Alex is going to his backyard with a long stick, matches and a bottle of fuel in his hand. What we can see in his backyard is a huge pile of dirt in a dug hole. He opens the bottle and pours fuel all over the dirt. As he is doing so, he mutters to himself.
“I need to be burning this dirt before it gets to this level. Why do I do this to myself all the time?”
He is about to strike a matchstick when he sees a man in faded-looking ankara clothing walk towards him. The material used for the shirt and trousers were not the same thus producing a chaotic effect, a riot of colours and patterns.
“As usual,” Alex mutters. He smiles and quickly switches to a straight face so that his smile would not be “misinterpreted” as mockery. He also doesn’t want to look approachable.
“Ah Oga, you want to burn dirt?”
“As you can see”
“Abeg, borrow me small fuel make I burn my own, e no big at all”
“Unlike mine.” Alex thought as he handed him the bottle.
This was their custom.
“Timi” Alex calls as the man turns to leave.
Alex strikes a matchstick and throws it on the trash pile, and it engulfs in flames immediately.
They both stare at it, Alex deep in thought, Timi wondering why he was called back.
Timi tries to fill the silence.
“Every time we go dey burn dirt, smoke everywhere. When all those trailer wey dey carry dirt go come this side?”
”In this area? Only God knows.”
There is silence again except for Alex using a stick to shove stray dirt into the flames occasionally. Note: most of his trash content is empty noodles wrappers, bread nylons and soft drinks. Draw your conclusions with this information.
Alex senses Timi’s discomfort and decides to be a caring neighbour for the first time.
“How are you, how is business and how is your family?”
“We thank God, you nko?”
“I am fine.”
Timi uses this opportunity to ask the questions that have been on the lips of those in the neighbourhood.
“Where you from come?”
“Shu, that soft area? Wetin bring you come this side?”
“I needed a break.”
“Break?” Timi laughs “Na this side dem dey do vacation?”
He stops laughing when he sees Alex’s solemn mood.
“Okay, what of your family? Because I never see anybody in this house since you come. In fact, people wey dey pass dey think sey this na graveyard.”
“I don’t have children, my wife is at Eso Island, I think?”
Alex put his head in his hands and spoke in a muffled voice.
“I took my wife’s money to add to my own to start a supposedly lucrative business with someone. I was scammed. I don’t have much and I can’t afford our lifestyle anymore. She won’t understand”.
Timi straightens himself, he was leaning towards Alex to hear him, and steps back.
“Ehn? So, you leave am for there?”
A sound comes from Alex’s throat.
”You dey cry?”
Alex removes his hands from his head, gives Timi a look and goes to adjust the dirt in the fire.
“I needed my peace of mind.”
“So, you don get the peace of mind as you con dey here so.”
Alex chews on his fingernails
“So wetin you go do like this?”
“I don’t know.”
“No talk like this, you no fit leave your wife like that. Wetin you go do?”
“You know I am a weak man.”
Timi sighs closing his eyes, and his head drops.
“I run away from my problems, that’s how I have always been. I wonder what she saw in me in the first place, there was a time…”
“Sah, just go to Eso Island tomorrow morning and tell am everything. This no be big matter and you dey do as if Heaven wan comot for sky.”
Timi turns to leave, “Come meet me when you come back”.
“So, you….” Alex stares at his hands “… you don become my padi abi?”
Timi laughs as he walks towards Alex, “Ehen na’’.
And they shake hands, in the weird way that guys do.
Urhuru has written and is writing in all literary forms. She is an art that hopes to inspire and entertain people all over the world. Her works are published in the Agape Review Magazine, Spillwords and in other places.