This is a story of a regular guy in Enugu. No, his real name is not Ciroma Chukwuma Adekunle, of course. But I chose to name him after the timeless WAEC candidate just to hide his real identity. The guy is a hot-tempered punk, an ex-boxer and he knows the route I take to and fro work. See, if I can’t be handsomer let me at least remain as ugly as I am, with my face in one piece. So, let him remain Ciroma Chukwuma Adekunle.
Ciroma woke up last Thursday sick of life. He has employment, something his former colleagues in the university and relations tell him he should be grateful for. But they don’t know the cost of living in Enugu, feeding, paying rent and bills of his one-room self-contained apartment, taking care of his car, sending money home etc. He is usually broke before the end of the month; he has plans for business that would compliment his income but is yet to save for it, in fact, he saves nothing. To cut cost, he has stopped driving his car to work, and has given up breakfast entirely and has cut his phone calls by three-quarter (now if you flash him he would flash you back two times (no shame, thank you!)). Still he sometimes wakes up, thinking the worst of himself. Last Thursday was one of such.
Like most extremely economic white-collar people in Enugu, Ciroma Chukwuma Adekunle lives in Abakpa Nike and works in New Independence Layout. His apartment is located in the last floor of a three-storey block that had seen better days. But that is not the reason he hates this compound; he hates here because there are too much families for comfort. Too many wrapper-tying housewives and thousands of wailing dirty children. Adekunle wouldn’t have minded except that this battalion of children poise serious threat to his car. He had to handpick one of them, the dirtiest, biggest, angriest urchin, and pay him 100 naira per week to guard his car from mutilation while he, Chukwuma, is away at work. The other day, the little greedy bastard said something about a raise!
There was no electric power when Chukwuma woke up, which meant he couldn’t warm water for tea nor iron his best shirt. He had to settle for his third best shirt. But he was moderately happy that the lack of power had saved him breakfast. It is part of the austerity measure, skipping stinking breakfast. So he left for work. He walked down the stairs with extreme care to avoid falling over the wet stairs made so by his neigbours fetching water. Sometimes he was sure the idiots throw half of their buckets of water on the floor just so as to irritate him.
At the end of the stairs, Ciroma remembered to his dismay that he left his wallet in his room. He began to rush back upstairs, slipping twice and only held himself from falling by clutching the mucus-infested rail. Twice, too, he had to refrain from throwing some brainless child out of the case for being too slow to make way for the charging bull. He cursed them. By the time he returned to his room and back to the ground, he was out of breath. He is unfit, he knows, and has failed to maintain a fitness routine, shameful. But today wasn’t the time to mourn his fitness shortcoming. He—he stopped short. On top of his Toyoto was a raffia tray of onions!
‘What the fu…! Who put this nonsense on my car?’
No answer. Boiling, he made for the tray and grabbed it. The smell of half-putriding onions hit him like a blow in the nose. ‘Leave my onions for me!’ The voice struck him like an electric heater. He turned and looked at the woman, she wasn’t more than twenty-seven or eight but she must have given birth to thirteen kids, by the look of her skinny, bleached skin which reminded him of guga that people use to fetch water from wells in the north. She was wearing a dirty Chelsea jersey over her husband’s oversized jeans trousers.
‘My car is not a roof for drying rubbish.’
‘It is you that is rubbish. It is you. What do you call a car, this useless, stupid anakilija? You are not ashamed. Car owner indeed. Oya, drive your car make we see! Nonsense.’
‘Look at this woman o, so you cuss me for abusing my car…?’
‘Why won’t I curse you? Because of your useless car you abuse my onion. Idiot, bastard like you. Gimme my onion.’ She snatched the tray from him that he had been holding like a birthday cake. ‘Nonsense bastard. Why don’t you marry and raise your family and feed them with imported onions. Ashawo fucker like you. One minute one. Hopeless pretender. Asshole!’
