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That night, I decided to set invitations for the nocturnal beings. My first decision was to leave the dishes used for dinner unwashed, hoping that the insects would come feasting and then I would… wait a minute! I would then do what? Just show up, pick them with my hands and they would just stand there waiting for me? I never thought it would be this difficult until now.
An idea occurred to me; to keep three watches. The first would be at 11 pm, and then at midnight, and at an hour after midnight. I found an empty transparent container in the kitchen drawer and I washed it clean, reserving it for my hostages in anticipation.
At exactly eleven pm, the alarm went off. I wanted to sleep just a little more because my body still ached and I was really very tired. But I couldn’t, I had to catch those annoying creatures. I wondered if all the other students in my class were keeping watch for their prey just as I was. My mind then went to the teacher who had give us this assignment. She would just be on her bed now enjoying her sleep, and here I am keeping watch to catch a cockroach.
I sighed, got out of bed and grabbed my torch light. As I reached the door and tried to pull it open, I heard the entrance door to our apartment creaking as though it was either left open or someone was opening it. I turned my door handle fearlessly and pulled it open speedily to avoid a creak. I tip toed to the sitting room in time just to catch the intruder closing the door behind him. My torch light remained off. I was certain that someone was behind that door but confused about whom it might be. If it was a thief, he should be trying to come in, and not going out. Besides, the door wasn’t tampered with. I wondered if it could be Mum. But where could she be going by this time of the night, I wondered.
As I stood there thinking of what to do, I heard the key turning inside the lock. It clicked twice and the person turned the handle to ensure the door was properly locked. Whoever it was, he had the key to our house. I concluded that it was either my parents or a highly sophisticated armed robber.
The first thing that came to my mind was to raise an alarm. Even if it turns out not to be a thief, at least it would be obvious to Mum that I am vigilant and not just stupid as she thinks.
But if it was Daddy sneaking out, I wouldn’t want to blow his cover and let Mummy know about it. So I resolved to find out who it was before taking any action. I dashed towards the dining area and unlocked the back door that led to a balcony and stooped down to make further observations.
And then I saw him, and recognized him. Even though the moon wasn’t full, but the glow from the moon gave enough light that I was able to identify my own father sneaking out of his house, or should I say, my mother’s house. I heaved a sigh of relief. At least it wasn’t a hoodlum.
As Dad approached the gate, he had a little struggle with the padlock before he was able to open it. The padlock was heavily rusted. I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone else had spotted him. Daddy finally left the compound and closed the gate behind him and I returned to continue the search for my prey.
I went into the kitchen and approached the sink, to inspect the unwashed dishes. As soon as I got there and flashed my torch light on the dishes, the few cockroaches there crawled into hiding. By the time I moved closer, they had all disappeared and I began to wonder if this was how I was going to capture five cockroaches.
As I was thinking of what to do next, I was startled when someone started banging on our entrance door. The first thing I looked around for, was an alternative escape route, just in case it turns out to be a hoodlum this time. I decided that incase of any emergency, I’d just take the balcony through the dining area and jump down stairs. I didn’t really know what to do and I couldn’t imagine who would be banging on our door by this time of the night with so much authority.
I wondered what Mum might be doing right now, because I knew the continuous banging must have woken her up. As I kept looking for how to take cover, I heard Mum open her door and walked bravely to the entrance door. I switched off my torchlight and quickly moved closer to the kitchen door to observe what was going on.
My mother asked who it was. The person at the door must have said something because Mum started to unlock the door almost immediately without any further interrogation. When the door was fully open, I heard the voice of the person at the door clearly. It was Iyabo, Tunde’s mother from the next apartment. What on earth is she doing here by this time of the night?
“Caroline, I am not going to apologize to you for disturbing your sleep because your husband just disturbed mine too.” Iyabo said to my mother. That was when I realized that she must have seen Daddy leave the compound.
“My husband, what are you talking about Mama Tunde?” my mother was obviously confused.
“What I am talking about is that your husband Amos, just sneaked out of the house now and interrupted my sound sleep with that old rusty padlock at the gate.” Iyabo replied.
“What?” My Mother asked softly, “You mean that Amos is not in this house right now?”
“He is definitely not. And you know that the gate is just directly below my bedroom window, so please help me warn him that next time he wants to sneak out that he should use the fence and not try to disturb my sleep again.” Iyabo warned.
“This is really embarrassing I must say. I am really very sorry Mama and I promise to handle this.” Mum assured her.
“You better do.” Iyabo said and began walking away and then stops suddenly and said in a low tone to my mother, “And I don’t need to say that if I were you, I wouldn’t allow him back into this house.” And she walked away, back into their apartment.
“Thank you for your opinion.” Mum replied and shut the door furiously. That was when I sneaked out of the kitchen and tiptoed into my room. If my mother finds out that I was awake, she would want to know if I heard Daddy sneak out. And I wouldn’t be able to tell a lie about that.
As I lay on my bed and covered myself, I pretended to be asleep because I knew Mum must come to my room to check if I had sneaked out with Dad. I heard her footsteps walk around the house for a while and then she came towards my room.
“Adam!” my mother yelled as she yanked my door open.
I didn’t even know when I jumped off from the bed looking startled. I couldn’t even pretend to be asleep anymore.
My mother approached me, and gave me a slap with the back of her right hand. The slap threw me back to the bed the same way I had jumped up from it.
“Why didn’t you wash the dishes used for dinner? Have you gone mad?” Mum screamed.
I lay there on the bed for a while still dizzy, and Mom watched me as she waited for me to recover. When I did, I got up slowly still holding my cheeks as tears flowed from my eyes.
“So when did this start, or have you forgotten that dishes are washed immediately after eating?” she asked softly but aloud.
“I’m very sorry Mom, but I didn’t forget. I only used the dishes as a bait to trap some cockroaches for my biology practical.” I explained amidst tears.
My mother didn’t say a word again. She just stood there for a while and then went back to her room. I wept profusely………………..
(To Be Continued)