Our State of Squalor

Regret. Such a swath word; I know it, I live with it and, I hope I overcome its inundating grip over me.

My life was a bed of rose but I trampled on it with my own feet until it became what it is now. As I feed my baby, I can sense the metallic taste of my blood from biting my lip hard because of the pain in my young and heavy breast as my son suckles. I can feel the milk trickling out from the other breast wetting my shabby blouse. I clean off the tears that has fallen on my baby’s… face but on a second thought, I let it be. I will no longer wipe my messy face of tears and mucus or wipe the tears off my baby’s face. My son looks a lot like my mother. I tried to remember her face but it is very blurry in my memory, so I quit trying. I wiped my face and that of my son’s with my faded wrapper and I just stared at the adjacent wall whose colour I could not identify, probably because I am not good at identifying colours or maybe the painting has exhausted its vitality, I could not tell.

Time passed. I didn’t even noticed my son was already asleep. I lay down gently beside him on the worn out mattress. I continued staring but this time, I looked around the bed-sitter. I didn’t seem to be seeing anything but at the same time I took in everything. I gazed at the settee and noticed for the first time that the butterflies drawn on it looked like dragonfly that could hurt if you sit on it. I could now feel the heat so my eyes voluntarily moved to the still fan on the ceiling. I can not remember the last time it ever whirled. I sat up and in clarity queried the room for its lack of space, grace or even a trace of elegance or beauty. I scoffed.

I don’t know for how long I laid down, studying the room like I had not stayed in it for a year. My baby’s screeching cry pulls me out from my sub-conscious state. I attended to him with grumbles but then, he’s not the cause of my predicament. I made this choice; I decided to go on this path closing my eyes and ears to the warnings of the consequences. Sometimes, I don’t regret my decision and, other times, I hate myself as much as good hates evil. Sometimes, I feel an unflagging strength that gives me hope of tomorrow and at other times, I am terrified by the thought of how much I will sacrifice, suffer and endure if I want to change anything. My baby falls back to sleep, whimpering from time to time.

Looking through the window, I can see that the sun was retiring. I have to prepare dinner before John comes back and starts barking. That is what he does best.

Written By Oghenetaga Emoghene, a member of the Creative Writers’ Workshop, Abraka

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