Ciroma Chukwuma Adekunle was tongue-tied. Imagine this useless woman that is below his standard by age, education, economy, common sense etc, abusing the hell out of him because an idiot put a ring in her fourth finger? Because she is married and raising a football team she cannot feed, she now has immunity against the backhand slap that cures everything from malaria to diarrhoea of the mouth. The idiot husband could hear this, plus the ass neigbours, but they wouldn’t stop her, restrain the mad cow until he beat then they would come out and open their toilets and scream ‘you beat a married woman!’
Chukwuma let it pass and began to leave but the mad dog still had a few more round of ammunition to throw. ‘Bastard. Look at his k-legs. Bad luck is your portion forever. It will never be well with your generation…’
So much poison from one hole. By the time Adekunle got to the bus-stop, he was shaking with suppressed rage. The bus stop was unduly crowded with students, market women, business people and evil forces. He stood a mile from the stinking crowd and nursed his shattered ego. Buses for Old Park, New Layout, Emene continually came and went. Let them go, he reasoned, and break their necks, he wished.
But he had to get to work, someday, so when a New Independence bus came to a stop right in front of him, he had no choice, but no sooner had he stepped into the bus that a the dirty crowd rushed to board the bus. He hopped in and settled down and wouldn’t have cared one way if they all broke their ugly waists. But someone stepped on his shoe and he hit the leg a quick slap. A girl cried out.
‘You are wicked…’
‘You stepped on my fucking shoe!’
‘And so what?’ The girl, a tiny creature of twenty or so, got down. She was wearing a small skirt that could have been sown from a handkerchief. She would have been beautiful but for her large mouth. ‘You are a bastard,’ she roared. He would have got down and beaten daylight out of her but two passengers and the conductor were between him and the insult-venting machine. She fired. ‘Look at him, dirty pig. Animal of the lowest order. Origin of bursted condom. Your mother is a prostitute, your father is an armed robber and you a terrorists.’ Etc. She said many unprintable things, and Ciroma had no earphones to cover his ears, nor a knife to cut off his ears, anything to stop the flood. The useless driver refused to drive off, waiting for one passenger to complete the gang, and Ciroma kept being butchered. By the time the driver drove away, Ciroma felt and smelt like shit. This life!
It was a robotic CC Adekunle who got down from the bus in the bus stop. He crossed the road and made for the plaza housing his lousy company. The uniformed gate man was late in lifting the rope to swing the barrier pole up for him to pass. In a normal day the man, middle-age, hungry and greying, would leave the pole swung up at this time or lift it two good seconds before he approached. But today he moved in snail motion to the barrier, keeping Ciroma waiting. In truth, Ciroma could have lifted the barrrier himself and pass but he if he bothered he would no longer be a second class lower graduate of University of Benin. ‘My frien’ hurry up.’ Ciroma hissed.
‘Can’t you lift ordinary pole up.’ The man shot.
‘Why should I do your fucking job for you? If I were in my car will you expect me to get down raise the pole?’ He passed.
‘My friend carry your bad luck de go.’
‘It’s your father who has bad luck not me.’
‘Hehe. But I thank God I have a father. You nko? You are a bastard. Your mother is a village toilet and you are from a village toilet. Idiot, useless nonsensical. E shall never be well with you. Disease will kill you. Armed robbers will cripple you. Boko Haram will kidnap you and burn you alive in your car. Bastard, bombastic element… Come and fight me na. Bagger!’
And Adekunle was tempted to fight him, but even an angry Adekunle knows you can’t fight in your office. He would be fired and then his enemies will rejoice. But he would curse as much as he can.
‘Purrrr-purrrr!’ A car honked. Chukwuma stepped away as the car came in. Then he began very deflated and sapped of any energy to fight. He just turned and began to walk to his office. Three people have called him bastard this morning, perhaps it was time to have a long conversation with his mother. ‘Come and fight na,’ the gateman called. ‘Useless scallywag. Lucifer!’
I must stop here. This is only a morning in the life of Ciroma Chukwuma Adekunle and this is supposed to be about a full day. Yes, but I cannot go beyond this; I cannot talk about the whole day, because if I do Chukwuma will know I am referring to him, and, remember, he has hot temper and knows the route I take to and fro work. If I cannot become handsomer, let me, at least, remain as ugly as I am. I insist. Provoking a hot-tempered ex-boxer is not my idea of literature.
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