When waters leap

Tssssss…

a broken water tap, banded with black rubber, leaked droplets of water on the concrete floor behind his drab compound /and the continuous dropping was unruly and immersive as his face drowned / in the beam of dispersing lights/ that flickered from the screen of the cracked phone in his palm/the incandescent rays crushed the shadow of an image over the caked wall.

His neck was adorned with a white coral bead that projected his pose. Millipedes, ants, and centipedes took turns patrolling the ligament of the stack of firewood abandoned behind the door to the passage.

The narrow passage into the tenant rooms is always pitch black. The house, a tacky bungalow, was built with more of a mix of sharp sands and less cement and concrete under the supervision of a pseudo engineer or house developer. Coins of sunlight seldom penetrate the passage of the house because of the awkward roofing and the slope of the house against the easy climb of whatever form of light one could think about, so, the rooms are always hot and claustrophobic. The power supply in that area is epileptic-more or less like something one should not look forward to. A spool of bills clung to a cluster of wires underneath the metre that ran from a torrid electricity pole outside the compound, and shreds of moth-eaten papers lay bare on the floor. One of the papers had the inscription:

‘Grief exfoliates humans of  haughtiness as water rescues the living from the highhandedness of hiccups- grief is a cleanser: of complacence, mockery, and the hallucinations of indomitability 

Man must contract joy as the currency to negotiate the hysterical groceries of purpose. The purpose is a hydra-headed leaf, the one you pluck first, may not give the best interpretation to your best intention’. anonymous.

Wahab ate those words and traced more words with his hands on Lazywrita’s blog as he sprawled on the mat at the front of Room 10. The phone in his hands had fallen from the bag of a passerby on the field and they – him and his friends- quickly slipped it into a cellophane bag. The field is an acreage of grass and mud hunched by a sprawl of sugarcane plantation with short and sharp exits to markets and various bus stops.

Both Wahab and Sam had to cast lots to determine who would hold the phone longer and then decided to play penalty kicks to pick the new owner of the phone.

The road was less busy when a passerby sidled past them. Wahab saw the phone first, before running towards his opponent and then screamed as he dived into the cellophane bag. He rubbed his palms against the bag, brought out the phone, and pressed the start button on the phone.

The image of a dark woman, clad in a polythene material, popped out; her teeth shone like an ivory bowl. She held her children in her bosom, and they all wore polo shirts and white chucks.

The phone chimed and popped missed calls on the phone. He flipped the pop-up to the left-hand side of the display picture on the Home Screen.

109 missed calls reared to the fore at the top right concurrently. Tunde fiddled with the Instagram app on the phone and let his eyes raze her profile:

Feminist.

King of Queens.

Businesswoman.

Epicurean & gastroenterologist.

#playforever #foreveryoung

 #awakeyourvolcano #endsars 

#free #branding #whogavetheorder 

Her hands were akimbo and her cheeks had freckles of excitement. She stood beside a vintage car.Jaguar. And wore a feminist shirt. Her post read:

She is the rim around the whole of his circle,

She is the whole of his circle.

The post had 888  likes.

666 comments.

Several hashtags lurked by the post.

Wahab scrolled for more information about the woman and also measured, in his head, the price of the phone in the market. He fiddled with all the icons on the phone. The phone had a game. Temple run.

It became his favorite. He was fixated on the game. 

His friends gathered around him and would trouble him to take turns exploring the features of the phone.

He shoved the phone in his pocket and ran home.

His father had just repainted the room and uprooted all the cobwebs tacked to the lintel by recalcitrant spiders. 

The door would not close by itself and had to be shut with paper, folded into a wedge, tucked in between the edge of the woods, close to the doorknob. But rodents and ants still meander their way into the room through the rift between the floor and the wooden door. The decrepit beams used as the spine for the ceiling often belch dust on people. Wahab would wonder if the beam spat out those dust out of disgust for the pungent odour of the passage. The passage reeked of urine, sweat, unwashed body, stale stew, desecrated potties, abused mattresses, old clothes, stinking shoes, dirty potsherds, ripped foams of bug-ridden chairs, long soaked bedspread, dampness, and the pungency of wretchedness. The caretaker already gave notices and more notices but the tenants have refused to notice the notices. All the rooms took turns to wash the backyard which some tenants would have to be reminded or forced to take turns. They formed a committee to clean up the mess in the house but no one was willing to contribute the agreed sum to hire cleaners to do the dirty work. They had been fined by the council and the house was shut several times by the constituted authority. But they found their way into their homes in the dead of the night and continually revel in that cycle of madness.

