KAMBILI

 I am Nathan, I can vividly remember some things that happened when I was younger. 

I woke up to the bright and beautiful morning; it was a Sunday, a day to relax from school stress. I peered at the ticking clock hanging on the wall, I tried to read the time; well all I knew for sure was that it was almost 8:00am. I looked around my room, it had evidences of my endless mischievous activities of yesterday; I saw an empty can of Bobo drink, particles of animal feathers and one of my lovely sweaters which I had converted into a lifeless baby fighter, all on the floor. “Mum and Sister Chi will help me clean these” I thought within myself and headed for the door to continue another round of play. 

Before I reached the door, it opened by itself and I could see my mum’s figure standing in the doorway; she seemed to be holding a cane. “GOOD MORNING MA” I greeted. She wasn’t interested in my greetings either; she surveyed the room in a disgusting manner, and the irritated expression on her face signified that I was in big trouble.

 “YOU WILL NOT EAT BREAKFAST TILL YOU CLEAN THIS ROOM UP” she began. “EVERYTIME YOU KEEP MESSING THIS PLACE UP, ARE YOU THE ONLY CHILD I HAVE!?” She queried.

 I seemed to be confused with the question; I knew that I wasn’t the only child, I didn’t know if I was meant to reply to the question by saying yes or no. while in deep thoughts, the cane which she was holding landed on my back. “AM I NOT TALKING TO YOU!!?” she barked. The pain was unbearable; its after-effect was like an insect sucking my  blood. I shouted in dismay, yet she continued. “WILL YOU START ARRANGING THIS ROOM NOW!!?”

Mum walked away while I sobbed painfully. I was still packing up the chicken feathers and the rest, then I heard footsteps approaching the door; it was Kambili, she was two years older; she had come to laugh at me. She folded her arms and rested against the door. Kambili tried to Mimic Mum and what she’d said to me earlier.

“YOU’LL NOT EAT BREAKFAST TILL YOU CLEAN THIS ROOM UP”.

 Oh! I felt pained; I wished I could reach out and slap her. “So you went to report me to mummy abi?” I asked her angrily, covering my face with my palm because few tears were running down my face.  

“Dirty boy like you” she replied confidently, smiling so widely that her set of white teeth sparkled. “Why not?” she added and continued. “You’re so scattered and too playful, I pray for you to change”. This time I felt like strangling her, I wished that one of my superhero actors would appear immediately and give her a heavy punch that will keep her unconscious till the next day. Some minutes later, the little devil left the door. When I was done cleaning up, I was already hungry. 

I walked down to the kitchen; I saw my own plate of food which had been specially designed for me. I could hear the sound of spoons, forks and knives clashing with plates at the dining area. The whole family of five was already eating except me. I carried my food to the dining area. “Good morning dad, Good morning mum, Good morning Sister Chi, Good morning Kambili” I said, acknowledging their presence. I was about placing the plate of food on one part of the table, then I slipped and fell with the food contents following suit. Hell was let loose; Dad stood up and spanked me hard on the back. 

“You’re too clumsy, you this little boy!!”

I didn’t understand why this Sunday was turning out this way. “NO FOOD FOR YOU TILL NIGHT” mum said. I looked at Kambili and Sister Chi, they seemed to be engrossed with their food, not showing interest or concern on what had happened. I felt like asking God why I was sent to this family. My mind drifted to Nelly my classmate; she was beautiful and always smiled a lot. “She must be so happy with her family” I thought. 

            I was brought back to reality when Sister Chi and Kambili stood up from the dining chairs and made for the kitchen; the little devil looked at me and chuckled, then she mimicked Mum’s exact words to me earlier “No food for you till night”. Enough was Enough;  It was time for me to revenge.

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 It was Monday, and as early as 5:00am, mum had already woken me up to prepare for school; she was in the kitchen with Sister Chi, while dad was working with his laptop in the sitting room. I peeped through kambili’s door; she was fast asleep even after mum had woken her up several times. I picked up her school sandals lying beside her door; I took them to my room and placed them under my bed. I hurriedly prepared for school. 

