Studies have shown that that two per cent of the global population earns gargantuan income while the remaining ninety-eight per cent are poor… The two per cent shares fifty per cent of the world’s wealth, while the remaining ninety-eight per cent shared the remaining fifty per cent…
The boy stared into the darkness that engulfed him. His father; a man of thirty-five year old looked at him with curiosity as the boy’s mother lit the room with a candle. The boy didn’t move even as his father moved towards his position. His father touched him on his shoulder, then he knelt down, letting his knees touch that of the boy who was seated on a small chair not more than one foot in height.
“I know you are sad that we didn’t buy you anything for your birthday.” His father said. “But then, I have a surprise for you.”
The boy’s face lit up, “What is it?” he asked, “A bicycle?”
The man got red in his face. The boy didn’t see it though. The darkness covered all facial expression. He contained his anger, restricting it only to his face. His voice even sounded much calmer than it was. He touched the boy’s cheeks with his palms.
“You know I can’t afford that. Bear with what we give you. Things cannot be the same forever. One day, I will be able to buy you a car, a house and even an aeroplane.” He looked unto the ceiling which begged for replacement. He stretched his right index finger up towards it. “My God, I know you would never leave me, never.”
The boy looked still, not understanding his father. Moments like this weren’t rare in occurrence. He knew what would happen next, so he stood up and moved to unroll the raffia mat which he usually sleeps on. He then dropped on it, and slowly waited for sleep to take over.
The afternoon was hot. I mean real hot. If you venture into it, you would understand what I meant. It seemed the angel assigned to monitor the sun, turned the knob to super-hot, and he went to sleep. No pedestrian walked in the sun without having sweats streaming out of his body like a river overflowing its banks.
I entered my one room apartment popularly called ‘face me-I face you’ covered with the sweats. I had been on foot since 7:00am that morning searching for a Job. It had been two months since my former employer did a massive retrenchment, and I was among the affected staffs.
Things moved from bad to worse. I owed rent. My entire savings followed the global meltdown into the chasm. I was left with nothing. The gratitude I received from my former employer was just enough to get a one-room apartment. With a seven year old boy and wife to feed and shelter, I needed to find a JOB soonest.
Job wasn’t forthcoming. The Global economic meltdown had ruined so many companies. My second-class upper degree didn’t proof to be an edge in the many interviews I had attended. They needed one that would work like an Ox, and receive a pay of a chicken. I wasn’t prepared to do that; after all, my wife can still manage her petty trading business well enough to feed the family.
I took my towel which I usually hung on the door, and cleaned my face. A nice shower would have been nice for the kind of state my body was in, but for water. Where would I get water? Water was like gold to us. The community had no well. There were about three water-sellers in the community. They were not in competition with each other, as they had enough customers. Most of the time, the water is sold amidst distorted queues and fights over who was the next to fetch water.
I was too tired to engage in the problems associated with getting water. After cleaning my face, I fell into the bed I shared with my son and wife. Air perspired from my lungs involuntarily as my head was recalling the sequence of how the day went.
It had been yet another unsuccessful day. I left home as early as 7:00am to attend an interview I had been invited to. I reached there 7:30am, some good thirty minutes before the interview. The personnel manager was very happy to see me, and he praised my punctuality; specifically saying that it would give me an edge over other applicants. We started the interview and we talked over a wide range of subject including the current state of the economy. Then we got to the salary discussion, and that was it. The manager shook hands with me, and told me he would call me. I heard that sweet promising sentence tens of times; it’s just a sweet parting word saying: “sorry you can’t have the JOB, try some other place.”
I was thirsty. I still had about a hundred naira on me. I strolled outside, and bought two bottles of soft drink. I was to drink one while the other
was for Yinka- my son. Yesterday was his birthday, but I wasn’t able to buy any gift for him. I knew he would come home today with a report card showing that he had topped the class once more. “It has been long since he drank any soft drink. When I present him the bottle of soft drink, his ecstasy would know no bounds,” I thought.
I placed Yinka’s soft drink on the table while I opened mine with my teeth, before settling down on the bed. The soft drink was a perfect thirst breaker. Soon my stomach was filled with the gas, and I couldn’t stand up. I lay on the bed trying to get the memories of the recent months off my head.
The gas in my stomach eased off after about half an hour, and I stood up from the bed. The heat in the room was building up. Its effect could be felt as they descended from the ceiling. I stood to go outside and receive fresh air when I noticed something strange inside the soft drink I bought for Yinka.
I moved to the table and picked it up. “Oh my God!” I exclaimed.
Floating inside the soft drink’s bottle was a cockroach! I observed the bottle for a while, and saw that the cockroach was an adult cockroach. I tried opening the cork, but it was tight sealed. I picked the bottle and moved towards the door. I was going to return the soft drink to the woman who sold it for me when my thoughts sprang up a different thought.
I could sue the company! My heart jumped for joy. I had a signed blank cheque in my hands. I took the bottle and went to sit back on the bed. I rechecked the bottle to ascertain that the cork hadn’t been tampered with, hereby allowing the cockroach to enter. It was hard sealed. My heart was beating real fast with joy. My plan was simple: I would get a good lawyer, and sue the soft drink company for endangering my life with poisoned product. We would seek for damages worth five hundred million naira. How lucky I was.
My wife came in and she was surprised to see me in an ecstatic mood. I hushed her to keep silence, and I showed her to the bottle of soft drink. I explained to her how we are going to sue the soft drink company for five hundred million naira. She jumped up in a joyful mood. Her face was indescribable; mixed with smiles and tears of joy streaming down her face.
“I know my God would never leave us, he never fails his own,” my wife praised.
We kept the soft drink under the bed and we both moved outside to escape the intense heat that was now at its zenith.
We discussed further under the mango tree in the compound. We discussed what we would buy first. I suggested we buy a house first, while my wife felt we should buy a car. I thought we should visit Egypt first, while my wife suggested we visit Paris. We had such future-wants preference battles.
Time wasn’t a friend as it sped on, not minding any one, no matter its status. My wife left for the market to buy ingredients to make a sumptuous meal to celebrate our final days in the land of poverty.
Yinka soon returned from school with his report card in his hand. As soon as he saw me, he sped to my position.
“Good afternoon sir,” he greeted. “Here is my report card, I came first again.” He announced, handling me the report card.
I ran a glance through it. His least score was 62 per cent in French. Who knows French by the way, it isn’t our language, just one of those subject forced on you even when you didn’t want to offer it.
“Yinka, this is a very good result. I am proud of you. If you continue with this form, you would receive a scholarship when you write your common entrance exams next year”
“Thanks Dad. What would you buy for me, now that I have made you proud,” he asked.
“Hmm, anything you want. But first, you will drink a soft drink to cool off your head, and then eat the sumptuous meal filled with beef which your Mother will prepare, and then we would talk.”
He raced inside the house like a rabbit running to its hole for safety.
I rested more for some minutes before I stood up from the bench under the mango tree. I then proceeded to the stall to get a soft drink for Yinka. As I bought the soft drink and was going inside the room, Yinka sped out of it.
“Dad, I found the soft drink you bought for me, but there is a problem. There is cockroach inside,” he complained.
“Where is it?” I shouted while I made for the room. But it was too late.
My shouts of ‘no’ reigned in the skies for some minutes before I sat down dejected, staring at the bottle of soft drink with anguish.
The soft drink was on the table with its cork opened, and a wet cockroach lay beside it…
©2013… Kay Greins™