In The Year 2017
Happiness. He smiled. He reread it.
‘Whoa!’ Olu shouted. He covered his mouth immediately he remembered where he was. The people around him smiled at him, and he reciprocated by closing his eyes for some seconds, giving them a big grin.
‘Bros! Wetin be that?’ Someone said, and tried to look at the newspaper. The guy smelt like break oil.
‘Buy your own’, Olu said and hurriedly closed the paper. The information was for him and him alone. He withdrew from the crowd, still staring at the newspaper. The people around the newspaper stand kept arguing about issues especially that which didn’t concern them- America’s Election. They had the issue of Nigeria to solve. The mysteries that had been happening in the country ever since they had elected president Buhari as the president, things had worsened. However, Olu wasn’t concerned. His concern right there was the newspaper in front of him.
Ever since the day he had been reading newspapers, he had never seen such advert. He glanced over his shoulders to be sure no one was reading what he was reading.
‘Bros… Bros you never give me money for that paper’, the vendor said, jolting Olu out of his daydream.
Olu smirked and looked around. Some people stared at him as though he was the tenth wonder of the earth, maybe because he was fat or because things were hard. People needed someone to blame, an offender. He couldn’t blame them because he himself had had the opportunity of beating a man to a pulp until the woman who screamed for help said they were just playing. He had never bought newspaper since the day he was born, he snipped the little information he had from Radios and others newspapers but not the one he got with his money.
‘Five hundred naira’.
‘Five hundred naira? Eh?’ His voice rose above normal. He swallowed as his eyes roamed to see the gruesome look on a sturdy guy and the malicious grin of another one.
‘When did it become five hundred naira?
Some people turned to him; others shook their head, while some laughed.
‘For two years now, since January na’ someone said.
He only had five hundred naira but there was nothing in the world that would make him part with the newspaper. The money was meant to feed him and his mother. Not knowing what to do, he moved towards the vendor to return the paper.
‘Yeh- Yeh- look at,’ Olu shouted at the top of his voice. People had complained to him times without number that his voice was a natural megaphone. The readers looked at him and hurriedly looked at the place he pointed at. Luckily for him, a bike man (from the side he pointed to) heard the noise also and lost concentration. He ran into a car. So, people focused on the man.
Seeing the opportunity, he ran with all his might like an elephant who escaped the zoo and was bent on getting to the forest that afternoon. He climbed the flyover before anybody could realise it.
‘Thief. Catch him’ the paper vendor shouted and ran after Olu.
Olu sprinted off. His weight made the flyover squeak in pain but no one heard it. The only thing people heard was a man shouting at the top of his voice, chasing Olu. He preferred to be termed a thief than to release that newspaper. Even if his dead father promise to resurrect if he released the paper, he wouldn’t agree. He crossed to the other side of Ajetunmobi bus stop. Luckily for him, a bus was waiting to move.
‘Panama bus stop’ He shouted at the top of his lungs the moment he entered the bus’.
‘Two hundred naira’
Thief people screamed from afar. He wouldn’t give it up.
‘Why you no trek?’
‘Oya… Oya let’s go’. He looked at the other side and saw the vendor and some sympathisers crossing the road towards him.
‘Driver, go na’ He yelled as he poised himself to jump if the bus didn’t move.
‘Abeg, free me. Na your mama buy bus for me’ the driver said, Igbo accent lacing his sentence. The hissed and gulped the content of a dry gin. He sucked air, released it and shook his body.
‘If no be wetin dey do me, I for show you wen’, Olu said. His eyes darted through the crowd, mapping out a way for himself if he had to run away.
The men drew nearer.
‘Carry go ‘, the conductor shouted and hit the side of the bus with vigour. Olu who was just about to jump from the bus held himself and held the edge of the bus as the driver sped off. He sighed.
The newspaper. He opened it again and smiled at it. He would be rich. His mother wouldn’t only enjoy, but she would also be a source of wealth to him.
He looked back again to be sure they had left the reach of his pursuers. He hummed Olamide’s ‘Eni duro’ even as the driver drove as if he was the one being pursued.
Passengers screamed and yelled for him to reduce his speed. But instead of answering them, he played one of his best Igbo highlife records, increased the volume, and accelerated as if the song was nicotine.
‘Bros.’ someone said to Olu.’ Can I see that paper?’
‘Just for some min-‘
‘No… I said no… You don’t understand no’, he said and faced the newspaper. Nobody should disturb him. He was laying down the most suitable plan and it was sure to work.
The person hissed. Olu looked at her, took in a deep breath, and growled.
‘What?’ The lady said. She was sitting beside a fair bald man who seemed to be lost in his thought. Olu loved that. Everyone should be in his or her place, enjoying the ride in the best way he or she could.
Normally, he would have appreciated her beauty but he wasn’t in need of beauty now. He needed money. After which, women could surface.
He rested his head on the chair in front of him, and imagined how it would look like to live in wealth.
Last two years when Mohammed Buhari vied to be the president, he promised improvement. No one knew he meant in improvement in ones struggle. With everything in him, he was tired of struggling. He needed fresh cash.
He stared at the newspaper and smiled as the heat of the day licked his body. The only problem now was for his mother to agree. All he needed was her agreement. But she was adamant, and too uptight. Even if he had to put a gun to her head to do it, she must.