Chapter 4 - Dimples and wrinkles

>> Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hello everyone. Here is the delayed update on the story. I'm sorry, busy life sometimes takes over...I am travelling to Nigeria in a week, so this will probably be the last update until then.
I hope you will stick with me and continue reading. I am really appreciating all your comments and the fact you are willing to take the time to read. It really means a lot to me. This is a journey for me and all your comments give me a true confidence boost. Thank you!


He finally drifted off to sleep, too tired to stay awake monitoring the house’s strange behaviour.

The door screamed a squeaky sound. B eyes were wide open, staring into the dark trying to figure out what was happening. He could see a tall being, slowly creeping into the room. His heart was racing so fast he was struggling to keep his breath down. A second being came inside followed by yet another. The tall, dark figures spread into a circle. He could only spot the silhouette of their faces. The room was clogged with a nightmarish silence.. B wondered if this was his time to die. From what he could gather, dying didn’t sound so bad. What he used to know as ‘life’ was no longer a reality. In fact, he had started to forget as the memories were fading. He had become increasingly more convinced by his grandmother’s words, telling him his mother would never come back, that he could stop waiting for her. With her not coming back, he didn’t see much meaning with anything at all. He hated his grandmother and often caught himself wondering how he could possibly be related to that witch.

The flame of a lighter suddenly lit up the room. The dark figures were lighting candles on the floor. ‘This is it‘, he thought. ‘They are going to use me for some kind of ritual and I’ll be dead’. His body felt peculiarly warm, but he wasn’t sweating. It was more like some kind of internal heat. The beings were wearing long white and black gowns with hoods. He didn’t make a sound, it was almost like the little flame within him was about to succumb as well. He had resigned to his fate. Whatever happens, let it happen. He knew he was too weak to fight against these tall, frightening outlines of humans. One of them was moving closer to him, and B reversed into the corner of his bed. He didn’t want them to come closer. He could see the outline of a face. And Eyes. Eyes dominated by a malicious expression. As it came closer, he realised the face belonged to Uncle A. Is that really uncle A? He’s not human?

The being moved closer and grabbed his right hand. He saw the familiar scar on uncle A ‘s hand and realised these creatures were real men. What had they come to do? Another tall man came closer, his face disguised under the shades of the hood, and grabbed his left arm. Before he knew it, he was up in the air hanging. They firmly put him to the ground. Another man came to hold down his legs. The room was crowded with darkness. Too much darkness. B could still sense the outlines of the man in white gown approaching, only to stand above him and look down upon him. Seemed so tall B thought he would never be able to even climb that high. They Were all humming and chanting unrecognisable words. The one in white quickly descended closer to him. As he came closer, B noticed he was holding a razor in his hand. B twisted his body and tried to rip himself loose from their tightened grips. It seemed impossible. His eyes were fixed on the sharp metal between this horrific man’s large index finger and thumb. He wished he could sink down into the floor, that the floor would simply crack open and take him in, but it didn’t happen. The razor gashed into the skin on his chest.

One, two , three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
One, two , three, four, five, six, seven, eight
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

Another ten times.

The pain was unbearable. B started sobbing. Calling out someone for help he knew would never work.

He just wanted it to end.

The man moved over to the other side of his chest and did the same thing. He was agonized by the burning, beating pain on his chest. He only thanked God it was over. Repeatedly slashing the same wound was excruciating. They turned him over, fast and forcefully. No. No, please let it stop! He could feel the razor carve into his back.He was starting to feel drowsy and dizzy. He could not keep his eyes focused. He had tried to fight back so much all his muscles and limbs felt weak, powerless, empty. They turned him around again, he could not bother trying to retain control of his body this time so his elbows collided with the floor. They had taken full control of his body. It did no longer belong to him.

The man moved the razor up to his forehead and started slicing the skin between his eyebrows.
One, two , three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
One, two , three, four, five, six, seven, eight
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.



The men were chanting cursed songs. B yelped and wailed. The warm tears would not stop flowing down the sides of his face.

