HALLELUYAH!!!!!! “Let the children of Israel shout a big amen!!!! Pastor kunle screamed. ‘’Omo this pastor is powerful ohhh, see as my body dey move shuke shuke, choi!! Bye bye to barreness iyooo, a member of the congregation chanted, eyes closed hands frolicking in the air, but could only hear her own chants, as the cacophony in the church could bring down the heavens. People praying in hope rather than faith, people looking lost and helpless, the church in that single seamless moment looked like everything that is wrong with the world, confusion, despair, pain. Pastor Kunle prayed with one eye open while signaling the ushers “brethren please let us a moment to or rather take a break from the holy spirit ”for this important spiritual offering, brethren bring your envelopes, your 1000 naira notes and pray, shout!! Scream, kick, this year will be your year of breakthrough!! On the count of three please let us have make this offering baskets overflow like the river of wealth will overflow your bank! Brethren pray!!! At the same time Kunle looked around to make sure the ushers where in the positions they dicussed during workers meeting. Kunle always told the ushers to adapt the 4-4-2 formation during offering collection, two in the front row, four in the middle of the church and four at the back row, then the hustle started, people who had not even eaten for days will hustle a thousand naira to come to church and throw their faith in ‘’God the money doubler’’, Kunle had them eating off the palm of his hand. “Emi ke!! Kunle omo oro, mo sure ju!’’ As he often boasted to his league of ‘sure’ pastors, Jerry a ‘sure’ pastor and friend laughed saying “Kunle wetin sure for your body? How much you dey make every Sunday? Money wey I go use buy one Hennessey? Abeg sit down dia! Kunle was amazed with Glee, his face lightened up as he burst into uncontrollable laughter “werey! ni e bobo yi how much does your wretched parish make? Those your unsexy ushers, no one would want to give them money sef, choir sef sound like bull frogs in the creek! The rest of the crew burst into laughter, alcohol in the system made the laughter go on for minutes.
Kunle has always been a people’s man and a ‘’bad guy’’. Stereotyped ladies man and one hell of a flirt, he used his gifts of manipulation and charm to the fullest, he was so good at his craft that he lost his virginity to his mother’s boss “Mama kunle your son is so cute, if he was 5years older, I would steal him from you’’ the horny old woman whispered as she usually shoved mama kunle, she hated the way her boss shoved with her shoulder after muttering her horny jokes, she quickly pointed saying ‘’Mrs. Edwin my son is only 16 oh! And not ready for a heavy madam like you, maybe in ten years sha’’ with that uninterested look on her face she laughed ‘’hahahaha! ok I will allow him grow small, the older wine gets the finer it becomes. Mama Kunle a struggling single mum, who lost her husband during a peace keeping mission in Liberia, worked her head off to provide for kunle who happened to be the only child, which was the only reason she didn’t use her husband’s gun to book a one way ticket to paradise. She considered hell to be much better than earth, as hell was earth to her.
