Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.”
— Shirley Maclaine
The toddler, Deme, shuddered at the sight of Pa Oki. He was a very old strong man in his late 90, whose hair was wool white and face, an artwork of wrinkles. He was bent over a stick and walked at the pace of a step a minute.
As he approached, the child galloped away from him, and pa Oki was amused as usual as he looked at Deme who was turn between running to his mother and running to his father. He knew he would not choose his father – he had once forced him into the shaky arms Pa Oki after gently leading him to his usual seat. He had cried all the while he lingered in his arms and kicked and struggle to freedom, they had laughed as he was running to ‘safety’.
So this time Deme ran to his mother who was feeding the pigeons. He scared the birds away as he galloped through the brood of pigeons and secured himself between her legs wearing a horrific facial expression with his pair of bulging eyes watching through the end of her wrapper raised with little shaky fingers of his left hand over his face. The wait for the usual terrific sight to leave began. In a little while, he would leave. But Pa Oki walked to his mother, took a wooden short stool and lowered himself slowly beside her, his voice shook as his fingers as he spoke.
“We can be best of friends son. Take my hand, walk with me. Be my friend.”
But Deme had already hidden in the shrub behind the wooden fence of their compound before Pa Oki could make it to the last of his words to him.