Grandma did not wait for me to grow up and become a nurse to look after her because she died. She died and we all cried. Mama cried the most. She said she’s now an orphan. Me, Tola and Wole cried too because she won’t make us Akamu anymore. Grandma made the best Akamu but I don’t understand why Mama had to change her name to orphan. Aunty Muli wasn’t crying, she was holding mama, rubbing her back and flicking her new wig at the same time. I don’t like this new one her but she looked happier. She was telling mama not to cry and that Grandma was old anyway.
When Aunty Muli took us to school in the morning, she told our teacher that Grandma died. After class, everyone in our class and the teacher came to our house to see mama. She was siting outside by the tree with some men when our school bus parked in front of the house. She got up in a rush, tied her head wrap and sat down. Then she got up again and retied her wrapper, walked towards the bus with open arms and then suddenly she turned back again. The two men held her hands and helped her back to the chair; one held her down unto the chair while the other old man walked to the bus to ask the bus driver if anything bad happened to us. He nods at the driver’s response and whispered to Mama’s ears.
My teacher asked us all to line up like we were on the assembly ground and sing for mama. Tola ran to stand next to me and held my hand but the teacher separated us like she does in school. When she caught mama’s eyes she quickly put our hands back together.
We sang for mama, and instead of getting better she only started crying some more, so my teacher hugged her. Tola whispered something to me and we both giggled and ran inside the house.
Tola and I brought out our jar of choco milo and gave everyone from our class. Mama always said never to let people leave your house without a gift. When she saw us, she smiled.
It’s been two weeks since Grandma died and Papa only just got back from where he travelled. It was different when Papa came home because mama stopped crying, she was all over Papa. We all sat in the living room watching mama as she undid his tie, took his shoes off, socks, his suit jacket and started rubbing his feet. Mama didn’t call for Aunty Muli but she came in and asked Me, Tola, and Wole to get out of the living room.
Mama was too engrossed chatting sweet nothing to Papa because she didn’t hear us dragging our feet or when Aunty Muli was pulling Wole off the sofa like a slug being pulled off the wall. As soon as Wole got up, He tripped accidentally on purpose by putting his left foot by the stool and crossing his right foot over it. He screamed so much that Mama and Papa jolt out of their romance.
Mama rushed to hug Wole on the floor.
‘Wole my dear, are you okay?’
‘My leg, my leg’
‘What happened to you?’
‘Aunty, aunty Muli made me… My leg.’ He muffled between tears
‘Muli, don’t kill my children now, what is your problem?’
She flipped her wig ‘Madam, I only asked them to come out of the parlour room because they were watching you do romance’
‘Romance, what Romance?’
‘You and Oga are doing romance and I told them to leave and he fell down.’
‘Muli, do you not have any care what happens to the kids, they just lost their Grandmother and now you want to hurt my only son.’
‘Mcshteew is that why you are shouting at me? I haven’t hurt him yet, this lying stupid boy!’
There was silence, like the calm before the storm from the story of Noah in the bible, and the slap landed on Aunty Muliyat’s face. Me and Tola really laughed, even Wole that was lying on the floor started laughing.
It was Papa who separated Aunty Muli and Mama that afternoon because she hung unto Mama’s top and was screaming and mama’s slap had turned into a series of slaps.
‘Madam, kill me oh. Kill me; let me join your Mother today.’
Mama burst into tears again hearing aunty Muli refer to Grandma.
Wole didn’t need to go to the hospital because he only had a small cut and few drops of blood. Me and Tola were watching Papa as he dabbed his wound with methylated spirit and that was when he really cried. He screamed and struggled under Papa’s strong hairy hands that held him down on the dining table.
As the sun was setting that evening, Mama went to sleep, so Papa took us for a walk in the farm. The guavas were ripe so we all went with him to pluck them. Tola loved Guavas the most. She was very excited, she even told the Ayilara family next door and promised to bring them some Guava.
On the way to the farm, Papa let us run wild ahead of him and he would run and catch up with us and overtake us. He said only men can run fast like that because God gave them extra bone. Tola started crying that she wanted to win, and Wole was unable to run because of his leg. I don’t really mind how I ran, I was only thinking of Aunty Muli and how she made Mama cry so much. I thought of how long she has to stay with us and imagine the day she will no longer stay with us. At the same time, I thought of Grandma and how we would see her no more and what happens to people when they die.
We ran past our school and then we were out of breath so we stopped and Papa carried Wole like a baby in his arms and Tola on his back. I walked beside him instead because I would rather think of what I have to do for my family.
The farm was very big, and there was a bed of corn planted on the main section of the farm. A caretaker welcomed Papa and started singing his praises as soon as he saw him but he ignored us, I don’t know why. Papa asked for Water for us since we were all tasty, the man shouted for his wife to bring water. She brought the water in an old black plastic jug that used to be sky blue. I didn’t drink the water even though Papa persuaded me to drink.
