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Eki

Eki © Kevin Oselumhense Anetor, 2017

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

DISCLAIMER:

This eBook is purely a work of fiction, all characters, places, and situations described herein are merely figments of the author’s imagination.

Author’s Contact:

[email protected]

http://frkevinsstories.wordpress.com

+234 816 425 4347

Chapter One

Eki was used to pain. Her nine years of existence were marred by myriads of violence. Her parents had both died in an auto crash when she was four. She had been the only survivor. She had had to grow up in the house of an aunt she barely knew. She had no happy memories of childhood. None whatsoever! Only painful memories resided inside that tender skull. She knew the sting of her aunt’s husband’s koboko, and the feel of her aunt’s callused palms on her cheeks. The whips and slaps were her daily companion. There were as many scars on her flesh as there were stripes on a Zebra. She spent the first few years of her life wondering what crime she had committed. But at some point she got used to it. Some were born unlucky, she thought. She had never been inside the four walls of a school, and she barely had any friends…

“You no go sell your water?” The angry shout jolted Eki out of her reverie.

“Sorry sir”, Eki quickly apologised. “I dey under sun since morning. I just say make I rest small…”

“Stupid lazy girl.” The man cursed, and moved on to another lad who seemed more enthusiastic to get his satchels of pure water sold.

Eki looked up and down the dusty street. She was fed up with life. She was lonely; the ache and emptiness tore her insides. There were days she couldn’t find sleep; days she would stare up at the ceiling when the household was fast asleep. She would wonder why she could never eat on the dining table the way her aunt’s children did. Or why she never got new clothes or shoes. She would wonder why she had to do all the housework, and hawk satchels of pure water for money that no one needed.

“Hello beautiful!”

Eki looked up again. She was about repeating the same explanation she had given to the earlier customer…

“What’s a child like you doing here all by yourself?”

Eki could not understand what the woman said. She spoke through her nose in good English. How was she supposed to follow those many words?

The woman smiled and tried again. “Weytin be your name?”

“Ehn?” The young girl was obviously confused. She looked at the woman who was trying to make conversation with her. There was no way she wanted to buy bags of pure water. She was too well dressed. It seemed like she had even driven the big car that was parked very close to them. Eki wondered why she hadn’t heard any car sound. It must have been her thoughts.

“Yes my dear. Weytin be your name?” The woman was still smiling

“Me?” Eki asked, eyes bulging out of their sockets in utter amazement.

“Yes dear. You!”

“Eki.” Eki rose from her sitting position. Something told her she should not be sitting down while talking to such a beautifully dressed woman. “Sorry ma. Na your store be this? Sorry ma. I just say make I siddon here small. Sorry ma.”

“Oh no dear. It’s not my… Sorry. No be my store be this. Erm… Weytin be your Papa name?”

Eki did not know what to make of that last question. Why was the woman asking her many questions by the way? She dusted her torn dirty dress and suddenly made a run across the road. She kept running without looking back. She began thinking of the kidnappers her aunt always told her about. Maybe the beautiful madam had wanted to kidnap her. She had almost covered the entire length of the street when she recalled she had left her pure water bag where she had been sitting. She came to a screeching halt. Heart pounding, sweat beads dropping down her entire frame, she began the long walk back to the abandoned shed.

Chapter Two

Esther Onogbosei wasn’t the kind of woman to turn away from the poor and needy. She had gotten to where she was by sheer hard work. Her childhood had been far from rosy, so she was determined to contribute her quota to the society. It was this kind of disposition that made her stop before the girl child that hot afternoon. There was something about her. Perhaps it was the lost lonely look hanging around her tiny frame; something she was very familiar with herself, or the beauty that lay hidden within layers of dirt. Maybe there was some potential she saw on the child’s face or some kind of faint whisper deep in her own soul to save someone. Whatever it was, Esther knew the child was too young to be out there on the streets alone. She was too young. So she had stopped her car and attempted to converse with her.

As she stood there watching the child run off as fast as she could, Esther wondered what the little girl was running away from. She wasn’t a scary woman. In fact, she had tried to put on her best smile just for the occasion. There had been streaks on the child’s face; tiny bruises and scars that had their own stories to tell. Her eye sockets had been hollow and withdrawn, as though afraid to witness anymore evil. She had looked malnourished; her big head and tiny limbs told it all. Esther went back to her car and drove off in the direction the child had gone. With any luck, maybe she could still find her.

***

“Oga, I beg you see any half pure water bag here?” Eki asked the man she met sitting in the very spot she had occupied moments ago.

The man squinted at the child from the corners of his sad eyes. “Pure water bag? For here? No my pikin. Water no dey here.”

Eki knew she was finished. Where was she going to get the money to pay for her aunt’s pure water? Who was going to dash her money just like that? Why had she even run off in the first place? The questions kept berating her senses.

“Come oh, go ask those boys dia. E be like say I see them dey carry sometin from here dey go dat side when I dey come here just now.”

Eki looked at the direction the elderly man pointed out to her. There were about five boys sitting on their wheelbarrows. Each of them had pure water satchels in hand. They were busy spraying the contents on one another’s heads.

