Click here to read Featherlight Heart -Chapter One
“what’s wrong baby?” Diana comes to him after class. “I noticed you have been distant for a couple of weeks now, is everything okay at home, is it your dad?” She slides next to him as the class empties out
“Isn’t it always about him, what else should be wrong?” he says hitting the table with his fists
She grabs his hand and puts it in hers “it would be okay soon”
“You know, that is what I used to tell myself, that one day He was going to stop treating my mother the way he treats her, that he would stop beating her, stop humiliating her in front of those small girls old enough to be his daughters that he brings home to sleep with. That one day he would give her something to do maybe a shop so that she doesn’t have to come begging him for money, that someday he would love me and treat me as a son, the way a father should, that one day, all this would stop…but you see I have been praying that since I was ten Dee, ten years old, right from the moment, the first day I saw him slap her to the ground, right from the first day I heard him lie to her he didn’t have money but I saw him sending the driver to give two bundles of 100k to his girlfriend, right from the first day he told me he didn’t have money to pay my fees but he bought a car for some random chick, right from the first day I realized that my mother had been starving for three days and she had been giving me her food to eat because he didn’t want to give her money for market.”
He took a deep breath and continued
“See Dee, I have been praying that prayer and even believing in it but it doesn’t change or get better, it become’s worse…and sometimes I wished the Ibekewe’s family was still alive, they would have stopped him. You know while we were there, he was nice, maybe he was pretending knowing all that he could get for his good graces, but as soon as death took them and he got that company… he had become lord of us, treating us like rats, but he forgets that it was because of my mother he was able to get this opportunity and if she was bad or a witch as he calls her she would have reported him when he comes back at night and beats her up. Look Dee, my father wouldn’t change, he is heartless, wicked and the fact that he has money, wealth and influence makes it even worse. My mother that stayed with him when he had nothing, helped him till things became good, how does he replay her? By humiliating her, beating her and treating us like crap. No, it wouldn’t get better, the best thing is to pray to God to bless my mother and I somewhat so we can leave his stupid house and survive elsewhere” he says
“So you don’t have uncles or anyone who can talk to him or help”
“My father listens to no one but himself and who wants to caution him? when he slaps them with money, they act like dogs licking up the shit from his shoes, no one can help. I just need to finish school, get a good job and then I can take my mother away” he says
Diana looks at him, she sighs .
When she met him, she had liked him instantly, they had become friends their first year and when he asked her to date him months later she had jumped at it. Emeka was beautiful for a guy, he had his mother’s soft features and cute smile, he had his father’s height but compared to his father’s hard features, cold eyes when he was angry, Emeka’s eyes were warm, it drew you in, so was his heart. That was what drew her to him at first, then his looks and the way he carried himself. It didn’t hurt that he was a free giver, when he had and when he didn’t, he looked for means to carter for her needs and she liked it. They were in their third year now, and being with him was amazing, he made her laugh, he treated her nice, and he never made her feel anything less than a woman, but then again… like her friends used to say “Na fine boy we go chop?”
She cared for Emeka and enjoyed their time together, but his situation was going from bad to worse, and she had to admit, the other reason she wanted to date him was because she knew whose son he was, the rich Mr Chikurdi, Mr moneybag Ambross Chikurdi, an acute business man, his company was among the best in the country. His father was rich.. so she felt, okay… yes she liked Emeka, she could also benefit from him too. He drove a car to school, and sometimes he treated her to nice places and she was the envy of most girls in school, No, everyone.
But no one knew that this fine handsome boy with the soft eyes and beautiful heart, warm eyes was suffering within, the car was the only thing his father gave him, and that was because he was trying to look good in front of his friends who had gifted their children something, and then that was it. Despite that his father was rich, Emeka works in a fast food restaurant down town, and then on weekends he worked in a mechanic shop, he had a fascination for cars, electronic and so he made himself useful, and some days he followed his mother to the market to sell, and that was how he was able to have a few changes in his pocket to care for his mother and then her.
No one knew this except her, and well… since no one did, she kept it hidden, it would have been embarrassing for her if people knew.
But things weren’t looking good, his father had altogether stopped giving him money for school, he didn’t know how he was going to continue with his school, the money he made from selling and working couldn’t amount for anything after he and his mother took care of their daily means, his school and then her. They lived like slaves in his father’s house, the man didn’t care. They were hanging by a rope.
