Father’s hands and voice tremble in resonance to a new pitch, as his eyes move from you to Emeka and back to the five-footed woman in front of him. You grip his hands, and whisper to the nearly lifeless body in front of your father.
“My son is not well, can’t you see?” Father manages to say half spirited pointing to Emeka.
“I can see that”, She says with her hands in reverse akimbo touching the cleaner wall – the one you scrubbed when Emeka vomited the first time three days ago. She shifts and reaches your face, “I can take this one as collateral. She is beautiful, you know – like her runaway mother.”
“My child cannot be your collateral!” He replies – his voice strange in its strength, “All I am asking is more time, I have not run away.”
“And, that is what I don’t have – time. I need my money today.” She reaches for your face, again, and smiled – her hands were as soft as avocado pear. And, you liked her for her hands, and just then, you hated that you thought you did. You return the smile and place your head down quickly, Father grips your hands, firmer, and pushes you behind him.
Lady Gloria picks her bag from the table in front of Father and said, “You know something, poverty and pride cannot coexist.”
When she left, Father cried and found his sun hat– as he called it. It was the one he wore whenever he walked to his brother’s house in the city to beg or to the site to lift blocks. With his weak heart, he had stopped the labourer’s job but today, you knew he would go back or beg.
“I will dehumanize myself but I will never dehumanize my children.” He said as he walked out.
It was the day, that sunny Wednesday; you lost the two men you had in your life.
When the elderly woman entered, her eyes held the vacancy of someone who had stopped to live or had stopped to enjoy living. She sat, looked at the wall behind her and adjusted her seat. You watched her. She noticed, or had seemed to notice and looked at you with her lost stare.
“How may I help you, madam?” You said, loud enough for her to return to the present.
“I am waiting for money, my son said he would send something today,” she answered.
“When he sends it, you may come back,” you said as quickly as she had replied.
No one had ever asked her to leave. You had never, either. She stood to leave and turned to look at you. You held her stare. In her eyes, you could see the shame of deception, the kind that denied the truth that even paraded itself.
She would not say she knew you. Lady Gloria never did – you never bothered to ask her but you knew she had no son and that she had only come to beg, again. Like she did every Wednesday.
A Guest Contributor for EnGw