Kunle a school boy in SS2 at the time often blushed and acted like a good boy around his mum anytime her boss uttered such statements to him, but he had his own intentions, puberty had hit, crack in his voice, and a lean he saw in the hip-hop videos, gave kunle a swagger any woman will fall for. As a struggling kid, kunle knew he had to do what he had to do to, seeing his mum suffering everyday took its toll on kunle’s feelings and emotions, it fuelled a negative fire in him to make it at any cost, anything to make her smile and be proud of him, he often woke up at night and rested on the wall the room, cracked and looking thirsty for paint, Kunle looked up the ceiling and roof because he could see the two at the same time, he shook his head and made up his mind that “Omo! This cannot continue men, why person go dey suffer like this? Gats to comot this house build my own men” his mum mumbled from her sleep ‘’kunle sharrap and sleep jor, u have school oh, if u don’t wake up ehn, egba ni mo ma fi ji e’’ kunle with a big sigh went back to sleep. The plan was simple, use what you have to get what you want; his peers didn’t help either, “kunle! U wey be fine boy like this, you dey dull yourself, boys wey no reesh you sef don dey drive car, u dey here d…. Peter interrupted ‘’ace sharrap! How many people wey you sabi wey dey drive car, Paulo u too dey lie! Kai! All the boys hailed in unison ‘’Paulo baba!!! No1 be like you, baba ni yen’’ kunle added ‘’your suppose be Elias, cos you dey lie ehn!’’ Hands on head! , hands on bellies, people rolling on the floor as they all burst into laughter! Paulo with a tired look on his face, had bitten his nails to his skin because anytime he got called out by kunle, thats all he could do, deep down he adored and hated kunle for being so perfect, like this guy is tall, fine, funny, ladies loved him, guys wanted to be like him, Paulo couldn’t take it anymore, he suddenly grew tired of being the joke all the fucking time, then he let it drop, the forbidden fruit fell from the tree and Paulo took a greedy bite out of it, ‘ At least I don’t share a bed with my mum’’ suddenly the laughter, the look on the faces of the others was like a strange wind came and blew the joy away from their hearts leaving only sorrow and shock, kunle looked at Paulo with the look of a lion that had locked-on his prey and asked in proper English and soft voice of a professional assassin ‘’Paulo, what did you just say? Paulo suddenly felt recognized like that moment the devil’s advocate won the case, he rose from the bench where he sat and repeated it, picking his words like a retarded three year old child ‘’AT LEAST I DON’T SHARE A BED WITH MY BROKE MUM”, That moment, fist clenched, kunle felt pain, anger and sadness all at the same time, we wondered what he had done, why Paulo brought up an issue so sensitive it could start world wars, he wished Paulo could just die and burn, at the same time he felt sorry for him, he thought about all these things looking straight at Paulo in the face, even air couldn’t dare pass the little distance they had in front of them, the place was quiet as a catholic church during prayers, the air was tense, the crowd of students waiting for Kunle to a make a move, it was an arena kunle and Paulo were the gladiators, within the twinkle of an eye, kunle landed Paulo a punch powered by supernatural strength, a punch Samson himself would have been proud of, out rightly knocking Paulo to the ground, into a state of temporary comatose, the crowd gasped and within a heartbeat, kunle entered wrestling folklore as they hailed him like a king coming back from a victorious war.
Walking home briskly, it was 12noon in the afternoon, the sun at its peak, Kunle kicked stones as he walked slowly to his house, ‘’what are you doing home so early?’’ he looked down and waved the white sheet at his mum, her heart raced as she snapped at the letter like an angry snake, as she saw the topic which read ‘’LETTER OF EXPULSION” she looked at Kunle, who was sitting in the corner of the room waiting for the worst to come, tears cascading down her face, the one thing she depended on was Kunle’s education, as she often had dreams of him becoming someone relevant in life, so she would come out of the hardship and finally live a normal life. She suddenly felt an overwhelming weakness all over her and she sat on the chair and looked at the ceiling in hopelessness and despair, the thoughts of using that gun crossing her mind, Kunle feeling remorse and terrible, stood up like a fallen warrior and walked towards his mum ‘’ I will make it mum, don’t worry yourself everything will be alright’’ with his hands tightened around her waist, her mind suddenly flashed back to her late husband and how he held her, she could use any kind of comforting now, even from the source of her sorrows.
