Archive for the ‘Talesmen Series’ Category

toaf6

 

 

 

 

 

(5)

There was Christmas light everywhere inside the church and outside too. It was a beautiful sight. The people were so excited as they danced with a little more effort, prayed more vigorously and a lot of them came out to share one testimony or the other. Offering was taken several times; thanksgiving offering, worship offering, end-of-the-year offering, dedication offering and tithe. The offering baskets were full of envelopes with money in them (hopefully).

Iya Zacchaeus danced like never before during the praise and worship session and especially during child dedication session.

Izy wondered what manner of faith that was- dancing even when she had no child of her own. He however joined the people in whatever they did. When they danced, he danced, when they shouted, he shouted, when they kept quiet to listen, he did too. The way of the people amazed him- it was his first time in a church service, though he had slept in churches before.

The most interesting thing about the people was that as soon as the man on the altar started talking, some of them began to doze. Just to think that most of those dozing were actually the ones who danced and shouted the most. Izy could not help but smile- what a funny lot. And there were some people who did not sit when others sat- they went about waking the dozers.

After a while, the people were on their feet shouting and dancing again and suddenly there was a loud shout.

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

Izy looked at the wall clock- 12:00 o’clock midnight.

“Happy New Year!” Izy yelled.

Everybody hugged somebody. Even Izy received few hugs, despite his unclean state. How he wished everyday was a New Year.

 

Hours after church service (2013)

Iya Zacchaeus invited Izy to her house- not to live, but to offer him a chance to feed himself. There was always a New Year party at her house; family house to be precise, so she wanted Izy to help in the chores that they usually had to employ people for. At least that would guarantee food for him for a while after he got his pay.

The cooking started and the air was filled with so much aroma. The women were all talking at once as they cooked, the children were running around squealing and giggling while the men were gathered in a small circle, just talking.

Izy was seated not far from where the women were cooking just in case he was needed for an errand. He had already fetched five big bowls of water from a not-too-far distance.

Suddenly the children ran towards the open gate, into a tall dark man who carried a small bag on his left shoulder.

“Uncle, Uncle!” they screamed.

Iya Zacchaeus walked up to him and hugged him. That was definitely her husband who had come from Jos.

Izy was called upon to get another bowl of water. On his way back he saw Iya Zacchaeus and her husband outside the gate- it seemed like they were quarrelling over something. Izy thought it was too early; not even an hour yet and they were already quarrelling!

He pretended like he did not see them and went in. just as he stepped into the house he heard his name.

“Izy.”

It came from behind him. He turned completely with the bowl of water on his head. It was Iya Zacchaeus.

“Izy, my husband is mad at me because I brought you here. He wants you to leave. I am so sorry.”

Izy was still trying to comprehend the meaning of her words when she continued.

“He does not trust young boys, especially those that are not traceable to anyone, just in the advent of something bad happening. I am sorry dear. But I will give you money for the work done so far.” She said as she brought some notes from her purse and put it into the stunned boy’s pocket. Then she went back out of the gate to her waiting husband.

Izy walked to where the women were cooking to deliver the water to them. He was wondering why, why and why. Why did bad things always take away the good things from him? Why? For a moment there he even thought he was an extension of the big family.

what happened next was inevitable. It happened so fast- he saw the running little girl a second too late. She was running while looking over her head and did not see the boy with the bowl on his head. In a flash there was a collision and since Izy’s mind was roaming, he could not save either the child, the bowl of water or himself.

In a bid to minimize impact of his fall on the child, Izy threw the bowl further from him. Some of the water escaped into the pot of soup that two women just carried to a corner, for safety. As much as he tried, Izy still fell on the little girl- her arm got bruised, her white dress got dirty and her loose tooth fell out, gum bleeding.

BY: DAMILOLA AWOTIDE (OLORI)

#Talesmen

Advertisements

toaf4

 

 

 

 

 

(4)

Hello hello. Today’s story is dedicated to one of my friends and reader of my blog who was posted to Jos for Youth Service. Safe trip down tomorrow.

Back to our Izy…

Izy ran as fast as he could. He made sure he did not go straight ahead by running through streets- just in case the men changed their minds. He did not stop until he was far away from the ‘crime scene’.

