Nora: “You should have stayed in your room as your father said. Always listen to your elders” she said her eyes on father, who was scowling at me. He was obviously blaming me for disobeying him, but wasn’t he the one who told the police two different tales? Adults are always blaming kids for things that they did.
Police: “I consider this an obstruction of justice. We will hear from the boy if he knows anything about it” the taller police man said as he came closer and squatted to my level.
Policeman: “Your nanny Mary is in the hospital, she was attacked last night in this house, her two legs are broken, she may never walk again, if you know anything that will help us catch the culprit, your nanny will love that.” I was already weeping at this point, Mary’s legs were broken and she would never walk again, who would take care of me now, I had lost my mother, now I was going to lose my nanny?
Leke: “The last time I saw her, she tucked me in for the night, and she stayed with me till I slept. I woke up to a scream, a woman’s scream. I was too scared to come out, I thought my father was dead too”
Policeman: “Why would you think that?” I looked at father, he had a pained look on his face, and Nora on the other hand was looking intently at me, hanging on my every word.
Leke: “The last time I heard a scream, my mother died” I said through choked sobs, just the mention of my mother brought sadness and tears. The policemen looked thoughtful, and began to scribble in their writing pads.
Policeman: “So you did not see anything that night, except hear a scream?”
Leke: “I saw feet, they stopped at my door, I was so scared”
Policeman: “What did you do, did you go out?”
Leke: “I cannot remember, I woke up in my bed, my father was with me”
Bamidele: “We found him passed out by the door, which is the reason we tried keeping him away from you. He just lost his mom, he is traumatized” father added. The policemen kept scribbling in their pads.
Policeman: “What killed your wife?” At that father stood up angrily from the couch and walked over to the policeman who had asked the question.
Bamidele: “I won’t allow you disrespect me in my own house, and in front of my kid. If you have no more questions, you best leave”
Policeman: “Being a brute won’t get you anywhere, because we realized that you as the head of the family did not call the police, you covertly took her to the hospital. The public only know your wife died, but no one knows how she died, her burial, there was no lying in state. Then days later, your nanny is attacked in this house, you refused to call the police”
Bamidele: ‘If I did not call the police, then how are you here?”
Policeman: “One of your nieghbours called. Mister man, you will follow us to the station to give your statement”
Bamidele: “I am going nowhere with you, look here, do you know who I am, do you think you can just come here and say rubbish. If you are not arresting me, I advise you go do your home work” father replied.
Policeman: “This is not the end, we will be back” he said and they left the house.
Nora: “It is all your son’s fault, he is so unruly” she said angrily. Father looked at me in a way he had never looked at me before, like I was a nuisance to him. He walked to me in quick strides and grabbed me by the arm.
Bamidele: “You will do as I say” he said and pulled me up the stairs
Leke: “Father, father, you are hurting me” I cried as he dragged me up the stairs. When he got to my room, he opened the door and pushed me in, this time he locked the door on the other side. I banged the door, but no one heard me, or if they did, they were forbidden to answer me. I cried my eyes out, till I fell asleep. In my dream, I saw mother, she had her throat slashed, blood was gushing out from the slit, and her fingers were all covered in blood. I screamed till I woke up, I was still screaming. I heard the door rattle, it opened and one of the female house servants came in. We called her IyaBiliki, I rarely saw her because, she was always in the kitchen.
IyaBiliki: “Leke bobo, why you dey shout like say you see ghost, abi you see your mama?” she asked. I nodded my head slowly, I was disturbed by what I saw of my mother and I began to wonder if that was how she died.
Leke: “How did my mother die?”
IyaBiliki: “Omo mi, this question you dey ask me, ei big pass me oh. Na only your papa go fit answer you” she said in a sober voice, then she held me to her bosom and began to rock me.
IyaBiliki: “Ha death, death is not fair” she said aloud. The smell of soot and cooking was beginning to choke me from her clothes, so I pulled away softly. I didn’t realize I had been crying, IyaBiliki seeing that I was crying, made to pull me again into her bosom, but I shifted away fast, I couldn’t bear the smell that emanated from her one more time. I looked behind her and saw that she brought a tray.
IyaBiliki: “Ha no mind me oh, I bin dey bring food for you, when I hear you dey shout. I prepare omiobe with correct brokoto” I smiled; this was one of the joys of having Yoruba parents… lots of meat and big ones too. I sat at my reading table;IyaBiliki cleared my books to one side and dished my food. As I was eating, it struck me, that this was the first meal that I was eating in my room, and all by myself. When mother was alive, she made sure that she was home for my meal times, even if she rushed out afterwards, but she must be there to eat with me. I missed my mother all the more.
Two days after that incident, I have been restricted to my room, I was not allowed out. So I began to read all the books I had read before, just to fill the void I felt. I could not wait for school to resume, so I could escape my reality and mix up with other kids my age. The police came to our house with an arrest warrant for father; somehow they had concluded that father was responsible for the attack on Mary. When father was arrested, Nora became scarce in the house; I was released from the house arrest I had been subjected to, by father. I took this time to see Mary in the hospital, iyaBiliki who was now in charge of taking care of me, took me to see her. Her state was grotesque, her legs have been mangled. I wondered who could have done such horrible thing to a simple woman such as Mary.
Leke: “There really is no God, if there is, why do good people suffer so” I began to sob, so great was my pain. It was obvious from where I was standing, that Mary may never walk again, if she could not walk, then she could not stay in our house. It seemed to me, there was a force trying desperately to make me all alone. I was scared of that line of thought because, it would mean, my father was next. I went close, and held Mary’s hand, while I stared at her intently, like I was willing her to open her eyes. And she did…
Mary’s eyes opened and held me strongly like she was glaring at me, she held my hand tightly and I got scared, I almost whimpered when she spoke in a soft tone that belied her looks.
Mary: “Leke, you are not safe in that house. Something is out to get your family, they killed your mother. You have to leave that house” she said
Leke: “But Aunt Mary, where would I go? I am only six!” I exclaimed.
Mary: “But you are stronger than you think, are you not Leke bobo?” she said, I smiled in spite of the confusion I felt.
Leke: “Aunt Mary, I am scared. I saw the feet outside my door, I was scared, I am still scared”
Mary: “I see the books you read, you are stronger than you know, call your maternal grandfather to come get you” I nodded my head even when I knew there was no way I could access grandpa’s number.
Leke: “My father was arrested” I said simply, at a loss of whatelse to say.
Mary wanted to speak but stopped, she was looking at someplace behind me. I turned and saw Nora standing there.
Nora: “Adeleke, your father needs you at the police station. Mary, I am deeply sorry about your condition, hope you get well” she said.
Mary: “Leke, don’t go” she said even as it seemed like she was slipping back into unconsciousness.
Leke: “But my father needs me” Mary shook her head slowly, and then her eyes closed. I looked at Nora, who stared back with a passive face that divulged nothing of her intentions.
Leke: “Let’s go” I said and walked ahead of her, out of the room where Mary was kept.
Question: Is Leke safe going with Nora? Who attacked Mary?
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