As soon as I saw him I knew. I knew he was an African boy.There was a way he walked that reminded me of my father. I stalked him for the rest of the day, watching him walk, his feet slightly turned out, to convince my self. Finally I picked up the courage to say hello and ask him where he was from. I was right. He was from Africa. From Nigeria too. Just like my dad, the only other African man I knew.
He was as excited to find me as I was to find him. He took me home to meet his parents right after school. For a while after that I would get down at the bus stop before mine to walk home with him and hang out at his house for an hour or two before going home. His mother was always at home after school. Always had a hot meal of Farina and soup waiting for him. They always invited me to eat. i always refused. I didn’t like Farina and soup.
One weekend I was out riding bicycles in the shopping mall parking lot with some other friends of mine. He eagerly rode up on a girls pink bicycle. It had a girly pink basket adorned with pink flowers on the pink handle bars. He looked to me when my friends started taunting him.
“Look at the stupid African boy” they laughed “Don’t you know that’s a girls bike?”
“Yeah. Stupid African boy.” I shouted at him, as someone tore the flowers off the basket.
He was in tears as we rode away. When I looked back he was quivering still astride his bike watching us ride away, his eyes round and confused. Pink flowers strewn around him on the black asphalt.
When I went back to his house later that day to apologise, his mother answered the door. I didn’t understand the stream of Yoruba that she hurled violently at me like a tsunami but I understood that I wasn’t welcome there anymore. I saw him sitting at the dining table behind her, staring at me. His eyes still big and confused. And I saw something else lurking behind his pain. He never spoke to me again.
Not long after that I moved away. It’s been many years. I can’t remember what he looked like or his name but I will always remember how he walked. And when I think I see someone that walks like him I still ask if they were that kid because I still need to apologise.