Once Upon A Saturday Afternoon

once upon a saturday afternoon

I shudder as fear envelops me when I peep through the keyhole of the kitchen’s door. I see my parents and Aisha; my younger sister, all lying face down on the tiled parlour floor. I feel my heart lurch twice, then my heartbeats increases.

Rivulets of sweat break out from the pores on my forehead and trickle down my cheeks after I take my right eye off the keyhole. I huddle with my back resting on the door. My heartbeats are fast like someone who just finished running a 100m race. I relieve my chest of a sigh as the events of the past few minutes play in my head.

I was seated in the parlour with Baba, Mama and Aisha. Our gaze was glued to the screen of our 21-inches flatron television set that was showing a Yoruba movie being aired by Cine Africa. I hate Yoruba movies; especially when the Barclays premiership is being played and I am deprived of watching it.

Baba coughed. I contoured my mien to a staid one- like I was focused on the movie and had not heard him cough.

He coughed again. This time, it was much louder that I couldn’t pretend that I didn’t hear. I knew I was supposed to stand and get a glass of water for him from the kitchen, but I didn’t want to stand. I was hoping Aisha would go. She didn’t.

“Don’t you know you have to get water for your Baba?” Mama reprimanded in Yoruba. I stood and grumbled a bit about Aisha not going to get the water for him. But I made sure I was already on my way to the kitchen before the words left my mouth, else, I was sure a slap would connect to the back of my head from Mama’s palm.

I had already gotten the glass of water and was walking back when I heard the door blew open all of a sudden. The sound was similar to the whirlwind that blew off the roof of our house a few years ago.

“Everybody on the floor,” I hear someone shout in Yoruba. It was then I painstakingly backtracked to the kitchen and carefully closed the door, making sure no noise was produced in doing so.I peep again. The intruders are three in number. All guys. One of them is pulling the curtain to a close. The other two are standing close to where my family is lying down. They are holding cutlasses, but one who looks like the leader is holding an AK-47 rifle similar to the one they use in Hollywood movies. Not the toy ones that Wale, the little boy who lives next door, and his friends use to play police and thief.

The leader has my height, my build, and skin complexion. I cannot see his face clearly due to the curtain that has just being drawn. The three of them are cladding similar attire that consists of a black face mask, a white T-shirt with a black portrait of someone in the front, and blue denim jeans. Only the guy holding the rifle does not use a face mask.

I see Mama and Aisha shivering like naked children in the cold. I can hear them muttering too. I guess they are saying prayers that the intruders shouldn’t hurt anyone. I know Mama will add that the intruder should get whatever they came for and go. They shouldn’t look at Aisha who has a voluptuous body and real gluteal pulchritude that can intoxicate a saint with lust. She is a virgin too. I overheard Mama and Baba talking about marrying Aisha off to Alhaji Luqman yesterday. She said he wants a virgin and Aisha qualifies.

Baba turns his face upward-probably to steal a peep at the leader. A slap lands on his hind-head and he corrects himself. Mama and Aisha’s muttering increases. One of the intruders gives both of them a simultaneous kick in the buttock. Their mutterings reduces to silence.

“If you try what you just did again, I swear I will slap you and your ears will start menstruating,” the guy who looks like the leader warns, “I will make this easy if you cooperate.”

“We will cooperate.” Mama says in a rush.

Another kick in the buttock keeps her quiet.

“Don’t say anything unless you are permitted. You hear.” The leader continues. His English is a schooled one. Not the type one would learn on the streets. He is probably a graduate.

“Yes sir.” My parents answer in unison. I can smell the fear in their voice as they speak.

“I know you have three hundred thousand naira inside this house. I saw it myself. Now I want you to stand up obediently and bring us the money. You know me. I’m a man of my words.”

Wait, I know that voice. It sounds very familiar… wait.

“I don’t want any trick. You see,” he detaches the magazine from the rifle and shows them the bullets lined inside it “It is loaded. And if you doubt me, I will test in on your head. Bullet in, brains out.” He reattaches the magazine to the rifle.

Now I know. I know that voice. It is Tunde’s, the tout who lives in the next street. He has a trademark dark scar that runs from the side of his right eye to his forehead. He is known to be ruthless and merciless like the devil. There are rumours that during the last April gubernatorial elections, the aspirant – Dr Kunle Tejuosho, who later lost, gave him a big wad of cash. Some said it was five hundred thousand naira. But the real gist is that he gave him an AK-47 rifle too.

