Hello guys. Been a while, innit? 😀
Below is a story depicting one of the many ills ravaging our society. Whether rich, poor or middle class, anybody’s son, brother, nephew, cousin e.t.c can become a victim. The boy child needs attention just as much as the girl child requires it. We need to move out of the stone age where issues like this are exclusively aligned with the female gender alone. Be vigilant, be accessible and listen to her and/or HIM. Read and please share. Thank you. 🙂
Blackened walls, dirt marked, spittle and stale sweat drenched, lower parts adorned with fading traces of fecal stains. Lean fingers trailed their path along the edifice. Back and forth, from one end to another. He is absent minded. The boy. The memory was there of that one time when that mother had forced out mucus from her child’s nose and rubbed it off on these very walls. She had rubbed and scraped the walls with her mucus-filled hands until they returned to their pre-fluid state. He vowed then never to touch these walls. He would never forget the blatant assault that had been forged on them.
Right now, his fingers had at some point caressed those very forbidden spots and he had not known it. He was numb to sight and sound. Anxiety ridden, tendrils of terrible hurt and ensuing dread was all there was to feel. The pain was taking over the very depths and enclaves of his mind. It was the pain that mattered now. Only the pain. It filled the pores in his skin and watered the very core of his soul.
The only succor he had was just behind the door he had walked past five times as he paced the dank corridor in that constant unco – ordinated, unthinking zig-zag motion.
Born months apart, they had both been birthed in the very bricks on which this place they called home was moulded. A year less of a decade they both were but he had found himself of late envying his friend’s yet untainted childhood. He should probably warn……….
The thought had barely formed in his mind when he heard a loud snick in a latch from one of the doors standing guard to the corridor. He didn’t jump nor fret. This was a good sound. The bad one was the one he never heard.
He never did.
He walked over to join Jimoh who stood grinning at the entrance to his home with one foot atop his pseudo leather football. Jimoh had already sought his mother’s consent for their tryst this evening. Jimoh’s mother watched over and doted on Jimoh more than a mother hen. If one strand of hair atop Jimoh’s hair fell out, she would notice instantly. Nobody could hurt Jimoh. Silas had not too long ago started wishing she was his to call “mother”.
“Kodjo is coming today.”
Kodjo was Jimoh’s cousin. The few times Kodjo was dropped over by his dad for their barely regular threesome playdates were always memorable days for Silas. Where Jimoh’s physical features were in total contrast to Silas’, Kodjoe had a remarkable resemblance to Silas. Both boys were dark skinned, lanky and looked older than their number of years. Jimoh was great but adopting Kodjo as a brother was another item on his wishlist. He had a fantastic image of what his family should have looked like.
His number two wish.
They two boys continued their whimsical banter about football and other nothingness.
Silas suddenly felt the shadow of his misery’s source hover before he even noticed his friend lift his gaze slightly upwards. He couldn’t turn around. He had the sudden urge to run into the one bedroom apartment Jimoh shared with his parents and elder brother and never ever come out. But he didn’t have the nerve to. His fears had him rooted to the spot.
And then Uncle spoke “Hello little friend, I’ve been searching all over for you”. Uncle’s baritone voice sent waves of tremor coursing through Silas’ body. He was perspiring profusely. He wanted to use the toilet. He wanted to urinate. He urgently needed to vomit. He wanted to lay down right there on the dirt worn cemented floor. He wanted to scream. But he neither moved an inch from the spot he stood nor turn back to face Uncle.
Jimoh noticed Silas’ discomfort but stared at him askance wondering why there seemed to be a glow of apparent discomposure suddenly enveloping his friend.
As if by a stroke of meticulously planned plot, Jimoh’s mother peered partly through the curtains that stood between the door and the safety of her home at the unfolding scene. “Good afternoon Uncle”. In the same breadth in which she uttered those words, she pulled Jimmy forcibly amidst mumbled protests into their home and slammed the door shut.
The click of the bolts being harshly forced into place at the other side of the door brought with it a terrifying dusk of reality. Silas turned abruptly, false bravado taking hold.
“Good evening Uncle”.