The rousing noise of excited teens filtered into his ears- he sprung to his feet – scratching the walls and touching abandoned items as he dashed out of the passage. On getting to the field, he snatched a loose ball and trapped it beneath his feet, and brooded over it – the way a hen covers her eggs- against the tackles of other players. He took a wild shot towards the post of his opponents but the ball ricocheted. He held his head and flinched. Everyone on the pitch had almost said goal before they quickly dropped the word and roared when the ball bounced off the post. All eyes held a gaze on his red boot and clean white shorts.  His eyes caught the frame of one of his old friends. He went close to the dude and tapped him from behind. They held hands again and chuckled. Nnamdi asked if he just joined the new team. Wahab laughed and told him he had been on the team for more than five years and quizzed Nnamdi about his football career and why he was on the pitch. The last game they played together was in Junior class before Nnamdi was transferred to another school. Nnamdi dusted Wahab’s shoes and explained how he had gotten scholarships abroad on sportsmanship but his uncle had promised to take care of him in India. He forfeited the scholarship and was stuck in Bangladesh. His travel documents were not properly done and were enslaved to work for his uncle to pay back the cost of being taken to India and his passport was seized; he eventually hustled out some money for his papers and paid his way back to Nigeria. Wahab hugged him and threw a bib at him. Nnamdi wore the bib and spilled into the pitch. They formed teams and started a frantic game. Wahab’s coach, Jolayemi, played the role of a referee. Wahab’s shots kept missing the posts. He seemed overwhelmed by the miss, he flailed his hands when he was being badly tackled and won a free kick against his opponent; he lanced a long shot to the post of his opponent. The ball rolled and hit the upper bar of the post again. Tunde, one of their eccentric friends, dashed into the field, pounced on the ball, and started kicking the ball away from the field at top speed. Sam chased him and made failed attempts to tackle him. 

He dodged him and dribbled everyone in his way and then ran with the ball until all the spectators poured into the pitch and started chasing him. He smiled as he dazzled past Sam and others and everyone broke into laughter as they dragged and pushed him off the ball.

Sam wore a white Tee shirt with washed letters. The obituary was inscribed behind the shirt and a cross in front of it. His mother is late. She attended a function organised by her association and ate a plate of bean cake; she returned home hale and hearty until her stomach started to protrude like a Christmas balloon. Her body temperature went off the lid, and she counted worms the next day. Her murderer, Aisha, an amorphous woman, is as fat as a low-budget meal. She hailed from Berom in the northern part of Nigeria. She had been stolen by another man from her husband when he was away on a work-related mission and since her tradition permits polyandry and polygamy; she shuttled living with his new husband without divorcing her first husband. She later broke up with her new husband and eloped from Taraba to Lagos with an Igbo trader. She was famous for being sleazy and a Bimbo. She ran mad after confessing how she conjured death to the balls of Akara before she served the antimonious delicacy to eliminate Sam’s mum who was bent on prosecuting her for financial impropriety, and for embezzling the contributions of the honorable members of their august association. 

The solid women association. They are a group of progressive women with the sole aim of ensuring a good life for all the members of the association. Her bogus scarf was spread like a tent hung on the wall in her room. It sometimes reminds him of the banality of life. And other times, the wildness of her laughter would lighten the heaviest of hearts and always set flame to the drifting embers of his faith. She would assure him countless times of becoming something in life before he would repeat the same confidence she reposed in himself and drag his booth from beneath the bed and go back to the field to play and dazzle scouting football agents – per adventure they had a profitable contract for him. His mum had warned him not to sign the contract agent Chinedu had brought. She had taken the contract to her younger brother, Nkem, in the ministry of information for perusal and a breakdown of each of the clauses in the contract. And on a full investigation, Nkem had picked the appalling holes in the contract. Nkem said the document was enslaving and self-sabotaging and asked him not to sign the contract. They had argued back and forth about it before he eventually agreed to let go of the agent and also advised other boys not to append their signatures to the document. 

They assembled on the pitch early in the morning as he kept them abreast of the new developments concerning the contract and how it could lead them to the slave camp in Libya or make them susceptible to the whims of human traffickers and slave rustlers on the route to Europe through the means stated in the contract. They all broke the branch of a sugar cane and waited for the agent on the pitch. When he came, they flogged him in a burst of fire and asked him the whereabouts of the boys he had taken abroad without a trace. The agent requested to facetime one of the boys, but could not. They dragged him by his trousers and lugged him to the police station. He confessed to having lost track of the boys when they got to Libya and was afraid they had been seized by human slingers around that part. They watched videos of how traffickers lure Africans into a vile contraption and harvest their organs as merchandise to profitable ends around the globe, on their phones. One of the executed boys had called his name before he was choked to death and chopped into pieces. The agent had received different money wires from several countries without narrations for the transactions. The boys were paranoid and hell-bent to deal with anyone complicit in the dehumanization of their colleagues.

