Holding on to Broken (3) Anita’s story
Nini where is Daddy?
For the first time in a very long while I didn’t have an answer for my baby sister! I needed an answer myself, I was confused, I didn’t know where Daddy was. We had waited in school for my Dad to pick us up but he didn’t show up, I had to beg my favorite teacher to take us home. We got home and he wasn’t home too. This was almost midnight and He had not returned, I needed answer too. My mind was too little to understand what was happening. We waited days for him to return, and slowly reality set in.
We stopped going to school because it was quite a distance how would we get there. Food in the house had slowly finished, I knew I had to do something. I went to Iya Sikira’s house, her houses was just a few blocks away, we went there regularly to make our hair so we had become a bit familiar. I begged her for food, though a bit surprised initially she gave us the food. Yep! We were what people called ajebutters in those days, our parents were somewhat above middle class so we were “tush” as they say, that’s why Iya Sikira was surprised when I came to hers a everyday for four days to beg for food.
“Come omo Fulani”
She called us Fulani children because for some reason we didn’t look Ibo at all, we had the very long Fulani hair and pointed nose like the Fulani people.
Why you dey come my house come beg for food everyday? Your Papa nko?
Tears rolled down my eyes as I explained our predicament to her. She advised that we help her sell her items in exchange for food and small change.
It seemed like a perfect idea, anything to feed myself and my baby sister.
We started sales, I always sold everything which impressed Iya sikira. Things went well the first few weeks till one day we were passing this new construction site on our street when one of the workers called out to me. I had just three items left so I was happy I would sell it all and rush back home.
How much is one?
His voice was deep, his face hard and black from the sun, He was tall and Scary.
Thirty kobo Oga.
Come close make I see.
I was already scared, I told Rita to wait by the entrance with money made from the sales.
I went in, He sampled the three pieces of coconut candy left, picked them and handed me one naira.
Thank you Oga I said as I turned to go get ten kobo change from Rita. Everything happened too fast, all I remember is the pain and blood all over me. It was too painful, I have given birth now and I still can’t compare that pain with anything. I screamed my lungs out, none of the other labourers bothered, the pain that came from Oga Bruno’s slap on my face shut me up and all I could do was sob.
I didn’t return to Iya Sikira that evening, I went home straight took a bath and cried all night. That was the beginning of the horror, it happened everyday for the next two weeks. I no longer felt the pain I had become a dummy, I had no choice that was the only route in and out of our street.
One day as we hawked our goods, I heard my name.
I turned I thought it was one of my customers, It was Mrs Agadi, she used to be mum’s colleague I remember her once. When I visited mum’s office.
What are you doing?
She said looking at us with irritation and pity. We looked scruffy and dirty, we barely had money to buy food, so buying soap for laundry was luxury. I explained everything to her. She felt real sorry for us gave us a little money, her house address and told us to come the next day. Mrs Agadi began to make efforts to contact my parents. Life continued, I had developed an inner strength to fight Oga Bruno, when he screamed my name across the street, I will shout back like a tout.
Ashawo! Idiot! if you touch me again I go tell everybody for street, useless man.
I guess I had seen too much to be afraid anymore. Things went on, Iya Sikira was nice to us, I once heard her gossip with a friend why she helped us a lot.
Poor children, I hear say their Papa don follow one woman go big city.
Useless man, come leave him children alone dey suffer, see mind.
Where their mama sef?
The other woman asked.
She dey obodo oyinbo oh! Papa Sikira don write letter tire make she come carry her children, no answer.
I became angry at my parents, I hated my father with a passion why will they do this to us, did they hate us so much. This made me even harder than I was before. I became a little tyrant. All my visits to Mrs Agadi finally paid off, she was able to get hold of my grandma.
My dad’s mother, I used love her so much, now I felt no emotions, I hated her for being my father’s mother. I hated anyone related to my parents, they were all evil. she tried so much to get in but I had built up a wall, I was not ready to be let down again and alas even after taking us to the big city fate just had to show up again. We ended up at Aunty Ulo’s place that landed us hawkers in the big city traffic. Where were our parents?
Oh sorry to be continued