The Haunted Soul: A Thandiubani Short Story
...What will people say when they hear it? What will be the fate of his wife and kids? How could he have allowed such a thing to happen when he himself condemned it? How could he have committed such an atrocity he himself frowned at? His mind became a time bomb about to explode. But what is this that could ruin this good gentleman?
Jude was a happily married man and successful too. Though he started life in a very harsh way, but within a short while he amassed what would take many people years to gather. A beautiful wife and two lovely kids made his life a fulfilled one. At 45 years, he never believed his luck would come so easy after all he passed through in life.
Born to a poor family of Six, Jude smelt poverty because it was written all over his face. A hard life in the village gave scars to his body and killed his soul of any hope for change. Each day he spent in the village house built by his father reminded him of what has been his fate ever since he was born. His father, a Palm wine tapper was notorious for his promiscuous ways and this resulted in many rounds of boxing bouts with his wife. His father’s wayward lifestyle made food scanty in the house because he used his resources to feed other women and their children. Mr. Amadi as Jude’s father was popularly called spent his money following everything in skirt. He tricked his way into the skirt of many widowed women and spent almost all he got from his Palm wine business on outsiders.
Palm wine tapping was a lucrative business and it paid very well then. Most palm wine tappers lived a comfortable life because palm wine was in high demand so they made huge sums of money.
It was late one night and Jude was fast asleep. He was startled when he heard his mother crying profusely. He woke up and marched his way past the sleeping bodies of his three younger siblings to the room his mother shared with his father. The lantern light glowed from the table near the kitchen door. It was an impoverished bedroom apartment and he could breathe in the stuffy air that greeted his nose immediately he opened the curtain that covered the passage way to the room. As he curiously walked into the room, what he saw nearly made him faint.
Now after many years of a life in dungeon and having faced the suffering and cruelty of life squarely, Jude is about to face his worst fears. Jude swore never to follow his father’s promiscuous way of life because of the bitter experience it brought upon his family. He was always cautions with women and always took to flight when they try to get him on his knees. He always ran away from women. He was scared to live the life of his father. He saw it as immoral and a great sin. His handsome and tender face has brought him little or no luck. Even his kind heart is a reflection of years of suffering and bitter experiences. One thing that set him apart from many other men was his godly way of life and conduct. Because of the many problems he faced as a teenager, he made the fear of God his own.
“I don’t care if there is a god” his father once shouted at Jude’s mother at the height of a heated argument one night.
“That is why you keep messing around with widows and young girls akwa ya? Foolish man” she shouted back angrily.
Jude has become accustomed to this scenario which eventually resulted in a free-for-all fight. The worst part is that his father as guilty as he was never showed any sign of remorse.
“When he started this thing, he always denied it. Then you were very young. I was a fool to have married him. Now am stuck here in this marriage because of you and your siblings” Mrs. Amadi explained one night as they waited for her husband to return. It was almost mid-night. He returned the next day with cock and bull stories of mbe and umu anumanu….
Mr. Amadi’s womanizing exploits started a long time ago. Even as a teenager, he was pursued up and down by his parents because of his wayward lifestyle. Each time he made an attempt to stop, he comes off worse than before. It was like a curse no one could stop. These days, he no longer denies it. Instead, he confronts his wife and enjoys beating the hell out of her. So the night Jude heard the mother crying after another round of boxing bout with her promiscuous husband; it was to be the last time.
Angrily, Jude walked into the stuffy room with hatred and anger clouding his vision. He wanted to challenge the father and if possible talk sense into his old-faggoted and rotten brain. His heart was melted by what he saw. He swore never to forgive him nor be called his son anymore.
There on the bare floor of the impoverished room, lay his father naked.
“Maybe he took too much of the liquor he himself sold” he thought within himself.
His mother curled up in one corner of the room wailing with puffed up eyes and tears dripping down her cheeks. It was almost mid-night. Jude was surprised because he couldn’t understand why the mother wailed. If the beating she received from him was too much, she should at least act like an adult. A big iron spring bed was by the corner of the room but the bedspread was missing. An old curtain with tiny rope covered the only window in the room and on the floor were clothes that look like rags belonging to the mother. The ceiling above his head had cracks and some were broken. You could see the dark traces of the old rusted zinc as moon light poured on it. On a wooden table, a small radio belonging to the father occupied space and near it sat a locally made pressing Iron.
Jude looked down at the father and swallowed a chunk of bitter saliva down his stuffy throat then let out a loud cry. It could have startled his younger siblings but they slept on as if unconcerned. There on the floor near his father’s fore-face, streams of thick blood dripped down like when a sharp knife slices through the throat of a chicken. His mouth was half closed and blood dripped from his ear, he lay with one side of his face to the floor.
The air was stenched with the smell of urine, which was visible on the floor near his father’s naked body.
“I didn't mean to” his mother said stammering. Her mouth was full of wasted saliva and eyes in tears. She was weeping profusely, and she still had the mortar in her hand. She was nearly naked if not for the pant she wore.
“He’s dead” Jude said to her trembling mother. His emotion was still like the soundless movement of the snail.
She wailed all the more without restraint. She was visibly devastated.
“He wanted sex from me but I refused. Then he used force on me” His mother muttered. Her voice trembling and mouth gushing of wasted saliva. Her eyes were wet with tears and her hair scattered like that of a lunatic.
“I couldn’t allow him after all he did with those women outside. But I didn’t mean to kill him” she wailed all the more. Her eyes were already red and peppered with tears. Jude was devastated. He knew how difficult life was even when his father was alive. Now he is dead, the worst will happen. He knew of his father’s promiscuity, but he never knew it would take his life.
“But what kind of a wife would ever agree to have sex with a husband that sleeps around? A man renowned for his sexual rascality and a dubious way of life?” Jude contemplated.
As confused as ever, he paced up and down in anguish and lost in thought. He knew his mother wouldn't be left to walk free no matter the reasons. He wanted to tell her all will be well but he found no will to do so. Halfway, he blamed her for tolerating his promiscuity even when she should have done something along time ago. How could she have agreed to marry such a man? She made a mistake of a lifetime.
Jude did not know when tears dropped down his cheeks. It is almost 1:00 AM and sleep seems a fore long thought. Even in the comfort of his well furnished parlour, nothing seems to have changed. He is about to sink deeper into oblivion. Any ear that hears what he is about to reveal will surely go deaf. It may destroy the life and reputation he so valiantly built over the years. What will people say when they hear it? What will be the fate of his wife and kids? How could he have allowed such a thing to happen when he himself condemned it? How could he have committed such an atrocity he himself frowned at? His mind became a time bomb about to explode. But what is this that could ruin this good gentleman?
The event is as though it happened yesterday. Even his dead father would be furious should he hear of it. He would look at him with total disgust and hatred for being such a betrayer. But Jude was a mountain of years better than his father. At least, his conscience pricked him and he was disturbed after the deed. He did this wrong just once and it was in the dead of night. It was so late at night one could say his sense of judgment was blurred by the darkness. His mother wouldn't be proud either. It was a wicked setback which will bring pain and sorrow to every ear that hears it.
THE SAGA CONTINUES....
Photo credit: AP
A piece of creative writing by
Alexander Thandi Ubani
A Poet, Playwright, Writer and Thespian