Tunde would lead his troops – tout of his own kind, to disrupt polls and incite violence in poll areas that Dr Kunle was losing. INEC declared the election inconclusive and fresh polls in selected areas were ordered. Our community was part of them. Soldiers were deployed to keep peace too. We never heard of Tunde as soon as the first battalion of soldiers stepped foot in our community.I hear Baba mumbling. Mama is telling him something.

“Stop all these nonsense,” Tunde bellows, “you parents are the ones who teach obedience. Now you are the ones disobeying me.”

“My son please. You know we don’t have any money. I swear on —“

Tunde cuts him shut. “You think I am joking ehn.” He puts the muzzle of the rifle on Aisha’s head. His mein contours into a serious one – Like Rambo in the movie poster of Rambo: First blood II.

My parents are shivering. A lot.

“My son, please… please… don’t shoot ehn. I have money, but I don’t have three hundred thousand naira.”

I know Baba is lying. He has three bundles of hundred thousand naira each. I saw it yesterday when I was eavesdropping at him and Mama’s conversations inside their room.

I was coming from the toilet when I heard Mama mention my name. Curiosity got the better part of me, so I crouched beside their door with my right ear pressed against it to hear what they wanted to say. I feared Mama would tell Baba about the cannabis she caught me smoking at the incomplete building in the adjacent street. I had begged her not to report me, and she said she won’t tell if I promise never to do it again. I knelt and promised like a young man making a promise to his crush. She smiled. Her smile returned my heart beats to normal.

“I don’t like your attitude towards our son. Because his biological parents have now showed up doesn’t mean we have to return him to them.”

“But they are his parents. Put yourself in their shoes. Won’t….”

Mama interrupts him, “Which shoe ehn? I would never abandon my child by the stream bank. Never. Or is that not where we found him?

“They were poor then, that’s why they abandoned him. But now they are rich and are willing to pay for all we have spent on him in manifolds.” He emptied a big brown envelope that was lying on the bed. Three wads of money fell out. It was in N1000 denominations. “They gave me three hundred thousand naira for a start.”

Mama clapped her hands together in disgust and she shook her head too. “You didn’t tell me that you have sworn an oath with poverty? You want to sell your son?”

“Which son? That one? Well thank God that he isn’t my blood. A graduate who spends his time with touts smoking cannabis. Is it not from stealing he got that cicatrix on his face? He has no single sign of a graduate on his body.”

“It is not his fault. It is because he hasn’t gotten a job yet.”

“How will he get a job with an ordinary pass?”

“At least he is better off than not going to school at all.”

“Look at the way you are talking like a saint. Who wants to sell Aisha to Alhaji Luqman?

“This one is different. He wants to marry a virgin, and Aisha is one. I only mean to secure her future.”

“You didn’t tell me you studied “lielielogy” in school. Look at the way you packaged it like you meant well. As if there is no money incentives backing it up.”

I couldn’t believe what I just heard. I stood. My back grazed against the door as I did. I bet they didn’t hear it because the noise of their argument. I walked back to my room, vigorously kicking a plastic bottle that was on my path, as I did.

“I know you have three hundred thousand naira inside this house. If you refuse to give me, I will shoot both of you and find the money myself. “

Mama is telling Baba something in whispers. I cannot hear it but I guess she is telling him to go and bring the money.

Baba stands. “I want… to go..go and… bring it,” he stammers.

Tunde points to the guy who was pulling the curtain few minutes ago. “Follow him. If he tries anything funny, which I know he will, don’t hesitate to strike him with your cutlass.”

“Yes sir.” The guy answers as he beckons to Baba with his cutlass to lead the way.

They both turn right through the door that leads to the toilet and my parents’ bedroom.

Mama is still shaking on the floor. She is begging fervently. “Please my son ehn. He will bring the money.” She turns her face sideways, “In fact, you can come again tomorrow evening. I would have returned from the market. I will give you more. More money.”

“Madam shut up.”

Mama keeps mute like the still of the night.

I look at Aisha. She is not shivering like Mama. She is still like a pond. I can see a liquid flowing beside her right leg. It looks like water, but it isn’t. I think it is urine.

Few minutes later, Baba returns. The intruder who escorts him is slapping and kicking him from behind. I hear him cursing.

