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Sweet Sixteen 19: Stereotype


Chelsea won their match. Daddy was happy. But we could not continue our conversation because he had to go out. I did not even know the time he returned home that night.

I tried to wait up for him by reading the book he gave me in the morning, The Prophet. It turned out to be a very good sleeping pill. I should have known. I was never a night person. Once the sun went down, my brain also shut down. I think I was solar powered. During examinations, some of my friends would stay up all night to study.

I couldn’t do that to save my life. I tried it once, and it turned out to be a serious waste of time. I couldn’t even go through a chapter and I spent half of the following day sleeping or sleepwalking. Thank God it was a weekend. Since I realized this, I tried to study as hard as I could during the day and free myself up for a good night’s sleep.

I once read somewhere that God created the day so we could work, and night so we could rest. God probably had me in mind. My favorite sleeping position would remind anyone of a full grown fetus that was reluctant to be born. Even after I woke up, I just lay there motionless, booting up slowly like an old computer.

When I eventually opened my eyes, I was hit by blinding sunlight streaking through the space between my pinky curtains. I jumped up, rushed for the door, locked it and rushed to the bathroom.

The easiest way to get into trouble with my father was for him to know you had not said your morning prayers when the sun was already up. After the prayers, I slipped into my soft slippers, the ones Auntie Molara gave me, which looked like rabbits. They even had two long ears.

I knocked on Daddy’s door, but he answered me from downstairs. “Morning, sleepy head,” he shouted. I sauntered down the stairs to find him on the dining table with Mummy. They were both nursing their cups of tea. I knelt on the ground to greet them. “Ekaaro ma; ekaaro sir.”

“Kaaro o, oho mi Alike. Se a ji daadaa?” Mummy said in response. She was especially fond of the Yoruba morning greeting. “Adupe ma,”I answered. “Have you said your prayers?” Daddy asked.

I nodded yes. Thank God he did not ask me what time I said the prayers. That would have started the morning on a bad note. With my Dad, if you said your prayers on time and did not tell a lie, you could almost get away with anything else. I went into the kitchen to make my own tea and joined them at the table.

I listened as they chatted away about all sorts of things. Mummy was talking about something that happened at the hospital where she worked. I had not taken more than three sips at my tea when Mummy asked what we wanted for breakfast. After considering a couple of options, we settled for yam and fried eggs.

Mummy and I then left Daddy at the table to get the breakfast ready. As we ate our breakfast, I asked Daddy when he would be ready for us to pick up where we left off the previous day. He said we should wait until Mummy left for work. Mommy wondered if we were plotting against her.

“What are you two planning that you had to wait until I go to work?” she asked. “Don’t worry Mummy, we are not plotting anything,” I answered. “Whatever; too bad for the two of you, I am off today.” “Well, we can still execute our plans even in your presence,” Daddy said and laughed. As I watched them continue with their banter, it occurred to me that Mum was the luckiest woman in the world; to have found a husband like Daddy.

I used to wonder if they ever quarreled at all. But I soon found a way of knowing when they were having any issues. While Daddy would carry on as if everything was okay, especially if I was around, Mummy was like an open book. She would become irritable and angry about everything.

She would even start to look physically sick. Whenever she was like that, I knew better than to approach her for anything. I would safely tuck myself out of her gloomy way unless she called for me. In which case, I would try to put on my best behavior and do whatever she asked. Even then, I could hardly escape her tongue lashing. “You are spoilt.

You don’t know how to do anything. Kii se ejo e. It’s because you are the only child I have. Nonsense.” I dared not even as much as a cough. Similarly, you knew that the storm was over when you heard Mummy singing around the house and calling Daddy “Babe”.

Luckily, the bad days were very rare. Most of the time, they were as thick as thieves. The TV was on in the adjoining living room. Even though I could not see what was on the screen from where I sat, the volume was high enough for me to hear everything that was being said. It was a news channel.

Another Roko Haram bomb attack was being reported. Several people were said to have died in the attack, which happened at a local market. “I wonder when this madness will stop, “Mummy said in a weary voice.

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