I heard my name the third time. Alabi! It seemed like a roar, like somehow, the sound of an angry lion had formed my name. Three syllables. A-Laaa-Biiiii.
The first time, it had seemed like I was dead and Jesus was calling me, I being some sort of Lazarus, to come forth. I had wanted to stand up but the morning breeze had sent me into a momentary fit of sleep from whence I was awoken a second time by a voice splitting into voices, that shouted Alabi in the way ghosts would, their voice subtle, shaky and scary. It is the demons I had thought. They want my soul. I won’t stand up. I sank into a momentary dreamless sleep.
This third time, I had had enough of my name being called. I sat up from my small bed. It was a small sheet that Mother’s girl Bimpe had spread over it. Now the sheet was rumpled and drenched in my sweat. I made no attempt to straighten it. I was furious. Three months now and I was still stuck in my village. I was there to listen to Mother rant about my bachelor status. To have the mosquitoes feed on me at night. To hunger for good Kentucky fried chicken. I longed for club nights. To buy a pack of beer with my guys, get it free for the night from any girl. I imagined the last girl I’d been with in the city, not exactly beautiful but very attractive. I’d thought of pursuing a relationship with her but then the call came from Mother that Father was about to die. About to die three months ago, yet he’s still alive, very much at that, I muttered. The only reason I was still in the village was well, I had no job I was returning to in the city. My very last naira was going to be expended on the soil that spat my forefathers and I out with disgust. Yes, it had to have been nauseous.
I pulled up my pants and started for our living room. The scent was just the same as when I’d been a boy. Mother’s bean cake made me elated. I felt like I was on a cloud nine. Then there was the smell of liquid air freshener—though not as pleasant as a day with Mother Nature in the park, it made me nostalgic; of childhood days and the days before I was a man.
I was happy. Somehow, I managed to be happy, living with my parents. Today particularly, with Nepa having given us morning light, it seemed the day was about to be a good one. I smirked sheepishly. I closed my eyes and attempted to thank the gods and or NEPA when I felt weight push me to the ground. I blinked my eyes open as quickly as I could. Mother’s scream tainted my happy day picture. What was the fuss about?
Alabi, son of Bankole, why have you brought this upon yourself she asked shaking my shoulders as if trying to revive my sense. My fifty something year old mother, though proud on a normal day, had dragged herself to the ground on my behalf; I had definitely messed up somewhere. I studied her eyes without speaking. They were sad. Her head tie was raised up, revealing tiny braids. Her wrapper was tied carelessly. I was tempted to ask, are you really my Mother?
I managed to bring words out of my mouth. “Maami, what is wrong?”
“wa” she said, after eyeing me. She stood and headed to the parlor. I was left on the naked floor to fend for myself and trot after her like an abandoned chick. Mother hen wasn’t happy.
Bimpe was standing in a corner crying. She was fidgeting. A frightful sight she definitely was.
“Bimpe is carrying your child Alabi!” the woman cried, jumping up with her toes stuck to the ground “She’s been carrying your child for two months. She’s been so lazy. so sluggish. I knew something was up.”
I was astounded, confused. Was mother accusing me of impregnating her help? That was impossible. She couldn’t possibly believe I’d stoop so low. I shook my head dumbfounded.
“Maami, No. No, you cannot say that”
I backed into the room, my head, aching. Or was it me? Did I somehow have knowledge of the girl when I was drunk? It was impossible. She was just a child, not more than 12. How could she even be pregnant for anyone at all?
My hands on my head, my head buried low; I didn’t notice Mother drag the girl into my room.
“Who got you pregnant Bimpe?” Mother asked sternly, her breath hard. If Father knew, it would be the end. His end.
“Boda Alabi” She replied wriggling her fingers “He brushed against my breast the other day and I became pregnant”