Broken home episode 7

(Hasty Decision)

Staring blankly at my mother and Teacher Blessed, all my wits suddenly abandoned me. I hadn’t the slightest idea what to do.

“But madam, let’s arrest this man! Let’s involve Bella’s father! That pervert deserves to rot in jail for this!!” Teacher Blessed said.

“What?” Mother exclaimed, her eyes wide with resentment “No no no! Don’t let Her father know about this, please”

“But madam you can’t…”

“Look here Mr. Teacher” she interrupted, “She’s my daughter and I know exactly what’s best for her! Plea-se. I don’t want this getting out. Nobody has to know this ever happened. Do you understand me?” She blurted out in a tone that made it difficult to tell if she was giving an order, or making a plea.

“Okay madam, if you say so. They are your children and I believe you know how to…”

“Thank you” she interrupted him again as she threw me a glance and made for the door. A glance I knew all too well was a foreboding of trouble.

The rest of the day is only a blur in my mind now, but the next thing I remember being conscious of was the sound of the school bell, signalling the end of the school day. Four o’ clock. As usual. I had never been as reluctant to leave the school premises as I was that evening, because I knew what my inevitable fate would be. Slowly, we trudged all the way home. Grace and I were barely through the front door when i felt a slap rivet across my already tired face. There was no escaping it. Blow after blow, mother’s fists came down on the both of us like hailstones.

“Stup!d children!”
“Good for nothing idi0ts!”
“Ooh… so you two want to disgrace me abi?”
“You want to paint a bad picture of me outside eh?”
“You couldn’t tell me what was happening, but you could tell that your useless teacher who knows nothing about life!”
“Before you two will disgrace me, I will kill you with my bare hands!”

The blows pummelled our young bodies till she was almost out of breath. I was used to such beatings anyway, mother seemed to forget that we were her own children once her anger got the best of her. I was convinced she was actually going to kill us with her bare hands as she had said, until Mama Johnny made her way into the living room. That poor woman… She lived next door, and was often our saving grace whenever it pleased mother to beat us to death. Her characteristic graceful steps and demure composure seemed to have abandoned her, as she frantically tried to restrain mother from her festival of blows with one hand, while the other one struggled to keep her wrapper on her petite frame.

“Mama Bella E don do, i beg” she said between heavy breaths. She was a small woman, and mother’s size was no match for her.
“If you kill these children today, you will become childless”
The blows stopped, although I still feel till this very day that Mama Johnny’s pleading had very little to do with why. Mother was only exhausted.
I don’t know how she did it, but barely two weeks after, Uncle Clement moved out of the house —mother had her ways.


Mother only grew worse. She would stay away from home for days and days. Father had bought me a phone so I could always reach him, but whenever it came to mind to pick it up and tell him that mother was nowhere to be seen, my fingers froze for fear of another one of mom’s episodes. She had warned us very sternly never to tell father of her long periods of absence, else she would kill us. —we knew she meant it. Father’s parenting was much better though. Very much unlike mom, we were his priority. He would come be with us whenever mom was away, sometimes staying with us till very late at night. Father was our everything! I had told him i was interested in learning a skill as I had pretty much nothing else to do after school hours, on weekends, and during the holidays. I had come to love fashion designing. Grace and I always admired the skill with which the tailor just down the street worked the foot pedal on her old Singer sewing machine, and the sound it made. Whenever her eyes caught ours as we stared at her working, she would smile and wave at us —better out here with her learning something useful than back home as mother’s punching bag. I decided I’d also bring Grace along with me. Father liked the idea, but made me promise him that it wouldn’t affect my studies.


Mom [email protected]£ one evening, after one of her usual absences. On this particular occasion however, she seemed cheerful, which was rather strange. A little while later, I heard her call my name.


“Oh what now? What trouble have I gotten into this time” I thought to myself as I heard her call again, this time much louder.


I answered her and walked to the living room. She rambled on and on about little irrelevancies that my mind failed to register, and I remember concluding she must have either had too much to drink, or was probably just bored and needed a muse. Honestly I wasn’t even listening. I let my mind wonder far until I heard her say something about her having made arrangements for me to travel overseas.

Read – Broken home episode 6

“Yes. She said she will handle everything. Italy is expensive to travel to sha, but she said we won’t even have to spend a dime”

“Italy?” I looked at her in bewilderment.
“I am only fifteen mother, and still in secondary school!”

“Ehen? and so what? what’s education when you will be making money? don’t you want us to have a better life?”

“Yes I do, but I will become a good fashion designer and make you and daddy proud”

She let out a chuckle

“Thank you madam fashion designer. How much do you think you will make? Travel abroad and make real money joor” she said half-talking and half-chuckling.

