I was too young to understand the incident that changed my life. It was a cold harmattan night, early December 1993, and my mother was in our open-yard kitchen making dinner with my elder sister Nneoma. My brother and I lay on our backs side by side beside my father’s rocker chair, staring into the starry night sky while waiting for the food to get ready. I was hungry, but I dared not say it lest my mother scold me for being “such a foodie”. So I diverted my mind from the hunger to my family’s recent relocation to my home town. I wondered to myself- we have returned early to this village for Christmas; does this mean we would be leaving for the city before new year?
All of my attempts to divert my mind from food proved abortive because the delicious aroma of my mother’s cooking kept me constantly aware of the hunger pangs that was practically chewing my stomach. And by this time, I could not keep it to myself anymore as I complained quietly to my brother. But he was quick to remind me that even if dinner were to be ready in the next second, I would not still have it until my father returned from wherever he had gone to. By this, my heart sank with sadness.
But my father did return soon. Unfortunately, I wish he never did! Trouble started the very moment he walked in. I could tell by his staggering movements that he was drunk. Moreover, the reeking smell of alcohol that exuded from him as I embraced him confirmed my worst fear. I hated to see my father drunk because he acted erratically each time that happened. His drinking caused a lot of problems between him and my mother, and that harmattan night was no exception…
Culled from a manuscript of the same name written by: Emmanuel Abara Benson