TW // Microaggression, Premeditated Harm
Date: December 21st, 2019
Me again, Chibusomma Anyasi.
It’s almost the end of the year. Eleven days and we’ll be saying goodbye to an old decade and entering a new one. Am I excited? Please; excitement for me died 4 years ago with my dad. I don’t know why but after my dad’s death, I guess fun lost its effect on me. I know deep down my mum’s worried about me; I know she’s tried all she can to make me feel happy again, to form a connection with me; it just isn’t working. This was my life now and I have no plan to make any effort to change.
So here we are; in the village. We came down for the traditional Christmas of the Anyasi family. This is the time every member of the extended family come down to the village to spend time together. I once loved this period – when dad was still alive. My dad and I would always take a stroll round the village where he would show me places and things while giving me a history lesson of the village. We would go to the stream to swim, visit his old friends, the village events arena, the very big market square, and some other fun spots in the community. We would then come back to our house – the comfortable bungalow he built back in 2008, four years after I was born.
Well, liking this place had never been easy for me. Growing up, I was practically being avoided by my father’s relatives. My cousins were and are still shunned from talking to me, I was excluded from being in any family gathering; in a simple sentence, I was ostracized (I learnt that word recently, so permit to show off) . It was when I got older that I learnt that I received the kind of treatment I did because I am an albino. My village, like many other Igbo communities, believe that albinos are agents of evil. It was only two decades ago that the practice of burning albinos at birth was expunged. Even at that, albinos are never given proper burials when they die. They are instead burnt and their ashes thrown inside the mass of trees designated as the evil forest.
My mum just called me. Would be back soon.
I’m back, diary. My mom wanted me to greet my dad’s old friends who came to visit – Uncle Uche and Uncle Agbaim. They were my dad’s best friends since Secondary School. Even after his death, the two had stuck closer to me and my mum and ensured we were well taken care of. Uncle Uche is an Engineer currently based in Abuja with his family and Uncle Agbaim is a medical doctor based in the UK with his family too. Regardless of the frequent video call, this was the first time I had seen them physically since my dad’s funeral.
So, today has been busy. I’ve lost count of my father’s relatives and family friends that have dropped by to see my mum, just today. Family friends, I can understand; my father’s relatives on the other hand, I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Why the sudden cordial visits? Weren’t these the same people that were out for us 4 years ago after my dad died? Weren’t they the same people that made baseless claims of me and my mum killing my father? Why the change of heart? And for goodness sake, why is my mum seriously being so hospitable to these lots at the expense of her welfare. Okay, scratch that. My mum doesn’t have any issue with her financial welfare. If I’m to boast a little, I’d say this year was really good to her financially. In February, she was appointed as the first female African Regional Director of the International Institute of Theatre & Television Arts (IITTA); an appointment that required our relocation to Abuja, a much higher pay for her and brought about frequent trips for my mum within and beyond the continent, some of which I accompanied her to. Oh! Now I get why the courtesy visits.
So back to what I was saying. After the death of my dad, I pretty much hated anything that reminded me of him, this village topping the list. And when those he called family began antagonizing my mother in the name of rites and tradition, it further encouraged the hatred I had for this place. I could remember how my uncles and aunties came all the way to our house in Enugu and I had thought they came to commemorate with my mom like everybody else. It was when they called my mum outside and began speaking to her that I figured they had come for a different reason which I couldn’t make out at the time. I remember my mum talking back angrily after which they left.
My dad was the fourth child of my grandparents. There was Uncle Ede, Aunt Chekwube, Uncle Adindu, my dad (Amechi) and Aunt Amara; that was the order. Though none of them were lower class in wealth, Dad seemed more successful than all of them. In a discussion I had with my mother sometime in January, she told me that my father’s siblings did not take a shine to her because she was from another local government. Of all my dad’s siblings, he was the only one who didn’t marry from his local government area.
The hatred they had for my mum intensified when I was given birth to. As a little kid, I can’t count how many times greeting my father’s siblings had earned me murderous stares from them. So now, I just walk pass.
The afternoon after my dad’s burial, Uncle Ede and Uncle Adindu came to our house in the village and asked to see my mum. Her eyes still swollen from the previous day of uncontrollable tears, she had them at the sitting room.
Not too long into their conversation, from my room, I began to hear Uncle Adindu’s raised voice, it seemed angry. And so, the urge to eavesdrop came. I could feel the tension from whatever they were discussing rubbing off on the whole house.
I got up from the reading table in my room and made for the kitchen. Since the kitchen was adjoined to the sitting room by a wall, I felt I could hear them better without raising awareness of my intrusion. But it didn’t work; I could make out some words but not sensible sentences. So I tiptoed to the edge of the wall and clutched. Perfect, With all my sense organs shut but my ears, I could hear better.
“I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you?” Uncle Adindu said in Igbo, I guessed to my mum.
“There’s nothing wrong with me Sir,” my mum replied in Igbo too. “I’m just saying I can’t do it, she’s my daughter.”
“No! She’s our daughter, according to the law” Uncle Ede corrected in his usual calm manner.
“Odiegwu.” My mum interjected derisively. “A daughter you all branded an abomination”
“Woman, you must be mad to talk to us like that.” Uncle Adindu replied. “What do you know about our tradition? It is quite true you were married into our family and our tradition alright, that is still not enough to give you a say in family matters. Be rest assured that you’re still a stranger to us.”
