In other news, my step father died this morning.
He was lazy and dirty, and always had a halo of cigarette smoke hanging around his head while he was alive. He also chewed with his mouth open – an annoying habit – and talked a lot, much more than was necessary for an adult in my honest opinion. And he drank like a fish, or even worse.
My mother has been inconsolable all day. Her eyes are angry red and swollen from crying buckets, and her disheveled hair is still strewn with the dirt it picked up earlier when she rolled on the sandy ground in her distraught state. All because my step father, a dirty uncouth man died.
For me, the only feeling is the increasingly violent rumble in my belly, and my challenge is how best to appease it. All I can think about is how to get a big steaming bowl of rice and beans, cooked together just the way I like it, with some vegetable soup and lots of shredded dried catfish.
An only child, I lost my father at the age of nine. My dear father, quietly unassuming, with dimples in his cheeks and the mischievous twinkle always dancing in his dark eyes. He was a friend before he was a parent; he was my light and my hero. He was my all, until death’s grubby hands snatched him away from me using acute typhoid fever as an excuse. I cried and cried at his loss; I even secretly wished for death to take me along on his horse – such was my pain – but the reaper refused to grant my plea.
A year down the line, mama got herself a new man and I was left to rue the consequences of death’s oversight.
By my twelfth birthday I had started to bloom, with fair sized breasts poking out of my chest. Dealing with the unfamiliar bodily burden should have been my only problem, but for my step father’s roving hands. Those bothersome appendages never stayed by his side where they belonged, magically finding their way to my bum and budding bosom, as if they were made of metal, and my body parts were magnetic.
I would shudder and instantly move away from him any time he touched me and he would look bemused, as if his fingers were not obeying commands emanating from his brain. It was annoying, but not as annoying as mama telling me he was only being ‘friendly’ on the numerous occasions I reported his disgusting behavior to her.
I learnt to shut up and stay out of the reach of his sneaky pinching paws after a while, and all was well again.
That was when he started ‘accidently’ bumping into my room.
It usually happened while I was dressing up after having a bath or undressing in preparation for one, and although he would immediately mumble an obviously insincere apology claiming he had only wanted to take a leak (my room was beside the loo); his retreat was always slow and reluctant, while his eyes darted hungrily over the exposed parts of my slight frame as I struggled to cover up.
Again I learnt to make sure to lock up anytime I had to change or had cause to be in my room alone, and I never slept without bolting the door. I foolishly went about feeling smugly victorious when he couldn’t gain access to my room for weeks, until the day I discovered two conveniently drilled and camouflaged holes on the central panel of my wooden door. Only one person in our household could have been devious enough to do such a thing.
Unfortunately my mother loved him. She never bothered to verify my claims or protect me from him, not once. Maybe in her heart she knew the truth and was just so terrified of losing her man again, that she would rather alienate and sacrifice her only daughter to keep him happy.
“He doesn’t mean any harm. Give him a chance to act like your father, find space for him in your heart. Once you do, all will be well. You’ll see.”
I stopped reporting him to her altogether.
When he slyly started showing me his hideous penis at every opportunity, I knew I had to do something drastic before it became too late.
My step father died this morning and no one knows exactly what killed him.
‘Sniper’ as advertised kills only insects, and although the warning on its container says ‘keep out of the reach of children’, it doesn’t say anything about what happens to whomsoever drinks one whole can mixed with a bottle of beer. In any case my step father wasn’t an insect, or a child, so there’s no need to go jumping to conclusions.
Now, about that hot plate of rice and beans…None found.