And back to Izy…
It was now very dark, except for the torch-lights that the men held.
Julius was on the ground, muttering some inaudible words in a shaky voice, his hands over his head. The torchlight that was earlier with him was now somewhere on the ground, pointing away from Izy to the other man who stood his ground and had his own torchlight still pointed at the scared boy.
The sound came again and again. It dawned on them that it was probably children throwing bangers. That last one was a triple-sound banger.
The other man was obviously the tougher of the two for he did not even move from where he stood. He looked at Julius who was now raising his head slowly and shouted some words to him in a strange language that Izy was not familiar with. Julius answered him, looking sober and finally stood up as he picked up his own torchlight.
While that happened, Izy slowly lifted his left hand to his neck, that spot where he felt the movement, he touched something hard there. He quickly removed it and threw it on the floor. It was a beetle. Phew! A harmless beetle.
Due to this relief Izy began to smile. And his smile graduated to chuckles.
Julius, thinking the boy was laughing at his cowardly act spoke angrily. “Why the laughing? Ehn?”
Izy’s countenance changed immediately. He was not even given a chance to answer.
“What are funny in the matter?”
There was silence.
All of a sudden it was too much for Izy. He couldn’t bear it anymore. He suddenly sat on the ground and started crying.
The tougher one of the two men began to laugh. And said, “When person don catch una, na that time una sabi cry.”
If only the ground would open up and just…just… Izy didn’t quite know what the ground would open up for. He sure did not want to be swallowed by it and he was not that heartless to wish for both men to be swallowed either.
The tougher man then asked the now sobbing boy, “Wetin you dey do for there before before?”
Finally, Izy thought, a chance to explain.
Oh! No chance to explain himself again. He got up and was pushed towards the place he stood before it all started; the place that put him in trouble.
The tougher man focused his torchlight on the spot and saw a small hole with a black substance peeping. He moved closer.
“Wetin dey for the lylon?”
“I don’t know!” Izy said as he raised both hands. Why would he ask that type of question if he was the one who put it there? Or was he not?
This time it was Julius that spoke. “See this boy o. you think say we dey play?”
The tougher man then took a step and bent to pick a stick which he used to open the container in the hole. All the while, Julius’ torchlight was still on Izy.
The three stretched their necks to see what was in the hole. Izy especially wanted to know if the content was at least worth his torture so far, but from his viewpoint he was not able to see the contents.
To establish Julius’ dumbness he yelled, more in excitement than shock, “Ah! Gold!”
The tougher man hit Julius with the stick in his hand. “Sharrap!”
Gold!? Izy had no idea what to do. It was definitely stolen goods. No one would keep their own gold in this kind of place.
Then the tougher man faced the boy. “You be thief and we go carry you go station now.”
Izy was in between the two men as they journeyed out of the school compound. The tougher man held him by the arm while Julius carried the gold- as evidence.
It was with tears in his eyes that Izy continued to explain what really happened to the two men, though it seemed they were not listening. He kept talking all the same.
By the time they were a little distance from the school, Izy had told his story thrice. The tougher man then stopped and looked deep into the crying boy’s eyes with the light source he held.
“You sure? U no dey lie?”
“Yes I am sure. I’m not lying sir.”
Julius looked confused. What was this all about? Were they not supposed to take him to the police station? At least as vigilantes that was the right thing to do.
The tougher man looked squint-eyed at the boy, as if trying to see the truth from his eyes. He then thought of something- a plan that would leave everyone happy.
“So if I say make you go now you go go?”
“You no go wan collect the gold?”
“The gold? No sir. I don’t own it so I don’t want it. I just want my freedom.”
The man smiled satisfactorily. “Go.”
“What?” Julius shouted.
“Sir?” Izy asked at the same time.
“I say make you go. No look back o. And any day I see your face for this place again…”
Izy took to his heels.
Julius faced his partner. “Wetin you do da one for na? Why you go say make the boy go like that?”
“The boy dey talk true. And na free gift from God be this- if you no need money me I need am. Make we find as we go take sell the tin sharp sharp.”
Julius was not totally against the idea. “Na true sef. My children go resume school next week.”
They both walked away.
BY: AWOTIDE DAMILOLA (Olori)