Dirty Hands in A Jam (H. Waswa)

I couldn’t tell what colour her skin was due to the tons of makeup that complemented her not-so-fair face. Funny, I could tell the colour of her thighs though. She struggled to make me not see but despite her efforts to pull that mini-whatever down, I still got a glimpse of them goodies.

Traffic jam at a peak hour.
Traffic jam at a peak hour.

I don’t know why things in the city are done much differently from the normal way things should be done. By normal I mean something the village way. Ever since I set foot in this big city, I have known no peace. What with the hooting and honking of vehicles implying the end times? And have I told you about the jams? I hear the jams on the roads to the west of this city are unfathomable, everyone possibly owns a ride in those parts I think. The ones I am much well versed with are the jams on these roads leading from the central and western parts. There are no southern, neither the northern and thus you get the point Eastlando. Nice places indeed, Eastlands. But again the worst if you ask those used to the other parts.

Well, I personally don’t like the Westerners. I think they lack manners completely. How do you explain them coming to the eastern sides dressed like sons of kings with those big phones  that are bigger than their palms, and still expect someone dressed in torn….wait a minute. That’s not even dressing. They expect someone wrapped, for that is the word, wrapped in sheets, to look at them and appreciate them. This is a society of the have-nots. And the haves ought to humble when venturing in this society, just like we do when washing their toilets, guarding their premises and even asking for our meagre wages from them. It’s called breaking the imbalance in the society.

And why do they even come to these sides? I guess they too have eastern friends and think it best to come and have the feeling of a poor soul. Or eat some obusuma cooked from floor milled in a posho-mill and not in those millers at Unga House. I hear those GMO goodies are always giving them complications every now and then. But they ought to come dressed decently, not like that lady I saw the other day.

I couldn’t tell what colour her skin was due to the tons of makeup that complemented her not-so-fair face. Funny, I could tell the colour of her thighs though. She struggled to make me not see but despite her efforts to pull that mini-whatever down, I still got a glimpse of them goodies. This eagle’s eye. I was tempted to ask why she dressed in that manner only to try hard in hiding her thighs. Didn’t she see that it was a short skirt?

Verbosity has got its way with me, some dirty hands. So what were we talking about? The things done differently or the jams? I guess it’s one and the same because these jams are a different thing all the same. The main road back at home is a football pitch most of the days. And small children train marble playing on the same. Those three vehicles that are the public means of transport rarely affect the other activities on the road. Are they even roads? With all those potholes in potholes?

I haven’t had peace visiting my uncle at those high brows of the city. There is one thing I am not used to doing, not that I care less, but because I fail to see why I should do it. Why should I wash my hands before eating? I have not been doing so for the better part of my life you know. And I am sure my granny hasn’t been doing it nearly her entire life. I am yet to see her complain of stomach pains or germs ingested at any point to this point when she has been crying of back aches. I bet that’s old age at puberty. But it’s OK anyway. In the meantime, I will wash them, wash them in the toilet sinks as everybody does, before eating. But not after, that’s news. Before I got myself in this jam, I ate after washing my hands.

Well, this woman seated next to me has been nagging me about some place. We are headed for the west if you never knew. To my uncle’s. And I am not even sure where to alight. I guess this woman is headed to the same destination, for the first time most probably. So I tell her to wait till we get there, I will tell her. Huh! I can’t figure out why she can’t afford her own ride.

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The Shit I Think (By Henry Waswa)

I have been seated here, thinking shit. I am not sure for how long, but I know I have been thinking. I can’t even recall everything I have thought. I must not remember it all, must I?

Well, the fact still remains that I have been thinking. Thinking about this four letter word; life. My life to be precise….

Where was I the other day before yesterday? What is it that I did not do yesterday? What have I done today? What am I doing now? I can tell that that is not important because the answer to all the named questions has not changed. But where will I be tomorrow? And what do I hope to achieve the day after tomorrow? Now that looks important, promising and encouraging. Because I believe in change. Though not very encouraging as such. It’s my life and I have been living it since as far as I can remember. No one knows the misfortunes and malls of the other day, the hustles of yesterday, the pains of today, the struggles that tomorrow carries and the mysteries that are to come with the day after tomorrow.

