The stench of hunger and deprivation was thicker than the cardigan used on a cold rainy day. Kola had seen the height of hunger and could vividly carve its shape on any given platform.
Growing in the dump site community, life on that side of life seemed grey…he could recall how Bide, his best friend took ill and no one understood what was wrong, the proceeds from his mom sales of ‘shepe’ on the side of the road was not even sufficient for daily meals talk more of affording medical care, on the other hand, his dad was never home.
That fateful day, as Kola sat beside his best friend on the torn shredded mats, tears streaming down his face as though the source the streams were his eyes, Bide tried to muster sufficient strength to tell him “get out of here, please..’ he begged, ‘do not die here”. Kola just cried and cried, he couldn’t get himself to respond or say anything. his heart was shredded within him, he was confused and helpless, did not know what magic wand he could pick up to undo the terror that his Kenny was experiencing (they were both referred to as ‘Taiye’ and ‘Kenny’). He wanted to give Bide a part of his life to live on. He had seen kids die but they were not particularly his friends….finally ‘Bide…’ he struggled to say with the tears refusing to halt ‘don’t go, don’t go I beg you, please, don’t go, I would die if you do…”please stay, pleassse, I would do anything you want…please’ Bide was too weak to give a smile, just as Bide’s Mom came in with the ‘agbo’ she was preparing for her son, Bide breathed his last…..
Kola thought he would die, he felt incomplete and could not think of going on with life, he cried and cried and cried. At 9 years he didn’t understand what was happening and yes those final words by his Kenny stuck with him like the wetness is to water. he could barely sleep, eat or do anything, not even the regular routine of morning hawking of pap since his Mom had sustained an injury on her left leg. Being the older child of his mom two kids, she begged, screamed some days scolded him sternly to move on with his life unless he wanted to end up 6 feet under also (actually it wasn’t always up to 6 feet deep). His Dad was late and he had to be strong for his Mom. His younger sister didn’t seem to worry so much about the life they lived, maybe because she was just 5 years of age, still a bit oblivious of the place they called home…. ‘Why is life soo hard??’ he grumbled.
4 years had gone by and he had tried to be normal again but never allowed anyone take the place of Bide in his life. sometimes, he would see Bide in the little things he did but then, he knew Bide was long gone, it was just his mind playing the tricks……
‘Kola! Kola! Kola!’ he was jolted out of his thoughts. ‘Your mommy….’ the scared little girl pointed in the direction of home. Without thinking he ran as fast as he legs could afford him, on getting home, his sister was crying and screaming ‘mama! mama! mama!’, without asking, he lifted his mothers head and requested water, he poured the water on her head and she gained consciousness, then he asked. ‘what happened?’ While his mom tried to understand what happened. Tola explained that as she came in from getting the groundnut she was sent to buy, ‘mama just fell’. At this point, his mother spoke ‘I just felt dizzy my dear. I think I need to eat, I have not eaten anything today that was why I asked you to buy me groundnut’, explained his Mom. Kola was lost in thoughts again, he was tired of crying. How does a person get out? He remembered the parting words of his Kenny, Bide. He knew he could not die here….
To be continued….