-BY OLAYIWOLA FAITH ADEDOLAPO
Have you ever thought of how moments fly and ruin the day? Have you ever peeped through time and views how melancholic it sings? Have you ever wondered why vision ends up as failed mission? This is not it on the street. It is life!
The sun shone in a dim form today. It would soon shine, the Fundi woman exclaimed. He quietly walked past her and focused on the part that led to where the tomato stalls were located. The ground was muddy. It had rained all night but has left with an insight into what life revealed to us every day; at least from their part. He raised his left leg slowly to avoid splashing the mud on anyone as they all moved quickly. He could not afford any insult again. Or maybe he was not like them. The way they lived was different from what he asked for; what he hoped for. They were lost to him; dead but not buried.
‘Helpers!’ A woman called.
They all rushed towards her with so much willingness.
‘Me ma! Me ma! I call carry them for you at a cheaper price!’ They all screamed above their voices.
Instead he began to pick up the load and started to move.
‘Yanma! She ask you make you carry am?’ Jakaucha, the Helpers Union head ask him with his eyes raging.
‘Leave him! Let him be!’ The woman called out. I called for helpers, and he showed his willingness….
He did not wait to hear her finish her statement. He walked across the other children in their confused mood, heads lowered and their legs heaving heavily on the mud mixture. He felt thoughts consume him. They were several stares that heated up his soul. He walked faster not minding the mud that gathered underneath his worn-out slippers.
‘Boy! That is my car!’ The woman called out.
He looked towards where she pointed at. He saw two girls. They were fighting. But not the type of type of fight he was used to. They fought and smile and desired to be the first to get hold of something.
‘Stella! You and your sister should keep quite’.
‘Mummy! Patricia does not want to give me the ball’
‘Leave her. I will buy you another’
‘And they continued to struggle’
‘I am done ma’, he announced
The woman looked at him; astonished
‘You are done?’
‘I hope you placed nothing on those yams. They are very expensive. I cannot imagine how I…’
‘I placed nothing on them ma’
She stared again
‘Have these, she stretched towards him #50.’
He looked at her and collected the money.
She was nice, he thought. The rest would have left him to Yakanma for due punishment and end up giving him #20. How much was the doll? If he found one, he would but it for himself. They must be very special like Mike was to his mother. Mike came to their house when he was eleven. He sat at the entrance in his school uniform with a book in his hands. His schoolbag lay hopeless on the ground while every word in his notes flowed like water. The worms in his stomach fought earnestly for what he knew nothing of. He would have gone to Mama Gunta house for garri but he overheard her when she told her daughters to run away from him so that he would not harm them. And anytime he comes to ask for food, they should not reply him. He had cried on his way home. Everyone avoided him. He avoided himself. But he had to eat. He was hungry.
He looked up to see his mama. She stood in front of him with a man. She smiled. He wondered when last she smiled. She complained of either her struggle for a living or how difficult it was becoming for her to be a single mother. He thought of it several times and watched his mother struggle through time and hope. He wished for the best but could afford non at present. He stared her again. Her second-hand Ankara was patched at several places. She looked thin; thinner than she had always been. Her eyes blinked several time and he knew she wanted him to say something. He shifted his gaze towards the man, Mike. He held his mama’s hand as if he needed it for his first time; composure. But it was his mama who needed it. She needed support and love. Love from him. The man had beards. They were long and looked like that of the men who walked towards the local mosque behind their house. But he was not a Muslim. He was dressed like a big boy; like uncle Bande who used to teach him social studies but left for the north when the war started. He would come to school in ‘Ankara on bangy’ as they called it. Uncle Bande would then correct them that it was Ankara on jeans. But they were not the usual jean everyone worn. But they kept on with their ‘Ankara on bangy’. The man hair looks unkempt. It looked like he was from the prisoners: camp. He starred like the ones in the movie he watched at Ontoni’s house. The man had gone to the prison for five months after beating his wife. When he came back, his beards and hair were unkempt as this man’s. He did not want any prisoner in their house…..
‘Obi! Dis na your papa’ mama said
He looked at mama. She is still smiling. Her left hand was on Mike’ chest while she firmly placed the other hand around his neck. Mike did not leave her waist. He needed composure. Mike thoughts flowed; he did not want him to get it from mama. He was the only one that could give her love and composure.
‘Mama said so. She said I am the only one she has.’
‘My papa?’ I asked
‘Yes Obi. Dis na your papa. Your new papa. Come greet am.’
‘Leave him Dandu. Leave him alone. He does not have a papa like us.’
‘Let us go. Foolish boy!’
‘Wait sef! Let us sing for him’
‘Who want to play with a fatherless boy?’
‘Who want to talk to a bastard?’
‘Who wants to be like him?’
‘No one! No one! Oh!’
The beat him until an elder tries to stop them and then ran off. Obi walks towards hi house crying
‘Obi! Wetin happen to you. Why you come dey cry like his? Sey you go school go fight ni?’
‘Mama. Where is my papa?’
‘No mama! Papa is dead. Papa is dead.’
‘Shut up Obi! I talk sey dis na your papa. Come greet am now’.
Obi saw the man move his left leg backwards for him to have more space to prostrate.
‘Mama. I am hungry. Do you have food?’
‘Obi. For the last time. Greet ya papa!’
That was when life meant meaning but he had no understanding. Now he had understanding but it meant no meaning. He walked back to the market in search for another customer. The market was alive again. It smelt of earth and dirt mixed with the goods sold in it. Everyone spoke on top of their voices still he could hardly hear when one called. He had learnt to be smart and agile. Customers do not look for helpers, helpers look for customers. He knew that he was lucky in the morning. He needed to avoid Jakaucha. Jakaucha knew that as well. He has to avoid him and his gang. For helpers, he knew he had to get enough money to eat and pay for the space at night. He stopped in front of the cloth stall at stared intensely at the Banik top. It has a Teddy bear picture on it. He thought for the doll Stella and Patricia fought for. This one looked bigger; like the one he deserves. His eyes went through the top and possessed it. He sighted Jakaucha and turned to move.
‘Obi. Wait there.’
He tried to run until he saw the other gang members at the various ends and knew that there was no means of escape.
‘Why you diobey my order? Why u go carry the thing wey dey no send you? Na only you dey for this corner? Talk na! na only you?’
‘I need money’
‘E no get anyone wey no need money for this corner. As I dey so, I don enter empty’
‘I need money for Ole. I could not pay yesterday and today…’
Ole was the money we all paid to Jakauna as members of the street. His eyes shone brightly at the mention of Ole.
‘You for don talk na! Wey the money?’
He hands over the money to Jakauwa. 50 naira.
‘See that woman. Go help her.’
Jakauna leaves as his gang member hail him. Obi looks at the woman
He turns over to the top, the bear and the woman.