By Maryam Sa’eed Otuh
Today, mother whispered, “I am tired” with her head resting on her pillow, her right arm flung carelessly across the bed as she stared at the bland patterns on the white-painted ceilings.
She didn’t complain about the brown patches forming on the areas where it leaked. Or about the cobwebs we failed to clean yesterday.
Father came home angry. He grumbled about his tasteless food and yelled for clean water to wash his hands.
Then, he stormed out, ignoring mother’s tears as they fell on the cold untiled floor, on her old blue wrapper, and in her palms.
She tried to hold them in; she squeezed her eyes shut, breathed in deeply. But her eyes had become weak. The tears fell heavily, leaking from the sides and then all over. They were pouring, like our roof, during the rainy season.
You haven’t changed, mother, Tobi said. You’re still sweet and kind. And you love us a lot.
She smiled and patted his 10-year-old head. She knows better than to believe the words of a boy yearning for the warmth of a mother.
He touched where she patted and laughed. I wonder if he remembers that I removed two more lice from his hair this morning.
Sadness has many homes, and mother housed it without demanding rent like Uncle Tunji when he lost his only son. Or, like Ngozi, who lives in the uncompleted building at the end of the street and would stop in front of our house, sending curses our way after drinking too much ogogoro.
Father did not come home that night, he would be gone for a while, and mother would cry, leaving us to prepare the yam porridge we would eat for supper.