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    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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THE CALL OF THE SONGBIRD (Part 1) – A Valentine Special

February 14, 1989

The six-year-old boy stared sullenly from under the orange tree at the neighbours who lived on the other side of the twin duplex. The wall separating both houses was low and he could see the bright red Toyota that was owned by that man who usually came to pick Aunty Rebecca in the evenings. The man himself was seated on the bonnet of the car, watching with an indulgent smile as Rebecca, the eldest daughter of the Okoyes, tried to console her youngest sister, Chinwe. The six-year-old girl’s light-skinned face was flushed with the exertion of her bawling, the tears had given her cheeks a shiny sheen in the fading sunlight.

The boy grimaced. He didn’t like Chinwe. She was such a crybaby, and her wails could always be heard through the thin walls of their houses. The other day, he had picked out a dead frog from a cluster of bushes nearby and waved it in her face, and she had screamed so much her mother had had to come see his mother to ask her to caution him. What had he done? It was a dead frog, ah-ah! And last week, the ball he kicked over the wall into the neighbours’ compound had hit her and she’d cried a lot harder. Was it his fault that she didn’t get out of the way fast enough? He sighed wrathfully at the memory. He really didn’t like Chinwe.

His eyes narrowed when he saw Rebecca bring out a small packet of Nasco biscuit from her bag and hand it to her sister. Chinwe’s crying dwindled to a stop, the tears vanished and she gave her big sister a dewy smile.

“Be a good girl, you hear?” Rebecca’s voice sang out, before she turned around and sauntered over to the man waiting for her. They linked hands briefly, got into the car and soon, the Toyota was backing out of the compound and moving down the street, the gleam of its bright red colour winking in the evening light.

But the six-year-old boy hadn’t noticed them go. He was watching Chinwe avidly as she slid a small chocolatey bar of biscuit into her mouth, her small lips pursed as she chewed. The boy’s stomach grumbled. Lunch seemed like eons ago and he loved biscuits. Speedy, Nasco, Digestive, Cabin biscuit – you name it. He stood from his squat under the orange tree and ambled over to the small gate affixed to the fence separating the two compounds. The gate creaked as he opened it and Chinwe’s head snapped around to face him.

“Ah-boy, what do you want?” she said surlily at him. It would seem that Chinwe didn’t like him very much either.

“Give me biscuit,” he said demandingly, stretching out his chubby hand.

Hauteur tightened the girl’s features. “Say please.” She shifted the biscuit-holding hand a fraction to the left, away from the boy.

He was outraged. “What!”

“Say please. You want my biscuit, say please.”

“I will not say please to you.” The mere thought made his insides curdle with horror.

“Then I won’t give you biscuit.” And to buttress what his obstinacy was costing him, she slid out another bar and oh-so-slowly slipped it into her mouth, crunching down noisily on it as she chewed.

The boy was infuriated. Imagine this girl! Who does she think she is? His hand shot out and snatched the packet from her hand.

“Give me my biscuit!” Chinwe roared, her eyes goggling with a mixture of rage and anxiety.

“No!” Defiantly, he tipped the packet over and shook out three bars into his open palm, and threw the entire bunch into his mouth. His cheeks instantly bulged as he chewed, and he watched smugly as a gamut of emotions that marked her distress played out on Chinwe’s face. The face crumpled and her eyes narrowed, even as they glistened with tears, globules that spilled over down her cheeks as she took a deep breath, opened her mouth and let loose a loud wail. The boy remorselessly stuck out his tongue at her, and that prompted her crying to climb up several more decibels. In between her loud sobs, she spluttered, “You ate my biscuit…! You ate my biscuit…!”

Oya, sorry now!” He tried to hand the packet back to her but she knocked his hand away and lifted a knuckle to her face to grind it against her overflowing eyes.

“You ate my biscuit…!” she sobbed louder. The sound of her crying rent the air with a startling loudness.

The boy was now nervous and his heart plummeted when a voice barked caustically from inside. “Chinwendu, onye na-eme gi? Why won’t you let us rest in this house with this your cry-cry?” The voice preceded the presence of Chinwe’s mother – a heavyset woman with a facsimile of Chinwe’s soft, light-skinned features. And the person who followed behind her made the boy’s stomach clench with fear. She was tall and dark-skinned with a face that was hewn in formidable lines. A face that instilled the fear of God in its beholder. His mother’s face. The sight of the two children brought Chinwe’s mother up short and her eyes narrowed on the boy. “Ah-boy, what did you do to Chinwe?”

“Nothing!” he blurted out, his eyes on his mother as she came to stand beside the other woman.

“Isselai!” Chinwe interjected, her woebegone voice cracked by her sobs. “He ate my biscuit!” She pointed a finger at the damning evidence still in his hand. “He ate my biscuit!” And she moved to her mother’s side and buried her face in her thighs, muffling her sobs.

“It’s alright, Chichi…” her mother soothed and patted her gently on the back.

The boy was watching his mother warily. Her mouth was pursed and her brow furrowed.

Ihuna?” Chinwe’s mother said then. “See what I was telling you earlier on?” A small smile hovered on her lips as though she was mentally recounting a joke. “I told you this, Eliza, didn’t I?”

“Indeed you did,” his mother replied in a light tone.

Told her what? The boy gaped uncomprehendingly at both women in turns. Chinwe had stopped crying and was also staring up at her mother, as though wondering why fire and brimstone was not already getting rained down on him. He was wondering the same thing too.

His mother barked then, “Adindu, give Chinwendu back her biscuit and let us go home. I’ll deal with you later.” She said a brief goodbye to her friend and walked behind her son towards the small gate.

Despite the dread he felt, Adindu couldn’t let go of his curiosity. As he pushed the gate open, he chanced a look up at his mother’s face. She didn’t look so angry. So he ventured, “Mummy…”

“Mm-hmm?” She followed him inside their compound and shut the gate behind her.

“What did Chinwe’s mummy tell you?”

His mother’s mouth twitched as she looked down at him. “She said you like to look for Chinwe’s trouble because of one reason.”

“What reason?”

“Because you like her.” The instant disgust that suffused his face made his mother throw her head back in laughter, before she added, “She also said that maybe, when you two grow up, if you don’t marry anyone else before the right time, you could marry each other.”

TO BE CONTINUEDbdgdgh

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6 Comments

  1. Awwww to be continued again? Abi?

    Reply
  2. Doris

     /  February 13, 2013

    Beta finish ds 1 fast fast

    Reply
  3. Lmao…this is crazy!!!

    Reply

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