The world’s progress was made possible by people who sit all day to discuss how they would run things after discovering a bag with a large amount of money in it. Usually this bag would just happen to be lying by the roadside.
Lengthy discussion concerning this sort of serendipity was one of the favourite pastimes of the young men who lived on Emina close. Another was in evaluating the flexibility of girls’ hips as they walked by, whilst calling them “sweetheart”, “baybay” or “mummy”.
This, mixed with the copious amounts of cannabis done neatly in wraps of rizla which they would puff on until their eyes went dry, got their minds set in intermittent moments of clarity. They would cry, and then laugh, and then play some loud music, because the government oppressed the youth and did not care about their future; often ignoring that the youth themselves could hardly be brought to care about same.
Watching the curvy figure lying beside him, barely covered by the single bed sheet, rising and falling with each breath, Kumi knew that he wanted more from life. The previous night had gone the same way as most nights, with the details of how he ended up in bed with miss “what’s her face” a bit blurry. It would all come to him at about the same time the next day, when the alcohol had left his eyes, and he would smirk.
But that morning what was on Kumi’s face was a pair of mirthless eyes and a nondescript nose, a pair of pursed lips turning at either side into drooping cheeks and a chin nestling resignedly in an upturned palm.
He took another puff of his cigarette. He had always preferred cigarettes. He was yet to see their consequence of making him liable to die young. But it would come eventually. He knew as much.
That morning was different for some reason. Kumi could see that his life was worth more than the booze and the sex. He did not mean to be misunderstood though; he liked these things. He simply wanted to have them in addition to an accomplished and luxurious lifestyle. He did not mean to find religion, or to “embrace Christ”, as some people said. To him, that was another form of restraint.
There were three ways he thought about, to get him out of his mediocrity. Crime he had already tried, and thankfully for him, prison he had never been to; even though all his friends had, at one time or other and some still were. Heba for example had gone three times. The last time he returned with only one testicle.
Kumi was too smart for prison, he knew that. He knew he was smart enough to know the ways to get that “luck” which his friends always kept saying he had. Now, he saw he was going to use his smartness for things of higher relevance.
He was going to seduce the governor’s daughter.
To the casual observer that plan would seem like madness. Kumi knew this well. The slum called Akosta city was not even close to Ikira, the capital of Kegao state. Ankura was the poorest area in Akosta city, and Emina Close was the place that the people in Ankura invoked going to live in as a curse upon whoever happened to be an opponent in a heated verbal exchange.
So Kumi saw that his only problem would be getting close enough to meet the lady in the first place. Confidence he did not lack, and the wooing skills were aplenty. His diction and grammar were sound, having gone all the way through primary and secondary school on a scholarship given by “one of all these foreign companies that have offices everywhere but you don’t know what they do”, as he described them.
Kumi lived with his uncle, a bus driver popularly known as Baba Eja. He had lived there at the unpainted house with the creaking roof and the walls with a lattice of interspersed clay and cement blocks for as long as he could remember. The unfenced compound was tucked away at the end of Emina Close, just past the open culvert over which some planks of wood were laid. He was told that his father suffered intermittent bouts of insanity and was diagnosed with destructive tendencies towards himself and others, so he had to be committed. All he had been told about his mother was that she had followed one “broda” to help him carry something abroad and was yet to return up till then.
Baba Eja honestly saw no need for Kumi to be wasting time “learning book” when his mates had learnt one handiwork or mastered one craft or other, and where some had already “born keep”.
As far as it was free though, Baba Eja did not mind. When the scholarship ended he had no desire to pay for Kumi’s schooling. Coaxing, pleading and an agreement to be an apprentice with a consequent forgoing of any kind of “freedom settlement” only just convinced Baba Eja to pay for the first year. But as it is known, the tree of academic endeavour has slow yielding fruits; and, sadly, Baba Eja was not a patient man. Kumi had to drop out of the university. That was some five or six years ago.
Not long afterward, Kumi moved out of his uncle’s place. He turned to the streets and it embraced him. It showed him the way and honed his brilliance, albeit almost exclusively through devious means and for selfish ends, with the things he learnt and his sharp eye for any new “concept”.
With all the knowledge at his disposal, Kumi saw that most graduates had nothing on him, and if not for the faded T-shirt that lay at the corner of the bed, and the well-worn pair of shorts that he currently sported because his only other pair was washed and hanging out to dry, Kumi would have passed for a posh kid.
To be continued
© 2016 by @anakadrian