He stood before the ruins of the old house. The house was a complete shadow of itself. It was a white duplex but the paint on the outside had totally peeled off. He pushed back the low gate and walked in. The compound had become overgrown with weeds and a big rat scurried away as he stepped forward. He looked up at the louvres on the right and his mind raced back to when he sat on the railings of the balcony turning it into a swing. This action always got him a scolding from mother.
The door was broken down. He walked into the house. The interior looked like a hurricane had happened in there. The cream leather settee that always sat on the right of the living room was no longer there. A cool breeze blew into the room and he began to hear the sound of the wooden rocking chair. He smiled in spite of the situation. He closed his eyes and saw grandma seated on the chair. As it rocked gently, she knitted and hummed a song. She looked up at him and smiled.
“Come here darling.” She said as she patted her laps.
He walked forward and stood before the rocking chair. She would lift him up as she dropped the knitting accessories on the side stool beside her on the right. He looked there and noticed the stool had been upturned. He bent down to lift it up. He placed his hands on it gingerly as if it was an egg that could break. He closed his eyes and a tear slid down his cheeks. The stool was grandma’s favourite.
He heard the sound of clinking glasses and looked towards the kitchen to the left of the living room. As he walked down, he passed by a blue teddy bear lying on the floor. It had become dirty and the colour was hardly recognizable. It looked more brown than blue. It had been his tenth birthday gift from father. He held the teddy bear by the hand and headed towards the kitchen.
“Food is ready.” Mother sang as she held his two hands and danced to an imaginary tune. It had become her signature. “Get seated.” She would say and he would run to set the table ready. Grandma always said the prayers at dinner.
“My daddy is coming back tomorrow.” He told his best friend. They were both ten and sat together in class. They were in Primary five.
“Will you bring something for me?” His friend asked.
“Of course. You are my best friend. My daddy will bring goodies from abroad.”
Mother was restless as she jumped every time she heard the sound of a car. She had asked him to go to bed as there was school the next day but he refused. He wanted to see father before going to bed. They heard the honk of a car and mother ran to open the curtains. Light from the headlamps reflected into the living room and mother began to dance. Her husband had arrived home from Spain.
Grandma dropped her knitting pins and lifted her glasses from the rope around her neck. She placed the glasses gingerly on her nose as she awaited her son.
Father paid off the taxi driver that brought him home and trudged in as he rolled his travel luggages. Mother ran to give father a hug and a kiss.
“Káàbò, olówó orí mi.” (Welcome, my crown).
“O sé. Sé àláfíà ni gbogbo yín wà?” (Thank you. Are you all well?)
“Adúpé l’ówó Ölórun.” (We thank God).
Father prostrated to greet grandma as he came in and she began to pray for him. After grandma’s long prayers, father hugged him and asked him why he was still awake.
“Don’t mind him. He refused to go to bed because he was waiting for you.” Mother said as she laughed heartily.
They heard the sound of a car parking outside.
“You should go to bed now.” Father told him.
“I want to see what you bought for me.” He told father.
He had promised to bring something to school for his friend and he wanted to fulfill his promise.
The gates outside opened slowly and father looked towards the door. He looked at mother and grandma. “Are you expecting anyone?” He asked.
They both shook their heads.
All of a sudden, the front door was kicked with so much force that it broke into splinters.
Father’s movement was very swift that he hardly understood what had happened until he saw himself in the toilet and he heard the door lock behind him. He knelt down by the door and peeped through the key hole. What was going on?
“Where is the money?” A male voice asked.
“Which money?” Father responded.
“Give me the money before I blow off your head.”
Father looked at mother and grandma with a hard stare. They were the only people who were aware that he was coming home. He had never seen father look at them that way and he wondered what mother and grandma could have done wrong.
“Please my son, don’t do this. He doesn’t have any money.” Grandma pleaded.
“Shut up mama. Tell your son to bring the money he brought back.”
He strained his eyes through the key hole to see what was going on. Grandma looked at father with tears in her eyes. “Which money is he asking for?”
He noticed there was another man in the room. The man pointed the gun at grandma and pulled the trigger. The shot was silent. Grandma fell back like a sack of potatoes hitting her head on the stool. He heard mother’s scream and saw father struggle with the man who had pulled the trigger. He heard three more muffled shots and then silence.
Tears streamed down his cheeks as he peeped through the key hole. He touched his lower body. It was wet. It dawned on him that he had peed on himself.
“Why did you kill them?” The first man shouted at his partner.
“Can’t you see that he wasn’t co-operating and he was even trying to collect my gun?” The man replied as he pulled off the black mask on his face.
“Just carry the boxes and let’s get out of here fast. This was not the plan.”
As the men walked out of the house with the same travel luggages that father had brought in some minutes ago, a black car reversed from the beginning of the street to the front of the house. As the car got to the men, the boot had already been opened. They dumped the luggages into the boot and and the car sped away with lightning speed leaving sorrow, tears and blood behind.
….To be continued
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