The man woke up and again stood tall, far away. Put away the bloody razor and brought out some blackish powder. The moment it hit his open wounds, he screamed out loud. He would use his last ounce of energy to fight back. He tried to lift his arms, kick with his legs, scream, scream, scream. The pain was unendurable. After he finished, it appeared the men were holding some kind of prayer. They joint hands and started humming with their dark voices. Evil! Evil was the only word filling the space normally occupied by thoughts. His mind was numb. His body was aching and throbbing. He closed his eyes and pressed out more tears. He wondered why everyone hated him so much Why they had to kill his father and curse him too.
When he opened his eyes again, they were gone. They had exited the room as silently as they entered.

He slowly drifted back to sleep, since he was too exhausted to stay on guard any longer.


Beams of strong sunlight pierced through his eyelids. The biting pain was still lingering. As he gained focus, he saw the stature of his grandmother standing above him. He didn’t say a thing. Just looked at her face. The familiar wrinkle between her eyebrows was there, her eyes were disapproving and her mouth was small and scowling surrounded by thin wrinkles. Her ugly wrapper was dirty. She had demonstratively put her hands and chubby fingers on her hips and he could see the dirt trapped under her fingernails.

‘See what happens if you defy me? You better know better next time, or the consequences will be far worse. You hear! Ogbanje boy.’

He was too angry to respond and decided to turn around. She kicked him in the back.

‘Get up boy! Why haven’t you done your house chores yet! ’
She paraded out of the room, and each heavy step stomping down in the floor gave him a headache.
‘If you don’t get up right now I will FLOG you!’

He could feel his stomach rumble again. He woke up tiredly and decided to complete the chores as fast as possible so he could run over to Mama Rose’s and get some left-overs.


Uncle A had moved into his father’s room. He had taken all their belongings. According to him and grandmother, everything now belonged to them. They kept telling him that everything was over and his mother would never come back. ‘Let her stay there. Far away. This village does not belong to her. Wench.’ His grandmother would repeat to herself angrily.

One bright morning, B’s grandma had decided to take one of her rare trips to the market. He finally had the house to himself, as uncle A was on a visit. B was burdened by sadness this day, like every other day he could remember. He didn’t bother carving wooden sculptures any longer. He didn’t bother doing anything. He was sitting on the porch, resting his head on his knees staring endlessly into the bush. He could hear the sound of tyres rolling on the ground, but didn’t pay it any attention. ‘B?’ he heard a voice calling. He didn’t respond.’B, It is me!’ he heard a sad voice saying.

He didn’t look up. God must be playing a trick, he thought.
‘B, look up my son!’
He did. There stood his beautiful mother. She looked worn out. She was wearing her beautiful smile with tiny dimples in each cheek, but her eyes were watery and filled with sadness when she looked at him. She opened up her arms.
‘Come, my son, come here!’
He stood up, but still doubted this was real. ‘ I, come over here’ she called out. It had to be real. Both her and his brother was there. He saw the little bald head of his brother pop out behind her. He had been hiding there. B didn’t second guess and ran towards them full of relief. His brother examined him with his eyes and started crying. He then ran off in the opposite direction. B stopped in surprise.
Why was his brother running away from him?
I kept on crying and crying. Mama hugged B and lifted him up.
‘It’s ok my son. It’s ok.’
She then put him down and told him to wait, walked over to I.
‘I, what is the matter? It’s your brother!'
His little brother kept on looking at him in horror. B felt dreadful.
Is that how ugly and disgusting he is?

So withered his brother couldn’t recognize him.


Part Three - Ogbanje

>> Friday, May 29, 2009

Extra-long edition for you guys this weekend. I hope you like.


Tap. Tap. Tap.

The repeated, dull sound of the spoon hitting the metal plate. He stared down at the rotten pieces of cassava.


His stomach was rumbling.


Oh the gnawing feeling of hunger!

He had become way too familiar with that feeling recently.
“You can manage with this” , his grandmother had grunted after handing the plate to him. He could spot the small wiggling worms inside every broken piece of cassava. He felt disgusted, yet so hungry.
As he continued staring at the worms his vision became increasingly more blurry. He got lost in his own thoughts. Thoughts of the days he used to ride on his fathers shoulders, singing songs with him.

