Ranti’s health deteriorated day by day as her family could not afford the bills for her to go on a therapy to treat herself of cancer. Her mother had gone to virtually all families and loved ones for financial help despite her old age, but all to no avail. Nobody was willing to help. The old woman was downcast in her house, thinking of how to treat her child, when Fatou, her grandchild came into the room before discussing the issue with her mother. That she would take up some jobs to gather money to treat her ailing mother.
Ranti’s mother sat outside her residence, looking at children playing in the compound, but lost in thought.
Fatou: “Mama!” she tapped the woman on her shoulder, who did not know she had been beside her for few seconds.
Ranti’s mother: “Agh, when did you come back?” she asked, shifting to the end of the bench for her grandchild to sit on.
Fatou: “I have been standing here since. You did not hear me, when I called”.
Ranti’s mother: “hmmm, ma bi nu. It is your mother’s illness that is making me think o. I have gone to all our family for money, none of them want to help us. They say, they don’t have money. I am very tired of all this. And the sickness is getting worse day by day”. She explained, weeping.
Fatou: “Mama stop crying. My mother will get well soon, insha Allah”. She prayed, consoling her grandmother.
Ranti’s mother: “hmmm, toh, mo gbo o (I have heard). I believe what you say”.
Fatou: “Mama, I have been thinking of something now”. The grandmother swivelled to her as she spoke.
“What is that?” She asked out of curiousity.
Fatou: “you know, our school is on holiday, and I won’t go to school until end of month so, I am thinking maybe I should go and work small, any money I make, I will gather it and we will be able to pay mother’s hospital bill.” She suggested. However, her grandmother burst into uncontrollable tears as she mentioned this.
Ranti’s mother: “hahah, no o. I will not allow you to work o. you know you are a small girl, and we hear what all these rich people and even poor sef do to young girls nowadays, I am not ready to lose two people at a time”. She objected to Fatou’s suggestion. As she had always been an advocate of child labour.
Fatou: “but you cannot work, and nobody is willing to help us. Will you now allow my mother to die like that, when I can at least contribute something?”
Ranti’s mother: “how much will they even pay you that will be enough to pay for your mother’s treatment? Or do you think it’s small money we are talking about here? Abi you want to go and stay on highway to rob people? She asked rhetorically. There was silence for few minutes, before Fatou finally spoke.
Fatou: “see mama, me I have said my own o. I will go and work and get money. See now, we don’t have money to even buy food not to talk of medicine. My sister has been crying like bush baby since morning, because she is hungry. No food no nothing. My father has left all of us since how many weeks now”.
Ranti’s Mother: see, don’t you dare mention your father again. Is that one a human being or duplicate?” She hissed and left the girl outside.
Khadijah was seated in the sitting room waiting for her husband as usual. It had now become habitual for him to come home late. She stared at the wall clock on the wall as the alarm of different times rang. She was becoming restless, since her last call, she dialled her husband’s number but no response. She changed from one position to the other in the room, pacing and shaking her head. She looked through the window when she heard the sound of a vehicle enter the compound.
Khadijah: “agh, is this man just coming in now? He will meet me here” She said as she moved the window blind sideway to peep through. “Oh God, he is not even the one” She hissed, shutting the window blind. “Hmmmm, this man has become something else these days. Ponmile surfacing in his life is a grave mistake. This is the worst thing that can ever happen to him. He is such a bad influence on my husband. I must act fast and do something about it before it gets too late”. She said, cursing Ponmile under her breath. “I cannot sit here and watch someone scatter my home for me”.
Shortly afterwards, her husband arrived.
Khadijah: “hmmmm, see the time you are just coming in, Abbas. When did you start all this? You are no longer the man I married” She said calmly.
Abbas: “see, woman, I had a long day. Just leave me alone, I need to go and rest, as my day continues tomorrow again”. He said, heading to the room.
Khadijah: “Ologbeni, come back here”. She dragged his trouser from behind and pulled him to herself. He staggered and the two sat on top of each other on the settee.
Abbas: “aghn, aghn, when did all these start? When did you start pulling my trouser?” He asked unbelievably as he stood up to his feet.
Khadijah: “it began when you became a night crawler. See, I can’t stomach all these anymore. I have had enough. My patience is becoming too unbearable for me. And it is time you put an end to this your night crawling” she yelled at her husband, not minding the fact that she was disturbing other neighbours in the dead of the night.
Abbas: “fine!” He replied, clapping his hands. “It is simple, if you can provide a child, then I will put an end to this. That is all”. He replied lifting his palms up. This however caught his wife unawares, her arms dropped as her husband mentioned this. A drop of sweat trickled down her spine, and goose bumps appeared all over her arms. She sank into the sofa as her husband left her in the sitting room and entered the bedroom.
Khadijah: “hmmmm, it is becoming much clearer. I am done for”. She muffled, putting her two hands on her head.
Fatou was defiant to her grandmother’s objection of doing some domestic jobs to cater for her mother’s treatment. She took up a cleaning job in the same house Abeni stayed. She was doing some laundry of the family she worked for, when Abeni sighted her from her flat. She moved closer to her as she pitied the poor girl washing a heap of dirty laundry.
Abeni: “hello, how are you?” she greeted the girl looking at her with surprise.
Fatou:”good morning ma”.
Abeni: “are you these people’s new house help?” she asked, looking surprised.
Fatou: “yes ma”.
Abeni: “what about your parents?” why are you doing this, are you not going to school?”
Fatou: “my school is on holiday. My mother is sick and we need money to take care of her that is why I am working to help”. She explained.
Abeni: “hmmmm, na wa o. who is your mother and where do you stay?”
Fatou: “I stay at Joyce B.” She replied.
Abeni: “what about your mother? What is her name?” She asked the poor girl who was not ready to tell her mother’s name as she feared some diabolical persons.
“Okay, don’t worry. I understand”. Abeni replied, when the girl refused to tell her mother’s name. Abeni looked back several times, shaking her head vigorously as she went back to her own flat. She almost hit her head on the wall as she continued looking back, with her mouth wide open.
Question: Why do you think Abeni was interested in Fatou the first time she sighted her, or is it just pity?
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