They say it is Ngozi, Mary’s friend that taught her the business of “sleeping around” to collect people’s money. I don’t know the kind of job that thing is, but the way people’s nose use to squeeze when they are saying it, it is like it is a bad thing. And since Pastor even says that people who do it will burn forever, it must be badder than bad.
I want Mary to stop the thing she is doing, just like I sometimes want mama not to be giving all our money and food to Pastor so that we can eat better food and wear better clothes, but…what can I do? Who will hear me? Everybody is always busy doing what they think big people must do every time, even though to me, sometimes, it is something that a goat or sheep will do—animals that don’t have sense.
So…my elder sister’s friend is a lele, and as like everything around my life that is always confusing my head, I don’t know what to do about it.
It is Aisha that taught me this word for the “girl and girl” pastor is always talking about—lele.
Pastor says lele people will go to hell, but I don’t want them to go to hell.
If Ngozi teaches Mary how to lele, just like they say she taught her how to sleep around for money, she will become a lele too, and that means she will go to hell. And, because two of us are sleeping on the same bed, she can try to lele me if the thing sweets her and it is night; I will not be able to slap her to leave me alone, and then I will have to go to hell too.
But I want to ask Pastor why he thinks the leles have to be killed on earth and burned in hell.
I want to ask him why he thinks people like mama must come for prayers and not people like papa.
I want to ask him why he never came one day to tell papa to stop making blood come out from mama.
I want to ask him if he had ever asked mama about Mary and me and how we were coping with having little money and still bringing things every week to come and take prayers.
I want to tell Pastor that if it was only his wife remaining in the world, mama would have died because we are not rich people that can give her something after helping mama to the hospital.
I want to tell Pastor that it is Aisha’s father—one of the people he always says are not like us in the church and so are not good—that saved mama’s life when his wife closed the door at my face, my face that was showing tiredness from running all the way to get help.
I want to ask him why the devil he is flogging out of people’s bodies have to be flogged out every week with bags of rice, beans and oil…why doesn’t the devil even die,sef?
Pastor talks like he knows everything, so I want him to answer these things for me so that my head can stop paining me with all the things in them that have question mark.
I am tired of all the kinds of things the big-big people say and do. Plenty of them are stupid, too stupid that I tell Aisha, sometimes, that I want to remain a child with her forever.
Growing…it’s like it changes people too much—it has changed Mary; I don’t see her at home too much again because she is always looking for money so we will go to school; for mama, it has made her very small, too small that all that is in her head is papa and Pastor and the market. I now almost understand why Mary said that she wants to slap mama sometimes so she will have sense, so she can be free and play and laugh and be happy like Aisha and me.
If growing up makes somebody collect food from poor people, and their money too, and keep them under the sun just to come and take flogging, then I want to remain konkolo forever.
I don’t want to be big like papa and be drinking too much of things and be coming back home in the night and be beating somebody because of food and because there is no child that is a boy. If being big means that people have to be killing themselves because somebody is a girl and not a boy, then I don’t want to be stupid like that.
I don’t want to be stupid. I don’t want to have to kill people because of who they are and who the other person is.
I want to remain small so that I can keep having people like Aisha as my friend, somebody I can think with, laugh with and talk with though we are not “the same” according to the grown people.
So…Ngozi can continue being a lele if that is how she wants to be, but she should not force it on Mary—that one is the stupidity. It is what somebody wants that somebody will take. Nobody should force anybody to be anything because they don’t like what they are.
It is sweeting me to be small—to be able to be far from all these things these big people are doing; to not understand why they are wicked to the other person; why they behave how they like to the other person; and, why they feel better than the other person because that other person is not like them. The way they behave is so sad, so it is good to not see it in the big way they see it. I think that seeing it the way they are seeing it will soon make me too start behaving like it.
I still don’t understand many of the things Pastor says and does, or if being a lele is actually good or bad, or where the blood from mama’s wrapper came from, or why they will sack papa from his job the way they did, or why he will beat mama like that every time, or why Mary is doing something that is making people squeeze their nose when they are saying it, or who owns the babies she said papa killed…I do not know all these things, but I am happy that I don’t have to understand the world the way they understand it, the annoying way they understand it.
I am okay with the small-smallthings that concern Aisha and I. They allow us to be truly happy.
Pastor’s wife has killed Pastor.
Mary says it is because she has finally known what makes women to be sweating and their wrapper to be shifted when they are coming out of her husband’s office.
Pastor’s wife is almost running mad because of the thing Mary says she has known. I don’t know if I will go to hell for it, but I am somehow happy.
Mama has no church to go to again. These days, she is even sick so she usually stays in the house. Mary says her body is breaking down. I don’t understand what it means, but at least there is no vomit to clean in this one.
Mary did not turn into a lele after all; in fact, she and Ngozi are fighting because of one boy like that—another sign of the stupidity I am talking about.
Aisha and I still love each other like sisters, and we always try to be nice to each other even when we quarrel.
These days, I don’t think of papa, but I when I see fire, I believe he is burning in it. Sometimes I see Pastor inside too, and in my mind, they are beating each other there.
Whenever I pass by Pastor’s church, it is very empty, and bushes are growing around. I usually wonder if the errand boy will find a way to share back the rice, beans, money, and whatever else all those poor people had given Pastor to receive flogging. I still wonder about the yellowgirl-boy, and the fat woman and her children. I wonder if they will still be looking for another Pastor to take their things and pray for them now that this one is dead.
I wonder so many things, but I am happy to be small, and like Mary advised me, I am enjoying it while it lasts. When bigness comes, I will have to start bothering about how a boy is different from a girl, and how this person has power over this person, and how girls like Mary have to “sleep around” so we can go to school. I will even have to know what “sleeping around” and all the other big-big grammar that give me headaches mean.
For now, my mind is small, and I am free, and I am happy.