Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The art of begging for alms on the street of Lagos have evolved over time that associations are being formed to watch over one another’s interests. Alms begging has become sophisticated as some have distinguished themselves as corporate beggars who will appear in neat outfits and come up with a plausible story line to whip up empathy and if they are lucky enough, they get “paid” by ways of generous donations from the unsuspecting public. these type of beggars always change locations frequently to avoid been detected.Another set of beggars are those skilled at giving birth to children like rats who in turn innocently become foot soldiers for their parents at tender ages of three or four, clutching at the hands of passers by while their parents watch from a safe distance. these kids don’t even know what they are doing. they simply grew up into it and are naturally adapted to the act. These are the most vulnerable of all, they have been wrongly wired right from the beginning such that they don’t even know what’s white from what’s black; they could be exploited by ritual killers, terrorists and for prostitution. 

Lagos State needs to do more in controlling the activities of these ever increasing menace on our streets by making sure that funds are invested in surveillance equipment such as high definition CCTV cameras across major flash points and highways to detect acts of crimes. A biometric database of Lagosians should be developed and maintained to keep track of people living in Lagos such that those with criminal intents can be easily fished out should they carry out any criminal activity and secluded areas should be well lit to deter people from assembling in these locations. 

The police must be trained in modern techniques of combatting myriads of crimes and funded appropriately to be able to discharge their duties.

Well equipped skill acquisition centres should be opened across every local government areas and these beggars should be confined within these centres where they will be fed as well as taught a skill set that will in turn generate money for them and their dependants and as well as for the government in form of taxes and levies.

UNTITLED…FOR NOW

Posted: March 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

I awoke to the grinding sound of the generating set of my neighbor downstairs who could not stand the heat of the night and so ran the machine all through the night. It was the twenty eight day of …

Source: UNTITLED…FOR NOW

Recognition

Posted: November 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

africanwriter.com a foremost online literary site reputed for publishing and reviewing works of both established and upcoming authors of African descent but not necessarily living on the continent recently accepted to publish one of my works. I am humbled by this act of genrousity i must say. it means a lot to me.

BOOK V: HARD BALLS

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

After the burial of my father, Sparko told me I could take some days off. “No way!” I had told him. He then shrugged.
“I only did the poor thing and that landlady a favour and that was it” I added.
I was eager to cover up for the unexpected expenses I’d incurred. Sparko then told me to join them for a meeting later that evening to discuss a possible operation we might carry out in the coming days.
“What’s the operation about?” I’d casually asked
“When the meeting commences, you’ll find out” had been his response.

After several minutes of banters and a feast of gin and marijuana, the meeting commenced at exactly 8.30 pm. Sparko cleared his throat and spoke. “There is a big business on the table …” as he spoke on, I kept wondering if I was the only one in the dark about this said business. I glanced at the faces of other members in the dimly lit space but read nothing as they all had their eyes riveted on sparko’s. “A reckless federal minister is coming to spend the night with his girlfriend at the Wax Hotel incognito, next week and may be coming with lots of cash too because my informant who is  a driver to the family, told me he had overheard him telling ‘her’ on the phone to meet the minister at the Wax. He won’t be needing the usual entourage for this kind of an appointment, trust me. Besides, the fewer the people with him that night, the safer his secret would be from his adored wife and much less, the likelihood of a scandal.”
“I have checked the hotel out myself” Sparko continued “Not a big place, perfectly tucked away from the open, the hotel lobby is not well lit and it is not heavily patronized, ideal for that kind of rendezvous. All rooms are on the first floor of the single storey building which has only two entry and exit doors at the ground floor: one at the main entrance that led to the reception lobby and the other led to the kitchen and could also connect you back to the hall. The only stair case that led to the first floor where guest rooms are located is beside the enquiry desk. The only problem is that we don’t have the room number. So, that’s the situation and we have little time to brood on this” he paused and then continued “My suggestion is we hold the entire building hostage and ransack the whole place.”
Other members of the gang started to deliberate on the issue as if they had better plans. I asked if he could trust the driver-informant enough to know it wasn’t a trap and for a moment, Sparko seemed to be caught off guard but quickly regained his composure “Yes, I’ve concluded that he’s just a gas bag that would whistle at the slightest of a touch.”
Sparko went on to explain how they had met at a beer palour that fateful evening. Sparko had sat on the same table as the minister’s driver. The driver had bought a bottle of beer and gulped it till the bottle was empty then ordered for another bottle.
“That was when Sparko closed the pocket diary that he had been busy going through. The badge on his chest with his name and initial boldly printed ‘LEONARD .O’ caught Sparko’s attention. He gently placed his diary back in his pocket and continued with his beer. By this time the driver had almost finished his second bottle. Sparko said “hi” to him and he acknowledged the greeting with a nod. Sparko casually added “tough day at work?” The driver said Sparko could say that again.
Sparko said he looked like a nice guy so he called the bar man to give the driver another beer; he thanked him and opened it. The driver said he’d been on the road for seven hours driving nonstop.
“Oh, you work for these courier companies?”
The driver shook his head profusely and looked around to see if someone was eavesdropping “I work for the Minister of Finance” he’d said, his voice becoming slurry. Sparko said a low tone whistle escaped his lips and he quickly contained the amazement that had begun to register on his face. Sparko said he drank from his beer and pretended to be uninterested about what the driver had just said, hoping he’d spew out more but the driver was through for that night.
The driver hurriedly gulped down the remaining content of the bottle and thanked Sparko. He stood up unsteadily to take his leave. Sparko also quickly emptied what was left of my beer, paid the waitress, leaving her with a generous tip and went after his new friend who by then had staggered to the door. Sparko said he helped him out to the road and told him he’d enjoyed the driver’s company and would love for them to sit and chat over some bottles of beer whenever he was free again. The driver had asked for his name which he gave as Simeon being his real name. The driver, feeling somewhat important had said he didn’t know when next he’d be in town but whenever he was around, he’d drop by, Thursdays being the most likeliest of days. Sparko said he almost told him to be specific but caught had caught his tongue before the words tumbled out of his mouth.
“It was exactly after two weeks of patronizing that beer parlour without any luck that my Judas finally walked in, this time with no badge on.” Sparko continued “I almost ran forward to hug him but again held the table firm with both hands till they ached to resist the urge of getting up. He scanned the joint and noticed me at the far corner where I sat and smiled. He walked up to the table I had constantly reserved for two for the past two Thursdays. We exchanged pleasantries like two old buddies. This time he ordered two bottles for us and we chatted over the drink catching up on events of the past week at our various workplaces. I managed to cook up a story plausible enough for him to fall for. I offered to buy us another beer but he declined the offer and instead requested two more bottles on his bill. “That dirty boss of mine treats me like I’m shit. Yet he spends loads of money on his mistresses. Whenever I ask him for a little favor all he says is that he’d see what he could do about it. The wait might take weeks, months, and sometimes in vain.“ He shook his head and continued “someone called him right in my presence, this morning, on our way to the office and he told her to meet him at the Wax Hotel, Friday night, next week, he’d see what he could raise before then. Can you imagine that? I work so hard, yet I’m remunerated poorly. Damn the damsels of this world!” he had concluded, taking a swig from his bottle.
Sparko nodded in agreement and said to him “so Mr. eh, eh…”
“Eko” he helped me out
“Yes, Mr. Eko wants to help another mistress of his within a few days of request in a hotel huh?” we both laughed. The driver went on to explain about similar escapades of his boss and how the Minister had usually driven himself to rendezvous spots alone to avoid suspicion.
“Smart man, but even better for us that way” I had thought as Sparko continued his narration
“The driver went on rambling about things that were not of great interest to him but I managed to pretend I was listening until the driver noticed I had in fact not been paying attention. The driver glanced at his wristwatch and sighed
“Time to go”.
Sparko got up first and waited for him outside the bar while he settled with the bar man. He walked up to Sparko and said “So we’ll see again, my friend” we shook hands and went our different ways.”
By the time Sparko finished his narration, everybody had clung to every word dripping out of his mouth and deliberations and further questions were buried there and then.
I thought plans were made in a cursory manner with too many loose ends left untied. This worried me but again, I trusted and respected Sparko’s judgement, if he could single handedly coordinate the plans that far, then he must have figured out what I was thinking – how do we get out of the place quickly if the plan failed?. Since he didn’t make mention of it, and others members didn’t ask, I decided to let it pass… I didn’t want to upset ‘big brother.’
The next morning, two top members of the gang were sent out to go down to the neighborhood where the hotel was to get a feel of the environment, observe anything unusual that could impede the success the operation and to locate possible escape routes around the hotel neighborhood. This they repeated two other times. One of my fears was put to rest.
At exactly 7 pm, that fateful Friday, we gathered at sparko’s room for the first time since I joined the gang. Down stairs, a blue Nissan bus was parked, the license plates missing. Sparko, said if anything goes wrong and anyone of us got caught, that person must not divulge possible whereabouts of escaping members.
Cold shiver ran down my spine at the mention of the word ‘caught’, I wasn’t the only one with a funny look registered on their faces. We were getting involved with a top government official for the first time. Sparko then added that cowards were free to back out if they wanted to. The funny looks vanished immediately and worried faces became fearless hearts. Sparko retrieved a little bag from under his bed and four pistols were brought out. They were checked to ensure they were in good condition. Three of the guns were given to top members of the gang with extra rounds. Sparko retained the last one for himself. We prayed and we filed out downstairs, each of us introspectively searching our selves. We got into the bus with my short thick set friend manning the wheel of the bus. Sparko sat beside the driver and the rest of us sat on the rear seats. I settled for the first row and was bordered by two of other members, one to my right and the other to my left and the journey began.