Uncle was a 5’6 man with a skinny frame, clean shaven, intelligent and kind eyes, a full mane of hair on his head and a warm smile. But Silas knew better. The same features had lured him into a place of darkness so pitch, he had contemplated trying what he had seen that Actor do on TV.
The Actor was a pastor who had lost his wife and five kids in a car accident. He had survived but was miserable. Faith had dealt him a cruel blow by taunting him with life while the essence of his existence had been snatched from his grasp. In the pre – concluding scene of the 73 minute movie, the man rolled and coiled a large rope around the ceiling fan in his room, placed his head in the noose and kicked the chair away from under his feet. The police had later on in the final scene of the movie called what the man did “Suicide”.
Yes, he had envisioned himself lately trying out the same thing but he was terrified. He really wanted to be as brave as the poor Actor in that tragic movie but he wouldn’t see jimoh again. His mother, had blurted out, eyes glued to the screen, whilst caressing the rosary around her neck that the Actor would go to hell because he had committed a sin. He didn’t want to go to hell.
That had been one of the few nights he had felt and enjoyed his mother’s company even though she was always present yet unavailable and oblivious. He had promised to remind himself later on to ask Jimoh’s mother if that was true.
Uncle’ s baritone voice brought him out of his reverie. He was handed the usual foreboding N1,000 note.
“10 pieces of fried yam, 20 akara and five fried fishes. Tell her to keep the change”.
He didn’t ever say more than that. He could remember exactly what the list had been like five days ago, a Sunday afternoon precisely. He watched Uncle’s back as he walked to his room. Silas dragged his feet ever so slowly. He walked along the corridor towards the dimming sun. He couldn’t help but notice that Uncle hadn’t turned the key that would have signaled a shut door. He noticed the little details now. The little details within and outside Uncle’s abode. The little things helped during the sessions.
Silas repeated the very same things Uncle had told him to the woman that sat just in front of the unpainted building with its spacious unleavened ground. The white flakes, being humorously flighty escaped from the large flames that burned from the wood giving fire to the big black basin and found solace on the woman’s clothing and her face. This was the only job the woman had. She didn’t “go to the office” like Jimoh’s mother did. She was here in the morning for three hours and from the evening hours till the last of her produce finished depending on when they did.
So why hadn’t she ever noticed? He had a slight limp now. She must have observed that by now. Why wasn’t she asking? Why wasn’t she bothered? Jimoh’s mother was worried enough to ensure her son stayed as far away from Uncle as possible but this woman……. She pushed him farther away from her and further into Uncle’s 212 Men embrace. The grey bottle with its bold inscription did nothing to make itself less conspicuous on its permanent space on Uncle’s shelf.
The little things he now noticed. Like the barely visible hole that rodents had dug into the corner of the wall which was 6 feet from Uncle’s bed. Or the train of little ants that picked up crumbs of sweet food and other dead insects into another microscopic hole they had dug into the wall. Concentrating on these little things helped push the sound of Uncle’s grunting and guttural sound out of his head as he lay on his stomach, bent over, with his shorts pulled down to his knees.
He would tell her. She had to know. She could not hide from it. These thoughts roamed his head as he took the meticulously wrapped local snacks from her hands and just stood there. He stared at her sharply. She had to feel something was wrong. He begged her to feel. It would save him the difficulty of putting his fear into words.
“Allow that thing may e cold, the thing wey I go do you, e go be like say no be me born you”.
Silas felt his heart plummet to the bottom of his stomach. She hadn’t even turned to spare him a glance.
He had expected a bit of feeling or something more. Just this once to notice and be aware. She was however concerned about a customer who had bought a lot and left a lot of change. He was angry, disgusted, frightened and helpless. His eyes welled up as he walked away, trying to trace his thoughts back to where he had seen Uncle keep the long cord he unoften used to connect his stereo speakers to the 16″ inch TV hanging on the wall of his one bedroom apartment.
That would suffice.
The woman stared at the boy’s retreating form for a while before she turned around to attend to the next customer who thought it weird that this woman, famous in the community for her delicious produce, whose eyes should have become one with the smoke oozing forth from the flames would right now have the strangest tears rolling down her face.