… with olawale strapped tightly on her back, she made her way to the barrack where she was greeted with the sight of over crowded camp filled with people seeking refuge in the barrack and also waiting for the next vehicle that can transport them to the east. she was grateful to her ‘chi’ for saving her life and that of the little boy.
getting a good spot to settle with olawale wasn’t easy, it seems like the number of displaced people seeking refuge in the barrack was more than the available space. as she walked from corner to corner with Olawale now sleeping on her back, she was almost stepping on other refugees who were lying face down like dead bodies out of hunger, some were chatting noisily about the violent that was going on and their loved ones whom they lost, while others where looking idlely and seeing nothing in particular, one can hear the wailing of hungry children and the shout of frustrated mothers.
she looked around the dirty tent used for the refuge camp in search of a space, when she finally found one she made a quick move to it before another person takes it. she could see that every other refugee had a mat to use on the floor and was wondering where to get one in other to lay her sleeping little boy.
‘‘nwanne i nacho ebe iga enweta ute?” (are u looking for where to get mat?) her Neigbor, an igbo woman with her 2 daughters who were sleeping and her husband who was arguing loudly with another man, asked her.
‘‘eehm, sorry ma, am from Yoruba” she answered
‘‘okey, nwanyi ofe mmanu (a typical name Yoruba women are popularly known for) i know u need a mat for yourself and your son” her neigbhor commented
‘‘ yes, i was about to ask you where you got yours from”
‘‘ just get to that corner at the beginning of the camp, meet the officers in charge and tell them you are just arriving”
‘‘ok. thank you so much, please help me secure this space while i get the mat”
‘‘ ok. just be fast”
the queue was long at the officers offices, people were already loosing their patience in the hot sun and once in a while fight erupts from one point or another as people tries to maneuver another in other to be in the front roll. she took off her head tie, tied the edges around her neck and allowed it to flow down her back in other to cover Olawale from the hot sun. it finally got to her turn after a long wait, she registered her name and was waiting for the officer to hand the mat over to her. the officer, who must be from the north, gave her a sheepish smile, exposing a set of teeth darkened with tobacco and kola nut;
‘‘fine woman, oyibo pepe, see as your skin dey yellow, dey shine like fresh paw-paw” the officers was now laughing and looking lustfully at her
‘‘ please can you give me the mat now, my son needs to rest” she replied in disgust
‘‘ hei! see as you dey speak like oyibo, come make u tell you, if you need anything for this place ehe, meet me, i go give you” still smilling sheepishly
‘‘ the mat sir” she requested
she finally settled Olawale on the mat to continue his sleep and decided to go and get the pitiable food she saw some others eating since she has no money to buy even satchet water. it was already dusk before it could get to her turn to get the food and the vitamin drugs brought to the camp by some NGO’s
the officer in charge, a young man looked at her, savouring her body while licking his lips
‘‘ madam abeg wait for me inside make i come give you the one way dey inside”
‘‘ Ah! oga officer, my baby fit don wake now, abeg give me the one way dey here make i go give am” doyin replied
‘‘ madam i said you should wait ” he shouted
After waiting for a while, the officer came in and took her inside the office
‘‘ Ehe! madam, i say make u wait make i give you your own food and provision special” the officer said as he walks close to her trying to hold her in a romantic embrace.
‘‘ Ah ah, officer watin you wan do? “
‘‘you be pikin? you suppose know watin i want now or you no want the food again? ” asked the officer who tried to forcefully embrace her
‘‘ get off me you idiot” she shouted, pushing him off
‘‘ look make i tell you, for here i dey in charge o o, no be only food i go give you but i go give you plenty milk for your son and new wrapper so you fit change this dirty one”
‘‘sir please, i am married and have a son, all i need is a bow of food for my son and nothing else please. and dont come close to me again or i will scream so heard that those outside will hear us” she threatened
‘‘ see this woman o o, i wan help you and you dey do gai, common comot for here, you no dey serious o o, go make you and your pikin die out of hunger, i go push you o o”
‘‘what of the food oga, please dont do this for me, for my son’s sake please help me, just a little for my boy please…”
‘‘common shut up your mouth, which food, get out of here. when you are serious you come” he pushed her out.
her head was light, with tears blinding her sight she walked back to the camp only to see the mat empty and with Olawale missing.
‘‘no..no, where could he be?” she thought.
she asked her neighbor who said she was sleeping and didnt know when he left.
‘‘Olawale…O..la…wa..le!!!” she called out, shouting his name aloud. her eyes roving to and fro in search of him.
she was almost loosing it then she spotted him at the far end of the camp, standing beside a family who were eating without noticing him. he was trying to grab some yam from their plate while the woman who looked like the mother was shoving him off. and each time she does that Olawale cries. Doyin watched the scene like a movie, her son was being treated as a common begger and she blew the only chance she could have provided food for him. her tears was uncontrollable as she ran to pick him up, away from there.
‘‘Ola my son, i will not fold my arms and watch hunger take you away like the others” she came back to her mat pleaded with her Neigbor to look out for him and left with a speed. she was running as if something was after her, crying aloud and her breast flapping side by side with the force of her speed.
it was already late in the night when she knocked at the door of the office, the door opened and the officer opened the door as if he was waiting for her, he smiled broadly as he ushered her inside the little office, with no much words to say, she loosed her dirty wrapper and allowed it to fall on the flour. she eased herself on the floor and closed her eyes.
as he had his way, she refused to feel any physical pain, the only pain she could feel was the pain in her heart. at that moment all she could remember was that fateful day when she was gang raped and her family killed before her, as he thrust deep in her tears were running down her cheek as she opened her eyes and turn her face at the other side of the office, all she could see was the hungry face of her son Olawale…
…to be continued