How I Decayed

 

this story has been published in Kalahari Review

Image result for images of crying african boy with wounds

I became higgledy-piggledy. Wholly Unorganized and hot-skinned. People burned when they killed. I lost my brain and developed stunning energies. Terrible things became my appetites. I long to make troubles, steal from trips of granites, rape girls, slap anyone that seek my trouble , smoke like Chimalu openly and  abuse any elderly that confronted me. I struggled with my head at a time and when the monster automating the skull of a murderer subjugated the sinews of human conscience I crossed my boundary one afternoon. I left the shark against mother’s orders.

 

Our home was a small wooden shark leaning slightly on gravels. Spirogyra wrapped an half of the verandah, and no matter how it nauseated my mother, I loved the wet as I loved staring in the sun and brushing her filigreed shines with my fingers.

Days I had much in my stomach, I pulled up the formless slab of coquina leaning on the wall of our thatch-roof kitchen, sat on it and clicked placidly on the sodden green spread with a splinter of bamboo.

If not Mama Sharon, the large-headed wife of Oga Danfo, the only one to call when a granite boulder refused to concur to the hits of the hammer or when a mine seemed too deep for a boulder cracker, Auntie Viki, the sharp-mouthed lady and cheap ass from Kogi or Mrs. Preye the workaholic Evangelist from the east of calabar it would be my mother who’d tow me away from the stone with yaps that echoed in my head for days.

*

Our shark stood feebly like a work-worn preacher in front of an influx of tanned metal-roof sharks tilting as ours. A dense forest of gamelia trees stretched over an acreage from the rare and from it oozed mutiny of disquieting ululations.

The sounds inspired in me a pestering sense of fright until it became a tradition, the fragment of the night. Wild and low animals filling the area came to play nameless games around the shark at noon. I noticed this through the window once, perhaps they thought I was out to play in the neighborhood.

Once, I had been enthused by hunger to go hunting but as soon as my long stick towed a grasshopper from a tree branch on my shoulder I scampered back home and vowed never to cross my boundary even if the hunger loomed in a platoon peeved to a high degree.

Like other sharks, our home is made of  gamelia planks that crackled and flicked grey dusts on us as sun scourged them. Our planks had grown weak and old they have gaping holes and infinite sizzles. Just a morning I and my mother woke up to find mounds of grey-white dusts all over us. My mother espoused a stratagem; we entered large sacks and shrouded our bodies with her ragged Ankara rappers. It became the way forward.

Our shark hasn’t a door, or there was but age swung it off. There was a window we never opened for the dread of forcing it off the rusting bolts holding it to the worn-out frames.

The roof had crevices of rain. The name came just from me. The crevices of rain. Hard platters had come off the  holes until a shallow lozenge-shaped channel halved the floor; mother was crying one evening the channel over flooded and water swirled to our part.

I picked a tob shard and drew a shallow line to the left side. I made sure the line deepened day by day until I broke a hole that allied the waters to the brook running up river Niger. i couldn’t  expound the actuality of the water running straight to river Niger. And even when it was said that every water runs up river Niger I had always doubted the stone mine’s proximity to the river that the brook few steps from our shark run straight to the large river.

*

Every noon, glittering bars of light formed letter ‘T’ on the floor of our shark. The left hand of the filigreed ‘T’ climbed briefly on the right wall. Once, I watched the stem of the ‘T’ from the ragged mat I serenely laid my hunger-hollowed stomach hoping to grow up and usher it to the veil of darkness and a spider staggered across it then a luna moth perching before it. It’s a vista of war, of death and confrontation. The scene enamored me and vigorously I broadened my eyes eagerly imagining what happens next. I imagined the spider clapping it with hot fists and the luna moth kicking off the spider’s protruding belly full of yarns and black tufts.

The anomalous occurred. I had expected the spider to pick it slowly without an ado, chop it to strips before adhering it to its webs. But the luna moth reeled up and tore it to pieces. From then I had believed I could defeat my obstacles even when it seemed endless and intimidating. From that intermission of hunger, from that interlude of boredom I named my self , my challenges and my world after the low creatures. The Spider and the Luna moth. Am the luna moth and my world and challenges , the spider.

