‘Tum du du dum dum- tum dum dum’ Debo hummed as he walked home earlier than usual from the church.
For the last 12 months, 10 year old Debo spent his Saturday afternoons the same way. Late 1960’s Yaba was a hub of activity. Noon meant choir practice at the All Soul’s Church followed by a Boy Scouts meeting, some football then a leisurely stroll home about 5 PM through McNeil Road with its African apple trees, cross Herbert McCauley through St Agnes and then home about 30 minutes later.
The local TV station had however changed the situation as it decided to air the highly rated American western Bonanza on Saturdays at 4pm. Something had to give, which was the Scouts meeting as Debo was not going miss seeing Paw, Adam, Little Joe, Hoss, HopSing and the Ponderosa. So at an earlier time, he turned into his street. A middle class cul de sac with a lagoon at the end, neighbours acknowledged each other but barely above a nod. The kids were no different. Debo’s family home was the last on the left bordering onto a lagoon which formed a backdrop to the garden and where often fishermen in their canoes rowed by to sell fish and crabs straight from their traps to his mum.
As he hurried along the last two hundred yards to his home, he saw Rita, a girl the same age who loved at number 5 hanging out by the gates to her home. He didn’t much talk to and largely ignored her as he had no interest in girls at that age.
She called out to him ‘Hello Debo, want to come into my house and watch Bonanza here?’
Not stopping, he replied ‘Why would I watch TV at your house when we a good one at mine?’
‘I have ice cream’ she replied which stopped Debo and he whirled round to take her up on her offer.
Her house seemed to be empty as they entered the lounge in her house.
‘You sure your folks wont mind that I’ve come in to watch TV?
‘Sure. They like your family. Sit down and I’ll go get the ice cream’
In a minute she returned with Coconut ice cream which Debo began to devour as he fixated on that week’s episode of Bonanza which showed Little Joe kissing a girl.
As this scene progressed, Rita said to Debo ‘Have you ever kissed a girl?
Debo replying like most boys of that age when challenged, replied ‘Yes, of course. Lots’
She moved towards him and said ‘Show me then’
‘No, I won’t. I just want to watch the show, please’
‘I don’t believe you. You’ve never kissed a girl. If you have, stand up and kiss me’
Heart hammering, he stood up to accept the challenge. Tentatively he kissed her on the lips and she grabbed him pulling him close with her arms round his neck.
Rita has three older brothers who truth be told, did not like Debo and his family much. At the point in when Rita was sticking her tongue down Debo’s throat with him fighting to get away from her clutches, these brothers entered the room.
‘Look at the little moron kissing Rita. We are going to kill you’ one of them said.
In spite of the shock of being caught with Rita holding on to him, Debo could move pretty fast and danced around the room as the brothers tried to catch hold of him. He made it out of Rita’s house running at full speed the few hundred yards to his home with a posse behind him.
Running into his house and slamming the front door shut, he ran into his older teenage brother Kunle. ‘What have you been up sweating like that? Thought you would have been home earlier to watch TV’ Kunle said.
Before Kunle could answer, the doorbell rang which he went to answer it. Debo ducked into the kitchen from where he heard raised voices and shouts. Five minutes later, Kunle came looking for him ‘They are gone so you are safe kid. What happened at their house? They said you were kissing their sister’. Debo explained.
Kunle roared with laughter ‘She suckered you in didn’t she, the little vixen. Listen I won’t tell the old man when he comes home which is what the brothers want me to do. I’ve told them that if they lay a hand of you, my friends and I will go looking for them. However if I were you, I would stay out of their way for a while. Ok?’
Debo nodded and for the next three years, he took the long route out of the street by going along the muddy edge of the lagoon behind all the houses on the left side of the street to avoid going past Rita’s house.
About 15 years later, he was reading a newspaper and slap in the middle page was a picture of Rita. She had just come second in the national beauty contest. He laughed ‘I kissed a beauty queen and almost got beaten up for it’.