BOOK IV: DEAD FOR GOOD

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

Mum and Jerry moved in with her younger brother who was a bachelor at the time and a driver for a courier company. So, he was always on the road. He lived at Kano Street at Ebute Metta where it was a norm to live with noise either from buses passing by or the vibratin trains from the station nearby or even from a neighbour in his room who felt like disturbing the short tranquillity left to be enjoyed in the night.

She quickly pieced fragments of her life and moved on. She got a job months after settling into her new environment, her good looks found her a widowed man though old enough to be her father, he was a proud owner of a bungalow apartment where he lived with his last child and several grandchildren. He made it clear from the beginning that he didn’t need any more kids but companionship which my mum gladly accepted. He gave her a spacious room and took Jerry in as well.

Jerry got admitted into the University of Lagos where he studied law and graduated as one of the best in his class. After graduation and law school, he got a job with a law firm and settled down at Surulere. It was after eight years of separation that jerry finally wrote me.

It was a terse one. I read the letter with less enthusiasm. In the first paragraph, he’d asked about my well being and how far I’d progressed but between those lines I could tell he had sweat running down his right palm holding the pen. He talked about mother and she crying sometimes at night saying she wanted to see me but was afraid of dad and most of all if I’d be glad to see her. Then the last paragraph, he talked about reasons why he had to leave with mum and why he never looked back all that while. He quickly added that he never regretted his decision though.
Of all the the content of the letter, ‘Never looked back ‘ kept playing in my head; i tried to reconcile what Dad said about Jerry back then when they left, to those three words and i sought of saw some resemblance.
“He probably was a bastard afterall” i thought.
At first, I felt reluctant replying his letters but finally did. We exchanged letters few more times but he never for once mentioned his change of surname to me in his letters. I didn’t ask either.
We gradually grew tired of the routine because we’d grown apart and there was actually nothing fun to talk about in our new found lives.
I still see my brother as a weakling who couldn’t stand the heat and so had to leave with my mother. Better still, mum had told him he didn’t belong in our family or something. Hell, I have always been a man right from the beginning!
He eventually settled down and married a fellow female lawyer. I was forced to attend the ceremony by his constant pleas through subsequent letters that were not replied to. I went just to see our mother who looked quite older now, Dad was of course absent. She hugged me and wept…tears of joy, I guess. My hands were at my side as she clung to me. I managed to ask how she was doing. She said she was fine and asked about my wellbeing, I lied to her that I worked for a construction company somewhere on the Island. She then told me to come around and see her sometime when I was off duty, I nodded. As we sat beside each other, watching Jerry and his newly wedded wife take the dance floor, I suddenly liked the feeling and thought
“may be soon, I’ll take Gina to the altar and then have a family of my own.”
After dancing for a while, Jerry came over with his new wife, Bisi and introduced her to me. Bisi took it up from there. She seemed to me like a nice lady brought up in a good home and a wealthy parents from the guests in attendance. In five minutes, Bisi had asked questions and made remarks like: how are you doing? Who’s bigger between the two of you? And comments like: How come you don’t come around? Your brother likes you so much, I like your mother; she’s very nice and caring…another Joy! May be all lawyers just love to hear the sound of their voices.
Before I left, I gave mum ten clean sheets of ten naira notes which immediately sent her into a dancing frenzy, I couldn’t help but laugh myself. Now, I wonder why I didn’t care much about her, she took care of me the best she could while she was with dad, showed me the same love she showed Jerry and wasn’t happy leaving me behind even though it was my decision to stay, maybe I just didn’t forgive her as well for leaving my useless dad who eventually turned out to be an ingrate or because she left and didn’t look back until when i saw her at the wedding.

