Written by: Admin_SheEvo
The heavy vibration from the alarm woke Uche up as early as six in the morning. She hated waking up at that time of the day – or even waking up at all. As an ordinary housewife who quit her job to take care of her home, somehow she was exhausted before even starting her day. She sat numb on the bed, like a lost soul that had forgotten its identity. Her husband, Femi, was still fast asleep, snoring hard, and unbothered.
But why her? She had to attend to her five month old baby, a small tiny frail body, cute but annoying. She also had to prepare her two toddlers, under five, for kindergarten, with the help of a kind neighbor who would drop them off. As she alighted from the bed, her body was as light as paper, she felt she was floating. Both her hands and legs had become wings and were ready to take a flight to nowhere. She managed to fly over to the kitchen, before she could start her day, she needed to drink some cup of extra chilling water so as to keep her hydrated in the hot weather of Lagos.
As she was about to drink the cold water from a glass cup, something spectacular then happened to her – she froze like ice. It might have been her memory that got frozen, or her whole body in general. The doorbell rang, and the fright brought about the fall of the cup. It broke and shattered into pieces, cutting her feet – little blood dripped from the cut.
The moment she regained her consciousness and opened the door, it was her kind neighbor who had arrived to pick the kids up for school.
“What? School? It’s just six in the morning!” Uche said, without checking the time.
The neighbor was flabbergasted to hear from her. “Six? When it’s seven already!” She responded, a little disappointed that her own children might go to school late if she waited for Uche’s kids.
“That can’t be possible, I just woke up, and it’s six…” she saw the wall clock in the living area that clocked seven and some minutes past. Speechless and unable to argue further with her neighbor, she begged for more minutes so as to get her toddlers ready for school. The neighbor then left but promised if she didn’t see the kids in ten minutes, she would leave.
Ten minutes? There is no way that can be possible with children under five. But she willingly took the challenge. She hurried to the princesses’ room. She carried one to the bathroom without waking her up properly, and as an African mom that she is, she aggressively washed her face like she was doing some mopping.
The little girl whined, “Mom, I don’t want to go to school!” But her mother cleaned her up in the bathroom like some doll, and helped her brush her teeth – also aggressively.
The turn of her eldest was the easiest. Once they arrived at the bathroom, she was able to do things herself, while her mother watched in silence – like a mute. Zion noticed something strange with her mother, so she asked why their mother has been unhappy?
“Is it because of the baby? Has he been a trouble to you?” The little girl questioned with her innocent face that could melt hearts. Uche bent over to her level and gave the little one comfort.
“It’s not the baby, neither is it you guys. It’s just that mommy is tired” she hugged her eldest daughter, and placed a kiss on her forehead. It didn’t take as much time as it took for the little one, Zion was already prepared for school. She even helped her three year old sister with her uniform, and helped her pack her little school bag with things she would need the most.
Uche returned to the living area, found her husband gulping down a sandwich he made for himself. He also was ready to set out for work early enough to beat the Lagos traffic. He wasn’t the type to help with house chores or manage the kids.
“How come the children are not ready yet? Didn’t you wake up early enough?” He complained. Uche waited on how to make a response to his argument but couldn’t find it, instead she told him she froze.
“Again? This is going beyond us, Uche. I think you need to see a therapist for your depression,” he wasn’t nice with his approach which prompted her to give a reply.
“I’m not sick. I don’t need therapy. What I really need is rest,” she defended. Her hair unkempt, her face galled like some sick person, and the whole house a mess.
“Rest? And who will take care of the kids if you’re resting? Don’t be selfish, Uche. Get some help”. He approached the issue again in an unkind way. Whatever changed in their relationship wasn’t her, but him. Both met in the university, fell in love – and got married. He had promised heaven and Earth to be there for her always, but he had distanced himself from his family because he was the provider, and he always made sure to remind her of his responsibility.
“You take the kids to school for the neighbor,”she told Femi. Deep down she was getting back at him. She knew how difficult it might be for him to drop his kids off to school while still going to work.
“How could you always do this to me? You know I have work to go to?” He complained, angered by his wife’s request.
