His Love.

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Last night, I was terribly hungry. I had been hungry for as long as I know, but last night was different. I was terribly hungry that my stomach growled so loud I almost danced to its beat. And it wasn’t just me. There were many other people around who would give anything to have a bite of air or a sip of rain. We lay down on the open field, backs to the ground, and heads turned to the sky. Everyone, grouped into cliques. Hope was what kept us alive… and we would pray too, day and night, that God should listen to us and surprise us. We knew He could. Miracles are His forte.

There had been no rain, and the crops couldn’t thrive. A lot of the big men had left the city behind in search of better abode, because they could. But me, the rest of us, Basilli was the only earth we knew. So we stayed, because even if we chose to leave, there was no where else to go. Thousands lay dead already, their rotting bodies nourishing the soil to no profit. For what shall it profit earth to have manure for food, but no rain for water?

I was in deep thought. Still in deep thought of the woe that befell Basilli, and the eventual fate that would befall the rest of us if no succour came, when a truck drove into the field. It was a government truck. There were loaves of bread, and cheap bottles of water stoking the truck to near convulsion, but it didn’t seem almost- enough to feed everyone. Despite the people that had left the city, by choice or fate, Basilli’s population still stood at about a few dozens less than a million. Everyone rushed at the truck and the drivers grabbing food like it was a ticket for one more chance at life in Basilli. My clique and I split, joining the tussle, pushing and pulling. Eventually, I got to the truck in time to grab the last stock of bread and water.

I stood beside myself then, angry at God and life. After all those nights of praying fervently for a miracle, it came and all I got from it was a flimsy loaf of bread and bottle of water, when a lot of the other people got a dozen more in excess of what they needed for themselves, their cliques and their families! I was thoroughly angry, wondering why God let them have what they didn’t deserve! With loathing tears in my eyes, I looked up to re- assess the injustice everywhere. And for the first time since the mob action, I noticed a good number of people without food nor water, one of whom was a clique member I used to pray with every night before we fell asleep.

I rushed to him in wonder. ‘Ketu, you are a strong man, how come you couldn’t make it to the truck to get some food?’

‘Milo, I got pushed and trampled upon five times, hurt myself so bad that I couldn’t attempt another step. I crawled back here even.’

‘What?!’ I was surprised. ‘How did that happen?’

‘How did it happen? You mean you didn’t even get a bruise? Common! Everyone got injured or badly scarred out there! Some even died! We are lucky!’

In a space of seconds, anger had turned to sympathy, and sympathy to shame! I was ashamed at myself. There I was thinking God was all shades of not nice, when he had saved me from getting any more miserable than I already was, and he even let me have food to eat… none of which I deserved. I began to realise, as I sank to the ground that my star did not not shine and God did not not smile down on me. Infact, I didn’t deserve life any better than those that died of hunger, or got killed while hustling for food, yet He gifted me with it.

So, I put down my bread, cut it into neat pieces and shared it to a few others without food. And as I watched them eat, all thoughts of my own hunger got lost on me.

Last night was a miracle, I couldn’t sleep. I just laid on the field, watching the stars in the sky. I was happy and fulfilled. And so I kept vigil to thank God for His Love.

**

Disclaimer: Names of cities, and people used here are as fictitious as can be. By the way, Google says Basilli is a Bacteria… Oh well! I hope you enjoyed the story. 😀

__

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

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Red Rage.

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He came home last night. He had been away for a month, leaving me and the kids without a dime. I didn’t know whether to be angry, or happy as I heard him pull into the compound. I had been thoroughly worried about him the past days, calling and texting him without response. I feared something might have happened to him. What will I have done? Where will I have gone? He would have made the trouble much bearable if he had told me where he was going in that note he stuck to the Fridge before leaving that Sunday evening… but then, it didn’t matter. He was home. I hurried to the kitchen to rustle up something for him to eat. That’s a wife’s duty after all, to cater for the husband in good and bad times.

In thirty minutes, the table was set yet he hadn’t come upstairs. I looked through the window by the dinning room to find him seated in his car in a relaxed mood, holding his phone to his ear, laughing so gaily about something only he knew. A laughter I hadn’t heard in a long while. I strained my ears to pick his voice over the generators loud hum…

Mama, iyen o ki n se problem na. Ma to pada wa, e ma wori.

Mama? I felt a tear drop from my weary eyes. He had been with his mother all this while? Yet she gave me no clue all those lonely nights I called to seek her advice? What responsible mother allows her son leave his own home, wife and kids, to suckle from her sagging breasts after every long day at work for a whole month? He had come in now, his presence dusted with whiffs of alcohol. I shook my tears back and played the nice wife… for a few seconds.

