‘You must be out of your rotten mind’ Mr Cole shouted on top of his voice.
‘Me I’m not out of my mind o’ Mrs Cole replied holding tightly to his shirt, as she shook her body rhythmically ready to fight. ‘Have I asked too much? All I need is some money to take care of your children’ she told him almost shedding tears.
‘Hehehehehe’ he chuckled sarcastically ‘abi e ri obirin yi ni? (can’t you see this woman?),’ he clapped his hand in amazement. Then immediately, the sarcastic smile on his face turned into a frown ‘Woman, listen to me and listen well. You have no right to tell me what I am to do for my children. Is that clear?’ he shouted at her with alcohol filled breath oozing out of his mouth.
‘Don’t you have any shame Dare? Your children are in their rooms and can obviously hear you shouting at me’ she told him as she released his shirt from her hand.
‘There you go again, calling me shameless. Funke, I’m shameless abi? (right?)’ he asked, tapping his chest with his hand
‘You said it yourself, I didn’t say anything’ she eyed him.
‘Wo iwo obirin yi, waa rin nkan ti ma se fun e leni (look, you this woman, you will see what I will do for you today)’ he said and rushed at her.
Funke was standing opposite him, the wooden centre table in the sitting room stood between the both of them. She ran in an anticlockwise direction when she saw Mr Cole coming towards her from the left.
‘Where will you run now, with that your sharp mouth?’ he asked as he caught her by her left arm and raised his right hand ready to hit her.
‘Daddy please don’t beat mummy again’ Bimbo, their seven-year-old cried as she stood some meters away from them.
They turned and saw their young, innocent daughter standing with tears rolling down her face, Mrs Cole felt so sorry for her as she wondered how long she had been standing there and how much violence the poor child had witnessed not just at that moment but in her short life.
‘Go back to your room now’ Mr Cole shouted at her.
Bimbo still stood there crying.
‘Are you deaf, I said go back to your room before I come and beat you!’ he shouted louder still holding on to Mrs Cole who stood there helplessly as she watched as her child run away.
‘Let this be the last time this repeats itself’ Mr Cole warned his wife as he flung her arm from his grip and she landed on the couch.
She quickly got up and moved a reasonable distance away from him then said ‘you need help, you need serious help, even your children are afraid of you’ she shook her head and walked away.
‘You are the one that needs help, useless woman’ he said panting and sweating then he sat in his favorite seat opposite the TV and continued drinking his beer.
Mrs Cole went into the house to check on her children.
They lived in a rented three bedroom bungalow. The three children they had; Seyi, Bayo and Bimbo occupied two of the room while the third being the master bedroom was for Mr Cole and his wife.
Mrs Cole went first to Bayo’s room. Immediately she opened the door, he jerked and hid something.
‘What’s that?’ his mother asked him.
‘Nothing mummy, I just wanted to…’ he was trying to cook up a lie when she cut in.
‘See I don’t have your time right now’ she told him, she was too tired both psychologically and physically to argue with him ‘dinner will be ready in 30 minutes’ she said then left the room.
Bayo was thirteen years, the second child and only boy. He was in SS 1 and in recent times loved staying in his room. No one really knew what he spent most of his time doing behind closed doors. His room in itself was almost always a write off; it wasn’t palatable enough to be the desire of anyone to perpetually remain in. The windows were always shut making the room very stuffy. His dirty clothes littered the floor and the ‘clean’ ones were never folded or hung. His bed was never laid and his bathroom was an eyesore.
Mrs Cole was tired of telling him to tidy up his room, these days, she’d just enter the room, say what she wants to say and leave.
Mrs Cole went to check on her other two children, Seyi and Bimbo who shared a room. Seyi was sixteen and the first child while Bimbo was the baby of the house. If Seyi could have her way, she’d have wanted to have a room to herself but for the number of rooms in the house she had no choice but to share with her sister. She couldn’t wait to leave the house, she had just finished secondary school at Federal Girls’ College Ipetumodu, a boarding school and an all-girls school and she earnestly prayed she would get admitted into the higher institution that year. She desperately wanted to leave the house for anywhere more peaceful if it meant leaving under the bridge. She was fed up of the consistent ranting and fighting between her parents and couldn’t stand it anymore.
Mrs Cole opened the door that led into the girls’ room. There were two beds which were positioned parallel to each other with Bimbo’s bed being closer to the door and Seyi’s own farther away but closer to the window. Mrs Cole found Bimbo on her bed crying while Seyi sat on her bed, backing her sister and whoever it was that cared to come into the room. Her ears were plugged with her ears phone as she faced the window and focused on her phone.
Mrs Cole saw Bimbo crying, went to her bed and sat beside her.
‘Bimbo I’m sorry you had to see that again’ Mrs Cole knew it wasn’t the first time Bimbo witnessed a physical fight between her husband and her and she doubted it would be the last. ‘It was just a misunderstanding between your dad and I’ she tried to explain to her.
‘Bimbo cried more ‘mummy will it ever end?’ she asked as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Her mother was silent ‘come here’ she said and hugged her tightly ‘I hope so, I really do.’ She fought tears from rolling down her face too. ‘We’ll be fine you hear?’
‘But guess what?’ Mrs Cole pulled Bimbo away from her embrace and with a smile, looked at her.
‘What?’ Bimbo asked less concerned.
‘I’m preparing your best food’ she smiled and hoped that will cheer up her daughter.
Bimbo’s sob turned to smile ‘dodo? (fried plantain)’ she asked hopefully.
‘Oh I thought it was beans’ Mrs Cole said intentionally holding back the smile on her face.
‘Noooooo mummy I don’t like beans’ Bimbo folded her hands and looked away.
‘How won’t I know my baby’s best food? Don’t worry I’ll give you the largest portion but you must promise to eat your rice and not waste it this time around’ she fondled with her nose.
‘okay I promise’ she smiled.
‘That’s my baby’ she stood up from her bed and walked towards Seyi who didn’t seem interested in what was going on in the house any longer.
‘Seyi’ Mrs Cole, standing some meters away called out.
Seyi heard but didn’t respond, she hid under the disguise of her ears being plugged and continued fondling with her phone.
‘I know you can hear me, come to the kitchen and help me round off dinner?’ she told her.
‘I’m not hungry’ Seyi said without removing the earphones or looking in her mother’s direction.
‘I don’t care if you are, I’m not begging you to help me, I’m ordering you to’ Mrs Cole said in a raised tone. ‘You are getting very spoilt, my friend will you get to that kitchen right away and go and fry plantain’ she pointed at the door.
Seyi reluctantly got up and stormed out of the room, murmuring as she passed by her mum ‘you people will not kill me in this house’ she murmured as she left.
‘Come back here. Who do you think you are talking to like that?’ Mrs Cole raised her hand to beat her.
Seyi stood there and didn’t move. Her parent’s beating had no effect on her anymore.
‘My friend get out of my sight’ Mrs Cole said and hissed.
Seyi grudgingly went to the kitchen and placed the frying pan containing oil on fire while she started slicing the plantain. She complained as she did it. She picked her phone to reply a chat and got carried away. She had her phone on her left hand and wanted to use the right one to pour the plantain into the oil but just as she was about to, she accidentally hit the handle of the pan and the oil poured on her thighs.
‘Haaaaaaaaaaa’ she screamed on top of her voices
Mrs Cole immediately rushed into the kitchen.
‘What is it? What happened?’ she asked with fear and anxiety written all over her face.
To be continued. Read Part 2 Now Here
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