Welcome to the short story series today we are featuring a New Writer By the pen name DAVID DRAMA,
“That child is a mistake!” Yinka blurted out, pacing about her living room in her red Kaftan gown. “I almost regret the day I birthed such a thing.”
“Yinka!” Chioma called, leaning forward on the sofa on which she sat, right opposite the one her close friend sat. “I want to believe this is the anger in you speaking. But how can you say such negative words about your own child?”
“It’s like you didn’t hear me right, Chioma!” Yinka retorted shaking her head. “You know what that little witch did and you still choose to defend her,”
“And may I remind you that “little witch” is your only child?” Chioma fired back.
“Rubbish!” Yinka scoffed. “You only say that because you don’t have a child of your own.” As soon as the words escaped her lips, Yinka immediately realized her fatal error. She gasped out and raised a hand to her lips. “Oh no!” Chioma Okoye had always compartmentalized her emotions when necessary, most especially when it meant being friends with a personality such as Yinka’s. But this Friday evening, Yinka Ojo really did push it. “Chioma…” Yinka called.
“Don’t bother. You’ve said more than enough,” Chioma said reaching for her brown Chanel bag on a nearby stool. “You know what? I’ll just go back to my childless home, but at least, there’s still some tranquility over there with my husband,”
“Chioma, but you of all people should understand my temper,” Yinka tried to make reason but Chioma simply eyed her.
“Indeed,” she scoffed. “I’m so done with you, Yinka.” Then she stormed out of the large living room.
“Mary! Please, come and lock the door behind me.”
The fidgety housemaid appeared from nowhere and hurried after her employer’s visitor.
Still stunned, Yinka watched as her closest and oldest friend left. Despite her anger issues, Yinka knew Chioma was the only one whom had put up with her all these years.
“Chioma! Please, wait!” Then the door slammed shut.
A clapping sound was heard and then Yinka turned to see the male figure slowly stride into the living room. Ladi was her twenty-three year-old youngest sibling, whom had been living with her family for the past couple of months since his Youth Service in Ogun State. Yinka eyed him.
“Well done, big sis,” he called. “You’ve successfully chased away another person,”
“Will you shut your mouth there?” Yinka snapped at him. “This is none of your business!”
“Okay,” he muttered before stepping closer. “Anyways, I knocked on Bimbo’s door but she wasn’t answering. It’s unlike her. I could hear her still crying in there,”
“She had better remain in there if she knows what is good for her,” Yinka replied. “God knows I don’t want to see her face for a long time. That child is disgrace,”
“Go easy on her, please,” Ladi urged. “I’m sure she’s already hard on herself already; not to mention that heavy brutality you dealt her. Come on! You made her bleed,”
“And I would have beaten her some more if you and Chioma hadn’t gotten in my way,” Yinka said with such vehemence.
“And you just might have killed her,” Ladi said shaking his head. “Your own child!”
“Better I have no child at all!” Yinka spat out. Just then, the door closed shut and Mary, the maid stepped passed and straight for the kitchen, and both kept silent. Then Yinka sighed and shook her head.
“You know what? I can’t wait for Tunji to return from his trip, so I can tell him what his precious daughter has finally become.”
Ladi simply stared at his eldest sister in disbelief.
“She’s just ten, sister Yinka,” he stated. “Don’t you think she’s been punished enough?”
“Really, Ladi?” Yinka called placing both arms akimbo. “Have you sat and wondered what this would do to my very own reputation? Me? Yinka Ojo! I can already imagine those women at the Country club talking about me already,”
“No offence, sister,” Ladi said with a raised brow. “But no one gives a damn about you right now. You really can’t compare yourself to the humiliation the poor girl went through.” Yinka’s face was turning red in fury now, and then Ladi instantly raised a hand. “Look, sister, I’m not justifying what she did. As her mother, you have every right to discipline her, but what that barbaric excuse of a human being did to her was way too much.”
At that, Yinka crossed her arms and looked away.
SEVERAL HOURS EARLIER…….
Bimbo Ojo stared at her own two feet as she was led out to the school’s assembly ground. The gasps and giggles from the pupils grew louder now as she approached where he stood – Mr. Otulaga, the school’s Headmaster, stood tall, with his long fat came in hand. Then he motioned her to stop and face the crowd. But Bimbo’s eyes remained fixated on the ground as she trembled allover.
“I said face the entire school!”
Bimbo knew better not to incur this man’s wrath any further, and then she raised her head slowly. It was the most difficult thing she would ever do. There was utter silence now as Mr. Otulaga stepped forward, swinging his fat cane. He wore a frown that would terrify death itself. He took a deep breath. “I derive no pleasure in disrupting your academics, but I very much believe you all are certain why this… degenerate stands right here before you this very afternoon,” he said. No doubt, they were much aware – for Mr. Otulaga to have stripped a pupil down to nothing but your underwear, and then have the huge snail shells sown together, and hanging from your neck.
