It was a great day to be at the beach that hot sunny afternoon. The suppleness of the winds as it suppressed the heat of the sun produced just a perfect weather for the day.
It was Jide’s birthday, and he had invited friends, work colleagues and his siblings, who made sure to be present at the occasion, to celebrate with him.
The DJ busting out good vibes, everyone munching on the delicious meal that I prepared, the laughter and cheer that lit up on everyone’s faces made me even happier being surrounded by happy people.
Just as everyone caught their fun as it came, Jide couldn’t stop passing off a wink at me as I kept dishing out some more food and serving the drinks. It was obvious that he had started to miss me.
It was just within the space of a blink that I’d sat down to munch on my own meal, when Jide breezed off to where I was. I twirled in a deep blush because he was way too predictable.
“I caught you staring severally”.
“Yeah, checking out what’s mine”, he said with his usual cocky but romantic voice.
Before I could lift another spoonful of rice into my mouth, he grabbed my fist firmly but gently, and dropped it back down, shoving my plate on the seat next to me. Before I could say a word, he towed me close to his body and leaned my head on his shoulder.
I rushed at him immediately, quickly locking my body tight against his. That was when I realized the song had changed to “Love is blue” by paul Mauriat. Perfect timing! I thought.
Perhaps it was not such a perfect timing for the little dirty kid at the beach who one would easily pass off for a delinquent. He had sneaked into our shade to pilfer.
As Jide caressed my hair whilst I rested my head helplessly on his neck, I watched the boy hover around us, as if to say he had lost something. I had thought he was probably looking for bottles to pick, perhaps, to aid his mother’s sales of locally made kunu or zobo. Noticing that the bottles lying about the floor seemed irrelevant to him as he picked none of them, I worried even more, now less focused at Jide’s romantic caress.
Like an evil whirlwind, the little boy quickly hovered to the other side where I and Jide stood. Just before I could tilt my neck to the other side, he had evaded the scene. Right now, my heart had begun to panic! I quickly pulled out of Jide in a rather apprehensive state.
“Honey, is everything okay”?
“No! Just wait. Jesus! This child is a THIEF”. I screamed at the top of my voice.
This drew the attention of everyone who started to look now at our direction. They seemed invisible to me at this point as all my eyes glared at was my bag which was wide open. I rushed at my bag immediately, confirming that I’d been robbed by the little child.
“Catch him! he’s a thief!
I screamed at the top of my voice, running outside the shade and alerting people who followed my direction, pulling along the chase after the little child who had now noticed that he was being pursued.
He powered on some energy from his little scrawny dirty legs, looking back severally as he ran.
As the speed of the chase increased, it pulled more crowd and in no time, there was a multitude of people with sticks and stones flying behind the little boy.
“Ole oooooo”!!! “Ole”! Catch him!!!!
The little boy, though now scared and almost giving up hope on his strength, resiliently pulled his legs one after the other, breath by breath and constantly tilting his neck back and front, until he zoomed hurriedly into the busy road.
By now, everyone had surrounded him. He was not lucky enough to make it to the other side of the road. He stared back weakly at the many eyes surrounding him. They were too many for his weak eyes to count.
I had become confused and filled with a mix of emotions that struggled through shame, regret, and guilt. I took a quick look at my bag and the little boy, still worried, and lost.
The fact that all my belongings were intact seemed even more puzzling! So, I summoned the courage to flip open the little boy’s fingers which were now disjointedly clasped.
There it lay, the reason for my shame, guilt and regret; a “Five hundred Naira note” smeared in blood.
But it was too late now, he was almost home.
Chinonye J. Chidolue (Nonyewrites)
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