Papa was the village chief; people loved him for he was an upright man who didn’t support evil.
One morning, I went to papa’s room to bring him his kola and gin for his usual morning ritual, but papa was sitting up on his wooden bed vomiting blood. A shrill cry escaped my throat. Mama came rushing to papa’s mud hut, with Sochima firmly tied to her back with her old wrapper . . . Maybe mama forgot she was supposed to bend over in the little opening covered with a raffia mat that serves as the door. Mama hit her forehead on the wooden lintel and prostrated on the floor which forced Sochima to cry.
I rushed to where mama was lying, rescued little Sochi from her back and rushed out to ask for help from the neighbours.
“Papa Emenike!” I bellowed. Papa Emenike emerged from his hut rubbing his pot belly. I told him what happened amidst tears.
He rushed to his barn, fetched his wheelbarrow and hauled towards my house. Mama’s forehead was still bleeding when we got to the house. Papa Emenike carried my father and placed him on the barrow and wheeled him away. Mama followed him struggling with her wrapper that was falling. She grabbed it, tied it to her waist leaving her breast bare and both hands on her head. “Stay and look after Sochima” she yelled when I was about following them.
Mama came back later in the day with a bandaged face. She went inside her hut without speaking to me. I followed her. She drew out a wooden box from under the bed, picked the old clothes from the table and neatly folded them into the box, took Sochima from me and made for the door. “What happened to Papa?” I inquired. “Your Papa’s heart has failed. He had heart failure and the doctor said I should bring . . . (she started counting her fingers) four million naira, so he would be transferred to their hospital in the city where he would get a heart transplant or he will die.. . Where will I get such huge amount of money from?” she rhetorically asked, wiping tears from her eyes with the hem of her wrapper. “So, I am leaving with Sochi, you are your father’s favourite, take care of him till he dies.” She left not listening to my pleas and cry. “Take care of your Papa” she said again and left.
After visiting papa at the hospital and the doctor telling me I had to source for the money as soon as possible, because Papa’s heart was getting weaker each day. I decided to visit papa Ebuka to ask him for help, he told me he could have helped but the little money he had was for paying Ebuka’s school fees.
As I was about leaving, he called me back and gave Me a hundred naira note. I thanked him and left hurriedly so he wouldn’t see the tears that was already trickling down my cheeks.
Life has been very hard for me: I barely ate one square meal a day, and the thought of my father gave me the heebie-jeebies. I had to beg for food to send to him in the hospital and mama was nowhere to be found.
One day I went to a cobbler’s shop to ask him for help, Amaka my friend told me he had lots of money. “If you sleep with me, I will give you plenty money” the cobbler replied after divulging all my predicaments to him.
The cobbler’s words kept replaying in my memory when I got home. The next day I went back to his shop.
when he saw me coming, he grinned and rubbed his sweaty palms together. He locked his shop behind me and grabbed me. He kissed me while he undressed me, I felt like I was swimming in an ocean of saliva. “Is this the kiss Amaka talks so much about, she is crazy for saying she enjoys it whenever Obi her boyfriend kisses her. It’s so disgusting”, I thought. The cobbler jerked and smiled after I felt sticky liquids pour inside me. “you are very sweet” he said while grinning. His grin revealed his teeth that were almost brown from chewing tobacco. I Almost vomited.
“Give me the plenty money I want to go”, I said.
After standing for ages watching him fiddle with his wallet. He pulled out a five hundred naira note and grinned again. My eyes were clouded with tears. “But this is not plenty money”, I cried. He shooed me out of his shop while asking me what a fourteen year old would do with five hundred naira. I cried to the hospital and when I got to the doctor’s office I gave him the money and ask him to minus.
After staring at me for long he broke out in laughter and asked if I thought he graduated as a doctor to act comedy.
I went to papa’s ward to see him, but he didn’t move when I touched him. I screamed the doctors name and he came rushing to where papa was lying motionless.
“Ay! Kiddo why are you disturbing the patients?” The doctor asked. I pointed to where papa was lying not uttering any word. He is just in a deep sleep. see? . . . (He placed the earpiece of the stethoscope on my ear and placed the diaphragm on papa’s chest) can you hear the heart beat?” he asked. I nodded and smiled. “Don’t create a scene again.” He murmured on his way out.
The cobbler introduced me to his friend. He gave me a five hundred naira note after sleeping with me. “Come again tomorrow.” He bellowed behind me. I quickened my steps not to hear his laughter.
The money they usually give me couldn’t pay for Papa’s surgery even if I saved it for ten years but it could feed me and Papa, so I chose to sleep with them. “I sleep with both of them everyday. I get one thousand naira; cool business”. I thought smiling. This continued for weeks.
After cooking breakfast for Papa, I scooped the food into a plastic bowel ready to go to the hospital. I opened the fancy wooden box papa bought for me when I came first in school and counted the money I saved up. Thirty thousand naira! My eyes widened. I folded it and carefully tied it in Mama’s old wrapper and made for the hospital.
I gave the doctor the money when I got to the hospital. He took the money from me. “Nice try but at this rate, I am going to get old before you finish the payment” he remarked. I sighed and left for papa’s ward. I was watching him eat when I felt a nausea feeling, and next thing I started vomiting, I was shocked because I couldn’t tell what’s happening to me. Papa asked if I was alright but before I could nod, another vomit found it’s way out.
“Ada, don’t tell me you are pregnant, No! Just don’t tell me you are pregnant”. Papa bellowed. I looked down, not knowing what to say. Papa asked again, standing up from the hospital bed this time. “are you going to tell me who is responsible, or should I kill you first?” he asked again, anger boldly written on his face. Since Two days ago I have been feeling so weak and feverish, I vomited most of the times, and my appetite went extinct at the sight of food. I asked Amaka and she told me it was early sign of pregnancy but I should go for a lab checkup to be sure.
I had a pregnancy test done in the morning which the result will be ready by evening but papa just confirmed my fears and concluded I was really pregnant.
His slap jolted me back to reality. “I said, who is responsible?” Pa….pa, it’s Eze the cobbler and his friend. I have been sleeping with them for weeks now so I can save up for your surgery . . .” I couldn’t finish what I was saying before papa fell heavily on the floor grasping his chest and vomiting blood. My scream attracted the nurse who rushed in almost immediately. “I think he has cardiac arrest, I need to call the doctor, he just left now” she said with a pleading eyes.
Before the doctor came, papa was already lying lifeless, the doctor checked his pulse and heaved a sigh. “sorry but we lost him”, he said. He told the nurse on duty to prepare him for the mortuary and left.
At first I didn’t know what to do, I thought of taking my own life but on a second thought, I decided to go bring my lab result.
The nurse handed it over to me, and I read it through. This time I fell on the floor and resumed crying again. I was not pregnant but had malaria and typhoid. “It’s true I slept with the cobbler and his friend who were old enough to be my father but at least papa, I am not pregnant please wake up” I cried. But the deed had been done, papa was dead and couldn’t wake up unless by miracle.
I killed papa while trying to save him.