My eyes are closed, and I feel overwhelmed and sorry both at once, because I knew. Regardless, I still wish, I wished deep down that when I opened my eyes it would be different today, it would be real today; that for once I wouldn’t have to imagine, that I should see the magic, that I wouldn’t just smile today but laugh because I could foretell by myself.
But as slowly as I opened my eyes— hoping—I’ve already lost every faith left in me, and as always I can’t help not sighing. As though it would have made any difference.
Right here, I alone am the king, I alone am the led. And—that’s when I heard the sharp sound; it didn’t take impulse to tell me it was on my deeply scraped head that Aunty Tayo just landed a slap, I felt my blood bump!
“What is it? Do you know the number of people standing here just waiting on you?”
I heard mum’s voice from a corner. “Tayo! Fílè omo mi naw!’ (Leave my child alone, please). Won’t he take his time to make a wish?”
“Adura…” She slurred the name.
“Aunty mi, I’m sorry ma,” I breathed. I knew what would come up next if I did not interrupt. I know the usual drill of how she’ll start afresh to tell mum how not to interrupt her whenever she is reprimanding a child that needs to be reprimanded; how she’ll remind her that she had always been and still is the only one in the whole family who had sheltered and funded for us throughout the pregnancy and throughout the up bring of ‘this unfortunate’ child so far.
Not now. I couldn’t let her have her say, all the neighbors were present today. It wasn’t that they all didn’t know, but watching it firsthand as Aunty Tayo embarrassed Mum would make the difference. And Sir Tunji is here too. He was the banker that had offered to drop me at school every morning. I know he really wants to get close to mum, but he was too uncertain. Mum has a terrible talent for insult, just like Aunty Tayo.
Sometimes I just love it when they fight, it helps me learn words of defense and offence alike; so maybe that was why he was being cautious. Mr Tunji was a man slow to anger and quiet in dealings.
“Shut up!” Aunty Tayo hissed, yes and it was meant for me. Apologies embarrassed her, and I’ve always felt too glad for my meekness.
I heard the door slam, and I knew that it was mum who just left. I also began hear whispers. Oh! People don’t waste time, do they?
Aunty Tayo laughs wickedly “Yes oh! She has gone to pack her things again to leave. Like say she get another place wey she fit go.”
But I was smiling. Mum had told me of her savings, of the new apartment she had booked, of the ‘special kids school’ she was going to enroll me into, of the new night shift cleaning job she found, and of her part-time classes she’ll be attending during weekends at the University of Lagos. She told me that if Mr Tunji didn’t propose before the end of the year, then she’ll go ahead with her plans. Today is the day, on my very birthday, such a breakthrough!
Well, the year wasn’t over yet and I’d already given her phone number to Mr Tunji. I’m less worried, all I cared for at the moment was for my miracle here. A bit too early, I know, but God forbid that I would complain.
I heard loud footsteps, and everyone became all at once.
“Okó mi! Oya! (My love, make a move)” Mum has never been harsh with me. I slowly count my steps towards the door; I had an impulse to reach to the cake and scoop out a handful.
Aunty Tayo roars, “Yes! Take him! Of what use are you people to me! Take your child and leave my house. He’s blind anyway!”