Short Story: The Last Trip Down The West 6
Story written by Nancy Olakunle
The boy said simply. He didn’t seem sad or happy, he answered the same way one would have said “the food is cold” his tone was bereft of any form of emotion.
Mary looked at him, what was wrong with this boy exactly? Why couldn’t he relate like a normal human being? He didn’t seem retarded to her so what wrong! She had seen a lot of retarded rich kids, by this one was nothing like anyone she had ever seen. She shook her head slightly and sighed. She looked at the wall clock and was hoping to high heavens that they didn’t bring the food in late. “I nor fit shout today o” she muttered under her breath.
“where is your mama” duke suddenly asked
Mary was surprised, it had never happened before that the child of the rich actually asked where her parents were.
“my mama dey village.”
“Do you have a brother?” he asked again. Mary smiled warily as the image of all the little children playing in the compound came to her mind.
“I get like twelve brothers and three sisters.”
He didn’t seem surprised. Rather he repeated the words.
“Twelve brothers and three sisters”
Mary nodded, thinking he was just echoing what she had said
“No… I mean the correct way to say it is twelve brothers and three sisters. You have to use plural to describe things and persons that are more than one.”
“Okay, I hear you small oga.”
A knock sounded on the door and Mary rushed to get the door.
A lady in a blue checkered uniform and white apron came in with a big try of food. She brought the lunch in and set it on the table. While she out everything in place, all was quiet. The minute she was gone, duke turned to Mary and said…
“Tell me a story about you,” Mary looked at him and laughed. This boy was really something. What was there to tell anyone about her?
Okay… Duke” she said a little uncomfortably. “I nor get story for me to tell o.”
“That’s not true. You have seen outside the house, tell me about all the places you have been.”
” chai duke but that go be long long story o, ”
well, we have all day Mary”
“I no efen know wia to start from sef.”
” start with telling me all of your names. about your twelve brothers and three sisters, and about your village.”
” sho! we no go fit finish today o”
” tomorrow is another day Mary”
Mary laughed at the way he called her name. she knew she had to tell him something or else the rest of the day could be shot to hell. so she started slowly with her voice just loud enough for the boy to hear. her first few words wavered and shook but with each new word, he voice got strengthened. duke ate, seemingly oblivious to everything else. but she knew that his was listening. so she told her story.
” na night they born me. Na as my mama dey waka go mama Joseph house na hin her water break. She born me for road there…”
She started to say, but duke looked at her and raised one hand. She stopped, wondering what she had said amis.
” Mary, I know you can speak fairly good English. Please don’t use that language, it confuses me. ”
Mary was shocked. No one had ever been able to tell. She spoke pidgin so well and it just never occurred to anyone that she might be able to speak any other form of English. Her eyes widened and she looked away.
” how did you know… She asked”
Duke looked up from his food and said
” well, you talk in your sleep a lot. ” he shrugged.
Mary looked at her fingers. She felt exposed, as if a big secret of hers had been shared with the world without her consent. She didn’t like it but there was nothing she could do about it.
She re adjusted herself in the chair she sat in and started all over.
” I was born at night, my mother was walking to her friend, mama sunday’s house when she went into labour. She had me on the road there and I was later taked back home.”
” taken Mary”
” taken back home” he corrected
“I lived with my mother till I was twelve years old, I already had six siblings. When I was a few months over twelve, one night my uncle came to the house. He sat with my mother and they concluded that i should go to the city to work. I was in Lagos for the first time a week later . they brought me to mrs adamolekun’s house.
When I first came, I was so happy. So eager to impress. I was going to give it my all.
Mommy had three sons. A pair of twins that were around fifteen years old and a small boy of my age group. Mommy needed a girl in the house because they were all boys and they couldn’t be expected to do all the house chores. I got there on a Sunday evening, on Monday morning, the woman showed name what I would be doing! It was a lot of work for a twelve year old me but I took it up in good faith and launched into my job squarely. By the time she came back from work, the house was Spick span and I was quite satisfied with myself.
She wasn’t a bad boss herself, Mrs adamolekun was strîçt, but she didn’t maltreat me. Her sons Adewole and Adegoke however were different. They were devils. Evil brats that made life hell for me.
One Friday afternoon, when they got back from school. I was in the kitchen, washing the plates that had been used in the morning, The sink was too tall for me so I stood on a low stool that added height to my short legs. The boys knew this, so they crept into the kitchen while I was not paying attention, Adegoke kicked the low stool out from under me. I fell face down onto the hard tiled floor. I couldn’t even cry. I was too shocked to cry. It started that day and it would be another eleven months before I would be rid of them. ”
Duke had finished eating. He had been staring straight ahead into space for the duration of the time that she talked. He was listening. She knew he was listening. But she knew it was time for siesta, so she stopped and said.
“Its time for siesta. ”
“It is.” He replied.
” we will continue later then?”
” yes we will.”
She took his hand and led him to his bed. Helped him get in and soon started to hear the light breathing of the little boy.. Wanting to be nearby in case he needed her, She stretched out on the sofa closed her eyes for a nap.
To be continued soon….