Nifemi ran as fast as she could, almost stumbling on the way. Her little nine-year-old body struggling to keep up with her excitement. Every Friday she went to the market side to watch cars entering and leaving the village, as people travel more during the weekend so she specifically chose Friday so she could see enough to last her for the week. So every Friday after leaving the community school she attended, she ran to the market side to watch cars because the car park was too far and bami wouldn’t allow her to go that far. She always made sure she got home before her father. That was the agreement they made.
She called her father bami, my father in Yoruba. He meant a lot to her, she needed to signify ownership, as an only child with her father acting as both father and mother. Nifemi’s mother died when she was three. She could hardly remember her but she heard she died of malaria. She was told how much she was like her mother. Her father sometimes called her Abike, her mother’s name. Sometimes she would stare at the black and white photo of her mother, others times, she would talk to her especially when she was upset.
She boiled yam for dinner when she got home and she waited for bami to come home before eating. She saw him walking into the compound and she went to hug him. Bami lifted her up and swung her.
“Omo mi, my child. How are you?” He dropped her carefully, making sure her slippers were intact.
“Fine bami, I went to watch motors in the market and I cooked yam”
“My daughter is growing o. Cooking yam with no help.”
Nifemi was filled with pride. But later when eating the yam, she knew the yam was not properly cooked and it had too much salt but her father would say she did a great job and she was an excellent cook.
After washing the plates, bami bathed her, scrubbing her body hard with a wooden sponge and telling her stories. Later while bami was sleeping, Nifemi snuck out to do her homework. She read it, it was simple and she knew it but she couldn’t write it. She tried hard but her hands hurt and the writing came out awful. She started crying, knowing the humiliation she will face in school. That is why she lied to bami that she had done her homework. She returned her books and went to bed, crying as she fell asleep.