Thursday, 17 November 2016

We Live In The Jungle By Ryan Uche-Tasie

Mother drove out in a hurry this evening. The Human Rights office in Ikeja summoned her. She dropped a crispy thousand Naira note on her way out. She left it on the centre-table, muttering something about buying Indomie.
Chidi was still in my room, going through a photo-album- my baby pictures. He sat on the bed, engrossed. He enjoyed laughing at my square head. "See as you dey like akidi," he quipped.
"Biko. I'm tired, Chidi."
"Badagry is far sha, you should."
"What did we go to look for again sef?"
"Do I know for you and your bestie," Chidi chuckled with a refreshing glee. "The two of them should be in one cheap hotel in Badagry."
"I doubt," I said. I bit his soft ear lobes, Kpomo. Nibbling on them with passion. "Christian wants to take things slow and easy with her."
"Hmm! You're smelling fa," Chidi replied. He shoved me off the bed, blocked his nostrils and then giggled. Sounding like a character from Star Wars. "Let's go bathe."
"Let us?"
"I know, I still smell like strawberries."
He got down from the bed, effeminately tugging his ripped white jeans. "I swear I want to take this home," he stated. Holding my album tightly, hugging it like a baby. "I want to use them for Christmas rituals."
The album was specifically made by Granny and Mother. It was a recording of my life in a thousand, thousand words. It was the one place I could see my oyinbo runaway father who died in the Sosoliso Plane Crash.
"If I blow your head ehn!"
"Oya shoot me, Akidi!"
He inched closer and fell dramatically on me, Disney Princess. He gazed into my eyes, made me feel important. I slithered down his belly, unbuckled his belt. The bold Hilfiger head, stubborn. I unzipped his jeans stylishly. He relaxed, tittering too loudly when they got stuck on his Chelsea boots.
He ran his tapering fingers on my hairless chest. Biting my neck, making me forget about the splashing, running water in the bathtub.
"What's that?"
"Those vibrations"
" I'm that good," I moaned mockingly.
"Ewu," he exclaimed, smiling. Baring those diamonds in his eye sockets.
"It's your phone."
 I released my lips from his nipples, reaching out to my left pocket. Searching for the little Nokia phone lodged in there, somewhere.
"Christian, what's good?"
"Please! Bella is having a nervous breakdown."
I dashed for my blue overalls, next to Chidi. Trying hard not to stop and gaze at his naked androgynous body, lithe from years of gymnastics and ballet.
"Bring her in," I said. "I'll call Ryan."
Chidi and I paced back and forth, hands interlocked over our heads, occasionally holding hands to assure ourselves she was okay while we waited at the gate. Christian drove in with Mother's black Lexus, violently. The tyres coated with baked mud-pies from the outskirt town of Badagry. Bella decided a visit to Badagry would be fun, "Relationship goals." We paired up and vamoosed from the Island in two black Lexuses. 

Granny was in the kitchen. Working. Racing against time to prepare local herbs to calm Bella. Nchuanwu and Onugbu purged the air freshener out of the West Wing.
Ryan didn't come. Traffic on Third Mainland Bridge was horrific, he called Chidi to tell him he was on his way back to LUTH. Granny's local remedy calmed her- she should use it on herself as well. Bella sat up and stared at Christian. Deep, deep, spiritual stares before Christian let a tear run wild. Bella curled her legs under her like an injured kitten, falling back on the green sofa.
"The boy we met," she murmured with her mouth in her hands.
I tried to remember which we had a good conversation with. "The one at LASPOTECH?"
"The little boy at Badagry."
"Our future President, I love his innocence. "
" You remember he said he was hungry?" I sipped some of the green tea Chidi made me quietly, "We couldn't give him the last five hundred Naira note on us." 
"I told him to buy foodstuff, I slipped a thousand Naira note on to his tiny hands before we left," Chidi said softly, his eyes kissing mine.
Bella sighed. She started weeping, tired bloodshot eyes lucid. "They beat him," she said, taking a long heave. She couldn't continue. Christian wasn't planning on doing so either.
Granny got off a phone call we didn't notice. "Your mum said she'll be home tomorrow." She checks her account balance, I hear the alert. "She's gathering evidence for a case."
Chidi helped Granny clean up the scent leaves littered on the living room floor. "Did Dr. Ademide say anything about the case? "
"Udi case Human Rights, nwam."
"Hmm, domestic abuse?" I inquired, surfing through Facebook. Almost immediately, I found the answer littered on my news feed, I dropped the phone in disbelief.
She bent slowly to pick up the last leaf, arthritis rusts her waist more each day. She answered after panting, "A seven-year old boy was set on fire in Badagry for attempting to steal Garri." She turned to leave immediately, heading towards her room to most probably apply a heat balm- Aboniki.
Chidi sat in the middle of the parlor, thinking of who to ask. To tell him it wasn't that boy on a green shirt Granny was talking about.
He stared at Bella who shook her dada hair vigorously. Drying her flooded, puffy eyes and wiping her runny nose. "They killed him," she whimpered. "He had no one to fight for him."
Chidi sat in the middle of the room. I dwelled in his thoughts. The anxiety he felt towards life. The vanity he knew of this world. "Jungle Justice is terrible," he said, dissolving into tears as he moved next to me.
"2012," Bella said. Jolting her head, vehemently. I was anxious to hear what she had to say, we all were.
"This is how they killed MTN at Aluu, "she sniveled. The AC and the cold harmattan couldn't help the heat I felt in the room. I felt the tension increase sporadically. I felt goosebumps popping. My armpits and neck itched.
Chidi raised his head like a cobra. He turned his head, left then right. Waiting for who would answer first. He inquired, "Who is MTN?"
The room was silent. The room died. Bella must have come back to Earth, she kept quiet.
"Bella, was he your e...?"
"MTN was my brother," Christian interjected. "Let's not talk about him, please." Christian must have seen me. I was giving hand and eye signals. Bella, shut up!
MTN was my first boyfriend, a student at the University of Port Harcourt. He was lynched, barbarically. Alongside three of his friends. I watched the news that day, next to Mother. I watched four boys being beaten by an angry mob of animals. I squinted my eyes and recognized MTN. I bawled noisily while cursing everyone. I watched him being burned alive. I learned of his device on a news channel. MTN was everywhere, he is still in my heart.
Bella had sucked it up. We discussed on the round dinning table after hot plates of spicy Indomie. We played cards, taking turns to read stanzas of an Olali poem.
"What would his mother do?
Maybe he didn't have one?
Is he an orphan?
Maybe this was the break he needed?

What will I tell his siblings?
Maybe he didn't have any?
Is he the breadwinner?
Maybe he took it to feed his ailing grandmother?

What have we done?
Maybe he didn't deserve it?
Is he really dead?
Maybe he hadn't eaten in many days?

What can I do now?
Maybe he will make this vice end?
Is he going to be the last?
Maybe he is the victim before me?

What did I do wrong besides filming?
Maybe I could have pleaded harder?
Is he not the one who took my phone?
Maybe I could have done the same?

What did he say before he died?
Maybe he loved God and Heaven?
Is he a Christian?
Maybe all this doesn't matter?

He is Dead
But more has to be done to stop this Madness.
Illiteracy and Ignorance killed him.
Maybe It could have been Me.

Let's Tame this Zoo slowly,
before we ourselves become our own prey and predator.
Do your tiny little part,
For a Great Difference.
Teach Peace.
Teach Love.
This has to end.

P L E A S E."

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