Mr. Otulaga maintained his straight gaze upon the crowd “This institution has always upheld a zero-tolerance policy against stealing, but Bimbo Ojo, as she shamefully stands before you, took it all upon herself to steal her classmate’s wristwatch from his school bag.”
The murmurs were heard now. “Silence!” The Headmaster declared. “What are we raising in this school? Future leaders, or bandits? Answer me!”
“FUTURE LEADERS!” Every pupil chorused at once. Then Mr. Otulaga glared down at the much abashed Bimbo.
“This is how children of her calibre wind up on the T.V show, Crime Fighters.” He said and giggles were heard. “No doubt, this recalcitrant here, will, and must face the music.” Bimbo’s face was strewn with tears now. She knew what was coming to her. There had never been a better time for the ground to open up. Mr. Otulaga raised his cane. “Dance of shame!” He declared.
“DANCE OF SHAME!” The crowd replied. Then Mr. Otulaga swung the fat cane at Bimbo’s thin legs, and she yelped in pain as she jumped. “Dance!” He called out. “Dance your dance of shame!” Then he faced the pupils. “Sing for her!” And who were you not to sing and clap when Mr. Otulaga ordered it? Many of the pupils began clapping and singing as they watched their Headmaster strike at Bimbo’s bare skin.
“Ole! Ajibole! Ole! Ajibole!” They chorused in the Yoruba language. This was the occasional chant for any theft offender.
Some of the teachers silently shook their heads in disapproval, but who could dare stand up to Mr. Otulaga? He kept flogging at Bimbo’s bare skin, and the more she was forced to dance, the more the snail shells on her body jingled as they knocked against the other.
“Move your body!” Mr. Otulaga called. “Sing louder! Sing for the thief!”
“OLE! AJIBOLE! OLE AJIBOLE!”
The chant was deafening now and Bimbo had no choice but to dance to avoid further pain from that fat rod. She wept harder now, but not from this wicked man’s heavy stick. But what could be more excruciating than such public humiliation?
Bimbo kept dancing.
Yinka sat back and shrugged.
“You’re right, perhaps,” she said. “Maybe, he took it a bit too far. But that’s just Mr. Otulaga’s way of exerting discipline. And by the way, Bimbo knew the consequences of her actions before she got into this mess. Tunji and I have always ensured she lacked nothing, so what would compel her to steal a watch from that boy’s school bag?”
“Maybe, you should ask her that yourself,” Ladi suggested with a raised brow and she instantly frowned.
“Don’t play with me, Ladi,” she warned.
“Sister Yinka,” Ladi called. “That barbaric man should be stoned to death for what he did. In fact, what backwater upbringing did he have? Who on earth put him in charge of a school? He’s running a Primary school for crying out loud, not a correctional facility. Has anyone thought about the mental repercussions this could have on those kids? On Bimbo? He literally treated her like an armed robber. He could as well have heaped tires on her neck and set her ablaze. I’m surprised nobody has taken this up,”
“Ehen!” Yinka let out, eyeing him. “Stand there and keep spewing all that grammar from your mouth. Well, if it stings you that bad, why not take it up? Listen, Ladi, I never stole from our parents, nor anyone else while growing up. So, I see no reason why my own child should,”
“But you did worse things,” Ladi retorted with a grin. “Because you never stole doesn’t make you a saint, Sister Yinka,”
“Watch it, Ladi!” Yinka snapped pointing up at him with her nostrils flaring open. “I’m not your age mate. You stand there and talk like it’s easy to raise a child.”
“Your child made a mistake, and I’m not denying that,” Ladi earnestly said pressing both hands together. “But what…. “
“Thank you, Steve Harvey! Or is it Doctor Phil?” Yinka interjected in sarcasm, eyeing him. “In fact, Ladi, don’t you have an article to finish writing? You know what? Just leave me be, please.”
Shaking his head, Ladi quietly turned and then strode off towards the stairs while Yinka reclined on the chair, crossed her legs and hissed. “When you have children of your own, you will know if it’s easy. Rubbish!” Then she grabbed for the television remote on a nearby black stool.
The goosebumps suddenly developed as Mary scratched her unplaited hair in all nervousness. For what could be worse than her employer’s questioning glare.
“What do you mean she locked herself in her room?” Yinka demanded with both arms akimbo. “Since when did that child begin to lock her room, Mary?”
“Ah! Madam!” Mary called all fidgety. “She did not answered me when I called her to eat last night.” But Yinka suddenly frowned at her maid’s blunder with the English language. Yinka’s face instantly turned dark.
“Answer!” She snapped. “She didn’t answer! It’s not enough you have a job, and then I pay for your education atop that. Am I wasting my money, or what?”
“No, ma! Sorry, ma,” Mary immediately courtesied. “She did not answer me.” She corrected herself.
“Better,” Yinka replied with a nod. Nineteen year-old Mary had lived with the Ojo’s for over four years now, and had literally become family. Yinka wad impressed with her meticulousness with her job and would not let Mary leave. Good help was hard to find these days.
Mary took a step closer to her boss.