Two years after Jerry’s wedding, I had just finished brushing my teeth that fateful morning and was about to take my bath when I heard the clicking sound of a female shoes walking towards my door.
“Do I have an appointment with any lady today? Could it be Gina?”
Gina was out of town, maybe Ellen decided to drop by to have one of those early morning ‘quickies’. Immediately, I began to feel the familiar warm sensation around my groin. The knock on the door made me have a rethink and all sensations receded, my girls never knocked on the door, they just barged in hoping they would burst me and another girl in the act. I quickly tied a towel and went to see who was at the door. It was Joy. The look on her face said it all, but I still went on to ask what brought her to my side of town at that time of the morning. She let the words out quickly:
“Am sorry, your father is dead”
She tried some consoling words to sooth me which didn’t work because my countenance didn’t change from what they were before she came in. after studying my face for a moment for traces of emotions but found none, she shrugged and sat down. She later told me that dad’s wife had deserted him a month earlier when she realized that he might not make it. Kind neighbours did their best for him by bringing him food as he was unable to cook for himself. He was said to have slumped days later while going to the bathroom with a bucket of water and later died at a nearby hospital where he had been taken to. Doctors diagnosed him to have suffered from chronic cholera.
I thanked her and offered to pay her fare back home but she declined. Rather, she asked when I would come over, I replied soon and led her to the door.

I broke the news to Sparko, who broke into laughter, for a moment, I hated him but soon joined him in the somewhat senseless laugh. He then said
“You are now a full member of the fatherless club.” he himself had lost his father as far back as when he was only thirteen. His poor mother who at the time was nursing a baby, her third child, was on the verge of causing God for allowing her husband, the sole bread winner to die. Goodwill donations gotten from friends of the family during the funeral of her husband enabled her start a petty trading business. This sustained her and her children for some time before dwindling air began to blow over the business. Soon she found herself totally broke. Sparko, whose real name was Simeon, had clocked nineteen by then. After school, he’d be out of the house and won’t be back until a little after dark, most of the times, carrying a nylon bag containing raw food and other minor groceries. At first, his mother would rain questions on him. What he usually told her was that his friend’s mother gave them to him. When his mother wouldn’t relent in her usual offensive manner, he decided to keep his money and would come home empty handed. After a brief hiatus, he resumed bringing home food. His mother never complained afterwards. They later discovered he was a gambler.
His first act of robbery was a minor, reluctant role. He simply was on the lookout for any signs of movement around the house while two others were in the house. It was a video cassette recorder stolen from a bachelor’s home. His share was a generous one. He gave it all to his mother. She was so proud of him.
They were caught during Sparko’s fourth outing with them and were kept in jail for six months before being released.  When he returned from prison he was all too surprised to find out that his mother was heavy with pregnancy. He turned and looked his sisters who had been coming to see him at the prison all along but made no mention of such to him. They couldn’t bring their eyes to meet his. He simply went inside the room and took some clothes and walked away and had not set his eyes on his mother since then.  He had only two contacts with his sisters before finally breaking off. That had been over ten years.

Sparko asked for my plans and I told him I intended to go down and see things for myself. He offered to accompany me to my old neighbourhood which I accepted.

As we approached Shogunle, waves of nostalgia came rushing back, Ikeja Grammar School hadn’t changed much from the outside.  The broken fence at the far end of the wall that enabled us to leave the school premises whenever we wanted had yet to be mended.
Shogunle seemed deserted as few people were seen walking on the road. As I approached the familiar building where I had grown up, people who recognized me thronged forward to welcome me and to say their needless condolences.

He was laid on his bed perfectly still, his brown set of teeth grinning at the ceiling. He looked totally drained as I could count the number of ribs on his chest from a distance without missing one.

We went in search of a cemetery and eventually settled for Atan cemetery at Yaba on the mainland. I paid for the space and immediately we ordered the digging. Sparko was superstitious about cemeteries – it reminded him of death.  He left me to bury my dead and returned to Idumota. After digging a little over four feet deep, the diggers began to complain about the scorch sun.
“He doesn’t deserve this effort and energy I am dissipating. Only doing him a last favour.” I thought and called off the digging.
I returned to the house but decided not to enter, rather, I went down to the beer joint my dad used to patronize. As I settled at a table facing the door, the owner who was also a friend of my father came to me and sat on the chair opposite and said his condolences which I took with a slight nod like I knew what was coming. He talked about what a nice and kind man my father had been. He said he always had a listening ear and he could confide in my father. I kept nodding, and then he said he never knew my dad wouldn’t get over the disease because he still owed him some money for bottles of beer he drank on credit but he said he wasn’t asking me to pay but just thought to mention it in my ears.
“Thank you for forgiving his debt” I said as I stood up to leave.

Time was approaching 6.30pm now and I thought it was time to get to action. I had arranged with a pick up vehicle owner after I left the nagging owner of that beer joint. I had instructed him to put off the engine and just wheel down the sloppy road of the street of our rented house to minimize suspicion. He did as I had said. I carried the lifeless body into the waiting pickup parked closely to the entrance of our room. I gently set it down inside the pickup, closed the door to the room and climbed into the front seat with the driver who demanded cash first. I paid and we set out for the cemetery.
On getting to the cemetery, the gates had been shut but i had made arrangements with the management earlier in the day. I alighted from the pickup and asked the driver to assist with bringing the lifeless body down. He declined to assist and stayed in his vehicle. I despicably eyed him but he ignored my face and simply looked ahead, both hands on the steering wheel and engine running. I retreated to the back of the vehicle and lifted the corpse out from the vehicle and immediately, the driver sped off.
“Idiot” I muttered
They let me in.
I heaped the last mound of sand on dad’s grave and had to sit nearby in the cemetery to catch my breath, I suddenly needed a cigarette badly, but first, I had to find transport back to the house.
It was another long wait before a taxi finally rolled along the deserted road. The taxi driver looked at me quizzically and asked which direction I was headed, I told him and we negotiated the fare. I slipped into the back seat.
All through the short journey, he kept glancing at his rear view mirror to make sure I was still there. I even smiled in the dark, “I don’t blame you” I said inaudibly.

I slept on the chair which was the only useful item in the room to me that night and when it was morning, I went out in search of another pick up to help me take the chairs to my place. I helped the driver with carrying the chairs to make the job faster.
When we were done I threw the door open for anybody who cared for the other items inside the room.
I was about to climb in beside the driver when Joy called me from across the street, she came to meet me and told me she knew about last night.  I grinned. She told me to take care of myself. I climbed in beside the driver and we set off.

