“You can never be anything in life!” she said to me one afternoon. Those words will never bid bye to my memory. I’d come home from school and was tired and famished. I entered the kitchen. Surprisingly, there was nothing to quell my hunger. So I decided to boil yam. And the next thing I heard behind me was; “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m boiling yam” I said.
“How dare you?!” That came with a slap from her. “So you think you can just enter my kitchen and cook whatever you like?” She said.
“I’m hungry, and there’s no food, so I …” I couldn’t complete this statement before I received another head turning slap from her. She put off the gas, taking the peeled yam into the deep freezer. I’d taken a lot too much from her since my mother died, I just couldn’t be quiet anymore.
“What did I ever do to you? Why are you this wicked?” I said. She stood stunned. I’d never talked that way to her before. She looked at me. “So, you now have the guts to open your filthy mouth and talk back at me? How dare you?” She finally said.
“I’ll do that again.” I said to her, looking straight to her eyes, I added; “over and over again.”
She rose up her hand and tried to hit me. But I held her arm, admonishing her not to dare. “I’ve tolerated enough of your rubbish. If you dare hit me again, I won’t hesitate to hit you back.” I told her.
She saw the bitter anger that burned in me, shoved off my hand and said; “Joan, you have just stepped on the scorpion’s tail.” I brought out the yam and put them on fire.
“You’ll end up like your mother, bet me.” She said.
“If you’re God, I will. But if you’re not God, you can’t do me anything.” I said and she started laying curses on me, that I would never be anything in life.
“So, Joan, because you’re in the university, you now think we’re mate. We shall see!” She said and left the kitchen. Before daddy married my step mum, there was peace in the house. Daddy was the type who carried different women. Everybody in the neighbourhood knew about his obsession with women. He came home one day with a woman and introduced her as his second wife. She was pregnant for him. Mum was angry. She cried and cried, but there was nothing she could do to stop their marriage. She had no option but to accept the woman as her second, just like I and my two siblings had to accept her as our step mother. Days ran into weeks, weeks walked boldly into months and months crawled into years, and so did the family fall into the dark abyss of discords. She hated mum so much. Daddy supported my mum initially and always told my step mother to respect her as the first wife. But she wouldn’t. In just a little while, daddy turned against mum and treated mum with an unprecedented hostility. Our home became a battle field. Daddy that had never laid a hand on mummy started beating her even for no reason. But mum still loved dad. She knew daddy wasn’t acting from his consciousness. He was under a spell. My step mother was always excited when ever daddy beat mum.
Mum and step mum had a fight one day. Step-mum cursed and cursed and threatened to deal with mum. A week later, mum was bitten by a mysterious snake on an un-tarred road when she went out of the compound to visit her friend. That was how mum died. Life became hell to me and my younger ones. My mum’s family took my younger ones when our dad didn’t care for us. He only cared about his new wife and her little children. He bought them everything they wanted, while my siblings and I were like outcasts in our own father’s house. Daddy didn’t care that his children were taken away from his home. The reason I stayed was because my school was close by. I spent holidays with my siblings in my mum’s family home. Something happened after the altercation I had with her the day I boiled yam. Few days after that incident, I was stung by a snake on the field. I was taken to different places for treatment, but the venom and pains persisted. My skin started peeling. I missed a year in school. I was miraculously healed later by a catholic priest who prayed for me. I recovered and went back to school. All the while I was sick, daddy never bothered to check on me. A year later, I graduated from school. I was in my 300L when I had the snake bite. While I was doing my youth service, I got the news of my father’s death. He had a heart attack after the bank took over his business and his house when he couldn’t pay the debt he owed the bank. As the first child and first daughter of my father, I checked on my step-siblings regularly and bought them gifts when I started working, because they were there for me when their mum treated me cruelly. They never supported their mum. Few days ago, I got a call from my step-sister. She told me her mum was critically ill and the doctor needs N200,000.00 to perform an operation on her. My step sister has since been begging me to assist with money. But how can I give my money to save a woman who never wished me well? Friends, if you were in my shoe, would you help this woman?