Beating The Odds – Episode 6
© Brian Ngoma
“Please God, protect Mayi and Tasha,” seven-year-old Kani prayed on a Friday morning. He got out of his bed and made it. He went to the bathroom and took a shower. After getting done, he looked at himself in the mirror and thought about a picture he had in his bunker. The one and only picture he had of his childhood taken months after Tasha had been adopted. He was a fat boy, now he was slender. He went back to the dorms and dressed himself. Three years had passed and he never once heard from Tasha. All they kept telling him was she was going to be back for him but she never did. The staff took a liking in him and made sure he felt loved but their efforts proved futile. Time and time again, they told him about Tasha and his mother still being alive but what he couldn’t understand was why he couldn’t see them or be with them. Because of this, he never played nor talked much, he kept to himself in his small little universe which contained the figments of his sister and mother.
He was now in Grade two despite hating school but he would always be told that adoptive parents loved intelligent kids and once out there, he would meet up with his sister. He went to classes because of Tasha. “So if i pass this test, i will see Tasha,” he smiled leaving the dorm room.
From the dining hall, he walked to the classroom with his small book and a pen in his hands, he passed the other children and they just looked at him. They had come to know him as the boy who used to stare at the gate. He never stopped staring at the gate. Once in a while, especially Fridays, he would sit near the playing field while his eyes were at the gate.
“Hey Kani,” the teacher said. “Everything fine?”
“Yes madam,” he answered entering the classroom.
“Did you pray?”
“You didn’t forget to pray for Mayi and Tasha?”
He nodded his head and smiled. How can he forget? It had become his habit which if he didn’t do, he wouldn’t sleep nor have a good day. He entered the classroom, wrote the test and went to the playground.
Two days later, the test results came out and he failed like always. He was disappointed and the other children laughed at him telling him he would never leave the orphanage. He was trying very hard but he just couldn’t seem to do well with school. Hence, hating it. From what everyone was telling him, they were saying his sister was the most intelligent at one point. That didn’t make him feel good. It only made things worse. He started blaming her for leaving him. If she was that intelligent, why did she leave him alone? Despite the hate he had for her, he never stopped mentioning her in his prayers.
“Kani wake up,” the caretaker woke him up excitedly.
“Ma,” he answered touching his eyes.
“Come with me,” she got him up.
“Where?” he complained.
“There is someone here to see you, follow me,” she said.
He thought about Tasha and quickly wore his slippers and followed the caretaker to the office. He entered the office and found a young beautiful woman in her late twenties sited smiling. He was disappointed but he knew this routine, it was adoption time or another would be failed adoption attempt. In his little mind, he was not happy, he hoped for something more, perhaps seeing his sister or mother whose faces he couldn’t even remember. Later on, a tall light gentleman joined the three. The man sat down beside the woman while he carefully stared at Kani.
“Kani is his name,” the caretaker said. “Sit down Kani.”
He sat down looking at the man and the woman. The woman was deliriously happy but the man kept an expressionless face. “I like him,” the woman said failing to hold back her excitement.
“We’ll take him,” the man succinctly said.
“It doesn’t happen like that sir,” the caretaker smiled politely. “There is a process. Adoptions don’t happen overnight.”
“I thought i told you babe,” the woman slightly hit the man on his shoulder. “Pardon my husband, he doesn’t know these things but we’ll be more than glad to follow procedure.
“I’m happy to hear that,” the caretaker said looking at Kani. “He’s a good boy, you just need to spend some time here with him at the orphanage while the social workers and everyone involved process everything.”
The man’s eyes were on Kani. At one point they bumped into each other and both felt nervous. They made each other feel uneasy.
Kani didn’t like the man. There was something strange about him. The way he looked at him, like some sort of material on the market.
“If Tasha ever comes back here, you have to tell her where I’m going,” Kani told the caretaker a month later. He removed a picture from his bag and handed it over to the caretaker. “Give her this.”
“Isn’t this the only photo you have of your childhood?” she asked him concerned.
He nodded and responded, “Who would want to remember this childhood?”
“Kani!” she hugged him. “Everything will be fine.”
“Promise me you will give her aunty.”
“If she ever comes, I promise I will Kani. Now go and enjoy life,” she said excited. “This is your new family. Respect and love them.”
“And always remember your mother little boy, you know where she is.”
“Of course, prison,” he said and left the office.