I wrote Jerry to inform him of the death of his mother’s ex husband. Few weeks later, a letter from jerry arrived. He sent his condolences and said mother had gone down to the cemetery to pay her last respect and got back that same day but he hadn’t been opportuned to go and pay his respect.
“You don’t have to” I muttered as I crumpled the letter and tossed it into the waste basket close by.

BOOK III: FOUND LOVE

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

I worked and lived with Sparko for three years and seven months. Nothing changed in his attitude, he stayed the same. he never allowed me to handle any expenses beyond clothing myself, other expenses such as house rent, water and electricity bill, food, he took care of and even got me a girl by the name Gina, to keep me company whenever I was off work. For once in my life, I felt like I had a family. I was where i was appreciated.  I and the most of the gang also got along fine while some eyed me in envy. They feared I had Sparko’s ears and so were careful of things they said whenever I was around.
On few occasions, we had handled small time robbery operations that were usually brief and successful; robbing wealthy individuals in other parts of town but never hurting anybody unless we had to, and my part time job of droping off marijuana didn’t stop. I had enough money now to start my own life. When I mentioned moving out to a place of my own to Sparko, he got me a comfortable single room close to his place the following week so that he could keep an eye on me I guess. I made the payment.
My girlfriend Gina, was not the head -turner type of beautiful lady, at first glance, she had that normal everyday facial looks that could easily go unnoticed. A second glance would however reveal that the bland looks had been compensated with a voluptuous body. She had curves in the right places and full, rounded breasts that were firm; her behind was moderate in size and long, slender legs to carry them.
That night I moved in, she slept over for the first time. She prepared supper for both of us while I went out to buy drinks for from a nearby store. After supper we just sat there on the bed savoring the taste of the food. I opened her drink for her and opened my beer.  We chatted frivolously. It was like we had just known each other. We made love like two young teenagers trying it for the first time. I kissed her lips gently and as she parted her mouth, my tongue went inside probing every part of her warm mouth while my left hand simultaneously went in search of allthe curve lines of her body. I found her breasts and squeezed them gently one after the other, my lips then went to work on her nipples sucking and biting them playfully till they became hard; her gentle moans shut down my senses and activated my instincts, our breaths became hoarse as they came faster now, my hand slide down to her thigh and I started caressing them, and gently moved up till I could feel her pant which had become  wet. I quickly shifted it to one side and slid my finger inside of her,  The excitement became too much for her to bear as she tried effortlessly to pull my hands away. She reached for my zipper and pulled out my penis and wrapped her fingers around it, squeezing it hard, I felt pain and pleasure. By that time, I had become as hard as a rock; she told me she wanted me inside of her. she raised her back side for me to slide her pant down her slender legs. I flung it to the floor and quickly fumbled with the belt of my trousers with unsteady hands until they fell to the floor. I jumped to the bed and was inside her in a moment slamming hard and fast. She clung to me moaning with her eyes shut. I came a little after three minutes. I could see the disappointment in her eyes, this caused me to have a quick erection again and this time, I was brutal. It was a long session that lasted almost twenty five minutes, resting at intervals. This time, we both came as her whole body quaked with excitement, her behind meeting my every stroke. My body jerked in spasms as I released inside of her; we remained in that position for minutes trying to catch our breaths. I finally rolled over to her side and immediately fell asleep.
Few months later, as I was walking down a busy street, that afternoon, with a bag slung across my shoulder, I thought I saw someone I knew in my childhood years
“could she be the one?”
I asked myself but didn’t slow down as I walked past her. Then I decided to look back at the familiar figure again but this time, she was also looking back at me with the same expression I had on my face. As both eyes met, I knew she was the one.
“Charly!”
“you’re right Joy, it’s me,” I said with a smile on my face.

We shook hands and stepped inside a nearby restaurant. I ordered for drinks for two and offered to buy her lunch which she declined and we got talking, catching up on old times… not about us but about Shogunle and Ajisegiri , my old neighborhood and our mad house. She said nothing had changed since then only for a few houses that had sprung up in the last few years especially where I used to go and play football. She then told me about my dad and his wife and their frequent quarrels. She said that he once threw her belongings out of his room but the next morning they were seen seated together outside, chatting like two old couple retired and idle.
As she rapped on, I lost interest in her chat and began to observe her, she wasn’t as beautiful like she used to be way back, besides she talked too much. And she was one of the reasons why I didn’t mind having a surrogate mother but she’d never know. I tried focusing on her face only but it only got worse. My vision began to see a deformed head shape that kept diminishing. Suddenly I was in a hurry to end the meeting and be back on my way to deliver parcels of marijuana in my bag but she wasn’t done yet, she said she was studying law at the University of Lagos and told me that Jerry, my brother had studied same course but had graduated by then. She then told me that before Jerry graduated, he changed his last name to my maternal grandfather’s name.
“Great idea” I thought.
She asked if i was in touch with Jerry and i shook my head.
“Why?” she had asked.
“It’s a long story and i don’t want to go into that right now” I replied, trying tobrush the topic aside.
“Anyway, i have his contact, i can give it to you if you want” she had offered.
“Ok” I said.
While she was trying to recall some other gist she might have left out, I quickly paid the waitress for the drinks and scribbled down a note which I gave to her on how she could contact me and stood up before she could start off again.  We said our goodbyes and she was on her way.

