My prose was recently featured in a literary magazine, which is interesting because prior to that time, I had never been featured in a literary anything - magazine, journal, blog - anything. So it's quite a good development. The story was good enough - it talked about mob mentality, which is interesting because it is going on at every corner these days, I once wrote on this blog about the Jungle Justice Mentality. This is a story about it. The writing however, was not all that, to be absolutely honest, but it was manageable, I guess. Here goes, It was first published in Nigerians Talk Litmag:
I was hungry; I had not eaten in days. My stomach kept on reminding
me that I was soon going to die: making increasingly loud noises, like
the type a grinding machine that needs some oil makes. I had no choice.
I set out to get something, anything that could at least hold my
stomach for the meantime until a miracle happens. I tried begging, but
trust Nigerians; they would not mind someone giving them some money, not
to talk of giving something to a beggar. I received responses like
‘nothing is wrong with you.’ And ‘go and work.’ The truth is that I can
work, in fact, I used to work, but there has not been work: ever since
the government closed the normal route to the market. Now, people who
came to shop, took the back road and therefore parked their cars near
themselves. Our business of helping shoppers haul their goods into their
cars with our barrows was now quite dead, so there’s no work.
I saw the woman, I monitored her, when her lover came she dropped her
small bag that contained all her recharge cards and all the money she
had made today, so far. Ah! I am sure it was a lot of money o, the way
people usually rush her recharge card, I am sure she uses some kind of jazz,
because she is not the only one that sells around, but people buy from
her more than anybody else, maybe it is because of the way she looks,
she’s very pretty and her back is something else. Anyway, as she dropped
the bag on the bench, I thought: this is my chance, if I am smart
enough, she will not see me and nobody will catch me. She was laughing
with her lover, he must have been deceiving her, maybe he was telling
her that he would marry her and she probably believed everything,
I was very close to the bag, I made sure I observed everywhere to
make sure nobody was looking and when the coast was clear I snatched the
bag from the bench where it was placed on as though the bench had power
to resist, then I started walking away, walking normally, I did not run
so that people would not suspect that I was a thief. I thought that I
was home and dry; that I had escaped, and then I heard her voice.
‘Thief… Ole… he has stolen my money.’
That was when I began to run, I didn’t hear any footsteps behind me, I
knew I heard her shout ‘thief’ but maybe she was not even looking in my
direction when she shouted, maybe she was referring to someone else,
because I was sure there was nobody behind me. Just as I turned to
confirm that she was not referring to me, I felt a big stick strike my
jaw violently and down I went, how could this happen? There was nobody
running after me, or, so I thought, there were multitudes of people
actually. Probably it was the hunger in my belly and the anticipation of
food that dwarfed my ability to hear properly.
is happening to me right now is not a joke. Several heavy sticks have
been split on my head, my face is red from all the blood that has seeped
into it through the injuries, I am barely conscious. This people want
to kill me. I know I was wrong to steal, it’s only just dawning on me
that I could have found some other, legal means of getting money instead
of trying to steal. Still, is it enough to kill me? Is it enough to
take my life? I am begging them, I am crying. I am trying to explain to
them that I was very hungry, but they are not listening.
The girl’s lover has brought a tyre; they are planning to set me on
fire. ‘Ah, please. Please I will never do it again. Forgive me, please
now? Please I promise I will not steal again.’ I shout.
Somebody in the large crowd of vicious humans that has enveloped me says ‘I get kerosene, make we burn the idiot.’
Oh God, why me? What have I gotten myself into? Why did I have to
take that bag? Is this how I will die; is this how my life will end?
God, where are you? Help me now? They are pouring the kerosene over my
body, I can’t even see again. The fuel is burning my eyes.
Hey you, are you in the crowd? Help me now, please, I promise to
never steal again, Will you not help me? You are just going to stand
there and watch me burn?