See, the memories from my childhood helped me become the man I am today. The life we lead was adequate motivation for me. My mother doubled as our father too. I have my own family now and I give them my best, but I don’t go about judging others who can’t. I have experienced the blurred side of life, so I know well not to take things for granted. When I passed my O’level exam and gained admission, everyone in the Blue House contributed to my provision and pocket money in one way or the other. I was the first to break such ground, a perfect example for other children in the compound. However, that was because my mother put her soul and body on the line for us. I now own a house and manage a bank. I am a product of a relentless mother who maximised a room in unimaginable ways. I wish the tale was different but I will never question her choices.
The first ten years of my life were forged out of that room. We moved in when I was six; mum, younger sister and I. It was shortly after dad’s disappearance. One night, he didn’t come home. We hoped for his return the next day but he didn’t return too. We got tired of waiting when he didn’t show up after a month. That was after we checked different morgues and police stations. At some point, rumours were made about him having absconded with another woman. We would never know. Mother couldn’t keep up with the rent in our classic face-me-I-face-you apartment. I mean, we moved into another tenement apartment but the former had a decent toilet, unlike the Blue House which had a pit latrine. Moreover, it had 90% female as its occupant, most of the male residents were young boys like me who lived with their mothers. Hence, I had to grow up without the influence of a male figure.
It was a place of pleasurable sin, laughter, tears and blood. When it rained, we found warmth in the embrace of one another. Whenever the sun scorched our roof, we took turn beside the window, so small the body of a teenager wouldn’t go through it. It was just us, us against the world. Mother did what she had to do for us to get a proper education. She worked tirelessly during the day just so we would sleep easy at night. On days when financial demands were high, she worked both shifts but that’s only after she had given us a heavy dinner with the right dose of a sleeping pill. On some nights when I defiled the medicinal odds and woke up, the curtain partitioning our corner from mama’s bed was there, revealing shadows of two people struggling or so I thought. The lantern which was lowly lite always cast a shadow. Growing up, I understood more about her job. That was what everyone in the Blue House did to earn a living too.
Blue house; a city of colourful lights and thick cigarette smokes, with every corner reeking of alcohol. It was a passage for men who wanted to relieve themselves of one burden or the other. It was a place of conflicts and excitement. There was no religion, no tribe and politics. Though they were always at war with one another, they were united against the world. To everyone but themselves, they were not a part of society. Everyone in the blue house had a different tale; ours was created out of a room painted in red.
Yes, that’s how I got here. My mother made sure I didn’t turn out like any of the men who consulted her for relief.