The cold days, lively thoughts, turbulent minds, they all tell a story. I read once that a man who fights and runs away may live to fight another day. It was the case with me. I had been struggling within to write a short story. What genre should I write? I thought. It was then that I must have flown to the place of total blank, where everything is void.
I woke up the next morning to the sound of my mobile phone ringing. I picked the call just in time. The voice sounded familiar.
“Good morning, are you the one who requested for an illustrator?”
“Yes!” I answered.
“I will be with you by noon, at most two o’clock.”
“Thanks for choosing this brand,” he added.
“I will be expecting you,” I replied just in time before he ended the call.
I checked the wall clock it was just eight o’clock.
“Go to Saliu’s shop. We have a deflated tyre.”
“You must get there before its nine o’clock,” my mother bellowed from her room.
I contemplated to protest my busy schedule for the day, but reason prevailed. I had to go. I went down stairs to where the Sienna car was packed, quickly scribbled the tyre’s details and left.
“Hey, you are here,” Saliu shouted.
Saliu was a trained mechanic. I turned from the spot I had been for almost thirty minutes to face his short but muscular figure.
“Let’s go,” he said.
On the way to the tyre store, Saliu showed me the works he had done for others. He did this by greeting shop owners along the way, those who he had helped repair engine faults of their machines and they acknowledged his salutation in return.
As we walked by the roadside, various four-wheeled means of public transport on their way, people scampered for their seats in a rush hour manner, conscious only of self and destination. Social, economic and moral elements all around were in public neglect. If only those elected to power could identify with the people’s plight at the base level. I perceived the reign of poverty and the hard work to make it. I could see the love to do something that permeated the air but in irony, things were falling apart for the country. The way things were going. There would soon be a massive divide of all the constituent regions of the state. For now, that was not my problem
Soon, we got to the front of a certain house on the roadside where a banner told us of the obituary of a ninety year-old man in front of its gate.
“This man has gone quietly,” what a pity, Saliu moaned to himself.
We got to the tyre shop. Saliu told me how the woman of the store had bought five cars in seven years, since the outset of her tyre business. I wondered why he told me of the woman’s car. I played along.
“That jeep over there is for the woman,” he whispered in typical Nigerian style.
I nodded to affirm my playing along attentiveness. The woman in discussion came out. They greeted each other in a way affirming their acquaintance.
Twenty minutes later, Saliu and I had bought a new tyre to replace the deflated one but this was after haggling the price and testing the purchase for about ten minutes. I greeted him goodbye and we both left for our different destinations.
Sitting in a small cubicle, which I called my office, I reflected on my experience with Saliu on our way to the tyre’s store, the sorry state and plight of the country’s citizenry, how people struggled to make a day’s living, the dismal state of indigenous talent and the nonchalant attitude of the common masses to government debauchery. I realised the true calligraphy of corruption in our culture, the daily hard work for survival and above all, the love to do something but can that love be revolution?
As I reflected on these thoughts, the heat in the building became unbearable, no thanks to the degenerate state of electric power supply in the country. I walked to the sash window facing the garden and slid it up. Cool breeze crept in slowly. I returned to my writing desk, picked my pen and opened the notepad, lying on the desk. I had gotten the motivation to write. It was ten o’clock that morning.
I have always been a fan of days, but tomorrow comes and it brings its own surprise.
It was no surprise that yesterday’s tomorrow is today.
Today, Sabina becomes Mario’s flesh. The show of what will change her life forever. It is a strong feeling that sends a shiver to their heart. It fills a longing void.
I happen on a dance floor where I see two people. They look male and female.
The comely female sits on her own. A winsome smile fills her face.
The male is attracted to her.
He walks up to her and asks, “Oh beautiful flower! What’s your name?”
The female replies, “Sabina”
The male asks, “Beautiful Sabina, Can I dance with you”
They walk hand in hand to the dance floor.
The ancients may swear by the truth that they have not done so.
This woman could dance.
They both danced and danced until they wore themselves out crying for air.
The male draws her close. Flesh touching flesh.
He says, “I love you a lot, beautiful lady will you be my wife.”
She does not reply. She blushes.
At the end, I see what a spark of love can cause. I realise that this love brings a revolution.
Sabina moves. The birds carry gossip tales about. Children here and there engrossed in their own world cheer Sabina on. The day echoes an ambient tune. All is set as Mario awaits his to be wife.
There is chemistry in the air. Even mother earth attests to this reality. Presently, Sabina would be Mario’s very own. He sees her train ahead. He waves to her. Sabina comes to him. He holds her tender hands firmly. Their eyes interlock eyeball to eyeball, their faces beam with smiles. The conjugal game is set.
There are no more qualms. They have become husband and wife, one in all sense. This environment is calm but the serenity ruling the space tells a story, the story of unease that brings ease. The story soon to be told, is the reason people gathered here today. What a surprise today brought! As of this hour, Sabina is now Mario’s wife.
The hall fills with people known and unknown. Soul music plays gently in the background. Beats of love fly in the festive air. Guests and well-wishers sit maintaining a coordinated decorum. The catering crew serve the moreish dinner. The centre stage is open. The Master of Ceremonies checks his schedule. He articulately calls the groom and his bride to the high table. It was 2 o’clock.
“The next thing on the menu is the toast of the day,” he announces loudly.
A tall man with an imposing stature walks to the stage. He mounts the podium.
“My name is Kali,” he said.
“I tell stories, so before I give the toast, I would like to tell you all a short story.”
All ears tune alert as he narrates the story. Even the noisy afternoon birds kept mum in anticipation. They all knew the story.
Kali’s baritone voice fills the hall.
“I shall now begin the story,” he said.
Kali plays the drum of words to the audience and they dance to his tunes with apt attention.
Utoporia consists of three distinct areas, the Wet, the Sout and the Nort. These regions unified under a governing council with a central head. Laye, an idealist was one of those who played a key part in making it a reality. Soon, time and opportunity saw Laye in as the first central head of the government, the number one position in Utoporia. This man was Mario’s father.
Some said he came from the Wet. Others believed that he originally came from the Sout. People at both places swear by the truth of their words.
He was in power for about a year but during that time, his government prospered and almost enabled the people to live the Utoporian dream. The dream was to be the foremost people in the entire continent of Afro. This dream was short-lived.
Laye was an idealist but many in that government were not. They perfected how they would acquire power for self. They wanted wealth, men of the night and hypocrites of the day. Anybody who was not with them was against them. Laye was against them.
They say, “Chaos sometimes is an unavoidable evil.”
He was an egalitarian, confident of touring the locale, checking on the condition of the people at the grassroots without the aid of his usual security convoy.
Unfortunately, one of those days, the black birds of death were already on his tail. History tells that three shots rang in succession. Everyone on the streets ran for safety. Helter-skelter people ran. In the dust lay their respected political leader.
“They shot him,” a middle-aged man in grey suit trying to distance himself from the death scene yelled.
“Is he dead?”
Questions fly in the air, no one to answer.
“Who could have done this?”
Tears flowed freely on the streets.
Death came to close a chapter.