The boys were hushed by the DPO in charge of the station from meeting out jungle justice and promised to prosecute the agent to the full extent of the law. But the next day, they came in and the agent was gone. The DPO, Nwaofor, lied that he had been taken to court for a summary judgment. The same agent was heard on the radio talking about giving opportunities to young boys to harness their talent and make their dreams come through. He rolled out names of the boys he had changed the trajectory of their life who now play the soccer game on big stages abroad. They all began to tinker about how to punish both the DPO and that goddamn runt. They circled somewhere and drew a holistic plan and a surreal means of execution.

The boys, in a burst of ire, set the police station ablaze and for a week, policemen raided the football pitch almost every time, seizing and torturing innocent boys until there was a constant brawl between the boys and policemen and a truce had to be reached by the commissioner of police. The boys lodged their displeasure with the DPO and highlighted the atrocities committed under his reign; from missing persons to incessant harassment of young boys by his men. The DPO was transferred and there was calm again but the agent was not brought to justice. Now, the boys can enjoy their soccer team and any agent with a contract that would take them through deleterious routes was badly beaten and tied to a beam and made to face the sun all day.

Wahab paused and teased Sam with his ball juggling skills. Sam flung his leg at his shoulder and kicked the ball off his leg. The ball hit the forearm of a dark girl with sharp eyelashes. She paused to shake her head and packed her dreads in one fold away from her face-  the way curtains are packed to allow a room to absorb the ensuing vestiges of daylight. Sam apologized but the girl did not lift her face up. He knew her. She stayed at the hotel that shared the same apartment with his Church. The apartment is like a carton box shared in four quadrants. The hotel occupied the first and second quadrants while the church occupied the third and fourth quadrants. A huge door demarcated the church from the bar. The elders of the church have rebuked their male choristers for staring at some of the well-endowed girls through the holes in the door between the church and the rooms of the girls.

The girls were called perilous daughters by the elders; but, during offering time, some of the girls, also came in to drop offering, clad in skimpy dresses, swinging their waist left and right with feline gait without any objection by the elders. The church choirmaster had been caught in the wee hours, ransacking the pleasure sacks of one of the girls to assuage his noisome libido. He was summoned for interrogation and possible discipline but the council of elders is yet to decide his fate since the pastor’s only daughter is betrothed to him. Sam stopped her and dropped some strong punchlines that swept her off her feet. He asked if she worked in a logistics company because she is a total package or dropped her crown because she is a queen. She teetered and smiled, they exchanged numbers and promised to see the next day. When they met, she was shy; she didn’t raise her eyes up, they were fastened to some other stuff on the floor.

Nwosu.

Her lips rumbled when he caught a whiff of her name and laughed. He mimicked her tone and they both laughed again.

He jolted out of the room and brought in a bottle of coke and a pack of cookies and asked her to feel at home. She declined his generous offering at first, but obliged to eat the cookies when he insisted that she must have a taste of the cookies at least; she uncorked the drink with her teeth when his eyes were off her shoulders for a tad second and crunched the cookies without pity. She had probably been hungry all day. He had stood up and dashed to the kitchen after one of his neighbors screamed that the rice someone was boiling was already badly burnt. He flung himself out of the chair and swayed past his brown-colored curtain off to the kitchen. The kitchen was a minute walk out of his room. He lowered the pot from the stove and quenched the bubbling fire with a handful of water and the wind from his narrow lips. Nwosu came out, cupped her hands on her nose, and joined him in arresting the smoke from the stove by fanning the place with her scarf; and when the growing smoke infiltrated his nostrils, she coughed and rushed back into his room. She cuddled the side of the scalene sofa that reeked of dampness and tried to push back the cough with stillness; intercepting the urge to cough with a sneeze and hold of breath and then let out some air through her mouth and then grappled with her breath. Her thin legs were curled on the stool opposite a large family frame. He was in the picture with his Dad, Mum, three sisters, and four older brothers. He is the youngest and skinniest. She winced and steady her breath with the sachet of water he had dropped on the table alongside the coke, earlier.

