None of us knows how long he shall live or when his time will come but soon all that will be left in our brief lives is the pride our children will feel when they speak of our names. You carry these words in your head as long as they make sense to you. You heard them from a set in a movie forty-seven Ronin. Their gusto enthralled you and their mission made you realize how vain life can be.
You are a promising and ambitious twenty-seven-year-old chap working in a slum school. On a daily, you wake up early while the grass is bleeding dew. You commute quite a distance to your workstation. And you earn a consolation. Since you want to prove to your employers you are a smartass, in your resume you wrote something like you can read, translate and teach music. Like you thought you can. Among many other lies thrown around in desperation for the magic paper. The moment comes when you are handed five pieces of music in sheets. You try to read them in the middle of the night when no one is listening to you. You sound horrible and off-key. You regret that one statement in that god-damned resume that got you the job. And sure enough, you lament it.
A colleague helps you out and teaches you how to use Noteworthy Composer. Where you can place the hammer-like symbols on staff lines and make them sing. Your little musical background also comes in handy. A great relive indeed. Your computer mastery skills help you out and soon you can sing alongside the machine albeit with some stammers. You are good to go.
You gather a group of incompetent midgets who have never uttered anything musical apart from their unremitting childhood crying and yelling. They are smut even in their school garb. You commit to washing their lewdness and desperation musically. Music will calm their souls. And so you promise them. You are supposed to train them until their vocals can lure a snake out of a hole. You get frustrated along the way but you fight on.
Over the weekend you sign out a laptop claiming it would help you refine your musical and computer skills which you were hired for. Taking full responsibility, you sling it on your shoulder in its strap bag, and the weekend begins. Something you later wish you never did.
Saturday morning you spend time on the machine. Keying in musical notes and copying some of your written stuff that is in an old floppy disk. When the staffing becomes tiresome, you write something just to pass time. You are lost in thought that you forget to check the battery level of your laptop. It suddenly goes off. You reach for the socket and there’s no power. The power men are busy repairing a broken transformer. Some thug had siphoned its oil. You once heard that they use the oil to fry tubers in the city stand-in cafes. No wonder the fries transform lives and bodies. Since you did not finish your work, you decide to carry the laptop to your kin’s place on the other side of the road where they have power.
In the afternoon, you have to rush to the village for a local welfare group meeting. You leave the machine there and catch the next jalopy headed homeward. You reach the village in the evening and into your house. You spend the night in the thought of the job, the music the machine, the transformer oil, and the meeting that brought you to the village – an attempt to remain relevant. Village relevance for fucks sake.
The following day after the meeting you find your way back to the city. Your brother asks to follow you and maybe find himself something sensible to do in the city. The village sucks, and so he tells you. He has lived in the village for as long as you can remember. He claims he hasn’t boarded a vehicle in the last ten years. He is worn out and malnourished from doing the menial village jobs like well digging. Maybe you can find him a job at those French fry’s cafes; his life would be transformed. Together you canter back to the city. You have to pass by your cousin’s place to collect the machine. The next day is a workday and you are supposed to be at work very early. You find him home and have some small banter. You share a meal and off you go.
The time is 9.30 pm. Outside it’s fat dark. He sees you off and tells you that you will catch up later. You bang the gate behind you and you disappear into the darkness. You take the first turn into a very dark alley with live tall kai apple fences on both sides. From a distance you see some chaps approaching you. You assume they are fellow road users. On meeting them, one of the chaps stops under a dim long fluorescent security light, raises a short gun, and metal clicks. You wonder how a young man his stature can have an actual gun. You assume it is a fake gun.
“Sit down!” he barks at you.
You raise your head and ask him to just say what he wants and you will oblige but not a freeking sitting down on the red earth dust.
“I said sit down!” only this time louder.
He is now very close and you can’t see the gun due to the darkness. Your brother who was walking ahead of you is on the ground.
You are doing rounds with this gun-wielding rascal. The other accomplice is trying to reach for your waist and maybe searching for a gun thinking you could be a cop due to the courage you have in front of a deadly weapon.
