I rewrote The Log In Your Eye, trying to fit it into an 800-word limit. Check on it:
Ten-year old Blessing crouched by the bed, the hot tears slowly making their way down her cheeks as her mother stormed back into their single room. The quarrels between mother and Friday had become more frequent recently, and more intense. Friday had stopped obeying, had started talking back, fighting back, leaving home. The last time he stormed out of the house, he didn’t return for two days. Mother didn’t go searching for him. Blowing bubbles with her gum, she announced, “When hunger catch am, he go come back. If he like make he no come back sef. No be im mate dey hussle? Shuo, no be Rasheed give im mama Nokia asha? See as he resemble him papa.”
“Look here,” Peace said lifting her daughter’s chin roughly, “If I hear say you open this door for Friday, na koboko I go take scatter ya nyash.”
That night, Friday did not return, not the next either, or the next after it. Blessing did not see him in school. Her mother never mentioned him.
One Sunday, it rained heavily. By evening, the rain had been reduced to drizzles. As the rain drops beat softly on the roof top, Blessing sat on the edge of the bed watching her mother apply layer upon layer of make-up.
By 7.00p.m, there was a knock on the door. Blessing stood to open it. She had never seen this one. He was dark and lanky with rotten teeth. He laughed too much, as though he were an excited 17-year old. The sound of his laughter was hollow, just the way a hungry man would laugh. Blessing felt slight pity for him. There was no food in the house. She wondered if he could handle the day’s business.
“Beans N50, dodo N20,” Peace handed N70 to her daughter. “No stand near the door. No go anybody house. I don warn you. When you don buy food, stay outside where rain no go touch you chop am.”
Blessing took the money and left without a word. The door lock clicked. She felt alone. She thought of Friday, and tears started to gather in her eyes. She wished he would return home, or take her with him. On nights like these, they would sit by the pavement. He would tell her his escapades. She would laugh. They would ignore the snorts of their neighbours and pretend they did not hear them warn their children to stay away from ‘that ashawo woman’s children’.
It was a month since Friday left the house. Peace did not talk about him. Blessing did not mention him. The lanky man had become a familiar face. “Oyibo,” he usually called Blessing after he was told her father was a Lebanese. Sometimes, he tipped her even, and Blessing did not think he was so hungry afterall. His laughter had gained some depth, but were still as frequent.
Peace turned to her daughter, tossing some clothes rapidly into a small travel bag, “I dey travel go Morocco. I wan get visa make the two of us go Europe. I no go tey. Na me and your uncle dey go. Make sure you lock this door every night. No go pesin house. U don hear me? I say make u no go pesin house.” Blessing nodded.
“Take N2000, manage am well well,” she said handing her a few naira notes. She zipped her bag up, and at the door added, “If you do any rubbish thing, na koboko I go take scatter ya nyash.”
Every night after her mother left, Blessing suffered insomnia, at first from fear of being alone, especially at nights when the knocks on the door were incessant, and later from the pangs of hunger that clawed at her stomach.
Blessing stopped going to school. No one asked of her, except Gbenro, the landlord’s son. Whenever she went out of the room, he always seemed to be around. “Ble ble,” he called her fondly, sometimes poking at her developing breasts, calling them ‘agbalumo’.
“Hunger dey catch you?” he asked, holding her quivering hands.
“Yes,” she replied feverishly. He laughed. His laughter was hollow and hungry, just like the lanky man with the rotten teeth.
“By 8 o’clock, open your door. I go bring food and coke for you.”
When he knocked, Blessing was on the bed shivering. She jumped out to light the small candle that lay on the table, pausing a while before opening the door. She let him in, and the aroma of the food made her dizzy. “Lock the door,” Gbenro commanded with a smirk. As she heard the click of the door lock, she remembered her mother’s words: If you do any rubbish thing, na koboko I go take scatter ya nyash.
Under her breath, she cursed her mother: May thunder fire ya nyash.
Which do you prefer? Let me know.