Somedays I got lucky and escaped Chinyere, otherdays, not so lucky. On the days she blocked me, basically she pushed me around, knocks here and there, pulled this ear and insulted me…classic case of bullying. I would not have minded much if other kids didn’t look on, but I think she enjoyed the audience. I might have been able to take her on fa, but I never tried. All the beatings did not stop me from writing her name though. Again and again.
Maa was a diciplinarian. We had chores we performed before going to school and after. She shared the compound into three for Shehu, Amina and I to sweep. We washed plates too, but I washed tukunya tuwo and Amina washed tukunya miya. On the days I would leave the pot behind because I forgot to soak it in the night, Maa flogged me. Sometimes we swapped chores with Shehu. I’d sweep both my potion and his and he’d wash my plates.
Maa rewarded us for initiatives too. If you did anything outside your chores without being told to, you got more portion of icecream. Amina got more of everything here, she was indeed a hardworker.
When we would meet with the other kids to play, I would always tell them, “Maman mu muguwa”. Not that I had to tell all of them, most of them knew her like that, for when they misbehaved and their mums called Maman Zuwairah, they knew the rest. She would even go with her koboko.
About this time, I began to object to being called Patu. I wanted Fati or i ignored you. At first everybody thought I was joking. If you knew me at home and called me Patu, I ignored you.
Daddy had a habit. If he wanted anybody, he didn’t call out a name directly. He yelled out
“waye anan?!” and anybody around would yell back
“Nine! Or Nice!” as the case maybe.
On that day he yelled and there was no response. I heard him, but I didn’t feel like answering. After yelling for quite sometime he decided to peep into the compound. He saw me and called. No answer. He was calling Patu as far as I was concerned, and I wasn’t her. Not anymore.
He would come close to me and ask
“Patu ba ke nike kira ba?”
“A’a. Ba ni bace”.
“Fati. Patu ka kira”.
If I shocked him, he didn’t show. He just walked back into the palour and yelled
And Patu was gone. For good.
Daddy frequented the Police Officers’ Mess. He would come back late, but not empty handed. He came back with berbecued chicken or pigeons. Unlike Maa that gave everyone equal portions, Daddy gave anyhow and if you were lucky you were still up when he came back, you ate double portions. He gave you that night, and Maa still had to give you in the morning. So you guessed right