“What happened?” Tunde asks

“He go bring hundred fiba. He say na wetin he get be dat.” The guy laments. He connects yet another kick to Baba’s back. Baba wobbles and falls.

“I’ve always known you to be a smart man. So you value your life more than three hundred thousand naira abi.”

“No o… that’s all I have.” Baba defends.

“And you’re still lying ehn.”

“No o…That’s all I have.”

“Ooh, I hate lies. I hate to hear them.”

“My son.”

“If you mention my son again, I swear I will shoot you in the head.”

Baba is quiet like a well fed baby. Mama is shivering and grumbling. Aisha is still.

“Now, I will count to three. If I don’t see that money, I will shoot you and find the money myself.”

Baba stands, but he doesn’t move. Maybe he thinks Tunde is bluffing and he won’t shoot.

My mind does not follow the countdown. Fear is holding my mind hostage. When I think the countdown is about to start, I hear gunshots. Three fast simultaneous gunshots. I hear two more, but I am no longer looking at the scene.

There is a way fear will knock at the door of your heart, but you don’t open the door for it because you are armed with the knowledge of its villainous nature.

Fear is like love. You will never know how it enters your heart. But it will. Easily.

Fear will enter your heart and present itself as a guest. You will be relieved at first, but it will never last long as fear will soon begin to overstep its boundaries. You would be patient and you won’t talk. Your silence will cost you as fear will take over your heart and chase you out of control.

Fear is a dictator and it will rule your heart ruthlessly. Your heart will be in a bad state, and soon enough, it will be in a rabbit hole.Seeing the horrors before me, I lose control of my heart and fear takes over. My soul goes on a trip to oblivion through a rabbit hole.***As I finish narrating, I lock eyes with Detective Soogun like the barrel of a gun. “That is what happened.” I let out a sigh. “I fainted and I don’t recall the rest.”  ‎

He adjust his stance, “Tunde, you’ve said it well. Your narration is in line with our investigation.

We came to your house after your neighbours reported that they heard something that sounded like gunshots. As soon as we breached the door, we saw five bodies on the floor of the parlour, all covered with blood. The house was scattered, like someone was looking for something in a haste.

When we searched the house further, we found you lying unconscious in the kitchen.”

He brings out a small book from his breast pocket and begins to scribble something in it.

The doctor enters the ward. A stethoscope hangs around his long neck that houses an Adam apple.

I set my gaze on his cupid face. “My parents. What happened to them?” I am hoping I will hear something good.

He shakes his head. “You have to be strong.”

I touch the dark scar that runs from the side of my right eye to my forehead, feel it with my right palm, and I let it slide to my hairs. Then I blinked.”I will be fine. Just tell me what happened.”

He shakes his head for a while, and as slowly as he can, he says the three words, “They are dead!”

It feels like someone is hammering something in my ears. I shout. “Dead!” I jerk from my supine position on the bed. I start to wail. I want to cry, but no tears escorts my exaggerated wails.

The doctor removes a kerchief from his lab coat’s pocket and he uses it to mop my brows. He must be thinking that I am shedding tears.

“I told you to calm down. Your tears can’t bring them back.”

I know he is trying to be empathetic, because I cannot get the tears to flow down my cheeks. I increase the intensity of my wailing.

“Baba mi ooo… Mama mi ooo… Aisha mi o…”

“And there is a good news o.” Detective Soogun announces, shouting on top of his voice to catch my attention.

I stop wailing. “Good news?”

He locks his eyes with mine. “Yes good news.” he clasped his fingers together and cracked them. ” The criminals were three. But we found two of them dead in your house. Shot at point blank. We suspect the third of the criminals did it.”

“How did you know they were three? Is there any witness? ” I say rapidly.

A flicker of smile appears on his face. “Yes there is.”

My eyes light up with curiosity. “Who?”


I want the ground to open and swallow me, but it doesn’t. Sweat breaks out of my skin pore, and my skin hairs stand still.

“She survived miraculously.” The doctor says; the Adam apple on his neck going up and down as he speaks. “The bullet went into her head but it ricochet off her cranium and it came outside. We’ve stitched up the wounds. She will be fine in no time…. She is coming to—“

I don’t hear the rest. Fear visits my heart again and a coup d’état happens. My soul goes on another trip to oblivion, this time, I hope I don’t return.***

KayGreins Ta’ehanotatau.

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