What kind of life was this? Is this what he deserved?

He picked up one of the cassava pieces and picked out the worms before carefully placing them inside his mouth, pressing down sensing the sour, raw taste. Swallowed. Another one. And another one. Nausea.

He craved something with more protein. Something like meat. But his grandmother would never give that to him. He had to go out in the forest and find it by himself. He made his own traps, and sometimes if he was lucky enough, he’d catch a rat and roast it over a small fire. He’d look for garden eggs and other fruits. This had become his diet since mama left for Cameroun. Uncle A was rarely around, it was only B and grandma.

He sharpened his vision and looked out to the yard. She stood bent down, only wearing her ugly wrapper. Her breasts were thin, long and saggy. She was humming some unrecognizable song with her squeaky voice as she did the garden work. He hated her.
My husband, she called him. My husband reincarnated! It scared him to death. That woman really scared him.

He left the plate and snuck out the backdoor. He wanted to go to the field to play football with his friends. That was the only time he could pretend life was like before. That was the only time he got the chance to play and pretend he was a normal child.


He shocked and immediately looked around to all sides. It was Mama Rose, the neighbour. She was the same age as his grandmother, but unlike her, she resembled a real grandmother.
”B, come over here I have something for you.”
He looked around to see if his grandmother would see, but she was nowhere in sight. He ran over to Mama Rose.
”Here” , she said and handed him a small bag of groundnuts and patted him on the head. If you come back later I can give you the left over of our evening food. He nodded with a slight smile and ran away.


It was already dark as B was walking home. Quickly, barefoot in the sand of the unpaved road as the crickets buzzed their familiar songs. He was hoping grandmother would be asleep by the time he reached the house. If not, she would most definitely flog him for not coming home earlier. He dreaded. But coming home earlier wasn’t an option to him either because it was nothing but dreadful discomfort.
As he reached the house, he opened the thin, broken wooden door silently and quietly snuck in. He stood still for a moment, trying to hear whether she was awake or not. Nothing. Not a sound. He exhaled silently. Maybe, just maybe, he would be able to go to bed without any flogging today. He waited for another minute, just to make sure she wasn’t waking up. Then he continued sneaking down the hallway towards his room.

”My husband, my SON! You are welcome my love!”
He jumped from the shock. There stood his grandmother in the darkness, all happy with him. Although he could never get used to her calling him her husband, he felt relieved. That meant she was in a good mood tonight and everything would be ok.
”Come here boy. Come to mama it’s ok?” , she said. He hesitated. He didn’t really want to talk to her at all, just sleep. He was so tired and hungry.
”Come boy, come here” , she said with a smile. She rarely smiled at him. He hesitantly took a few steps closer.

OGBANJE! YOU ARE AN OGBANJE!” , she shouted as she threw herself over him. Grabbed him by the throat and repeatedly hit him in the face and kicked on his feet and legs.
“Aw aw aw aw! Please grandmother, please I am sorry. Biko. I am sorry for coming late! Please!”. She continued to beat him.
“Have you no sense, you stupid child! Here I am, taking care of you every day, feeding you because your mother doesn’t care about you, and this is the thanks you give me?!”
”I know grandmother, I know. I am sorry, Please stop. Please stop!”

"Tufia kwa! You only cause trouble. That is the only thing you know how to do. You can go and sleep outside tonight. There is no way I am letting you sleep in this house.”
”I am not discussing with you. Get out!”

He turned around and walked silently out of the house again. He hated this house. He hated this woman. He hated his father for leaving him on this earth. He hated his mother for leaving him in this land. He hated her for bringing his brothers with her but not him. Why didn’t anybody love him enough? What was wrong with him?He didn’t even want to sleep in this compound. This evil compound. He went over to Mama Rose’s house and lied down on the small porch.
In spite of his discomfort, it didn’t take him more than a few minutes to drift off to sleep.


