Stuck in a moment, a moment that brought with it peace; an acceptance of fate. In this moment the confusion was over, he accepted a fate that was never his. The people that poured reviling vomit on him were gone and the echoes of their puke dried off. He had a series of wishes, wishes he had hoped would come through but was too sure would not.
He had wished to be saved by someone, anyone. He had wished he wasn’t caught, that they knew of his innocence. He had wished the moon did not bow to the majesty of the sun that day, and then, in that moment, he wished he was never involved in the mosque funbbery.
He and his two best friends Oki and Mosco had been robbing kettles, caps and footwear of Muslims while they prayed and made faces at their inactions, though they returned the stolen items almost immediately before the Muslims were done with their prayers. It was fun to them and robbery to the Muslims, so he called it funbbery.
He remembered his mother’s warning on her sickbed eight months ago, she died the week after. He remembered the smile on her face as she gave up the ghost. She called it joy and told him it can only be found in Christ as she urged him to seek salvation, her death only made him hate the word more. Still, in his moment of surrender, he did not want to die like that, he wanted to die like his mother, with a smile on his face but he was convinced God would not accept him.
He rode down the situations and circumstances that had led to his present state. How on their way home from school after the day’s paper they’d decided to go through a minor street off the road, “it’s a short cut” Mosco had emphasized. He recalled how he had fixed the tyre of a little boy’s toy car that broke right in front of him, how the boy released a “Nagode” from his parted lips, grinning sheepishly.
And finally, he slowly reminisced the actions that immersed him in that moment of surrender. How Oki had at the sight of a mosque suggested they funbbed, how he had smiled on hearing the word.
“My invention is going places” he’d thought, yet objected. He wanted to pass his exams even though he had chances of failing, “no evil acts” he had muttered.
“Who go pass go pass” Oki had replied after a long appalling look at him.
Still, he refused. He stood at the entrance of the mosque and watched Mosco follow Oki in.
He remembered how surprised he had been when he saw Oki and Mosco rush out fearfully.
“Run!” Mosco had shouted as they swiftly passed him.
He was paralyzed in his confusion as the men had come at them with farm tools in hands, and mouths that revealed teeth of different shapes and sizes.
“They left their mats” he’d thought. Quickly, he had taken to his toes, but it was too late. He could only watch his friends escape.
Back in his moment, beaten and bruised, he thought of his mom. A figure stood before him. It was the little boy with the toy car. Just when he thought someone still cared, the boy loosened the tyre he had fixed and threw it at his face, muttering words in Hausa as his mother came to take him away. Abandoned by all, even his so-called friends, he gave in.
He opened his eyes to see his mother in white apparel, everywhere burned bright, bright enough to give sight to the blind. His mother came before him and gave him a kiss on the forehead.
“But I didn’t ask for mercy,” he said
“No, you didn’t” she replied “and that was the mistake”
“Then what am I doing here… with you?”
“You’re not here”
“What do you mean?”
His mother turned away, morose. He knew something was not right, it could not be so easy. He felt water on his face, dragged by the wind, suddenly, he woke to reality. He saw the little boy again in front of him, holding an empty bowl. The boy was shirtless this time around with a protruding belly that lightened his grimace.
“Mai ke saka dariya” the boy said.
Not understanding a word, he asked: “What is your name?”
“Ahmed” the boy replied. “zo…zo da sauri” the boy continued, bidding him come with his right hand.
He was too tired, and Ahmed understood. Finally, Ahmed helped him up after several futile attempts. He was surprised at the little boy’s persistence, he didn’t know what Ahmed was trying to do, but he knew whatever the boy was doing was stealthy.
“How old are you?” he asked as they got to the back of a house which he suspected to be Ahmed’s. There was thick bush behind and it made him wonder where they were headed.
“Yi shuru” Ahmed replied in a mild rage.
“I’m innocent you know?” he said
Ahmed released a heavy sigh. “I know… I see you. Bor your frens bad, they tiff, and you suffer for them…”
Turning to him, Ahmed continued, “They kill you sis o’clock… ten minis more”.
He was not surprised death had been his conclusion. But on hearing those words, fear engrossed him. He then knew Ahmed was his salvation. They walked to the bush.
“Now go… run fas… they come” Ahmed whispered loudly.
Into the bush, he ran with every strength and muscle that could do his bidding. He turned back and saw the little figure, his fussed demeanor like he had done the abominable. But Ahmed could not help but save him, he was only human.
Mofe philip Atie, a creative writer and lover of music, hails from the cloudy borders of the Niger-Delta. His writing is influenced by the society and a strong desire to give a voice to it. His work has appeared on Zango Review and he tweets @Mophilos16