“Your mother is dead, Katie,” one of the women outside told Kate.
~ ~ ~
“I say shut up, mama!” Mr Ibor shouted at his mother. They had been going at each other’s throats for months, it was pretty much routine at this point.
“Me…,” Mama Dan said with turned down lips, beating her dry palm on her flat chest. “I should shut up. Is your head correct? I birth you, fed your large appetite, even as a grown man and you have the guts to look me in the eye and insult me,” she slapped her palm on her chest again.
Mr Ibor sighed angrily and marched away towards his late father’s hut. At forty-three, he was a picture of well defined muscle and virility, a result of intense farming.
“So…,” Mama Dan began mockingly, pausing her son’s retreating figure. “Since you have dropped your integrity as a man and allowed a woman to marry you…,” she was rudely interrupted by Mr. Ibor’s angry bark.
“Stop saying that! I married her!”
“In the eyes of the society maybe, but you can’t fool me son, I’ve lived longer than you.”
“Insult me all you want mother, but not my wife!”
“Your new wife you mean! Was she the one that followed you around in your stupid quest to live in a cement house?
Did she give you bites to eat when your pocket was empty of kobos? Shame on you Daniel, Regina doesn’t deserve this treatment; Katie doesn’t deserve your abandonment. Show a little concern Daniel, your wife is sick!” Mama Dan almost pleaded.
“Regina is the past; I’ve started a new life with my new wife. Very soon we will vacate your hut…for a cemented house.”
Mama Dan stared at him derisively, “Did you ever stop to wonder, why an older woman with so much money, would settle for a native man such as yourself? I mean, let’s ignore her burnt complexion for the moment Daniel, try reasoning for once in your life, that’s what that coconut on your neck is for.”
Kate stared at her mother’s frail form, and saw only a shadow with sunken eyes. Rev. Victor said it was a disease called asthma which he also suffered from. He said it was the reason he travelled often to the consulate hospital at Lagos, so that his fellow white parishioners, who were doctors could treat him with foreign medication.
Reverend Victor had shared some of his tablets with her mom, it had helped but had dwindled the reverend’s supply, it had required him to travel immediately with the promise of bringing more. In the mean time, he had suggested an alternative drug, sold at the only medicine store in town. It had cost a lot and her mom’s savings had dried up.
“Yes Mama,” she quickly replied.
“Go and eat,” the old woman directed.
“I’m not hungry,” Kate said sadly.
“It wasn’t a request Kate,” mama Dan said and shooed her from the mat.
Kate got up reluctantly, “Maybe, I should ask daddy’s wife for money. We don’t know when Reverend is coming back and the drug is so costly at the medicine store,” Kate complained.
“Katie, Let me give you a life secret,” one of many, Kate thought and waited for her grandmother to settle down beside her sick mom.
“First of all,” she rasped, “Ill gotten money brings nothing but doom. Second, if your father and his new wife wanted to help, they would have done that already, there have been ample opportunities which they’ve refused to take. So, dear Kate, go and eat, then…,” the old woman wrestled with a knot at the ear of her wrapper and brought out ten, fifty kobo coins and handed it to a shocked Kate.
“That’s all I have, I hope it will buy the medicine,” she asked with tears in her eyes.
“I don’t know, but I’ll try,” Kate said excitedly.
“After eating first,” Mama Dan warned sternly but smiled when she heard her speeding off. Kate had run with her heart, but Regina Ibor couldn’t be saved.
~ ~ ~
The burial wasn’t elaborate. All neighbors contributed in one way or the other, except the dead woman’s husband and his new wife.
The shadow of the big pear tree had been dug up by the village youths, a carpenter donated a plain, unpolished wooden coffin, women from the market cooked food stuffs that they brought and Rev.Victor had offered to say the mass.
Mr. Ibor watched his little girl in awe, it almost seemed as if she was organizing the whole proceeding, there were no tears in her eyes.
“How can someone fix a burial a day before Christmas,” Cecelia Ibor complained maliciously.
“The priest isn’t complaining, neither are the people,” Mr Ibor replied, he was trying not to feel guilty and responsible for his…Regina’s death.
“That your daughter is very strange. She looks like a witch,” Cecelia continued her malice.
“So do you with your face all painted like that,” Mr Ibor answered calmly without turning.
The story continues
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