Mr Ken, my brilliant politician friend, calls for a meeting. He sounds rather urgent. I listen to him. There is a trace of sincerity in his voice. He has not been physically available to execute plans previously reached. I wish for the best, make a note on a piece of paper and place a reminder on my NokiaC3 mobile phone. After reassuring him of my coming, I throw the phone far away to avoid calls.
The alarm comes up at 8pm. Bloody silly me. I should have set the reminder for an earlier time. I jump out of bed. There is little time to stare at the disappointing mobile phone which couldn’t improvise. No one is in the house – a single apartment which has housed the family for over two decades. My siblings are outside, nursing their demons – playing. I pick up a shirt, covering my hairy chest.
Expecting diverse job sat Mr Ken’s place, I gather my computer, its charger, my toothbrush, magazines, the bloody cell phone and money. I set out for his house in a pair of shorts. The people in my compound do not care about me. They turn their heads as I walk. They think I am a retard, carrying a bag over my shoulder at 8.30pm, heading to no-where in a pair of shorts. They are bloody gossips. I give them no attention.
At the bus stop an earlier rainfall delays motorists, I presume. I can’t get a vehicle to the Slaughter axis of Port Harcourt. Potential passengers line up waiting for vehicles, like refugees. I join them. I wait for minutes and see no sign of vehicle. I walk further from the waiting-men and women who look like hungry tigers ready to pounce on the vehicles. I pray for luck. But a vehicle splashes water on me. Bloody driver! I try to curse him again. But I remember I want a favour from God. I ignore him and walk away. “Retarded bastard” pops into my head.
“Slaughter?” signifying with my hand. The drivers care not of me. I wait patiently. A vehicle shows up. I quietly follow it with my eyes. A woman whose eyes are like a priestess’ of a god sees the oncoming taxi and adjusts her wrapper. I notice her. I put my bag on safe-mode. I trail the taxi like a careful hunter. It parks. The people come rushing forward. I see them coming like a mighty flood. My eyes pop out. My mind becomes stronger and greedy. I put my hand through the door. It wouldn’t open. I force it. The people draw closer to me. “Please don’t make me lose my chance of getting a vehicle”. I try again and the door opens. The people pour their weight on me. I am pushed forward. I rest on a seat, heaving.
The driver laughs hysterically at us. He is the god for the night. We are at his mercy. He drives like we are nothing. “I am something.” I focus my attention on the destination. My stomach rumbles. I feel the pains. I look at my seatmate whose buttock is adjusted for me to have a seat. He seems hopeless. I turn my attention to the road. I see nothing but blackout and moving houses, as we drive. The driver stretches his hand for money. I hand him a 50 Naira note. Others pay him too. We are in peace. He struggles with some change. “I am out of the trouble which torments them. I am a special person, enjoying a peaceful ride to my destination,” I think.
I alight at Slaughter. It’s late. My stomach growls. I beg it. I assure it of a meal, something worth a while, but I curse below my breath. I walk looking for another vehicle heading to Elelenwo. Once more, the population I see is threatening. Before I finish a prayer, a bus shows up. I put my jumping skills to practice. I grab a seat. An old woman, running from behind pushes me. I see her face. She is desperate. She wants a seat too. I quarrel with her. She hits me with an umbrella. I let out a shout. She is satisfied at my pains. I hate her. She sees the hate in my eyes. I sit. She sits. The journey continues. The bus is quiet. Nobody talks. No one would talk. We are dumb soldiers. “We work with our strength not mouth, maybe.” I laugh within me.
I alight at Elitor with no pleasant face for the passengers. The road is muddy. I watch my steps, carefully. I see shops being closed. I see women walking, perhaps on their way home. I wish to give one a helping hand. But the picture of my girlfriend appears in my head. I dread her. She could be my wife. I need to respect her. She follows me around, in my head. I feel her in my saliva. She is a part of me. I look the other way and say no to temptations. The street is quiet too like I am. I walk into the Estate. The first gate is open. No security officer sits there. I walk through the second gate, the one that leads to the Lane. The gate is open too. I tap on the gate that leads to the house. Nobody answers. The gatekeepers are getting some warmth somewhere, I presume. I kill the thought, swiftly.
“Tap, tap!” I knock at front door. No one answers. I knock again. Some guy opens the door. He answers my greetings and disappears. I know the rules of the house. I ask for Mr Ken. No one seems to have seen him. I pick a seat. I facebook a little. I check my mail to see the demons that distract my life electronically. I send an email. Ken isn’t home. I am bored. I search the kitchen to appease my stomach. I find nothing. The fridge is as empty as a street after a riot. I am angered. I close it with a force. I search my bag for money. I see a 500 Naira note. I search the house to announce my hunt for food. No one is there to listen. I close the door quietly and step out.
The security officer isn’t at the entrance. I walk alone on the lonely street. Listening to Adele’s “One and Only,” I remember a lot. I keep them to me. There is a fastfood joint on the street. It is lit by a noisy generator. “All generators are noisy.” I hate them. And I hate the electricity company too. They are crawling thieves. The operator of the restaurant has an accent. I order for beans, my favourite. He delays. He brings it after I am angered. I forgive him. He apologies, profusely, I eat, watching a masquerade display on TV. The people on TV are using special effects on the traditional dance. It is funny. I enjoy the dance. It is Igbo’s. And I like it. I like everything Igbo. My girlfriend is Igbo. My name sounds Igbo. I am a storyteller, like the Igbos. I am a retard, like a lot of them too, I presume.
I finish the food. There is a mild argument between the operator of the restaurant and me over my change. He explains. I listen and understand. I collect what he offers. I depart like an evicted member of a reality TV show. He wishes me a good night rest. I turn at him. He is not a lady. “He shouldn’t have wished me that,” I think. I forgive him and find my way.
With the street still calm, I avoid muddy water like a sacred personality. I push the closed entrance-gate. It’s locked. I am amazed. I push again. It’s obviously locked. The gatekeepers have locked me out. I try to get angry. My bag, my computer, my sanity; all of them are in that house! I rebel, alone. I try a tear but nothing runs down my cheek. I take a fare to the back-gate of the street. The street is calmer. Shops are locking up.
The back gate is locked, also. I am disappointed. I push harder, the security officer opens. He tells me something I ignore. I walk into the Estate to the lane that leads home. The gate is locked too. I scream at the gate. No one responds. I try calling someone from within the house. My phone has no call-credit. I am disappointed. I begin to admire the floor of the street for a bed-space. I shrug at the idea. I walk out of the lane. Flagging a taxi that leads home, I am ignored. A special taxi pulls up. I sit between two young women. They look like night-preachers. They are out of their houses at 11.30pm in skimpy skirts for some preaching businesses. I peep at the exposed thighs. The driver requests for my money. I get to my Bus Stop. I keep staring at the direction of the young women. They must be real women, preaching a truth I am unfamiliar with.
My street, Odu, is lonely. Darkness sits over the houses, blindfolding the moonlight like a bully. The street opens its arms as I walk into it. I see no one on it. I pray for forgiveness of sins as I swallow saliva. I am terrified. I don’t want to die. Someone calls me. It’s my younger brother. “Where are you coming from, Bura?” he requests. My mind relaxes. I look at him, wanting to narrate my ordeal but words fail me. I request for the key to the house. I unlock the door and jump on the bed like a professional diver. With my eyes closed and my butts open, I release gases to the air like a philanthropist. I am a good guy. Not the day’s ordeal would spoil my joy. My sibling coughs at some foul smell, I giggle, silently. Crazy night!
Writer – @saintvinny
Culled from DIARY OF A BLOODY RETARD which is available on Okadabooks.com