BITTER KOLA

“Get me that box Ada”, he screamed at her ” Are you listening to me? and be fast about it”. It was too early to be screaming at the top if the voice especially when it’s still five am in the morning. Groaning, Ada woke up grudgingly as she stood up from the floor she slept at. She dreaded hearing his voice first thing in the morning when she knew what bringing that box meant. That box contained his consolation, his companion, his solace, the only thing he loved having was inside that box but it was also the thing that constantly made his life miserable. She hated giving him that box but who was she to refuse him. He was her father and he adored him no matter what he has become and moreover , she was too scared to disobey him or keep him away from his daily companion so she willingly brought him the box every morning; at the dawn of each day.
“Papa I’m here, take it”, she dropped the box on the table in front of her father.
” I’m I supposed to tell you what to do…go ahead and do what you always do”, he said as he looked at her sternly. She sat down at the corner, opened the box, brought out the bottle and the nuts. She quickly ran inside, got a side plate and a little glass cup. She sat back down and started peeling the back of the nuts, it was a bitter kola.

Anyone seeing her at that time would laugh out loud obviously finding it hilarious. Instead of praying or reading the newspaper at five am she was busing peeling the back of a bitter kola for her father. She chuckled at the mere thought of it and her father stared at her.
“What’s funny?” he asked
“Nothing papa” she replied still smiling.
The truth was nothing was funny about their situation. She peeled about a several bitter kola and poured the Gin into a glass cup and handed it over to him. He quickly took a bite and sighed in relief as he kept on chewing it and drinking. He was clearly enjoying himself. Ada just sat there and stared at him. She couldn’t believe this was the man that was once her hero, her idol and her pillar. It was every girls dream to have a father like hers but now she was not so sure anymore. She couldn’t recognize him again, he was far from the man she once knew. She looked inside the box and saw everything she was already familiar with; the bitter kola of different shapes and sizes too numerous to count because she always stocked it up for him, the little bottles of white jin, bitter alcohol and bitter liquid herbs. Ever since he lost everything to the hands of frauds and con artists, he lost his ego and identity and he blamed it on his ill fate. His hard work, tears and sweat of twenty years was all down the drain. He lost his will to move on, he just couldn’t. it was like he took a part of him, a part that made him a man and shoved it to the dogs. After that he thought he wouldn’t be able to strive but mother was there to console him, to rub his back and to listen to his cries and wails but when mother died a year later to an illness that was never diagnosed he lost his strength. If there was any little zeal or hope left in him before it was all gone the minute mum was put to the ground. He became silent and still like a river without waves or storms. We couldn’t survive it; especially my little sister Amanda who made everyone laugh at three. Even in papa’s silence she made his eyes lit up with her giggles, play and mischievousness, but when we lost her to stomach infection and malnutrition papa lost his joy. He lost the only thing that filled his life with happiness. That was when it all started. He couldn’t face anyone anymore. He snapped at everything and everyone, he started drinking and drinking heavily. My older brother left to work, to provide for us and escape from the negativity surrounding our father.

The last straw was when he started eating bitter kola, it was funny at first but when he accompanied it with every bitter thing he could lay his eyes on that was when I wept for him. I knew every time he tasted it he wanted to remind himself of how bitter his life had become, how life had presented us not with a sweet candy but a bitter kola. It reminded him to be hateful, to be resentful of living, of hoping and of believing. It became a drug he was addicted to. He walked with bitter kola in his mouth and trouser pocket and now he even took it first thing in the morning and got drunk till he forgot everything, every pain and every memory haunting him.
Now he talked, he smiled but he was like a desert without water. He refused happiness, he refused success, he only wanted pain because that us what life had thrown at him.
Looking at him now she wished she could tell him that she’s right here for him, that how can he stop caring when his son and daughter are still alive. That we are the living proof that not everything is lost. That its not over but only beginning.
“Dad”, she called finally, tired of watching him soak himself in bitterness and drunkenness.
” What is it?”, he replied nonchalantly.
“Aren’t you tired of this? tired of constantly living this way. There’s still hope you know… please don’t give up…and start believing…I promise i’ll help you…please”, she begged as tears dropped from her eyes.
He simply stared at her too shocked to say anything and clearly sad to see his daughter cry in front of him knowing he was the reason for those tears. The truth is, he was tired but he didn’t know how to move on.
” You will never understand Ada so take this box and keep it inside. I’m done!”, he said firmly, walked back inside and shut the door.
She just stared at the ugly box and shook her head making a mental note to throw away the content of the box during the day. Enough is Enough! she would accept any punishment he gave her but she would not allow him to continue to live this way.
She prayed silently for him that he would come out of this long overdue grief and come out on top. That even those in the world like him would conquer the terror of pain and suffering and come out victorious by tasting the sweet part of life not the bitter part.

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