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Unilag for Humanity Pic-Fic Series: "Night is this, or something like that"… By Samuel Oluwatobi Olatunji

Meerh… meerh… meerh… You hear your mother bleating into the putrid night of Dustbin Estate, and you know he is around. The night thief has finally come for her. You push your face into the darkness, hoping to unmask the face of the night masquerade that raids members of your clan. But there is no moon to light the night, and the sky is a wide dark wrapper that gravity cannot pull down, because it doesn’t want the world to see the nakedness of God.

You can smell the thief: he smells of sweat and weed. Your clan’s nightmare is here again. Gradually, you see a dark image of him: a stout shadow. If he crawls on all fours into the night, you will mistake him for a member of your clan, only that he is wearing shorts, and he has no tail or horn.

His muscular hands grab your mother’s horns, although she appears to be struggling to free herself from him. She bleats in protest, struggling and struggling. But he is too strong for her.

This is one moment you wish you can be a superhero, and save your mother. The image of a superhero in your head is not of a superman or batman; being one of the Indomie superheroes is enough for you. You wish you can become Big Boy so that with a single punch, you can send the thief down the earth straight to hell; but if he attempts to run you will transform to Stretchy, and just stretch your hand to pick him up even if he runs as fast as Flash, and has run away from Lagos to Benin Republic.
But you can only wish.
Where are the night watchmen? Can’t they hear the distress in my mother’s voice? You ask the night before adding your voice to thicken your mother’s bleating, a very elongated meeeeeeerh that appears endless, but it is to no avail. The people here are usually too busy during the day looking for how to survive that they seem to sleep like a corpse at night. Only the muezzin’s call, and not continuous bleating, can resurrect them from the grave of the night. The thief escapes with your beloved mother. And you feel like crying like a baby just out of the world, who doesn’t want to come to this stupid world. But you are not human.
So my mother is gone?
Just like that?
Like a passing wind?
Like a dream deferred?
Like Banjo’s mother?
You are lost in a queue of rhetorical questions.
No, not exactly like Banjo’s mother.
Banjo’s mother wasn’t stolen. Baba Banjo is said to have killed Mama Banjo like he killed members of your clan each almost every day. He killed them for a living. Oyinbo people call him a butcher, a name that sounds as deadly as death.
You think he liked killing: you had seen him swat mosquitoes with his palms, kill cockroaches on his zinc house wall with a sharp slap of his slippers often, and also club to death more than one rats that share his house with him. Members of your clan called him Killer-man.
Well, he didn’t kill his wife for no reason exactly...
Everything started when a beer parlour that plays mainly Fuji music was opened not too far from the estate. Baba Banjo then began to invest his money here. He drank bottles of beer that drank his pocket. He often came home, drunk and singing Beautiful Nubia’s “Pass de Kalabash”. And sometimes, he did not make it home; his would drunk-walk to Mama Heavy-Duty’s House, a brothel very close to the beer parlour, where he would spend the night.
Just as Baba Banjo hardly stayed home at night, Mama Banjo soon hardly stayed home during the day. One morning after Baba Banjo had gone to sell meat at the market, his wife left home with her lips painted in the colour of thick blood (you almost thought she used the blood of a member of your clan, which her husband had killed to paint her lips). As she unfolded to refold her wrapper, you had a quick glimpse of a skirt shorter than short like the skirt of one of the girls at Mama Heavy-Duty’s House. You were too surprised to bleat. She left and came back later in the evening with a big leather bag that looked as if it contained a member of my clan. This strange going-out continued for a few months. Banjo now wore new clothes like every day and was getting chubby, even Baba Banjo too was looking quite better than before, and soon he came home one day with a bicycle. Mama Banjo must have been making a lot of money, which she shared with her husband and child.

One hot afternoon, a big man with a big car and a big belly came to visit Mama Banjo in her husband’s shack. Baba Banjo wasn’t around. And this big man didn’t stop coming, even when Baba Banjo was around that you all thought he was just a member of the family that liked to come around a lot. But one day, in the absence of Baba Banjo, you heard a strong laughter from the shack that broke into moans. Soon rumours roamed, and Baba Banjo heard.
Some days after the day of laughter and moans, you all heard screams from Baba Banjo’s shack. And you all gathered: humans, goats, chickens, cats and so on as if God has called a conference of animals that include humans too. There, you saw the magic of magun: the big man, who you all later found out to be Baba Banjo’s uncle in Lekki, had his penis buried into Mama Banjo’s pussy like a nail into a wood, and they remained like that. Inseparable. Glued in nudity. Even the eyes of you all staring shame into their flesh and bones couldn’t separate them.

“Ah, Uncle Abbey!? Iyawo mi ni ewa do ninu’le mi? Oro ooo!” It was an exclamation that sounded like a question from Baba Banjo’s mouth, who had been lurking in a corner, waiting for the wonder of the magun he had applied on his wife.
Mama Banjo and the big man were later rushed to the hospital after quite a number of persons had taken pictures of them using their phones. Baba Banjo restricted people from performing any form of jungle justice on them. The magun was justice enough. Attempt at surgery to separate the sex partners was said to be futile, and they both died three day afterwards.

After this occurrence, Baba Banjo drank more than before like a fish drinking water of life. Aside that, he became very violent, and cursing and fighting.
“Son of a whore, were you asked to shit, eat the shit and shit it again?” He said in Yoruba to Star Boy (an aspiring young musician, and Wizkid’s fan that lives in a zinc room too on the estate), who must have been purging that day and had stayed too long in the zinc toilet. Provoked Star Boy smashed the bucket he was holding on Baba Banjo’s head. And a fight began that led to the merciless beating of Baba Banjo.

A few days later, Baba Banjo’s voice plunged into the foul-smelling morning air, singing his favourite Beautiful Nubia’s song louder than usual. And you all thought he was drunk as usual. Surprisingly drunk at 6am.
Later in the afternoon, you heard that Baba Banjo was found along the road, naked and still singing. He had gone out of his mind, or his mind had gone out of him. Either or both.
It took the support of four strong neighbours to tame him and tie him inside his room; sometimes he bleated like a member of your clan before continuing his song. There have been rumours that his in-laws were angry with him for what he did to his poor wife, and they punished him with insanity.

Banjo stopped going to school, or even going out. He was ashamed of his parents; he couldn’t stand the spreading rumours, and mockery. When he died, no one knew until his body started smelling. Not just his body, but also the body of his father. A bottle of Sniper was found beside the two dead bodies.
You bleat in remembrance of the dead, wondering what will happen to your mother. Morning comes, and you don’t bother searching for your mother, you only rummage through the waste-littered ground of Dustbin estate for something to eat.

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