archive - issue 19

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Monday, 30 January 2017 20:04


As I made my way into the family compound, I was accosted by Gogo, my vicious, envious, contentious, odious paternal aunt. "Look at the time you are coming home," she said. "Are you not ashamed that your mates are straddling babies, but you're strutting around with a back-pack?"

The events of the day had somehow made me immune to her venom. I turn and walk away from her...

I should have stayed in bed.

It was a Monday morning and I had woken up with a throbbing head, a relic of the infernal weather that surrounded me and the constant worry that seemed to be my latest pastime.

I seemed to indulge myself in bouts of anxiety nowadays. Indulge, because I always feel guilty whenever I experience any form of peace. Being the first child and breadwinner of my family, I thought I had a lot to be jittery about. As I tried to catch a few more winks, the numerous mouths I had to feed surfaced in a mental roll call; nudging me into the ritual of preparing for work.

I dragged myself out of the house and got to the bus stop. Catching sight of the multitude waiting for the limited vehicles, I realised that I could be late to the office. As I lamented my ill-luck, a rickety bus screeched to a halt right in front of me and flung its doors open. I found myself miraculously drifting towards it, having been lifted off my feet by the mad scramble behind me, thankful that lateness would not be one of the day's problems. I shouldn't have rejoiced so much about my victorious ascension because while attempting to get off the bus, the driver took off and I almost lost balance. The accursed creature had succeeded in getting me to work, but should he then kill me?

I settled at my desk and decided to sift through my e-mails. It was the usual: customer complaints, revisions about the bank's products, greetings from the MD. Nothing to worry about; until my manager walked in and said, "Amaka, we are in soup o!"

"Soup ke? What happened?"

"Remember the loan we gave to Chief Aladdin? The one for 200 million naira?"

"Ehen, what happened to it?" By this time, she had my full attention.

"He has defaulted."

"What? How? Why?" My manager began to sob, as she explained that the vessel containing chief's cargo had been seized by Somali pirates and the insurance company was unwilling to pay up. Chief had suffered a heart attack and was lying unconscious in the hospital. She hadn't finished speaking when I was alerted by a mail notification. We were both going "on immediate, unpaid suspension to recover the bank's assets within a 4-week ultimatum". At that moment, I wished the ground would open and swallow me. Where would I get 200 million in less than a month if chief refused to wake up from his coma? How would my family survive for a whole month without my income? I would lose my job if a miracle didn't happen.

I grabbed my bag and made for the exit. I didn't know where to go. I was numb. I couldn't go back home this early; my parents would guess something was wrong. I kept walking until a sudden blow to the back of my head snapped me out of my reverie and sent me lurching forward. I recovered quickly enough to understand what had happened: I had been struck by Dadakuada, the roaming lunatic. His habits involved walking a few meters before reaching out and striking an 'imaginary' enemy. Unfortunately, I must have occupied the same space as today's phantom. I held my neck and started crying. A few sympathisers came to pacify me, while others pursued Dadakuada with sticks. They put me in a taxi and sent me home.

... Gogo is still talking. I turn around and begin to walk towards her, a smile playing on my lips and my heart thankful to Nature for finally sending a victim for the anger I had chosen to vent.
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