When dawn breaks, there is a loud thud on the door and I mutter under my breath instructing the person to walk in.
“Ah, Nonso the door is locked,” the voice says.
The voice sounds familiar. I stand on a wobbly leg. I look around the strange surroundings, my head throbbing. When I stop at the door, I bolt it open and my sister walks in. She sniffs, scrunches her nose.
“Nonso, you are drinking again. Ah. What is happening?”she asks, tears trickle from her eyes.
I want to tell her to stop crying but I push the door, and fall on the sofa.
“Nonso, Mama is dead,” she says.
I stop to wrap her words around my head. “Mama is dead,” I say
“Yes. Mama is dead. I got the call not long ago.”
Our father died years ago… Now, Mama is dead. “My husband battered me again. I finally said it was over. I left our daughter with him, Nonso,” she says in quick successions as if someone is rushing her words.
“You finally left him,” I say in between a series of uncoordinated breaths.
I want to tell my sister that I am not so much of a drunk but my lips refuse to part away from each other. I have been drinking because I needed to stop hearing the noises that come every night. Her eyes are sober when I stare at them. I can see her face clearly now, taking in the bruises on it.
Walking into the bathroom, I stand under the shower to wash off the smell of alcohol. She stares at my naked body when I walk out, yelling that I should tie the towel around my waist. Nkoli is five years older than I am, I know she has seen me naked on multiple occasions when we were little. She said it was a long time ago and didn’t need to see a grown man naked. I tie the towel around my waist, walk into the bedroom to get myself dressed.
Later, I sit in the living room, tears trickling down my cheek as Nkoli stares into my face and looks away. I do not know what is going on in her mind, but I can sense she doesn’t want to say a word to me. She remains mute, her face, expressionless.
It is what Mama had taught us while growing up; to allow anyone to mourn or cry. She said crying relieves pain and heals people faster. I wipe off the droplet, watching Nkoli. The room remains calm. She is holding her phone tight, silence saturates our presence. The scent of the last cologne I had used lingers in the room.
“You said your husband is beating you?” I ask, my mind wanders, sinking into the creepy noises I always hear in the night. I mumble under my breath.
Nkoli looks into my eyes and strolls closer. I sit on a long sofa, she relaxes beside me leaning her face inches close to mine. “Yes, Nonso. I am tired,” she says. “I plan on fighting very soon for the ownership of our daughter in court.”
I smile. She has grown so much since she married her husband. I remember telling her to quit the abusive relationship during her second year of marriage, but she said, “No” implying her husband loves her.
A couple of times in the past, I had asked her to let me sort it my way with some thugs arranged to beat her husband but she refused. It never made sense how women could withstand so much pain for love..