BOOK II: NEW HOME

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

As days turned into weeks, so were my few naira notes fast depleted to coins. I became worried that I might not even have enough to last me through that week. I became desperate. A miracle had better happen and fast!
Three days earlier, I had hopped on a moving truck heading to Idumota, a popular district on Lagos Island. I was awed by the sights of tall buildings lining both sides of Idumota lane. As I walked down the busy street of Nnamdi Azikiwe, I realized that Idumota was not a place for the lazy, a lazy man would require more than good luck to feed. Young boys and old men were pushing carts about the busy district, women advertising their wares spread on the road with their infants strapped to their backs, flirted with pedestrians as they busily walk the seemingly endless road. Across the road, two young cart pushers were arguing over who was called to carry a big box while the owner seemed unconcerned about who eventually got to carry it, horns blaring and commercial vehicles formed a long chain towards the exit of Nnamdi Azikiwe street towards Carter bridge.
“These people have control over their lives at least, they resume work at their free will, nobody dictates to them, they make money for themselves, they might even not have parents like me to fend for them, may be they live in a lonely world just like me. Am going to make it and prove a point to that ingrate of a father” again, I consoled myself.
It was getting dark and I hadn’t eaten lunch, I checked my pocket and counted out the few coins I had and decided to buy beans porridge from a road side restaurant. I found the projected platform of a nearby kiosk and devoured the food quickly. Once I was done, I continued to survey the whole place around me, this time searching for a place to sleep. Stores lined up the streets were all illuminated. I was worried the police might pick me up if I decided to sleep at the entrance of one of them. In the end, I gave up my fears and slept at one of them using a carton I had earlier picked from a heap of garbage.
I woke up early but with no idea of the time. The skies were still pitch black. I could hear distant voices out there. I lay back and before long, drifted back to sleep.
I was suddenly awoken by something nibbling at my underfoot. It was a giant rat. I quickly stood up and dashed after it but it was too fast for me. By now the dark skies were gradually easing up. I decided to take a walk.
After walking about five hundred meters, I stood for a moment, looked around; there was nothing strange.  I continued walking. My shirt was gradually becoming damp from perspiration. Dawn had finally crept in and some traders were beginning to arrive but none paid me any notice. I decided to slow down and leaned on a defective street light pole and slowly, the market began to get populated. Buses were arriving with consignments and men and women, young and old were jostling to be a part of the offloading process. I instantly stood up and approached the scene, apprehensive of the likelihood of one of the many hardened faces challenging me. Fortunately that didn’t happen. I earned a reasonable amount of money that day and was earnestly looking forward to the next day.
That night, I secretly followed some of the boys I had earlier worked with as they chatted loud on the street, shoving one another and laughing raucously. They made a bend and I noticed that they were headed for a mosque. I wondered if they wanted to say their prayers at such an unusual time. After a long wait, I walked into the mosque and was surprised to find neatly arranged rows of human beings on mats some still trying to find the best sleeping position while other were perfectly still. I spotted a slot on the inner right from where I stood. I tip toed to the place and quietly fit myself in with my bag serving as a pillow.
After five days of work, my whole body ached like I had just been run over by a truck. I stayed down that morning while the other boys prepared to leave. One of them looked in my direction and said something to his fellows and they all laughed. I didn’t sit up but stayed down and kept watching them. It only made them laugh the more. They soon left.
When I thought I felt better, I sat up and looked at my body over. I felt emaciated. I made quite some money over the past few days but spent more than half of it feeding. My appetite suddenly became insatiable. I yawned lazily and looked around. There were still a few people left. I placed my head back on my “pillow.” My whole body was in pain. I knew I wasn’t cut out for that sort of job but where would a better one come from?
Later that morning, after rinsing my face and legs with water from the tap at the ablution wing, I moved out and my first stop was at a drug store where I bought aspirin tablets and popped them in my mouth. The attendant was kind enough to hand me a cup of water to wash it down. I decided to take the whole day off. I soon found a not too quiet place behind a fence with a government sign. I sat there jaded and undecided. The chirping sound coming from a tree filled with nests and not a single leaf bothered me at first but I soon became oblivious of the noise.
I left there soon after noon and bought food. I stayed back at the restaurant after eating and was listening to three friends recounting their experiences. It made me feel better and relaxed. It also reminded me of my dad. When they stood up to leave, I knew it was time for me also to leave, luckily it was getting dark. I didn’t want to go back to the mosque, so I decided to find a suitable place. I settled for an abandoned bus for the night.
I woke up very early shivering from the cold oozing in from the windowless abandoned bus I made temporary refuge. My chest vibrated from the cold. I climbed out with my bag slung across my shoulder; my legs felt numb and unsteady because of the partial circulation of blood to the lower parts of my body. I decided to go for a walk.
I tucked my hands into the pockets of my short to keep them warm and walked briskly down the long road. As I approach a bend, the sight of round amber lights not wider than the tip of my index finger and a cloud of smoke caught my attention at the entrance of one of the stores sprawled along both sides of the street, I ignored the movements noticed in the dark where the lights and smoke were coming from and walked on, then I heard a husky voice yelling “Hey!”
I ignored and continued, aware of the possibility that I was the one being called; my knees felt weak but I kept on trudging forward. The sound of quickened steps behind me made me turn round and saw a guy with biceps as big as my skinny thighs  without a shirt on, approaching me, I kept on walking or so I thought I was, with my heart in my mouth now. As he came face to face with me, he asked me with glaring eyes if I was deaf. I told him I was sorry and lied I didn’t hear. He ordered me to follow him so that I could go and tell that to ‘President’ whom I later knew to be Sparko. When we got to their hangout, I knew I was in for it. I stood and said
“Good morning”
I was not surprised when I didn’t get a reply; instead, I was swept into the air and landed awkwardly to the floor by one of them, then Sparko spoke “that is how you greet your father, isn’t it?. I nodded, avoiding his glare.
“Where are you coming from and going to?”
“My aunt stays on the next street; I was on my way to see…”
“The street doesn’t have a name, eh?” Sparko interrupted
I fell silent thinking about home now.  “My dad would be glad now knowing I was in trouble” I thought.
“What do you have in your bag?”
I quickly emptied the content of my bag on the floor; Sparko’s boys moved closer for a better view but retreated almost immediately.
“Oh, I see, your aunt must be waiting for her nephew to arrive in the wee hours of the morning, what kind of job do you do?”
“I’m a labourer” I raised my head “I know her house, I just can’t remember the name of the street.”
“Since you don’t know the name of the street, let my boy here, do you the honour of safely taking you home to your aunt, at least you know where you’re going even if you don’t know or have where you’re coming from”
Sparko brought out a thin white paper, poured “dried leaves” on it, rolled it up and placed it at the back of his right ear. He tapped a short, thick set boy to escort me home to my ‘aunt.’
