Blackness. Lack of feeling. Then brightness. Too much feeling. Suddenly. So many people. Jeers and taunts. Laughter. Pain. More pain. Questions after questions that he couldn’t and didn’t answer. Never the right answers…Chains. Blood, dripping blood, dripping from the whip. No food. Starving, starving, starving… Dirty water. Confinement. No light. Hitting, slapping, pushing and shoving. Heavy loads. Heavy crying. Wave after wave of hot tears that never solved anything. Dirt floors and rocks. Dragging chapped fingers through mud and grime on his skin, his feet and his clothes. Bones poking through skin like a grave dirt, muscles deteriorating quicker than he had thought. Fighting against arms and chains, never yielding, but nothing worked. Broken inside, knowing it, knowing everyone else knew it too… Silent screams from in his head, not so silent ones as he yelled at the sky and the gods….. Why can’t you help us? He’d yell at the top of his lungs. Let us survive, let it not hurt, let us die.
He choked in his sleep and his eyes flashed open searching the room frantically. His chest was rising and falling rapidly and beads of sweat were slowly rolling down his forehead. His hands reached up to his face and he wiped a tear that had betrayed him by spilling. Baba Soji searched for his pipe, lighted it and took a puff, a heavy one at that. They made him go through all of this. The trauma still haunted him in his dreams. He couldn’t get it out and it made him angry.
”You won’t amount to anything. You would walk through life unnoticed. You would never taste success. You will beg and never find a good place to lay your head. You will suffer and toil hard but nothing will come out of it and you will finally die just like your father.” The words rang loudly in his head more emphasis placed on the word “Father”. Trying to silence the voice of Mr Tanko that fateful night, he picked up a woollen sweater and exited his house. He was going to pay Tinuke a “good” visit.
Mide pulled the curtains of his mother’s room aside. He peeped and carefully observed the rise and fall of her chest, he was assured she was sleeping. He tip toed his way out of the house and quietly closed the door.
He ducked behind tall trees when he saw two men discussing on the path that was forbidden which led to the stream. How was he ever going to talk to Tinuke this night with these obstacles? He mused. Slowly he crept till he was out of sight and continued his journey making sure his footsteps against dry leaves weren’t heard. He saw Tinuke still tied and her head was drooping. He crawled to her and hit her softly causing her to jerk from her sleep.
‘Shhhh,’he silenced her putting a finger on his lips. ‘Hmm ummm tshhh lmmum,’ she struggled to speak. He loosened the handkerchief tied around her mouth and saw how the corner of her mouth was bruised. Pity flashed in his eyes. She didn’t deserve to go through these. He raised his hands to her cheeks to wipe a stray tear. More hot beads of tears streamed down her cheeks. He removed the handkerchief from her mouth.
‘It’s late. You can’t be here. He will catch you and treat you this way.” she said while shaking. He didn’t know if she shook because she was afraid or cold. He sighed.
‘I don’t care. I came to give you something to eat. I will be long gone before he comes.’
‘What does the village say about my absence?’
‘He told no one to come here.’
‘Wait, who is the “he” you are referring to? Do you know?’ Tinuke whispered.
‘I know who it is….’ a masculine voice answered from behind them. A masculine voice that Mide heard this afternoon. A masculine voice deep down inside he was afraid of. What had he gotten himself into? He thought to himself as fear replaced pity.