He walks into his house. It’s a single room with rough walls that have lizards crawling on it. There are spiders and webs resting in the corners of the ceiling. He’s staggering and dripping with water from the rain that beat the warmth out of his skin. His house has a minimalist setting. A wooden crate for a chair on one side, a kerosene cooking stove, one saucepan, two tea cups and two plates for his kitchen. That’s all, his only earthly possessions.
There’s a foul smell from the plate of left over rice and beans from a three days ago. He has a one inch mattress which, the last time he checked, had bedbugs lounging on the form. He had plans to fumigate his house but he put it off to spend the money on what he said were “pertinent issues”. He was talking about taking his crush out for lunch. His bedsheets, once white had become the colour of clay, the stain of dirt holding onto them.
On the morning of that rainy day, he woke up on the left side of his mattress.
He gets out of bed sulking and sighing and walks to his bathroom, turns on the shower and lets the cold water run as he stands there with eyes closed. He washes off the lather, dries himself with the towel and steps out of the bathroom. He’s clean except for the white form that remains on the upper side of his left pinna.
“I wonder what this day is going to be like,” he thinks to himself.
He steps out to start his day with all he’s got, his muscles. His job is as a porter at a construction site. The day kicks him in the ass so bad. He doesn’t make a dime. It is one of those days when things just don’t work out your way.
Inside his house, he’s shivering. His teeth are hitting hard against each other.
He’d walked in with a limp, a hungry stomach. His stomach was empty, legs drained of energy. He walked from his workplace to this place he calls home.
If he had a girlfriend, he thought to himself, she probably would’ve called to check on him. But he had none. He hadn’t yet gotten lucky with a girl. No, let’s correct that. He got lucky once. Twice maybe. Or was it thrice?
He remembers this particular day. It was the day before a marabou stork dropped shit on his head. His then girlfriend planned a visit for them to a lush neighbourhood. The greenery was refreshing. It had the healing power of nature. The flowers were neatly shaped. What he didn’t know was she had a secret place that she’d wanted them to visit. She said he’d like it.
“What’s this place you’re planning to take me to,” he asked.
She turned to him, held onto his biceps, pressed them and said, “Honey, I want to surprise you.” They stood arm in arm, looking at the green and taking in the scents of the flowers. It was the smell of love. The view of the skyline far above took snapshots of that moment they shared.
And as he stood there waiting for this surprise with the eagerness of a chick waiting to hatch, he wore a hidden smile. He drew pictures of where she was probably going to take him. It didn’t help that he had been celibate for the last three years. He hadn’t touched a woman all this time.
He thought she was going to invite him over, you know, to her place. His heart was racing, a race of lust. He got a boner which he couldn’t hide. This was his lucky day, he thought.
She led him into a house, far into the green terrain. It was cold with tables and what seemed like metallic cabinets to him. He hadn’t been to such a cold home that brought goose bumps to one’s feet. The walls felt lonely. It was silent in there. She whispered to him, said she wanted him to meditate about life and what it meant. Homeboy didn’t know where he was. She led him to one of cabins in the room, opened it and drew it out. There it was, a corpse facing up, naked and stiff, his first encounter with rigor mortis.
Homeboy was petrified. His ass was this close to letting out shit.
See, this girl he was dating worked in a morgue and her idea of a good date with the guy she loved was to take him to view lifeless bodies. Our boy couldn’t contain that shock. He ran out, getting out from the wrong door but eventually slipping out through the emergency exit. He took long strides across that grassy compound, panting with his tongue out, lost for breath by the time he made it out of that place to the main road. He didn’t turn back lest he became a pillar of salt.
She didn’t hear from him again. That was the end of his short momentous relationship with her. That girl had no name.
Now, as he sits there in his house with his stomach longing to be filled, he’s thinking about his new crush, a girl who is playing hard ball.
He thinks she’s a pretty girl and genteel. He fell for her five minutes after they met. Someone told him that was witchcraft. He said she had everything he was looking for in woman. Did he see all those things in five minutes? Yes, he claims. She was courteous, had an ass so round it looked like a fine pot. She was loving, he said.
“I’d be the luckiest man on this planet if she gave me a chance,” he thought. Homeboy always had unfiltered thoughts running through his mind. He’d think of her in a sexual way. He liked her. He wanted to be with her so bad he couldn’t help dreaming of her. He wrote her a letter, sent her texts every day. He wrote poetry. But she didn’t fall for any of that stuff. Poetry didn’t make sense to her. Maybe it’s because she didn’t like him.
She didn’t notice him. He was like a passing thought to her. Our guy didn’t want to come off as a stalker. He wanted her to give him a sign that she had some kind of interest in him. He made headway a few times. The few times he asked for a meet up, she agreed. She never gave excuses. She created time. But there was something missing. He always seemed nervous around her. The crush had made him silly. He couldn’t get a hold of his nerves. He was shaky and dull and didn’t inspire much. And all she ever seemed to do was eat whatever he paid for and sneak back into her own world when they parted.
He gave up on her.
He switches from thinking about his crush to becoming worried. He is worried about his sister who had suffered a hip dislocation from an accident two months ago. He doesn’t have money to support her treatment. His inability to help is piercing him deep. He stays in a community where a man’s worth in society was determined by how much money he has. In his own measure, he is a worthless bloke.
He wonders why life isn’t giving him a breakthrough. It always seems like he is in a never ending race of being broke. He has questioned why even when he works hard, all he gets is crumbs that don’t amount to much.
Maybe he wasn’t praying hard enough. Or, he wasn’t sowing the right seed at his Pastor’s church. Everything was going south for him.
So he picks up his pen and notebook, scribbles in a few lines with deep words. He ends it with, “I’m sorry. Shit happens.” He stares at the 10 tablets he’d placed at his side, picks them, drops each, one at a time into his mouth and gallops them down his throat with a flush of water. He lies on the floor of his room, uncovered. And he sleeps, froth covering his lips.