I got to my room sweating and panting, I increased the speed of the standing fan, stood in front of the mirror, and noticed the changes in my body; my insignificant nipples were pointing out, goose pimples all over my skin, and my pulse faster. Fear ran through my vein, I had a strange feeling deep down my heart; a part of me felt I had sinned; the other part wanted me to tell Aunt Engee what had transpired between me and the boy. I did not know the best step to take.
Aunt Engee: “Shiiiiiiber!”
Me: “Ma!” I ran to the living room where Aunt Engee sat beside her guest
Aunt Engee: “What have you been doing inside? Have you greeted my guest?” she asked, blinking continuously and pouting her lips
I could not tell whether she was trying to send a message or assuming another personality to please her guest. I could not also help but giggle at her new personality; that was the first time I would hear her speak correct English; she had always spoken Pidgin English. This man must be very influential, I thought.
Me: “Yes Ma. I greeted him as soon as he came in” My eyes met with the man’s “Welcome Sir” I said
Man: “Engee, yea, we already exchanged pleasantries. How are you little Shiber”
Me: “I’m fine, Sir” I stood there waiting for the next instruction from my aunt
Aunt Engee: “What are you still waiting for? Clear these plates! Has Miebaka settled in?”
Me: “Yes yes mma…” I stammered as I remembered what had happened in the guest room
Me: “Ok ma!” I cleared the dishes and took them to the kitchen
There, I stood, wondering how I would be able to face that boy again. I was scared he might touch my breast again, and I was not confident enough to tell my aunt the truth. I summoned courage; re arranged the dishes so they won’t fall off from where I had kept them, then headed towards the guest room with a straight face.
Me: “Miebaka, aunty said you should come and have dinner” I said quickly and as I was about to shut the door he stopped me
Boy: “Please stop, I want to tell you something. Please” he said, giving me convincing looks
Me: “What? I don’t have time, I want to go and dish your food before aunty starts shouting” I said, standing halfway into the room
Boy: “I want to say I am sorry about my actions some minutes ago. I am not a bad boy, it’s just that I saw you and couldn’t control myself. I know this may not mean anything to you, but I think I love you. The moment you came to the car to get the luggage, I fell in love with you. I am not asking for anything from you, I just want you to know” he said, fidgeting
Me: “I don’t understand you, and I don’t want to. Do you know how old I am? If you bring up this topic again, I will tell aunty what you just said” I slammed the door and went to the kitchen
Within me, I felt pity for him, but I knew he deserved the response I gave. What was he thinking telling me he loves me? What was stopping me from telling aunty about my conversation with him? I could not identify. I dished his meal and laid them on the table then went back to the kitchen to wash the dishes. I wished I would not set my eyes on him before bed time, but it was compulsory for me to wait until he finished his meal; my aunt never liked dirty dishes to stay overnight.
Two weeks had passed, and our guests did not show any plan of leaving; it looked like they were going to live with us forever. Miebaka and I had not spoken since our last conversation on the first day and Aunt Engee had been busy going places with her new man; she was in her happiest mood, she stopped nagging and blaming me for anything, she even told me sorry whenever I made little mistakes, the kind she would have reacted to differently in the past.
I had just finished preparing the moi moi my aunt asked me to, went to the living room and switched on the TV to watch my favourite programme, I saw Miebaka walk towards the dining area, it was obvious he was very hungry. He went to the kitchen and came back to meet me, stood in front of the TV and placed his hands akimbo; I could not help but talk, I was missing out on the TV programme
Me: “Miebaka, please get a place to sit. I have missed half of this episode, I wouldn’t want to miss the rest”
Miebaka: “Finally she speaks to me. Well, I am very hungry and I know how rude it is to go and dish out the food myself so…”
Me: “Just go and dish. Please make sure you don’t break anything. I don’t want Aunty Engee’s wahala”
Miebaka: “I insist you dish the food, to be honest, I don’t even know what women do in the kitchen, I wouldn’t want to get you into trouble, you know” he said smiling
Like a loyal servant, I abandoned the TV and went to the kitchen to dish out food for him. Somehow, we got along and started talking about everything; I told him about Papa and Mama’s early demise. I told him how the government promised to sponsor my education but never did and how aunty put me in a free lesson in the barracks. I also told him many things I never thought I could tell anyone, as we spoke, I felt comfortable with him; I wanted to tell him everything. It felt great to have someone to talk to, someone who would laugh at my jokes and someone who would listen to my worries. We both sat on the kitchen floor and ate from the same plate.
