52 ways cover stripAn emergency PTA meeting was called in Adaora’s school. I had to take permission off work to be there. I couldn’t have missed it because it concerned Adaora. A child had been missing the day before. It sent shudders through my body just thinking about it.

Adaora and Queenie, the missing child, were playing outside together after school hours when a young man came to meet them. He was a total stranger to both children.  He had ice-cream cups for both of them.

“No, thank you sir.” Adaora declined his offer politely.

“We don’t know you,” Queenie said.

“It’s okay. I am the new teacher in primary 2a. I just came to see you children play today. I’ll be in your class tomorrow,” the man said kindly.

“Aunty Jenny is our teacher. We don’t have a new teacher,” Adaora said.

“Let’s take the ice-cream,” Queenie said.

“Good girl,” the man urged. He handed one to Queenie. “And you, fine girl? I’ve given some other good children like you. How about you?”

“Queenie, let’s go inside. When my Mummy comes I’ll ask her if I can take it from you. She’ll soon be here,” Adaora was almost pleading.

She was tempted to take the ice-cream from the man. She decided to go back into the classroom and ask Aunty Jenny instead. The middle-aged woman was tidying up when Adaora ran in breathlessly.

Aunty Jenny said, “Adaora has your Mummy come?”

“No, Aunty Jenny, she’ll be late today.” Aunty Jenny shrugged and continued what she was doing. “Aunty please can I take ice-cream from…”

Queenie’s mother came in then and interrupted her with a greeting. “Good afternoon Aunty Jenny.”

“Good afternoon, ma. Did you want to see me about something?” Aunty Jenny asked.

“No, Queenie? Isn’t she here?” Queenie’s Mummy asked.

“Isn’t she outside?” Aunty Jenny wondered aloud.

“No. No, she isn’t.”

“She was playing with Adaora. When Adaora came in alone, I thought you’d come to pick her.”

“No. I’m just coming in,” Queenie’s Mummy said edgily. She was a haughty woman by nature.

“But…” Aunty Jenny started.

“She’s not outside. Where is she?”

Aunty Jenny went outside and looked round herself. Two or three older boys were on the swings. It really was late and almost two hours since the school had closed. She walked up to the boys.

“Did you see Queenie, a small girl playing here just now?”

From there, the investigations began. Queenie was missing!

I came to meet Adaora crying and totally confused. Everyone seemed to be seeking her attention at the same time. I excused them and left with my daughter.

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The emergency PTA meeting was just to warn parents/guardians and implore them to pick their children as early as possible after school hours. Through my sadness for Queenie and her family, I felt a tinge of pride for my Adaora. I don’t know what I’d have done if she’d taken the ice-cream too and then disappeared like Queenie. Probably, I would kill myself.

Published as 52 Ways to Provoke God. Get your copy here