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
“How Soji?” she asked as she worked, her smile still in
“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.
This time he would obey mummy. He wanted to see that good smile that lit up her face whenever she was pleased with him. He liked that smile. It wasn’t like the one he had seen her give daddy so many times. And when she would smile this bad smile daddy would just keep talking. The last time he had almost told daddy, shut up, can’t you see that mummy feels like slapping you! It hadn’t happened yet, but he thought one day mummy just might.
Strapped in with his seat belt in the back seat, his legs started to shake. He forced them to be still. Mummy had said not to move. “Stay where you are, Soji. If you come out ehn, you will see what I will do to you.” Mummy had parked beside the road and crossed to the other side to buy the boli and fish that would hold them till dinner was ready. He would obey mummy today. He didn’t want it to be like that day when mummy had asked him to leave the kitchen because she was frying fish and didn’t want the oil to jump on him. When mummy had turned her back he had gone closer to the pan. He wanted to know what made the oil jump like that when they put fish in it. He put his face close to the pan. He heard a popping sound and started to marvel at it, before the pain registered and he screamed. Mummy had given him a conk before rubbing Vaseline on his forehead where the oil had jumped. The wound did not heal before his sixth birthday last two weeks, and that was why he had a dark spot on his head in all the pictures. He unconsciously raised his hand to touch his head. He would obey mummy today. If he kept her happy, maybe she would agree to buy him ice cream from Skippers. Yum.
He looked out the window and knew at once that today would not be the day. He quickly checked to see that mummy was still haggling with the boli woman. Then he unstrapped the seat belt and slipped out of the car and into the gutter to follow the pink baby chicken that had walked past. He had seen white chickens, black chickens, black and white chickens, grey chickens, brown chickens, even orange chickens. He had never seen pink. He crept along, following the chick away from the car. If it was aware of Soji’s presence it didn’t act like it. He wondered if the chick would lead him to its mother, in all her pink glory. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends. A pink chicken!
The chick stopped, one leg suspended mid-air, cocked its head and let out a shrill, pitiful sound. It was crying! Tears sprang to Soji’s eyes as he realized the chick had lost its mother. Soji knew his mummy had bad smiles and could conk very well, but he didn’t want her to be lost. He would adopt the chick! He would take it home and feed it grains of rice and garri. It would become part of their family. A pink mummy chicken was pretty awesome, but who needed a pink mummy chicken when they had him? He inched forward to grab the chick. It tried to run away, but Soji got it. There, there, Soji thought as he smoothed the feathers of the shrieking chick, everything will be fine.
He climbed out of the gutter, careful not to hurt the chick. Mummy’s car was no longer where he had left it. There was a big tipper where the car had been, and beneath it he could just make out the red of mummy’s now squashed Kia. He looked across the street, and there was mummy in the boli woman’s arms, both of them on the floor. Her hair was scattered and she was shaking, rubbing herself on the floor. He had never seen mummy cry. He ran across the road to meet her. Maybe the pink chick would cheer her up.
The boli woman was the first to see him. She shook mummy and pointed, pushing her to sit up, to look at him. He raised the pink chick like a trophy and saw mummy slowly start to smile, even with the tears. It was her good smile. He smiled back. He knew the pink chick would make her happy.
My story will be featured on Afrosays for the Decades II project.
Decades is a series of eight short stories that is aimed at taking readers on a journey planned around a person's life in different stages, in decades. Decades I was the male version, written by a selection of talented writers/bloggers. Decades II is, you guessed right, the female version.
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Decades II kicks off Monday, 19 September, and one story will be put up every day. Follow it on Afrosays.
Click click click, his camera went, capturing moments,
stealing time, freezing it in each frame. He was Ali, bobbing to the right to
catch her almost shy, now familiar smile; weaving just so, the better to take
in the way the groom would run a proprietary thumb over her cheek. His sore
finger and stiff arms were not reason enough to miss that moment when mother
held daughter’s hands, the first tears falling from their eyes. He’d had to
step lightly to the right to make a timely click when both families’ fathers
did that hug that men did, their faces shining with pride. And when the bride
komole’d he’d had to go down with her, or he would have lost that mock serious
look on her face. She tossed the bouquet and he jumped in time with the girls.
Lucky, or he would have missed the vicious lunge of the bride’s older sister,
the way she shoved the bridesmaid aside.
He saw her at the entrance and forgot the bride for a
moment as he sped to put her in his camera. These people had to be really big to have her,
big shot celebrity that she was, at their wedding.
He spun to freeze the grey haired couple sharing a kiss.
The woman quarreling about souvenirs, she had her day when
he raced to her side. She almost slapped the camera out of his hands but he
bolted away just in time. Little bride and little groom—him pulling her braids,
she stomping on his foot—he bent and took them. The aso-ebi girls sitting at
their table, he got them when he paused, not missing the intensity on their
faces; the kind that could only come from people trading gossip. That random
woman with the skyscraper gele, the baby peeing in his pants, the best man
stuffing his face, the MC laughing at his own jokes, he caught them all and put
them in is camera.
His body ached from chasing the people around all day, catching
them when they were least aware of the dark eye of the camera that was an
extension of his. But he didn’t mind. He had always found it harder to take them
when they posed.