Ekaabo.’

Ekule o. Where are my kids?’ he settled in the dinning area.

I turned to the wall-clock, it was 11:00pm and he was asking where his kids were? I chose to ignore the question. If he cared, he would have been home the past days instead.

‘I made you Eba and Efo.’ I said in reply, and turned to get him some water to wash his hands with before he asked any other stupid question.

Soon after, he had finished the food and appreciated me with a loud belch and stinking fart which both happened fast, that I wasn’t sure which came first. I swallowed it all and just mused on how a man I loved and adored so much had now turned to the insensitive bastard I could only manage to harbour. The atmosphere was laden with so much hurt and anger and hunger too. I was hungry, I hadn’t had a proper meal in a long while because he didn’t leave any money and I was saving the remaining soup that I warmed that evening, for his return. I deserved some explanation, I thought, so I broke the ice.

‘Where did you go ‘Laitan?’

He stopped fiddling with his phone and spared me an accusatory look.

‘What do you mean by where did I go? Work, of course!’ he spat.

‘Olaitan, you went to work for almost a whole month, from Sunday evening up until this Friday evening. You didn’t call, you didn’t text, you didn’t reply my calls or texts, you didn’t leave any money and you know I don’t have a job to cater to myself and the kids. Olaitan, Olaitan… is this life?’

‘Don’t start o, this woman! Let me breathe please, ‘ve only just returned.’

Tears poured down my face and my empty stomach started to wail too. It was too much to take in all at once. That was what I got for worrying over and about him for a month, in his conscious absence.

‘Olaitan, you make me cry everyday and I can’t but wish you the same kind of pain you make me feel. Olaitan, I am hungry. I haven’t had a proper meal all this time, and you know I am a nursing mother. Bolu is just 2 months old, have you forgotten? Olaitan, your children missed you. They cried to sleep every night because you were nowhere close to throw them into the air after a long day. Olaitan…’ I racked in sobs, as my voice trailed off but he just sat there wearing a stone cold face after which he stood up angrily and made to get his car keys. I crawled after him, holding on to his legs.

‘Olaitan Oribogunje, you are not leaving this house without me and my children!’ I screamed a little too loud.

‘Bukunmi! Bukunmi leave my leg. Bukunmi leave me o.’ he dragged himself on, pulling my fragile frame with him but I didn’t let go still. Toke had woken up now and was staring in horror. She cried, but I didn’t know if she was mourning her lost sleep or sad for me. Either way, I shared her pain.

‘Do your worst ‘Laitan! Do your bloody worst but you’re not leaving this house without us!’ I yelled. What more pain could he possibly inflict on me? I was numbed by weariness, too tired to feel anything more. Then he started to punch me and drag me by the hair, slapping me everywhere he could lay his palms on. I screamed to the neighbours ‘hhe…elp me! Help me from this bloody bastard I call a husband! Egba miii o!!’

‘Daddddyyyy! Daadddddyyyy!’ Toke’s screams tore at my heart and that seemed to strengthen me because only then did I start to fight back. I ran to the kitchen to grab a knife and threatened him with it. The neighbours had begun to knock on our door now but we were too absorbed in our own little world to care.

‘You’ll either kill me today or come back to your senses!’ I spat breathlessly, burning with red rage pent up from too many past years. He carried a chair and made to fling it at me, while I raised the knife in readiness awaiting his strike. That was when Toke made for the door in one swift movement because her eyes couldn’t take it anymore and like a flash before my very own eyes, she fell to the ground in a pool of blood.

Everything went stark quiet in that second. I dropped the knife quickly, and raced to my child. ‘Toke! Toke mi! Akanke! Toke!’ she wouldn’t respond. By then, Olaitan had already walked out of the house and started his car downstairs. Afraid, guilty, or ashamed, I couldn’t care why he left. The neighbours poured in now like flood, running here and there trying to revive her. But I knew she was gone, because the instant I held her, I knew she saved that last gaze for me, telling me to be strong. I wailed in my head, but I didn’t have the power to cry out.

That was a second or so ago.

I am too tired now. My soul retires. But before I slump to the ground I note that time has well passed. It is 12:00am and it is Valentines.

_
‘Mama, iyen o ki n se problem na. Ma to pada wa, e ma wori.’ – Mama, that is no problem at all. I will soon be back, don’t worry about it.

‘Egba mi o!’- Please help me!

‘Ekaabo’- Welcome

‘Ekule’- Response to welcome.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.