League Day 3, Round 3 – LOW18
Welcome to the final round of league Day 3.
League Of Wordsmiths is an initiative of Whyke Anthology which began last year. Serving as a means of promoting poetry, story writing…and art as a whole, across Africa, whilst also serving as an aid for young, budding, aspiring…writers in the African diaspora.
This round is for the short story category, and would see Hussain Abdulrahim, Anoemuah Pelumi, Adeshina Ajala, & Jesutofunmi Fekoya
slugging things out for the prize.
Theme For This Round is: FILLING THE GAP
1) Judges Decision takes 80% of the total decision, while votes recorded from voters takes 20% of the total decision.
2) Under no circumstance should you guess the owner of the individual stories.
3) Voting lasts for 24hours.
4) Only Votes recorded in the comment section of this post remains valid.
5) Vote using “I Vote Story 1”, or “I Vote Story 2” or “I Vote Story 3”…
6) A voter is allowed to vote maximum of 2 stories out of the 3 contesting stories.
7) The contestants are urged to invite friends to vote for them. No rule exempts you from canvassing for votes.
Let The Game Begin!… May the best story win.
A CERTAIN KIND OF FEELING
It was when you felt your polyethen bag being kindly tugged at that you turned and for the first time took notice of the baby. Her tiny fingers now rested upon your wrist softly stroking your watch seemingly fascinated by the silver piece. She gazed at you now- little eyes that shone like twin torches in the late evening shimmer. You smiled. She smiled revealing near-toothless gums. The mother, more enthralled by the scenery outside the taxi’s window, turned to you, her hands clasped around the second girl on her laps. It was now you noticed the resemblance between the two. They were twins- the same eyes gazing so intently as though they wished to perforate through you and examine your heart. When you smiled at this one, your gesture was unrequited. This one, having more attention than the one backed, gave a short scowl and contorted her face therein. The mother seemed fatigued and frustrated. Your eyes and hers met briefly. You gave her that kind of I-know-what-you-are-going-through smile. Then she unburdened. “They make so much trouble. I hardly have time for myself. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have them. It’s so tiring”
You smiled again, this time, I-understand-you-smile. And as they alight at their destination, you watch them go. The taxi resumed. And deep down you know that you don’t understand. That you never will. You have no child. And you never will have one. Through the window shield you looked at the dying sun, at birds suddenly invading the sky on one part where a tree had been unsettled. You sighed.
The missing puzzle
“Is it really you?” Festus asked with a shaky voice as his hands traced around Adanma’s face. Adanma nodded her head and smiled deeply.
“Yes it’s me. It’s your daughter Adanma. I’m back home to you father” she said as she caressed her father’s face.
She was taller now, her skin glowing with healthiness. The same skin I had made sure every inch of it was decorated with scars. She was even more beautiful than before.
Festus broke into fresh sobs, holding his daughter’s hands tightly. I knew he wished he could see her face more than anything else in the world.
“The family has never been the same without you. I am sorry. I am sorry for not protecting you enough” Adanma hugged her Father and they both cried together.
Tears welled in my eyes at the words of Festus. Adanma was the missing piece of the puzzle in our lives I had tried so hard to destroy. When Festus had married me, I was young and naïve so I maltreated little Adanma. Festus loved her dearly and I was scared he would love her more than my own children. I maltreated her and made life hell for her. Finally, when she couldn’t survive under the weight of it all, she ran away.
All our troubles stemmed from the fact that I couldn’t love a motherless child.
For ten years she was never found and my family lost that spark. Festus blamed himself more than me and worried so much he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and lost his eyes in a fatal accident. I couldn’t fill in the void young Adanma left and neither could my children.
I nearly ran mad with joy when I saw her in the market talking to a shopkeeper. I made a scene, kneeling down and begging but I didn’t care I just wanted her to forgive me and she did.
My children and I could have never filled in the void left in Festus’s heart after her disappearance. Adanma was the missing piece of puzzle in our lives.
The GAP YOU FILL
You sat with half of your buttocks on the edge of your father’s grave. The backyard was loud silent safe for the frequent blowing of nose that punctuated your cries. When your demons possess your sanity, this is where you come for deliverance.
You began to soliloquize pondering how much hyssop would wash this grief. It’s three years, yet it confused you how his death could break you this much. Your eyes strayed into your wristwatch as you wiped your face. 5 O’clock. You hurried to prepare for work in the orphanage where you were lucky to get a permanent night duty as a nanny. The Orphanage’s proprietress is your mother’s friend and that’s her way of helping your mother. That was what she meant with standing by your mother when she came for the condolence visit.
You quitted school in 100 Level because that was the only way your younger brother can live his dream. He’s now in 300 Level. Your only escape, as it stands, is marriage. Last Sunday, when Pastor asked the congregation to pray for one thing they like God to do for them; your lips were heavy to be parted. However, your heart yearned for a husband that’ll buoy you through this sinking sea.
Now, you think it’s the breadth of the gap your father left which you’re stretching to fill that weighs on your spirit, hushing you to his grave to purge your emotion.
Every morning after you leave the orphanage, you returned to the campus where you dropped out to hawk recharge cards. This week you knew you’ll meet Amaka again, the only friend you made before you left school and you have rehearsed how you’ll rub a cute smile on your face when you meet. You cannot let her pity you again. Never.
This’s how you continue to fill the gap for your family. Your earnings from these menial works and Mummy’s meager profit largely fund your brother’s education. Marriage can cover better for you than for him you always reassure yourself.
FILLING THE GAP
Life is not fair. That’s a sentence I’ve become used to and as I lie on this hospital bed, feeling my life leaving me, that’s the sentence I have in mind.
My father left my mum when I was twelve years old. He left not just her but me and my three younger siblings. My mum became a shell of her former self. She quit her job and stayed in the house moping. The tears of her children and their growling stomachs did nothing to penetrate the haze she had trapped herself in. So at the age of twelve, I took on the responsibility of being the head of the house. I found odd jobs to do to get food for everyone to eat. Thankfully, the house we lived in was ours so there was no need for house rent but still, I was burdened with the repairs in the house. Since there was no money, I took on the responsibility of fixing things that needed fixing. When the kitchen sink started leaking, I would put a piece of chewing gum to block the leak and when it started again, I would get another gum. I dropped out of school to find jobs to do. From hawking water in the morning to vulcanizer apprentice in the afternoon to bus conductor in the evening. At twelve, I had the burden of my mother and siblings resting on my shoulders. I looked bigger than my age with broad shoulders, thicker arms and a hard look in my eyes.
It continued like that until I was fifteen. I fell sick, maybe the burden I had been carrying had finally weighed me down. I knew I was going to die but still I worried about my family. Who would take care of them? But most importantly, I wondered, who would fill the gap for me, for Bode, the son? No one, it seems. Because Bode, the son, ceased to exist a long time ago. All that existed now was Bode, the boy who stood in the gap for his father.