That evening at my street was particularly serene. It wasn’t the usual bustles and blaring horns of okadas, it was the young pigs that grunted in their clusters, sniffing their noses into the water-logged grounds of Bida Street, marching in their litters between the refuse dumps scattered at every corner of the very narrow road.
Bida street was not only known for these wandering pigs, but by it’s dilapidated houses too, with rusted iron bars at the front verandas. These buildings flanked the road by both sides with only a pedestrian path between two houses on the same side. I saw kids hanging on these corridors with broken metal bars staring happily into the streets. None feared slipping and falling from these storeyed buildings.
“Number 41 biko,” I reminded the bike man who’d stopped me about two poles from my house number.
“I no fit pass this road abeg,” he insisted after he stopped. The roads had gotten worse than it used to due to the wet season.
“You go carry me pass, I pay you complete money you come they act drama,” I said, a bit angry.
Each time I raised my voice at him, one saliva escaped. He remained adamant and turned off his engine. I knew his kind of bike riders. I simply got down and dragged my bag from him, the sack and motors inscribed polythene bag I’d packed my things with.
The items at the top scattered on the muddy ground after I lost grip of the other hand.
“See old bra you carry come your boyfriend house, akwunakwuna!” the bike man sneered as he started his engine again.”
I kept cursing him till he was out of sight while I gathered my things again in irritations. I covered the rest of the distance on foot, staggering frequently due to the two full bags I carried on both hands.
I entered through the back door after I banged it open. The door was hardly ever locked with keys. This evening, the house was unusually quiet; I didn’t meet Ikenna and Abuchi playing Naija whots like always.
Mama as well must be across the other street selling oka na ube, the popular combination of corn and pear roasted on hot coals.
I searched her already rummaged room for a few notes at the usual cupboard she places them. I grabbed just a hundred naira note for my supper and dashed into the streets.
Just a pole away from our compound, I noticed a little gathering of familiar and strange people covering a little circle. They clustered so closely that I couldn’t see what drew them there. I fought through them, squeezing between fat women that smelled of ogiri, my street was known for wholesale trade of soup condiments by such fat women. Muscular boys too, scattered within and resisted my passing through.
“Nne wetin you they find for here?” Obika our neighbour asked oblivious of whom he directed the question at. Then our eyes locked.
“Na you sef, your brothers don enter wahala be that,” he announced.
He readjusted to make way for me to get to the front. I saw my brothers seated on the muddy ground bound tightly in ropes.
I quickly rushed at them with random questions. They couldn’t say anything to me, their eyes were swollen.
Just then, three energetic men roughly pulled me from them, Obika our neighbour was there, even Ahanna his brother. I sighted Papa Amanda seated idly in crossed arms at a corner, shaking his head sideways. Everyone that ate and drank with us had lost the voice to liberate my teenage brothers from such cruelty. It appeared the agberos had long waited on a family member to witness their action. I didn’t stop shouting and struggling to be freed.
Two poles away from the scene, I watched already set fire by those touts engulf my brothers. They screamed so loud, fought fiercely, got weak of trying and then slumped to a painful sleep.
I cried out loud as I ran towards their mutilated bodies. It was after this deafening cry that I got freed of the grip. Everything was so quick, petrol surely burned faster.
I continued shouting till I arose from the bed I lay, drenched in sweat and blood too. I got up to hear myself shouting in reality.
Throughout the day, everyone kept asking the reason I screamed while at sleep but the painful cramps I experienced worried me more. I couldn’t tell anyone how Ikenna and Abuchi had played a game of cards with some strange middle-aged men in that dream. They commenced the game on a thousand naira wagers for every round. After five wins and gains of five thousand naira by Abuchi, these men felt cheated and started to cry ‘thieves‘ which pulled those people. I trusted my street people to burn every robbery suspect without first involving the police for investigations.
It was then I realized the need for us trio to stop risky investments on card games. This was the gospel that remained on my lips for the rest of that day.
The message amused Mama more than it shocked her.