His neighbors were complaining about the smoke that had filled the whole compound and threatened to stifle everyone. He didn’t apologize to them; he only reminded all of them of the same way they had burnt their food. He exhaled with fury, the exact time, date and the kind of food some of them had attempted to cook and how he had had to salvage the compound from their buffoonery. They mocked his insouciance and demanded that he apologizes. One of the neighbors took water from a big drum and splashed it on his stove. He didn’t budge to their onslaught and ran inside to check up on her. He hunched his back close to her face and asked if everything was alright. She coiled into his arms like a child and coughed about three times. Her left breast melted into his broad chest and his heart began to race. They both could feel their throbbing hearts. He slid his left finger underneath her skirt and began to comb the clumps of hair in between the linings of her lingerie. She gasped and laughed and adjusted to give him ample space to wrought wonders past her trembling thighs. His eyes were reddened with desire and his hand movements had become tenser around her body. Then a big knock landed on the door. He flung himself away from her grip and was gutted by the rude incursion of the bang of the door.

He lives in a room apartment partitioned into a room and parlor with a long stretch of petal patterned curtains. He dragged his feet to check who was at the door and his friend, Wahab, waltzed in. He whistled in amusement when he saw Nwosu, sprawled on the sofa and quickly grabbed some of the cookies on the table. Sam tried to stop him from taking the cookies but after struggling with him for a while; he let him have them. Wahab kept staring at Nwosu and tried to make sense of the scattered things in the house: the idle cup and orphaned belt on the floor, her rumpled gown, split zip at the back, slightly ripped condom, the spilled coke, 

crust of cascading sweat on his chest and face and his soaked shirt. He burst into songs of suspicion and then waved, crunching the hell out of the cookies and chugging as he made his egress. Nwosu heaved a long sigh and yawned. Her left hand dangled behind the sofa. Sam pressed himself against her back and clipped her to the edge of the sofa. They locked their lips and hands and promised to see each other again.

She flinched when Sam cupped her nape, froze for a microsecond and sank into the sofa again, and winced. She went blank for a while as memories of her childhood reared into her imagination. Sam was perplexed and asked her what happened. And if he had done anything wrong. Ah!

She was used as collateral to borrow some funds from their neighbor’s husband, Mr. Okoro, when her sister had to pay an agent for the promise of a trip to Italy to work and make stupendous wealth to better the lives of her family members. Her father had raised five hundred thousand nairas from their rich neighbor with the promise of paying it back with a ten percent interest in less than six months. Mr. Okoro was so delighted to lend them the not-so-huge sum.  Her sister already packed all her belongings for the trip. Their father sold his only car to also support the cause when the agent, a church acquaintance, had insisted that they needed an extra five hundred thousand naira to work all her papers for proof of legality. They were more than glad to risk everything to ensure they have a better life and a good turn in fortune. After her sister had travelled, they didn’t hear from her for more than a year. They tried reaching the agent but all his known lines were off and he was no longer interpreting for the Pastor in church again. No one in the church, including the Pastor, could account for his whereabouts and their father was not ready to spill the beans to church members. He went to church more than ever before and prayed. Their father became hypertensive and had to use local herbs to manage his ailment. 

Their mother had to be forced to eat the food brought from those parties and places.

She had left her food untouched for two days, crying and they had to warm it on the stove the third day so that someone could eat it. She even fainted from hypoglycemia twice and the compound nurse recommended starch and Banga soup and other carbohydrates and gave her injections on loan and wrote off the loan when they could not raise the money to offset their bill. She gave them emotional and financial support too. And when their father’s laundry business finally packed up; they lived from hand to mouth. Nwosu and her friend, Ebere, struck with the same fate, would go to parties uninvited to pack food which they stored in their neighbors’ fridge sometimes or just hide them and warm them to eat some days later. Their mother’s eyes were always waterlogged whenever they sat down to eat those meals. She would sob and thump the food with her spoon and call the name of her daughter in transit.

Mr. Okoro left his flat to their compound one Saturday morning and knocked, not like a gentleman, on their door which was already dangling on broken hinges. The complications around the loan he had given their father had led to a ferment. His voice subsumed their father’s, and the three hot slaps he landed, in a fit of anger on their father’s wrinkled face, left three ugly stretches of fingerprints on his face. Father kept apologizing and stuttered to even plead his own case. It was Sister Nurse that pulled father in and berated Mr. Okoro for such a crude act. Nwosu and her mother were livid but snuck behind the door, panting and crying. Mr. Okoro withdrew to his calmness after some moments of lucidity. The look on his face betrayed the assault his hands had done. People gathered to know what had happened but Mr. Okoro just kept asking for his money while Sister Nurse intercepted him at every instance. Their father walked the compound shamefacedly every day and went to report the case of his missing daughter at the police station. The policemen asked for a deposit of a hundred thousand nairas for fuel and intelligence to track her whereabouts and then bust the place and drag her back home. The policeman he met had seven hyphenated stretches of tribal marks and was talkative. He bragged about bringing her back in the next seven days if the deposit was made swiftly into an account number he would give to him. Alade. He gave him his phone number and asked him to store it. He assured him of the wide coverage of police intelligence and the pedigree of his own force unit. Their father came back home dejected. He had sold the only car he had which was his means of livelihood and there was nowhere he could raise the fund. He had even started a laundry business that went belly up because there was never light to iron the clothes of customers. Most of the customers who had to wait for days or some would just request that their clothes be returned without paying him a dime. He cursed the leaders of the country in anger and mocked his own inadequacies as a man. A family man.

