Dad’s Mercedes wagon appeared from nowhere. We squeezed our two bedroom apartment into the car. Soon, its stomach was touching the ground from the load it carried. By the time the entire luggage had found space, we discovered we couldn’t find any for ourselves. Terngu and I exchanged glances.
The car looked overfed.
Makurdi was our destination. Mummy said it was better there. There were fruits and water which we only bought here – or used to buy. Eating and going out had become a luxury since Dad lost his job. No one visited anymore. The Landlord had also become harsh and said we should go away. We were leaving.
I took a quick run to find my friends. They followed me back. Mummy says that people go to burials to make sure the dead people wouldn’t come back to finish our food and water. I wondered if they came to make sure I wouldn’t do same.
I met Dad and Mummy looking for me. After a little scolding, they pointed to the place where I was to sit. I stood, looking at it. I knew my buttocks would hardly fit in. Terngu was sulking in the corner, load all around. I looked at my sweaty body and pitied myself.
“Go in!” Dad growled. He was waiting to close the door. I squeezed myself into the space. The car was stuffy and I could hardly breathe.
“Make sure you send us fruits!” It was Uche and Babu, my friends. They had come to my side of the car.
“I will. I will bring when I am coming!!”
Dad gave them Five Naits and they ran off, excited. I wished I was Uche or Babu. I imagined the candy they would buy. Ouch!My legs were hurting.
I removed my shoes as a horrible stench hit my nose.
“Hmmm!! Dad, there is garlic in the car!”
Dad’s frown deepened as Mummy burst out laughing:
“There is no garlic.” Okay. Excluding garlic there could only be one explanation:
“Mummy, Terngu farted!”
Terngu punched me. I hit back as Dad’s voice commanded us to stop. My nostrils were not liars. Terngu’s buttocks had overdone it this time.
“Daddy, Terngu’s fart doesn’t want to go.”
“Terngu, why won’t you allow my child rest?”
Terngu said nothing but carried one of my shoes and stuck it to my nose. The stench hit me worse than the shalanga, pit toilet we used to share in our compound.
“Hmmmmmmmm” was the only sound I could make in disgust.
“What is that?”
“Would you apologise or not?”
I grudgingly did. The journey was already too tiresome. I wished I was back home making toys. Or playing with Babu and Uche, or buying something with the money Dad gave them! I wondered if Makurdi was worth it after all.
“Mummy, I don’t want to go to Makurdi again.”
“What?!!” Dad asked and I had to stammer a reply I can’t remember now.
“You don’t want those fruits or to see the River?” Mummy asked.
I remembered these but was too tired. I wanted to go back home. I had decided. After all, I was an adult now. I closed my eyes to Dad and opened my mouth to state my stance when Mummy gave me some biscuits from her bag. Biscuits!! My favourite! It had been months. I could hold my peace for a while. As I munched, I set my eyes on the road. I hoped that the sight of passing objects would be enough to make me forget my aching buttocks. The discomfort was getting unbearable. Then, I slept…
©Su’eddie Vershima Agema