After I told him everything I had been through in the hands of Aunt Engee, he held my hands and told me everything was going to be fine. He told me he would help me with chores as long as he was in that house with me, he also promised to take responsibility for any damage I made; he spoke like the sibling I never had. We finished eating the moi moi and
garri , washed the dishes and went to the living room. We joked about Aunty Engee’s walking steps and her English accent; he mimicked her and I stood there laughing because his legs looked just like hers.
There came a moment of silence, we both stared at each other for a while, then I decided to tell him how I felt
Me: “Thank you so much, Miebaka. Since I was born, I’ve never been able to have a normal conversation with anyone. My parents were too strict, my friends in school were my competition, and I learnt not to share secrets with my neighbour’s kids; Papa said it was not safe to discuss anything with them. Thanks for making me feel happiness within me today”
Miebaka: “You don’t have to thank me. I should be the one thanking you for forgiving me, I am so sorry about what I did to you the first day I saw you. I promise not to touch you again.” He said with honesty, then he moved closer to me and continued,
“You talked about losing your parents at an early age, you are lucky. That man I came here with is my dad, but we hardly get along. He never told me who my mother was; at least you were able to feel what it means to be loved by both parents. To be honest, I am nothing less than an orphan. My dad dumped me in Portharcourt with his siblings for almost a year; there, my cousins abused me, they forced me to have sex with their girlfriends, they said I was too dumb and wanted me to learn how to take care of women in bed. I got used to that kind of life. As I speak to you, it’s because of what I feel for you and the grace of God that I haven’t touched you. When I see a female, I start having the urge to sleep with her. I hate it, I hate that feeling but it is hard for me to control…” he broke down in tears
I looked at him with pity and thanked my God for my life; I thought my life was tragic, I did not know that there were people out there whose lives were worst. I had never been in a position to console someone, I did not know how to do it. I decided to change the topic, maybe it would make him feel better
Me: “Can I ask for something?” I said smiling
Miebaka: “What is it?” he asked, wiping his tears with his shirt
Me: “Have you played the Question game before? The girl at my lesson taught me last week” he stared at me confused “It’s simple, the first player asks a question and the second answers with all honesty, no matter how deep the question it…they just take turns answering questions honestly. You get?”
Miebaka: “Oh ok… you go first so I can understand the game better”
Me: “Ok, let me start with this, how old are you? “
Miebaka: “I am Seventeen. I was born in July 1985”
This shocked me, the boy was same height as me and he looked so skinny. I refused to show how surprised I was, we played the game until my aunt and his father returned from their outing. They came in with lots of gift items, and when I asked her if it was her birthday she ignored my question and asked me to accompany her to her bedroom.
Aunt Engee: “I tell Mr. David say one of your cousins dey marry for village, so in com take me go shopping for d trip. So no talk like say you nor nooooo. Ehen! You remember Oga Deji? That man wey buy you Christmas dress?” She held me by the arm, forcing me to remember
Aunt Engee: “How you dey take pass for lesson? You be correct mumu. Your brain dull pass akamu. You don forget Oga Deji, dat man wey buy you fiiine dress, wey carry you go talk for FM on Christmas day?”
Me: “Oh…oh…oh… I remember, Uncle Deji, what about him?”
Aunt Engee: “E don come back from Ghana. I wan go see am. I dey travel tomorrow” she announced
Me: “Where will I stay? How long will you be gone? Are you people going with Miebaka?” I asked sadly
Aunt Engee: “Which yeye pipo? Mr. David and in pikin go dey here, so you nor need worry. I don tell am wetin e go do when I nor dey. Ehen, help me go arrange my pikin clothes for box. We dey leave very early tomorrow.” She said, chewing her gum loudly, like a cheap prostitute.
To be continued!
Who is Oga Deji? How comfortable will Shiber be with Mr. David and her new friend, Miebaka when her aunt is away?