TALE OF A FELLOW (1)
By: DAMILOLA AWOTIDE
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.
By: AWOTIDE DAMILOLA