“You will not kill me in this house. You stupid girl.”
“Mummy ndo, sorry, sorry.”
“Sharrap! At your age, you are still bed-wetting. Sixteen years old” – she splayed out her fingers as if the digits were sixteen in number – “and you are still peeing on the bed like a baby. Agadi nwanyi baby! Just look at the foam, leenu bedsheeti ohuru, new bedsheets!’’
“Mummy, it was a mistake. I did not know. I will not do it again, biko,” Efi pleaded.
“O si na o miskate? If I hear pim from your mouth again ehn, you will drink this your urine now. Disgrace!” She pronounced it as ‘dis-i-grayz’ and it sounded much more derogatory.
Efi’s mother was fed up with her daughter’s bed-wetting. She had cajoled, begged, threatened, whipped and left scars on Efi’s chocolate-toned skin, all to no effect. She had a sixteen-year old daughter, ripe for blooming, who wet the bed like a toddler in nursery school. So shameful.
After her mother’s angry tirade passed, Efi stood outside the door in tears. It was never her intention to wet the bed, and she was not proud of it. In fact, she felt cursed, and her mother’s anger only made the shame worse. Reaching down, she smacked the v-spot between her legs; she wished she could dissemble its parts, and whip each one as furiously as her mother whipped her. The resulting flinch from the sting of her self-assault was involuntary; she was not wearing any panties because her mother had flung those out for her to wash, along with the urine-soaked bed clothes. Still crying, Efi picked up the clothes and proceeded to go wash them.
The squeezing pressure of washing elicited flaming pain from the fresh bruises on her hands. The water was cold, and as she recoiled from the feel of it in the cold harmattan morning, pain soared all over her body. The tears flowed freely into her lips and she tasted them; “mmiri nnu,” she heard herself whisper, salty water. It was while she sat there looking at the soiled bed clothing and fast-discolouring water, that the plan began to form in her mind; desperate measures for desperate times, pepper soup to cheat soup.
When the constipation started, Efi’s mother tried to make her eat fruits – pawpaw, water melon, oranges, etc. – and drink green tea, black tea, juice, and lots of water. She forced large bottles of water on her daughter, but Efi only drank sparingly in her presence. Later when she was alone, Efi flushed the rest away. She was determined to quit drinking fluids; they made her wet the bed. Slowly her flat tummy became bloated and she told herself it was not so bad – better full with food than urine.
Time passed and with it, Efi’s tummy grew rounder and rounder. One day, she found herself on a hospital bed. She hadn’t eaten for days. She couldn’t eat. They did not tell her what it was but the doctor said it was pretty serious; all Efi knew was that she felt as if her entire gastric system was on fire. Her mother cried and prayed all day, every day. Efi tried to tell her she was sorry, that she only wanted to stop disgracing her. But her throat felt bound by invisible, mammoth fetters. So she closed her eyes and lay still.
That afternoon, the urge to pee suddenly overwhelmed her, but her body refused to cooperate. It was almost funny, she really wanted to pee on that hospital bed – she had never wanted to pee so bad on any bed, but trying hurt so badly. Stretching herself beyond the pain, Efi felt a few tiny drops escape. The pain engulfed her even as she thought of her mother. With her last breath, she imagined her mother’s fury upon discovering the urine on the sheets. Sorry, mum.
By Mirian Okwara
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