*

It was in this shark of ours that my mother wrecked the corruption that defiled me. It was here she directed the depleting furies of her maddening frustrations. It was here she lengthened my quagmires beyond my jurisdiction. Despite, her demolition of my fortresses and dumping me vulnerably porous – I had never for once forgotten to motivate my humanity with an unquestionable actuality she switched to whoredom for my conservation and perpetuation. But often I had wondered if before the abominable leap she had considered the indelible smudges her ominous action would smear on the wall of my being and the insanity that took over the senses of decorum.

The norm had being me staying back in the shark with a novel I picked on Pecuno lane and my mother blending in the throng of workers down active stone crushers and coming back home in the late evening grey-colored with a bottle of kerozine, food stuffs and grumbles.

I was consistently concerned in the grumbles. Much of it implied lack of stones in the mines the following day and lack of stones denoted lack of nylon-bag full of foods and this signified the march of a squadron of hunger.

But things changed in an August evening. Before this evening life in the mine turned inconsolably dreary; there was the prolonged pandemonium of the mine chairmanship election that led to strike and closure of works all over the mines and quarries of Zone six. And this ushered in an invisible hordes of starvation. A large number of workers emigrated to their homes for their heads. Some trouped up Enugu and Lagos for menial jobs for the mean time whilst some, maybe, without home like us to turn to lingered in the mine.

It was in this period that the earth caved in , it was then that ushered my mother to the sphere of anomalous reformation. That evening of August I had wept and got hauled in time to sleep by hunger and a chain of bangs on the door woke me. The shadows of two fellows struggled on the left wall. I tilted my head to the right and they became visible. A hulk of a man with large broad shoulders was tearing and outstripping my mother’s only santin work-worn gown. My mother was weeping as she fell on the mat beside me. She cried profusely as the man bent over her ,panting, grunting and humming liberally.

Though, Chimalu had once showed me the film of two naked people protracting and contracting on each other  I vaguely could offer a name to the action of my mother and the man. Impulsively I performed a shame-driven action. The shame of my mother’s nakedness pulled my hand to the joist in which a lamp of flickering tongue of light hung placidly. I depressed the fulcrum , the globe rose up and I quench the flame. Mother’s cries filled the room.  I stood befuddled, not knowing if I should weep, run, laugh, cry or pick a lead and thrust it in the man’s moving spines. Precipitately, I yelled ‘leave my mother’ with a long stick I lifted from a corner O….O…..bia sor….ry. go out my mother grunted.

Not then realizing the depth of their action I had assumed mother was fine and did the right thing. After, I eavesdropped from the window to their conversation. You’re sweet. The man said. Give me the money I need to cook for my child tonight. He’s been hungry since morning. My mother whispered. Your child is manner less and corrupt. The man accused. Give me the money and get out. My mother barked profusely. I should get out?. Give me the money and get out my mother began to cry.

When the man left she met me on the boulder outside. She knelt before me with a fist of money. She was begging me to wipe my tears. And telling me she was sorry. I only cried for her own tears I wasn’t crying for any other thing I was just  ten  totally unaware. And since she begged me to wipe my tears I concluded she’s alright. But as she cracked a bar of spaghetti into a steaming pot on the stove the urge to exhibit the act wrung me to loops. The heave and draw of the scene melted me to rivulet. The force turned suicidal I virtually touched her, scrunch her  bare breasts and nuzzle her over-red lips as the man had done.

Something happened to me that night, and as I ate my food and watched my mother cried bitterly I know she knew something has happened to me, that she had magnified my bogs and that I’d never remain the same. And I never remained the same.

My mother cried all day and persisted in the act all the night, waving me outside until Auntie Viki, graphically expounded the name of the act to me as I edged up to her for illumination. the truth irked me. The disrespect to my father’s shark cleaved my sense of politesse to vexed shards. The twinges of her wreckages wrapped my face with veil of antagonism and one night I clacked off the door, struck a pestle collected from Mama Ido’s restaurant on the nape of the man’s neck. I stilled the sweating man. My mother was yelling and crying. She pushed off the hulk in a pool of blood. I clasped my eyes from her nudity. Why did you do this. My mother whispered.

Because you are messing up in my father’s shark. Mummy why are you doing this. Under my nose?

My mother busily rolled the man and when she was certain he’s breathing she faced me with answers and series of hot slaps .

The men have wives in their homes,  vigilante men are all over the mine. And I must bring them here or you will starve. Look around, no work in the mine.

