Their red house

A Story of Lost Trust and Stolen Innocence

“Mummy, our neighbor has a new houseboy!” I shouted in delight as I ran to welcome my mother from the gate. I took a long look at the angel dressed in white and gave her a big hug. My mother was a nurse in a General hospital and when I grow up, I wanted to be a nurse just like her so that I could give people injection.

“Did I teach you to stand like that when an elderly person comes into the house?” My mother reprimanded firmly. The knots in my Story of Lost Trust and Stolen Innocence

y head immediately fell into place as I quickly collected her handbag from her hands and launched into a detail explanation of the events surrounding the coming of the newest member of the estate.

The next-door neighbor was a very busy man with a very lazy wife. They had six children and watching them run from their red house each morning for the school runs always looked like a hen trying to gather her chicks before crossing a busy Lagos traffic. Their inner life was obviously worse of as his wife could not cope with all six children. They both decided to get a house help.

In the early hours of the morning, I saw when Uncle Ben, the younger brother to our neighbors wife highlight from an Okada with his first son, Ikenna. Ikenna was tall for his age and his light skin was so clear it almost looked as though he was one of those foreign kids I watched on TV. 

I heard from Chichi, our neighbor’s daughter that Ikenna was 14 and he had just written his junior WAEC. Chichi was my friend, she was 12 and I was 10. It only made sense that the central point of our conversations circled around our mummy and daddy.

Chichi raised her shoulder and said to me with a pump in her voice; “His father does not have money, so he told my Daddy that Ikenna should be washing our cloths and helping my mummy so that my daddy would send him to SS1” I nodded to Chichi as if the human exchange made sense to my little mind. I turned my attention back to the gate and watched as Ikenna moved his belongings into their red house as he watched me move the biscuits into my mouth.

My mother and I entered into the house and before I could launch into another story of my daily escapades, she stepped into the kitchen and began the wifely duties of keeping the home. “Mummy now…” I said in frustration. I had no siblings and I needed her attention.

“Somto, what is it now?” Mummy shouted. The sharp reprimand hit its mark and I sulked my way to my room to cry myself to sleep. 

A jerked awake from my bed. The entire room was so dark one could almost touch it. I looked around and wondered what woke me up. Daddy had travelled so I was alone with mummy in the house. Mummy was sound asleep and I could hear her gentle snore from her deep sleep.

Then I heard a grunt. It came from our neighbor’s house. Our houses were close enough that Chichi and I used the windows to communicate anytime my mummy grounded me for misbehaving. I quickly stooped to the ground and crawled to the adjourning window.

Then I heard the grunt again and a young child began to sob. A hoarse male voice filtered across the window, He said, “Shh, stop crying or I’ll send you back” Everywhere went quiet. I froze in the spot, too sacred to move, I did not want the man to catch me.

The grunt continued and strange sounds filled my naïve ears until I floated back to sleep. In my sleep, I dreamt of men in white office shirts and demons chasing children, maybe tomorrow I will ask Chichi why Ikenna was crying in their big red house.

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