What A Child Sees Sitting…
My elder sister’s friend is a “lele”.
I know that she is a lele, but I cannot tell my sister. I cannot tell her because she will tell me what she always tell me—that I am just 10 and so I do not know anything. But I think I know plenty things, because I see plenty things just like the big-big people also see. It is as if in this place we come from, to be small means you cannot see, or you cannot hear, or you are just one olodo ,kukuma, that God just threw at two people who were disturbing his ears with prayers of pikin.In this place ehn, if you are small, forget it…you are not even alive yet to people.
So I have known that the Ngozi girl is a lele for a long time now. How did I even get to know sef? Ehen, I remember now. It is that day that I saw her and one other senior in our school, chooking hand inside each other’s pant in that our school’s smelling toilet. When I saw it, I just jejeli did as if my eyes were blind, and I tiptoed back.
Since I am just 10, and Ngozi is a senior, I have not been able to tell anybody what I saw with my two koro-koro eyes that day. But no matter how I try to forget about it, it is disturbing my brain as if the thing wants to jump out of my head and come outside from my mouth.
It is doing me like that because when I am sleeping, I am imagining that one day, Ngozi will teach my sister how to lele, and then when my sister now knows very well, she will now lele me too in the night on our small bed.
If she starts to lele me, I will not be able to tell her that I don’t want to be leled, that I don’t want to become a lele… I will not be able to tell her because mama says we should always respect our elders so that God will not strike our anus till we die.
Mama use to say that if we respect somebody, we will not tell the person ‘no’ when the person is telling us something. But since I cannot say “no” if my elder sister starts to chook her hand inside my clothes in the night, the best option would be to tell mama from now that my sister will soon learn the art of leleing from her friend, abi? But that one is danger!
Our mother is a churchy-churchy woman. I remember those times that she will tie her head, and tie the head of two of us, till we cannot hear word well again because she has tied even our ears join, then drag us to her church. Her church is all those olden days, boring people church that like calling “fire”; they will call fire from beginning to the end of the service till small children like me will start crying because the whole place and people will start shaking as if God true-true will throw down the fire from heaven and it will land on our heads and burn all our hair.
In church, it is mama’s “fire-calling” that use to be the loudest. She will call and call and call until she starts to sweat and the cheap white powder she rubbed on her face will start falling off like small-small white rivers. And then when the fat Pastor that is always shouting with his big belly says: “bring out your cane and ‘pieces’ the devil”, mama will be very happy. She will lose the rope she used to tie our 6 fat canes together, and take two, and then give my sister and me two-two too.
Then we will flog and flog the devil till sometimes I imagine something wearing black, crying, and then I will stop flogging because I use to pity somebody quickly. I don’t want the devil to die from my flogging, though mama always says the devil is a bad devil and needs to die. One time that I asked mama how she knows that the devil is a bad devil, she told me it is the devil that is making everything that is worrying us to worry us, and so we should always flog “it” with all the anger and pain in us.
From that day, I am always flogging with all my small strength, but still, I do not flog too hard so that it is not my cane that will kill the devil, because I don’t want to be dreaming bad dreams. In all those films we use to watch in the night, when somebody kills somebody, that somebody cannot sleep in the night because that somebody that the person killed will be appearing to him everywhere and every time.
I don’t want that type of thing to happen to me, because I know that if I start to fear-fear, and I tell mama or my sister that something is pursuing me in the dream, they will not listen to me. They will shout on me that I am behaving like a child…that I should stop behaving like a child, as if before, it is an animal that I am.
Mama doesn’t hear word, especially if it is not word that concerns going to church or flogging the devil, or calling fire on somebody that is looking for her trouble. Every time, she is reading bible, but she is not reading the whole bible oh; she is only reading the book of Psalms because David that Pastor says wrote the book is like mama—he too likes God to be punishing his enemies, and so his prayers are like mama’s own: “God, kill them”, “God slaughter them”, “God, let them choke and die”.
Sometimes, I wonder if God is like all those killy-killy people in the films we use to watch that use to wear black and hand gloves and go and kill people for money. If God is not like those people killing for money, then why does mama always disturb his peace with her fight-fight prayers? Or can’t God even appear to her one day and tell her to stop telling Him to kill people? I just do not understandabeg. And of course, nobody will tell a child anything. You cannot even ask anything sef.You should just always keep quiet and be looking likemumu because you are small.
So that is why I cannot tell mama that my sister—her daughter—will soon start dreaming about girls in the night. She will soon start to think about sucking their breasts and chooking hand inside their smelling pant like I saw senior Ngozi doing that day in the toilet. My sister kukuma will not listen because she thinks she now knows everything because all those thin boys like suffering iroko tree are giving her money to make big-big hair. Even mama cannot talk to her again these days. She will be doing like something is shaking in her brain when you try to tell her that she is doing something that is wrong.
Mummy says it is her age; that when a girl or boy starts to be big like that, they will be facing problems that they cannot understand or tell anybody, and so the thing will be making them to be stubborn and be doing bighead-bighead. This one that mummy is using to explain why my elder sister is behaving like a deaf person does not concern me oh, all I know is that somebody that does not hear word is equal to a goat, that kind that our neighbour has—the one that she will pursue from her yams but will still keep coming back to eat them with its black eyes that will be looking at somebody as if it is laughing at the person.
If what mama is saying is that we have to live with my sister not hearing word, then that means she will surely become a lele soon, the kind that cannot be helped ever again. This is because when we, human beings, start something, and the thing is sweeting us, it becomes very hard to stop. I know because that is what happened, abi what is happening to mummy and my sister. The things they are doing did not start today. It just started one day, and from that one day, it has become something that is happening every time-every time now. I don’t know the day they started those things, and I don’t know the day they will end, and I cannot go and tell them to stop what they are doing—I am just 10 years old.
There might never be anybody to hear these things, the plenty things in my mind, so let me just kukuma say them so that they will not stay inside my heart and make it dirty and black. Let us start with my sister’s own, then later, mama’s own; on the road, the two might mix together sha.
To be continued.