”Child, what are you doing here?” he heard a soft voice saying and felt a gentle hand on his forehead. He opened his eyes. It was Mama Rose. He looked down and did not know what to say. ”Child, what has happened to you? Did she beat you again?"
He nodded.
”Come, wake up my child. Come inside. Let me give you some food. But you have to go back to your house right after. If not she will just get more angry."

He wished it wasn’t true, but he knew it was. He went over to the house, got the broom and started sweeping. His grandmother was awake, but didn’t acknowledge his presence. He just continued working. After some time, she told him to start working in the garden. He started pulling out the weeds.
Some time later, suddenly, Uncle A entered the compound. He did not acknowledge him either. B knew he had been to Cameroun for some time, but had no idea he would be back so soon. Uncle A had really changed since his mother left. He was never nice to him anymore, in fact he barely cared for him at all. Most of the time he just gave B a mean look or simply ignored him. B didn't understand why. This was his father's brother. He thought that Uncle A would at least like him, but it didn't seem like he did.

Uncle A sat down in one of the plastic chairs on the porch and was shortly joined by B’s grandmother. B wanted to hear what they were saying. He pretended to be working on pulling out the weeds, but was secretly eavesdropping to their conversation.

” I told U to not come back here, that this house belongs to me and you now. I am trying to take over the house in Cameroun too. We need to sell it, but U is giving me a hard time. That woman got some nerve. I already got the motorbike as well and we brought back all his goods from his shop. I gave the second motorbike to Bonyface .Won’t be much left for that woman to eat now! Hehehe..”.
”Well done, my son. It was time we got back our rightful belongings. Let her stay there. Let her not come back here to claim this house o! She thinks she can just carry everything because she was married to my son. What kind of woman is that? She should practice humility and submit to us. She is following this new, modern style, trying to speak up against her mother-in-law. That is not a woman's role. An abomination, I tell you! Who is she to think she can eat from our hands?”.

What? Was this what was happening? Were they taking all his fathers belongings and leaving them with nothing? Was this why his mother had still not been back to pick him up from this hell-hole?

He could hear the sound of a motorbike. Whenever he heard that familiar sound, he would run out to see who it was. He was always hoping it would be his mother, coming to pick him up and take him away. But he hadn’t seen her for 4 months now. Ever since that day they separated. His hope of her coming back was rapidly fading.

He could not believe what he was seeing. The familiar purple wrapper. A being shaped just like his mother. It couldn’t be her. The being walked closer to him. He felt paralyzed. He tried to sharpen his vision, but it was blurry again. He blinked again, and could gradually see more features of her face. It was her. She hurried up to him and embraced him. He didn’t move. He couldn’t. He was frozen.
”Oh, my son. My precious son. How are you holding up? You are going to come with me soon , I promise".
She let go and looked at him. He couldn’t face her eyes. He looked down. She patted him on the head and stroked his cheek.”My pikin, I have missed you. So much!”

“My daughter! It is so nice to see you!” , his grandmother shouted and came running out of the house. She gave U a hug.
”See how well we are doing? I am taking very well care of your son! He is a hard worker, I tell you. He is a son of C!”
U looked at her critically, examining granny’s face. Granny had put on her most innocent look again.
U didn’t say anything, but started walking up the house.
”Come. We need to talk.”
”What do you mean my daughter. What is there to talk about? Are you not doing your business in Cameroun? As you can see, B is doing great and I am taking good care of him. It is better that he stays here and learns some Nigerian culture instead of staying over there in Cameroun”.

This evil woman was trying to convince his mother to let him stay there even longer!B started praying. Please God. Don’t leave me behind again. I want my mama. I want to stay with her.

He could hear loud voices from inside the house.
”I could not believe what A was telling me, that I should not come back to my house here in the village? I thought it was only his crazy opinion. He was always jealous of C. But you too? I knew you were old fashioned, but you want to take all of this away from us, including my first-born son? You are a wicked, crazy old woman. I swear to God Allmighty I will kill you myself if you ever hurt my son. You are lucky I do not have any possibility of bringing him back with me now, but I assure you I will come back to get him. How dare you do this to me. I am the wife of your son!”
"I don’t know if you remember, but he is dead now. You are no longer part of this family. Neither are your children. You have to find your own way now. The only rightful thing is that I keep one of your sons, as payment for all the hardship you put me through from stealing my son away from me.”
”You said WHAT? Evil woman! Evil, evil woman! You carry the spirit of the devil within you. God help me!”

