(Ayodele Arigbabu chose this title for me, even though it may not be connected to my dilemma. Thank you)
Before I started writing this, I called my sister and my mother to remind me of the names of the two ladies who lived with us and terrorized my life while growing up. My mother said she hasn’t seen the two ladies in many years. Last time she saw one of them was in January of 1999, after my grandmother’s funeral when they came to our house to pay their condolences. Now, what she knows about them could just be stories from people. One of them has been having problems having children and the other one, has 7 children and has finally changed from being a Catholic to Anglican.
I was born in a rustic village in Imo State to a very large family. A young lady from another village, who was not related to us, was brought to live with us. Her name was Amarachi and my last born, Ifeanyi, used to call her Abachi, because he was very young and could not pronounce her name properly. We started calling her ABACHI and the name stuck to her.
Few months into living with us, she set up an altar with the statue of Virgin the Mary and lit candles. She was Catholic. My father is a Knight of St. Christopher and my mother is a Lay Reader in the Anglican Church. My father didn’t care a fig about what denomination she belonged to. They respected her and made us sleep in the same room with her when my uncles and aunts came home for Christmas or Easter, because the entire Nwelue family lived under the same roof until recently when they started building houses here and there.
Amarachi came to live in our house, because our house was close to her secondary school. She didn’t come to live with us as a house-help, so my mother made us call her Auntie Amarachi. She wasn’t related to us. I didn’t find that annoying then, but now I do, because she did terrible things to me, which I liked back then, but now, feel awful about them.
One Tuesday morning, my mother had gone to school and my father had gone to work. I was sick, suffering from severe fever and could not even eat. What I hated then was taking pills. I hid every pill they gave to me somewhere and drank water, pretending that I had taken it. If my mother was the one giving it to me, she would put it in the middle of a lump of garri or fufu and I will be made to swallow it. I was told it was to reduce the bitter taste of the drugs. I hated drugs. That morning, I can remember now, Auntie Amarachi was bored to the bones and needed some excitement. She needed something to keep her body warm and there I was. She stripped me naked and slightly placed me on her naked body, after removing her clothes and lay on her back on the mat. She smelled of something I didn’t know; now I know she had an ordour, the ordour of a woman who wanted to have sex. She smelled of something strange. I was very young. Maybe 6 or 5 years then?
She knew what time my parents got back from where they went, so she ‘enjoyed’ me while it lasted. She touched me here and there. I didn’t know what happened next. She was busy, making me hug her and I kept hugging her and perceiving her ‘feral scent’, which made me cringe. She smelled of something strange. If I had grown up, I would have known what she smelled of. But she just smelled of something strange.
Auntie Amarachi was mean. She was very dark, her skin beautiful and she had big bum-bum. Her arse was in order. I noticed this, even as I was very young. I was scared she could be related to me; even as a child, I was scared of incest, I was scared of sinning against Heaven and Earth. Somehow, after those experiences, lying on her naked body, Auntie Amarachi started treating me like a demi-god. She liked me. It showed. She made sure I ate properly and she was hated by my eldest brother, who scorned her. I didn’t care. Her velvet skin looked amazingly beautiful. I was stuck in another world with her. The colour of her eyes I could not remember now, because I was scared of looking into her eyes. But this was her problem: she turned into a beast towards my siblings when my parents were away. I just didn’t understand why she acted the way she did.
After her WAEC and NECO examinations, Auntie Amarachi left our house; with her altar and her feral scent that she made me perceive each time she made me lie on her naked soft body. The last time she made me do that to her, was in my own mother’s bed, on a Friday, because she was asked to stay home and take care of me. For missing school, she took her vengeance on me. I liked it then, though, because her mother was really soft.
Before Amarachi came, there was Stella, who was from Oguta, my maternal home. She was young and so, we were meant to take her in as our blood. But she was very stubborn and at the same time, very hardworking. She helped my mother in everything, but usually became hostile to us when she was away. She would pounce on us and beat the hell out of those she could. My elder brothers dealt with her when they could. They fought for us.
For once, I didn’t see any of them as house-helps. Now I do. So, the last house-help my mother got was a very young boy, from my village. I saw him as a house-help, but my mother didn’t. He was one of my mother’s pupil and he loves my mother just the way he loves his own mother. It showed. My last born hated him. He kept telling him, ‘Please, go to your house. You are taking my place. Just leave my house.’ The boy didn’t want to leave. Even when my mother mistakenly burnt his hand with a hot spoon and the boy’s parents came hurling slurs on my mother, he told them to stay away, that it was his fault. I came home and saw the wound on his hand and I said to my mother, ‘This is not cool.’ She felt very terrible. And buried her head in shame. It made me remember also when my mother broke my head with the heel of her left shoe out of anger, because she was I was bugging her. My mother kept telling the boy, ‘Dede gi Prof is coming back.’ Young boy ended up taking me as his ‘dede’, which means ‘elder brother’. One night, I called him aside and very mean, I said to him, ‘I am not your elder brother. Don’t believe madam.’
He called my mother madam and madam was his teacher in school. After school, he always returned home with madam. My father flogged the ‘house-helps’ with the same koboko and canes he used on us. My father would have used pepper on any of them if he had to; same way he used them on us.
My last born hated the boy whom he believed came to take over his shine. So, he made sure he left our house. But the young boy didn’t have feral scent, because my madam took very good care of him like her son.