Photo credit: Thinglink.com
It was just a few minutes to four in the evening, but it looked like eight in the night. It was raining very heavily, and everywhere was cold. I had gotten home just before the rain started, having rushed from work to the daycare to pick Deolu. I made hot tea for us both, and picked up a book to read, occasionally looking around for Deolu as he toddled around, his sippy cup in his hands.
I was reading “Born On A Tuesday”. I had bought the book because of its title which intrigued me. This was because Deolu had been born on a Tuesday. I am not a slow reader, but I had spent more than a week on the book already; thanks to all the chores around the house. I can’t read it at work, and once I get home, I usually cannot read more than two or three pages before I have to attend to Deolu’s cries, change his diaper, rock him to sleep, or cook some food for Tolu, my husband. Even as I read, I told myself not to spend too much time on the book, as I had to prepare Tolu’s dinner before he returned from work too. There are two things he does not like to be kept waiting for; his food, and me, in the “other room”.
I promised myself I would not spend more than one hour on the book, but I soon got so engrossed that I stopped checking the time. I stopped reading when I realised I could no longer see Deolu, or hear his babbles, I turned back to my book, thinking he must have fallen asleep behind the big couch as usual; but my concentration strayed from the book. When I checked the time, it was five thirty. I had spent over my promised one hour.
I went behind the big couch, but Deolu was not there. I went to the bedroom, and I still didn’t see him. My heart began to pound as I left the bedroom, calling my son’s name. I went back to the sitting room and frantically checked everywhere for him, yet I saw no sign of him. I ran to the kitchen and saw the door leading outside open. My jaw dropped as I tried to recall if I had locked the door behind me earlier but I could not. Deolu’s sippy cup lay on the floor in the middle of the kitchen, in a pool of tea that had dripped out of it unto the floor. I called my son’s name again, as I looked around and began to pull my hair in fear. Evil thoughts had begun to fill my mind.
I had checked everywhere in the house, now I had to check outside, but I didn’t want to go out for fear of what I would find. I walked slowly, my pulse loud in my ears. When I got outside, the rain had reduced to a drizzle. I saw different plastic containers that my neighbour, Mummy Sola, had put outside to collect rainwater. I saw the wide black container that Deolu liked to play with and I went to it. I was almost dead with fear as I peered into it.
My eyes reeled as I noticed something that looked familiar at the bottom. I peered closer and saw that it was Deolu’s sweater! I screamed as I put my hand into the water and withdrew the sweater. As I pulled it, it got heavier. When I pulled it out, it was not just Deolu’s sweater, but Deolu himself. His eyeballs had rolled back into his head, and his fair face had turned blue. I screamed as I sank to my knees in the rain and began to cry. Tèmí bàjé! I screamed my son’s name repeatedly as I cradled him in my arms and rocked back and forth. If only I hadn’t been so engrossed in the book! Now Deolu was dead!He died on a Tuesday! What would I tell Tolu?
Someone began to call my name but when I turned, I saw no one. I turned back to my son and continued wailing. Whoever was calling me did not stop, but I refused to answer. Soon, the person came close and rubbed my cheeks tenderly.
“Yeni. Yeni. Why are you crying?” Then the person held my shoulders and began to shake me. When I looked up, Tolu was crouched before me, worry on his face. I looked down at my arms, to show him our dead son, and I saw that I was not holding Deolu, but a throw pillow. I was not even outside, beside Mummy Sola’s black plastic container in the rain, but on the chair in the sitting room. I had dozed off, and my book had fallen out of my hands to the floor. I told Tolu about my dream, and he cradled me in his arms and told me everything was okay; Deolu was asleep behind the big couch; it was all just a bad dream.
Later, when I got up to go and make dinner, the kitchen door leading outside was open, and Deolu’s sippy cup lay on the floor in the middle of the kitchen, in a pool of tea that had dripped out of it unto the floor. I turned and ran to the sitting room to check behind the big couch. Deolu was not there! Instead, I saw Tolu on all fours, reaching underneath the couch and pulling something. He looked up at me, smiled, and said, “We need to change the position of this couch. Deolu has rolled under it.” I sat on the floor, put my head in my hands and began to laugh.