U came running out of the house.

”B. I promise you this will end soon. I have to go. I have to get help from someone. You have to be a big boy now. See, they have taken all our money. I have almost nothing left and I cannot bring you back with me. I have to gather up enough to move from Cameroun, then I am coming for you. Be strong.”
”But, mama.. Mama please don’t leave me again. I can’t stay here! Anywhere else but I can’t stay here!”.
His mother gave him a kiss on the forehead and ran out of the compound.

He could feel a tear travelling down his cheek. A lump in his throat. But he felt resigned. Apathetic. He sat down on the ground, grabbed a leaf and started shredding it into pieces, allowing his eyes to get lost in the eternity of the unknown.

Later that night, when it was bedtime, B sat down in his room, the room that used to be his father’s room, and looked at the mask his father had hung up on the wall. His father used to love dressing up with these wooden masks, walking around in the house, trying to scare them. It was a little bit scary, but most of all it was fun. He lied down in the bed, feeling very drowsy and tired. The room was filled with darkness. The only hint of light was that of the half moon hanging up in the sky. He looked at the roof, and felt the lump coming back to his throat again. The tears were pressing behind his eyes. He let out a few, but remembered what his mother had said. He had to be strong. He felt sleep creeping up to him. The door to the room was shaking. Was it really shaking? He sat up in the bed to get a better view.

Boom. Boom. Chrrrrrr. Chrrrrrr.

It sounded like someone was hitting on the door, followed by some rattling sound. The noise scared him. He curled his legs up and formed his arms around them.

Boom. BOOM! Chrrrrrrrrrrrr......................

He moved backwards in the bed to get further away from the door.
BOOM! The mask fell off the wall onto the ground. B started shivering of fear, feeling his warm tears, now streaming down his face.

BOOM BOOM BOOM. Chrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

MAMA! I want my mama, he cried out into the darkness. Mama...


The day everything changed pt. 2

>> Wednesday, May 13, 2009

“GOD, WHYYYYY!!! NO! No no no no no!”

He was brutally awakened by screams.
Loud, shrieking screams. It was his mothers voice. Full of dread.
The room was pitch black. Where was she? Sounded like outside of the house. He quickly woke up, rubbed his eyes and fumbled his way out of the room and to the entrance of the house. His mother was lying on the ground, digging the earth that made the grave of his newly buried father with her bare hands. Her head was buried in the sand, sobbing. She pounded the ground. Cursed it. He felt paralyzed.

It had been just a week and a few days since the day aunty P had said those four words.
He didn’t really get it. HIS father, the safe haven that was always there, was never going to come back?


Didn’t make sense. No more bike rides? No more playing? No more laughter? No more sitting on his shoulders walking in the forest, no more fishing?
He had been sitting by himself, sad, but no tears, every day since that day.
His mother carried a hopeless look on her face. Her eyes looked like they belonged to another world. He couldn’t see her in there. He didn’t understand what was happening. He had tried to go out and play and pretend everything was like before, but it didn’t work. Nothing did. Nothing went back to normal.The house was full of people all the time. Talking over his head. Acting like he didn’t exist.

Ever since that day, Aunty P had been taking care of him. Bathing him and feeding him. He would have preferred his mother did it, but she was busy tending to guests and having discussions he couldn’t understand with their relatives. Mainly his uncle A and grandmother (mother of C). His mother seemed very angry with both Uncle A and his grandmother. In fact, they weren’t discussing, they were arguing. He knew they didn’t like him coming close when they were having grown up-talk, so he kept his distance, but he heard his name being mentioned several times.

