Tariro had just turned 18 years and signed up for the army. I had blossomed into a head turning young lady and pretty much used to the gawks and wagging tongues from all kinds of perverts. Working as a data collector for a research institute I managed to make a decent income to take care of mother. It was nearly end of year and I was swamped with annual reports so I took extra hours after work. I came back home well after midnight and threw myself on the bed without bothering to remove my shoes. Exhaustion finally caught up with me. My eyelids were too heavy, I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and I sunk slowly into a beautiful slumber. Just when I was sinking deep into sleep I was startled by the loud creak of my door. Tariro popped his head inside
“ Finally” he breathed and quietly closed the door behind him.
I propped myself on my elbows “ This better be good Tari, I am really tired” I said with a yawn.
He didn’t waste a second “ The bastard is back, can you believe it and mother took him back, she took him back Chenai!” Tariro was almost yelling.
My mind was racing, gripped by fear, dread and mostly anger. Angry at mother for taking him back and angry at the audacity of this man to dare come back after everything he put us through. I was livid.
Father had returned but he was not doing so well health wise. The man had lost more than half his weight; his entire body was covered with large warts, his eyes had sunken and the skin on his face loosely hung on his bones. I had the whole conversation played out in my mind. I was going to let him know what I really thought of him and this time I was not afraid of his reflex backhand anymore.
But when I looked at the frail ill man on the bed, words eluded me.
“ Don’t just stand there, get your father some breakfast you lazy bitch!” He spat
I was slightly taken aback, and all the years of his mental and physical abuse rushed into one emotion. Anger. Without thinking I yanked the pillow under his head and placed it firmly over his face. He grabbed my wrists but he was no match to my strength, I pressed on harder, his legs flying and kicking. The muffled sounds from under the pillow did not stop me, his whole body racked with spasms, he jerked once, twice and he was still. Tears gushed out as I slowly back paddled in horror. “ Its okay sis, its okay” Tariro again startled me. He allowed me to sob in his arms. “Its over, its finally over” he consoled me.
The turn out for his funeral was sad, a few neighbours and his cousin showed up. No one cried except for mother. There was no eulogy, no prayer; his send off was emotionless and formal. The cause of death read: “Succumbed to full blown AIDS.” My brother and I promised not to breathe a word to a soul about what really transpired. I felt guilty for feeling relieved. I had committed murder and I felt nothing. I was deader inside than the rotting corpse of my father. He made me into this, a murderer without any remorse. A week later, the dangling feet of my mother broke my heart beyond comprehension. She hung from the ceiling fan with her cold blank eyes staring at me, as if she was accusing me for killing the love of her life. She hung there in her wedding gown, her face beat with make up as if preparing to meet father on the other side. No suicide letter, she just left us without a warning or goodbye. After the funeral, Tariro left for training. Alone in the house that night I dreamt of mother standing by my bedside. She was quiet, just staring at me then tears started trickling from her eyes. I tried to open my mouth to tell her that I was sorry but I could not find my voice, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t blink. I was locked down in a staring contest with my dead mother. I felt myself gasping for air. “Chenai” She whispered my name. And I woke up.