New Word by Cuba Ukoh

by Cuba Ukoh (@Cuba_Ukoh)

Udi was at first thrilled to learn a new word, divorce. The next day at school he explained to his best friend Ginica that it simply meant one thing; he would soon have in addition to his Parents, a new Daddy and Mummy. Therefore it would be four times the attention, toys and the pocket money to buy more sweets, even for Ginica. And she concurred telling him he was a lucky boy.

After Udi’s Parents argued countless times in court, the arrangement was settled. Udi would spend weekdays with his Mother but from Friday’s to Sunday’s he belonged with his Father who now lived in another house. Udi hadn’t realized this sort of arrangement could come along with divorce but he consoled himself. After all didn’t it mean he would now have two homes?

Udi hated his new Daddy from the first day they met. The man had a stiff square pout to match his annoying voice. He changed the TV channels sporadically and never gave him money for sweets.

Once when Udi whistled at night his new Daddy struck his head with his knuckles and told him he was stupid if he didn’t know that whistling at night was the language of hooligans besides the fact that it attracted evil spirits.
But Udi always used to whistle that way with his Mother yet rather than revolt she nagged, “Udi will you keep shut!”
The next day by his school gate, Udi’s Mother bought him his favorite biscuits then hugged him tight against her heart. Cupping his face in her palms she coaxed softly, “Nwam, don’t you want your new Daddy to marry me, don’t you want me to marry again before your Father, eh, if you love me don’t whistle again at night.”

Udi didn’t like how this divorce thing was unfolding. It was starting to look like he wouldn’t be sharing four parents, like he was supposed to pick who to love. He agreed not to whistle again because he loved to make his Mother happy. He would only whistle on weekends now.

It was a Friday, but Udi stood perplexed by the school gate for almost an hour. His Mother’s stall was just a street behind and his Father’s house was walking distance too, but he wondered who to show his test result to first, who would be more lenient. He had never done so poorly. Finally, he heeded with the law of divorce.

Standing by his Father’s front door Udi began to shiver. His class teacher, Aunty Caro, had already arrived to tell his Father the bad news. So this was what happened when you failed a test!
“Oh! It’s Friday,’ his Father squinted on seeing Udi.
“Udi?” the startled teacher said.
“Daddy I’m sorry I failed the test!” Udi blurted in tears
Aunty Caro hurried and snatched the paper, “Oh, I must have given you Ummi’s script.” She said stuffing it into her purse, “So this is your boy, he’s so bright!”
“I didn’t know you taught his class?” Said Udi’s Father
“I was transferred last month.” She smiled stroking Udi’s head, the same head she’d given a fierce knock earlier when he’d failed his mathematics class work yet again.
“I made a beautiful lunch Udi.” Her shaky lips managed to smile.
The very next day Aunty Caro gave Udi a new test script in which he scored an impressive eight out of ten. He smiled at his new Mummy.

New Word by Cuba Ukoh was selected as the first runner up in the Ugreen Foundation’s flash fiction competition. Read other stories from the competition here.