Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Birth (infancy) (08/20/09)
By Bukola Jimoh
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“Stupid boy! Go out and call somebody!” Mama yelled at me, breathing very hard and sweating profusely. I jolted up and starred at her, confused.
“Get out!” she screamed.
I dashed out into the rain. I ran as fast as I could till I reached Mama Joseph’s compound. She was fetching water in the rain. Everybody was. I had forgotten to put buckets outside for water was so scarce in our village. The river was dirty. They said it was the work of some white people that came to take oil. They said this white people gave us water but some people took everything away. So the rain was our only good source. Even our farm was useless because there was oil every where. This oil...
It was the same oil that burnt papa to death. How I miss papa. If he were here, he would have helped mama. It was because he wanted to provide for us that the oil killed him. He heard there was plenty oil pouring from the white people’s truck. The truck had had an accident. So papa went with many buckets. They said there was plenty money in the oil. But papa could not bring the money home because the fuel caught fire. Many many people died. Taiye and Kehinde, my twin friends too died in the fire. I hate the oil. I hate the oil. I hate it. I pray that God will take away the oil. It is a curse.
I saw Mama Joseph waddle into her house with a big bowl of water and I ran towards her. I had to shout for her to hear me because the rain drummed in our ears. She left her bowl and followed me but I ran ahead of her. The rain increased as if it was following me home, too. As I entered the room, I saw mama, her eyes going inside showing only the white part. There was plenty blood on the ground and I saw the baby crying between her laps.
“Mama!” I shook her. She didn’t respond.
Mama Joseph joined me immediately and slapped mama in the face. She didn’t answer. Then I began to cry. Maybe I had missed rapture and my little brother and Mama Joseph, too. I shook mama again.
“Leave her alone”, Mama Joseph chided me. “Go and put water on fire”.
I stood up reluctantly, looking at mama. When I returned, she had laid mama well on the ground and covered her with a wrapper. I stood and watched while Mama Joseph cleaned my little brother.
“It’s a girl”, she said to me. I felt disappointed. i wanted a brother. Then, wiping the tears on her face, she told me to sit down.
“Mama has gone to another world, you hear? I believe it is a better place.” My heart began to beat very fast.
“Is it heaven?” I asked.
“I believe so, my dear”.
“So we didn’t make heaven?” I asked her.
“No. I mean mama is dead.” Then the room began to fold up in my face. The ground first, then the walls. For me, it was the end of the world.
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