Monday, 20 August 2012
Ilu Sioni I
…Fido raced on like a mad dog out of hell. it was one of those adrenalin controlled moments in ones’ life when the brain and its’ reasoning capabilities suddenly go on vacation or take a back seat and let reflex drive. there were four…no, five hefty guys on at his back and they were not about to ask for his autograph. He was no star, at least not today, maybe tomorrow. Sneaking a quick look back through his peripheral vision, he corrected his earlier judgment that the guys behind him were hefty. In all fairness, ‘immense’ was the correct word to adequately describe them. They were like moving houses; the kinds nobody could build where he lived.
Suddenly, night descended upon the afternoon. At first, he thought it was an eclipse and then he realized it was still day time behind him. It was no eclipse, it was the goalkeeper blocking his way, obstructing the sun and determined to keep him from scoring.
The game had been going on goal-less for 119:48 minutes though to him it seemed like forever. It was the final game of the Borogiri Youth’s Football Championship and his team; the 50 kobo cubs had never reached this stage, ever. He was the tallest player in his team at 5ft, 7inches and stood shorter by a good two inches than the opposing side’s (Kila People’s United) shortest player; the goalkeeper, nicknamed goliath who was currently bent on either catching him, the ball or both.
Although blinded, his sprint was still on autopilot and sight impediment could do nothing to disturb the final phase of his flight. He suddenly found himself flying over the ‘Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Juggernaut’ combined goalkeeper with the ball in between his ankles and straight into the finish line underneath the goal post. A shrill whistle went off the instant the ball crossed the line and his brain chose to kick-start at that same exact moment, it seemed. Sounds of “goooooaaaallllll” rang out and seemed unending. Seconds later, the final whistle sounded and he became a star overnight.
Fido had no parents and wasn’t sure the grandma he lived with was even his. They only talked when she nagged. Not that he talked back, he didn’t dare. All he could manage were mind retorts. His warmest memory of her was when she once caught him stealing meat as a teenager at midnight and pitifully shook her grey head and went to sleep. She probably had been too tired that night to have gifted him the usual ‘beating of your life’ she seemed to have in excess. He would forever treasure that singular moment of warmth. That had also been his first experience of a miracle. In his life, that was a really scarce commodity. Thoughts of miracles nudged him to the present as he reflected on the championship win two days earlier.
Yes, that was his second experience of a miracle. Scoring that goal, lifting the trophy, getting all the smiles and important handshakes, that was a miracle. He had even been approached by a football scout for the biggest club from the city; Obesere FC, and he, Fido, from the gps-less village of Bogobiri, had signed preliminary papers guaranteeing a month’s paid trial at the club on the spot. The second miracle of his life had forever transformed it.
Though, he had very minimal possessions, he knew that would soon be history. He promised to visit the popular Yakoyo restaurant and treat himself to N120 Agege bread and N150 Ewa Agoyin the day he got his first pay.
He had no girlfriend and had almost abandoned hope of having one. The girls he liked just didn’t like him and the ones that liked him scared him so he’d just decided it was best to be single than dead. But, that was soon to change, he was sure of it. He had a certain philosophy about life. A man’s Life was like Garri. The price of Garri could change overnight but the Garri itself remained Garri. The price of Garri had changed for him, forever he hoped. He had found honey and now the bees would come, surely.
He loved football especially when he was playing it. He cherished the game. Today, he cherished it more. School had started and ended for him on the streets. He’d graduated from hawking vegetables and finally advanced to class VII; apprenticeship at a roadside mechanic shop. Football was the one thing he did well and loved doing. Ironically, his legs were the most treasured part of his body.
Five guys were chasing after him, again. However, this time, it wasn’t on a football pitch. These guys wanted another kind of ball from him it seemed; the one beating in the left part of his breast. Some (3 of them) of them had guns and were shooting! His autopilot wasn’t doing him much good because his assailants were closing in on him, fast.
It was afternoon but it could as well have been midnight, for the whole neighbour-hood was deserted and stayed silent as sin. The gunshots were responsible, no doubt.
One of the goons, the closest to him dived in a bid to tackle him to the ground but Fido had anticipated it and he swerved suddenly without breaking his run. He negotiated the next turn between two buildings and found himself in a dark alley. He kept running even though he could hardly see and realized too late that the blurred shape before him was a wall painted badly just as he ran headlong into it. Night came during day for him the second time in his existence. (To be continued)