VROOM, VROOM! Kunle speed off into the night, feeling light headed and overwhelmed with glee, alcohol in the system, blasting music like a high school kid and sang along loudly without a worry in the world. As he drove, the sound of bitumen caressing his tyres never sounded so good, the smooth drive on the highway, the headlamps of the car moved forward and guided him like a forerunner, he had not felt this good in a longtime, he felt marooned, a beautiful isolation, not caring about anything but himself, the alcoholic loft and the hands on his steering wheel and what he had to do to get behind the best luxury sin can buy, he flashed back to when he got kicked out of school, the menial jobs, the sales of bread and ice water, watching his school mates look at him like they never knew him, generally watching life pass him by. He muttered to himself “this night is about memories”, he took a sharp U-turn and headed back into the city, drove pass all the places he had walked hopelessly and hustled for water and bread. He saw the very first corner where he got tested… ‘heee! Fine boi, cun hia!.’ kunle dressed in rags moved slowly towards the monstrosity of a man calling him, he walked slowly towards him like a snail heading towards slaughter, fully aware that it is going to die ‘you no suppose dey school? Wettin young boy like you dey find at this time’ kunle looking down, with his folded arms at his back said in the most girly voice ever ‘my mama no get money for school fees’ KPAAAA!! A slap hit Kunle across the face in a flash ‘which kain mumu school fees? U tink I no no say na free education dey this country?? Kunle obviously feeling stupid sat on the floor, lost and dazed ‘look up!’ he screamed ‘why uno dey school, before you chop any round of groundnut’ kunle stammered “eh-eh ehn they purshu me comot school, sar” a smirk immediately appeared on the face of this huge man then he asked ‘wettin you do? Bad boy.’ kunle looked up and noticed the smile on his face ‘I beat person till he faint’ with a look of excitement and pinch of pride, the man laughed out loud saying “ehen! Fine boy like you sabi fight??? Na your kind boys I dey like jare, Oya stand up, wettin be your name?’’ dusting off his shorts “KUNLE SAR!” ‘’kunle kunle, fine boy with action! Hope say the boy they ok sha, shey he no die? Kunle smiled and talked like a blushing school girl “hin eye jus swell sha, I never see am since that time sha’’ with his boyish laugh and the protective hold of a father kunle felt a strange attachment to this man “see ehn, as from today na me be your guy, anybody wey wan try you for this area don die, u don chop? Kunle face glistened as quick and sharp “NO!” came out of his mouth.
Bosco became a father, friend, protector and mentor to Kunle, we can safely say he made kunle the seasoned criminal he turned out to be. Bosco, taught kunle everything he knew, but kunle was always one step ahead, he was street smart, always about the money not the drugs or the cheap high, the marijuana boom at that time was a credit to kunle’s money making adventure, he stashed up the weed and sold to students at his old school, he became a vault at the age of 18, Bosco especially was proud of Kunle, he had an immutable knack for money, it turned him on almost sexually like an addict he would work day and night selling to make that ‘’paper’’, Soon enough he changed the orientation of Bosco himself to start dealing in the sale of marijuana, Bosco used his brawn and kunle used his brains, other members of the gang served as supporting casts members in the plot, as the plot thickened so did the accounts and wealth of Bosco and Kunle, they were on top of the world, selling and making tax free money. Kunle had suddenly gotten his groove back, living life like a king, all the friends that walked passed him like he was plagued suddenly came back like a boomerang, he became a lady magnet, coupled with good looks, ladies much older wanted him, he was Hollywood, almost like a shark in a pond, he couldn’t walk on the street anymore, people come around him like the pope, some begging, some ladies offering their bodies desperately, the feeling was overwhelming, so he often stayed indoors admiring the empire he built single mindedly not single handedly.
