My mother’s hair used to be a very long flowing one that almost touched the middle of her back when straightened. My mother have a way of making her hair which made it look like the day itself; on Sundays she wrapped her hair about her head like it were a scarf and used a pin hat to clip it together. On Mondays to Thursdays it was always parked in a sectional bun then on Friday it was a ponytail and on Saturdays she left it free always flowing even while they perched on her face as she goes about the house chore. My mother rarely braids her hair.
It was on the evening of one Sunday that while the wind was billowing in it cool nature, making the leaves from the Mango tree which made a demarcation between our house and the Church of change rustle and every other single layered thing in the premises. A man came and knocked at our door, it was a startling knock, it came in five quick succession at first, then three and five again. Immediately we knew there was trouble. Evening was just approaching and even the house was brightly lit, so our first suspicion was not possible. My mother adjusted her wrapper then stood to open the door.
The man’s heart heaved up and down in his chest relentlessly, up and down continuously, he waited for it to go down so he could express himself but the heaving never stopped and it didn’t look like was going to go off anytime soon.
“Uche, what is it?” My mother prodded, still tightening her wrapper.
“Ma ma ma zi Oka – for” he said between breathing. stammering. “had an accident at Ifedorowa Junction and can’t even talk”
“He is dead” he finally said and his breathing subsided.
My mother rushed to him holding the collar of his shirt up and rested her entire body on him and began to weep. I just sat down on the couch and watched her cry . I heard it, Mazi Okafor was dead, but that didn’t sound like my Dad’s name, it sounded like the name of someone distant, like the new chief’s name, someone who we watched on the TV. My mother looked at me with tears in her eyes.
“Where is he, Uche, take me there” she said looking at me like I was uche. I could see in her eyes that she wished I would not understand any of it. Even though I was seven years old I knew the said Mazi Okafor, was dead. And he is my father, my father’s a dead man.
In the days that followed, I would only see my mother, at the balcony of our house draped in a black gown in the middle of other older women who just stroked Mother’s hair all day and said some words to her. Then the day I came back home from aunty Ezinne’s house, I was welcomed by tuft and balls of black shiny hair and a scissors on the table. I ran to the balcony but I didnt see my mother, only the women who were now talking to themselves.
“Mommy” I screamed her, and the sound came from the toilet, a sound trying to hush itself. I rushed there and saw her bent over the basin, her hair was cut in unleveled way, a part raising above another part. I hugged her legs and she turned back at me. She carried me up and I rubbed the palm of my hands on her hair, picking the locs that remained there with my fingers.