Tola’s departure was what she called it. Leaving the shores of the country and never looking back except chance allows it. The type of chance that boils down to the next set of choices I make. The choice to nurture my good heart and grow into a better man or just live it all up; my life as a cultist, my thirst for power and the desire to remain mysterious in my bid to make the best for my future. Most times I have been torn between choosing the truth or peace. I have always had to choose peace irrespective of the fact that I initiate violence, such irony. Isn’t the purpose of war to create peace after all? One thing I could never really live with is the truth, like that which Tola bestowed on me. The good book says the truth shall make you free but all it has done for me is burdened my heart. Ultimately, the truth tore my parent’s marriage apart. The reason my mystical life thrives on misery. I doubt you have ever imagined why they call me Sadist. It dates back to my childhood.
With sudden disregard for me and my younger sister, he pulled over on our way to church and requested to talk. At first, mother was quiet. At 13, I could to an extent read her facial expression. She looked like she had so much to say but did not know where to start from. Her confusion was obvious and every word that escaped her lips was distorted. I had never seen such fear on her face. My father too, I had not seen him express such horror, although coated with anger.
“Leonard, I don’t want to talk about this now. Not in front of our kids. Can we please do this later?” She begged but he wouldn’t have it. He seemed determined to wrath his anger on her. Days before that, they said nothing to each other in our presence but they shouted at each other at night. It got worse one night, the neighbours had to come and check that they weren’t getting violent. They kept Chichi and I awake all night, we cried too.
“Ogechi, I am trying so hard to stay calm here but you aren’t helping matters,” Father thundered and Chichi soon began to cry again. It didn’t matter to either of them. They were drowning in their chaotic voices and didn’t realize they were throwing away their family. Father continued, scarring my heart a little more as his ego wrestled with mother’s own.
“You want a divorce and you don’t think it is okay to tell me why, or if I have done anything wrong? Didn’t we vow for better or worse, till death do us part? All I have been asking you all week is why I am suddenly no longer the man that melts your pain and births a smile on your lips. I just want to know why my heart is no longer the nest you want to bird. I just want you to tell me, say something, talk to me please!”
Her husband was in tears and she simply remained mute. I wanted to interfere but I wasn’t sure of what to say. Moreover, the moment they were having wasn’t something we were used to. We were a happy family. Daddy always said big boys don’t cry but I could see mucor mix with tears and flow down his neck. It was bad.
“Do our kids even know that their mother wants to leave their father? Have you told them?”
“Mummy, are you leaving us?” Curiosity had the best of my emotions. “Where are you going to? Are we coming with you?”
“No, you can’t come with me but I will always come around to see you and your sister. I am giving your daddy custody.”
“Custody?” I challenged. I knew the word but couldn’t make sense of the situation. Mother unlocked her seat belt, turned to stare at me and Chichi for a moment,
“Son, it means you will be staying with your daddy.”
Silence enveloped the car with the air conditioner making the quietest sound and sending shivers of anxiety into everyone.
“Chucks” my father called.
“What does the bible tell us about the truth? Can you please remind mum and me?”
I choked on my breath for a minute then stammered nervously,
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Father’s oratory prowess came into play,
“Ogechi, your mind is made up and I am afraid there is nothing I can do to save this marriage. Your impulsive demand for a divorce is strange, yet I feel it in my spirit that you have found another home, perhaps better or not. Your career has never been the source of our rift, so I will assume there is someone. I will only ask this once and I will love a response…”
At this point, father was crying profusely.
“You will have your freedom but don’t make us a slave to it. I deserve to know, the kids too. Why are you leaving us and where are you going to?”
Mother gazed outside aimlessly, avoiding our faces. She responded,
“It has been 14 years and being with you doesn’t feel like home. I am relocating to Paris to live with Lanre.”
Father turned on the ignition and drove back home. That moment of truth shattered our family. It made me hate my mother for leaving us like that. It made more sense as I grew older. She never looked back, not once. She didn’t even call. Puberty was rough for Chichi and I, and father never remarried. Instead, he developed high blood pressure. He was miserable and he wore it on his sleeves everywhere he went. Lanre, as father described, was mother’s ex; they all lived in the same hostel. Father narrated that mother had aborted for Lanre who denied being responsible for her pregnancy. He gave her a shoulder to lean on and he fell in love. Afterwards, Lanre became a cog in their wheel but he fought for mother. 14 years later and she runs back to him, like a stray dog to the hunter.
One night father suffered a heart attack that resulted in the stroke, forced him to retire from the civil service at age 45. The only true joy I know is for father and Chichi. The pains of my childhood fed the evil side of me. I wanted more and being hardcore, like cultism preached, seemed like the right way. This is why it feels like I am a sadist, the suffering. Tola’s departure put me in father’s position; I fought for her only to lose her to a better life. To think I was finally getting to feel love. I am back to being Sadist again.