One day I asked Glory,my nanny, "Why does Aunty Chi-Chi's food smell so good?"
"Because she is looking for husband" she replied with a hiss. Then she added, "She would not even mind snatching another person's own. I bet her food will not smell so nice when she gets married."
Everyone said Aunty Chi-Chi was a bad woman but I saw no evil in her. She held my mind in bewilderment. When she walked by, her backside rolled like drums of joy. Bright rouge was always printed on her supple lips. Even her dustbin held a scenty mystery,and when Glory dozed off like she always does,with her big mouth dripping saliva, I would sneak out and join the other children in the yard to poke at her bin which never ran out of supply of strange balloons, empty perfume bottles and empty roll-on containers which we would smear in our armpit. Glory found out one day when I had sneaked back into the house smelling funny, and she made mummy beat me without mercy.
Aunty Chi-Chi did her laundry every saturday morning. Whenever I saw her outside, I would grab the plastic chair daddy bought me and race downstairs to sit beside her. I would watch her wash, wondering what magic prevented her acrylic nails from melting in the sudsy water. There was style to everything she did -even in the way she scratched her hair, tapping her head lightly and closing her eyes dreamingly. I could watch this woman forever.
One day, it rained all day. Glory had gone to visit her parents and mummy had placed a curfew on Junior and I,fearing the weather would make us catch cold. We yearned after the wet world outside, looking at it through the window in the living room; someone had left his clothes outside and some lay limp on the clothes line, some sodden on the ground. This was the day I had planned to teach junior how to torment earthworms and it was sad watching it pass by. From the living room, I could hear mummy's stertorous breathing. Junior looked at me, our eyes met. He was wearing his slippers on the wrong feet but that was not my problem at the moment. In an instant, we were tiptoeing down the stairs, careful not to touch the squeaky railings. The pockets of my jean skirt weighed down with a nylon bag of salt. We sprinted when we got to the end of the stairs and stopped when we came under the awning above Aunty Chi-Chi's window, standing there a little while to still our hammering heart before the expedition.
I found a slab of plastic and began digging with Junior squatting beside me. We saw an earthworm lying unsuspectingly.
"Take," I took out the nylon bag and handed to Junior. "Sprinkle salt on it." He did and we watched the worm wriggle and flip its tail in saline pain. Junior was in glee and I felt like the wise one from the east; I always enjoyed filling his four year old life with tricks. Yesterday, I had thought how to take hot food in his mouth and blow off the steam like he was smoking cigarette.
Junior's lips always drooled whenever he was lost in something and just then, my evil genius took over me. Mummy had told me to flick his lips with my fingers to teach him how to suck it in. And that was exactly what I did.
His sudden wail awoke someone.
"Who are those children that would not allow someone to sleep, ehn?"bellowed a man in Aunty Chi-Chi's room. We shook in fright. Junior's cry died as instantly as it began, his lip drooling still. After seconds of lull, he resumed,with hiccups, not giving a fig about whoever he might have roused from sleep and who he might awake. I leaned closer to him to placate him covering his mouth with my hands, but he dug his tiny teeth in my palms. I retreated in pain.
A short while, Aunty Chi-Chi emerged with a pregnant looking man. She was adjusting her bra straps and checking for stains on the seat of her red skirt.
"Good evening." I greeted the man. He did not respond. "Good evening Aunty Chi-Chi." Junior sucked on his thumb and was in no mood to offer greetings.
"Evening sweetheart, " she said. "How are you?"Then she turned to the man, "The kid is greeting you, now."
The man grunted and walked away and she followed him to his car.
"I will tell mummy when she wakes." Junior said. "I will tell her you begged Prisicillia for sweets and when she was not around you watched film in Uncle Moses house." I stuck out my lip to him.
Aunty Chi-Chi was walking back towards us. "Now who is making my husband cry?"she said, squatting and taking Junior in her arms. He buried his head in her ample bosom, turned around and pointed at me, thumb still in mouth.
"Ezinne! Junior!" We looked up in unison. Mummy appeared, standing on the balcony, her face swollen with sleep and anger. "Who told you to go down stairs, eh? Come on will you come upstairs immediately!" My bum sucked in instinctively in fear and anticipation of what would follow.