Mareylene: Why have you left the plate in the basin?
Me:I am sorry, aunt, I want to gather all of them so that I can wash them at once.
Mareylene: Why do you want To wash all the plates at once, that is laziness. I know it, Osborn. I know you are a very lazy boy! (She began screaming)
Me: I'm sorry, Mum.
That was the hell I have to pass through every day before going to school, and after school.
My step-mother never give me a breathing space. Secretly, I hated her but because she treated me like an animal. I wished my mum was alive. Death could be very wicked. It had stolen my mother away from me at the time I needed her most and left me in the hands of this tyrant I called my mum.
The incident was still clear in my mind. It was a day I will never forget, since it marked the first time my direct family member with whom I had a close relationship with had died. She was my best friend. I loved her so much.
On that fateful day, I was writing my examination at BrainWorld Preparatory school, not feeling any excitement, but quite nostagic. I had neither appetite for food nor water. I was also not at ease.
Luckily, I finished my examination successfully. Then I saw my dad at the school. This was quite unusual . He went to see the principal and later, I was summoned to the office. The principal told me to follow my father.
I had a premonition something was wrong and asked him, “Dad, what's wrong? " My father, in a very sorrowful and melancholic voice told me my mother had been rushed to the hospital. Apparently, my mother had died already at home, and relatives who had gathered around were suppressing him from informing me so he initially agreed and gave an altruistic lie that my mother had been rushed to hospital.
I could see traces of tears down his cheek and his eyes were swollen. He had been crying. As if I already knew my mum was dead, I broke down in tears and held my father's hand saying, "dad, tell me the truth, where is mum?"
He kept quiet and drove his car ,an uneasy silence growing between us. Finally, we Reached home and entered the house. In a very sophomoric way, he could not hold it any longer, he just cried aloud, “Your mum is dead!" I felt emotionally traumatized and disoriented. Even though I knew my father was telling the truth now, I wished I could be told it was just a joke
Sometimes the reality could be very overwhelming and in such grave instances, fantasies become a more desirable option. I decided to confirm it from my uncle Perez, but he was also trying to play a gentleman's game with me.
Finally, he confirmed what my dad had said, “Yes, your mother has died!"
I don't know how I managed to survive that situation from the announcement of her death to her burial. To me it was a mistake.
That was five years ago. Now , I am 15 years old. My dad remarried. His new wife was called Mareylene. At first , she was quite friendly to me but as time went on, she revealed her true colour.
She would stop at nothing to punish me regardless of the intention behind what I did. To her, human beings must be perfect and must have no reason to commit an error. They should have zero margin for error. I received not less than five beatings a week.
I always invested much energy into trying to be careful, but the more I tried to be careful, the more mistakes I made and you could guess the end -result _Instant Punishment.
These were some of my rules. In the kitchen, I must not break a plate or make too much sound . I must not leave the soapy water in the basin two minutes after I finished washing. No piece of Soap should be found on my body when I finished bathing. I must comb my hair perfectly. I must not spend more than ten minutes in school after we closed. I must not make any mistake in my examinations. Forgetting something was prohibited. I must eat the right amount of food.There should be no left overs. Waking up late is a non- starter, plus 25 other absurd rules I could not list here.
The funniest aspect of all of this was that the one who constantly punished me for not been very careful always made a lot of mistakes. She often forget to lock the door,she usually forgot to buy something from the market. In fact,her life was punctuated with mistakes,yet I could not afford to make mistakes-the price is costly.
One day, I felt sick and she was obliged to do all the household chores. She began well.The First three days were okay. Nothing extraordinary happened. On the 8th day,she was cooking when her baby cried and she
rushed to attend to him. She attended to the baby and began doing something else.After half an hour,mountain of smokes were seen emanating from the kitchen. Within a few minutes,the whole house was engulfed in smoke. It took countless efforts from our neighbours to put out the smoke .The fire left in its wake burnt foods, burnt utensil,burnt wall,burnt seats and stools. It took extra effort to restore the burnt kitchen to half of its former state .
She became ashamed of herself. How I thanked the Almighty God I wasn't the one who caused the fire. Surprisingly, she blamed my sickness for the cause of the fire."If you were not sick,this accident wouldn't have happened,"she said. "better recuperate faster !!!
My father who decided that enough was enough told her the bitter truth that day,”You always blame this small boy whenever something bad happened in this house even though you are not perfect yourself. Now you made a great mistake and burnt the kitchen. Please,have the decency to accept responsibility for your actions for once. I am a good man to scold you severely for negligence but I won't do that. Your own conscience will judge you.”
For once, I was impressed by my father's show of maturity and sincerity and his words seemed to have worked the magic. Mareylene, my step-mother became quite tolerant when I made minor mistakes, but still jumped on me when I made the bigger ones.
As the years went on, I completed High school with flying colours and upon the advice of my school counselor, decided to enroll into the Military Academy. The training was rigorous, full of instructions, directions and command, but I was used to that. I trained hard and came on top of my class. During our passing -out ceremony, I was adjudged the best military student at the age of 21.
I was assigned to the Presidency to be a part of the president's Special Body Guard Corps which became the envy of my colleagues since it took other soldiers ten years of hard work to get such a privilege. I worked so hard that I didn't escape the notice of the president who used our independence day celebration to honour me with a medal. He also give me certain prerogatives in his presidency.
With such a high achievement I could only crowned it with a beautiful marriage. I met a nurse called Sophia. We fell in love. Within three months we got married and the president, despite his busy schedule attended our wedding.
The first six months of our marriage was very blissful. After that ,our differences became eminent.
Unconsciously, I did things that I thought was just normal but which really were quite unfair.
Several years of My step-mum, Mareylene's home training had built a Perfectionist attitude in me. I always expected my wife to be perfect. She had no right to make a mistake. She can't leave the plates in the basins for two minutes without washing them. No. She can't .She can't come home late. She can't forget to close the door on time. She can't forget to turn off the fan and the refrigerator. She must heat the food at the correct temperature. She must use the microwave carefully.
I made over forty rules she can't violate. In fact, there was nothing that Sophia had done that I fully appreciated even when it was clear that she deserved to be praised for her hard works. This perfectionist attitude had become a source of conflict between my wife and I. We often quarreled and it usually ended up in me physically abusing her. One day, things got so hot that I slapped her, she cried and cried but I believed I had a right to demand what I wanted from her. That was the last straw that broke the camel back.
I returned home to meet an empty room. She had left. He wrote a short note for me. It reads;
BACK TO MY FAMILY
It is with a sad heart that I write this letter to you. It has been one and a half years since we got married. For one good year, you tormented my life. You always want me to be perfect with zero margin for error .I am fed up.I can't be that woman anymore.I AM OUT. Now you can get a perfect lover for yourself.
I can't believe this had happened to me.I broke down crying.For weeks, I was depressed.
Did she come back? No. She didn't . On the contrary, she filed for divorce and I became single again. Bitter mistakes always taught us unforgettable lessons. Today, I look forward to another marriage again.
I am more than determined NEVER to repeat that mistake again _ZERO MARGIN FOR ERROR.