She pitied him yes, she liked him yes, but really, “Na fine boy person go chop?’’she wondered. She was a beautiful girl, guys liked her, she already had a few offers to date another…
And she didn’t know how to tell him she wanted to break up with him, how would he be able to carter for her needs? Boyfriends were supposed to be Atms amongst other things right?
While her friends showed off things their boyfriends bought them, Gucci this or Gucci that, iphone this and jewery that, she kept telling them that Emeka had plans for them and she wasn’t materialistic…but in reality she wanted to live the life she envisioned. A rich boyfriend should have been able to provide her with the luxury she wanted. But it was just an illusion, Emeka wouldn’t be able to give her what she wanted, she felt sorry for him and his mother, but she couldn’t date him anymore.
“Emeka, I know things would get better, I know, you just have to hang in there” she tells him
“I am trying, just worried about my mother. Here I’m thinking if she is okay or if papa had done something to her again.I always go home with a heavy heart… because I always find her crying or hungry or locked outside the house … I am tired. And she is sick Dee, she isn’t looking so well and no money to go to the hospital. I want to sell my car, so I can be able to take her to the hospital“
“NO!!’ she says, if he sells it, everyone would finally see that Emeka was nothing and that meant they would see that she too had been nothing all along, no, she needed to jump off the train before he hits the rocks.
“What? My mother is sick, we have no means whatsoever, my father doesn’t care”
“You can hold on na, I am sure she just needs rest”
“Someone who couldn’t sleep all night and had a fever? No! I have already found a buyer, it’s for him to call me, later today”
Diana shakes her head biting her lips
“Look, God is alive up there somewhere but he haS forgotten us, but I won’t let my mother die, if the car must go it would and everything else, if I have to remove my heart to save her I would.”
‘‘But your friends and everyone, the shame and all that”
“I don’t care about all that, let them talk. My father makes it seem that he cares for us but he doesn’t, at least shame would wash over him when people start talking about how his son is trekking the hot sun and all that, maybe it would make him do things right”
‘‘What about me?’’
“What about you Dee?’
“Have you asked me what I think about all these?”
“I don’t get you Dee, if your mother is dying, would you not want to sell that nice jewel around your neck to save her?”
She was quiet “that is not what I am saying”
“Then what babe?’
“That car takes you to school, covers a lot of shame“
‘‘So what would you have me do Dee? turn the other way? I don’t even know whether she has eaten, she has no drugs, I need to take her to the hospital and I won’t listen to anything else, it’s just a car Dee, it can be replaced, a mother can’t. I’ll manage, we’ll manage, you talking about how you’ll get to school? I’ll come get you as always- “
“With public transport?”
“At least we would be together”
“Okay, I am hungry, let’s go to Chicken republic, all this talk is making my head spin”
Emeka looks at her “Babe, I just told you about selling my car and you want to go to C.K? Okay, let’s go to Mama Basira’s, we can eat there, or rather I’ll go buy it and bring it here, I don’t have money for C.K, you know I would if I did”
“So while my friends and everyone else is doing C.K I should go to Mama Basira?”
“Babe, you know the situation of things, I have been nothing but honest with you have I not? why are you making me feel bad?’’
“I am tired of the situation, my dad this my dad that, I mean you are his son damnnit!! He can’t totally abandon you, I know what the situation is, you are just proud and stubborn, maybe you have offended him and that is why he is upset, if you and your mother go and ask for forgiveness he would accept and you both are back in his graces and you wouldn’t lack neither would you be selling your car”
Emeka looks at her “You have seen my father, you have been to my house and you think it’s about going on my knees and all this would go away? Do you know how many times we have broken our legs and fell to our knees to plead with him, it never changed anything. My father is what he is, wicked before he is a man and me begging him never changed anything but he became worse. He simple does not care Dee, Look babe, I have just a year left and I promise when I am done and I start work with my degree, things would be better, you just have to be patient with me, I would do anything you want, give you anything you want, buy you the earth if you desire, I promise, babe..my baby, don’t be angry” he says touching her face, he leans in and kisses her forehead, her cheeks and brushes his lips with hers.