"Why are they talking about me?", he asked himself and felt a lump growing in his throat. Did they think everything was his fault? Were they planning to punish him? Why couldn’t his mother take care of him like before? Was she angry with him for something?

The next day, he woke up early and went to fetch water. When he came home, he started sweeping the floor. He was hoping his mother would be happy with him once she woke up and saw that the whole house had been cleaned. She woke up and came out of her room with the same sad look he had now gotten so used to. He wanted to see her beautiful dimpled smile again. She didn’t notice the change. He went to her; “see, mother, I cleaned the whole house this morning from all the guests yesterday”. She didn’t really take time to see and it looked like something else was on her mind: “Well done, my son, get your sister and brothers for me will you? We have to talk”.
What did she mean by this? He hurried to wake them up and brought them all to the livingroom. She spoke directly to him “B, we’re going back to Cameroun today. We’re travelling in 3 hours, pack your siblings belongings. Only the most necessary. There’s no time for questions.” “But..why are we going back to Cameroun? I thought we were supposed to live in the village for a while...”
- “B, our life is in Cameroun. We need to go back. No more questions.”
He felt somewhat relieved. At least she wasn’t leaving him behind.He packed what he could and sat down by the door waiting for his mother to get ready. She came to the entrance carrrying his little sister on the hip. “I’ve arranged for Bartholomey to pick us up with his car and drive us to Port Hartcourt. He will be here any minute.”

Like she said, Bartholomey, their fathers closest friend, came with his car. They started loading the trunk with the few bags they had packed. His little sister was already sitting in the car along with his youngest brother.“Come on B, get in the car with your brother it’s time to go”, his mother said. She was so stressed and looked so worried. He wondered why.

“HE is not going ANYWHERE!” an angry woman's voice shouted from behind. It was his grandmother. She was standing in the front of the house with Uncle A.
“He is going with me he is MY child,” his mother said angrily and held onto his hand tightly.
“A! Go and pick that pikin. He is staying HERE in his fathers house. If that woman want to go let her GO. This is her firstborn son and he is to live in this house," his grandmother said firmly.

B's vision was getting blurry as he could feel his eyes watering. His heart was pounding. Please Father God let me go with mama. Please Father God I beg you, he prayed to himself.

“I am telling you NO!He is MY child, he belongs with his mother and I am his MOTHER!, his mother shouted.
Uncle A grabbed B’s other hand. “Come here, boy,” he said. His mother was still holding his right hand and started pulling at him. “We are going to our real home in Cameroun and we are going now, you can say whatever you want to say. C was your son. B is not and he needs his family right now”, his mother said calmly with a look of disgust in her eyes.

“You, woman, you know I never liked you marrying my son. We are B’s rightful family. We suppose take all the kids sef but at least the firstborn belongs here. He will stay here I TELL YOU!” his grandmother said annoyed.

B started sobbing. Uncle A picked him up. His mother started crying. She looked back at his brothers and sisters, who were waiting in confusion, looking out the window of the car. Barthlomey came to her and whispered something in her ear. “U, maybe it is wise for us to go with the youngest ones now. This woman is not going to give up right now and you know if you keep fighting she will demand for them all. Instead we will come back for him later. I will help you”.

I don’t know these people they are wicked! I can't stay here. NO dear Father God don't let this happen.NO dear Father God don’t let this happen! B hoped God would hear him. “No Mama! Mama! I want to go with you!” he shouted.Uncle A was holding him tightly. His mother, with tears streaming down her face came up to him, whispered: “my precious son. I am coming back for you. Never lose your faith. God is with us I promise you. You have to be a big boy now that daddy isn't here. Have faith. Be strong my son” , and walked quickly back to the car and closed the door.

“NO MAMA!MAMA!MAMA!DON’T LET ME STAY HERE!” he screamed as loud as he could. If he only screamed loud enough maybe they would all understand how important it was that he go with her.
“Be quiet, you stupid child!”, his grandmother grunted. The car started driving away. “MAMA!MAMAAA!”The car rolled out of sight. The last thing he saw was his mother holding a hand up against the window in the back, looking at him. He'd never forget the sound of those tires rolling in the sand.