But I know about all of those predicaments. I know them very well because this is my life. I lived through the other day and enjoyed pushing through all of yesterday’s happenings. I am managing today’s woes comfortably even if they are not worth telling. I will see tomorrow by God’s grace and I have always been optimistic of the day after tomorrow; of the future.

I remember the other day as if it were just some seconds ago. I went home and got the room I call my house the same way I had left it. It seems as if this room has a moth of its own and a stomach much more bigger than my own. Why then did it always have no food in it? These small hungry pets you call rats and cockroaches are starving. With an extremely hungry, angry and a complaining stomach, I had sought the comfort of my bedding at the corner of the room. It had not been surprising when sleep adamantly refused to be my companion and left me at the mercy of the rats. They had given me no peace; biting my toes in an abide to revenge for starvation. I’m not even complaining of their movements and I have never figured out how they manage to be that big with all the hunger in my room.

Yesterday seemed a much better day than before. Unlike the day before yesterday, I managed to pinch a few coins from the rich. Those that had passed by my begging spot and thought it a wise idea to spare a farthing for poor me.

Only that it wasn’t a farthing as such .It was something next to a dollar or two if am not wrong. Okay! Okay! I’m not sure about that because I have no idea what amount in our native currency amounts to a dollar. But I know that yesterday was nearly overriding my best day. It is yesterday that saw me beg seventy two coins in assorted values of one, fives and those tens that I forever envy; a total of one hundred and eighty two shillings in our native currency. There may be people who envy notes but I’m not that lucky to own notes, not even the twenty shilling coin that can buy a cup of tea.

Back in the room, the rats had for once noticed the presence of a human being in the house by the food wrappings on the floor. Having bought a full loaf of bread, I had hoped to share it with my dear friends-cum-pets even if it would have been a slice. I can’t tell what happened but I know I galloped everything including that bottled soda and left the wrappings for my dear friends. And I really did sleep peacefully. What I’m not sure is whether it was because of a full stomach or because my friends were busy gnawing at the wrappings.

When I woke up today, I was in a jovial mood. That happens when you sleep on a full stomach and couldn’t make out the movements and disturbances of rats. I’m not used to checking my pockets in the morning because I’m always sure of finding nothing new in them. Today, I couldn’t help but burry my fingers deep in the pocket immediately I stepped out of the door. With two coins in the pockets, my smile couldn’t have been much bigger. At least the coins were proof that just the previous day, I had been rich. And I was still rich in the morning. Fifteen shillings in the pockets; two coins – was I not rich?

Only that with all my riches, I could not afford a cup of tea and that’s the saddest part of my poor riches. So today in the morning, I did what all rich people like me do, keep the coins for supper. I don’t even know why the word breakfast managed to get into the English dictionary.

Now this hooting car interrupts the line of my thoughts. Wait a minute; is this a car or a bus car? Who even cares to know the difference anyway? But this locomotive is much longer than the cars am used to seeing. It is like five meters long and the tinted windows are not a common figure to me. It’s true I have never seen a bus-car but I have this feeling that this is it. Otherwise what is it supposed to be? A car and a bus at the same time? I don’t feel it is so and I conclude this is what a bus-car looks like. If it were just a car like the others, I would have seen it long ago. I sit at the parking lot of the park, remember.

So what does this bus-car want with me? Does the owner want to drop an extra buck from his pocket? My hopes rise at this thought. I stand up and move towards it only to hear a voice, I don’t know from where.

“Get off the Limo!”

I am surprised. Limo? What was that, again? I look back at where I had been resting my back. It is a sign post with the simple words: Reserved Parking. I curse myself for parking on other people’s parking and move five meters away. That’s when I first notice that people are laughing. I don’t figure out why but they are laughing and pointing at me. Do I care? I am used to their jitters.

