|Image from here|
Hallo, guys. If you haven't read The Pink Chick (the first version), you should cos that's the main story. When I wrote that first Pink Chick story, that was supposed to be it. But then I had the idea to tell the same story from different perspectives. The first story was seen through the eyes of Soji, the child, and this one is seen through his mother's eyes.
She turned left into George Street. Next stop, Mama Tamuno’s place. She looked at her watch, sighed and pressed down on the accelerator. Three forty-five. She was fifteen minutes behind schedule, thanks to the stupid traffic on Aba Road. She only hoped Mama Tamuno would have boli ready so she didn’t have to wait another ten minutes at least. The snack of roasted plantains and fish would be enough for her and Soji until she was done making dinner. She hoped she would be done before Laolu got in from work.
She hated going to the market; hated having to rub bodies against all those people as she maneuvered her way around the stalls. She hated the shouts, the smells, the filth… the haggling. That was why she went foodstuff shopping at most once every month. She would buy huge quantities of food and store the perishables in the large freezer she’d bullied Soji’s daddy into buying. It was even more stressful when she had to take Soji with her to the market, like today. She loved her son, but God knew Soji made it hard to not want to conk him like ten times every single day. They said curiosity was a good quality, especially in kids, but surely, not the type that had killed the cat. That was how he’d almost put his head in the frying pan the other day when she was frying fish, after she’d told him to leave the kitchen. Her nagging mother-in-law had visited last week and had given her an earful about soji’s burn when she saw it. She’d snapped at the woman for the first time when she could no longer stand her whiny voice grating on her nerves. That had shut her up good. Maybe she would try it with Laolu one day. She couldn’t tell who talked more: Laolu or his tiresome mother. And today again she had almost lost Soji when he’d wandered away while she was pricing croaker; what he was looking for she didn’t know till now.
She parked her Kia on the shoulder of the road, opposite Mama Tamuno’s stand, pleased to find no eager customers waiting for the roasting boli. She opened her door and turned in her seat to look at Soji. The waistband of her trousers tightened around her once-flat stomach, reminding her of the 15kg she was still struggling to lose. Maybe when she did Laolu would look at her again. They hadn’t had sex in weeks.
“Stay where you are, Soji. If you come out ehn, you will see what I will do to you,” she said, pulling her ears so the message could sink in. He gave her that nod he did with his eyes. She got out of the car and strode across the road. Mama Tamuno looked up and smiled, showing her spaced out teeth.
“Ah, Mummy Soji. Welcome o. Long time. Which one you want?”
She selected four plantains and a few pieces of yam, and Mama Tamuno proceeded to scrape the blackened parts off the yam pieces with her knife.
“How Soji?” she asked as she worked, her smile still in place.
“He’s fine. He dey for car. School don close so I get to carry am go market because nobody dey house.”
“Papa Soji nko? How 'im dey?”
She sighed and turned her mouth down. “Ehn, he’s fine…”
Her words were swallowed by the deafening crash, the sound of breaking glass and crunching metal. Even before she whirled to find her car under the tipper her stomach had dissolved into hot liquid. For a few seconds she could do nothing but stare at the wreckage, her mouth hanging open. Then she flew up in the air and threw herself hard to the ground, shouting sounds she never knew she could make. The only pain she felt as her body hit the floor was the one in her chest. She rolled around in the dust, images of the little, mangled body in the car filling her head and pushing burning tears from her eyes.
She felt Mama Tamuno trying to hold her, saying words she could not hear. What would she tell Laolu? Maybe if she hadn’t been so mad at Soji for wandering off in the market she would have taken him with her to buy the boli, like she usually did, and not left him in the car. Maybe if she had left for the market earlier she would have been done earlier and able to prepare dinner in time and not have to stop for boli and not leave her son in the car and not get him killed. Maybe if she wasn’t so afraid of getting cheated that she refused to hire someone to shop for her and insisted on always doing her shopping herself she wouldn’t have gone to the market that day and Soji wouldn’t have wandered off and she wouldn’t have been mad and she wouldn’t have left him in the car and she wouldn’t have caused him to die. Maybe…
She felt strong hands—Mama Tamuno’s?—grasp her shoulders and shake her. She felt her body being pushed up into a sitting position and her face being lifted. Why would they not let her cry and die in peace?
“See Soji! See am for there! See am!”
Somehow, the words made it through the fog in her head. She followed Mama Tamuno’s pointing hand and saw him running across the street, raising his hands like he’d just won a race. Her baby. The tears continued to fall from her eyes, but a smile was breaking through.