I flopped onto my bed as soon as I walked into my room. My bones felt like they were waiting for the perfect moment to crack in unison and my brain felt like okro soup – all the thoughts it had been stirring all morning were pulling me forcefully into a state of angry despair.
The door opened but I left my right arm where it comfortably lay shielding my eyes. Grandma’s soft footsteps moved in the direction of her bed and as soon as her bed creaked to announce her contact with it, I moved to get up – ignoring all the muscles in my body that cursed at me for daring to aggravate their current situation in discomfort.
She sat primly at the edge of the bed, flipping through the pages of a small, worn, leather bound journal. I watched her for a few moments and just as I was about to flop back on the bed, as if on cue, she looked up at me.
And she smiled.
Her smiles never failed to creep me out but this time, it was as though a latch had been released somewhere in my conscience and waves of guilt and shame suddenly washed over me, drenching me where I sat. I looked away quickly, trying my hardest to blink back the salt water the tide had forgotten in my sockets. I was such a despicable person. And to think I’d always credited Mom with the title, I thought sardonically. The self-disgust had begun suffusing my mind at this time and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t push the feeling away.
Violently grazing my nose with my shoulder, I coughed and commenced stumbling through what I hoped would be an acceptable apology. I didn’t have the energy to write anything for her to read, plus my writing was as lousy as my personality, so I would just slow talk her through the depth of low that characterized me and beg her forgiveness for having been forced to endure it.
“Grandma?” I looked up again. She was in the exact same position. Smile firmly in place.
“Grandma I’m sorry. There’s no excusing how I’ve behaved towards you all these weeks – all the stupid retarded crap I’ve been doing and saying.” I scratched my head and pushed a few strands of my weave from my forehead. “I know claiming that I don’t know what came over me is a pathetic and insufficient excuse but it’s the only one my not-very-smart self can come up with right now.” Tucking my chin in, I sighed, staring at my fingers as they plucked at the threads framing the rips on my crazy jeans. “I honestly don’t know ma. It’s like, I just – I don’t know why I hate my mom so much, but I do. I don’t hate my dad, although I act like it, but I am sort of angry he had such stupid taste in a partner. I mean come on, Toju and I have been through so much messed up crap and- and they don’t even do anything. Dad would rather help the people he isn’t related to, mom would rather develop relations with anything that has a male organ and I’ve just been so angry.” I sniffed and choked on a self-pitying sob. “So like, when I heard you were mom’s mom, I automatically despised you too because – well, I felt it was your fault such a horrible person existed and if you’d aborted her or something then I wouldn’t have to have the messed up life I have and Toju would get the attention his mind deserves and…I don’t know, stuff.”
An idiotic telltale bit of moisture escaped my eyes and I rammed my fist there before it could stain my cheek. “The way you jumped to our rescue today just made me realize how wrong I’ve been. So bloody wrong. You saved us grandma. Because of you, Toju got his surgery in time before the injury messed with his head. If you were really like mom, you would never have budged when you heard he was hurt.” I could feel the hateful sneer forming on my face but I didn’t bother trying to hide it. “You’d probably look at me with ugly, reddened eyes and ask me why I’d ever imagine you’d care about the ‘juvenile things’ I did with my twin brother.” I ground my teeth as I said it, remembering the incident that got me to memorize those offensive words.
God, I hate her.
Wiping my face with my hand, I looked up slowly. She was still in her position but her smile had been replaced with a deep frown, oozing concern. It was then I realized I had totally forgotten my promise to talk slowly to enable her read my lips. I had stumbled through my emotional outburst; half blubbering, quarter murmuring and gritting my teeth while the leftover percentage went to rap. All she could see was my swollen face and reddened eyes.
“Oh gosh, ma. I’m sorry, I forgot you can’t-.”
She raised her hand to halt me and then petted the spot beside her on the bed. I went over obediently and sat, watching as she brought out a plain white sheet of paper from her bedside drawer and began scribbling. Being impatient, I leaned over and watched as each word formed on the formerly blank page.
- I can understand why you might feel such strong resentment towards both your parents. However, as faulty as they may seem…they could be worse my dear. They could be worse…
- I didn’t save either you or Toju – I don’t think I can. Jesus did/does all of that.
- Oh come on, your mother’s eyes aren’t ugly. Yours look just like hers and they’re gorgeous!
A smile had begun forming on my lips at the last statement when I stopped its development. I reached for her left wrist to still the writing, eyes wide and mouth agape.
“Grandma…you’re – you’re replying to everything I just said.” I stated it quite all right but there were question marks bouncing around within the walls of my skull.
“Wait. You aren’t deaf? You can actually hear!?”
She smiled without looking at me and freed her hand to quickly scribble:
Well it’s about time you figured that one out little girl.
I sat there in shock and scrambled to find words for one full minute. All I came up with after my extensive search was,
Grandma had on a wide grin by now and she just shook her head.
“Don’t laugh at me now, I had no idea.” I was smiling too but there was a whine in my tone. “It’s not like you ever bothered to tell me or anything.” As I said that, another thought came to me and I turned her shoulder gently towards me as I bent over to suspiciously peer at her.
“You can talk too can’t you? All this writing is just a scam, right?”
Her smile dimmed. She shook her head.
“What happened to your voice though?” I instantly felt bad for accusing her of being deceitful about it.
I gasped and looked at her. I shook my head very slightly, willing it to be false as all sorts of dark and horrible images flooded my thoughts.
“Oh no, I’m so sorry. Who did it to you?”
I saw her hesitate and she fidgeted with the biro, glancing at me from the corner of her eye. Her body language got me even more curious.
“Grandma? Who poisoned you and made you lose your ability to speak?”
I saw her quickly move the biro over the page and she flicked it away carelessly so it missed the drawer and landed on the floor, before she dropped the sheet in my lap. I looked at her strangely, wondering what was with her changed mood all of a sudden and turned to the writings to get a clue. The last word written on the sheet left me even more disturbed and confused…
To be continued…