“Oga, thank you sir.” Eki made a respectful gesture, and ran towards the boys.

“I beg, una carry this pure water for that shed?” Eki asked as soon as she got close enough to the first boy.

“Huh?” One boy eyed Eki and nodded towards the other boys, “ask them”, and then he went back to reclining on his wheelbarrow. He was the only one without any pure water satchel in hand.

Eki moved closer to the group. “I beg, una carry this water for that shed?” She pointed again at the shed across the road. When she noticed the way the boys looked at her, she coughed and brought down her voice. “I beg, na one madam make me run leave am there. I been tink say she won kidnap me, na im make I run leave am, I beg. Na una carry am?”

Another boy looked at Eki and shook his head slowly. “Look us well, we be like thieves for your eye?”

Eki shook her head in the negative.

“Good! So weytin make you tink say we thief your water na? Shuo!” He looked to the other boys for support. None came. They just continued as though nothing was happening.

“You see? Nobody take your water. So get out! Oya, quick. Dey go!”

Eki looked at the bag on the ground, it was most certainly hers. It was still torn in the manner she had torn it that morning. It was her half bag of pure water that the boys took. She was certain. “Broda, I beg, na my water. I beg make una gimme money.” Eki went down on both knees and rubbed her palms over each other in supplication. “My anty go kill me today if I no come back with complete money I beg.”

“I say get out jor!” The same boy screamed. “You give us money keep? See your ugly face. You tink say your cry go make me giyu money wey I don dey suffer dey work under dis kain hot sun since morning? Abi you smoke beans?”

“Heo!” Eki’s hands flew to her head in a desperate reflex action. “Broda I beg. I just…” The force of the slap on her face cut off whatever words she had wanted to say.

“Weytin I do?” Eki jumped up and gripped the young boy’s tattered shirt at the neck. “You go kill me today ooo! You go kill me today. Weytin I do?” Her vocal cords erupted in a dry wail, like the sound of tired hungry dogs.

The boy raised Eki off the ground and threw her in the direction of one of the other boys. Eki hit her head on the handle of one of the wheelbarrows. She was immediately dazed by the blow. She remained on the ground, her blood seeping into the dark earth from the tiny gash that had appeared on her left temple. She felt so weak…

“Phew! Olololo ooo! O boy you don kill person. My hand no dey inside ooo.” One of the boys took his wheelbarrow and ran off in the direction of the market. The other four boys looked at the child and ran after their colleague, their wheelbarrows jumping and bouncing on the uneven earth. The boy who had been responsible for the blow could not think straight. He wanted to run as well, but his feet refused to move. He was torn between getting help and running off. When he saw that a small crowd was about gathering, he also took to his heels.

“Hold that boy. No let am run o,” he heard someone call after him. The boy let go of his wheelbarrow, increased his pace and disappeared into the market crowd…

Chapter Three

Esther continued driving slowly down the dusty market road. She was only a few kilometres to the end of it, and there was still no sign of Eki. Her Toyota Highlander finally came to rest at the end of the road, just before one fish seller’s shaggy shed. The stench of fresh fish hit Esther’s nostrils in a sudden wave as soon as she got down from the car. The din got higher; second only to the heavy buzz of flies. The fish seller looked up expectantly as the gorgeously dressed woman got down from her car.

“Madam na ice fish abi na smoke one you wan buy,” the man held up a pair of iced and smoked fish in her face, while attempting to swap at the flies with his other hand.

“Oh no Oga.” Esther made a casual gesture with her left arm, signaling she wasn’t interested in the fish. “I dey find one small pikin wey run come this side. One small girl like that.” She paused and looked round, “she no too tall like that, and she wear one cloth wey tear one kind…”

“Madam, I no see any pikin like dat,” the fish seller cut in. “Even if I see, I no go even know sef. Many pikins dey run pass here like say tomorrow no dey. You sure say you no want buy fish?”

Esther smiled and got back into her car. She had almost forgotten she had things to do. She decided against continuing the search. Some things weren’t meant to be. Turning the Highlander around, she drove back down the dusty market road…

***

Eki lay writhing in pain. After some time, she struggled to her feet and tried to press her forefinger to her head wound. A small crowd had gathered around her. But seeing that she was only mildly hurt, they began to disperse as quickly as they had gathered. People! Eki tried to stop the bleeding with her hands, but some trickle of warm blood found a way around her tiny finger and dripped down her left elbow. Eki staggered about for a second, trying to get her bearing. She had forgotten all about the pure water. She just needed to get home now. She hugged herself tightly with her one free arm and began the long walk back home…

***

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Eki

Orphaned at an early age, Eki soon realises that life is far from fair. From etching out a living amidst far from kind relatives, to daring the odds as a street hawker, she soon accepts her fate. When a beautiful lady steps into her life from nowhere, Eki is unsure if she is real or just another sad punctuation in her unfortunate story. Eki is a tale of the average girl child's struggle on the streets of modern day Nigeria.

  • ISBN: 9781370566969
  • Author: Kevin Oselumhense Anetor
  • Published: 2017-01-09 11:35:09
  • Words: 11324
Eki Eki