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|Danfo Blues by Hidentity(m): 4:23pm On May 22, 2017|
DANFO BLUES- MY PEEP INTO A GHETTO
You were born in Nigeria, the giant of Africa. Here, I am not talking about those born in the American part of Nigeria. You are introduced to the street early, because if you don't run, you will get trampled upon. I do not mean the stroll through the streets of Dubai or walking your dog down a boulevard in Banana island. As a matter of convention, you find yourself struggling to solve the mathematical puzzle before you on your frail mat. It is the assignment given to you by that same man- the man who swore by one of those illiterate gods that death is the only excuse for not doing his assignment. You see the 25 deities of sleep appealing and appeasing to your already heavy eyes to succumb to their pleas, then you doze, but it won't last, with your type of dreams, sleep is a crime. You wake again, your smoking lantern is dead. You rise, tiptoes in the dark without a clear view of anything as you manage to locate the door handle. 'Whew...' You sigh at the welcoming hands of the cold breeze outside. For once, you feel there is nothing comparable to the cool breeze even though, you've not savored the wonders of a quality air conditioner. Then, you remember the magnificence of God and a smile spreads over your rough face. Actually, you are an ingrate, but circumstance has changed people more than sermon has. So, under the moonlight, you open your History assignment book again and reads through the question that makes you blank. It is like coming face to face with a dinosaur. And so it goes thus 'assuming without conceding that the culpability of an African slave in the colonial era is legible from his demeanor, what is the directional relevance of a Colonial master's whip when such slave wears a cheap coat of remorse?' You flip to the front cover and then you hiss, sigh, swear and mutter something that 'mad' teacher must not hear. Then, you pick your pen, in an expensive fashion of nonchalance, you just want to write something in the answer space, then the pen makes only an invisible line... Your pen is dead!
Some years later, you became the man you wanted to be but living the life you feared to live. Few thousands on your table, you smile and nod. It is your pay day and your wife, mama junior must ensure that she takes you and junior on a trip to Dubai even without visa. It is easy- you will pay her to buy fish, meat, chicken, turkey, snail and then make a remix with other deceitful meal that will make your one room and a parlour look like Sheraton. Then, you call out for her, but almost eight voices reply, the association of people you are indebted to- the provision seller, the electrician, the lady who sells recharge cards, the man at the beer parlour, the brother that borrowed you some thousands from the fund raised in your church, and even Lateef, your Landlord. In twos and threes, they enter, but it is too late for you to hide the fruit of your labour as a local history teacher. They all see the money divided with the motive firmly rooted in your defaulting head. They charge at you and make away with everything. Meanwhile, they are still waiting to be bought- the fish, meat, turkey, cray fish and all those delicacies that would stimulate a Dubai dream. They will be bought, but not by you. Life is not a carpet of grasses for you, let alone a bed of roses. Besides, some vegetable are so great that they need no seasoning, let alone meat.
Before mama Junior could finish bathing in preparation for market, the legal robbers were done and gone. Then when she enters, dazzling with a shopping basket in her hand, you manage a smile and questions 'will the garri be okay for junior tonight?' The disappointment is perfectly seen on her face, but you are lucky, she is one of the few women who mean it when they say 'come rain and shine.' She nods and walks back through the direction she came.
You need comfort, you need a new life, you need a new environment, you fought to be a man, you are still fighting as a man. Something has to be done... You stand up, picks up your little radio and tune it, but it dawns on you that Abusgar, the radio repairer had told Junior to give it back to you because you could not pay the money to replace the damaged part for three weeks. You stare at the calendar hanging directly before you. One will think that you are trying to figure out a date to take a bigger step, but the calendar is a 1979 one- poverty has made you a good record keeper.
At home, you're clueless, even when you have all the respect your sorry ass doesn't deserve, you still feel you're as useless as a watch on the wrist of a blind man. So, you are desperate to make a point.
So, you want something romantic and affordable. Those young men at the barber's shop are sharing valentine ideas, and your ears steal a few of their ideas which you feel you can use. You are a thief, it is a copyright offence to steal a romantic idea of people far younger than you, but who will sue your sorry ass? On the strength of their assurance that it will wow mama junior, you step in the mall to purchase a bouquet, a medium container of scented oil, scented coloured candle and a greeting card upon which untrue words about how you see mama junior were inscribed. It goes thus: My winter and summer lies in your eyes, your grip affords me the holiday spot the most affluent will die struggling for.
