Yesterday, I woke up alive. Yawning and stretching my arm pazst the tight molecules of air in a cold, wet but bright morning just after the dark night. Half-awake, I laid on grandma’s deserted bed. It was Monday again but nothing had changed, just like the last one this one has remained mundane. Far from suffering from dysania or clinomania, my desire to lay stray on the bed was an evidence of my overt nothingness.
At 29, I had just finished my one year NYSC training, and after being constantly rejected by many organizations, failing to secure petty loans from Microfinance banks to start up my computer business, grandma’s village has become home to me.
As though the thunderclaps that morning weren’t disturbing enough, echoes of Teri’s threat of killing grandma reverberated in my head.
Teri is the leader of “Șoká” the deadly kidnappers who terrorise the village of Araromi where grandma lives. They had managed to cart away with grandma a forthnight ago while I was away in the village market.
I have made numerous advances at the kidnappers, but to start with, Terri’s demands were absurd – half a million Naira, I have incontinently refused, claiming even the village chief would struggle to come up with such an amount. In response, he had threatened to kill grandma in a week’s time if he didn’t receive his unrealistic ransom which was worrisome to say the least.
Dead and buried in my thoughts, my instincts were awakened by the uncanny sounds of the feets of a visitor. It was Muri, my friend whom I met during NYSC in Kaduna. Muri had quietly shoved the door guiding the entrance to grandma’s abode, meaning he was now in what was a bedroom, kitchen and living room combined – the house only room.
Dressed in his early morning Kabba, Muri’s face looked like that of one who has compounded the troubles of the whole world to himself alone, he wasn’t entirely ugly. But thst morning, his countenance kept breaking under weights of dissodance suspended by pulleys of responsibilities of being the first child in a family of twelve.
My guess was that being the only person he considered as learned in the village, he had come to lay bare his heart bothers to me. For the records, I wasn’t entirely wrong. Muri’s youngest sibling Sikemi had been raped, his face dropped when he announced it to me.
Rape, just like kidnapping stands tall among the list of vices terrifying the villagers in Araromi. From gang rapes to solo sessions the women of Aroromi have known little respite.
Unfortunately, in most cases the culprits are usually the most unlikeliest of sources and usually go unpunished. In Sikemi’s case, it was her headmaster who had raped her.
I hate to hide my hate for rape, and I had sworn to trek the next 50 kilometers to the nearest police station to report the crime until I was reminded of how influential headmaster Bade is, and that the police held in him in regard. Meaning, no one will side with Sikemi’s side of the story.
Muri had continued to narrate his other ordeals, his immediate younger sister Titi would be writing her exams in Unilag and she had not paid the session fees. Muri had hoped to use my phone to transferred her the funds until I told him I sold it at the local market last week to put food in my stomach. Dissappointed by my response, Muri and I resolved to take the only option – send her money at the nearest ATM stand some kilometers away.
On arrival, our eyes were greeted by an array of heads accompanied by sounds of different frequencies(noise) far too parallel for one to make any sense of it.
There were six long queues that extended into the humid horizon. A new heat settled violently everywhere. People wailed from a variety of distances in local exclamations.
A woman shrieked invisibly from an old car, she sounded like a poached bull, a man accidentally slept off on the queue, another had left to eat. When he came back, the queue had moved beyond him. Immediately, he began protesting ruefully…..Won’t I Eat ? Won’t I Eat ? You evil people from the pit of hell.
He begged an old woman twice his age to let him back in the queue, the people behind the woman told him to go to hell.
Children in varying stages of nakedness with rubber jerrycans on their vertices laughed from a distance.
Momentarily, one of the machines stopped working, the faces of the people on its queue knew a new defeat. Among them was a young lady dressed in a black suit, she was distraught, her face was swollen, as though from a secret beating. She hit her head repeatedly, as if in dawning regret. She later burst out as one attempting to realign a scattered dream.
She had an interview in thirty minutes and she had come to withdraw what would take her to the venue. She cried silently and pleaded for help, her tears washing her lipstick interminently.
She was told to shut up by another man. He explained he was also in deep waters, his wife is in labour and needs surgery to deliver the baby, he had been instructed to get the money for the surgery in the next quarter hour.
Others on the queue lauded him. Thereafter each detailed their own miseries with such alacrity that you would think they loved to be in such a mess.
We later made it to the front of the queue, in few seconds Muri transferred the remainder of his money to Titi. We then made way for grandma’s abode, we had made for our initial route until Muri objected that we take another – It was shorter.
We had barely walked half the journey before the sky darkened,the clouds thickened,in quick succession the heavens opened. Like a wind breezing past a desert, the rain had in minutes chased every living thing off the streets.
We ourselves ran for cover and although I hated it, we had to run to a friend Taiye’s house for cover. Taiye’s house wasn’t any different from grandma’s, it only had a big room which served as living room, kitchen and bedroom to Taiye, her parents and her other eight siblings.
The room was so dirty all I wanted to do was sweep the floor and wall, on a certain part was stained with palm oil in proportions evidencing it use cooking. That apart, the dreadful smell stemming from the room made me think we were trapped in a kinda concentration camp for a moment.
The longer we stayed in the room, the more I hated it and prayed the rain takes a much desired needed break. Thankfully, it stopped raining minutes later. Immediately I led Muri out, only to meet Kehinde, Taiye’s twin on our way out.
Instatenously, my mind flashed back to the events of last Tuesday.
It was early morning and I had wakened from persistent barging at grandma’s door. It was Kehinde and her mum. Her mum had taken her daughter to me to corroborate what she called the “tori” her daughter told her. Kehinde is pregnant and she says it’s mine.
Shell shocked, I remained quiet throughout the impromptu meeting, only nodding at intervals to Kehinde’s story line.
The silence that ensued when our eyes meet was loud enough to tell the sorry tale. Muri was lost but he couldn’t tell why, I hurriedly now became motionless.
It all happened on a Sunday morning, I had returned early from church disturbed by the pastor’s serom…
You will rot in hell, you sinners, hypocrite, fornicators…..
For once, I wasn’t a bad Christian, I was frequent in church.
But there were things called sins I haven’t learnt to leave.
Whenever my eyes happened upon the voluptuous backside of a woman, I have most times left it hanging there. I once tried to woo a friend in Kaduna but I chided my self off the thought of such. It was like seeing light at the end of the tunnel and being too afraid to step into it.
The quick flight of guilt was numbing, because I had a mind which aspired to meet God through the teachings, I would deny myself of such pleasure and consequently I would remain caged.
Sometimes freedom wears the garb of the law of attraction.
It brings to you untrammeled – the things you yearned for in the least moment.
Kehinde had come to me to explain to her the steps of solving trigonometric equation. I had barely finished with my explanation when I felt a nudge on my chest. Next, her hands traced the contours of my beards. Neurons took over. One after the other, each spiked and birthed neurotransmitters. The transmitters spread across synapses to embrace another neurone. In split seconds, we were on grandma’s bed, lifting our bodies and watching our souls rise with ease like a bird taking off.
At a point in this turbulent life, a man has to look his demons in the eye and confront them for one big fight that even they begin to respect his courage. With grandma’s kidnap and Kehinde’s baby on my mind, I am beginning to find a new strength to fight my demons…….