Abel was surprised to hear of lockdown. That it was something new to people. He’s been in it his whole life, except for when he goes to school and church, plus the occasional visit to some family member somewhere. His ma says the whole world is going mad.
Today is Saturday, Ma would soon be outside with her pestle and mortar, pounding furiously on boiled plantain and cassava. Abel loved Saturdays. On these days, he could come outside and play with the children next door. They’d bring empty tins of Ideal Milk and sardines; fasten them with bottle covers which were secured through holes punctured at four points in the tins-usually with his school compass. Then, they’d put a roughly estimated length of broomsticks through the hole and attach it to the bottle tops. Everyone would make their own car and then they’d have a race on the compound. The girls would sit by the women, picking pieces of the pounded food that landed on the ground and scurrying off to make their own special meals.
In the middle of their car game today, Abel remembered something. He dusts the sand off his shorts and runs to his Ma.
“Ma, last night, I saw Uncle Attah in his bed and he was sleeping on top of one girl. what is the meaning of that?”
“Shut up! You didn’t see anything. Bad boy. Bad boy. Go back into the house.”
Abel’s shoulders drop as he walks away from his Ma. One of the older girls who were playing on their phones called when he was out of the sight of the adults. She pulled him into a corner.
“I can show you what they were doing. It is a very good good thing. It is called ‘Mama ne Dada.”
The girl puts her hand in his shorts and plays around. Abel looks at her, not understanding but yet, enjoying the moment.
“Don’t you like it?”
“Y….ye..yesss”, Abel stammers.
“Keep your mouth shut and it will be our little secret. Okay?”, the girl says and Abel and nods in response. She takes his hand and slips it under her skirt.
These days, all Abel looks forward to are Saturdays with the older girls. It’s those feelings he likes even more than playing with the other boys. Last week, he didn’t join his friends when they tied the ends of clothes around their waist and held the other two ends up high, in raised hands. Soaring with the wind in their back.
Today, he wasn’t even paying attention to the game they were playing. Araba, stole the tin from his hands. Abel chased her about. Jumping over the lazy cat, running into the bucket queue. He finally tripped over a stone. Abel fell with on his face with a loud thud and immediately run to his father whose muscles were bulging as he hit the pestle against the mortar.
“Da, Araba has taken my tin from me”, he wailed.
“Be a man. Wipe those tears boy. What do you think you’re doing coming to report to me? Go back there and make sure she knows who is macho. Hurry up before I slap you. Never ever let a girl beat you in anything” his father retorts.
Abel looks at his mother, hoping she’ll be more comforting but Ma ignores him and keeps turning the fufu this way and that, wetting it with water when she needed to.
“Are you still standing here?!”, his father screams. Able rans away before his father had the chance to throw anything at him. He notices the girls in the corner waiting for him. He shuffles towards them.
************************18 Years Later************************
“Why can’t you just love me Abel? You’re always busy moving around with one girl after another. It’s too much. You’re never at home, always out chilling and playing with the boys”, Abel’s girlfriend, Louisa shouts.
“Just go already Louisa, I was just having some fun. It was nothing serious but since you’re making such a big deal out of it, why don’t you just leave?”
“Women are not just things you can take and throw away when you’re done Abel. We are people. We are gods.”
“Yeah well, then just go destroy somewhere else, ‘god’” he sniggers, air-quoting with index and middle fingers on each had.
“You’re messed up and I hope you never find love.”
Louisa storms out only to return with two eggs.
“Wow, hold on there girl. should I bring you some pepper for those eggs?”
Louisa stands in the middle of the room and drops the egg to the ground after shouting that Abel will be miserable all his life. Abel just stares at her passively sends a text.
“Hey Hannah, come over tonight?