On our way to my supposed “aunt’s” house, I thought my companion was clumsy as his strides came slowly, there was little distance between him and myself.
“I could beat him in a race with my long legs, let me put these legs to test” I thought. Beads of sweat started to break on my forehead as I contemplated ditching him. We kept walking. After a few moments had passed, I suddenly stooped fumbling with the buckle of my sandal until the short man had gone ahead of me, I disappeared into a narrow opening between two buildings but didn’t get far as a big hand yanked me in the shoulder and simultaneously leveled a blow to the side of my face. I felt dazed but quickly recovered and made to escape again, this time his firm grip on my wrist was like a vice to a bench. I gave up trying to run away.
As he led me back to the road, he coolly asked me if I still wanted to go see my ‘aunt’, I ignored him, feeling the fresh cut inside my mouth with my tongue and steadying my breath. He repeated his question and I ignored again, not because I wanted to but I didn’t know how to explain my situation. Without saying another word, he dragged me back towards their hangout.
The dark sky had begun to give way for a bright sky. The boys were gathering their stuffs together preparing to disperse for the morning when we got back there. Sparko asked if my aunt had also gone out early. I quickly replied “No” to avoid being hit. He gave me a knowing look then asked if I needed a place to rest my head, my aching feet and empty stomach answered that question through the service of my mouth. As everyone dispersed in different directions, Sparko asked me for my name
“Charles” I told him
He asked me to follow him.
Sparko lived on the first floor of an old building that was probably designed by the Europeans because of its beauty. The building comprised several apartment types for different occupants of varying financial status. It was said to have been occupied by members of staff of a defunct furniture making company. He fumbled for the keys in his pocket and brought out a single piece which he used to unlock the door to his room. His single room was simple but neat, a bed, three single chairs, a twin speaker radio cassette player, a table fan and a refrigerator. He told me to sit and went to his refrigerator where he brought out two bottles of beer and offered me one. I declined. He returned to the refrigerator and brought a soft drink. He handed me the soft drink and opened the beer for himself. I was first hesitant to open the drink in front of me wondering why he was been nice to me but couldn’t stand the suspense of waiting to feel the sweet content of the bottle run down my throat. I haven’t had one in months! I opened it and started to drink. After the second swig from his bottle, he casually asked without looking at me why I ran away from home.
“He knows already” I thought. I went all out to explain myself not sparing one detail.
I told him about my father and mother and my brother Jerry and then about Ruth. After I had told him everything, all he did was shook his head and uttered the word “poor boy” then he continued with his beer. He told me I could lay on the bed if I wanted but I told him I was fine. He soon went out, bolting the door from outside which I didn’t mind, I hadn’t been on a bed for weeks, so I simply jumped on the bed and was fast asleep when he returned about an hour later. The aroma of something nice cooking in the kitchen woke me but I stayed in bed with my eyes shut. Few moments later, he called me to breakfast.
It was a plate full of scrambled eggs and a big loaf of bread plus a cup of rich tea, not the type I used to drink that usually was ninety percent tea, ten percent milk. I devoured my portion quickly and he offered me some of his which I declined at first but on a second offer, I accepted.
After breakfast, I had difficulty thinking because my stomach was full. I helped with the washing of utensils used in cooking and preparing breakfast. He drew a chair near the window side and brought a wrapped paper containing “dried leaves” from his pocket and lit it, he dragged a lung full of smoke then gradually released the smoke into the air through the open windows. He offered me twice telling me it was good for me and twice I declined.
I began to observe him: there was something calm yet menacing about him; behind those eye lids were somber eyeballs that always seem to be distant in thoughts. His averagely built physique didn’t portray a violent man yet he was revered by his boys I saw earlier. After some time, he told me to get bathing water from the tap downstairs and have my bath after which I decided to take a nap. It was not until six in the evening that I woke up with Sir Victor Uwaifor’s music playing softly from the stereo, I rubbed both eyes with my palms and gently placed my feet on the naked floor, looked around but there was no sign of Sparko in the house except for a bowl of rice on th table and a scribbled note that simply read “your food”. I took the food and ate it feeling like a young pampered prince.
Three hours later, I heard footsteps approaching and then it stopped at the front of the door to Sparko’s room. My heartbeat came faster and my brain became active. A quick fumble with the lock and the door flung open. Standing at the entrance was a tall, averagely built guy who told me Sparko had asked him to come and fetch me. I wore my sandals and followed him, this time leaving my little belongings behind.
We met them in a ecstatic mood chatting away and laughing at the top of their voices, I moved towards Sparko who only signaled me to sit anywhere among the gathering. ‘Dried leaves’ changed hands. As it went round, it got to my turn and I simply passed it on. When everybody had been served, the ‘ceremony’ began at full swing. Randomly, one end of rolled “dried leaves” was torched and before long a cloud of smoke hung in the space above us. There was local gin to accompany the ‘dried leaf meal’. Sparko then made a formal introduction of me to the rest of the gang. Some smiled to me while others didn’t care. As the (uncalled for) celebration continued, my lungs began to get filled with the burnt aroma of “dried leaves” others were puffing and before long, I was getting intoxicated. I’d laugh raucously to a witless joke. Once, I almost fell off my seat laughing but quickly caught myself. I asked the guy sitting next to me if I could have some of his joint; he looked in the direction of Sparko who nodded his approval.
My first drag was shallow and I quickly let out the smoke, the second drag went straight for my lungs through the windpipe. I chocked for air followed by spells of coughs which made me double up. My eye balls became red and swollen and glistened with tears. After some time, I was handed another wrap and this time, was told not to rush it and to drag the smoke gently into my lungs. I was determined to prove I could do it – following their instructions and getting it right. My head became light after sometime and I started to hallucinate and for a moment I felt at peace with the world around me. I smiled with my eyes glowing and suddenly felt like talking a little more. I introduced myself to the rest of the gang for the second time and they all laughed, I joined in the laugh and became serious again. I demanded to know each and everyone’s name. They all introduced themselves and when it was the turn of the short thick set guy that had landed a fist on the side of my face to introduce himself, he did and winked at me and I gave him a knowing look. The eighth and last person introduced himself. I thanked them all.
After a week of staying with sparko, and smoking Marijuana constantly, I became perfect at it.
One evening, I was sent on an errand to deliver a parcel to a man that lived few blocks away. I didn’t open it though, I knew what was inside. Money exchanged hands between myself, Sparko and many clients around the neighborhood for a long time but none came to me. This went on for five months before I called Sparko and told him I wanted in on whatever business that I was involved. He smiled and told me I was a smart boy. He said he’d think about it.
Four days later, he gave me ten percent of the money I delivered to him that evening and subsequently, that became the norm.

