A kpopu uzo, a kpopu onu
The dawning of a new day marks the beginning of a routine struggling for the means of human and other being’s existence
His head was swimming, so he gladly welcomed the mind numbing feeling of whatever he was smoking. Odion didn’t know what it was. He didn’t care to find out. The local area boys had given him something to welcome him into the gang. Once he smoked his first one, he couldn’t get enough of it. The feeling it gave him was indescribable. His mind turned into water. Everything became a blur. Reality seemed to peel away. It was the only way he could find release from his damned life and the cruelty of his memories. Odion dragged his hand across his hair and laid back on what felt like a chair. He wasn’t sure any more.
They were at their normal hangout, under some bridge, the name of which he had forgotten. All he could think about was how good he felt and how badly he wanted the feeling to last forever. He just wanted to forget. He wanted to forget it all. His parents, his old life, everything. He silently cursed himself for thinking about them. They were landmines in his memory, exploding into a torrent of sadness and guilt without the slightest warning.
But his mind had already traveled back to that day about four years ago, and there was no stopping it. . He and his parents had just come back from the cinema. He recalled being in awe of Spider Man, how he just kept bouncing back, never giving up. That’s the kind of person Odion wanted to be. A hero.
They settled into their home in Lekki that night. Odion remembered the house all too well. Right at that moment, he stopped himself from remembering any further. He stood up from the makeshift chair, perhaps, as an attempt to run away from his memories. He knew everyone had their eyes on him, but he didn’t care. He stumbled across the barely green lawn and walked to the road, raising his hand up to protect his eyes from the bright street lamps.
It was raining heavily, abnormally so. He couldn’t even remember the last time it had rained so hard. He hated the rainy season. It always made his asthma worse. He looked down at the puddle of water on the street and stared at his reflection. He almost couldn’t recognize himself. His skin had gotten darker, and his face was now sullen. At sixteen years old, he was tall for his age. His muscles had grown from the last four years of exertion and now he resembled his father more than anything else.
He breathed in the cold air. He liked Lagos at night. It almost seemed like a completely different place. Life slowed down to a resolute halt. He sat down on the pavement. The rain seemed to be using him as its personal drum, splashing on him and making his clothes wet. The high was already starting to fade, and his mind was coming back from its short, though pleasant vacation.
“Didi the boy,” a familiar voice said from behind him.
Odion looked to find Emeka walking towards him. Odion stood up to greet him. Emeka was the infamous leader of their little gang, and Odion owed him his life. After what happened to his parents, he had nothing and no one. But Emeka took him in. He brought him into the gang and almost made him feel like he had a family again. Almost.
“Dem tell me say you waka,” he said. “I hope say no wahala.”
Odion lived a sheltered and relatively affluent life before the tragedy. So pidgin English did not come naturally to him.
“I’m not going anywhere. I just wanted to clear my head,” Odion said standing up and brushing off the dust from his trousers. “I’ll be back soon.”
Emeka gave him a puzzled look, but he let Odion be. Emeka was no angel. For all the ‘good’ Emeka claimed to have done for him, Odion knew he was just doing it for himself.
Odion watched him leave and wondered how he had gotten mixed up in all of this. He had always wanted to be something more. He had always wanted his life to mean something and now here he was, getting high with a bunch of gangbangers. His mother would have been so proud.
Dammit, he did it again. He had to stop thinking about them. His parents had no place in his mind. He couldn’t afford to breakdown, not yet. He had to be strong. His father had always taught him that.
With the high wearing off, he began to feel drowsy. It also occurred to him that there was something strange about the rain though, the lightning and thunder seemed almost…violent. Like there was some sentience to it. Odion put that thought out of his head. It reminded him of the folktales his mother used to tell him at night.
He mentally slapped himself for that. He needed to leave the past where it was and just move on. He walked along the pavement under the rain and walked his way towards the shacks the gang had taken and dubbed ‘Home.’ It was definitely no home of his.
He was walking, thinking of how he needed to get an umbrella when he heard a coughing sound from an alley in between two buildings. Odion stopped walking and peered into the darkness and squinted his eyes. There was someone there, a man by the looks of it.
Odion called into the alley.
“Hello,” he shouted but received no reply, just more coughing.
Odion walked slowly into the alley, his feet splashing in puddles and realized that the man was old, very old, it seemed. Odion couldn’t see much in the dimly lit alley, but he could tell the man’s clothes were expensive. They seemed to shine in the dark. Odion also noticed something strange about where the man was sitting on the ground. It was dry. Odd. Odion was now close to three feet away from this stranger who hadn’t even acknowledged him yet. Perhaps, he didn’t even know that Odion was there.
Odion was about to say something when the man suddenly looked up at him from the ground. When he saw his face, Odion gasped. The first thing Odion noticed about the man were his eyes. They were bright grey, a shade that made him remember the silver ring his father used to wear. They were flickering now, like a light bulb with a faulty filament but even then, they were bright, and they reminded him of the lightning that now streaked the sky.
Odion finally mustered up the courage to open his mouth. He was never shy around strangers, but this man unnerved him for some reason.
“Baba,” he said with concern. “Are you okay? Do you need help? Is there anyone I can call?”
The man just looked at Odion. He didn’t say anything. He just looked at him. Finally, the man struggled to stand, using the wall for support. Odion moved to help him up, but the old man waved him off in defiance. Whoever he was, he was strong. While he was trying to stand, Odion noticed for the first time that the man was holding his side and bleeding. He looked down at the ground and realized that there was blood everywhere. How could a normal human being much less an old man bleed so much and still be able to stand?
After minutes of trying, the man finally stood up. He was easily taller than Odion who was about six feet tall. He had a thick hair of grey hair on his head. His white beard gleamed in the dark. His face was covered in an array of wrinkles. His once dark skin now had a hint of grey in it. The man was still holding his side. He had suffered from an injury of some sort.
Odion had hundreds of questions to ask, but only one made its way out.
“Who are you?”
The man looked at him with cold grey eyes. Just when Odion was about to run away, the man opened his mouth and a surprisingly deep voice answered.
“My name is Sango,” the man uttered with dignity and authority. “And I need your help.”
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