The heat was getting unbearable, beads of sweat rolled down from my face into my already soaked singlet. Ah! What was happening today? Market was really slow today, or people had suddenly stopped drinking water? ‘Herh pure water! Someone wants to buy water at the back. Are you deaf?’ the crippled lady beggar screamed at me. I returned back to my senses and sped towards the yellow trotro four cars away. ‘Give me water one cedi er I want it cold’ one woman ordered. Another man from the front also asked for water. Before I realized by basin was empty. I was finished for the day. I could finally go home. I got into a trotro and headed home.
‘Maa’ I called out when I got home. But there was no answer. I was not shocked, she was never home anyway. Ever since dad died not caring and drinking became her greatest companions. She stopped caring for my brother and me. She stopped fishmonging by the sea side and resorted to sleeping and drinking all day at home. When she got tired of sleeping all day, she started going out and coming back late. It was like she was avoiding us. Well, I started selling sachet water to support my brother and me. Our education could not end just because my mom stopped caring. I placed my basin and my school bag in the porch and went out unto the beach.
The smell of fish hit my nose as I got the busy seashore about a mile and half from my place. The fishermen were busy as usual, some were pulling nets out of the water and other were selling their catch. I scanned around the beach for her. Where could she be? We were supposed to meet here. ‘Ajeii!’ I cried out in pain as an old man stepped on my foot. That was when I heard someone laughing behind me. The laughter was annoyingly familiar. I turned around to see who it was but I immediately had my eyes covered by a pair of soft hands which smelled like the ocean. ‘Aku, I know it’s you’
‘Who says it is Aku?’ she said laughing
‘Your laughter has already given you away’ I removed her hands and pulled her in front of me. ‘You are late’ I said.
‘Nana, I know, let’s move to the quieter side of the beach before my aunt spots us.’ She pulled me away from the crowd to the rocky sides of the beach. ‘How was school?’ Aku asked while fidgeting with her hair in a shy manner. ‘It was boring’ I replied to make her feel better. ‘I still cannot understand why your aunty will not allow you to go to school’
‘She says I am better of selling fish with her on the beach and moreover I am too old to start Primary 6’ she added trying to fake a smile. Aku’s father had drowned in together with my father on that dreadful day. Her mother did during child birth, her child birth. We were enjoying each other’s company when a large and grotesque lady appeared by the rocks. ‘Aku! If you do not leave that good for nothing boy and get here er you’ll see what will befall you’ Aku’s aunty screamed on top of her voice in anger as she pelted us. I said my goodbye to Aku and ran home.
I immediately came to a stop when I saw two black cars parked in front of my house. Papa Yaw, my little brother was sitting in the sand by the house. I rushed to him with curiosity pumping through my veins and asked him what was happening. ‘Maa sent me out of the house’ Papa replied. I had to hear what was going on. I tiptoed to the door leading the sitting room, carefully positioned myself and started eavesdropping.
‘I would love it if they could come with us today’ a male voice said.
‘Oh that would not be problem’ my mother said sounding too enthusiastic. I did not understand what was going on. Was my mother selling us? I could not believe my ears. I barged into the room to confront my mother. ‘Nana, you’re back, come and meet your uncle Francis’ my mother said with same enthusiasm. Uncle? I turned my head to the man sitting on my left.
‘Hello’ he said. He fair light skinned like my brother and me, he was tall I could see from his longs legs even though he was sitting and he had an unnerving resemblance to my late father. I responded and turned to my mother. I stared at my mother earnestly yearning for an explanation but my mother’s eyes never met mine not even once. ‘Nana, you and your brother will be going to your uncle’s house to live with him’ my mother explained. ‘But maa…’ I started and trailed off. My hand reflexively run through my hair as they always did when I am thinking. This was an opportunity for my brother and I to get a chance at a better life, the life my father always wanted for us, refusing would be just foolish.
‘Nana, say something please’ my mother pleaded. ‘This would be a chance for you and your brother to have shot at better life’
‘We will go’ I replied with a straight face. ‘When are we leaving?’
‘Today if that’s okay with you?’ my uncle replied. ‘I know you have goodbyes and all to say…’
‘No’ I cut him off. ‘We can go today, I will go and get my brother.’ I walked out of house to inform my brother about our recent development. He just shrugged when I told him. He really did not seem to bother. My brother went inside to meet my uncle and we moved to the bedroom to pack our belongings afterwards. In about thirty minutes we were done. We placed our bags in the trunk of the black land cruiser. My brother and I walked up to our mother to say goodbye. ‘Will you be alright?’ I asked my mother. ‘Y-yes I will’ she said with tears rolling uncontrollably down her face. ‘I’ll miss you boys.’ She hugged me tightly soaking my shoulder with her tears. I was taken aback by the hug. A sudden rush of emotion washed over me. I thought my mother has stopped caring. I hugged her backed and whispered in her ear, ‘I love you mum’
‘I love you too.’ She then hugged my brother still crying uncontrollably. We entered the back of one of the black cars with brother, my uncle entered the other and we drove off, drove off to a new life not know what to expect.
By: L. Blackrose