My father’s two ‘rabichis’.
I was happy but my mother was hurt and heartbroken. I was happy my father had married another wife; at least he had found someone to show and share his violent affections.
My mother lived in physical and emotional pain. My father hated my mother for being a woman and weak, my mother hated herself for being a powerless human being. The society treated my mother like an object, no one ever bothered to come to her rescue when my father practiced his judo moves on her defenseless body. Hell she was a purchased thing.
Now my father had someone else to hurt, abuse and ridicule. I so looked forward to see my father treating my stepmother the same way he treated my mother, that way my mother would get the chance to heal and love herself as God had created her. She needed time to realize that she was better of without my father. I so wanted my father to love my mother; the woman who had given up her all for her marriage.
I so wished to tell my mother that it was going to be alright. I wanted to hug and love her. I wanted to tell her that her pain had become mine too; she was just there, beaten and out of it.
Deep down I thanked my stepmother for coming to my mother’s rescue. I wanted to tell her that she can have all of my father’s affection and attention for herself and her unborn child. It never came to my mind that I should warn her of the monster she had married and if it did, I suppressed it with vengeance deep down in the secrets of my heart.
I welcomed my stepmother into our family, I didn’t want to scare her away lest my father would vent his anger on my weak mother. I even helped her with chores; she had to be strong for my father. I became a traitor in the eyes of my mother and my siblings. My siblings failed to see my strategy. ‘It’s for Amai’s own good.’ I told them, ‘You are crazy.’ They told me. ‘You’re jealous like your useless mother.’ My father always scolded my siblings. ‘You want to be rebellious like your ungrateful mother, her parents received my cows and money in exchange for what? This rabichi (rubbish)?’ My mother never said anything, she would just sit there taking every insult, humiliated in front of her own children by someone who had vowed to love her.
‘Am I lying that you are rabichi? Didn’t I send you back to your parents’ house? Guess who begged me to take you back? Your parents! Am I lying? Answer me you useless cow!’ My father bellowed threatening my mother with more physical violence. ‘It happened Shewe.’ My mother replied in a small voice, admitting and accepting her fate, why not, her own parents had rejected her.
I started hating my maternal grandparents for selling my mother. How could they be that cruel to their own child? Reducing their own blood to an object, sold and forgotten. Bought to be used like a farm implement and treated worse than a farm animal; yoked and sjamboked at the same time.
It was with shock realization that I was headed the same way. Could it be that my father would sell me off too? Maybe that was the reason why he was reluctant to pay for my elder sister’s junior certificate exam fee? Seemed educating her would be a waste of resources. I vowed to be more nice to my stepmother, that way my father would treat me with more favor, education seemed the only way out.
Maybe I was just kidding myself; my stepmother had passed her junior certificate but still she too had been sold by her parents. My father had bought himself another toy, a beautiful punching bag, yes, my stepmother was a rabichi too, an expensive rabichi for that matter; ‘your parents should’ve send you for a housewife course, that’s the only education for women.’ My father bellowed hitting my pregnant stepmother. I felt for her, my mother went to my stepmother’s aid, she clapped her hands and recited my father’s totem in a soothing voice, pleading with him to beat her instead of my pregnant stepmother.
That broke my heart, why would my mother came to the rescue of someone who had taken her husband? My mother’s efforts were rewarded with a kick in the stomach and she collapsed in a heap with a yelp. My father’s ankle boot got trapped by my mother’s dress leaving her indecent, her ‘woman’ exposed for all to see. My baby brother strapped to her back started howling, I choked the beginning of a scream inside me; I didn’t want to betray my true feelings.
‘You came looking for it you useless cow.’ My father said kicking my mum again in the side just to set the point. Muhammad Ali would’ve lost his titles to my father I tell you. The man had a kick. ‘That will teach you never to interfere when a husband is disciplining his wife. On second thoughts let me just give you what was coming for you already.’ Then the fists started raining on my mother. My stepmother scampered away like a pregnant bitch, her zambia trailing between her legs like a tail. You had to give it to my father, he knew how to exercise his power on powerless women.
I came to believe that my mother deserved it all because she was weak and a woman, my stepmother too for being educated in a wrong syllabus. They really deserved it because they had married a rich man.
I started hating my mother for giving birth to me, I hated my stepmother more for being pregnant for my father.
I had betrayed my mother and my stepmother, surely I should’ve done something.