I’m doing a micromini series.
Hopefully, you like it and (Adaeze especially) will comment. 🙂
I was 6 years old when my mom said we needed to move. Before she said it, I’d known somehow that something would happen. I had heard them fighting many times, the fights inevitably ending with mommy in tears on the floor. I did not understand those fights. All I knew was that the fights made mommy cry and ask one question over and over again.
“Is it me who gives children?”
I did not understand those fights then. I’m not sure I understand them now.
I did not know when they decided that we would move but one auntie came into the house one Saturday morning with 6 bags and 1 heavy handbag. She was pregnant, her tummy had started looking like a ball.
My mom had always said that pregnant women should not be carrying heavy things so I ran to her to carry her bag. She screamed so loudly my mom almost fell down the stairs when she was running to see what happened. When she saw the woman, she stopped and her face changed to the colour my legs become when it’s harmattan. She stood like that for a while before turning around to walk up the stairs like her leg was broken.
We left that day. My mom, my 2 sisters and I.
We stayed in my uncle’s house for some weeks. His wife used to send us on many errands. I came back from one of those errands and I saw her holding my mom who was crying with catarrh running down her face. I went quietly to the room I shared with my sisters and I knelt down and asked God to make my mommy stop crying.
The next day, my mom went out and didn’t come home until 10. I asked my sisters if she was dead. They told me to shut up and sleep. I turned to face the ceiling but I didn’t go to bed until I heard my mom’s voice.
That weekend my mommy took us to see some schools. Amara, Bunmi and I had always gone to the same school but now that Amara was entering Senior Secondary School, Bunmi was entering Secondary school and I was going to remain in primary school, it seemed we would separate.
We went to 3 different schools and my mom made a point of talking to the principals personally.
One thing I noticed about the schools was that they were not as perfect as the one we came from. The grass was long and weeds poked through often. The playground equipment was brown on some sides and squeaky when I climbed on top of it. In my old school there was a gardener who mowed the lawn and once, when my mom was late in picking us up, he let me oil the playground machines with him.
I went to the principal and asked him if I could oil the machines because they were squeaky and he laughed that kind of laugh you do when you don’t think something is funny.
After we left the last school, my mum took us to a new house and told us we would be living there from now on. Amara started crying, Bunmi started looking around and I asked my mom the obvious questions.
“Why can’t we go back to our old house?”
“Who will make food for Daddy?”
“Who will read newspapers to Daddy when he comes back home?”
“Ebube, LEAVE ME ALONE!”
I started crying and Amara carried me.
The house was not very far from my uncle’s house but it was on the other side of Lagos from our old house. I know this because one day Amara and Ebube tried to go back and see Daddy. I don’t know what happened but they came back very late and when they entered the house my mom, my uncle and my aunt were waiting for them. My mom and my aunt asked if they had eaten, they said yes, they asked where they went to. They said they went to see Daddy. When they said it, I saw mommy close her eyes. Then my uncle said since they were alright there was no need to worry and he was going to his house to rest. They relaxed. But before I could shout cane, he had brought out one long koboko and he was flogging them. I think that was the first time I saw Bunmi cry. Then she shouted, “Don’t touch me. You’re not my daddy!”
And she ran to the room she shared with Amara.
I started at my new school the next week. At home there was a fragile peace with a lot of tension underneath. Neither Amara nor Bunmi told my mom anything else but they told me Daddy was fine and he said they should greet me for him.
I thought about my Daddy’s lap and how I used to read newspapers to him while he corrected my pronunciation. I thought about how he used to rub my belly and call me Nne. I remembered how he would take my mom sometimes when she was cooking and dance with her until she laughed.
Why didn’t he come and greet me himself?
Amara and Ebube went to a different school than me and because Amara didn’t want me to be scared, she drew a picture of Tom chasing Jerry and gave me an extra biscuit and a hug. Bunmi smiled at me and told me she would miss me. Then they went to school in the school bus. 30 minutes later, mummy took me to my school and told me I would come back with the school bus because she was going to work late today. Before I left the car, she gave me a big hug and said she loved me.
It was the school with the squeaky playground equipment. I entered the classroom and immediately they called us for morning assembly. When we entered class again, I chose a seat beside a tall girl who was smiling. She took a moment to look at me before she told me, “Your bag is beautiful”. I told her thank you and I faced my front. The teacher told us to introduce ourselves.
When she got to the tall girl near me, the teacher beckoned that she should introduce herself. I don’t think she heard. She repeated it twice before the girl stood up and said with an air of mock formality, “My name is Boma Irikefe Aghoture, but please call me Iris”.
Then she took a bow and sat down.
And I knew from that moment that she and I would be good friends.
I’m doing a micromini series.