On certain nights, when there was nothing to eat,or they had paid an essential bill with all their funds; 

their mother would ask their father to go and look for her daughter while the man would remind her of bullying him into the plan she had had with her daughter before informing him and then they would argue and hold hands and break down in tears and slide into prayers.

Mr Okoro had a truce with her father to release Nwosu to him so that she could serve five years in his shop to offset the debt. Nwosu was about to leave secondary school then and there was no money to further her education and by doing so, they could even enroll her for her school leaving certificate in a good school which was not a promise anyways. Nwosu eavesdropped on their discussions and obliged  to serve Mr Okoro to avoid the embarrassment he would deal on their father and another round of fingerprints of excruciating slaps.

Her father’s forehead had ridges as he stammered his objections but crawled again into his shell when he remembered he could not raise any amount to settle his debt. Sister Nurse, on hearing the truce, berated Mr Okoro for child labor and threatened to report him to the appropriate authority but Mr Okoro bluffed; he knew there was no functional authority and the bureaucracy of the said the authority will bungle whatever case was brought to their notice.Nwosu’s father and mother went to see her in the dead of the night to assuage her and begged that she should allow Nwosu work with Mr Okoro to offset their debt. Sister Nurse fumed for a while, and then dipped her hands beside her pillow and handed a handful of hundred naira notes to their father.

Nwosu’s father knelt down to thank her which she quickly stopped him from doing. Nwosu and her mother burst into tears and sprawled on the floor to thank her for her kind eyes and good heart towards them.

About 6:00am, there was a loud bang on their door.  Some men had ordered them to open the door. 

One of the men identified himself as a policeman. 

Their father opened the door , but commanded others to stay indoors and bolt the door after him, which they did as commanded. They led him to the front of the compound. He held his unstitched trouser and limped forward; wiping the sweat on his face with the helm of his garb and was expecting to see Mr Okoro. 

He was told that some traffickers were busted and one of them had mentioned the name of his daughter in his deposition. As he walked towards the back of the police van ; he saw the church acquaintance  that promised to take their daughter to Italy. Chinedu.

He had been beaten to a pulp and was handcuffed. Chinedu narrated how he had handed her over to his friends in Libya who eventually molested her and turned her into a sex slave and pimped her to some debased rich folks and when she demanded for her passport and share of the proceed from all her engagements; they drugged her, killed her and harvested her vital organs to be sold off to the highest bidder in the organ market and her remains was fed to wild dogs.

Their father felt a snap in his heart and died on their way to the hospital. Nwosu and her mother dashed to the hospital after Sister Nurse had told them about the incident, and when she saw her husband being wheeled out of the ward in a body bag, she slumped and died too. Nwosu was transfixed. The ambient noise faded and everything became blurry, her  head grew  big and rang with loud bangs. Her calves buckled and then she spilled on the floor.  

She had had no contact with any of their family members and could not make sense of all that was happening.

Mr Okoro came to the hospital and settled all the bills and paid for the burial ceremonies and the land they would be buried in. He held Nwosu’s hands and promised to take care of her. 

During the wake keeping services, their church Pastor had raised some funds for her upkeep and pledged to be there for her, come rain come shine, and would  personally underwrite her to school. But after the burial, no one saw his brake light again and the only time she went to him for assistance, he asked her to wait in his room and bolted the door; he wore a sinister smile and ogled her spread of buttocks. He brought out his putz and asked her to help him by rubbing it; she cringed and started to shed crocodile tears.

 He patted her back to console her, then dangled some bundle of cash before her; she knocked his fingers off her palms and screamed so loud that he quickly tucked in his phallus,zipped up and volunteered to go and drop her at home. He gave her a lean sum for bus fare and dropped her off by the road side and begged her not to tell anybody what transpired between them. She didn’t respond to his mumbling and just dropped off the car and headed straight home.

