Title: On my knees’ Author: Farinola Augustine
In an army barracks located along Mokola Road in Ibadan, there lived Mr. Akin with his children. His wife, a nurse, works and resides in Ogbomoso, and only comes around on Sundays. Mr. Akin is a tough military man, who doesn’t tolerate any nonsense from his children. Jumoke, a seven years old girl, is the youngest of his three daughters, and her duty is to narrate whatever happened within the house in his absence. Folake, the second child of the family, is a very playful girl and she is just ten years old. While Amoke, the eldest daughter, is a prudent and cautious girl of about twelve years old. As a very strict disciplinarian, Mr. Akin hardly spared the rod over little offence committed by any of his children. They know him for that, and fear him. Such that whatever he is absent from home, they would ensure that nothing goes wrong within the house.
One bright Saturday afternoon, Mr. Akin had gone out and the children were the only ones left at home. Amoke was in the kitchen washing the dishes after they had had their lunch, while her sisters were in the living room watching television. As she was wiping Mr. Akin’s wine glass with the dish towel, it slipped off her hands and fell to the ground: “Tahss…!”
Hearing this sound, Jumoke and Folake rushed into the Kitchen in order to see what was going on.
“Ah! You have broken Daddy’s wine glass… He ‘ll skin you alive”, shouted Folake.
Amoke tried to explain to them that it was a mistake, but they left the kitchen making a mockery of her predicament. As she remained in the kitchen preparing the dinner, she couldn’t get herself again. Meanwhile, as Jumoke was in the Living room watching the television, Folake had sneaked into their father’s room, and was toying nervously with anything at her disposal. She picked up her father’s torch, and scattered it into pieces with the intention to reassemble it back. Unfortunately for her, she couldn’t fix it back again, and she threw it under the bed and took off.
“What have you been doing in his room all these while”, asked Jumoke.
“Nothing!” replied Folake
“If anything got missing there, I’ll tell him to hold you responsible’, said Jumoke.
“And I’ll lie that we were there together…and he will punish both of us”, threatened Folake.
“Folake, you’re a liar and God will catch you one day…I swear, he’ll catch you”, replied Jumoke.
“What about you, all you know how to do is to be reporting others, backbiting, is that not your job in this house”, Folake said sharply. At this point, Amoke joined them in the Living room.
“What is the quarrel all about? Amoke asked, “can’t you find something reasonable to do”, she added.
“Something! Like breaking Dad’s wine cup?” Folake snapped with slight contempt. Hearing this, Amoke’s fear returned. She was overwhelmed with the imagination of what would happen to her on their father’s return, and she started weeping profusely.
“Stop crying! Dad may not ask of it… I won’t tell”, Jumoke said in a consoling voice.
“If he asks, what would you say? …tell lies”, Folake uttered with a gesture that reveals that she would certainly report the incident. However, Amoke had thought of what she would do. It wasn’t long after this that they heard a knock on the door. Here he comes- Mr. Akin.
They welcomed him as usual, and he sat down in the Living room after moving up and down to ensure that all was well. Jumoke was right behind him- that was her job.
“Dad-dy, what about the batteries you said you would buy for my computer game?” she asked.
“I forgot my dear, may be tomorrow…’ replied Mr. Akin.
“Oh-No, I want it today. Give me those ones in your torch”, said Jumoke.
“Let’s go and play cards…allow him to rest”, Folake interrupted, while Mr. Akin entered his room in order to grant Jumoke’s request. Meanwhile, Amoke was still busy in the kitchen, trying to get the meal served.
“Jumoke! Who entered my room?” shouted Mr. Akin.
“I saw Folake coming out from there …” replied Jumoke
“Folake, come over here. What happened to my torch…who dismantled it…don’t lie to me”, scolded Mr. Akin.
“Jumoke, get me my cane”.
Folake kept lying that she never entered his room, yet she was flogged by Mr. Akin because Jumoke admitted seeing her entering the room. He trusted Jumoke’s words, and already knew that Folake would never admit her offence until she had been punished. The whole house was quiet for some minutes, and then Mr. Akin wanted to ease his mood by taking some wine. As he headed to the shelf to get his wine cup, Jumoke remarked:
“Your wine glass has already been broken…”
“Broken! By who? …Folake again?” Mr. Akin asked with an angry voice.
“Amo-o-kee!”, Jumoke stammered.
“Amoke! Amoke!! Come over here. You’re in trouble today…I’ll beat life out of you’, alarmed Mr. Akin.
Hearing this, Amoke seems to be certain that the only way out was to lie, but she did otherwise. Before her father could move an inch, she was right in front of him, down on her kneels. She held on to his legs and begged him saying:
“Daddy please, it slipped off my hands while I was washing it and I’m very sorry…It’s actually my fault”
Mr. Akin was moved by her gesture, her sincerity and plain acceptance of her fault. He pardoned her saying:
“Promise me you will never allow such mistake to happen again”
“I promise, Dad”, replied Amoke. She rose on her feet and returned happily to the kitchen.
“So, you won’t beat her…no…you must beat her too”, cried Folake with a monstrous bitterness.
“Daddy! Why did you spare Amoke? Her offence is more grievous than that of Folake”, commented Jumoke
“Listen children, it’s never my pleasure to beat anyone of you at any slight mistake. But all I always expect you to do is just to acknowledge your fault, and beg for forgiveness’, explained Mr. Akin.
“You ought to have spared me too…” snapped Folake
“But you were lying…” replied Mr. Akin. At this comment, Folake moved closer to him and said:
“Dad, I promise never to lie to you again”.
“Then, no one would be beaten again in this house…” replied Mr. Akin in a soft voice. The children squealed with excitement, and the rest of the day was brightened and spent happily.