So many times I have tried to kill myself. Not like I really wanted to, like people do these days, but some of the things I did almost cost me my life at different times, even when my life was just starting. For instance, one hot Saturday afternoon, I was helping Moomi pick beans for dinner (we had just had our usual lunch of garri with groundnut), Daddy was washing his motorcycle just outside the house when a fine car, running at a speed too high for the slim path that runs through our street suddenly braked to halt to avoid collusion with an oncoming motorcycle. An accident was averted, but the car sprayed fine dust on Daddy’s motorcycle.
“It will not be well with you,” Daddy hollered after the car in Yoruba.
“It is well with him already,” Moomi said under her breath, “it is you who will die poor if you don’t quit this police work and get something better.” Moomi was a school teacher and everybody knew she thought that being a school teacher was better than being a policeman. But that was not what I was thinking when I made an attempt to end my own life that very minute.
“It is well with him already. It is you who will die poor if you don’t quit this police work and get something better,” I mimicked Moomi word or word, only that my voice was loud enough for everyone in the street to hear.
It was Moomi who started the onslaught. Three sharp slaps in my face made me forget, that Moomi was the kindest being God ever made. And it was really kind of her to stop there. Daddy on the other hand handled me like a terrorist. First it was his belt he used to fire shots at me – the thick black belt he used with his police uniform. I was on the edge of unconsciousness when he dropped the belt. And then, picked up a stout-hearted staff!
Moomi didn’t tell Old Soldier what I said. She just mumbled incoherently when asked what I did to deserve that kind of torture., Old Soldier didn’t ask again, rather he poked at my injuries as if they hold the answers to his questions.
“Carry dis boy go clinic,” Old Soldier said, looking up from a battered me lying down on his rickety couch. Old Soldier was rumoured to have been a soldier, a soldier-doctor. He retired and started selling drugs and household items. People also said that he helped pregnant women deliver their babies, and if the woman was too young, he removes the baby and flush down the toilet. Even in my pains, I couldn’t help but think of those women lying down on this same couch while he got the baby out of them.
“Wetin be your age?” Old Soldier would ask, after he must have gotten the baby out.
“Sixteen years.” The new mother would reply.
“Ok. I go flush this one. Na small girl you still be.”
“I am twenty-two.”
“You be sixteen. I go flush this -.”
“Arrrrrrgh!” I screamed as Moomi tried to lift me from the couch, jolting me back to the present.
“Dey careul,” Old Soldier said without meaning in his voice. “E be like say you break Ola ribs.”
Tayo Oladipo (@Tayo_Oladipo on Twitter) is a graduate of English Studies from Adekunle Ajasin University. He reads more than he writes and dreams of roaming the Caribbean Islands. Tayo flirts with poetry and fiction, and enjoys being single.