Mother had always been the one pleading me – “Stay with me”.
Her voice usually resonate through my body when she plays her certain notes of plea. I felt so sorry for her. She had had a taste of loneliness when she lost her parents and two siblings to a plane crash. She lived alone at New York but she returned back home, to live a new life; awaiting the parcel life kept for her. She doesn’t work. She was simply left with enough. She was a solitary, a rich young woman having no companion, until she met father. Mother teases me that I wasn’t black but I had the spirit of a black man, A different spirit that the whites doesn’t own. She said I grew up looking like my father and brave but I was nothing to be compared to who father was. There was more about father she told me on our stories night – the story of how he left us since poor me was too young at that time to know how it all happened.
One of those story nights, she told me how father saved her from drowning in a swimming pool but only to later throw her in another one, deeper. She fell in love and couldn’t get up. They married and they had me. I know she desired to say more, but she usually scoffed, tear up whenever she tried to. Her lips would fastens to each other too.
It was the night of the surprise birthday party that her friends organized for her that it all started. The party was an all white party but Jonathan was the only one in a different outfit. He wore a gray shirt and a khaki short and his heavy boots to match. He always showed to everyone that he was a military man so he could gain women’s love and men could fear him. Mother said he was so brave and so charming but charming than he was fearless. He had mastered the art of talking to women to charm them. She had met several men since she returned but none had caught her attention like Jonathan. He didn’t even stress to seek for her love, she said she gave it to him without him paying the price for it. She was admiring him from afar as he chants his magical words and the ladies giggled out of excitement.
After the party was over, they were all drunk and in afterglow mood. Most of the party guest had left for their houses. Mona Lisa, mother’s best friend was the first to jump into the pool with her cloths on and she jumped in with her before she recall that she never learned how to swim.
Others were busy in their own little world to notice that someone was dying. She gasped loudly and she was drowning but only Mona who was in the pool with her could listen. She then passed out and that was all she could recollect until she woke up and found Jonathan’s mouth in hers.
“Your father gave me love and I couldn’t resist it. I desired his love for my protection. Only he has the keys that opens my heart”
Mother stuttered on her bed.
After they had me, father wanted another child but mother menstruation couldn’t stop. She said that it was until then that she started to notice the shriveling of their love as a plants in dry season. She tried all she could to get pregnant but they all failed her. She allowed him fuck her at all time. She travelled around to see different doctors but nothing was said to be wrong with her.
She was sad-faced when she reminisced and said those words to me.
“Where is father now?”
“Is he coming back for us?”
These questions used to linger in my mind but with the forlornness on her face, most times I was too afraid to say them out.
I know I shouldn’t leave but I couldn’t stay either. I needed salvation. We needed to leave this Calvary, but I’d never want to leave mother. I was afraid to.
Father felt like her whole world and now he left. She felt empty. I then found out the reason why she wanted me to stay even when I couldn’t take away her physical pain.
‘I was all she had and she’s all I had too.’
That was the song on my lips with no idea that she could go away before me. She wanted me to stay but she couldn’t hold herself to stay either.
Shortly after my sixteenth birthday, Mother called me into her room. She had been gloomy, depressed lately for a cause unknown to me. She had refused to eat too. She had been using drugs, took excessive alcohol and weed like never before. I had no one to talk to about her and she refused to listen to me. I slowly watched my mother’s life come apart at the seams. Prior to this day, I poured her drugs into the toilet and I flushed it away. Mother went mad. She yelled at me and I yelled back. I cried, and she watched me with guilt as I said bad words to her. I couldn’t hold myself together anymore. I was too sad with the way her life was falling to pieces and I can’t see reasons why it was so. I had the most saddest birthday ever and then the next day, she had me sit down and listen to her.
“Son, I’m so sorry for every pain I’ve caused you”. She talked so slowly. I could perceive pain resonating in her voice.
“You’re my child. I’ve been only too selfish to keep to myself and refused to talk to you.” She broke into tears. I moved to her and wiped the tears off her face.
“I have cancer”. She finally added. The word seemed not to be clear to me even when I could swear I heard her clearly. It felt like bomb. I wasnt expecting the earthquake. Why? How did it happen to her?. Different voices played in my head, but mine was lost and I couldn’t hear what else she had to say. I couldn’t even cry. She looked at me, the look on her face was asking if I wont say anything. She took the hanky off my hands and helped herself.
Just like talking to me was the only help she needed, she quits the drugs and other substances she had been using shortly after. That was all before the diseases start to proliferate in her body.
At eighteen, her condition had worsen and I realize I couldn’t continue to watch it deteriorate more. Life had drifted away from how they used to be. We had no more money. Mother couldn’t get any job as she lay helplessly on her bed and there was no one to call for help. I needed a lot of money to save her. I decided I’d go far away and be back to take her anywhere she’d find healing. I couldn’t stay and watch her die slowly. She lies on her bed helplessly everyday watching this sickness threaten her life.
All the jobs I found, the pay was less than we needed. I was falling into depression everyday as her condition grew worse. To leave the town was my only option but she’d never wanted me to go away and I could not take her along.
She holds my hands and sings her favorite ‘Sam smith’ song to me.
Oh won’t you stay with me?
‘cause you’re all I need
This ain’t love, it’s clear to see
But darling, stay with me
This was the same song I remembered she sang to my father. She held mine just like how she used to hold father’s arm too when they play in the garden.
Back then, we had a lot of young soldiers that worked in the house. Father usually hangs his uniform on the bedroom wall and his boots on the shoe rack with mother’s shoes. I remembered how I used to put my legs in the boot and he’d guffawed loudly when I fall on the ground. The house we used to live was palatial. It was a grand house like none in the town. We had fleets of cars but mother wasn’t allowed to drive. Father ‘d instruct a junior soldier to drive her wherever she wanted to go. She was treated like a queen and father calls me prince.
It was all good until he left and never returned. He took away everything we owned and he sold the house we lived in. Mother cried day and night waiting for him to return but he never did, and I was hoping too that he’d come then and wipe mother’s tears away but he didn’t. He had left us for bad.
Mother gave up weeping that her eyes got swollen and she couldn’t see clearly anymore. She decided to search for a job when we were broke but she couldn’t find any. I had to changed my school from a private school to a public school too as she couldn’t afford to pay the fees.
A year later, she got a job as a dish washer in a restaurant and it helped us managed. Mother said she doesn’t want the job but she had to take it for me. She wanted me to enroll in the best school and be a Lawyer. She wanted me to grow up and help people, to fight for them. She wanted me to charge people like my father. Her life wouldn’t have been like this if he wasn’t in it. The hatred for my father started to grow in my heart. I began to see father as evil and so I promised myself that any day I find him, I will make him pay for the pains, all the unhappiness and woe he had caused us.
On that night, after our stories, I unpacked all the clothes I had wanted to travel with. I boiled water and prepared her favorite oats since she refused to eat anything else. She called me and thanked me with an awkward smile. I could cry staring too long at her. I looked down and she slowly starts to sing her favorite song again and she coughed in between the lyrics. She had grown so lean and was becoming bony. I asked to returned back to the kitchen to dish her meal but before I could return to her, she had left. She couldn’t wait to say goodbye to me, but her body still lies there. She couldn’t stay anymore. She couldn’t resist the pain. She eventually joined the choir invisible. Mother died of cancer but to me father was like the cancer that killed her.