My mother searched the man’s pocket and starched some money in her pause. My mother checked on the man again and realized he’s dead. I was a child unaware of the implications and repercussions of murder. The veracity of trashing in jail. I was jubilant I stilled him from pounding my mother like the wheat trash. My mother cut her yell halfway with a subdued whisper . You’ve killed De Rock. I was silent but observed an electrifying gush of terror In my vein. Mother’s discomfort discomfited me, denoting howling flames of fire on the mountain. I and my mother lifted the man into  the darkness, averting and ducking with the large corpse away from the jugging lights of distant security torches until we reached the heart of the forest opposite the forest of our own house to avoid traces. Howls of jackals and grunts of elks frightened me as we dumped him under a large tree and turned back for the path leading home. Mother gasped silently as we softly trod across the herbaceous grasses rimming the way.

Back home, mother rose the light of the lamp and mopped off every dints of blood.  She made the mistake of sweeping some clumps of bloods into the line of water on the floor. I stopped the flow and filtered them off with two large brooms. My mother shivered and blamed me. She called me a murderer. I blamed her and called her a prostitute. She did nothing, she would’ve slapped me but I know her hands were too heavy. We only stared at each other. We were murderers.

we heard nothing about De Rock until a week after. An hunter had seen his bloated body and alerted the mine’s security. As an ambulance halted on Moji lane, to show the face of the dead, and people wailing and yelling De Rock, De Rock, De Rock and his wife with a new-born babe girl howling and panting I was around with my mother shivering and staring about the wailing crowd. My mother began to cry. Her cry confounded me, and veiled the anxiety of having accusing finger hauled toward us. Auntie Viki was there and I feared she would tell the gorilla-faced policemen she had once seen the man in our shark or with my mother but she only wailed like it was her own mother who died. But I realized the reason de tar she must wail and wail again. He’s one of her punters. She wailed for something slipping of her grasp down a slope of abyss. The evangelist was there with her king-size bible. She wasn’t wailing as others. She only frowned her face and dipped her head like the agape lizard that slithered off the eave of a high construction. Who’d she see the porch of heaven ,  God and an observable scrawl of revelation on the blue firmament?. As she only stepped to the corpse and drew  untraceable crooked lines of cross on the sepia-satin draped body and staggered back to her shark I knew she was blind and saw nothing than the vanity and vexation of spirit she had yelled to wayward workers and all over the mine .

As the ambulance drove off with the body’s family guilt squashed my darting irises with a mass of invisible barbs. Spikes from immortal hands broaching my ribs to my intestines. I looked at my mother to see if she felt my trepidation. She was talking with a woman and flailing her hands erratically. What was she detailing? The way the man died; the way she invaded my father’s hallowed sanctum, the unabashed manner he encroached my father’s sanctified protectorate? The vile way I looped his medulla with the large condo. And dumped him in Barfini forest? When the woman only shuddered her shoulders and never bawled and shrieked I hissed.

My mother became to me a putrid faggot, the wigs of bitter leaves father once mashed on my lips when I had diarrhea as she changed tactics and came home in the mid-night zonked and oiled. She smelt of alcohol and a fluid I would grow up to know as sperm. She had her clients outdoor, and despite she was drunk I never untied the knots of her rapper to find nothing. She made sure she properly tightened up the money for me before swerving up ogogoro joint. I tearfully untie the knot and make a delicious food she wake up to gulp like a prison break out  the following morning. Everyday I wept in the shark, saw the ghost of De Rock and felt the wrath of God encircling me.

My mother became alien. she spoke to herself. Flail her hands about like an udder of milk subtended from a hoist stuck in the skies and she desperately needed it to quench her hunger. Sometimes she fell on the floor, twitch and jerk some parts of her body as if in an epileptic fits. She begged De Rock to forgive me and urged my father to forgive her. I feared my mother. She’s my accuser. She called me a murderer and I feared she’d drink off her mind one of these days and offer me to the police.

I became higgledy-piggledy. Wholly Unorganized and hot-skinned. People burned when they killed. I lost my brain and developed stunning energies. Terrible things became my appetites. I long to make troubles, steal from trips of granites, rape girls, slap anyone that seek my trouble , smoke like Chimalu openly and  abuse any elderly that confronted me. I struggled with my head at a time and when the monster automating the skull of a murderer subjugated the sinews of human conscience I crossed my boundary one afternoon. I left the shark against mother’s orders.

