Her children had the latest clothes and gadgets while Chibuzo had nothing apart from the second hand clothes she bought him from the local market. They had moved into a decent neighborhood and chibuzo was glad about this. He was content as long as he had a place to sleep and eat. He had grown thinner and looked shabbily. He had no friends since all the kids in the neighborhood were always in school or busy with their school work when they got home. The only person who was a little kind to him was Kamsy, and that was when his sister and mother were not around. Chibuzo suspected that the boy was on drugs, but he kept it to himself. His suspicions were confirmed one day.
He had come back from the borehole where he went to fetch water. The queue had been much, so he had to wait for his turn. It took two hours before it reached him. On getting home, he was tired and hungry. He opened the door to kamsy’s room where his clothes were and was shocked at what he saw. Kamsy in the company of four boys were injecting themselves with a substance he didn’t know. He retreated but not till Kamsy saw him. Later, he approached him when chibuzo was washing plates. Chibuzo knew he was standing there but said nothing.
“You will tell no one what you saw today right?” Kamsy asked chibuzo a little bit scared.
“I saw nothing” was all chibuzo said. He was disgusted with Kamsy but didn’t tell him that.
‘Good, they wouldn’t believe you anyway. I’m the obedient child remember?” he said with a quivering voice. When chibuzo didn’t say anything, Kamsy went on,
“And don’t forget am on your side chibuzo. Don’t forget that”
After he left, chibuzo exhaled. He was starting to hate Kamsy. Apart from the drugs, he didn’t like the way he looked at him sometimes. Like a piece of meat. Only God will save me in this house, he said within him.
He was not allowed to watch television in the house, but one day, he was so bored that he turned on the television when the woman had gone out. He was so engrossed in a movie he was watching that he didn’t hear the woman come in. She saw him sitting on the sofa and said nothing. He greeted her, and she answered and entered her room.
He was surprised and happy that she didn’t scold him. He balanced well and continued watching the movie. Suddenly she came out with the koboko she had bought specially for him. He jumped up and made to run, but she was faster and blocked his path.
“Kneel down!”She shouted.
“Am sorry ma, I won’t do it again” he begged
“It’s too late for that.” Chibuzo complied. He stretched out his hand, but she ignored it and flogged him all over the body. He refused to cry, and the woman got madder. She continued flogging him until he fainted. It was as if it was then that the spirit that possessed her left her. She immediately ran and fetched a bucket of water. She dumped all of them on him, and he woke up choking.
“Next time don’t do what I told you not to do,” She told him and left. He was still where she had left him when she entered again and told him to go and fetch water at a compound down the street. He couldn’t get up. He was in serious pain. He started crying. The neighbors had heard the sound of the koboko, but they all stayed inside their houses. When she came out again, saw him still at the spot. She took the gallon and went to fetch it herself.
After four rounds, she started cooking. The smell was heavenly, and Chibuzo couldn’t wait to eat it. He even helped in preparing it. When the food was done, he brought out plates. She only took one plate from him and dished out food. He was still there, and she started eating.
“Ma my plate is here, “He said stretching out his plate. She ignored him and continued eating her food. Chibuzo continued looking at her expectantly until she finished her dinner. She stood up, took the pot inside her room and bolted it from inside. He dropped the plate and went to his sleeping place which was in the sitting room on the tiled floor. They had a mat, but he didn’t have the permission to use it. He was so hungry. Why is she doing this to me? He asked himself. He was still thinking about this when he fell asleep. This happened so many times. The woman decided not to be flogging him again. She had panicked when he fainted. Starving him will be a better punishment, she thought
One day, Madam Cecilia announced that she wanted to start selling bread since it was what most of the families in their neighborhood had for breakfast. Chibuzo groaned. He knew he was the one that will end up selling it. It was humiliating. The other children will laugh at him. The business commenced the following week. Chibuzo was woken up by 5:30 and given a tray full of bread to carry around. He was mandated not to come back until he had finished selling it. He took it and started going around. Some of his mates on their way to school saw him and laughed pointing at him. He swallowed the bile emerging from his throat. The humiliation was too much for him to bear. He had been doing this for a month when one early morning around six o’clock on his way to sell the bread; he heard people shouting ‘thief.’ He saw a boy of his age run pass him. He dropped his bread and took to his heel. He didn’t know what he did was a mistake. Since he had not eaten and was still feeling sleepy, he couldn’t run fast enough, and the people who were chasing the thief caught up to him. He tried to explain to them that it wasn’t him but they started beating him. They broke his nose in the process, and blood started rushing out. When the people saw this, they stopped and dragged him to the police station.
On the way, he fainted, but they carried him like that all the same. When they reached the station, he became conscious and started crying. His face was bloody, and he couldn’t get up. The DPO asked him his name and where he lived. He told them, and a policeman was sent to go and call his guardian. Chibuzo continued telling them he was innocent but they paid a deaf ear to him. The man who claimed that his things had been stolen kept insisting that he’s the one. He was there for the next thirty minutes when the policeman who had been sent out came back alone. He said that he saw the place, but no one agreed that they know him. He was even directed to the Woman’s place, but she denied knowing someone like that. She told him that she only lived with her two children who were twins and showed him a photograph of the three of them.