Uncle Richard and papa never got along that much. Papa attributed the friction between them to how they were raised. They were fathered by one man but different mothers. While they were still young, they got along just fine till their teen years. Their mothers always quarrelled and this later affected them and their friendship. Things turned sour when Enoch came to visit us some months after momma had left papa. Enoch, been a troublesome child, like he had always been beat up a kid in the compound and papa beat him up. Enoch packed his things and told his parents a different story from what really happened. His mother came to shout at papa and claimed that papa was jealousy because he didn’t have a son for a first born like his brother. From that time, she harboured hate for papa and all of us.
Looking at her as she stood on my bedroom door and talking about papa like she respected him made me loathe her even more.
“He’s a friend who was helping me with finding momma,” I answered her.
She looked at me suspiciously and said, “It is our hope that you don’t turn out like that mother of yours.”
I clenched my fist as I felt a rush of adrenaline through my body. If it wasn’t for Kasuli I would have said something to her that would have left her speechless. I held and controlled my anger.
“She’s my mother still and no one can take her place,” I grinned.
I saw her stiffen and nodded her head in defeat and left my room. Immediately she left, I started thinking of momma and what she was subjecting herself to. If I knew better, she was being abused and didn’t do anything about it. I thought of talking to her if at all she would return because having me witness all that, I feared she might never want to see me again.
At 8 in the evening, after having our supper, everyone seemed to be in their thoughtsas they sat in total silence staring at each other expressionless. It was only the children that were making some noise there and then. The silence probably reminded all of us that papa and Gary were no more. I thought back of the noise Gary would make whenever he was awake during this time of the night. If it was papa, he would be in his bedroom reading some books or working on his work assignments which never seem to end. I looked at Kasuli and she was fast asleep with her bright smile on. I envied her because I had developed insomnia since papa and Gary died. I would watch everyone sleep but I couldn’t. I tried so hard but to no avail. My eyes were now sore. Every time, I kept thinking about what the future held for us. Being 17 and almost an orphan with a little sister to take care of, I didn’t know what to do.
At exactly 10pm, momma showed up to everyone’s dismay. She had come after I had put Kasuli to bed. I saw her sitting with some women who seemingly didn’t want anything to do with her. She stared in the darkness with a blank face deep in her thoughts. In as much as she tried to conceal her grief, she was hurt like everyone else. She had lost a son. I stood up and walked to where she had sat and demanded to talk to her.
“What was that momma?” I asked when we were in my bedroom.
Trying to make herself comfortable on the bed, she looked at me and instantly away.
“Momma I am talking to you,” I was becoming impatient.She looked at me again and played with Kasuli’s hair.
She is playing me for a fool, I thought to myself.
“My daughter, you are too young to understand some things.” she forced a smile.
“What are you talking about momma? I saw a man slapping you in the face and you couldn’t do anything about it. From the looks of it, this has been going on for a while,” I lowered my voice.
Her eyes teary and her palms sweating, she said, “As a woman, there are some things you have to endure my daughter. I cannot do anything about it because Terry is my husband.”
I became so furious instantly. How can she regard that man as her husband? During her marriage to papa, he never laid a hand on her and she was proudly telling me that that was her husband. I couldn’t take it, I reacted.
“Get out of my room momma,” I pointed to the door.
“Take care of your sister Tinashe. Goodnight and goodbye,” she left my room.
I was so angry that Ijust wanted to sleep. I pulled Kasuli closer and said a silent prayer and slept. I didn’t realise it was morning when I heard some voices chattering. For the first time in days, I had slept peacefully. I woke up to an ever bright and cheerful smile. She looked at me with her big wide white eyes in excitement.
“Good morning Tina.”
“Morning Suli,” I pinched her cheek.
“I am hungry Tina,” she bitterly complained.