Isobelle Carmody Award
for Creative Writing
I hold Ayo’s hand as we walk across the parking lot, watching his face
as he focuses on staying upright, one foot in front of the other. We
reach the trolley line and I crouch down next to him with a smile,
placing my hands on his tiny waist.
Ayo’s precious little laugh rings out as I swing him up into the
shopping trolley, making sure he’s sitting, before pushing the trolley
towards the supermarket, sending Ayo into another fit of giggles.
The people we pass smile at us. Most of them know our faces
from our regular Sunday visits to the mall, and all of them love Ayo.
Every week we are stopped by people who all wish to talk to my
gorgeous six year-old brother. They smile, and tell him he must have
grown a foot since they last saw him. To this, Ayo responds with a
puff of the chest and a solemn, ‘I know,’ that makes every-one laugh.
The little stops prolong our trip but I don’t mind. I love talking to
people. The market run is normally the highlight of my week.
‘Dela!’ Ayo’s call pulls me from my thoughts, and I look down
at the trolley to see he has turned around and is now kneeling,
‘Dela,’ he repeats, when he’s sure he has my attention, ‘can we
please get something special this week?’
The hope in his face is heart breaking and I’m instantly angry at
our impoverished state. There are kids all around the world who
would get an easy ‘yes’ in answer to that question. Kids who will gain
access to so many opportunities, opportunities that will always be
just out of reach for others, like Ayo and me. I wish I could grant
Ayo this small happiness, but I know in my heart we would need a
miracle for that to happen. I would give anything for that miracle.
‘Ayo, turn around,’ I say in an attempt to distract him, but I can
tell I haven’t succeeded, by the way his face falls in disappointment,
converting my answer to a ‘no.’
He rebounds quickly though, rocking back onto his heels and
replying with a cheeky grin, ‘It’s more fun this way.’
My mind searches for a strict answer but my heart isn’t in it. He
knows I could never be mad at him. My cute little brother knows
just how to manipulate the world around his little finger. Ayo is only
six, but dad seems to think he will be the one to lift us out of poverty.
Personally, I think it’s a ridiculous weight to place on his young, frail
shoulders, but Ayo definitely has a special spark. Maybe he could
make a better life for himself, for our family.