My father, even in shock, kept pressing the horn of the car, it was out of commission. He looked at me and my brother in the frontal mirror with tears in his eyes, looked at his wife, left the wheel of the car and hugged her. The last thing I heard was “I’m sorry” and then there was blankness…
The next time I woke up was three days later in a hospital. With more than half of my body wrapped in a cast. I couldn’t speak or move but my uncle and his drinking partners were there. My uncle held the only finger on my left hand that still had feeling. He said, sympathetically-
“Ene, you have only me now. Your father, mother, and brother are no more”.
My heart started beating so fast that I went into shock. The doctor and nurses, whose faces I didn’t know, came rushing in. The next time I woke up was about a week later. I learnt I had gone into a coma which, according to the doctor, was a way of healing.
I didn’t feel healed. I felt broken. I felt bereft. I felt lost. And I had no idea what was waiting for me down the road…
My Uncle had buried my family while I was in the coma. I was surprised but when he told me they had been badly disfigured by the accident, I understood. He also said that was what my father would have wanted, adding that he never did like unnecessary attention.
I had spent another week in the hospital when the nurses came in and said my uncle had asked for me to be taken home. I was still wrapped in a cast, my broken bones trying as fast as they could to heal but that didn’t matter to my Uncle. According to the nurses, he said he couldn’t afford to spend more money than he already had for my hospital bills. The nurses sounded doubtful because my dad had been very rich. He had avoided debts like a plague. He had hated being indebted to anyone unnecessarily. This meant we had had enough to live on more than comfortably. The nurses also said that he had told them he would hire a nurse to care for me at home. I didn’t mind at all because I was still in that limbo that makes you numb to almost everything going on around you.
And then home. I came home on a wheelchair. It felt so empty- not hearing my little brother’s voice or laughter, not hearing my mother singing in her off-key voice. It still feels so lonely without them. Our staff had looked so solemn that day I came home. They couldn’t even console me because they were so busy trying to console themselves. Their Oga and Madam and little Oga had died. It was then I knew that they all had truly loved my family.
A year passed, but the grief, emptiness and pain didn’t. I rarely saw my Uncle. I spent my birthday alone. My bones had healed but were not fully healed. I had no one to talk to- not even my nurse who had stayed on.
Another year passed. This time, things were different. All our staff had been sacked- told their services were no longer needed by my family. I didn’t even notice that the staff had reduced in size long before then. I didn’t care. Even when my friends from school and church stopped coming around, I didn’t pay attention. I wish I had.
Anytime I tried asking when I was going back to school, I received no response from my Uncle.
Then the partying started. Every night, our house was filled with people. People who didn’t look decent in any way. People who seemed to have a distinct and deep love for drugs and alcohol. Anytime I came down the stairs, I would see my Uncle and different girls in positions that haunt me to this day. There are some things a teenage girl shouldn’t see.
I was wise enough to know that talking to my Uncle then would be a bad idea so I usually waited until the next afternoon to tell him about it and to ask about when I was going back to school. The first time my Uncle slapped me was on such a day.
“Who are you to tell me what to do”? He screamed at me. I never knew he could get angry like that. I didn’t even expect him to hit me. All I could whisper was “I’m sorry”.
“Sorry for yourself! You this rude, mannerless bastard”. He spitefully said. I didn’t know when the tears started spilling. I was hurt. That hurt was more than the stinging imprint of his hand on my face. I apologized again and left him. I never spoke to him again unless spoken to.