“Madam, even Brother Ladi knocked this morning, but she did not answer,”
“Is that so?” Yinka let out cocking her head backwards, and then she paved about, inspecting the kitchen in the process. “Does that brat think she’s punishing me by not eating? Listen to me, Mary! I want you to you go up there now and tell that thing to get herself down here and do her morning chores right now. Tell her before I come and break that door down myself.” Then she stormed out of the kitchen, but Mary hurried after her.
“Madam!” She called all frantic as they stepped into the living room. “Please, take it easy with Bimbo. She’s a small child.” At that, Yinka spun and faced her maid.
“Not you too, Mary!” She called shaking her head. “Please just go and do what I asked, okay?”
The front door was heard closing shut and Ladi walked in. His skin and sportswear drenched in sweat. He had just returned from his morning jog. He paused upon sighting the frown on his older sister’s face.
“What going on now?” He asked as he took his earphones off. The great Barry White was on.
“Your dear niece now feels too big to come down and do her chores,” Yinka said. “Mary just told me her door has been locked since yesterday. Does she think she’s punishing me? That rat doesn’t know who she’s dealing with. I don’t blame her. I blame her father for spoiling her too…..”
“Mary!” Ladi instantly faced the maid. “You mean she’s still in there,”
“Yes, sir,” Mary replied, avoiding eye-contact with Yinka. Then Ladi glanced at his watch.
“This has gone on for too long,” he muttered to himself. “It’s not funny anymore,”
“Hello?” Yinka snapped with her eyes bulging. “Are you even listening to anything I’m saying? This is my house… “
“Mary! Are there any spare keys in this house?” The maid instantly nodded.
“In the kitchen drawer, sir,” she frantically nodded.
“Good!” Ladi called. “Get them and meet me upstairs now!”
“Ladi, how dare you disrespect me in my own home?” Yinka snapped with her fists clenched. “Don’t you dare think you’re too old to be slapped.” But Ladi ignored her and then hurried towards the staircase, while Mary rushed into the kitchen.
Getting up to the door, Ladi knocked hard, calling out his niece’s name, but no reply. Then Mary came running with the key, and Ladi let her unlock the door. “That girl had better have a good reason why that door has been locked.” Yinka’s voice came sounding as she stormed towards them down the hallway. “God knows I will deal with….
“Just shut the hell up, Yinka Ojo!” Ladi suddenly snapped. “This life isn’t always about you!” Never had he uttered such at his sister, but even Yinka got stunned. But as their eyes met, both knew she had really asked for it. Even Mary was close to losing it with her “Madam” but the young maid knew where her daily bread came from. “Bimbo?” Ladi called stepping into the room. It was empty. The pink sheets neatly dorned the bed, like they had not been slept on. “She’s not here,” Ladi said facing Mary.
“Did she run away?” She asked perplexed.
“But the door was locked,” Ladi replied approaching the bedside table while Mary went to the bathroom door. The piece of paper beneath the English Language textbook caught Ladi’s eyes and he picked it. But Yinka paced about the room frowning. She would not allow herself to worry. But Ladi faced her now, raising the paper to her view. Boldly inscribed in black marker were the words : “I AM SORRY.”
Yinka paused and then shook her head at her brother.
“Where is she?” She muttered. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“BLOOD OF JESUS!”
The scream startled them both and they saw the horror on Mary’s face at the bathroom doorway, before she slumped and passed out.
“Mary!” It was Yinka’s turn to call out but Ladi was already rushing for the bathroom. He entered and that was when he froze. Then there was a sharp scream behind him. It was Yinka, and her scream was much louder than Mary’s.
Sprawled on the bathroom floor was the ten year-old Bimbo Ojo, with the empty bottle of Methylated Spirit right beside her. Her eyes stared right up at the ceiling, but both adults knew without a doubt they stared at nothing. “BIMBO!” Yinka shouted, pushing passed her brother. “Bimbo, wake up! Bimbo!” She shook her daughter’s body violently while Ladi picked the bottle and stared at it with trembling hands. He tried hard to compartmentalize his emotions as best as he could. Yinka’s face was a waterfall of tears now. “Ladi, call an ambulance! Call for help!” But Ladi already knew his niece was long gone just by looking, and something told him Yinka knew that as well. She was wailing now as she clung to her only child’s lifeless body. “Bimbo, please wake up! I forgive you, okay? I forgive you! I’m not angry with you anymore! My God! Bimbo, I’m so sorry! Please, forgive me!” Then she looked up at Ladi. “Ladi! How can she do this to me? What am I going to tell her father? My baby! Aah! I’m finished!” But Ladi replied her with the most hateful glare.
As much as he resented his sister right now, Ladi hated himself the more for not taking action sooner. He shook his head and simply stormed out of the bathroom before his tears could be spotted. He avoided stepping on Mary’s unconscious form on the floor.
Woebegone, Yinka cried harder, wondering what she would tell her husband upon his return from his business trip; and Tunji doted over his only baby girl. Pity a second child had failed to come since Bimbo. Yinka desperately shook her daughter’s body again. No doubt, she wanted to die too.
Author: David Drama