Save These Juices with Tosan Tarre
Shine, Star, Shine
Today’s story was inspired by a little house help I knew in my preteens. She was a couple of years younger than I was, highly mistreated by her madam, with cane marks stretching down her back, her neck, her hands, these torture to mention a few. Yet in the midst of this ill-treatment, possessing such a sweet spirit that never let her transfer any frustration or aggravation on the three children of her madam. Not once! and I knew her for almost a year.
Wherever you are M, I hope life treats you better.
(Image source: Google)
It started as another regular quarrel on another normal day, and everything went haywire. Four days and counting and there was still no news on Made’s whereabouts.
When Made came to live with us I really can’t remember but I’ve always known she was unloved by Mummy.
Mummy told me many frightful things about her, most times in hushed whispers lest anyone happened on us suddenly.
Made was disabled in the left leg, short and bent; this was because (Mummy told me) her own mother was a witch and had given Made some witchcraft too. I was to separate myself from her lest she gave me witchcraft too.
Mummy treated Made kindly only when Daddy was present but badly when he wasn’t, calling her names, “dirty housegirl” topping the list. Sometimes, it was painful to watch her, disabled leg, lifting very heavy things and doing tedious work; so against Mummy’s wish, when she wasn’t watching, I stole away to assist her with the chores.
But Made was kind, vibrant and full of life. I know this because at night between the hours of 8pm – 9, shortly after dinner, when Mummy was asleep (for she retired early to bed), Made and I would sit at the verandah and talk about many things.
She wasn’t particularly interested in formal education (this strengthened Mummy’s belief that she was a witch as witches were averse to anything good) and so was repeating the same class for the second time. I don’t think she was bothered.
One thing I noticed about Made during our nightly conversations was her fascination with the stars. She promised me that if she was given a choice and the power on where else to live, it would be in the sky as a star.
Because stars have no worries or fears and nobody hates them, she said and then in a sad sad voice added, You know your Mummy hates me, right?
I’d look away, embarrassed, unsure of how to answer that or even if I should answer. I did wish that Mummy would treat her better sometimes.
Lately, things grew worse, Made’s workload doubled, her punishment harsher and her food ration (when Daddy was at work) smaller. And then she began to complain and murmur and that attracted more punishments.
It was a hot afternoon when Made’s period first came. She didn’t understand what it was and so came out of the toilet crying, her thighs stained with blood. I screamed for Mummy, crying along with her that Made had injured herself in the toilet.
Mummy came immediately, stared at Made and then berated her, harsh and angry words that made my ears grow hot.
Made bent her head shamefully and was told sharply to go and clean herself in the bathroom. Which she was about to do when Mummy called her an aje buruku.
And that was how it all began.
It was as if one of those demons that Celestial prophets often casted out of their members to the bottomless pit left there and took over Made’s soul for she turned round and spoke to Mummy in a way she never had.
Her rudeness was replied with a backhand slap, the kind that sent you flying back, waves of electric shock dancing round your head.
Made did not fly backwards nor did she hold up a hand to massage her stinging cheek. She simply gave Mummy one long hard look and hobbled out of the house.
A month has passed since this incident. My third-term exams are drawing near and there’s still no sign of Made. Our home is not the same. Daddy hardly talks to Mummy these days and Mummy cries and blows her nose everyday.
As for me, I miss Made. I miss our nightly conversations. Many times after Mummy and Daddy had retired to bed, I would raise my curtains and stare at the dark night full of bright stars through open windows, wondering if Made has fulfilled her promise and has really gone up there to heaven to live as a star.