Sunday, March 6, 2011
Excerpt from Chioma Sylvie Mgbaramuko’s Oja!
…Shola! Shola! The sound of my name banged in my ear like a cheap Christmas banger. Nkechi’s voice resounded in my ear, like what Ma’mi usually call microphone voice. It can never be subdued, not even in the drone of street noise. I jumped up from the long wooden bench that has become light from age, ‘Nkechi, what is it this time?’ I asked. The sweat on her face shone like glitters but could not hide the worried look she had on. ‘what is it?’ I asked again, this time I nudged her to tell me. ‘dem dey beat Femi’ she rasped quickly, her flair skirt swung around as she spoke. Gbenga who ran in almost immediately with Nkechi , squatted on the floor to catch his breath. I turned to him and tapped him to get up and seat on the light bench, he must have been running from the market place.
Although, the story was different this time, it sounded the same. Femi either stole or was accused of stealing, and he never owned up to any. He would later be arrested and Ma’mi would unfold squeezed ten and twenty naira notes that she had realized from her petty trade to bail Femi.
Today will not be different.
In the evening, Ma’mi and Femi returned from the Police Station, it was like a reunion because for the first time in many months, Femi did not leave the house that night for his usual smoking spree with his gang. Ma’mi managed to buy a derica of rice, two cubes of maggi star and ata gigun for supper. I had lost appetite and could not scrape the bottom of the pot for the sweetest part of the orange rice. I wondered why we were celebrating, we usually had rice meals on important days and sometimes, when Ma’mi made enough sales, but not at night or today that most of the money she realized went to the police. I searched Femi’s face in the semi-lit room for any concern, may be remorse. But there was none, his face was empty and plain. He ate his rice quietly at the corner of the room close to our aged Sharp TV. After the meal, Ma’mi cleaned the wounds on his face and arm with a piece of cloth and warm water.