It began with uninvited visitations, it snowballed into a “hello-hi” friendship, it ended in hatred. I grew up in a block of flats that housed all kinds of people from different walks of life. Our landlord had earlier named it “home for all”.
My family that included my mother, Mmesoma, lived on the third floor directly opposite an aged bachelor’s flat who I would later know as brother Ogbonna Maduka. Ogbonna; a light skinned, above-average-heighted man, who was the ‘brother’ in our catechism sessions in the evening. He loved mother Mary with the remains of his troubled heart. He got married to mother Mary without her consent, he wore a finger rosary on his ring finger and a long chaplet with giant beads swayed from his neck like an oversized dog chain. We called him “di mother Mary. Mother Mary’s husband”
Anytime he climbed the stairs, he counted the beads judiciously as though missing one bead would amount to falling down. Each step he made had a bead he touched. That was his stair-case-climbing ritual.
One balmy evening, the air was mixed with a scent that came from breeze running through the leaves of giant trees and the breeze had not been stingy that day. It blew generously. As I and Mmesoma strutted down the stairs to go for our catechisms, we could perceive the aroma of mother’s delicacy trailing the stairs with us. Mmesoma said “Chiagozie, okwa ifuru ihe mummy ji ofe egusi eme ndi mmadu akpiri na yadia? Chiagozie can you see how mummy is teasing people’s appetite with her egusi soup in this yard?”
I grinned and pulled her head scarf off her head. While she was tying it back, I admired her and called her “isi okpukpu.” Mmesomma is my immediate younger sister; she is fourteen years of age already. An oval face, a taut breast and an accentuated pointed nose that I mockingly called “imi v boot. V boot nose” were all hers. I threw a peek at her admiringly. Puberty had crept in; she had begun adding weight in strategic places that proved maturity. Her hips widened, a reasonable amount of flesh in her behind, her mammary gland looked like a fine apple one would crave to have in his palm.
While we walked into the basement in our compound where we often had our catechisms, brother Ogbonna gaped as we walked in. The roundness of my sister’s breast must have distracted him, or maybe the broadness of her hips. These things flew in and out of my mind but I suppressed it by calling it an evil thought against our brother.
That night, while we were on the dining eating that egusi soup, we heard a knock and mother opted to open the door herself in case they were robbers. She unbolted the bolt of our mahogany wooden door, we heard her say
“Brother the brother!”
I was uneasy. This man had never visited us. Why would he visit us today or had he come to look at my sisters’ breast again? The thoughts raced through my mind.
He replied to mother.
“mama mmeso! Kedu?”
What is wrong with this man? Other people call my mother “mama Chiagozie” that’s me! I am the first, so, my mother’s name should be “mama first born” and not last. Or, maybe, my sisters’ beauty made him break the norm and act unconventional.
As he came to join us in the dining, I muttered a greeting. If he heard, good. If he didn’t, best!
Mother had hurried to the kitchen to dish out food for him, so, he had time to look at Mmeso and ask chorus questions like “What school do you attend?” “What’s the name of your teacher”?
“These questions are needless” I grumbled in my heart. Mother walked out with a tray of food for him and said:
“managia nkea biko. Manage this please”
He had a half-done smile on his face as he carried the tray and placed it before him; he made the sign of the cross and began to eat. As we ate, I fell in love with the way he ate. Each ball of semovita he swallowed had a bead in the chaplet. The way the semovita squishes in-between the spaces of his fingers to the way he sank that lump into the soup. Most importantly, I loved the way his index finger threw those balls into his throat. It was interesting watch him eat.
After eating, he thanked my mother and thanked his wife too-mother Mary.
While I went back to school, first, mother called and said brother Ogbonna had packed out of the compound. I wondered who would be our new ‘brother’ because I knew that it wasn’t my calling. She called the second time but for a different information altogether.
“hello chiagozie! Odika mmesoma adi ime. I think mmesoma is pregnant”
I didn’t hear it well. But, I think my heart had heard it because I felt it thumping hysterically. I thought of my younger sister and what mother described the labor room experience to be. I did everything to get myself home immediately.
On getting home, Arinze; a lanky boy that attends the catechism with us said he wanted to say something to me. He began;
“Guy, I dey feel say brother don give Mmesoma belle”
I was stupefied! I asked him how he knew. He boasted on how he knew everything that was happening in our compound. I pleaded for him to give me a fair idea of what transpired in my absence.
He told me how he saw Mmesoma in brother’s flat sweeping the corridor while she whistled hymns. Arinze now told me how brother took my sister to the penthouse and pressed her to the wall and locked his lips on hers while his hands travelled to her breast region. He said brother sank his hand into her pants before he sagged the pants to her knees and lay her down. I asked him what happened again. He said his father shouted his name from downstairs, so, he left the scene to answer his father.
I ran upstairs to know what was happening and to see Mmesoma too. I pushed the door ajar and walked in hesitantly. I saw my mother lying dead on the ground with a piece of paper that read
“Dear mother and Chiagozie, I am sorry for the disappointment and embarrassment I might have caused you people. It was brother Ogbonna that did it. He told me that I am the next Mary that will bear the next Jesus. I believed him to be godsent but I was wrong. My trust in a man I felt God was using landed me in this mess. I am sorry. I can’t continue this life”
I saw this coming. That man was a lion in a goat’s attire. He devoured my sister who wanted to be the next mother Mary. Probably she wanted millions to pray to her. Maybe she wanted her son to turn water into wine so she could drink to her satisfaction. She wanted to be read about in the bible. She forgot that angel Gabriel announced to Mary first. She forgot many things. She was caught in the web of that nitwit!
I didn’t get the drift actually. Did Mmesoma go with brother Ogbonna or what! I walked into our room and saw Mmesoma dangling from the ceiling with the rope we use in spreading cloth in the backyard.
She committed suicide, mother saw her, probably slumped before she died. My head couldn’t comprehend the movie I was seeing. My only option was to join in the movie immediately and play a role that I felt was the perfect of all available roles.
I darted to the balcony and flung myself down. I think I died while I was on the first floor before I landed and my skull chattered on the floor and the contents littered the floor like torn paper.
I hope brother Ogbonna dies too.
Mark Anthony Osuchukwu will be publishing his first book in 2016. Read more from his blog