After the burial, Mr Okoro became the Franklin stove ofad her existence and education but his wife was mean to her. Nwosu would wake up earlier than everyone, clean the house , wash their cars and bathe all the children to prepare them for school. Mrs Okoro would never appreciate her. She rained insults and would sometimes confront her husband for buying anything of worth for her. After school, Nwosu had to pick the other kids from school, bathe them and ensure their clothes were properly ironed and they had their lunch before going to shop. On different occasions, Mrs Okoro would smack her for the slightest of mistakes and call her a witch for killing all her family. Nwosu would curl in her bed and cry out her eyes. When she came first in class ahead of Mr Okoro’s daughter, Mrs Okoro incited her daughter against her and they both hid a large sum of money in her bag and lied to Mr Okoro that she stole the money and after their plans succeeded, Mr Okoro expressed his displeasure with her new habit of stealing and reported the incident to her class teacher. She was paraded at the assembly and was booed by the students. The principal caught wind of the incident by her class teacher, in her absence, and chastised her for such a dunce approach to substantiate an unverified report. She called for a meeting and told the staffers that she sensed foul play in the whole narration and she could pick the hole in the report they gave about the poor girl. She asked if the girl had ever picked anything that was not hers in school before. 

Her class teacher nodded in the negative. 

They apologized to Nwosu and gave her the timekeeper’s badge and the students were assembled and oriented about the new  development and also debunked the earlier story of theft peddling about her. When she got home with the badge, Mrs Okoro was sad and made sure she had laborious chores to do before going to school.  She started going to school very late but the principal understood the theatrics of Mrs Okoro and made the assistant time keeper stand in for her most times.Nwosu fell sick and could not go to school for a week. The principal solemnly invited Mr Okoro to school and told him about all that they have observed and the affectations of his wife. He thanked her and went straight home. And quizzed his wife on the crust of the grouse she could have had with the poor girl.She stood still without any concrete answer and, nictitating, shuffled into her room. Mr Okoro’s daughter told him everything that had been happening at home and how they had connived to hide money in her bag. She apologized and promised to never let anything happen to Nwosu again. Mr Okoro went into the room  Nwosu had been left, unkempt and shivering, hurled her on his shoulder, and slammed  the door as he rushed  her in a crustacean scurry  to the car and then to the  hospital. From the hospital, he traveled immediately for a business concern and enjoined Mrs Okoro to be nice to the poor girl. 

Mrs Okoro went with gifts and confectioneries to the hospital for Nwosu and apologized for her bad behavior. Nwosu adjusted  the broach on her head and curled into her arms. The doctor came in to check on her file and said she would soon be discharged. 

After so many days, Mrs Okoro invited her younger brother , Tochukwu,  to drive them down to the village at the behest of her husband. When Tochukwu came and saw the wide hips of Nwosu and her plum breasts; he licked his lips and touched her waist. Nwosu blurted out and reported him to Mrs Okoro. Mrs Okoro hushed her and threatened to smack her if she ever told any lie of such about Tochukwu again. Mr Okoro was to arrive the next day for the trip to their village. In the wee hours of the night, Mrs Okoro instructed Nwosu not to lock the door to her room that wanted to give her some stuff before going to bed. She slid the door open and allowed Tochukwu in; he cupped her nape with his muscular palm, dealt her a heavy punch that weakened her; he muffled her and slid his organ into her pants . He went more strokes deep than shallow.  Mrs Okoro pushed the door ajar, with a wry smile etched on her cheeks, she tapped Tochukwu from behind and called Nwosu a slut; and claimed that she only pretended to be crying because she caught them in the act. Nwosu was devastated. She clutched the pillow on her bed and cried.Mrs Okoro berated her for using Tochukwu to lose her virginity so she could start sleeping with her husband.  She instructed Nwosu to clean herself up and burn the blood stained bed sheet. Mrs Okoro drew the bedsheet underneath her and went to burn it herself. Tochukwu sidled to the kitchen, opened a bottle of Guinness and tossed her a pack of cookies and shut the door after him. 

The next morning, Mr Okoro came home and queried everyone that cared to listen to why the compound reeked of a strangle smell. Mrs Okoro dismissed the question with a big hug, quickly took his bag and served him a cup of coffee. Mr Okoro asked about Nwosu and how she has been faring in his absence. Mrs Okoro floated to her room, handed her a cup of coffee too and threatened to deal with her if she ever told her husband about what ensued the previous night. She asked her to look sprightly before her husband. Nwosu bumped into Tochukwu as she made way to Mr Okoro. She flinched and quickened her steps. They both greeted him at the same time. Mr Okoro asked if she was fine. She said yes and rushed back to her room. Mr Okoro asked his wife if she was fine and she nodded in the affirmative. 

