This place is not my house, but I live here.
It is not the type of place you want to call your home. Sometimes, I wonder how I have managed to call it mine since my uncle died, that should be five years ago, or six or seven.
It is a very smelly place, that’s what people who pass make you believe, because they are always covering their noses.
But me and the grown men who smoke Indian hemp every morning, every afternoon and every night in that corner, always wonder why they cover their noses.
This place is very cold, because there are no doors, no windows, nothing. But there is a roof. That’s where the cars pass; plenty during the day and very few at night. The other ones who don’t pass my roof usually pass my frontage and I love watching them, especially those ones that are as big as houses and you can’t see the people inside because the glass is always black like charcoal.
I see a lot of things every day. A lot of things. I will tell you some and then one that happened today. The one that made me swear that I was not mad and I can never be because I couldn’t have done what the woman did
It is sad that only one man here knows that I’m not really mad. That shameless one with his beards and hair dreadlocked like my pubic hair. Rosco. He hisses and shakes his head at me during the day like all the others in his gang. But I and he know that I am not mad. Because at night, very late in the night, when others have gone, he will call me into his danfo bus, and I will do to him what that stupid igbo he smokes cannot do to him.
I do not let him know I look forward to it. How can I? Then he will stop squeezing that N100 note into my left hand every time he gets up after he has pounded me to his heart’s content. He must think he has just raped a helpless mad woman as he zips his pants. Fool. He does not have any idea how my legs shake uncontrollably and how my bowels tremble and how the hair on my body stand still when he is inside me. Only that he is always too quick. I don’t know why, but I can’t complain. I have to wait till the next day or the next.
I’ll continue to let him believe he is raping me but deep inside me I know I will die if he does not call me like that for three days. I don’t ever want to return to those days of touching myself. How can I even think about it? Evil thoughts go back to your sender, please.
Back to what I was saying…the things I see here every day.
In the morning, I wake up with noise. Loud noise.
“Ojuelegba – stadium – barracks!” repeated four times in a roll so quickly; if you don’t live here you will think it is a call to war. I wonder where that is; a place whose name sounds like sport and war. Other times it is, “Itire – Lawanson” that I can hear louder.
Where do I even know? I’ve not left my house for many happy-new-years now. This is where I shout it every time it is time to shout it.
Then Rosco will wake up and start the engine of his bus. He will switch it off again and then go across the road and come back with water in a bucket. My eyes always go with him because I don’t want any careless early morning driver to knock him down. When he gets back to the danfo, he will go close to one of the tyres and bring out that his big thing to urinate. That is when I always wish he would call me, but never, the fool will never even speak to me, he will just shake his head like the others when they look at me. I have to wait till it’s very dark.
Then he will remove his clothes and leave his shorts on, pouring water on himself with either a bowl or his hands. When it is time to chafe just below his waist, he will keep his hands in there for too long. This is why I know Rosco is a fool. Can’t he just remove the shorts and wash properly? Who else is watching?
When he finally leaves with his noisy danfo, I’ll turn my attention to the road. If I feel hungry, I will get up, re-arrange my house and make sure no one stole anything while I was asleep and then walk across the road to buy what I’ll eat.
Oh how I miss the woman who sells that early morning akara. She doesn’t come again these days because of Fashola’s people. So now I go to the aboki who prepares tea and indomie noodles and egg. Only Rosco’s thing is sweeter than that Indomie and egg in this life, you have to believe me. But the fool will not use his plate to serve me like other people, so I have to always remember to bring my own plate. He says I’m mad, yet, he knows how to collect my money and give me change. He doesn’t toy with my change any more since the day he saw me bite someone with these my teeth for calling me “Reveren sistaa”.
I hate that name. I hear those are the people who never do the thing me and Rosco do. They must really think I am one. Fools.
It may be better to ask me what I have not seen here than to ask me to start telling you the things that I see every day. I have seen rich men carry prostitutes away at night; I have seen a corpse dropped from one of those charcoal cars one night long time ago. I have also witnessed many fights between different gangs like Rosco’s group where they use machetes on themselves and left blood everywhere. I have also seen many okada people die like chicken from too much speed, especially at that junction over there. Only last week, a speeding trailer climbed one okadarider’s head spilling its content to the ground. I couldn’t eat for days after that. Let us not talk about it, please.
Yes, I promised to tell you about the incident that made me know that I am not mad, right? Actually that day I was just sitting on my own and I noticed a woman selling Coke, Pepsi and LaCasera that all these people buy and drink and then shine their teeth gleefully after only a gulp.
Suddenly she brought down the big container of drinks from her head by herself as if to sell to someone. Then she began to go round the container. Then she began to dance. Then I stood up. I wanted to understand what was happening. Then she started singing, and clapping like the people in those churches where they wear only white.
Then she untied her wrapper and used it to cover her wares. That’s when other people began to notice what I had been watching since. Then she removed her buba, revealing rounded breasts that made me jealous, only protected by a very fine bra with some shine-shine on it.
“O ti n ya were o!” a bus conductor yelled as his bus passed and people stretched their necks to catch a glimpse, saying the woman was experiencing the beginning of madness.
Then the men who were walking began to stop and look. I’m sure they were waiting for her to remove the bra. I took my eyes away.
I can’t worry about her too much, because I myself I have a problem growing in my stomach, I feel like vomiting, and I am very dizzy and I am very worried.
‘Seun Salami is a writer and editor. He is the author of ‘The son of your father’s concubine’, a collection of short stories. You can follow him on twitter @SeunWrites