By 7:15am, Sister chi, I and Mum were already  sitting in the car, about to leave for school. “Kambili, where are you?!!” Mum barked loudly. The little devil screamed fearfully and broke down in tears “I can’t find my sandals”. I sat close to Sister Chi, she looked at me suspiciously; she knew Kambili was way more responsible and careful than I was, she couldn’t have misplaced it just like that. I tried removing my eyes from her suspicious gazes, but then, I summoned courage and stared back at her. Her Perfume smelt of high class; it made me float on top of the world. I was brought back to reality when she whispered to me “You’ll pay for this”.

Almost immediately, mum shouted “Kambili you’re a foolish girl!!” and zoomed off for school. I was happy I’d won the battle, I felt like a hero; I smiled to myself and looked triumphantly at sister Chi. I didn’t know she had been staring angrily at me ever since mum zoomed off. “Nathan hid Kambili’s pair of sandals, he has been smiling since we left for school” Sister Chi reported to mum who was controlling the steering wheel. Mum quickly parked the vehicle and stopped abruptly on hearing this. She treasured Sister Chi; Sister Chi had never lied to her, and she (Mum) had every reason to believe her because she knew her daughter Kambili to be a careful person. On several occasions, Kambili had handled glass items, handled huge sums of money and other valuable items responsibly and meticulously, so how much more a pair of sandals. Perhaps, amidst her anger, mum had been sorry for kambili ever since she drove off for school that morning. She was a school teacher and couldn’t risk going late to school because of one person. That ONE person seemed not to be kambili anymore but me, for she turned and gave me a dirty and resounding slap from the drivers sit where she sat. I saw stars; I saw a lot of them; indeed they were glittering and glamorous. 

“You this Coconut head!!” she shouted.

Sister Chi almost burst out laughing, but she restrained herself, covering her mouth with her palms. “If she finds those sandals and confirms that you hid them, I will pluck out those two eyes of yours, and you will not eat for two weeks!!” Shouted Mum; I became so scared; well, I tried to compose myself. My teacher in school had once taught us that Jonah from the bible didn’t eat for three days. Well, I didn’t know the number of days in two weeks and then I decided to ask Sister Chi to help me out. “Please how many days are in two weeks” I asked her, trying to analyze my punishment before it reached me. 

A heavy knock landed on my head; “Shut up your big mouth” she said. Mum seemed not to be interested; she was shouting on another road user for not driving well, he almost hit our car. “Didn’t you sleep well before handling the steering wheel??!!” she barked “Eeeeeehn!! Answer me!!” she barked again. The young man who drove the old looking bus seemed not to be perturbed by Mum’s shouting; he was probably in a hurry.  “Madam Rest!!” he said and zoomed off.

I decided to keep calm till we got to school, but it wasn’t easy; I knew, and had already imagined what I would face at home because Kambili would definitely find the pair of sandals under my bed. I remembered what mum had first told me “I Will pluck out those two big eyes of yours” I became more worried. Nelly my classmate had once whispered to someone else that I was fine boy; here was mum, planning to pluck out my eyes. How would I see? What would Nelly say of me? I knew for sure that Sister Chi and Kambili wouldn’t hesitate to help her pluck them out; then they would laugh and laugh and call me “Eyeless Nathan”.

When we arrived school, mum parked at a place. “Chidinma help me take my laptop bag to my office” she said to Sister Chi. She saw me still sitting; “What are you still doing there you this boy!” she said as she threw her car keys at me. Thanks to my instincts, I dodged the car keys which were launched towards me. They landed on the Car sit and bounced back. I didn’t know when I said it but then the words just left my mouth; “Mummy please don’t pluck out my eyes” I begged mum. That must have been the reason why I stayed back. Sister Chi laughed and laughed as mum pulled off one leg of her hilly shoes and ran after me; she was ready to sink them into my Coconut head.

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(Continued in KAMBILI (2))


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