When you hear the amount the bouquet will cost you, you take three steps back. You stare regrettably at the scented oil you already purchased and sincerely remembered getting vegetable and preparing same will feed the family. After all, you cannot eat bouquet. But you will force it- it is your first shot at being romantic, and you must give it your all. You grab a cheap bouquet and steps out whistling "olo mi jowo" by Ebenezer Obey. That is the only album on your dusty shelf.
You get home and your calculations are right. Mama junior has gone to the sawmill to fetch sawdust for sale. It is an avenue to put the room in order and give her a treat. You call Junior, reminds him he will sleep alone in the parlour because there is going to be an adult retreat between you and his mum, and heaven forbids that he witnesses such. He is a compliant boy, he is configured with the kind of obedience your pear-shaped head didn't have as a kid. He moves his urine baptized mat and steps out. As usual, he did not ask for dinner, you have brought him up using the manual of poverty life affords you.
You grab the broom, removes the bed spread. In shock, they scatter - the committee of poor bedbugs sharing the bed with you. You run towards the lantern to fetch kerosene to rid them, but when you shake the lantern, grains of sand jingle to tell you they are the heirs of the kerosene exhausted 7 days back. So, you stand as you watch the bedbugs move to their IDB (Internally Displaced Bugs) camp under your cupboard.
Soon enough, the neighbour from whose generator you tap power starts the generator. The old bulb in your room blinks and comes to life, then the fan you inherited from Kolade roars to life. It makes more noise than the air it blows. You lay the bed, places the bouquet and the card on it. You light the candle and smile at the scent it introduces. Your home feels like the paradise you have seen in Jehovah witnesses' Awake manual.
Then, you hear her greeting the neighbour at the next house. You pick the container of scented oil on the table and runs out. You take the sack of sawdust from her head and takes it to the backyard as she follows, feeling the love she never felt in 11 years with you. Then you face her, requests that she lists what she will need for a good shower and that you will get it. She is dazed, but you insist you don't want her to go inside yet for a purpose. She concedes. You fetch her water and brings her old wrapper to the only bathroom shared by you and the remaining 13 occupants. She walks in wondering what you are up to. In few minutes, she was done. You want to be romantic, and this is your chance. You want to steal a match, here is the joker.
You pick one of junior's pair of socks and use it as blindfold as you lead mama junior from the bathroom to your cubicle called parlour. She can hear your son snoring to fate on an empty stomach. You lead her to the bedroom and a choir of great scent from the candle sing a welcome song. She is starting to feel like a queen. You remove the blindfold, she is greeted by the beautiful, but cheap bouquet and the card with the mind-blowing words. She looks into your eyes and tears form in her eyes... Gently, you lead her to the bed, brings out your jar of oil like a Celestial pastor ready to deliver an expert lunatic. Just as droplets of oil touch her back and you set for your unsolicited massage, you hear the neighbour's generator cough for fuel... It confirms your fear as it goes off, while your disloyal fan and bulb go off in consequence. As usual, the gods of unbearable heat gather in your room, but she wants you to get the credit, she still lies there embracing your massage in the heat. Then they arrive with their sonorous music, the cursed mosquitoes in your neighborhood. One takes a bite at your neck to confirm your edibility to the rest. " Yuck", it says to the rest after tasting of your substandard blood. But they are hungry, so they mob you. You groan, it is the same time the bedbugs return to feast on mama junior too. Outside, the thunder claps and the first rain breeze blows off the candle. You sigh and gives up, it will go like the usual- you will just come and sleep. You pick the card and makes a hand fan of it, mama junior jumps up the bed in disappointment and picks up the last tuber of yam. Then you ask: You can still cook yam tonight? Yes, we can take it as breakfast tomorrow, she replies. 'Come take this oil, we can fry the yam instead.' She walk towards you as you surrender the jar of what was meant to be a scented romantic oil.
Tomorrow is another day, you will feel happy when you listen to blues. You love them and you know where to get them. But your own blues are different- they are the lamentations of people in worse situations, and you will always hear them anytime you board one of those danfo on your way home.
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