Running away from home

Posted in 3 - Children of the World, Africa

by Kola Onadipe Illustrations by Bruce Onobrakpeya

I've always been afraid of water. When my friends went swimming, I stayed away because my mother had made me promise that I would never swim, and I have kept this promise very well.

That day, after having spent a long time on the shore trying in vain to catch some fish, my friends took off their clothes and jumped into the water. I stayed on the shore, looking at them. They made fun of me and they called me “mom's son”. I was tempted to jump into the water to show them that I was not as dumb as they thought.

He was looking intently into the stream when one of the children, that had crept up behind me, gave me a push. I fell heavily into the water. I was dressed, And if I had known how to swim, clothes would have prevented me from doing it. But i couldn't swim. When i tried to scream, a sip of water went into my mouth.

I was sinking and everything was dark. Something pushed me up and I saw the sunlight again. Then I heard the boys laughing at me.

Again I went down. I realized that I was going to drown and that those naughty boys would keep laughing at me until I died. At that moment I remembered my parents and my sister, and I got sad.

They would mourn my death. I also felt sad for myself. I was going to die very young! What would be left of my ambitions after I became pasture for fish? I remembered the things that I had always loved and missed. My father would probably think he was serving me well because he always did the wrong thing.. I cursed myself for running away from home and, of having been able, I would have cried.

Then a hand grabbed me by the waist and I tried to hold on tight to her. But I realized he was trying to save me and I controlled myself. When they took me out, I was terribly exhausted. I stood very still and couldn't even think about fighting with the guys who were still in the water, mocking me. Some wanted to leave me in the water longer, so that I could swallow more and thus heal myself from fear. The boy who pushed me told me to go home and tell my mother. I tried hard to get angry, but it was useless. I was tired, without strength, and also glad to have saved me and to be safe and sound again.

When I regained my strength and felt spirited again, I decided to teach those boys a lesson. While they were still playing in the water, I took his clothes from the shore and went with them to the end of the stream. He knew that they would not dare to swim there because even men fear that part of the current. I threw all the dresses into the water and watched them float away. Later I called the boys to see how the clothes were being carried away by the current.

I ran home. I came and sat. My sister called my mother to see my wet clothes. Mom said she was sure I had bathed because my eyes were red. Before going home I had rubbed mud on my face, neck, arms and legs, and they didn't seem very clean. But I couldn't do anything for the eyes.

Boys, that they had not been able to collect their clothes,

they arrived at the town almost naked. They were furious and headed for my house. I saw them coming and ran to hide. When they arrived, they made so much noise, telling what happened to my mother, that my father woke up. I didn't know i was home. He heard what the boys said and then he called me. I came out of hiding and saw that he had a cane in his hand. I got to the door and jumped, disappearing in the forest.

I knew that escaping had only made things worse. I had actually left without thinking and as soon as I got to the forest, I regretted. But there was no way back. I felt very lonely and wanted to go home, but I was afraid of what my father might do to me. I knew the night was coming, and i was wondering where i would sleep. I went deeper into the forest. I picked fruit, much fruit, but I didn't need it. I was not hungry, and when i was thirsty, I calmed her down by eating an apple.

When it was almost dark, I went back to the back of our house, in the village. I was very close to home, so much that I could hear my mother worrying about me. She thought that I would come home before dark, but now i was afraid. I was talking to my father, to my sister, she was talking to herself, wondering what to do. I felt sorry for her and I very much wished I could get out of my hiding place. But I heard my father say that he was going to teach me a lesson that I would never forget in life, and I didn't dare to go out.

Later, I saw my mother who with a clay lamp and in the company of my sister left the house. Guess they were going to my friends' house to see if I was with them. When he came back without knowing anything about me, I was very worried fearing that something had happened to me. He went out after the town, screaming my name, asking me to come back. I was sorry for her. Tears were gathering in my eyes. Already tired of screaming, my mother entered the house. I knew that she wasn't going to sleep all night.

There was no noise in the town anymore. There was complete silence. I couldn't stay in the bush, because I was afraid of wild animals, snakes and all kinds of dangers. I came out of the thicket, thinking of spending the night in the shed where my mother kept the flour, but i found i was waterlogged. Someone had broken the water jar.

I went to a friend's house later and knocked on the window. The father's voice asked:

-Who's there?

I ran out and again I found myself in the forest, trembling with fear.

I had a new idea. Near a house, on the outskirts of the town, there was a large clay jar. It was empty

and had a cover. I took it off and sat comfortably inside. I put the lid back on leaving a space for air to enter. I soon lost track of time and fell asleep.

Suddenly, I noticed they were pouring water on me. I got up screaming. Someone was pouring me a jug of water. To see me, he started screaming and ran off. Was a woman. I was asking for help. Then i understood it all.

The woman had gotten up early in the morning to go to the shore, to fetch water. Village women often do this on market days, to be able to do housework later. The woman had poured the water into the jar where I was sleeping. I didn't expect to find anyone inside. For this, when he heard me scream he got really scared and ran out screaming.

I woke up completely wet, I jumped from the tank, and I tried to run away. But a hand grabbed me. He was going to hit me, when he realized that I was a boy. I yelled at him to leave me; I told him my name and explained what had happened.

Dragged me to my father's house, and called. When the door was opened, pushed me in and walked away. I was drilled, shivering with cold and fear. My mother was overjoyed to see me and I think my father showed symptoms of relief. Even my sister got up running, interrupting your sleep. I hug myself. Tears flowed from her eyes. For the vine time, we were friends.

Bertil was standing, looking through the window. It was starting to get dark.

Outside was a cold nasty fog. He was waiting for his mom and dad to come home. He had been waiting so long that he was already impatient at his absence. I looked out the window, attentive to the lantern light, next to which his parents always passed.

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