Olubunmi Toriola – I Knew we were in Trouble


The big grandfather clock was singing away the familiar tune, tick-tock, tick-tock.  Not very loud, almost silently. Pricking up my ears to catch the tiniest sound. None from anywhere.

I guess we should make our move now. No. We better wait a bit more.

The outside world sounds bubbly. There is a sudden burst of activity in the distance.  Motorbikes scurrying past each other, while stationary vehicle drivers hit their horns long and hard, with disgust. Many shops are still open. A lot of vendors and hawkers still calling for the attention of potential buyers.

I perceive the sweet aroma of freshly baked bread swimming smoothly into my nostrils. Oh! What punishment is this? I can imagine myself cutting the bread in the middle and applying anchor butter, like a doctor would cut through flesh in surgery.

I sweep my eyes upwards. There were a few stars staring intently back at me.

Tiptoeing out of the room down the corridor.  Akachi, my sister, and I looked to the right and left.  No one was around. Everything was clear. Akachi and I used sign language to communicate.

I know the kitchen layout like the palm of my hand. I continue in the darkness straight to the fridge, I open the fridge door while Akachi assumes the position of an assistant. Even a trained detective could not do it better. Brilliantly passing the first hurdle, I stretch my fingers to the plastic holding them hostage, with renewed determination in releasing the captives. I effortlessly grab something. It is big. Then I reach into the plastic again and grope for a particular size. Got it. Akachi does the same. Feeling excited, I drop the smaller one into my mouth and start chewing and walk away.

As I am walking out of the kitchen door, I remember that the fridge is still wide open.  I walk back confidently to shut it, and bang! A giant rat runs across my foot, scratching it as it scurries past me. I jump up and I swear. I see a ghost standing at the kitchen door. I panic and scream out loud.

I know we are in trouble when the light comes on and I see my dad standing by the kitchen door in his Dungari night gown –  not a ghost. The fried chicken thigh is still in my hand. We both drops our heads in shame. I shouldn’t have listened to Akachi’s idea.