I met Auntie Viki sleeping in her shark. Two towers halved by a valley was her chest. And the force came. I offered one a touch, the other, then both roughly till she twitched up. An heavy slap brought me to the floor. She was panting and whining ‘ what an insult, what an insult, don’t you know your mate, if your mother has wounded you am I your mate. I wasn’t shame laden. I was bold like I had just done nothing but an acrobat deserving an applause. I glared at her as she snatched me up the floor an have me tucked off her room.

Just as the moon began to rise, and I was mopping streaks of blood off the bloats on my mother’s forehead- the blows she got from a man that have her and refused to pay- Auntie Viki stormed on our verandah with Mama Nnedi. When my mother heard what I did and the brutal way auntie Viki attributed the course to her she picked a bottle nearby and send the women into the darkness. As for me I wouldn’t wait for her to come back. I darted into the shark, curled up in a corner, wrapped myself up with a sack and stayed there till  morning.

a Week following my mother loped to the rear of the shark vomiting and fastening her belly with wet fingers. I did not meet her, I jogged into Mala street and bought a satchet of paracetamol from Doc Muruo. I met her on the spot sprawled like a knocked mongrel. I dumped the drugs she rejected on a lump of obsidian very close, scurried off for a cup of water and have her face smoothly swabbed off white globules. She was too fragile and lacked the strength to have her in. I knelt on the wet floor staining and drenching her lapper. My mouth was immobile but tears slithered off in endless rivulet. What’s wrong with her. I don’t know I my mother never told me except she grumbled she’s not ready for two children and I wondered if I had a sibling somewhere coming from terra incognito to join us.

She stayed back at home for the lethargy bounding her. Her clients visited every night and their visitations always having my mother gasping and crying irked me one night and I blocked the door of our shark and threatened a mustachioed man to yell out to the security and have him napped for attempting to rape my mother. This vexed my mother. But I wouldn’t let the man in.

No food in this house. if he walks off be ready to starve…. Tears rolled off my eyes as her. Why must father die and have mother pulped in the crack she disdained with passion. Mother wasn’t fit but she had been pounded and pulverized all night that she looked frail and velvet irises. She hadn’t been eating since the scene of vomit. Realizing I’d be the starved I expanded my lungs with loud whine and have the man somersaulting off the verandah of our shark.

Don’t blame me for your hunger….you killing me the more. You know I’d not watch you starve. You know I’d go looking for him. You must eat.

I blocked my mother’s way. I had lifted heavy weights with Chimalu friends I flexed some muscles. She’s too weak to have me off her way.

Mother return to the mat. Am thirteen now. I’d work and feed you. No more prostitution in here.

But we’ve got no active crushers.

Just go in.

I cooked a jug of water and have her properly mopped.

Necessities had been laid upon me and it was germane for the freedom of my mother. And by all means I must stun her with endless foodstuffs or she’s off crawling on the grits for my bed of roses.

The next day I was roaming the quarry, from trips of granites to trips of coquina, from mounds of dusts to cone crushers still as the stars of the night hunting for any work to do. I was hungry by the noon and the fear I’d collapse and have the attention of my mother inspired an horrendous deliberation in my head. there was the 7UP restaurant steps away I wobbled in and comfortably sat on a plastic chair with a loud noise of order like I’ve got a million on me. Ofe ora, ugu in large quantity , chunks of mangala and pork beefs making the soup formless then a plate of well-pounded akpu came. And ravenously I gulped it off sight. Through, I was staring at the empty plates I had washed efficiently with my tongue and staring at the waiter, a girl of my age jutting off her left fingers for the pay. I had nothing on me and I just starred. I know I’d be smacked to daze and the verity of it forced tears of my eyes. Soon, I was weeping, weeping shamelessly and profusely for  the news, the news of me eating and not paying and brutally pummeled into a ditch, how it’d rip off our door and stuck in itself in my mother’s ears. How she’d trot down blaming and accusing me for making her irresponsible.

And it happened, 7UP snatched my neck up demanding his money. In the next thirty minutes I was in a dark room definitely a toilet with the stomach-churning, repellant reeks watery grimes I stood on. For hours I was sniffing the filths, wailing and watching the sunrays inching off down the hills. The Foreboding thought I’d die in the hideously nauseating smell filled the room,

 

 

 

 

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