The couple had come with a car. This time the man looked happy too and Kani was relieved. The woman couldn’t hide her happiness. In the car, she sat next to him which he found rather uncomfortable. They reached the house around 9pm. It was situated in Ngwelelele farms. The house was secluded. Kani got out of the car and looked around. He felt a breath of fresh air. He felt some form of happiness. He felt free. At least he wouldn’t be surrounded by a wall fence which he had come to hate. He was taken inside the house and showed to his bedroom.
“This is your home now,” the woman said.
“What do I call you?” he asked.
The woman hesitated. “Call her Veronica for now like we discussed at the orphanage,” the man walked in. “You can call me Greg. You know our names,” he smiled.
“Yes sir,” he smiled.
“Alright get settled, let Veronica prepare dinner for us. If you need anything, feel free to ask us.”
They were nice to him. He thought to himself. After putting his small bag on the bed, he comfortably laid on it looking at the ceiling. He finally got his own room. He had never slept on a bed alone for as long as he remembered. This was his first. Without realizing, he fell asleep. Veronica and Greg came to check on him and found him curled up with a pillow in his arms. Veronica meticulously walked to the bed side, took the sheet and covered him.
“Let him sleep, he’s never had this kind of bed before i bet,” she said carefully closing the door.
No sooner had Veronica closed the door, than he opened his eyes. He heard them the moment they opened the door. He sighed and said his prayer. “Thank you God for Greg and Veronica, may you not forget to protect Tasha and Mayi,” he closed his eyes and fell in deep sleep.
He woke up the following morning. He said his usual prayer and found his way to the kitchen. Before going to the kitchen, he found the bathroom and another bedroom which was obviously Greg and Veronica’s. There was another bedroom which from the looks of it hadn’t been used for a while. He also found the living room till he heard some plates clicking. He found Veronica preparing breakfast. “Morning,” he greeted her.
“Hey Kani,” she said. “Sit down you eat something. Slept just okay?”
“Yes thank you,” he answered looking at her. She seemed nice, he thought as he grabbed the chair. “Where is Greg?” he asked.
“OH Greg, he’s running an errand somewhere he will be back. Eat, i don’t know your favorite but have fried some eggs and bacon for you.”
Good food, he didn’t even know what good food was. For him, what mattered was that he was satisfied when he ate something.
“I eat anything,” he forced a smile as he pulled the plate.
“You will learn to like and hate some foods as you grow,” she patted his back.
He had his breakfast. After finishing he walked around the house to admire it. There was a tree house at the farm and that got his attention. He asked Veronica about the tree house and she told him he could go anywhere but the tree house. She told him it was Greg’s working space and he never liked to be disturbed. He listened to what he was told and never went to the tree house till later when he was eleven years old.
Life with Veronica and Greg had turned out to be great for the four years Kani had been with them. He refused to start school and they never pushed him to start. They let him have his way and provided him with everything. He liked them for that. He spent most of his time watching TV especially action movies and teaching himself to read. He was getting good at reading with the help of Veronica. His favourite book was the bible but he only read one story in it: Cain and Abel’s story. What fascinated him about the story was how selfish and cruel Cain was to his brother. Despite hating Cain, he loved the story and would read it regularly and never got tired of it. He also loved to run around the farm and climb trees and almost about anything that was high. He never even had any friends and never liked anywhere but the farm. He was in seclusion from the rest of the world.
One morning, bored and done with his chores and everything there was to do that day. For the last few months, he had been wondering what was in that tree house. Sometimes he saw Veronica and Greg get in there and stay there for some hours. On most nights, they would leave and come back the following morning and go to the tree house. It was time to find out what was in there. The suspense was too much for him.
He made sure Greg and Veronica were in the house. He saw them watching TV and laughing. He slowly walked to the tree house. Since he was now taller, it wasn’t difficulty to climb the tree. In no time, he found himself at the door. Luckily, the door was not locked. He opened it and found a lot of stacked things in bags. He went to one bag and unzipped it. He found jewels in the bag, a lot of it. He opened another bag and found Money, a lot of money. He was about to check the third bag when he heard the door creak behind him. He turned around and met with Greg’s fiery eyes.
“What did we tell you about the tree house Kani?” he asked clenching his fists.
“I…. I…. I,” He stammered his eyes tearing up.
“What!” Greg yelled at him.
To be continued