“Oh, I never thought otherwise, Nnam. With you people’s attitude towards me since I got married, even a daft man could tell. I am just letting you know that it will be over my dead body that I’ll give my Chibusomma to either of you while I am still capable of taking quality care of her. And as per your other items on the list, it will be a very big dishonor to my late husband for me to hand over the documents of any of the properties built or bought by me and/or my husband.” My mum shot back.
Uncle Ede laughed loud. I thought I heard Uncle Adindu laugh too.
“You must think so little of the laws. Woman, tomorrow morning, I’m coming to hear that you’ve agreed to our decisions; if not, do not be surprised at what will follow. Not even your witch of a daughter will save you” Uncle Adindu threatened.
I came out after they’d gone to see my mum still seated on one of the stools in the sitting room; arms crossed, legs protruded, head bent to the right, eyes on the ground. She looked dejected as she didn’t notice my presence. I noticed the tear drop that rolled down her eye which she tried but failed to wipe out of being noticed.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I’ve heard about how diabolic people from this village could be all in the name of preserving traditional rites. I was scared for my mum. She wouldn’t follow those barbaric necessities easily. And to be honest, I didn’t want her to; but I knew she was scared as well. Among all required of her, she was also to hand me over as a ward to any of my dad’s elder siblings. First of all, it was obvious those guys weren’t doing this because they cared about my wellbeing. They didn’t want me. In less than two months, I would be turned into an inspiration for a cliché Nollywood movie about a maltreated house maid. Secondly, it would break my mum to loose me to them and it would break me completely to lose my mum too. I felt something needed to be done.
I tried to force myself to sleep but I knew it wasn’t working. I checked the time on my watch – 2:2b8am. Everyone was asleep. In the house were mum, three of her friends, myself and my two cousins; they were fast asleep. After using the toilet in my room, I stepped out to the porch.
The fresh air; I can still remember how cool it felt. I could get my pillow and mattress out there and sleep off. I could, but the mosquitoes would have a fun-filled ceremony on me. I could only sit on the plastic arm chair on the porch and feel the breeze.
It was while scanning around for the chair that my eyes fell on Uncle Adindu’s house. After this afternoon’s altercation with my mum, I had completely hated him and Uncle Ede. Okay, Uncle Ede, not completely; he really didn’t do much of the talking or threatening, but the fact that he just sat there and laughed was annoying.
So I kept my gaze on Uncle Adindu’s house. He sure sounded angry this afternoon. He must have made his plan on how he was going to come back to the house tomorrow to antagonize my mum again. He must have consulted with a native doctor on how to diabolically make her life and mine a living hell. Now he’s sleeping, I’m sure very peacefully. His wife and children intact. The thought then hit me.
I left the chair I was about to sit on and entered my house to bring my torch light. There was no electricity power in the village that particular morning. The moon wasn’t out as well, so almost everywhere was pitch black. I crept to Uncle Adindu’s old structured bungalow. I tiptoed to his room window and peeped into the room to see him and his wife, Aunty Cherechi asleep. I’ve heard a lot about how Uncle Adindu can lose himself to sleep. According to my dad, whenever Uncle Adindu slept, be sure to know that he’s dead to the world but he never failed to wake up by 5am on the dot. No one knew how he did it.
I thought and thought about what I could do to Uncle Adindu so as to ensure the safety of my mum. No, I didn’t plan to kill him; please I’m a monster with a heart. I just wanted him to suffer a little. Now, I had never done this before, mind you. The next time I inflicted physical pain on anybody was few months later, on Dabere; but I digress. I looked around as if to find anything to help further my plan and saw the stainless cup of water close to the window. Then it hit me again.
I quickly crept back to my house. Before entering, I picked up a black polythene bag lying around. I knew where my mum kept the rat poison. It’s been a year since we used it. No one cares about rats when mourning. I wrapped my right hand with the bag before eventually taking one of the bottles with the wrapped hand. Quickly, I went back to Uncle Adindu’s window, careful not to break or damage anything on my way. There was a rush of mixed emotions bubbling within me, excitement and guilt. I could feel the beads of sweat dripping down my face. This was happening.
I got to the window, opened the small bottle, being careful not to let a single drop on my skin. I stretch my hands into the window and positioned it such that the bottle was directly above the open big stainless cup. I poured as much as I could and quickly ran back to the house. My heart was beating fast.
Sleeping was kind of hard. I couldn’t believe what I had just done. The outcome of that night would be public knowledge the next morning. Finally, I was asleep.
The next morning, around 7am, a scream came from Uncle Adindu’s house. Then another scream, and another and another, then it was a so-you-think-you-can-scream situation. That’s when I knew that the poison had taken effect. It was a serious issue in the Anyasi family that Sunday morning. He was rushed to a hospital in Enugu from the village to be treated. The doctor of course cited food poisoning.
Responsibility for the incident was blamed on his wife, Aunt Cherechi. That morning, the rumor went round of Aunt Cherechi’s affair with one of the village chiefs being the sole motive to poison Uncle Adindu. The rumor led to the end of UncleAdindu’s marriage and eventually, their family. Uncle Adindu died a year later from a surgery complication; no, I wasn’t the cause, but is it weird that I felt bad I wasn’t?
And still, no one even suspected me.
You’re probably thinking I’m sick.. Trust me, I know I am.
But if you asked me, I’d tell you I did it for love. I love my mum. We might not get around much, but I still love her. No one threatens my mum and is forgiven. EVER!
But don’t you think yet that this is the worst I could have done, because trust me, I’m a MONSTER.
Maybe next time, I’d write about the first person I ever killed. Got to go.