I slowly rose from the pool of sweat I had made on the bed. There was a smaller but noticeable one on my pillow. It was unique. It wasn’t sweat; it was spittle. The sight was unpleasant, an eyesore. I needed to take care of it before it met with a third eye. But there is something bigger I should worry about.
I hadn’t taken a meal for the whole day, and the sun was way past its zenith. I could feel its heat; it was an inferno. I couldn’t find the appetite for food in the morning. Mother said it was malaria. I believe it was.
‘You refused to use the mosquito net.’ She said ‘Now, I get to buy drugs’
No, I couldn’t use the net. It made my sleep unpleasant. I loved my sleep, and I wouldn’t have it disturbed by nets. Let the malaria come. This wouldn’t be the first time. It couldn’t be the last. I preferred it to not having good sleep.
I walked into the kitchen. The sights of the pots were uninviting. They had nothing to offer. Oh! I was hungry. I took quick strides to Mother’s room. I knew almost all the places where she kept her money. I wasn’t stealing it; I had the right and she permitted me. After a few seconds, I successfully had two hundred naira in my clutch. I made for the door. My sweat had dried. I put on a shirt and went outside.
Three minutes later, I was back in my room with a mini loaf of bread and a bottle of soft drink. There still was little appetite, but I had to eat.
I was cautiously chomping on the bread, when I heard noise from outside. What could it be? There had been a power outage for quite a few days, and this could be the excitement of its restoration. I got up, and flipped the switch. The light bulb didn’t come on. I went back to my bread and its liquid counterpart.
But the noise remained inconsistent, and it was getting louder. I wasn’t very curious; but then, I heard something. I stopped chewing to make it out properly.
“Hold am! Thief!”
I abandoned my meal, picked up my shirt and went outside.
The street swarmed with people who had come out of their houses. As I moved towards the epicenter I saw that most people were moving at a higher pace than I was. Boys my age; men who were way older; women and children had lined up by the side, too afraid to go closer. Sticks and bottles were in almost every available hand.
The thief wasn’t hard to identify. He had been battered. He was bleeding profusely from various points on his head and face. His eyes were swollen, so was his lips. Blood trickled from his nose, and his temple had a huge laceration. His clothes were torn. He had no footwear on, and there was a fresh stab wound on his shoulder.
The mob still wasn’t satisfied. They would eat his flesh if they had to. More beatings came, and soon he was clad by nothing but a dirty underwear. That came off too, leaving his tremendous sized manhood dangling to the amusement of onlookers.
“You go die today!”Uttered a man as he dealt him a blow to the side of the head with a huge stick.
“No leave am. Unless him go steal again.” Said another who made to strike him at his back with the flat side of a machete.
And I wondered what he could have stolen.Why couldn’t they hand him over to the police?
I believed that most of these people had committed more grievous offences. Just that they weren’t caught or, it just wasn’t petty stealing.
“Wetin him thief?” a feminine voice asked from a corner.
“Na fish oh!”Came an answer, also in pidgin “Fish of One hundred and fifty naira.”
My head swelled. My heart raced. I felt uneasy. Then someone bumped into me from behind as he tried to go through. His both hands were occupied; one a stick and the other a tyre. He dropped the tyre on the thief who was now on his back, begging for mercy.
More tyres followed. And soon, I could smell it: gasoline.
People were going to roast someone for a hundred and fifty naira’s worth of fish, but would rally around politicians and trade their future for peanuts.
My legs were now shaky. People had begun to scamper. Mothers yelled the names of their children. Some were dragging them into the houses.
It happened fast. But I saw it all. He held out both hands, uttering every word of plea he knew. They all fell on deaf ears.
The mob had now expanded.
Women pleaded from a safe distance.
I couldn’t move. My knees knocked when I tried to do so.
Flames went up. I could see it up close. He hollered in pain. But there were shouts of excitement mixed with horror. His screaming was barely heard. He soon stopped moving, but in a position with his both hands up. His eyes bulged and his mouth was wide open.
Someone adjusted him with a long stick to make sure he roasted properly.
I could no longer stand the sight. It was going to haunt me for a very long time.
I became dizzy.
I staggered and I blacked out.
Then, something hit me.
No, I don’t think so. I hit something.
I just hit the ground.