“I can’t anymore” she says pushing him away
“You can’t what?”
“This. Us. You and me. I can’t anymore” She says,
Emeka felt a sudden pain to his chest,he rubs it absentmindedly “Dee, what are you saying?”
“I am saying Emeka that I am breaking up with you”
“You can’t, I love you, I love you Dee, please don’t. Okay, you want C.K, I’ll borrow cash from my friend, I’ll pay them back… just don’t be angry with me please, I am sorry. Look, babe-”
She was shaking her head, standing up, he pulls her back gently….’’ No No Diana please, don’t do this to me now, aside my mother you are my life. I love you Diana, you are the only girl I love, will love…you can’t get angry over C.k!”
“C.K food? You think that’s the only thing? There are a lot of things Emeka, and one of them is that you can’t care for me… you can’t even care for yourself let alone your mother, how am I going to cope with that, while my friends are basking in their boyfriends wealth, I am here lying and hiding mine telling them all is fine”
‘‘I never asked that you lie,you decided on your own…it is what it is at home, I can’t pretend that my life isn’t shitty”
“That is the problem, I can’t stay in this shitty life with you, you can even afford to pay your fees what’s going to happen? You hardly eat in school because no money for that, you sell in the market Emeka, you go to mechanic shops to work and then restaurants. The son of Mr Ambross chikurdi? One of the business tycoons in the country with a bloody rich company… you see how this is a problem?And even if nothing changes at home with you and your father, that means you won’t amount to nothing in life”
“Diana!!’’ another pain strikes his chest
“It’s the truth Emeka, you have a good heart, you are sweet and loving and I’m glad that I was able to know you, I care about you, really I do but I care about myself more and I know you wouldn’t be able to carter for all of me”
She stands up again, Emeka jumps up holding her “Diana I love you, doesn’t that mean anything?”
‘‘Sometimes love isn’t enough, feelings won’t keep food on your table, I have to be realistic here and so should you. You can’t carter for my needs when you can’t cater for yours or your mother’s. I care about you but I can’t date you anymore… you would end up with nothing other than your name and I don’t want to be with you when that happens”
“So you are running away, dumping me because I have nothing? Because I am nothing”
“Because no matter how much I try to pretend… it’s the truth, I can’t be with you because of that and all things I have mentioned.Goodbye Emeka, I do hope …you understand”
“Is there someone else?”
“No! but there will be“ she says
“Diana please, I love you” A tear drops from his eyes
“But I don’t Emeka , I really don’t. I care for you but love? No. Take care of yourself “ she says leaving him standing there, fighting tears and the pain in his chest. He stands there for a long time
After the shock washed over him, he sent her messages she didn’t reply, he called her she didn’t pick. When he tried again, she had blocked him from calling and from social media, deleting their pictures together online and changed her status from ‘in a relationship’ to ‘single’.
He knew he had lost his first love, and it broke him.
Then he comes home, with that pain, with that brokenness to find his father at it again and his mother almost hitting the pavement and two girls laughing and chanting him on..
He saw red, when his father carried a stick and threatened to hit him
He was as tall as his father, and he had been working out…today, all this was going to stop.
All the pain and misery and all that his mother had been suffering under his father had to stop, no more.
He heard his mother scream his name, he didn’t stop… when his father slams the stick on his back, he throws him a punch hitting his father’s mouth, he saw a teeth fly, he saw blood follow it.
“Emeka!!!’’ His mother’s voice reaches his head. But he was not listening
His father staggers back, sees the blood, shock fills him
“You-you hit me? you hit me!!’’ he holds his mouth, Emeka had never stood up to him before, never.
“So you have become a man now, fighting me? You are finished, take you and that witch out of my house’’
“I am not going anywhere and neither will she” Emeka spat, his nose flaring, his eyes red, his fist still folded
“Then you will regret ever been born” he goes back into the house and then he comes back with a cutlass.
His mother screams rushing to stand between him and his father…”Please Papa Emeka “ she begs
“I will kill him, I’ll cut him down’’ he pushes her away and raises the cutlass
Emeka stood “I won’t run Father, come closer” he threatens
His father rushes him with the cutlass bringing it down, Emeka saw it coming down over his head and he heard his mother’s piercing scream
TO BE CONT.