I was in the room working on a desktop. I’d locked the door so that my little angels (the last two girls) wouldn’t stop me from meeting my deadline. And then that noise from the living room came again. My child and his friends were on the PlayStation. They were playing football. I’d gone out about 30 minutes earlier and told them to turn their noise a notch down. But I guess, passionate as we all are, when our club scores a goal, they’d lost it and shouted again. I could already hear my son warning that they all should keep quiet, saying, ‘If my father hears us again, we may not see this PS for the next one month!’ Little did he know that I was already on my way to shut them down.
I had come out from the room and was flying to the living room furiously. I couldn’t believe why these boys would not do things as quietly as we used to do when we were kids. But then we didn’t have PlayStation. We had ‘langa’ and ‘gare-gare.’ And even those were not played quietly. Lollls. But it wasn’t a laughing matter as I was really mad at them. I was going to shut them down and tell everyone to go back to their homes. I had work to do. My house is not a stadium!
Breathing fire, I got to the living room. And as soon as I lifted the curtain and saw them, they all froze. ‘I sw.. swear Abba, I was just reminding them not to shout again,’ my son stammered. But my eyes were no longer on the bunch of kids in the living room. Out of the corner of my eyes, I had seen a figure peeping through the window. But the figure had vanished as soon as I looked in that direction. In this day and age when we have to be security conscious, I had to quickly rush to the door, open it and look to the window area.
A child, perhaps a six-year-old, was squatting under the window on the verandah. And as soon as he saw me, he jumped up and started running away. My eyes trailed his tiny figure as it was disappearing.
That was when, all of a sudden, something hit me. It hit me so hard that I just saw myself shout in the direction he went saying, ‘Kai!’ calling after him. He couldn’t hear me I concluded as the figure was getting farther and tinier. So I just rushed back to the house, slipped into the slippers and ran after him. It took me about a minute to catch up, because he had stopped and sat under a tree, perhaps to catch his breath.
The boy was startled to see me suddenly towering over him. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said in a cracked voice. He was quaking into himself as if he wanted to disappear into the ground. His eyes grew larger when I bent down and took his hands. I pulled him up and started walking with him towards the house. He didn’t even have the will to resist. He was just trembling and apologizing as we approached my house. He was promising he was never going to do it again. And I could see the silhouette of my child and his friends peeping through the window. But by the time we came into the house, with the boys hand’s clutched in mine, they were all seated on the floor, joystick controllers abandoned and PlayStation had been turned off.
I simply led the boy to one of the settees and made him sit down. I literally had to push him down for him to agree to sit there. I then looked at my son and said, ‘Continue your game. And give this boy something to drink, or eat.’ I then disappeared into the room, leaving them with wide-opened mouths.
Back in the room I sat down on my swivel chair facing the computer. I didn’t do this to the boy because I was an angel or because of a nice heart or because our humanity demanded it. To be perfectly honest, I noticed how dirty the kid was and I was wondering if something on him was going to smear the settee. Just that it wasn’t the time to worry about that.
I just did it because he and the circumstances in which I found him, peeping through the window to watch tv, reminded me of somebody. He reminded me of someone inside the old city of Kano in 1984.
He actually reminded me of… ME.
By Auwal Sani Anwar