Mary sat in the large couch in the far left corner of the room and watched as the short stocky Mr Tinkpe taught the boy arithmetic or should we say as the boy taught Mr tinkpe arithmetic?
She had been in the house for three weeks and with each new day, she found more reason to stay than to go. her plans to run away were falling apart and she didn’t know what she could do about it. Her small Carry all bag had remained unpacked because she still didn’t know if she wanted to be sitting with this boy all day long. she seldom saw her employer and even when she did, he just nodded at her briefly and continue with whatever he was doing. Since the day he brought her into the room, he had not been back there to see the boy. The boy didn’t seem to notice but Mary felt sad all the same. How could anyone have is sort of a beautiful creature for a child and yet be so distant from him…. especially since they lived in the same house.
When she had first met duke, she had thought he would be one of those rich kids who constantly rubbed it in her face that she was not educated. But as the days had rolled into weeks, she had found at he was more interested in shapes and corners than in anything she knew or didn’t know. He constantly avoided physical contact and as she would find, he also stuck to a personal routine that nothing seemed to be able to shake him out of. Once, when she had been outside his room at bed time, he had stated to throws things over and jumps up and down. Crying profusely and making a hell of a fuss. She had had to resurface like the speed of light but even then, he couldn’t sleep all night. His bed time had been disrupted and so the whole day had gone to hell. Mary had cried herself to stupor as the little boy only got worse whenever she tried to bring him into her embrace.
When he did sleep that night, it wasn’t because he was ready to… it was more because he was exhausted and his body finally conquered his mind. She had learnt her lesson that day as she discovered that this particular kid was not being spoilt as the other rich kids were, he was genuinely distressed over her absence at bed time. She decided that night to never let it happen again. So today, as she watched him learn from his ever so patient teacher, she decided that she was not ready to leave yet. There was still time after all. she would stay and be dukes friend till she was finally ready to leave.
When the teacher packed up and left, Mary walked gingerly towards duke like she always did. He was in his study chair, poring over the books that had just been used to teach him. “Small oga…” she started to say but he looked up and said to her.
“My name is duke” Mary paused in her strides. They had been over this a couple of times. In all the places where she had served as maid… their children was as much her boss as the parents. She wasn’t used to calling any one of them by just their name.
“oga duke..” she said in an attempt to satisfy herself and duke at the same time
“Just duke.” he said again. Mary was frustrated. Where did they bring this boy from exactly? Where was his mother anyway? She made a mental note to ask duke sometime. She neglected trying to find an appropriate mode of address for her little boss and started to pick the book and pen he had used for studying. Not that it was littered all over the place like children usually did. In fact, duke was so neat that Mary barely ever had anything to clean as far as the room was concerned. she however put the books away and started to set the small table in the room for lunch.
“it’s time for lunch ”
Duke nodded briefly, ” I know…” he said
They sat in silence as they always did while they waited for lunch to come. Mary wanted to talk to the boy, she wanted to say something nice… something that would make him feel less alone.
“where your mama dey” she asked quietly but without whispering in order to prevent the boy from thinking she was gossiping about his family.
“my mama is dead”
To be continued soon…