The day everything changed pt.1


He never knew who was to betray him. He never knew that generosity was a trait frowned upon by those he surrounded himself with. Let alone did he know the true agenda of those closest to him.

C was a handsome young man, a Nigerian working and living in Cameroon. He got married young and lived happily in his marriage to U. They looked like the perfect happy couple. The kind that finishes each others sentences and knows what the other one is thinking. She was beautiful, he was elegant. They both carried their afros and wore flare pants with platform shoes, enjoying the thriving newly independent Africa.He had a successful, growing business, and kept on travelling back and forth between Nigeria and Cameroon, bringing goods. He had moved there at a young age with his mother to escape the Biafran war.He brought U with him as soon as they got married. They had their first child in the late 70s, a beautiful baby girl. It didn’t take long till they had a baby boy, followed by two more boys a couple of years later, and then another baby girl.

As C grew more powerful in the community, he became a figure people looked up to. He became the generous person anyone could come to for help, for assistance or a place to sleep. C had taken in his younger brother, A, to stay with them, along with some other younger cousins A was just starting up his business and didn’t have much money to live by, so no other thing was logical for a big brother to do. C built a house in his village in Nigeria, along with the house they stayed at in Cameroon. He bought a motorcycle. He loved taking his oldest boy, B, for rides on that motorcycle. Letting his small hands hold the steering, listening to his giggles.

Their life as a family was blissful. He loved all his children, so the day his oldest daughter and firstborn got sick, he was heartbroken. They had no idea what her sickness was. The doctors tried everything. Nothing was to help her. It went so fast. She died at the tender age of 9.Young B didn’t understand. His parents wouldn’t tell him what happened. He only knew his big sister was gone. He missed her. His family sister had moved in with them and started taking care of him. He had never seen his parents so troubled before.After 6 months, things seemed to get back on the norm. They were back into the routines and his mother didn’t cry every day. Just sometimes...One day, young B had just gotten home from playing football with the other boys on the beach. He was 6 years old. Being the oldest in the house, his mother was busy with his younger siblings. She asked him to help her ground some eguzi. After washing and shining his canvas, he got to it. He started humming a song, thinking about how delicious his mother’s soup would be, excited about dinner time. Suddenly he heard the sound of women’s screams outside. His mother ran out in the yard to see what all the fuss was about. She had a worrying look in her eyes. B ran after her to the door to see what was happening. One woman came running to his mother, grabbing her hands, crying, she said: “C got stabbed! Someone stabbed him! He is hurt in the chest and the abdomen! Oh God! Go to him! Go to him! They don’t know who did it!”B didn’t understand anything at all. He wanted to run to his mother, but one of the other women came to hold him back. He did not see her again that day.

Five days later

B had a lump in his throat ever since that day.He had only been taken to see his father in the hospital once. All he knew is that his dad was really sick. He knew that for sure. He had never seen his mother that worried before. She couldn’t even talk to him. What was going on? Wasn't his father going to come back either, just like his older sister?His family sister was taking care of him, and he was taking care of his little brothers. His mother had strictly told him to stay at home and be careful. A difficult thing for a young boy to do. He was so eager for his father to come home and for everything to go back to normal. So he could go out and play again. Go to the forest and build traps for the birds, only to release them again. Play football on the beach till sunset. His home was filled with peace and love, now there was only an atmosphere filled with uncertainty and dread hovering over them all.He was sitting outside the house, carving on a piece of wood. He loved creating and building things. He saw two of the local women walking up towards the house. Their eyes were fixed on the ground, with a troubled wrinkle between their eyebrows. His heart dropped to his stomach. He knew something wasn’t right. His family sister came out to greet them, and made sure to stand far enough away from him so he couldn’t hear. It didn’t take long before she turned around with an even more troubled look on her face. “B…”
He didn’t want to hear it.
He kept on carving on his piece of wood. “B..listen to me..” He kept on looking at his hand moving up and down, slicing thin pieces of wood off the log, heart throbbing. “B, your father is gone. We have to go to the hospital. Now."



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