Three hours later (Still New Year’s Eve. 2012)

Since it seemed the two men were not coming after him after all, Izy came out from behind the big tree he was hiding and set to find a place to lay his head for the night. At least a fellow needed a good place to sleep so as to wake up happy the next day- New Year.

The shop owners in this area were now more security conscious as there was not one shop that did not have iron bars properly fixed in the front. This was going to be harder than Izy thought. Is a place to lay too much for a fellow to ask?

After walking a little more distance, he saw a big church that was open. There was light all around the church building and it made the place look beautiful. Izy walked happily towards the church, knowing this was definitely his refuge for the night and thinking how pleasant it was to have to wake up to a new year in a church.

Two women were standing near the church door, contemplating on one issue or the other when one of them sighted the dirty-looking boy moving towards them.

The fatter of the two said, “Iya Zacchaeus, na wa for the kind of people that you see in church for cross-over night services.”

Iya Zacchaeus replied. “I tell you o! See how this dirty riffraff will come into the church and sit beside people like us. All in the name of love your neighbour as yourself.”

They kept quiet as Izy reached them. Though he heard some of their conversation, he did not care; after all it was their mouth and energy.

“Good evening.” He said as he smiled.

Iya Zacchaeus felt a pang of guilt instantly. Look at the boy they were just gossiping about- the way he smiled at them innocently not knowing whatever they said, if ever they even said anything about him.

“Please ma,” he faced the fatter woman. “Can I get a place to sleep here? I am homeless. It’s just for tonight ma.”

The fatter woman only hissed in reply and walked into the church where some people were already seated, some sleeping, all waiting before the service started.

Izy looked at Iya Zacchaeus questioningly.

She held Izy by the hand and took him through the back of the church to where her car was packed. She opened the back seat and brought out a loaf of bread that she had kept for her husband who was still on his way from Jos. She made a mental note to get another loaf from those selling not far from the church. Then she noticed the boy was a bit reluctant and he had this mixed feeling look.

Of course! He had to be reluctant. What sort of niceness was this? What a turnaround! One minute saying bad stuffs about him the next dragging him down here and handing bread to him. Not just bread- a whole loaf!

She then smiled and said, “I can see that you are hungry and tired. Eat this first then I show you where you can sleep.”

What’s the fuss about anyway? Izy thought. He was hungry now that he saw the bread. Might as well just take it and eat to wake up happy in 2013.

“Don’t be afraid boy. I can’t hurt you.”

He took the loaf and started eating as soon as it touched his hands. The kind woman went away for a while and returned with a bottle of water which she handed to him.

“Thank you ma.”

She went away again and came back just as Izy finished the bread. She smiled at him and he smiled back, contentedly.

“I hope you are alright now?”

“Yes ma. Thank you so much. Why are you so kind to me? No one has ever been this nice to me in my entire life.”

This sobered Iya Zacchaeus up a bit. Nicest thing? A loaf of bread and bottle of water?

She smiled again. “I like to be nice to young people so God will bless me too with a young one.”

And right there by her car, Iya Zacchaeus told Izy how she had been married for ten years with no children. And how she was tagged ‘Iya Zacchaeus’ since the day she taught about Zaccheus in the Bible during one of their Bible study sessions. She also learnt that Izy did not know his parents, but that he was told by the woman who brought him up that his mother left him with her, said she just wanted to buy something at the market but never returned. So he ran away at the age of ten when he could not bear the cruelty of the woman and her children anymore.

Then the bell was rung inside the church to announce the start of the cross over service for 2012/2013.

 

BY: AWOTIDE DAMILOLA (Olori)

#TALESMEN

toaf7
(3)
Hello there. Just want to tell you (by popular demand) that Izy’s story will be a Sunday series. Hope you enjoy.

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.
“Stand up!”
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?”
“Yes sir.”

“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)
#TALESMEN

Izy...the fellow
(2)
Izy noticed that just in the space of a year things had changed. Most shops and the spaces outside them were now burglar-proof, all complexes that had free and open entrances before were now fenced and had gates, the eateries and restaurants that used to supply daily meal for Izy and other fellows like him were either no more functioning or now charging an amount for the left-over foods. It was more difficult for Izy to get a place to lie at night and something to put in his stomach.

