The Enigma of Her Emotions
My elder sister’s heart was made of gold and accompanied with a joyful soul – until my mother died!
This was the seventh conversation in two weeks, the more they had them, the harder it was to resolve anything.
“Mirabel, Let me get this straight, so you say you want to do make-up as a full-time career?”
His baritone voice echoed down our perfectly furnished living room.
She had her head down and arms crossed behind as usual, these were the false body languages that were supposed to reflect respect.
When we were much younger, after any scolding, my sister and I would talk and laugh quietly about it in our room, making fun of him and mimicking his words. But it was different now, we were grown up and these past few years have continuously revealed the holes these one-sided conversations bore in her heart.
She would get scolded at for the littlest things; ‘you sleep too much’, ‘your relationship with family is non-existent’, ‘you’re too unconcerned’. It got worse and more embarrassing overtime - especially when she came home a little later than she normally would or when she got caught hanging out with a boy. The whole street would be reminded of how poorly she did in school, how much money he had wasted to send a girl to school - to study English, a girl that couldn’t even bring a man home or use her certificate to get a job.
She started to drink more - I couldn’t tell if it was just alcohol but the smell of it lingered lousily on her breath, hidden behind cheap mint. He wouldn’t let her out of the house, so trust Mirabel, she snuck her friends in. She bagged herself this new rack recently, these friends were different and I didn’t relate with them in the way I related with her old friends. I remember Oluchi, one of the old ones. She was nicer, she let me polish her nails and we would all make funny snapchat videos together. But since she travelled abroad for her masters, these new girls have flooded our space. Mirabel didn’t even practice her make-up tutorials with my face anymore, she really didn’t care.
Watching her re-create the Maleficent look on her face was way more fulfilling than picking up those empty cups off her room floor right after her friends were done using her as a juice vending machine. Mimi and I used to talk, we talked about everything. Even though she was five years older, she listened to my gist about secondary school boys and my dramatic reactions every time someone “looked for my trouble”. I honestly enjoyed when she braided my hair, she gave me all my favourite books and we did the speed-read competitions - she’d usually finish before me but it was fine, that Mimi was fine.
“Mirabel! Have you registered for those business courses I sent to you? You need to take your life more seriously, nobody will marry you like this, I’ve told you, only real career women can build a home. Didn’t you learn anything from your mother? Noro-ebaahu N’ezuzu si n’o make-up e chori-me”.
My skin curled every time he brought her up, but I can’t play attorney now, who knows if she ever even wanted defence. Sometimes I hate her a little for sucking up to all she did, other times I thought she was being a hero and just shielding her young.
And yes, she did! Oh God she did!
So well, we never noticed her pain. The complexities and layers of nuance she had to hide, the acres and acres of tears she had to drown in. How did she do it? How did she live with him all these years and never complain? it’s been over three years and nobody deemed it necessary to explain her death to us?
Well… what can we do? We move!
I Finally decided to sort through her things this morning with hopes that I could find anything useful to help me deal with him or go with my only other option, “run”.
My mother being the overly meticulous human I remember her to be already had all her things perfectly organised in sections. I remember when we were little, she would take her time to cut the crust off our sandwiches every morning before school and made sure our wardrobes were organised according to colour and relevance. Always organised and attentive to details… I miss her!
I found a diary beneath her trunk without looking so hard, I wondered what she could have been journaling.
I picked it up and glanced through, it had details about work and money calculations at the back, I flipped to the middle and right on the centre page was a phone number with name the “Oke”. I paused for a while, tried to remember any relative or family member named Oke but I couldn’t place my fingers on any, so I decided to call.
“Hello…!” I heard his thick baritone voice and I froze; I dropped the call immediately. Fingers crossed he wouldn’t call back, but luck failed me when my phone started to buzz. I hesitated for a while then I answered the phone.
“Hello…!”, he said again
Hi! I replied, “My name’s Mirabel, I’m Mrs Roseline’s daughter”
“Mirabel! Late Mrs Roseline Ejike?”
He paused for what felt like 30 minutes – considering how awkward the silence was, and finally replied without the initial grit in his tone.
“How are you”?
I snuck out of the house the next day to see him and he explained all I wanted to know. Of course she was sad, of course she had a lover.
My Mother, “sighs!”
He said she confided in him sometimes and shared how controlling Mr Ejike was.
I went back home in tears that day, feeling both pity and anger. Angry that she didn’t fight for herself or at least for her girls, now she’s dead and I’m left to deal with him.
Who made the rules? Who said I had to stay?
I’m worried for Joel but I’m sure she’ll be alright. she has a cheerful soul; he can’t break her.
“Hello Mimi! When are coming home”?
Joel called me today, she didn’t sound so cheerful. I’m going back for her; I can’t leave anyone alone with Mr Ejike.