“They are your kids too. Also get them something to eat on the way,” She had added more trouble to his already troubled life, now he can’t escape from it. She wanted him to feel the struggle she goes through raising the kids alone, but one can’t totally say he also is fully at fault since working in a city like Lagos, one has to pour everything into it if they want to make a decent living.
Reluctantly he agreed to the proposed idea, only because he didn’t want to further argue which might lead to his lateness to work. He did her the favor of dropping the kids off to school, and also bought some food on the way.
Having the house to herself didn’t mean she would clean up, in fact, it took long for her to realize that there was a baby in the house with her. She spent all day lazing around, sleeping everywhere in the corners of the house, watching hollywood movies, until the disturbing cries from her son jerked her up. His diaper was soaked in pee and poop, and he was a poor little soul hungry for his mother’s breast milk. After attending to his needs, she returned him back to his crib where he had a good rest, and she returned back to whatever she was doing.
Femi received an emergency call from work. It was from his children’s school who had called after waiting for hours for their kids’ pickup. Apparently, it was Uche’s job to do so, but she wasn’t answering the phone, which got the school worried. Femi was about to close for the day from work and had to make haste to get his children who had been abandoned by their mother. On the way he tried calling his wife’s number but she wasn’t picking up. He arrived at the kindergarten to pick up his kids. Their teacher complained of his lateness, and he apologized for being in the wrong. Joyfully, the two kids felt safe by their father’s presence. It was almost six in the evening.
“Daddy, is mommy going somewhere?” Zion asked in the car. She and her little sister were famished and needed food as soon as possible.
“Why do you ask, sweetheart?” He questioned. His kids were everything to him and he would do anything to protect them.
“She said in the morning that I should take care of myself and the little ones when she’s gone,” Zion made a statement that needed an emergency intervention. Could Uche be planning on taking her own life? Now Femi got more worried about his wife’s behavior. As he drove home, he kept praying he would meet his wife and son alive, and that nothing bad would have happened.
Fortunately enough, he arrived home to meet Uche alive and well, but something else bothered him greatly. When he asked why she didn’t pick the kid’s up from school. She told him that she had told the neighbor to help her with the kids in the morning.
“That was a week ago, Uche. Have you forgotten you had a fight with the neighbor? You are the one that has been responsible for their pickup,” Femi screamed, afraid his wife might have lost some of her memory.
“Isn’t today the sixth of September?” She asked.
“What do you mean by that? You’re scaring me, Uche. Today is the thirteenth of September!” He corrected her. Immediately, he went to the baby’s room to check if he is okay but couldn’t find him in his room.
“Where is the baby? What have you done to him?”He screamed hard at her. The older two kids bursted into tears seeing their father raged on their mother.
“The baby is in our room sleeping. What is going on?” Her response gave him relief. He went over to check and found out she was telling the truth. He took the kids to the girls room, then returned to have a strict conservation with his wife.
“You need therapy. You need immediate help, Uche. And there won’t be any going back on that,” he proclaimed.
“I’m fine! As you can see, I’m living,” she wanted to assure him of her sanity, but couldn’t convince him enough.
“I know you are fine, but the kids are not. I’m not fine, Uche!” He replied. And he was right, the kids had been affected by her inattentiveness and sudden mood changes.
“You need to go for counseling or we will be getting a divorce,” he warned, sounding like a threat. Knowing how important being married is for her, she reluctantly agreed to do as he asked.
The next week, she got admitted into a mental institute, far from her home. A place where she was to get help and hopefully be able to see her children and husband again. During one of the counseling sections, a therapist questioned her symptoms and the reasons why she felt abandoned.
“I just feel like the worst person in the world. Plus my kids don’t listen to me. None of them listened to me. I’m like a walking ghost that needs to disappear from this world,” she confessed.
“I heard you once fed the baby alcohol? What made you do that?” The therapist asked.
“They told me to do so,” Uche replied.
“Who are they?” The therapist got interested quickly, when a patient is willing to talk, it meant there was progress, but Uche seemed to be more than she can treat within a short period of time as requested by her husband.
“They are friends. You may not see them, but I do. They are the only ones that listen to me,” she replied
By Oluwatoyin Magbagbeola.