Boom! The gun goes off with such a deafening sound. The neighborhood goes still. Crickets and nocturnal stutter. Glowworms go off. Bats scamper for safety.
You see the gun-fire and from the distance the gun-wielding thug is, you oblige. Two other thugs who were walking a distance have now closed on you. Before you reach for the ground, you are grabbed by the neck so hard. Then a blow lands on your chin equally hard. It’s now a tussle. The gunman who you are now watching his movement is standing at a distance. Maybe, aiming to fire at your head; but an accomplice is holding your neck. He doesn’t fire since he may kill his accomplice. He aims at your chest but another thug is working blows on your face. The one who was ransacking you reaches for the bag and you try to hang on it.
“Take the bag!” the gunman roars.
You hang on it so tightly that the chap pulling the bag shouts to the gunman, “Shoot him again! He has refused with the bag!”
But who wants to be killed, you let loose the bag and the machine which you claimed you were responsible for. You reach for your back pocket and feel your wallet. You hold it tightly from outside your trousers pocket.
A thug reaches for it and serves you another blow amid shouts of, “Kill him! Kill him! He has refused with the wallet!”
You release the wallet and off they run. You turn and call the thug who took your wallet and tell him to take the cash which you explain runs into some loose hundreds for the sake of your personal documents.
He stops and looks at you and he takes off without doing what you asked him. You lay on the dust, finally, devastated and robbed; your possessions and that of your workplace and your virility.
Your brother is still on the ground waiting for the commotion to die down. Dogs begin barking irately towards the escaping thugs. Women scream and children cry at the sudden noise. The neighborhood is terrified. The yells and cries die down slowly. (I went back to the scene of the robbery the following day and heard women say, a man was killed there the previous night. That man was me. I smiled amusingly.)
Your brother comes to his heels and off you walk back to your cousin. You are limping a bit. One of your feet feels numb. The gateman is hesitant to open for you. On speaking, he flies the gate open.
“What the hell was happening out there?” he asks you stuttering.
You tell him you were being robbed.
“Did they hurt you?”
“No, they didn’t,”
“What has happened to your thigh? You are bleeding!”
“Oh shit! I’m shot” you shout upon seeing the bleeding leg and the blood-soaked jeans.
You strip fast. Your heart pounds almost blowing off your chest. Your face is terror. And there a bullet hole punctures your flesh. It ruptured through your flesh leaving a hollow passage; enough to fit a tube. You turn your leg and realize the bullet went through your thigh! You take off your T-shirt and tie your bleeding wound like they do in movies.
Tenants are out and around you in horror, speechless, their mouths agape. You are sure they pity you. You abhor the misery on their faces. They are probably thinking you are lucky to be existing. All this time your cousin hasn’t opened his door. He hasn’t even heard the increasing voices outside. He slept dead the moment you left his room. He must have suffered a tsetse fly bite. People sleep. It takes the initiative of the gateman to wake him up. He wakes up shocked. He claims he heard the gunshot which you believe he heard in his dreams.
He dresses up and a good neighbor takes you in his car to the police. Upon narrating the ordeal to the blues, they pity you. You are now getting pissed off by this pity while everyone stands far from you like you are a zombie. You record statements and the police allow you to go to the hospital talking behind your back that you never fight the chap on the other side of the gun.
Arriving at the hospital, you walk out of the cab and into the casualty area. Your leg is now totally numb. You are dragging it from behind. From a distance you see the sign to the morgue and slowly think that is the place you should have been taken; at least according to the police and the scared tenants. A nurse meets you and startles you from your thoughts.
“What is the matter?”
“We have brought a person who has been shot by thugs.”
From her face, she is visibly terrified.
“Where is he?”
This is a true account. The follow up was a bit fictitious. Check it out in the next publish.
This story was written while I was starting out here. I published it on facebook. The brother mentioned in the story has since passed on under unrelated circumstances.