Just a little…just a little…
“Junior, I’m home.” She let herself in, shutting the door behind her with her foot, her hands full of groceries. She could hear sounds coming from the parlor. Probably him stacking his toys again…as usual, no running to greet her, no “Mummy welcome!”…she sighed to herself.
“Aunty, welcome!” the voiced jarred her, almost causing the goods to drop. She turned to see the origin of the disturbance, and sighed again…not you again…
“Oh, Bisi, how are you?” she feigned concern.
“I’m fine oh. Thank God for life.” Why did she think her pesky neighbor meant more than she said by that? Knowing her, it’s because she probably did. As a result, she refused asking why she was here – she already knew she’d bring it up anyway.
“But…em…aunty?” *sigh* Here we go…
“Why did you leave Junior alone at home?”
She was not ready for this, not ready for any drama. “Bisi, please, I’m really tired from all the – ”
“But why didn’t you take him along with you? Leaving him at home all alone…”
“You want him to make a scene in front of everyone, abi? Besides, he’s nine years old, not a baby. He can take care of himself…” she was beginning to get angry.
“But you know that it is necessary for you to – ”
“Bisi!” she was almost yelling. “Please…I thank you for looking after him. If there’s nothing else, please leave me to prepare and rest for the evening.” She opened the door and stood aside. Bisi stood for a while, then decided to leave. As she stepped out, she looked her in the eye. The look wasn’t returned. She said anyway, “Aunty, it’s not your fault. You know that…if not, at least please believe it …” Bisi left. She closed the door…leaned against it, and wept, hard.
The rain poured heavily. Not a good omen for some, especially not on a day like this…
They settled in the parlor. Mama refused to look her in the eye. Everyone wished her condolences, but mama just remained cold. After everything had settled, she stunned her by walking up and spitting in her face!
“Mama?!” she finally replied after being shocked for a while. “What is the meaning of this?!”
“That is for taking away my son. I told him not to marry you, I warned him that they had said you were bad news! Now he is gone…GONE!” emotions were welling in her aged voice.
“But…mama! How am I to blame? It just happen – ”
“Shut up! Witch! How can a man die just one year after marrying?! AND IN A CAR ACCIDENT! Ah, my son! My son! Why did you marry this blood-sucker?!” she wailed into the heavens. “We told you….WE TOLD YOU! The way things were dying around you when she came into your life, we told you!” she raised enough noise to attract some relatives to comfort her. They all gave her dirty looks. Their minds were collectively poisoned. She ran into the backyard, pouring rain of her own….
“Pregnant?!” she stared wide-eyed.
“Yes! Congratulations ma! Why…why are you crying?” She’d being wondering why she was dizzy a lot lately, why she craved certain foods. Poor doctor, he didn’t realize he might as well have told her she had AIDS. She had just lost her husband, and now she’s told he impregnated her before passing away?! Won’t the calamity end? What would mama and her clan of loathers say now?
“You see? First, she takes away my only son…then, she gives me a brain dead replacement!”
Mama, after 3 years of pleading, had finally come to see her grandson. And she now regretted that action. She called his name, but he just stared at her, unresponsive. Then he turned around and started stacking his toys…one by one…chanting something vague to himself all the time…Mama thought he was playing hard to get, and tried playfully hugging him from behind – a huge mistake: he screamed and yelped like a snake had bitten him! Everyone was shocked! But not his mum…she’d known all along he wasn’t normal, but thought…prayed no one would discover. How foolish she was to have thought that.
Of course, if Mama and her family had had any doubts as to her being a witch prior, this baby boy was all the proof they needed…needless to say, she became a regular prayer point in their church…
“Your child needs special education”, Bisi had explained on one of her numerous impromptus. “But above that, he needs your love”.
“My love?! The boy doesn’t respond, hasn’t stepped out of this house since God knows when, screams when I draw near him, talk less of cuddling him…you should be here every morning when it’s time for his shower! I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant…”
“Don’t say that…God doesn’t make mistakes!”
“Are you s – ” she caught herself. “Where will I even get money for this ‘special education’ you speak of? My parents are in the village, depending on me too! I’ve been looking for work since, and what I do now barely scraps food for our table! Bisi, you’re not being practical!”
“So what do you suggest?! Don’t you know that a living dog is better than a dead lion?! I will help you where I can, but that’s pointless if you give up. We can do this aunty…we can make it work…where there is life, there’s hope.”
Poor Bisi…she didn’t know she was speaking to an already dead lion.
“Asperger’s Syndrome”. How come she still remembered what the doctors labeled it after all these years? Silly her, this was her only child from her only love – how did she think she’d ever forget? Preparing the night’s meal, the thought kept roaming in her head:
Just a little… Just a little…
Yes, only a little was required – the rat poison would be disguised well in his favorite stew…it’d be a fitting final meal for them both…yes, she’d follow her son too to the afterlife, so she’d explain to God personally why she did it, prove to Him why it was better her son died than live a pain-filled incapable life, and also why the world would be a better place if she weren’t around anymore. She was sure He’d understand, He was the All-Knowing God after all…
“Junior, supper’s ready”. He strolled in and immediately sat down to eat. Watching him, tears flowed down her eyes uncontrollably. He was so peaceful eating death! She sobbed and choked. He just stared at her, with straight eyes. If she hadn’t already eaten her share prior, her emotions would’ve bested her to stop him, now seeing his innocent eyes…but it was too late, she’d made sure…
She cried like a baby on the floor…then after, decided to risk it, and hugged him tight…to her surprise, this time, he didn’t scream out or begin agitating…
He just stared…then continued eating…as if he knew this’d be the last time…
She struggled to open her eyes, squinting, the lights being too bright…heaven? God did understand after all! Or maybe not: the buzz of activity and clapping of feet made her still fuzzy brain realize she was on solid ground, not floating in clouds…
“Imagine oh…this life is just unfair…” her ears picked up two conversing people…she tried to turn to see who they were, and that’s when she realized: she was strapped to the bed. Where was she?
“She go chop rat poison!” one whispered. They’re talking about me?
“Dem don call police…thank God her neighbor ran in when she did – any later, and she for dey mortuary now…” She closed her eyes…damn Bisi had butted into matters not concerning her again. What was her problem sef?! Her heart sank on the next words she heard, barely above a whisper from them:
“Her child was not so lucky…”
A single tear streamed down. Her son had left her in the world of the living. Damn, pesky neighbor you…
© Adeleye Adeolu, 2012. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story must be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the author’s permission.
- This write up was a challenge from Chinazar Okoro – I’d asked her to write a story on an extremely talented genius scared of attempting anything for fear of failure (read her story here), and she in return asked me to write one on a woman dealing with an autistic child.
- Don’t be ignorant about Autism – Autistics do grow up to have normal lives, they just need more love and nurture. Please find out more here, and here.