After sunlight comes the darkness, after summer comes winter, after the wet season of plenty comes the dry season of famine and struggle. It always creeps in, not hitting us by surprise, only the wise anticipate but the foolish live on and do the same things over and over, sometimes being wise is not enough, when fate tells us our time is up it is truly up no matter how far we run, where we hide, as long as oxygen is the basis of our existence, fate’s very persistence, woos our destiny to yielding to whatever it has to say, Kunle ran and ran from his very creation, his empire was under fire, being the wise fellow that he is, he tried his best to avoid the inevitable, but it was inevitable, his empire was a means to an end, his end was near, he felt it, so he went down fighting. That day, he was in some hotel in the eastern part of Nigeria, where the palm wine was orgasmic and women fair as snow, he was tired of running, a new lead was onto him, he sat by the pool watching the ladies swim, teenagers urinating in pool, husbands checking out the younger woman, it was a beautiful day ‘Perfect day to get bursted’ he soliloquized, in a few minutes the hotel was surrounded, frenzy and pandemonium everywhere, kunle relaxed, as calm as always still laid on the beach chair waiting. ‘You are under arrest Mr. kunle, please kindly get up and follow or we will be forced to take other forceful measures’ the sun blocked out the face of the police officer as kunle took of his shades and rose like a gentleman, shackles on his wrists, kunle felt free in his incarceration, the very irony, he was tired of running, a sudden inner peace he felt as he said to himself ‘Prison can’t be that bad’ with his signature smirk, he walked gallantly like a trained horse of the royal family into the “Black Maria” it was a dark and lonely place, familiar thing for him, he had always felt alone, ever since he started stacking up that paper, his mother vowed never to spend a penny of his “dirty money”, she refused everything he had given to her, One day she burnt the bundle of minty fresh notes he offered to his face. She always told him that one day her real son will return as a graduate and take her out of her poverty, this broke his heart like a careless house help broke a ceramic plate, and the very reason why he made the money had rejected him, one of the reasons why he stopped running. Bosco on the other hand got ‘bursted’ after kunle had advised that everyone should leave town ‘ME! Leave this town??? Lailai! If police wan catch me make dem come! I go shoot shoot their entire mama’. he reportedly died in a shootout involving the police. The Black Maria was in many ways a haven for him, a place of retrospect and regret, ‘oya come down’ the light hit his eyes as the police ordered him down and ushered him into the station.
He got a fair deal, give up all your money and get five years in jail, money was nothing so he gave it all up in a heartbeat. He was there at the city that birthed him, at the very corner where he met Bosco, he stood statuesque and stared for minutes, memories flooding back like a sea storm, tears rolled down his face, the good the bad and the ugly, a rush of diluted adrenaline, the same way he felt when he got into prison, he became eye candy for the fellow prisoners, he was amazed at the way men stared at him, the same way women stared at him, this was a new experience to him, he was lost, confused and scared, he walked with great trepidation and every step into the yard felt like he was in the mouth of the whale that swallowed Jonah ‘Oga! Waka fast! Person go turn ur fullstop to letter O, no dey do like mumu for kirikiri better wakeup! Or u go be person wife for hia oh’ Eureka! He had heard of them before, the stories of prisons were true, homosexuality, men having anal sex, the very thought disgusted him, he imagined himself being someone’s bitch ‘not me men! Gast to find my way out of this wahala oh’ he thought to himself. Lunch time, kunle was seated on his own, a cross dressed man walked up to his table, kunle was irritated by his very presence, he did a good job hiding it ‘Presido dey call u fine boy’. ‘fo fo fo wat na?’ kunle stuttered ‘he wan tell you samtin, maybe he need new fine bitsh like you, hahahaha’ kunle filled with the anger and disgust of three hundred men, vowed at that moment that he will rather die than be ass fucked ‘WHAT!! I am no one’s bitcch in this fucking prison, I will rather die!’ his eyes red, his body fuming, fist clenched like he was ready to take on the whole prison, it felt like time stood still for a moment as he was the martyr that had the balls to oppose the Dictator’s will. The presido sitting in the far corner got up and shouted ‘And die you shall!’ all of a sudden everyone’s attention shifted to the presido ‘na so this wan go die sha, fine boy like this eeeyah’ as kunle looked closely at the presido, he recognized a large black frame of a man, that once loved and cherished him, the presido smiled as he walked closer to kunle ‘BOSCO!!!!’ he screamed with the exictement of a little boy hugging his father coming back from work Kunle hugged bosco with so much love that other prisoners looked in amazement, they had never seen the presido smile or laugh at anyone, they wondered who kunle was to him. The cross dresser especially felt threatened and dumped, someone had replaced him as the head bitch; ‘baby! Who be this guy to you, u have never hugged me that way.’ ‘Come on sharrap dia! Before I slap you, this is my brother, MY BLOOD! The person who gave me life, he open my eyes to see that the world was ours for the taking’ kunle spoke with his mouth ajar like a broken door ‘ thought you were dead bosco! That’s what I heard on the street, wettin happen guy?’ Bosco in his thick thunderous laugh, that of the god of thunder, Sango ‘Men! I no die ooo, na small remain wey them for kill me, dey shoot me five times, but iyam! bosco cant die from common bullet I’m a god!!’ ‘PRESIDO!!!!!’ the prisoners hailed as they paid homage to their autonomous dictator. Kunle looked at Bosco like he saw a ghost, elated like a teenager boy who kissed the girl of his dreams, his heart beating like the drums of war “You know you can’t call me Bosco around here, I be Presido, Babaginda power no reesh hia oh” kunle laughed hard ‘hahahahahaha, sorry oh! presido, no vex your Excellency’ he suddenly remembered what laughter felt like, it was too long ago.