“I am not going anywhere” I said defiantly. Whether it was because I knew exactly what young women were made to do in Italy, or it was the sudden anger I felt for her having mocked a skill I had come to love, I do not exactly remember, but my own boldness shocked me.

“What n0nsense are you talking?” She retorted. “Are you still a vir-gin? Why all this drama? Now you listen to me! You will travel to Italy and make good money for us, and that’s not a suggestion! it is final!”

I cried that night, I felt helpless, I would have called dad immediately, but mom had since taken possession of the phone he had bought me, having done God-knows-what with hers.

The very next morning, I arrived school faster than my legs could carry me. Teacher Blessed had no problem lending me his phone as soon as I told him I needed to talk to my father. The tall lanky bachelor had been my mathematics teacher for a little over two years by then… he could tell I was going through a lot, but what could he do?

“The number you have dialled is not available. Please try again later.”

That had been my third attempt at calling my father. I knew he was the only one that could save me from mother’s selfish plans for my future, but I couldn’t get calls through to him. I had heard stories of young women who had been “sponsored” abroad, and how they were made to do dehumanising things because they had to somehow pay their sponsors back whatever was spent on trafficking them there, and some more. Mother had told me that one of her old friends had just come back from Italy, and was willing to sponsor me. She claimed she would secure me a job in a supermarket while I would be enrolled in a [email protected] school program.

“I am your mother and I know what’s best for you” she had said. “If you love your sister and I, you will school and work abroad, to make us have a better life”

I knew I didn’t have a choice. I told her I would think about it, in hopes that I would either be able to get through to my father eventually, or that he would come visiting, so that I could tell him of mother’s plan for me. A few days became a week, and not a day went by without my trying to get through to my father on the phone. Dad didn’t come visiting either, and it gradually became clear to me that I was on my own. I was helpless.


“Madam Gold will be coming soon. I hope you’re getting ready for her to start processing your papers. Be nice to her o. Make sure you…”

I suddenly felt hollow. The thought of running away had crossed my mind so many times, but where would I run to? The streets of Benin were no place for a girl my age. Besides, what would become of Grace if I ran away? The poor little thing would be devastated! She had grown to really look up to me and it would break her if I abandoned her to mother.


Mother’s voice jolted me out of my thoughts.

“Am I talking to myself?”
She said with a frown on her face. I only stared blankly at her, not knowing what exactly she wanted me to say —not that I cared anyway.

“Mom, i am not ready to travel anywhere. I am still too young. Who will take care of Grace when you are not around?” I waited for another fit of rage, but to my surprise, her response was ambient.

“Bella you are not too young. You are almost sixteen. There are girls younger than you who have traveled abroad and have made their mothers big women in the society. look at Iye Otasowie. Her daughter traveled at age fifteen less than three years ago, and they have finished their second building now. Or is it mama Clinton? Her second daughter went to Europe at only fourteen. Bella you need to see the kind of house they live in and the kind of clothes she wears!”

“But mommy I want to be a fashion designer”

“Perfect!” she exclaimed. That’s the best place to learn fashion from the very best! Your sister is almost thirteen now. She is not a baby anymore. If you really Love her, you will travel to Europe to give her a better life.

I looked at mom, and there wasn’t a single trace of the anger that usually characterised her outbursts. From her ambience it was very obvious that her mind was made up. My fate was sealed.

Days later, I came back from school to meet that mother was entertaining a guest. I couldn’t tell who she was, but the volume of laughter between them both told me she was perhaps a friend. Ah! Madam Gold, I could tell. She was tall, loud, and boisterous, with pale yellow skin that suggested she had never been out in the sun for a day in her life. A huge golden necklace hung from her neck, over a flowing silk gown. She had a ring on every one of her ten fingers, and her artificial nails looked more like claws to me —the perfect predator, and I was the unwilling prey.

“Good evening ma” Grace and I chorused as we walked into the living room.

“Good evening my dear” She looked at me, turned to my mother, and whispered something to her. Both women laughed.

“Don’t worry my dear. I will take care of you. Okay? We will get you a good job while you school okay?”

Hearing directly from Madam Gold, I thought perhaps it wouldn’t be as difficult as I had imagined.

“But if given the chance I would love to stay back in Nigeria, and be with my little sister” I protested. Both women looked at each other again and this time, their laughter was deafening.

Two weeks later, my bags were packed, as I sat in the living room waiting for Madam Gold. My travel arrangements had been made.
I couldn’t hold back the tears as they flowed uncontrollably down my cheeks. Grace was in tears as well. Who would look after her? Mother seemed to be the only cheerful one in the room. She sang and danced so joyfully, one would think she had won the lottery. Within minutes, Madam Gold arrived, and soon I was with her in the backseat of her Toyota sedan as her driver sped out of our driveway. I looked back just in time to see mother still dancing on the front porch as Grace cried profusely, waving an unwilling hand.