The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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Nina in the story above, is my mother. She lives in Nigeria; I interviewed her over a series of WhatsApp video calls. The memory is so important to her because Mr. Tony was a very wonderful man who always helped Nina and her siblings. He was also a close friend of Nina’s parents. He was loved by the whole family, so everyone called him uncle Tony.

“Shhh, can you hear that?” Nina asked her younger brother, Gerald. “No.” “She’s coming. Quick, go to your bed, quietly.” Nina hastily packed up the Ludo board and pieces, but she could only find one die in her hurry. She couldn’t risk getting caught; she slid the box underneath her bed and dived into her sheets just before the bedroom door creaked open. Nina could hear the footsteps getting closer, then they suddenly stopped. She gave a sigh of relief, but it was too soon. The sound of the footsteps resumed, and her blanket was yanked off her body. “Bring the rest.” The missing die was staring at her right in the eyes. “Now.” “I’m bringing it mummy, I’m sorry.” Nina kept begging her mum to spare her as she submitted the Ludo set. “What did I say about siesta?” “Umm” “Be quiet. You are not going to see this Ludo game again. Now go downstairs and tell your uncle Tony I sent you. make sure you tell him what you did.” Nina dragged her feet on her way out of the room until her mum yelled, “Are you dragging your feet ?!” Nina ran downstairs.

            Uncle Tony wasn’t really Nina’s uncle. He was just her dad’s tenant. He was a young bachelor living with just his dog. Nina knocked on his door. “Hello, who is it?!” A sobbing Nina replied, “Uncle Tony, it’s Nina.” “How can I help you, Nina?” “Mummy said I should come and tell you I was playing Ludo when I should have been sleeping.” “Come to the garage!” Uncle Tony was washing his brand-new blue Peugeot 505. “Why are you crying, Nina?” “My mummy seized the Ludo board, and she doesn’t let me and Gerald play. She’s always sending us to bed.” “Listen, even if you don’t like what your mum is doing, you should always obey her. If you are obedient, your mum would give you and Gerald playtime. Do you understand? Nina nodded as she wiped her face clean. “For your for punishment, you will sweep the veranda. When you are done with that, I will talk to your mum about the Ludo board and giving you play time.” Nina completed her task well, motivated by the hope uncle Tony had given her. She returned to uncle Tony and they both went to meet her mum.

            Nina’s mum was supervising Gerald doing his assignment. “Back already?” “Yes mummy, uncle Tony watched me sweep the veranda.” “Is that so, Tony?” “Yes ma’am. Also, I would like to speak with you, if you would allow.” Nina’s mum ordered her children to leave the room. Nina and Gerald were praying with their fingers crossed when their mum called them. They ran into the room, and what they saw next was the answer to their prayers. “I am not giving you, but you will be allowed to play one Ludo game each school day.” “Thank you, mummy! Love you!” They hugged her and smiled at Uncle Tony.

Uncle Tony to the Rescue

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1984
Gana, Sapele Town, Delta State, Nigeria.

Nina in the story above, is my mother. She lives in Nigeria; I interviewed her over a series of WhatsApp video calls. The memory is so important to her because Mr. Tony was a very wonderful man who always helped Nina and her siblings. He was also a close friend of Nina’s parents. He was loved by the whole family, so everyone called him uncle Tony.

Decade: 1980s
Rating:
Recorded by Oroghene Emudainohwo on December 5, 2018
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