I standing here.
I holding Waiting for Godot.
I wanting to read in hall but light in hall is offing and oning.
Offing, I seeing nothing.
Oning, I seeing her face.
* * * * *
Saint Peter’s big – big like stomach of woman with twelve children inside. When morning come, somebody hit bell and people come Morning Mass. People plenty; and it good because Saint Peter’s where we sleep and eat and do business. And business is we bring hand and talk, “Abeg, help. I not eating, I not going school, I sick,” and people give money.
Before-before, every Sunday one woman coming and she giving us rice, plenty rice. Ele say Bomboi say that woman not getting children; so she giving us rice for to getting children. Bomboi leg break and plenty spit come from his mouth. So I not agree. Pa, our head, agree; and Old Mama agree.
I not get friend. But before-before I get friend from dump.
Jimi is fine dog. When I going dump and getting bread and toothpaste and fine-fine book, Jimi follow; and I giving Jimi bread.
Ele hit Jimi neck with rod and Jimi fall and shake and die.
So I not get friend long. Till one week Pa go his village. That is how that Saturday night like that Pa come from village with bicycle and small somebody. We sees him but we not running to him for welcome because we not wanting people to seeing, before they saying beggar people has fine-fine clothe and fine-fine bicycle; and they not giving us money again. That why Pa going in night and coming in night.
Pa go to back and he changing clothe and he come out with that small somebody for front of hall we sleep. Then we come round and we happy because he come back. They smiling and asking village and family. Ele ask Pa his goat with big stomach.
“E don born. Three.” Pa face shine like NEPA. Then he turning hand to back and show us small somebody he carry come. He push her to centre like she is bag of clothe. Pa tell us she not having mother and father. She walk up and down village and he see her and carry her come.
“She go follow us,” Pa talking.
“Aah, you don do well for am,” Ele telling Pa and she shaking head like head pain her. “But you go teach am, make she no go fall hand.”
Pa say, “No wahala. Na me be her coach.”
“Wetin be her name?” Bomboi asking.
“Small girl, tell them.”
We looking her long. She not talk. She not talk at all. Old Mama talk that Pa have bring person that not talking. Ele say that good, say people are give her plenty money because she not talking.
“She fit talk.” Pa touch her. Pa do and do and shake-shake her. Old Mama say, “Leave am. She go talk when she don dey well here.”
“But she talk for village, even as we dey come now!” Pa stand and walking.
Every of us go sleep.
That small girl go far under tree.
I not sleep.
I open eyes.
I look her and look her as I lying down.
I not remember, but I read in one book and they saying people like her is call ‘recalcitrant’. I liking that sound. So, now, I calling her Recalcitrant.
Every of morning, Recalcitrant sitting there under tree and only we doing business. Pa not happy. He go and be dragging her and saying, “If you wan chop for here you must to beg money. Or I no go give you shishi. You no see other people?” Recalcitrant do face like cry and she bring head down. I wanting talk with her, but I fearing Pa and Ele. Me is small boy and they saying I not do good for things. So, for morning I staying for gate for business; for night I staying in hall and reading book from dump.
I try well so I not thinking Recalcitrant inside me, but I worry and worrying well.
I starting sees her trying for business. I watching under tree. She walking to one woman and she look the woman and do face like cry and the woman say, “Oooh. Small girl. Is you crying? Take money. Not cry.” The woman giving Recalcitrant five hundred; and Recalcitrant looking the money, then she looking me under tree.
She trying more. Pa happy. Ele saying, “That small girl wey no dey talk go make plenty money for here. I swear. Me, na this useless small boy wey no sabi anything…” I shifting fast because when Ele talking like this she beat-beat me.
Inside one Sunday, people coming out like breeze. I running inside people and I start bringing hand. I see for there people giving Recalcitrant plenty money. I trying. Only one man giving me. He come and he pressing phone, putting wires to ears and I running and touch his clothe. He turning, putting hand for trouser and giving me hundred.
Recalcitrant is look me.
I starting to dance Michael Jackson. I dancing and she smiling, till one strong thing pull my hand and my hundred fall. Ele dragging me go back of Saint Peter’s and she beat-beat me.