‘Prison is no place for you kunle, you have to get out of here’ kunle laughed” Bosco! Sorry Presido, this wan wey u don dey speak English?? Which wanz nah?’ Bosco looked at kunle with the seriousness of a father ‘seriously guy you need to leave before it fucks you up’ kunle sighed “ how do u want to do that ehn, bosco, I have five years in this place, before you know it am out” bosco hit kunle on the arm ‘yeee! Why nah?!!’ Bosco stood up and pointed towards the prison chapel “that is your way out of here brrother” kunle looked at bosco with awe “ehnnn! Bosco! You wan make I turn born again?? Will that reduce my sentence or what’ Bosco laughed and whispered into kunle’s ear ‘listen fool! If u join the church, and excel in the preacher’s exam you will be released on good behavior, you know say you sabi talk well well,u go pass am die!’ kunle turned and looked at the church, then he got up and for some reason started laughing and shaking his head, then suddenly he heard a loud Whack on his head ‘wont you say thank you?’ in pains and joy ‘thank you sar! You’re the best! With a proud look of a father, Bosco nodded ‘but why you no do am’ kunle asked, ‘shuu! With my face like dis make I dey preesh? Who go believe me? Me wey don turn gay!’ they both laughed into the night and walked to their cells.
As expected he excelled in this field as he was good speaker and delivered the gospel of Jesus Christ with much eloquence and swagger, the intention was to use the gospel as a get out of jail free card, which worked out just as planned. He didn’t only get his sentence cut off by 4 years but was ‘called’ by a headquarters to become a provisional pastor, he was given a house, car and his own parish, which he ran like a business, he was racking in offerings, tithes like hay in a barn, he was on top of his game. ‘Mother will proud of me finally’ he thought.
When he left the corner, he drove straight to the cemetery, where his mother laid to rest, for several minutes he stared at her tombstone from a distance like a naughty boy that did something bad, he felt a degree of shame, incompleteness, waste, the one person he made money for never actually wanted the money, she refused and rebuked him severally, he summoned up courage and walked up to her, just like when he first came out of prison, he was so delighted to go home and reveal to her that he had been saved and she could be proud of him, he was everything she wanted him to become, he walked briskly down of the street where he grew up, he noticed the sad and pitiful way people looked at him, he thought it was just a sign of jealousy as usual, when he finally got to his house, It looked like no one had lived there in years, he was lost ,dumbfounded, wondering where his mother had gone, then he asked the neighbor ‘Please Excuse me, where is the woman that lives here? Do you know her whereabouts? Washing her clothes and answering reluctantly ‘she died 6 months ago, they buried at the village cemetery’ Kunle was…
As sad as the first day he heard the news, his usual feelings of loneliness crept back in, he wept on the tombstone of his mum, wailing and wallowing in his own self pity ‘mama! forgive me, this is the only life I know, the life I have chosen, without darkness there is no light, I am that darkness, but am still your son, love me this way.’ he picked himself up wiped his tears and walked back to his car, he felt a certain peace inside, a feeling of acceptance, he finally accepted who he was, he was the bad guy, he created the balance in the society, he knew his place, started his car, with one last look and one gulp of rum, he sped off into the night, fully aware of himself and ready for the consequences of being Kunle Ajao.