HERE IS A STORY as I remember it told to me in my childhood, and please do note that the keyword in that sentence is REMEMBER.
There was a boy like any other who lived in a town like any other. He had a name like any other boy (so we’ll assume something along the lines of Emeka, since it helps if our story’s hero has as rich a personality as my less-than-stellar imagination—or is it memory?—can provide) and in the same fashion, had a mother but not a father.
Or perhaps he had a father; one who was so seldom present in the lad’s life that he may as well have been said to not have had one.
But I digress.
So here we have a twelve-year old, all-around good kid named Emeka, who never talked back to his mother(whenever she was within earshot, anyway), seldom lied (which—let’s face it—is the best you can hope for from kids that age), and never stole. Until he did, the event around which this tale is spun.
All of that is ‘by the way’ however, and as I assume (and assume I assume correctly) that you haven’t got all day, I shall now proceed with the story.
It was a beautiful day; sunny but not particularly hot, with the spherical shape of the planet in evidence thanks to a nearly cloudless blue sky, and Emmy (an affectionate nickname given him by his mother, I imagine) was on an errand to the market for his mother.
This was a task that was quickly becoming routine, as his mother—a very busy woman—often entrusted him with shopping for groceries and even–in recent times–preparing dinner.
So confident was she in her young son that she never worried he might mess up. Not even on the oh-so-fateful day that he did.
I should now point out that like most children his age, Emmy had an immense love for sweets, so much so that whatever pocket money he had he squandered on whatever tooth-decaying delights he happened to set eyes upon. And as he headed to market on this oh-so-fateful day, what should little Emmy see but a roadside merchant with all his favourite sweets on display.
The boy had some money on him, not much; just enough for a piece or two of one of his favourites and in his childish naïveté he assumed that on an oh-so-fateful day such as this, that would be enough.
He detoured, headed for the merchant, an Hausa fellow—or aboki, as Hausas were commonly called—who I still believe used some sort of juju on the poor boy.
He bought a piece and gobbled it down, then finding he had enough of his own money left for a second, he bought and sniffed another within seconds.
He turned to leave, but the lure of the sweets he hadn’t tried yet was just too much. They, along with the aboki’s smile, seemed to say: go on, try us, we’re just so good that you’ll never get enough.
The boy thought about it, or at least thought he thought about it, and then decided that it should be okay if he only took a little from the errand money.
A little, as it tends to in situations like these, became a little more, and that became more, and more became a mindless glutton of a boy who ate enough sugar in one sitting to send a water buffalo into a coma.
A little boy who had spent all of his mother’s money on sweets. Money with which he was supposed to buy meat from the market and boil for her to use in preparing dinner when she came back.
In retrospect, it may have been better if he’d fallen into a coma, but of course he didn’t, because on oh-so-fateful days like the one he found himself in, such convenient escapes did not present themselves. So little Emmy did the only thing he could do: he began to cry.
He tried pleading with the aboki to give him at least some of the money back, but the merchant’s smile had turned upside down and now he and his sweets seemed to say, if you ain’t got no money, take your broke ass…
So he went home, dejected and dreading—no, not the disappointment he’d see on his mother’s face, but the ass-whooping he was bound to receive for his stupidity; for Emmy’s mother was indeed a woman known for her temper, and the one time she’d truly gone to town on him, he hadn’t been able to sit right for a week.
Time raced, apparently in a hurry to bring his mother home, and slowly but steadily, his fear grew into panic, until eventually it became flat-out terror. And as we all know, terror makes the dumbest thoughts sound as right as turning off the iron before bed.
(Now before you continue, I should point out that this part of the story, I am willing to swear, is exactly what I was told).
With that in mind, I think we can all understand why terrified little Emmy did what he did. After all, the problem wasn’t that he’d spent the money, it was that there was no meat. If he could simply replace the meat, problem solved. So he did… with one of his butt cheeks.
Yeah, yeah, gasp in horror all you want but the young man was trying to save his life, a concept you wouldn’t understand if you’re not African or have never seen an African parent effing-up their kid because of some minor transgression. His survival instinct kicked in is all, and he realised that a butt cheek in exchange for his life was a small price to pay. Really, I think we should cheer the kid more than anything. I mean, think of how much guts that must have taken (pun intended).
At dinner that night, his mother talked ceaselessly about how good the meat was (I swear I’m not making any of this up) while Emmy, making sure to shift all his weight onto his remaining buttock, nodded and mhm’ed in all the right places, while bearing the pain that accompanies a sliced-off butt cheek.
Time passes (a phenomenon we’ll never completely understand and definitely never control) and wounds heal. They scar of course, but those are simply reminders of our mistakes and a warning to do better.
Like how little Emmy’s missing butt cheek was a reminder of his mistake of trusting a smiling aboki merchant with sweets and a warning to do better. One he heeded, or thought he did. For fate was not yet…
You know what? I think it wouldn’t do to make you read three—maybe four—hundred words of what you basically just read, so suffice it to say fate was not yet done with Emeka (that, or fate enjoyed watching the boy feed his mom his ass, I know I do) and that it put the poor boy in much the same situation as a few months before, had him react in much the same way, and in the end produce more or less the same results. The only difference being that this time, he had no butt to sit on at dinner while his mother complimented the fatty deliciousness of his stewed ass.
Of course, his mother found out eventually (fate wouldn’t quite be done with the boy if she didn’t), although on the matter of how she did my memory is not quite clear. I think it had something to do with her watching him bathe… which now that I say it out loud sounds rather creepy, so I suppose it may be best left unremembered.
The important thing is, Emeka got his ass-whooping (or back-whooping, I guess, since he had no more ass to whoop) in the end, one that sent him into a three-day coma, and while I disagree with this because I think a mother who has discovered her twelve year old son fed her parts of himself is more likely to lose her mind and kill herself than punish him, I also have to ask: what do I know?
And there you have it, el fin. Before you leave however, permit me to share a thought with you on the matter of the moral of the story. I think it should be a warning to everyone who hears it: if ever you find yourself in a situation similar to little Emmy’s, you should just take the effing ass-whooping and move on with your life, rather than trying to feed someone your ass, because dude… seriously?
TASIE GEORGE is a Nigerian writer of SF&F who has more drafts than actual stories. He is fond of taking long walks that are supposed to be inspiring, but mostly just leave him feeling lethargic. "Don't You Just Hate Oh-So-Fateful Days" is his first published work.