He took extreme delight in urinating on my garden of carefully nurtured roses, I (well not me actually, but Cordelia’s- my sister)had tended the roses to luscious beauties over six months creating a natural hedge around my father’s six bedroom bungalow somewhere off Ekenwan road in Benin-City.
The vagrant would walk up to the rose hedge at almost the same time every evening, just when the sun was taking its leave of the earth and unzipping his draping trousers would pee on Cordelia’s roses; he would grin, sheepishly tugging at his drooping member to let off the last drains of urine, tucking it into his trousers he would walk away singing loudly, my dad had met the vagrant at it on several occasions but funny enough never as much as tried to shoo him away. But that evening I decided to accost the wretch
“you must stop coming here to piss, these roses took great care to grow you know”, but looking up at me and grinning to reveal a set of unkempt teeth would say “so what is your own?”, I replied “it is my sister’s garden of roses and I will not have you pissing on them again” instead he shuffled past me hurriedly saying “look young lad, leave me alone, your papa no dey complain, you don ever ask am why he lets me do my thing every evening, so waka” . it was the first time I had come that close to him always feeling safe to observe him from a distance, but today I did not fail to notice that he had the finely cut features of a well bred man in his late thirties or early forties, at some point in his life he must have being very well taken care of, the signs were fading but still there, he must have being a very handsome man once, the overgrown beards on his face had only in vain tried to mask this.
“So what is your name?” I did a double take “You must be Cordelia’s brother, where have you been all this while?” he asked, but before I could answer he said with recognition on his face “oh, oh you must be the one away at school in Ghana” I nodded in assent wondering how he knew that. “Corde must return, she will come back, she calls you abi?” the look in his eyes was one of apprehension, hopeful, and not wanting to disappoint him and really not knowing why, I simply nodded, the truth however was that since Cordelia left for Spain almost eighteen months ago with that silly friend of hers Anwuli, she’d neither mailed nor called me, we were never really that close anyway but then siblings were meant to keep in touch- or weren’t they, I had never subscribed to Cordelia’s proclivities, she was always here and there, with very few female friends and a lot of funny male names stored in her phone address book entered like codes- baby 2; baby5k; felaboy; koko and such like.
Cordelia was born exactly two years and nine months before me, making her my older sister, she had turned out well, in the early days that is, until she failed to make JAMB and had to settle for what was in her own opinion a degrading two year stint in the Federal Polytechnic, she returned after her second semester ND 1 looking like something you pulled out of the center spread of MAXIM, whatever it was she had gotten into at the polytechnic she seemed to have learnt fast; her hair all knit in multicolored extensions, false eyelashes adorned her honey toned contact lens pupils; with red colored talons, tight lycra stretch pants that accentuated her blooming hips and a plunging blouse that did little to keep her cleavage secure; my fears were confirmed -I had always believed that Cordelia’s beauty would be her albatross.
“Na you I dey talk to now” the vagrant was waving his hands before my face, I snapped out of my reverie “ when she calls you tell her that Abamba still comes to check on her, don’t forget, see you tomorrow”.
Exactly ten days after my encounter with Abamba I noticed the drooping petals of my (not mine really, but Cordelia’s) roses, and just as the sun was setting, looking up I saw Abamba ambling towards the rose hedge, but this time around he only winked conspiratorially at me and walked on towards mummy Jones- the area tattler’s shop, Abamba looked different like he had just recently shaved and washed, something just was not…
Three days after, daddy called me into his room, looking morose and suddenly far beyond his years he unraveled- “your sister Cordelia is ill and is returning home” “how bad is she?” I inquired. “not too good I guess, Anwuli called me last night, said Corde was too weak to even speak” he replied.
Cordelia passed on exactly two weeks after she returned from Spain, three days after her demise I walked out to inspect her rose garden, the petals had turned pale, drooping, badly withered like mourners in garments of dark forebodings, I never saw the vagrant again…