Tade woke up that fateful morning with a headache, a searing headache. He rolled over and glanced at the alarm clock that had woken him. Eleven fifty-five. He jumped up with a start and fell back with the same simultaneity. He held his head against the pain as he slowly recollected the event of the previous night; feeling his chest pocket as reality dawned on him.
He turned sharply and made it to a sitting position this time. He scanned the bed cursorily for the missing item and did the same under the bed. There it lay, at the foot of the bed, there lay the source of his woes. Thanks to it, he’d successfully blown away four years of friendship, two years of believing he had found the one, and three weeks of carrying around in his breastpocket, a diamond ring worth two and a half month’s salary. All that had gone into thin air in a quiet but resounding NO. He kicked it out of sight and got up.
The voices of his parents, arguing as usual penetrated the room as he made for the bathroom. His bedroom opened directly into the parlour. He could hear his father arguing about the lateness of the breakfast- brunch, and his mother matching his whining in an angry retort as to why he didn’t fix himself something to eat if he’d been that hungry. He knew his father must have returned to the house after his usual early Saturday morning gardening at the back of the house, to an empty breakfast table courtesy of his mother who never made breakfast on Saturdays until she’d done her own ‘environmental sanitation’. As he turned the faucet unto his dry toothbrush, he wandered why they still argued about the same things after twenty five years of marriage.
“Good morning papa,” he curtsied some ten minutes later as he made across the living room into the kitchen to get a drink, something to thaw the momentary hunger that still subtly ached his head. They were arguing the tastiness of the food now, his father analyzing the proportional adequacy of each ingredient while his equally up to the task wife sassed him. Tade knew there’d be no food for him. It was an unwritten law that whoever was not awake as at the time the food was to be prepared had no share in it. He gulped down quickly a bottle of milk drink and slid out of the house as the argument intensified.
Hungry and angry, anywhere but the war zone his house was presently was just good enough. He thought of strolling down the beach, which was four minutes away but that looked too fictional. He had to be a man and put it all behind him. Put all the thoughts of the previous night’s rejection behind him. He turned into a viewing centre down the street. His favorite football club was playing against another. But all he saw was Gbemi, she was the number eleven who had just scored a goal, she was the goalkeeper who had successfully kept the opponent’s ball out of their net, she was the excited coach tromping triumphantly up and down the technical area.
He got up after the first half, unable to take it any longer and stormed out of the shack, right into the young innocent orange seller who had been viewing for free in the door way. An avalanche of oranges was strewn all over the floor.
“Why don’t you stay out of the way are you mad?” He fumed and stomped off.
“Ehn! Uncle!” The young boy jumped on him from behind and grabbed his shirt by the neck; “rubbish wo le n ba mi so! You will not go o! My oranges!”
“Hian! Sho wo were ni!” He jacked the boy’s hand off as a little crowd gathered. The boy grasped his trouser instead.
“Will you leave me alone, are you out of your mind?”
Two men emerged out of the crowd, two hefty dangerous looking urchins.
“Guy,” one thumped him in the chest almost pushing him to the ground. “Wetin dey worry you, una wan cheat am sake of say e be small pikin abi?”
“Oya pay for dem oranges now now, the other added, positioning himself at his back and putting Tade in the middle while the crowd shouted in support. If Tade was angry before, he was now enraged at the turn of events.
“E be like say craze dey worry all of una, I should pay for what? Because I –
He was blacked out before he could finish the statement. He wouldn’t wake up until the next day.
His parents who had been alerted by the good Samaritan who’d taken their son’s almost lifeless body to the hospital after the thugs had beaten him black and blue and abandoned him to his fate, flagged him on both sides, hoping he’d come round soon enough while bickering on such trivialities as the mother’s choice of clothes for Tade to go back home in, and his father’s threat to recover the hospital bill without fail from Tade’s salary.
Tade did not regain consciousness until late in the evening. It was well past seven and already dark outside. He slowly opened his eyes and tried to take in his surroundings.
To the left was Gbemi and to the right, the orange seller. He slid back into unconsciousness without further ado.
Rubbish wo le n ba mi so – What rubbish are you talking about?
Hian? Sho wo were ni – Hian? Are you insane?
Wetin dey worry you, una wan cheat am sake of say e be small pikin abi? – What’s wrong with you? Do you want to cheat him because he’s a small boy?
Oya pay for dem oranges now now – Now pay for the oranges immediately.
E be like say craze dey worry all of una – Looks like you’re all insane.