I see this small boy picking up something from where I have been sitting just as the metal parks. My hand acts on first instincts and goes to the pocket that is my bank. My face goes a little pale, just a little because I know I have two more torn pockets. After my fingers explore the pockets to their satisfaction, it is evident that there is no difference between my bank and the torn counterparts. My riches are no more. There are tears coming out but I’m not crying. I look at the boy enjoying sweets and jumping in the park. Sweets that I have never tasted but my riches have acquired them. What is fair in life?

I fall back to my thinking. So it seems like today is not going to be any different from the day before yesterday. And tomorrow?

Image courtesy of thebettermanprojects(dot)com
Image courtesy of thebettermanprojects(dot)com

I never think a shit about this thing called tomorrow. I live today and when tomorrow comes, it becomes today. They are as same as I see; two days but they are both today. Was today not yesterday’s tomorrow? You surely know there will be no difference at all. I only hope for the day after tomorrow. It is not tomorrow and thus a consolation to me. A hope for better things. A vision of dreams. Dreams of riches. A better future. Yes, future! The day after tomorrow is my future.

GUEST POST BY Prince Henry Waswa Jnr

The Taxi driver

Source: The Taxi driver

On The Election Day

‘Take this,’ he said, posing to me a couple of Naira notes, ‘and vote for Dr. Wutar Kaikai.’
‘No, thanks! I don’t take bribes from politicians,’ I said.
‘But this is no bribe,’ he cut me short. ‘It is a gift. Accept it!’
‘I am sorry,’ I said coldly. ‘I can’t take it.’