BOOK I: HOME IS NOT HOME

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

I was christened Charles but was called charly by my mum and friends in school. We were four in the family, Joel my father, Patricia, my mother and Jerry my big brother. We lived in a single room that was sparsely furnished on Ajisegiri street, Shogunle, in Oshodi, a surburb on the mainland of Lagos. My father worked in a milling industry at Apapa, a central port district on the mainland where he earned weekly wages as a casual staff. His wage never got home in one piece as he ensured he came home drunk smelling like a skunk.

My mum, a tall woman with fair complexion on a slender body and a perfect set of sparkling white teeth, was the third child and only girl of a family of four children. Her parents were of the lowest level in the social class cadre but her father worked tirelessly to ensure his male children got the best out of life through adequate education even when it meant working overtime. My mum used to tell jerry and I how he’d wait for the food to go round and when he was certain they were satisfied, he’d eat what was left. Though she didn’t go beyond form two in junior high school, she attributed it to her inability to be among top ten in her class. Her father said it was a waste of scarce resources. At sixteen she was ripe to be called a woman. She was fully aware of the changes in her body because she was constantly being followed by one suitor or the other wherever she went to. She had met my dad in a bus ride when she was near nineteen. They had sat beside each other and he was reading a book and had paid no attention to her. He had later closed his book and glanced casually at her but looked away and stared ahead. He had repeatedly stolen a few more glances before the bus got to her destination and had alighted after her and introduced himself with an outstretched hand. She took it and he wouldn’t let go of her hand. He kept talking, making gestures with his other hand. He eventually had asked her to be his friend. She only had considered the offer for a few minutes before agreeing to his offer. The truth was she had agreed long before he’d asked her because she admired young handsome and seemingly intellectual men. She admired her two older brothers who at the time were at the university, for the way they talked and especially the way they went about carrying a pocket sized book in their hands. She said it made them look different from their peers most of whom were mere secondary school certificate holders.

My dad had proven to be more than a gentle man. He was so full of beautiful surprises. Before she knew it, he had swept her off her feet. And before long, she got pregnant for him. Her father refused to accept her bride price and every other thing brought by my father. He had told him (my father) he had no wife in his house. After much persuasion from his wife and other close relatives he was said to have grudgingly accepted her bride price. This, my mum said was the genesis of their trouble and his attitude.

My mum did her best raising us both. she’d buy us clothes, toys, biscuits and makes sure there was always food on the table even when not good enough; she baby sat for a wealthy woman three blocks away from where we lived who worked in one of the popular banks. My dad seemed to be content with his job…provided he could afford five bottles of beer weekly, the world around him was ok. His friends who were losers like him paid us visits at weekends and they’d gist about who said and did what at their work place and they would laugh so hard that tears would roll down the far corner of their eyes. Sometimes, they’d argue at the top of their voices over a topic that I’d think they were on the verge of fighting. One of his friends, Mr. Kolade who had a massive skull sitting on his shoulders was a regular visitor to our house. He couldn’t keep his eyes from darting after my mum anytime she was nearby and whenever he noticed I was watching him, he’d wink at me and say

“Charly, my boy.”

My dad had just five shirts and two pairs of trousers. Two of his shirts had gone back and forth the street tailor a few times that one day my dad had visited him again as usual and greeted his friend, the tailor but dad said the tailor ignored his greeting on noticing the same shirt gently placed on dad’s arm, rather, the tailor extended a needle and threading to him and told dad not to patronize him again unless dad had other clothes than his “two favorites”. Dad however took the offer and returned home. One of his pair of trousers made from polyester had fibre strands sprouting all over, some in clusters, while others stood prominently in isolation. Despite all of these, he never looked perturbed about his appearance perhaps because of his good looks.

Eachtime my mum complained about his attitude during one of those nights he returned late, he beat her up. Neighbours no longer came by to settle dispute between them anymore as it was a norm for Mr. & Mrs. Joel to have their usual late night duel. Now I wonder if they ever had time to do the things lovers do. I was twelve years old and Jerry was fourteen. So whenever our parents were at it, jerry and I either went for a long walk or hung outside till the curses and screams had steamed down. Many a time, he (my dad) would storm out of the house and half way out the door if he found us nearby he’d curse us, sometimes calling us “bastards” in a suppressed tone before disappearing around the corner of the building we lived. I remember my brother once told me during one of our usual long walks that he couldn’t wait to be eighteen so he could leave our mad room and never look back…never!

It was not until three years after that his prayers were finally answered. My mum finally decided she couldn’t take it anymore and made up her mind to leave. My dad was indifferent to the news. The news in the ears of my brother sounded like he had just been issued a visa to fly across the atlantic. My countenance was impassive that night; I was up till early hours of the morning with various thoughts bombarding my head like the world depended on my decision. My body finally succumbed to sleep but before I closed my eyes, I had made a decision. The following morning, I was awoken by the rustling of nylon bags as jerry and my mother stuffed mum’s belongings into them and a worn bag. Mum called out to me to start getting prepared. That was when I dropped the bomb shell

“I want to stay here”.Perhaps she didn’t hear me at first or pretended not to. She repeated what she had said earlier. I gave her the same response as earlier without stuttering. My mum looked nonplussed, her face darting in the direction where my dad had sat as though she was seeking his support but she knew she would not get any. she returned the cold stare at me. My dad sat in a chair at the far corner of the room listening and grinning like a proud dad, his eyes going back and forth from her face to mine like it was a debate show. At first my mum wanted to scold me but she thought better of it and let it pass.
I’m yet to fathom the reason why I took that decision, maybe I thought leaving my dad all alone would kill him faster than the AIDS virus or perhaps it was the fear that I might never set my eyes on that beautiful girl my age called Joy that stayed across the road, whom I constantly stood outside every morning to waive at whenever she was been taken to school.

My mum left that morning with my brother but before leaving, she came up to me and fixed a long stare at me and asked if I’d changed my mind, I slowly shook my head, this time, staring at the cold concrete floor. Jerry stood at the entrance of the door staring into the far. I had already caught up with him in growth and while jerry was slim built, about five seven in height, fair and quiet, my shoulders were getting broader and my biceps were solidly forming well but my lower body failed to develop as fast as the upper part. I took after the dark shade of my father and possessed the inquisitive look of my mother. She finally let out a heavy sigh and took out one naira note from her bag and slipped it into my pocket and told me to be good and promised to come and see me every once in a while
“Not in my house house!” yelled my dad
“It is not your house! it belongs to a Alhaji! may his soul rest in peace” she retorted
“Return and you’ll know who owns this hou… room!” he said now standing up and slowly advancing towards her.
“I will not return but I will come whenever I like and you can’t do me anything” she said, retreating to the door. She grabbed her bag and shoved Jerry’s head towards the road.
I was torn inside with confusion as they were about to get in another fight because of me. something inside of me told me to go with her but was afraid of changing my mind and cause further crisis. So I stayed quiet all through the drama.
Later that morning, my dad called me and said he was proud of me with a pat to my back
“You have truly proven to me that you’re my son because it is only bastards that know they don’t belong in a place where they ought not to be in the first place. I never completely believed your mother when she said I was responsible for that Jerry’s pregnancy but because of love, I accepted her. Now you see that I’ve been right all along”
I didn’t understand him then and so didn’t say a word but glanced at his face intermittently and for that brief moment, I felt proud of myself.

