I remember the day my father caused me to see stars.
It was on a cool evening of a weekday and he had just returned from a road trip in his old grey car. My siblings and I scurried over to welcome him and after hugging us, he opened the trunk of the car to reveal an array of goodies; apples, bananas, watermelons, bottles of finely roasted groundnut and – oranges! As a child, oranges were my favourite fruit. I looked at the beautiful basket of oranges with pure delight. “Daddy, I want to carry the oranges.” I begged, hopping from one foot to another. My father looked at my small frame and shook his head, unconvinced. “Let your brother carry it.” he suggested as he picked up the basket.
“No! I can carry it.” I pleaded, squeezing past my brother and holding the basket with my small hands. Nobody was coming between me and my little friends. “Okay. Be careful with them.” my dad warned, handing it to me “Make sure you don’t drop them”. “Yes, daddy.” I replied as I wobbled away with a basket that was half my size.
Basking in the joy of my little victory, I began to twirl, singing a song long forgotten. “Be careful” I heard my dad echo in the distance but I didn’t care, it was me and my babies against the world. All was well in that moment, until I went off balance and lost my grip. I fell, palm-first to the ground, in a desperate attempt to save my oranges from rolling away, but it was too late. I watched in horror as they rolled, care-free, into the little gutters at both sides of the compound.
“I told you not to play with those oranges!” my father bellowed. I turned in time to see him charging towards me, his right palm spread wide as if he had conjured a ball of fire in it, ready to meet my cheeks. In that moment, I knew I had messed up.
I saw stars that day, but not the kind you see at night. These ones came out when the sun was just setting and my ears were ringing.