Guest Writer: Badaru Basiru; Nigeria
Guest Writer: Badaru Basiru; Nigeria

My mother had not realised that the presidential election was going to be conducted in the morning. I was the one who fed her the news that the man, whom the ordinary men and women had so much wanted to be their president since he contested for the presidency for the first time in 2003, was just a few inches away from being installed president. She was an ardent radio listener, and it was on the state radio that she heard the latest news almost all the time. Sadly, she once told me that she had got tired of hearing those stories of bombings and killings, those stories of misery, and those stories of people persecuted and displaced from their homes.
It was not only my mother that had got tired of hearing those stories; every sensible person would surely detest hearing them, even on the radio. What could the eunuchs have possibly done when they had been stripped of their civil rights, such that now buying the rice and beans to eat in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening was harder than accomplishing the herculean task?
At the library where I used to go, dust off and peruse the shelves, where volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica untouched by a human hand had rested on for years, the stories were discussed. The same stories were told at the central mosque before the Imam had walked all the way from his house flanked one or two men holding long rosaries in their hands, invoking God for national peace and praising the Prophet. I had thought that those widows selling firewood by the side of the road would never come to hear of those stories of inhumanity, but when one afternoon I went out to buy my mother firewood and heard one of them telling the same stories to the others, I was startled.
‘Lado, have those abducted schoolgirls been rescued by the army?’ asked my mother.
Her septuagenarian voice shook as she struggled with a gob of phlegm congested in her throat. Her eyes had completely changed, and the blackness of her pupil could hardly be seen. Her skin had wrinkled, but her teeth were still strong and intact. I had always wondered why her teeth were as strong and healthy as when she was in her younger days.
‘No. They haven’t been rescued,’ I answered with enthusiasm, walking a bit closer to where she was sitting. ‘They are still in the hands of their captors.’
‘What a wicked world!’ she exclaimed.
‘Things have gone wrong,’ I added, folding my leg against the other and looking into the screen of my phone to read a message that had just been sent in.
‘When will they be released, Lado?’ she asked again.
‘Mother, nobody can accurately answer that question,’ I answered, my voice sounding pessimistic. ‘Only God can assure us that.’
From the look in her eyes and the lines visibly formed on her forehead, sending forth the rage burning her whole heart down, nobody would have to be told that my answer had frustrated her, that it was not what she had hoped to hear, and that she must have cursed the men behind the perpetration of this evil a million times. She rose from where she was sitting, tying up her headscarf and blowing her nose as gently as a typical septuagenarian.
‘Don’t worry, mother,’ I said confidently. ‘Things will soon change for the better.’
She looked around herself, her eyes and hands floundering for her walking stick, which my elder brother gave her as a souvenir after he had performed pilgrimage and returned home from Saudi Arabia. She tottered towards her room and left me sitting on an old wooden mortar, my chin resting in my left palm like a father whose only child had gone missing. I was not actually thinking about my failure in securing a job for myself, nor was I immersed in the thought of the insincere gift of money, which the fraudulent politicians would use to seduce people; I was thinking about the harm that it would inevitably cause to the conduct of the election.
‘Haven’t people learnt some lesson from their thoughtlessness?’ I asked myself. ‘They can’t forget all that happened. Can they?’
I was distracted from my reverie by a sudden loud call from outside. The voice sounded hoarse in my ears. At first, I could not identify whose voice it was, but I knew it would not be my friend, Baraw. It would not be Mallam Kalla, the grocer opposite our house, either. I had settled all my debts, so he could not come to me at that early morning hour.
‘Salama alaikum!’ voiced the man waiting at the door.
‘Amin!’ I answered, springing to my feet and walking towards the door.
A man, not much older than me, was standing by the door with a heavy load of posters on his head. He was wearing a white shirt on which was printed boldly the name and picture of the incumbent president seeking re-election. He was a young and energetic man who could have done something much more useful and tangible with his life than campaigning for deceitful politicians, but who had chosen to be misled by them.
Even though I was totally surprised to see him for the fact that I had never engaged myself in political activities, I extended my right hand to him for a shake, forging a smile on my face and pretending to behave as though I had anticipated his visit.
‘My name is Duna,’ he started, pointing at the picture on his shirt, ‘and I am here to campaign for my candidate Dr. Wutar Kaikai.’
I could see in his eyes that he knew I would not be deceived by the fake gesture, yet he continued talking all in an attempt to convince me.
‘Take this,’ he said, posing to me a couple of Naira notes, ‘and vote for Dr. Wutar Kaikai.’
‘No, thanks! I don’t take bribes from politicians,’ I said.
‘But this is no bribe,’ he cut me short. ‘It is a gift. Accept it!’
‘I am sorry,’ I said coldly. ‘I can’t take it.’
I shut the door in his face and walked back inside, hissing like an irked serpent. I was infuriated by his words, especially as he tried to blind my eyes from electing the candidate of my choice with his insincere gift. Perhaps, I should have taken the Naira notes and thrown them into his face, but that would have augmented the pain of his being bitterly rejected by a man belonging to the rabble like me. Even as I walked back inside and sat in a white plastic chair, the thought of having had to terminate my reveries and respond to his stupidity kept leaping up at me with no sign of recess.
All this while, my mother was inside her room, and she had not heard when this pitiful stranger knocked hard at the door, seeking our attention.
I was looking at a dirty plate piled up with gristle and crunched bones of the chickens that my brother, the eldest in family, had sent us. On every Friday, he would buy chickens and send a commercial motorcyclist to deliver to our house.
He had worked at Maikudi Telecommunications Company for many years and had risen to the rank of regional manager. But most important was that he had never wanted to leave the family in destitution. He had been married, and had had six children; surprisingly, the burden of his own family had never, even for a single second, stopped him from taking care of our poor old mother. Muhammad had always been a brother as good and caring as it was expected of him. I simply called him ‘yaya’ meaning ‘elder brother’. The sound of my mother’s walking stick hitting the floor called my attention to look up, desert the chair and make for the door. I had now risen, and was stretching my hands, but my mother’s call from inside her room was something that I would never refuse to answer.
‘Lado, are you there?’ She asked.
‘Yes, I am here,’ I replied, turning back with the calmness of a chameleon and the zeal of a young dreamer.
‘Call your brother on the phone and tell him I need some money,’ she asked of me. ‘But don’t use a penny until you get back to me.’
‘I won’t, mother. I promise you,’ I said, laughing lightly.