The woman suddenly disengaged the baby from her back, before the very view of the restive market men and women.
Everyone was at first reluctant to think she was mad although the way she pulled her oja off violently, as if she didn’t give a damn if the baby fell off in the process made the mouths of the onlookers open in shock and disbelief.
“Foolish!” She shouted audibly, and then she dropped the baby carelessly on the floor, making the baby mourn loudly as her poor tender unprotected buttocks hit the rough surface of the earth.
“Are you not a mother?!” One man yelled from the crowd, and that simple sentence led several people from the crowd to charge at her violently.
All yelling, “You foolish woman!” while kicking, punching, whipping and spitting at the wild mother.
Laraba watched the whole scene too, and no one needed to explain to her before she took sides with the crowd, but unlike them, she was concerned about the baby, so that the crowd
would not (in their disorganized violence) march him over, she walked quickly towards him or her – because the simple blue gown the baby was putting on made it difficult to tell at once if she was a boy or a girl – Laraba lifted the baby over
her own shoulder and observed that the baby ears has been pierced, and beautiful silver earrings has been inserted. Pity engulfed the older lady, her lips curved quickly into a piteous smile.
“Poor little child,” she said as she gently patted the baby, “what could you have done to deserve such ill treatment from your mother?” She muttered quietly.
“Don’t mind Alero” an unexpected voice responded.
Laraba turned around quickly to see if the comment was hers, and to know who was answering but when she turned, there was no one around her who could have uttered the speech, everyone near her were adult men, the voice sounded somewhat feminine, and Laraba began to assume that she was
hallucinating, until she heard the same tiny baby voice again;
“Don’t mind Alero, I have warned her several times not to take me out but she wouldn’t listen” This time, Laraba knew at once that the voice was from the baby she was patting, although her little mouth didn’t seem to move as she talked.
The voice seemed to pour out loudly through some invisible means. Laraba was too scared, she didn’t know what to do, the baby was obviously less than a year old and therefore below the talking age, but the way she spoke confidently
showed that her talking was not a new part of her.
“Hey! Are you really talking?” Laraba said in astonishment, neglecting what the crowd would be thinking about her, especially how she held the baby at a distance, so that she
could observe the baby intently.
“Are you blind? Do I look like an animal to you?” The voice clearly emanating from the little baby protested.
“Bu…but babies of your age should not be talking!” She screamed silently.
“And now that I am…what would you do o?” a mocking laughter followed, “Call the crowd or what?”
Laraba’s hands fidgeted as she held the baby, reluctant to drop her on the ground like the baby’s mother had done earlier, she stared at the crowd around, but no one was interested in her
case, they were still busy dealing with the child’s mother.
Laraba decided to leave the child where she had picked her from. Afterall it was not hers in the first place. She took few steps back to where she had picked the girl up.
“Are you attempting to put me down,” the smart lass observed, “ you must be stupid! Trouble sleep, you carry your yanga con wake am up and now you want to put me down. Don’t even dare!”
Laraba kept still, she feared what might happen if she dropped the baby as she had intended, she wondered if the baby had some other supernatural powers that could harm her. “Oh my God, what shall I do now?” She soliloquized.
“Laraba, the best thing would be for you to carry me on your back, and walk away from this market. Take me to the Ogunpa river, that is where I belong to and that is where I
shall return to.”
Laraba looked with surprise, what would the people say if they see her sneaking the baby away?
The people who had busied themselves dealing with the wicked mother could suspect that life was now draining out of the woman, they began to disperse one after the other leaving the woman half dead. No one seemed to care about the child anymore and Laraba found herself in between saving a dying mother, or fulfilling a speaking baby’s wish. Everyone around
her, seemed not to care about what she was doing, no one even thought about saving the dying woman. Her bleeding body wriggled helplessly on the street, but the passersby continued with their activities.
“Do you need help ma?” Laraba asked impulsively, her eyes could not hold it any longer, she felt the strong need to save the dying woman over fulfilling the wish of the fetish child.
“Laraba! I think you are mad” The lass insisted, “Can’t you see that I am in a hurry to get back to my home sweet home, what have you to do with this witch?!” The baby’s voice now seemed to be echoing loudly in Laraba’s ears.
It hadn’t been her trouble in the first place, and she had only shown pity to the young girl, now she was about to show pity again to the child’s mother, and this seemed to bag danger.
While wrapping the baby around her back, Laraba proceeded to rescue the mother.
“Madam, do you need help?” She spoke gently, but before the woman could respond to that, there was a quick interference from the stubborn girl.
“Laraba! Laraba! Laraba! You should have nothing to do with this woman, she is a witch! Take me to my home and I would keep you safe.” The baby said to the inattentive lady.
Laraba watched as the baby’s mother – the helpless woman turned over with the little life left in her, her face had been covered with blood and open wounds seem to sore her skin.
She spoke through clenched bloody teeth; “Laraba!”
Laraba was bewildered, how on earth did the woman know her name. She remembered immediately that he baby too had
called her name earlier easily and she knew at once that she was in big trouble.
‘Oh my God! What have I gotten myself into?!’ Laraba pondered.
“Laraba, if you want to help me,” the dying woman echoed, “take that baby off your back first”. That simple rule didn’t seem difficult, until she completed her speech by saying; “…and throw her into the street, let the moving vehicles crush her head off, and let her cease to exist.”
Laraba’s hands of help fell on the rough clay as she observed the strong enmity between mother and child. She felt she was going to run mad if no one came to her rescue, but the people at the market appeared less concerned with the ongoing activity.
“You wicked witch! I am going back home, you would never be rescued from your agony. This is where you shall die!” The baby behind Laraba’s back lamented.
“You cheeky devil!” The dying mother replied, “We shall see who would be rescued from this. Laraba, please throw this godforsaken child into the street, let her be rendered paralyzed
forever even if she escapes death. I am dying and I need your urgent assistance, but please do not think of rescuing me until you have gotten rid of that thing behind your back.”
Laraba knew there was no way to go now, she didn’t care anymore about interfering in the family matter. She disengaged the baby from her back and flung her to her mother, but the baby wouldn’t let go off her hands.
That action brought quickly the attention of the crowds gathered.
Laraba shook her off violently to get rid of the baby, but she instead received a very painful bite as she did. Feeling pained, Laraba punched the baby with her other hand, as if she too didn’t give a damn if the baby fell off carelessly in the
process. The mouths of sudden onlookers opened in disbelief.
“Foolish!” Laraba shouted audibly, and then she dropped the baby carelessly on the floor, making the baby mourn loudly as her poor tender buttocks hit the rough surface of the earth
“How can you treat a child in such manner!!!” The men around the market yelled as they charged towards Laraba violently.
She too would soon be in a pool of blood.
People’s trouble sometimes, are best understood by them, do not take sides when you do not have full knowledge of the situation. Never be too hasty to judge!