It was very simple.
Every Sunday evening, Dera would come to get me from Ogechi’s house. On our way back she would stop to talk to Sam. I was to wait patiently like the good sister that I was until they were done talking. When she was done she would signal by saying “Ngwa Amaka let’s go” . Just by Issa’s kiosk opposite our house she would buy me sweets. And if anyone was to ask why we took long, I played a little after Dera came to get me.
It was very simple and that was how we had always done it until one fateful day …
This people should do and finish now, I though to myself. I was tired of slapping the mosquitoes that perched on my leg and I was hungry. If I had knew, I would had eaten the rice that Aunty Janet offered me
“Amaka, you no go eat rice”
“Aunty no thank you. I’m not that hungry”
The fact was , I was hungry but I refused the food. Mama was going to make ofe nsala this evening and I needed all the space in my tummy. Even though I wasn’t suppose to eat outside the house, I usually ate at Ogechi’s house. I would eat and pretend like I didn’t but Dera knew. She knew that I ate outside but she never told.
So I here I was , sitting on the pavement watching a group of ants on the wall and slapping mosquitoes that perched on my leg. I usually wondered what they discussed about. What did he tell her that made her smile so wide and be in such a happy mood. After their meetings she hardly got angry at me. She didn’t shout at me if I didn’t mop the bathroom floor after my bath. She didn’t give me mean stares when I spoke while she was speaking . She didn’t send me out when I walked in on her changing .
Even though these moments were short lived, I would willing sit on that pavement for an hour if it meant Dera would be nice to me for a whole day or two.
Dera was seven years my senior and I had come at a time when she didn’t want a toddler following her around. Mama used to make her take me everywhere with her. When she was going to a friend’s house, when she was sent on an errand; I wanted to come along
“Dera nekwa nwanne gi anya , look after your sister” Mama would always tell her
Murmuring she would give me a mean stare and it was left for me to walk fast in order to keep up with her. If we visited any of her friends I was supposed to stay in a corner and mind my business and not disgrace her. I remember one time she took me or was forced to take me along to her friend’s house. They spoke about things I didn’t understand. I know for one thing they don’t like their teachers. That part I understood because I didn’t like my Basic Science teacher too. But I didn’t know why whenever a boy’s name was mentioned one of them would start to smile and sound really funny. Even though I didn’t enjoy their conversations I still tagged along because I felt it would make Dera like me. And for eight years all I wanted was for Dera to like me.
“Why do I always have to look after her” she would complain sometimes “She can be annoying ”
“Shut up, she’s your small sister or e maro, you don’t know ” Mama would tell her
So if it meant sitting and waiting so Dera would like me, I’ll sit and wait.
“Stop it!.. No!.. Stop it! ”
I looked up to see Dera running towards me.