A Little Like God

First, it was at my mother’s shop. I returned to the shop after school, slept over homework on biscuit cartons and woke up the next morning in a room that was only just bigger than the bed on the floor. Usually, it was like that until a man began to change it all. Most of the time it was a man sitting on the only furniture in the shop – a bench – drinking Coke and looking at her too much, smiling and saying too little. Then, one would speak English and talk about her hair, or eyes that were “kind and beautiful” or her “lovely son.” Usually, she would smile and say “thank you sir”, also in English, and with a slight bend of her knees. He might wear a tie on a shirt that was too small and had a big voice, or a shirt that said MY MONEY GROWS LIKE GRASS and always collected his change. Sometimes, he was in a polo shirt that strained against his stomach and said things like “na you your boy resemble sha. See as he fine. He no fit pass eight years as I dey see am so. Which class he dey sef?” She gave him her number if he left his change or came in a car.
Then, the government made a big road where the shop was and she was going to marry the man who gave her a new shop. I knew he didn’t marry her because we were in the small room when his wife came and spoke with her nose; she told her never to come to the shop again and “I hope Gard kills yew en your bastard boy.”
When she began working at a restaurant, where she wore a yellow shirt and small black skirt, I ate meat pie and drank Pepsi from can and sometimes, if the owner brought his children, he gave us all yellow ice cream on brown cones. I helped my mother clean a mucus gob on her yellow shirt when she came out of his office one night, she slapped my hand, cleaned it with toilet roll and cried when we got home.
Then, a man from the restaurant came and took us to a bigger room with a bed that was not on the floor. He left in the morning but they moved on it a lot in the night and shook the floor where I slept.
The men that came after him, sometimes not from the restaurant, gave me sweets and shirts and shook the floor too but I didn’t wake up.
On a Sunday, she sang aloud and jumped on the bed. When I asked if I could bounce too, she said yes, that one day I will be a man and when I work for six days and don’t sleep much at night, I will feel a little like God.

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