He wrapped the belt around his left hand in anger. Lines of fury turned his face into a monster. He gritted his teeth in mad anger and lifted up his belt. The boy cowered, raising up his arms to receive the thrashing. His body could not take them anymore. It was already torn in various places. He whimpered expecting the belt to hit his raised hands. He was tired of crying.
One, two, three. He counted in his mind expecting the worst but it was not to be. He refused to look up or lower his arms just in case a deafening slap hit his cheeks. The last one he received still caused his left ear to ooze out pus. He had tried to no avail to stop the ear from leaking but it behaved as if it had a mind of its own.
Suddenly, he felt strong hands pulling him up. He knew he was done for. Why did I break the glass cup? He had tried to be careful while washing it in the kitchen zinc. He had been happy that he had completed the task without any mishap. But his happiness had been cut short as it had slipped off his hands as he was about to place it on the shelf.
“Kpa-ka.” The sound of the glass tumbler shattering broke the still silence in the house. He looked around with tears in his eyes. This was the only glass tumbler in the house and he had broken it. He stooped to pick the shards of glass. He tried fixing it back together even though he knew there was no use. But he could still make an attempt. Maybe by some supernatural power, the ruins of the glass would merge back together.
As he picked the shards, a thought occurred to him. He could cut himself with the broken glass, so he would not get beaten. That could earn him some sympathy. He could bleed out on the floor. The sight of blood could destabilize his abuser and he could receive compassion. He sat on the floor, the shards of glass still in his hands. He fiddled with a long splinter and the thought took shape. He wiped his cheeks. This was no time to cry. It was time to take action.
He looked at his arm and thought of the best place to draw blood. His mind went back to the movie he had watched last night with his abuser. The man had tied his upper arm with a rubber wire. The veins on his arm had bulged out as he did that and he had injected something into his arm. He remembered seeing joy on the man’s face as he smiled. He had heaved a sigh of relief before dozing off. Would I also experience the same joy? Would I smile and doze off just as the man had? The shard of glass in his hand was not an injection but he could make do with this for now. He wanted to experience the same happiness the man in the movie had. He wanted to smile again even if it was just for a moment. He was tired of crying every day. He never got anything right any longer.
Last week, he had broken the flower pot while he was cleaning it. He thought he could move it a bit, so he could clean the side away from him. That action had resulted in the flower pot falling off its stand. He looked at his shoulder and touched the open bruise. By next week, the bruise should heal if the belt of his abuser allowed it to rest.
Two weeks ago, he had broken a plate while he was in a hurry to get to his abuser. He had been told so many times that he needed to walk like a man. He did not want to get slapped for walking majestically; so he had broken into a run with the plate in his hands. Unfortunately, his right leg hit the door just as he was about to hand over the plate to him. He fell down and the plate in his hands came crashing down right before him. What he had been scared of eventually happened. The slap had been deafening and he had hit his head on the wall from the impact and the force with which it had come. His abuser was left-handed and he used it with dexterity. The pus still oozing out of his ears was a reminder of the fateful day.
He looked at his inner arm and rubbed it looking for a vein. He had to do it just like the man in the movie. There was no time to look for a rubber wire; he would just do it. He placed the splinter on his arm and tried to draw a line with it. He squeezed his eyes. It was painful. But the man in the movie had been happy. Maybe he needed to go deeper, so he could feel the same joy. He was contemplating on his next action when he heard the honk of a car outside. He looked around him. The shards of glass still lay strewn all over the floor. This was going to earn him extra lashes. He quickly kept the large splinter in his pocket as he grabbed a broom. He weighed his options. Should I run to open the gate or should I sweep away the broken pieces of glass? Which option would get me a lesser punishment?
He opted to sweep the broken glass away and let his abuser open the gate himself. The most he would get for refusing to open the gate was a slap. This time he would make sure he turned his right ear. He quickly swept up the little splinters and dumped them into the bin. He got out some old newspapers and put them in the bin. That should mask the evidence till evening when he would throw out the trash. He heard the voice of his abuser boom through the living room. It sounded louder than usual or was it his imagination. He got out the splinter of glass from his pocket and in a hurry, he slashed his wrist.
“Ade, Ade.” The voice roared in anger. He stood in the kitchen shivering. He angled his head to the right side expecting the slap. The abuser’s right hand was not as strong as the left. The slap would not be as painful.
But his abuser had other plans. He had removed his belt and he was wrapping it around his left hand. Ade saw his abuser’s face and his heart fell to the bottom. He was going to get lashed not slapped. He cowered as his knees collapsed under him. They suddenly felt heavy and unable to accommodate his weight. He lifted up his arms to receive the beating. He counted to three in his mind, waiting for the belt to hit him. But it did not. He wondered why. If he dropped his arms now, the slap would attack his left ear. He felt the strong hands of his abuser pulling him up by the shoulders. He struggled to stay down.
The story continues
By Bukola Adekusibe
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