These Things Happen

Police and Thief. Mummy and Daddy. Catcher. Ten-ten. Monkey post. Boju-boju.

Play punctuated daily life when we were seven. Add the times we played peeping Tom when Uncle Frank brought his girlfriends, and the sentence of our childhood is complete. The neighbours always said his wife left him because his kokoro just couldn’t remain in his pant.

It’s why that night wasn’t really a mystery.

Our other neighbour, Mama Titi was screaming at Wale. I could tell she was also crying. No, Wale did not break any glass cups that midnight. And no, he didn’t spoil the TV remote. You see, Mama Titi lived in a self-con; room and living room, with her husband, her Titi, the other little boy whose name I can’t remember, and Wale. Wale was Mama Titi’s baby brother who came to Lagos to live with them.

Daddy and mummy slept on the bed, with little boy in between. Wale and Titi slept on the floor. Different tiny mattresses of course.

One night, when Wale was bored and had a hard time falling asleep he rolled over and slipped his seventeen-year-old finger under Titi’s skirt. Up her thighs. Between them.

He fiddled with her vagina, but Titi just slept away. Her mum’s midnight stirring was just in time, and that’s when the shouting started.

A few neighbours brought back the peace, and by morning life was back to normal.

They say they’d let it slide, because you know, these things happen.

Everyone went to school, including 14-year-old Titi. We all understood what had happened, we just never talked about it. Everyone returned. Those who liked, played football. Those who didn’t, played ten-ten. Wale too, sat where he’d normally sit, in front of their house, quiet and reserved as always.

Months passed and we didn’t exactly forget, we just pretended like it never happened.

So there’s no way Chinelo’s mummy would have known. I mean, they moved in months later. Chinelo; slow talker, but all round charming little girl. Her mum; fast-talker, especially when there was someone to talk about, and when there was someone to tell. Oh dear, that tongue was famous. That day, she was with her friend and the rest they say, is bantery.

But Wale was bored again that afternoon, and so he told Chinelo to come and take some sweets, and she answered happily.

Her mum didn’t even answer her when she came crying ‘I want to wee-wee’. Spoilt little girl, she knew were her potty was to pee in. But when she looked down to see blood trickling down her three-year-old daughter’s thigh, she stopped talking.

She stopped talking for a very long time.

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