He commandeered them to pack all their belongings but that Nwosu would stay back because of her appointments with the doctor and to check on the activities in the shop. Mrs Okoro went to Nwosu’s room to force her to come out happily and bid them farewell. She obliged. Mr Okoro slung his arms over her and promised to get her some goodies on their way back from the village. Mrs Okoro shoved his hands off her neck and clapped her hands and also bleated. Peace, their only first daughter gave her a big hug. Kenneth and Mercy hopped on her and demanded that she followed them. Tochukwu tried to hug but she stepped backwards and torched him with the burst of fury in her eyes. She waved them a reluctant goodbye and walked back into the house. 

In the evening, on getting to the shop, everyone was quiet and looked pitiful. She asked what could have happened. One of the shop assistants, Uche,broke the news about the death of Mr Okoro and his entire family in a fatal accident to her. She flung herself to the wall and wailed. She screamed and screamed until everyone along the marketplace gathered to console her. She kept muttering incoherent words and wondered if it was her unforgiving spirit that caused the accident. She recalled all the brief moments she shared with Mr Okoro and trembled. Uche held her and sat close to her. She sank her big busts into his tiny frame and kept sobbing; wondering why she has been so unlucky in life.Uche kept patting her on the back and assured that everything would be fine.

 His family members took  over all his properties and flung her things out of the house. She was left with nothing but the little savings from the allowances Mr Okoro gave her. Since then she lived with a Good Samaritan who introduced her to the pub close to the church. She was hungry and went out to get some food stuff when Sam bumped into her. 

Sam broached the cask of water behind the chair and handed her a cup of water.She declined with open arms; her legs criss crossed against the stool beside him. She stood up and stretched  and adjusted her creased gown. Wahab patted her on the back and cupped his arms around hers. She dabbed her face with the helm of her gown and yawned.She shuffled towards the door and stood for a while, sniffing at the interlude of the croaking fan ; they kissed as she held the door jamb and vanished into the dusk.

Sam’s snapshot looked like a mugshot. He picked up the passport photographs and headed to the house of the agent. The agent lived in a terrace which was about three kilometers from his own neck of the woods. 

He whistled different Afro beat songs on his way there. When he met the agent, they exchanged pleasantries and discussed football at length. The agent was pleased with his robust knowledge of the game and the skills he exhibited during trials and from the clips of his games they both watched on the wide smart  television of the Agent. Sam had lunch with the agent and waved him goodbye and headed home. 

Wahab had gone for a trial game where he did well. He met Sam there and they both dazzled the crowd to a stellar football match outing. Everyone brought their jerseys to be signed by the both of them. They stared at each other and laughed out loud. 

After rendering their autographs, Sam advised Wahab that they should trace the owner of the phone and give it back to her. Wahab and tilted his head backwards before thumping his finger on Sam’s chest. Sam staggered and ensconced his stance. Wahab flipped the phone and tucked it back to his pocket. Sam hit the phone out of his pocket and ran round the pitch in a playful circle. Wahab ran after him but could not catch up with him. Sam stood at the sideline on the pitch and scoured for the woman’s  possible contact information on the phone. He went on Snapchat and was able to trace the location of the owner of the phone from her Snapchat posts. He zoomed the location of the phone and memorized the coordinates; he set the coordinates on Google map and it brought out the exact house of the owner. It was the same house he had gone to meet his agent. He ran back to Wahab and persuaded him to return the phone to its owner. Wahab obliged him and they both went back to the house of the agent. 

They met the agent and on sighting the woman, they knew they had found the owner of the phone. She beamed the same freckle of excitement in her posts on her face. They handed her the phone and told her how they had found it on the pitch. She took the phone, elated, and  treated them to some delicacies while the agent expressed his gratitude and promised to help Wahab too. He asked Wahab to submit his passport as soon as possible so he could arrange for him to be signed by a football division abroad too. They both jumped out of joy and hugged each other. The agent introduced the woman as his aunt and he stays in her house anytime he is in town. 

Wahab told his father about the new developments and promised his father a life of glitz if they could raise money to get all the necessary papers for his documentation. His father and mother danced all through the day and raised money from family, friends and credit unions to support his dreams. Sam invited Nwosu over to his place and told her about everything and how he had hoped to travel abroad someday and become the biggest soccer name in the world and that his dream is so near. He drew the documents he had signed with the agent and showed her everything. Nwosu had tears of joy in her eyes, then wiped her eyes with the back of her palm and clung to his waist. She knelt before him and begged him not to forget her. Sam knelt with her, face to face , breath to breath and promised not to forget her. He slid into his sneakers and took her to a popular lounge around the  area where they swung on chandeliers.

Wahab and Sam walked hand in hand into the departure lounge of the international airport flanked by their agent. Nwosu and Wahab’s family already whispered some advice into their square ears. They held their backpack as they onboarded and tickled each other as they onboard the plane. Airborne, Sam remembered Nwosu’s aqueous eyes and all the words he had said to her. Wahab held tight to his seat belt when the plane increased in altitude. They both bit their lips and hands to ascertain that they were the ones onboard. Their agent, Mr Efe,  laughed at them and passed them a bottle of wine. 

