We are all seated on the floor in a semi-circle in Papa’s room. Papa is seated on the bed, his eyes staring deep into ours. My eyes meet his and I look away. I had never been able to look Papa directly in the eye since I was little. Perhaps, it was because of the way Papa had descended on me when I was three, beating me like I was the said criminal caught at Araria market. The reason had been that I was still crawling at that age. “He’s a late starter Papa Emeka, you will kill your son oh,” Mama had said amidst tears while trying to hold Papa off, receiving stray hands of fury in her innocent defense. Mama was long gone now. She had joined our fathers when I was eight. That was the only time I had seen Papa cry.
Today, Papa has summoned us. It was rare to have all of us seated with him this way in silence. The last time we were like this, Papa had turned Ebuka into a punching bag because Mrs. Adindu had reported seeing him take money from the offering box during mass. The stares from papa were the last thing I wanted to see. My thoughts kept racing, wondering what had happened this time.
“Emeka, will you raise your head up!” Papa thundered at me, drawing me from my subconscious back to reality. He looked sternly at me, heaved a sigh, picked up the bitter kola that sat on his table and threw it into his mouth. He chewed it gently as the atmosphere became tense. “Children are meant to obey their parents” he began, “I have said that I will not raise a child who will kill me” he paused, as if waiting for a reaction from us. Then he continued, “Emeka, who is Ifeoma?” My eyes lit up at once and fear was written throughout my face. Sweat that I had no idea where it came from began to flow down my face on to my chest. My thoughts began to race. I went to school in a university far away from home so how did Papa know of my precious Ifeoma, the lady my friends innocently called my wife. There was no romantic relationship between the two of us but was Papa going to understand that a man and woman could be best friends if I told him that? My mouth went dry and my lips failed to move, my eyes flickered like a bulb at the brink of collapse and the words in my mouth were stuck. “Bia, Emeka, am I not talking to you?” Papa shouted in rage, his patience nearly running out. “She… She’s….”I stammered. Papa nodded, stamped his feet and stood up. He went directly to his wardrobe, opened it and produced a thick black belt. Looking fiercely in my direction, he walked towards me.
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