“Sheri!!!”, I stopped as I heard my aunt screamed my name. Something told me she had seen the little bag of rice and a bottle of oil I kept in the bag covered up in rumbles behind the door. I ran down the flight of stairs with gripping fear ready to be dragged through the rabbit hole.
In my aunt’s hands was the bag containing the food I intended to take with me as I came to the end of my weekend stay. It was on a Sunday, my returning-home day. The ground sank under my feet while my aunt expected some explanation on her finds.
I gasped for air as my throat tightened and I couldn’t manage a single word out of my mouth. Scared and ashamed, my feet felt glued to the floor. After what seemed like forever, without saying anything my aunt walked away holding the bag with all the food I stole.
I had secretly tucked a few cups of uncooked rice, seasoning cubes and flake pepper in an unused bag wrapped an old towel and kept it under the darkness and the rumbles of the stair behind the door. It was a perfect hideout. No one would ever check to see or so I thought.
The whole idea was to take a handful of food which wouldn't cost any harm to anyone. My aunt had an abundance of food, but, things didn’t play out as planned. I stood rooted to a point until I was able to summon up the courage. I went upstairs, picked my bag up and told my aunt I was leaving. She gave me some money for the fare and off I went.
For the first time in my 14 years on planet earth, I wished I had some kind of superpower to evaporate into thin air. My legs became heavier as I took the walk of shame to the bus stop. I felt every pound under my feet. I was ashamed.
This wasn’t me. I never stole anything from my aunt despite what we lacked in my house. We were not allowed to steal and I upheld that moral teachings religiously. Neither was I allowed to complain of our suffering to anyone nor beg for food.
Many thoughts crossed my mind as I waited for the bus to take me home. I worried about what my aunt would think of me. I never wanted to see my aunt again. What’s the point anyway? To her, I was a thief. Perhaps, she thought I stole from her every time I came around. My dignity was at stake. Would she associate all her lost items to that singular act of mine?
Why I did what I did.
The thought of stealing never occurred to me, but, with so much food around, I lost my faith in hunger. I overreacted to food. The food we lacked in my house was everywhere at my aunt’s house.
Weeks before my little-steal was a challenge. We barely had enough, but, I couldn’t bring myself to tell my aunt what we were going through at home. Part of what I learnt was never to discuss my suffering. I wasn’t allowed to discuss the situation at home. I was only thinking of a temporary solution. Something to eat for the week, I couldn’t even pull that through!
Coming out clean.
Telling my mum what happened gave me some respite. She told me off for stealing and advised never to let now determine my future. She told me she would speak to my aunt and clear the issue on ground.
I stopped going for weekends at my aunt’s. It took a few years to feel free from this pinch. The event always replays in my mind each time I saw my aunt.
Sometimes, children do things out of pure ignorance. Give your child an excuse, it might not be what you think.