After many days, Sam, hunched over by Wahab, put a call through to Nwosu; she leaped with joy and asked why it took him so long to call. He apologized and promised to arrange for her to come over as soon as possible. They both chuckled and slid into silence and chuckled again. Her voice had the lilt of a forlorn child while his heart thumped faster. She sat at the edge of the sofa and hugged the cable even after the call had ended. Sam’s eyes were waterlogged too. 

When Wahab called home, he dropped the call in less than forty seconds immediately, and froze. He sank into his seat and wept. Sam snatched the phone and spoke to the person at the other end. Wahab’s father and mother had died of health complications, on the same day, just an hour apart. His father died first before his mother followed suit. Both parents had complained of fever and loss of sense of smell and then coughing without  mucus before they were whisked to the hospital. Wahab sprawled on the floor , rolled and rolled and cried. Sam helped him wipe his face and put a call through to the agent for emotional support. His father, popularly called Alhaji, was one of the pedantic Muezzins in the community, and would point at the masjid’s minaret before his theories of different things are ensconced. He had once told him about the history of the holy war and how the flag bearers of Uthman Dan fodio had conquered the sons of Bawo. After the lecture, Wahab had picked interest in joining the muezzins  so as to become a jihadists but his inquisitive mind was not really convinced about the holiness in any war since the media rife with terrible news of terrorism and wanton killings perpetrated by the so called Jihadists.He would purposely excuse himself from the masjid sometimes to avoid being radicalized. Wahab grabbed the hem of his cloak and put it in his mouth. Sam kept consoling him.  He asked Sam to help him send some money to the muezzins that cared for his parents in their last days which he obliged him. Wahab remembered his first training on the pitch back home. His father had taken him to one of the coaches on the field and told him about how he had broken everything in their pokey room with slings of shots – and how everything round was a makeshift football to him. The man, Skippo, brushed his hard palms through the groove in his hair, chuckled and commanded him to run ten laps around the pitch. And when he eventually joined the team to train on the first day, he dribbled past the last man forward and backward before slamming the ball into the net. The spectators spilled onto the pitch and he was backed by his teammates. He struck his signature pose of running towards the pole at the corner of the opponent and danced the Roger Mila style. His father was proud of him  and celebrated him on their way home by regaling him with the story of a hunter who stumbled on a strange cap in the bush and everything he kept in the cap increased. He plucked a mango and placed it in the cap and it increased.He was so stunned that he ran home and kept all his cowries in the cap and the number of cowries increased significantly and his fortune changed. Wahab nodded in amusement. The hunter’s wife kept pestering him about the source of his fortune. He was reluctant to spill the bean at first but gave in under the onslaught of her bickering. The day she touched the cap; everything they had had vanished and the hunter contracted sores on his body till his dying day. His wife ran mad. Wahab shrugged as they crossed the gutter in front of their house and gave his father a wild look as they both chuckled and crouched into their room. Wahab snapped out of a nostalgic trance, blew his nose and continued to cry. 

In October of the same year, Nwosu had received her stamped passport and was on her way to the airport. She slouched at the back seat of the Uber cab that came to pick her up and  wept. She drowned in the memories of her family and all her tribulations and burst out in tears and laughter and gratitude. The cabbie, an old man with a voice strewn with gruffness, stole glances at her through the rear mirror and tried to distract her with some questions as he adjusted his seat belt every tad second. He had statuettes of various animals on the dashboard. He drove a Toyota Camry with enough legroom for passengers. The stereo was flipped from the original to flashy and sleek one. She nodded to all his questions and enjoined him to stop where some derelicts are clustered. She stepped out of the cab and gave alms to them, flung her hair backwards and helped herself to the cab. As she entered the cab the displaced children swarmed the cab and were thumping at the windscreen when the driver sped off. The cab rattled as they bumped into chuckholes and zip past gun toting policemen and junctions seethed with urban decay. Her flight was 7:00pm and she had just arrived about two hours earlier; checked in her bag and collected her boarding pass. The young lady at the kiosk for board pass collection wore a sour face and snapped at anyone that was out of line with her command. Nwosu cowed her nuances with her tart body language. When their flight was announced, her body was lined with goosebumps; and when the plane was about to take off after the slur of the pilot that was lilt with the cadence of British wannabes; then  her eyes welled up; she dipped her hands in her red purse to fetch wraps of tissues in order to catch the streaming mucus from her nose and wipe her rheumy eyes.

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