short story

Dera’s Sister , Part I

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.

“O dinma. I’m fine”

Screenshot_2015-08-31-00-46-13-1

Today we’re going on a road trip. From Lagos to Nnewi. I’ll keep to myself all through. If I’m not reading , I’ll listen to music on my mp3 player. Or I’ll sleep. My mother says I keep to myself these days. I just turn and look out the window. It’s true, I have been unusually quiet. But what is there to explain. That I don’t what’s going on with me. People irritate me. I don’t think I like the boy I thought I liked. I don’t have the strength for intellectual conversations, or any type of conversation. All I want is to do nothing. Feel nothing. And write. There’s a 3 days Creative Writing course in my mail box, all three classes with yellow stars next to them. I opened them though, just didn’t read them .I can’t write if I don’t feel anything. I feel like I’m floating. Wayyy up. And I’m enjoying it. Coming down would be facing reality. Answering the same questions “Are you okay?” “Where have you been”

It’s like my feelings know I’m not myself and they’re patiently waiting. Waiting for me to come back. Then they can come rushing all at once. That would make me confused, overwhelmed … I know. I would break down no doubt but I don’t want that. So I still want to float. Enjoy the peace while it lasts. Do I describe it as peace or running away from what I don’t what to feel? Whatever it is…

“We’re at Asaba, we would soon reach”

Nnewi. Home. Something there that makes me feel some kind acceptance, safety. The air is cool. It’s quiet there. I have my special place, nobody ever finds me there. When I get to Nnewi, I can let myself be vulnerable. Let my feelings peeping through the door overwhelm me. I could break down a little… I would break down a little. Then sort them out one after the other. And I could write. Write about how I started walking early in the morning, my new diet, my personal opinion on something. Or a story. I could write anything. I could finally take that 3 days Creative Writing course. I could finally answer all those messages and tell them that I’m fine.

I wake up to the car horning. We have gotten here.

“Aha bia go, they have come”

As if on cue, everyone comes rushing outside. The ones I know and the ones I can’t remember. The ones that weren’t home, people were sent to go and call them “Hian nekwa gi, look at you..you have grown. I just smile. Then I see my grandmother, slowly emerging from the house

“Nne m o, kedu” I hug her and hold her tightly.

“Mama o dinma. I’m fine”

Photo Credit : Google Images. toddadams.net