Dad’s bad attitude changed. He came home early from work and for about two weeks, we fed so well that I thought my mum and Jerry were missing out. “May be they are regretting leaving in the first place now but pride would not let them come back and beg daddy” I had thought. Dad wouldn’t have taken them back anyway and besides, I wasn’t ready just yet to give up my new elevated status of sleeping on a mattress for anything. My dreams changed for good. I visited beautiful places in my dreams, no more nightmares plus the fact that Joy’s mum allowed me to come over for lunch sometimes and on such occasions, I played with joy for sometime before she was finally called in, I still see the sad look on her face now, whenever her mum said play time was up. Her father, a pilot with Nigeria Airways was always away but took good care of his family so much they were conspicuously the envy of the street. Whenever he was around, he drove her and her kid brother in a metallic grey FIAT car. Dining with this rich family and having the opportunity to play with their daughter was not only a privilege, it made me to be revered by my friends; What more could I have asked for?

After two weeks, the party was over. Dad went back to his old habits and this time he became worse. I was back to where I rightfully belong – a tattered mat. He often came home when I was asleep. On few occasions, I had been awoken by giggling sounds of dad and a woman and the constant creaking of the spring on the bed that would leave me awake for God knows how many hours before I’d finally fall back to sleep. After sneaking this faceless woman using the darkness as a cover into the house for a month, he eventually broke the news to me that I’d soon have a step mother that would be just as good as or better than my mother. At first, I made to protest about the idea but gave up as quickly as it came. Curiosity got the best of me and I waited anxiously to see the faceless woman that had caused me sleepless nights and had sent me into a world of fantasies with the funny yet warm sounds she let out during those odd nights and had eluded me for the past month.

She arrived that evening when my dad was out, carrying a mid sized bag stuffed with her clothes. At first, I thought she was a sister to the land lady because they bore similar size and shape – plump and round as a water melon. From the opening on the upper part of her blouse, I could spot above her cleavage, strands of hair sprouting on her chest. She gave me a warm smile and I was unsure if I should return it but I managed to wear one on my face and asked for whom she had come to see, my left hand already pointing to the apartment of the landlady, confident she was her visitor. Her reply caught me off guard as my dad’s name came tumbling out of her mouth. My heart stopped to beat for a second and then resumed again. the smile on my face had disappeared quickly and was replaced with a hard stare. I told her he wasn’t around and sauntered into the room. I was surprised to hear the clicking of her shoes trailing behind me. I turned round with all the cold stare I could muster on my face and repeated what I said to her. She seemed to be unperturbed by my attitude and simply said she’d wait for him to return. She sat on a chair by the side of the door with her bag beside her. I walked out of the room without any further word, leaving her in the dark room to sit and wait for my dad, her host.
I could have sworn I’d seen her at the entrance of Friend’s guest house, wearing skimpy dresses, looking like ‘mother whore’ but wasn’t quite sure if she was the one… perhaps her twin.

I had been sitting out in the dark for three hours now before I heard unsteady footsteps behind me. I turned round to see the silhouette of a familiar figure staggering towards the house. I was hoping to get an explanation from my dad for wanting such a “matter” to be my step mother. He walked past me without even noticing me and barged into the house. He was welcomed by his guest’s bag which he kicked and went straight for the hard floor with a thud. He got up to his feet slowly, groaning in pains and demanded to know who was seated in the dark. Ruth, as I later knew her name to be,jolted back to life by the noise, letting out a strange sound that could easily be mistaken for the grunting of a pig. My dad immediately yelled out my name in a menacing manner that made my defenses go pulp. I was about to enter the room when I met him standing at the door post. Without saying a word, he gave me a stunning slap that sent me reeling on the coarse ground, my stepmother was nowhere to be found. At that instant I thought of getting a knife and driving it into his inner chest and end his miserable life once and for all but my balls failed me. He coolly told me to go and get the lantern and illuminate the room after which I was to bring out food for both of them. I obeyed like a fresh military recruit would to their superiors. They retired quietly to bed and I retired to my mat waiting for that creaking bed sound to begin.

My step mum lived true to her type. She was clumsy in action and dirty in conduct. Yet my dad never hesitated to shower her with praises and quick to compare her with my mum whenever the opportunity availed itself. Maybe he is still cheering for her in his shallow grave for infecting him with cholera disease too.

After high school graduation, I knew I wasn’t so bright in class and it became clearly evident that I had reached the pinnacle of my education and by extension, end of my academic road. When the WASC results were published later that year. I made only two credits in Yoruba language and Agric science. My dad didn’t remember asking me about my result as he had problems of his own ranging from constantly being broke to not being able to satisfy his jobless wife and a chain of debt trailing him wherever he went. I was obviously not among his list of problems at that time and I wasn’t ready for a confrontation so I kept my result to myself. Few days later, I packed my little belongings and was off to start a new life elsewhere…anywhere.

Maybe my dad had anticipated my leaving because he never bothered looking for me the day he found out I was gone.

The night I left the house, I slept in a deserted building in the neighborhood. At first, scary thoughts swam through my head in droves – what if a snake bit me? What if a scorpion stung me? A wandering ghost might want to rest its tired feet after a long day in this same building after all. I consoled myself, “if you could survive that mad house this long, you can survive anything”. I thought about things I might miss about my former neighborhood, and finally concluded that there was not much… maybe the football games but definitely not that Joy girl anymore, ever since she left the neighborhood for a boarding school at Queens College to continue her high school education, she had become too arrogant for my liking. She no longer noticed me and when she did, it was with great effort that she managed to waive, usually in a hurry.

Then another thought suddenly hit me: ‘what if someone tried to rob me of my ‘hard earned’ money?’ I brought it out from the bottom of the bag holding my clothes and counted it – five naira and sixty four kobo in total being the money I pilfered from my dad all those times he’d come home drunk. I folded the notes and stuffed them in the inner pocket of my short and wraped the coins in a paper bag and laid there on the coarse floor staring into the dark trying to stay awake in anticipation of the slightest movement around me. I fell asleep trying to safeguard myself and money only to have a nightmare that I was attacked. All the money was taken away and I was also being bundled by two young hefty guys, wearing hand gloves. I tried to break free but they were too strong for me, I tried harder but it was a wasted effort. I had started calling for help when I finally woke up with my heart thumping as if it would come out of my chest any moment. The rays of light coming from the sun through the window opening shot directly into my eyes sending sharp pains into my brain and immediately setting the cone cells of the retina into action. I quickly felt my inner pocket and the worry on my face gradually eased into a warm smile as the edges of the notes confirmed their presence. Then I stopped to see the cause of pain I felt on my elbow, the sight of crimson jagged bruises made me hiss. It was sustained while trying to rescue myself from those hefty imaginary guys from my dream. I gathered myself up slowly and went out in search of food to eat.