It was my sixteenth birthday. I was just getting used to dealing with cramps and to know the inside story of how to live my life as a full time member of the womanhood. Poni and Acham, my schoolmates and best friends had called earlier that they will be on their way coming here. I was getting impatient; especially that now that I have asked them to bring me chocolate that I was craving for. Is that all? No! I was impatiently waiting for them to come and give me a little peace of mind I had been longing to have since my house is always a house on fire. My dress was still laying on the seat of my make up table. It wasn’t the best, but I appreciate it; especially the fact that it was a gift from my mother who sacrificed her little house wife’s saving plan to buy it for me. She is that type of a woman that depends on her husband for everything except oxygen.

My brother, Deng, was just another duplicate of my Papa. He always arrogant, disrespectful; full of pride and always proud. What can I add? He is the first born and a “special kid” according to Papa’s dictionary. But today, his demons were away on assignment. He’s nice to me and I liked him for the first time in a while. When he saw me in pain, he brought coffee and watched over me with pity. While I burry my head in a white pillow in my bed, all I could hear him saying was, “everything gonna be all right. Whatever it is, I know you shall overcome it”. Maybe he was feigning or perhaps he was trying to be gentle just because my girlfriends were coming over and he will have a good time chatting with them. Whatever, I did not care whether he was bribing me with his niceness or not.

After Mother had set the table ready, she came in to inform us that everyone was in the living room; we should go and join them. I was beginning to be jovial. So, I threw a smile as she perfectly taught me many years ago that a smile is a free medicine to cure dark days. Why aren’t I happy yet it is my birthday? After all, I can put everything on a flight mode and pretend that there has never been anything wrong in this house. Is it about my drunkard father, donkey mother or a proud brother that has no respect for my gender and considers me as of no value? All these torments that always accompany my dark days and nights can wait.

Deng wanted to follow my Mother but I asked him to stay a little with me. He obeyed. One of those rare things he could ever do under my commands. I went to pick my dress that was on the table and then went to the bathroom to change. It took me twenty something minutes to change; and, when I came out, after so many times of looking at myself in the mirror, I could feel heaven bowing down her head just to acknowledge my presence. I came out with the note I had written, and then placed it on the table. It had the list of what I wish for and prayed the previous night that they should happen in my life before I spin the wheel to celebrate another birthday. Peace in my house, Papa to stop drinking, to develop unconditional love for Papa and Deng and, then to be given a voice to say what I want.

‘You look beautiful’, he complimented. It didn’t shake me much. I am used to such compliments from boys who leer and yodels when I bypass them in school. But this one though was one of the rare things that my brother usually does. We have been living like strangers in the same house since birth and we rarely say such things to each other. Mom and I, we’re living as best friends, whilst Papa and Deng were just those people we talk meaningful things when fate decides. ‘Thanks!’ I replied with a big smile on my face. Mother has I taught me too to pretend when I’m not happy and it has helped me many occasions, especially from those who get unnecessary concerns.

I turned my back against him and reread everything in my wish list; making sure that I did not incur errors in the epistle. I breathed in deep and then told him that I was ready to go. We went to the living room. Everyone was present except Papa.

It was something obvious, and I knew it. He would come in later, maybe in the middle of the night and wake me up to go to the kitchen and warm his food. He will not even touch the so called heir of his throne like he does to me. Besides, my first and the only birthday party he attend was the one I was turning six. Mother even told me he was sick that day.

Poni and Acham, my ride and die girls were seated next to my mother with purses placed on their laps. The knife was handed over to me to cut the cake. Before I could do anything, the door flung wide open. Papa, the only god under this roof, the beast, the untouchable, the Lord of everything, the unstoppable, who, at the same time, is the father to this little me, came in with his usual swaggerific style of lowering his tie, stench fragrance of beer and his shirt always soaked in beer content.

Everyone was quiet – eyes zoomed to the maximum whilst their mouths were opened at the same time. ‘What is going on here?’ He asked with his beautiful accent. The one I always like. I have always been admiring him when he is speaks with that accent. You would think he was the only son of Awada village that went to study in Whiteman’s university. His English is digital and very unique. But the attitude though, he remains the same old man I know. ‘It’s your daughter’s birthday, Mr. Lazarus,’ said aunt Nyanchiew.

‘A birthday party, huh? So this is how you waste my resources on your daughter’s stupid birthdays?’ He pointed at Mother with the bottle. Aunt Nyanchiew must have smelled the rat. She was coming toward me and tries to talk to Papa, and maybe calms him down so that he doesn’t get wild. Papa did not wait for her to cover the gap between me and him. He threw the bottle of Tusker on Mother. It landed on her with thud. I could not imagine the amount of blood I saw flowing on her beautiful face after that bottle breaks. Papa has set my birthday party ablaze. He turned the table upside down. I had no objection over that. Before I could ask him why he was hurting Mother, he turned to me with force and gave me one hot slap that sends me to the floor.

My brother, Deng, came to help me. He must have been affected like Mother and I. He didn’t say anything, anyway, but the look on his face can tell you that he was disappointed in Papa as well. Aunt Nyanchciew ran very fast to Mother. She was still bleeding unconsciously. Papa didn’t care for the damage he has caused his family. Mom in wretch, little me wailing in both psychological and physical pain whilst Deng trying hard to stop internal bleeding. He walked to his room majestically like a corrupt African politician who has rigged the election results and emerges victorious when the final results were announced.

Aunt Nyanchiew took Mother to the hospital. Deng went to his room without saying a single word to anyone, while Poni and Acham accompanied me to my room. My drunkard father, helpless brother, and injured mother, it was like my tomorrow will never come. I went back to the epistle I wrote earlier to re-adjust everything I listed in it.


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