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The mother would leave. The daughter knew it already—there was so much shouting in the past days. On a windy Friday night, the drunk father, angry with the mother who was shouting and crying at the same time, had broken the tinted glass of the sliding doors in the living room with his fist, and the shattering sound had pierced through the air. The sound rang in her ears for days until she began to dream of it.
The mother would leave on a slow Sunday morning before church, while the neighbours upstairs sang loudly in pidgin: “Godu na elele, Godu na waya o…”
She would wear a blue dress and no earrings. The father would not beg, would not hold her bag and tell her to, ‘Please stay with me,’ face contorted with emotions like in the movies the daughter watched on AfricaMagic. No, he would not. Instead he would sit on the leather chair eating groundnuts, and silently watch her go.
Later, when the family members visited and shouted in swift Yoruba that the parents should have at least considered their daughter — did they not know she was too young to witness all these? — the mother would say that there was nothing she could do because the father was unwilling to change and be the man he used to be. While they said this, the girl would look at the high ceilings, and in her ten year old mind would understand that her life was no longer what it used to be. Now divided into tiny fragments, already bereft of love and fraught with various patches of disappointments. The girl would go up to her Disney Princesses-postered room and cry because everything had melted too quickly, like ice cubes set out in the sun.
But before then — before the shouts and the sounds of crashing glass, before the nights of silence and arguments so heated that it burnt through skin, before the mother picked up all her things and left — they were all sitting in the backyard, beside the dense cluster of creeping bougainvillea and rotting mangoes: the mother, the father and the daughter. And they were laughing.