New Year’s Eve (2012)
Izy was at the school; that self-same school where the most interesting event of his life took place. At least some things had not changed- the school still had no fence or gate. He stood at the spot he thought to be where he stood that day while waiting for the goodies to reach him (after he had asked the woman with two children what was happening there).
He walked away from the spot with thoughts of the woman and her hungry-looking children in his mind. Well, he just hoped they were better off than him.
While touring, Izy sighted some movement at the far end of the school. It looked like someone was doing something they should not be doing there, for the person was looking sideways hurriedly while doing whatever it was that was been done. And since the school was not fenced, there was a lot of thicket at that far part and Izy could only see the person’s back which made it difficult to say if it was a man or woman.

To avoid been seen, Izy hid in one of the classrooms that had a window overlooking that part of the school and he watched carefully. After a short while, the person stood up from a squatting position and looked all around again. Then Izy saw the person walk away, trying not to run but at the same time not going for a stroll.
The person had to walk by the classroom Izy was hiding, to get out of the school environment. Izy quickly bent as low as he could to remain undetected, but raised his head a bit to see if he could catch a glimpse of the unknown one. He however was a split second late for it was only the side of the passing figure that he saw- the person already walked past Izy’s eye range. Going towards the classroom door to peep would definitely be a giveaway. So he decided to wait till he was certain the person would have gone far away.
After waiting for what seemed like five decades to Izy, he got up and went out of his hideout, stretching his legs and arms. It was already getting dark. Judging by the setting sun it was probably about six o’ clock, maybe some minutes after six. Anyway, Izy had a greater concern for the satisfaction of his curiosity than what time it was. So he walked to the deed point, looking around and especially behind him as he went.

When he got to the place he looked behind one more time before squinting to observe what happened there. Carefully, he used his hands to part the overgrown weed close to him and saw a mound of freshly dug sand. He squatted to observe closely.
He was thinking of leaving the spot and ignoring whatever it was, but he just couldn’t do it. He could not help but satisfy his curious mind. So he looked behind him again to confirm he was still alone and not watched before he started putting the sand away. It was really getting dark and Izy could barely see what was in the shallow hole after he was done putting the sand away. He put his hand in the hole to feel the substance- it made a nylon-like sound. He then felt what was inside without opening the container.

“Hey! You for there!”
A very bright light suddenly came on, straight into his eyes, and that was all Izy could see. Oh no! It was not going to be funny if that was the person whose property he was prying.
“Who you be? Wetin you dey do for there? Who you dey find?” the man bombarded the poor boy with questions, leaving him confused on the one to answer first.
Izy started walking towards the man as he wanted to explain what he was doing there.
“Stop there!” The man shouted, swinging the source of light in his hand as a warning sign.

Izy was scared. He didn’t even know who the person was and how to address him. The man made sure the bright light was on the scared-looking boy.
“I say wetin you dey do for there?” He asked again and did not wait for the boy to answer before he shouted, “Julius come o!”
Izy knew then that he was officially in trouble. So there were two of them? Or even more? He knew he had to do something fast.
He swerved to the left, the light followed
He swerved to the right, the light followed again, as quickly as possible.
Izy could hear footsteps from behind the light. He couldn’t see though; the light was blinding. That should be Julius.

There was silence for a while
Then things happened so fast and at the same time.
“Uncle Julius let me explain wha-” Izy said, cut off by the sound of a cocking gun.
A ‘bang’ sounded from somewhere not too far.
Izy felt movement on his neck. He swallowed hard. He was too scared to even cringe.

BY: AWOTIDE DAMILOLA (Olori)
#Talesmen Literature

toaf 1

Christmas Day (2012)
He was sad.
He would be released in two days’ time.
He was sad.
Most inmates would be glad to leave the shabby, godforsaken place that Izy had made home, but not him. He had come to make the stinking place his haven, his place of rest and family home.
In his mind he had two brothers, many cousins and a grandfather. All these people were in the same prison cell with him.

