they are busy fighting, their voices ring out to the hut, it clashes with the cracked melodies of the night insects, it interrupts the blackness of even fall.
The rain has stopped now, but it is still dark. It will rain again, it will take my body away and wash the blood off my wrist after I slit it.
So dear father, I lay deep in the devils hole
but I seek solace in thine sympathetic soul
I know I have sins in binge
but lo, great king! I beseech thee
That thine saving poise rescues’ me
Though by thine right arm I may not lay
But that I shall stay
in the wake of your altruistic being.
I keep the letter safe, away from drops of water. They shall find it when I’m gone.
Photo Credit: Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang) | Dreamstime.com