‘I want to eat the guavas instead’ I smiled
‘I thought Tola likes Guava more than you?’
‘No Papa. She thinks she does but I like guava more than her. If I drink water I will be too full.’
He gave in to my sensible explanation. He’s always said to always back your answers with good explanation if you want to be a good student.
Papa gave me the empty black jug to take back to the caretaker’s wife in their house.
‘House? Where Papa? I can’t see any house, there’s a shed over there. Is that the one?’
‘My friend, go and return the jug and run back here this minute.’ He frowned
I ran as fast as my legs could carry me and knocked on the door to the shed. A little boy with an oblong face and angular cheekbones came to open the door. He looked much smaller than me but I wondered if he was my age. He extended his hand to receive the jug.
‘Is that our cup?’
‘No, it’s your jug.’
‘Is that your father?’
‘Yes that’s my father, he’s a farmer.’
‘How old are you?’
‘I’m ten years old’
‘How about you?’
‘I’m also ten.’ I lied. ‘We have come to pick some guavas from the tree, me, my sister my brother and my father.’
‘Oh your father is that man that comes here sometimes. My father told me he’s our landlord.’
‘What’s a landlord? Never mind. I have to go now, my father must be waiting.’
‘He came out and walked as though he was coming behind me and then he stopped and went back into the shed.’
I ran back almost out of breath and Papa gave me a stern look, I imagine it’s because I stayed longer than two minutes.
We all walked to the Guava tree and father shook the tree so that the Guavas were raining down. We started picking them up into Tola’s dress. My idea that she borrowed, she flipped up the hem of her dress to hold the dress in place while Wole and I counted the guavas into it. We lost count because Wole is so rubbish at his numbers or maybe he was doing it on purpose, like he does everything.
Papa told the Caretaker farmer to have the rest of the guava on the tree and that we have had enough. The man insisted on taking us on a different route from how he came because he wants to show Papa the bed of Yam.
Me, Tola and Wole were walking in front leaving Papa and the caretaker farmer discussing behind us as they walked. Wole was walking zig zag and pretending to replay how he fell earlier in the day when suddenly the caretaker farmer ran towards him and carried him up. Tola and I jumped as this was unexpected. The guavas fell and were rolling all over the grassy path.
‘My son, you were walking into a werepe. Can’t you see it?’
Wole looked baffled, and so were we. ‘What is that? Is it an animal?’ he asked
‘No it’s called velvet bean, and also has a botanical name called ‘Mucuna Pruriens’’
Tola whispered to me ‘He can speak English.’
We both started laughing even though we don’t know the meaning of what he just said.
Papa caught up with us this time and said thank you to the caretaker Farmer. ‘I would have missed it myself Mr Yussuff.’
We picked the rolling guavas on the floor back into Tola’s dress and said good bye to caretaker farmer-Mr Yussuf.
On our way home, Papa told us what the Velvet bean was and how he was once had contact with the hairy skin. Wole started laughing but Papa told him it wasn’t funny because once it touches your skin, the irritation is intense. He told us how it left him with a lasting memory. He looked at wole and said to him
‘Thank God for Mr yussuf, you would have been scratching all over your body if he didn’t carry you.’
‘Papa what else can it be used for?’ I enquired
‘Hmmm, that’s a tough one because people use it as a weapon more than they use it for good things. Some people would wear glove, pluck the seed pods and let other people sit on it unknowingly, for a laugh; and sometimes not for a laugh. Of course you know the person will really itch so bad till their skin swells all over.’
‘People can do that?’
‘Yes, and because of that, no one remembers if the leaves or the seed really has any good use or not.’
We got home and washed all the guavas. We were left with twenty seven of them. Mama was still asleep. We woke her up for some guavas and she called for Aunty Muli to have some guavas but she didn’t answer.
Tola shouted, aunty Muliyat, Muli, Mole!
No one answered and she was not in her room. Only one of her bag was left and the other two wasn’t there.
‘Where is Muli?’ Papa asked Mama
‘How would I know? I was asleep and I should be asking you the same question.’
Tola told Papa that Aunty Muli isn’t there and some of her bags were not there too. Papa nods and replied
‘I’m sure she went to the market’
I think Papa was trying to console himself that this is our ninth housemaid who has left in two weeks of starting work.
A lot has happened and they are mostly sad news.
Grandma is no more so no more Akamu and I can’t be a nurse. I have to look for something else I want to be when I grow up. I really don’t know what I want to be.
Mama and aunty Muli fought, and Wole has a bruise. It’s not hurting him too much though. I’ve not been in school for two weeks and I miss my friends.
Me and Tola gave out all our choco milos and I don’t know how to ask Mama to buy some more because she’s been unhappy since her mum died. She’s now called an orphan.
If Papa hadn’t travelled, I’m sure all of this wouldn’t have happened. I don’t know where he went. He didn’t bring any biscuit this time.
I think Aunty Muli has left us just when I think I know what the next plan is. I hope she comes back because she can’t just fight with my mum and get away with it.