His ‘grandpa’ was an unrepentant thief who still stole- or ‘acquired’ things from others right there in the cell and when they went out for their duties in the prison premises. His ‘brothers’ were actually real life brothers that conspired to use their mother for rituals to become rich, but got caught while trying to bury her remains in the market square! Most of his ‘cousins’ were petty thieves, armed robbers and his favourite was the one who tried to commit suicide by jumping off a three-storey building but ended up landing on another man who died from injuries of the accident.
Izy’s life was perfect and complete in the prison cell. He had never had so much fun in one year like he had daily with these people.
The daily provision of food was awesome! Despite that one of Izy’s ‘cousins’ was a spoiled child and always had something bad to say about his food.
About a year ago (2011)
“Gerrout from hia! Yidiot!” The owner of the shop yelled, shooing the scared looking boy away with the head tie of her Ankara. She was definitely a Muslim as her gold teeth showed with each word.

Izy did not expect to be awoken that early- he did not expect to be woken at all this day. He slept late because he could not get a lying point on time. Almost all the shops closed quite late- much late than usual as it was the day before Christmas. He chose this particular shop as his lying point for that night because he wanted to wake up on Christmas day on bare soil- at least Jesus was born in a manger. So it was like his own sign of humility. Not that he had any choice than to be humble though.
He was a tall, cheerful sixteen year old that looked neater and more lively than most of his homeless fellows.
Izy was homeless, but not hopeless. He knew he should be happy and not sad. He always found places to sleep; in front of locked shops, shopping complexes and sometimes if he was not caught, he had the whole stadium to himself.

New Year’s Eve (2011)
Izy was hungry. It had not been a great day so far as he did not get to any of his usual eateries on time to pick up food for his ‘dog’. Other of his fellows must have been there before him and taken ‘home’ to their ‘dogs’.
He was hungry and thinking hard- what next now?
In his search for what to give his ‘dog’(his belly), he saw a group of people gathered in front of the fenceless government school where he had slept twice before he was caught. Then he saw big cars, more like pickup cars with a lot of food items and some clothes.
Wide- eyed he walked hurriedly into the school and tapped a young man on his shoulder to make inquiries.

“Abeg who be this?” The young man said and shrugged him off.
Izy moved closer to the section where the women were gathered. He sighted a woman with one child at her back and one in her arms. Women were more compassionate, he thought.
“Excuse me ma. What is happening here?” He asked, expecting her to be more responsive.
“Oh it’s the local government that brought relief materials for those of us that were affected by the flood of three months ago.”
Izy remembered the flood well; it was big good news for him and his kind. Though he was resident (during the day in the town’s many markets and at night outside a big provision store) in a nearby town at that time, he relocated there when he heard that the State government had made arrangement for relief materials to be brought to the affected locals.
And there he was, there he had been since a week after the flood and three months later, the materials were finally brought. Anyway, who had the guts to query government for just bringing them? Apparently no one wanted to not be given something, no matter how small.

Few hours later (Still 2011)
“According to eye witnesses, the alleged culprit was said to have snuck up on the mother of two after she was handed her own materials and tried to get away with some of her stuff while she was not looking. This is OMG news coming to you live. More stories after the break.”
The school premise was filled with journalists who had no better news to cover. Many were taking pictures of the woman- mother of two that was the supposed victim, some were asking around for questions and only a few cared to know what happened from the culprit boy. These few however were not given access to question the boy who was seated at the back of a police car not far away.
Izy was still hungry.

He had already forgiven the woman- she was probably a fellow like him; homeless and very hungry. And she had two children with her for that matter. It was just a means of adding to her portion. So he forgave her in his heart for shouting “thief” when he was about to leave with his own portion of the materials shared.
The crowd had not only come after him, they also gave his portion to the woman and were ready to strip him naked when the security men there intervened and later handed him over to the police.
When the lady that was giving out the materials to the people was asked if she remembered giving the boy (Izy) anything, she was too tired and only yelled, “How many people do you want me to remember?”
Izy was therefore taken to the police station and left in a cell that would later become his home. And because he had no family, friends or lawyer, he could not be bailed or fought for, especially when it was only his word he had to prove his innocence.

Day of release (2012)
Izy cried as he was let out of the place he had come to terms with as his home for almost a year. The other prisoners were wondering if it was tears of joy.

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the written permission of the publishers.

BY: AWOTIDE DAMILOLA
(Talesmen)