“Make I see you dance again.” She walking like lion I see for TV outside before-before.
I come out, rub my face. Church people has finish. Then Recalcitrant stand for my front. I wanting saying sorry because I dance Michael Jackson and wanting to spoil every of us business. But she starting smile and she show me hand. She is get my hundred. I smiling. She do her head to tell me collect.
I collect. She go.
I thinking how I saying thank you.
Then I running.
And I buying cucumber and banana and groundnut. I running to back of Saint Peter’s. Plenty big stone there, and I keeping them there. I coming back for inside Saint Peter’s and I looking. I not see Recalcitrant. I walking small and walking small and I looking inside hall and I seeing her for window and I going to her.
“Come,” I telling her, “I showing you something.”
I taking her hand and we walking pass backyard door and we go back. We climbing plenty big stone and she asking, “Where we dey go?” I pointing finger there.
We reaching there and I telling her sit for big stone. I bring cucumber and banana and groundnut.
“You steal am?”
I smiling and I sitting and I telling her, “No, I buy it for telling you thank you for my hundred.”
Recalcitrant carry one banana and she open and she chop. She pour groundnut inside mouth. She say, “Sweet.”
I chop banana and groundnut and I say, “Sweet.”
She leave banana and groundnut and she chop cucumber and she look me and she say, “E cool inside.”
“You not liking it?” I asking. She shake head. I carry cucumber and throw way.
“Who teach you to read book?” she asking me and she opening banana.
“Church Father before-before like me and Mama when she live.”
I looking down and every of things down looking small, house small like paper that is tear and people small like ant.
“He come to Mama and he say this boy must going school. Mama say she not getting money. Church Father say no, I is bring money and every of things. I start. I go school long and Mama come and die that time. Church Father come and tell Ele take me for son. And after that Church Father come and go and they bring new. New Church Father not paying my school. I stopping.”
“Na why you no dey follow us talk for pidgin?” Recalcitrant keeping mouth like rat. I smiling.
“I wanting speaking better English like that woman who is give you five hundred. I wanting to go school again and reading.”
Recalcitrant looking down and she point and say, “See as people for Saint Peter’s small.”
I laughing and say, “Like ants.”
“I no go school at all,” she talking. “Na farm we dey go. One day our village come follow another village quarrel. They come dey kill people anyhow. They kill Papa and Mama.”
I look and she have cry face. She continue and she saying now she not sleeping, she say she seeing her Mama and Papa when she sleeping, she say they having blood in mouth and they calling her come.
“Let two of us reading this night,” I telling her. I looking her face. She looking heaven and she saying, “Okay.”
For that night I taking her to hall with light and we sitting. I carrying one book. I liking the book because it get picture of small boy in front. This small boy not smile. This small boy is being like me and the book name is Kaffir Boy.
I reading and Recalcitrant smiling like she understand. I not understand every of things, but I smiling too.
Till one mosquito fall on top the book and she slap it with force.
When she remove hand I see tiny blood cover one word.
She look me, smiling; I smiling, she laughing, I laughing.
Laugh bring her head come my legs.
I stop laugh.
She stop laugh, like Saint Peter’s generator – slow, slooow, stop.
Be like she sleep. I touch her neck. She move.
Then I hear noise from door.
I look and see Pa.
“Hey!” Recalcitrant jump up to him. When she reach, he drag her to outside. I hearing Pa’s talk. “Make I no hear say you go meet boy wey no get anything, small boy like that. You hear? Ngwa, go and sleep.”
* * * * *
Somebody hit bell for morning, I stand from sleep. Pa is run every place. I see Old Mama as she put hand for head and she cry. I see Ele as she saying, “Wetin na? Who tell her where una keep money? Where she don run go? Hey, wahala o.”
Bomboi sit under tree there. He look me like TV. He not remove eyes; spit fall from his mouth.
I walking inside hall.
I feeling like somehow inside.
I feeling like that somehow I feel when Ele kill Jimi.
I feeling cold, like inside of cucumber.