“If I ever end up bad and prematurely in the hands of death, my spirit will hunt you, Aunty Amara.”
Those were Buike’s words to me yesterday.
The sunny hours of yesterday had come with us discussing a lot of things – from robbery, to the Nigerian police, to the rich and the poor and a few other things. We talked about the Aluu 4, about the boy who was rumoured to have been burnt to death for stealing garri. I showed them pictures and I watched Buike cry. He wouldn’t say anything else but
“Aunty Amara, because of garri. Even if he stole a house sef.”
Buka was quiet for a while, he stared at me. And he would ask after a few minutes,
” The police people were there?”
I said they weren’t and he got really angry.
He was mad.
He lamented about how the Nigerian police stories he had heard has been the reasons he would never be a Nigerian police. He said it is because of the Nigerian police that he would join the army.
He would later ask what the police did when they arrived and I wasn’t sure but I told him they took some people – people who were there, who witnessed the killings and he said it wasn’t the right thing to do. He said it would’ve been beat they were shot to death immediately and I was lost starring at him. I had never seen him that mad before. I had never seen him mad.
I had seen Buike cry severally but never like the way he did yesterday. The tears were not too much but the coat of expression his face wore told takes of many painful tears that were too thick to crowd his eyes sockets and run down his eyes.
And then I mentioned Aluka – he was the boy who bullied me back then while we lived in Orji and when I mentioned his death, I hoped to get Buka say it was what he deserved but I was shocked when he asked if he was killed just because he stole. Because he was involved in an armed robbery?
“He wouldn’t have been involved if he had something doing.”
I felt embarrassed even though they didn’t know this. I was disappointed him myself and when I tried to get Buike to say something about Aluka, he said he wasn’t interested in saying anything, that it was the young boy who was killed for stealing that had crowded his thoughts. It was the first time he was speaking after I mentioned about the little boy.
“Because of garri, Aunty Amara?” He asked again. “Who owned the garri? What about his Mother, his father, ụmụ nwanne ya?”
I told him it was simply a story I read from the internet and none of those was mentioned and so, it was possible he had none of those. This shocked him more. And then he asked Buka,
“How can you live without your Mother?”
“Mba ọ! My Mother cannot die. I would die of starvation.” Buka said.
“I can. And I would never steal if I ever went hungry. I would resort to begging instead and someone would definitely pick me to house me.”
“Okay. If it ever happens and I get hungry,” Buka said, “I would come to Aunty Amara to feed me everyday.”
I laughed. Buka did too but Buike couldn’t. The young boy now lived in his mind, his thoughts. And he would remain silent for a while before he asked,
“But Aunty Amara, if that boy had come from a rich home, he wouldn’t have been burnt to death.”
“Exactly.” I said.
“He would’ve been saved.”
“No. He wouldn’t even have the thought of coming to steal… Common garri.” Buike said and sighed. And I guessed he was trying to distract Buike from that thought as I was trying to do too.
“I must get rich to make sure I save anyone who steals and is about to be burnt to death.” Buike said, his attention taken away from us and into a space. He does this a lot.
“When I see one who has stolen and is about to be beaten it burnt to death, I would buy whatever it was he stole in a large quantity and give to him and I will ask the owner if it’s because of the little thing that he wanted to kill somebody.”
“Aunty Amara, those four University boys, so they didn’t really steal?” Buka asked.
“They didn’t and I learnt someone came out to confess later. You know, I mentioned it was one of their friends who led to that but he didn’t know it would amount to that height of trouble and ugliness.”
“So Aunty Amara, ” Buike called. “If I get involved with people who steals and I don’t and one day, they are caught and because I am with them, I would be seen as one of them too?”
“So you don’t know?” Buka replied with a huge confidence and I turned to look at him immediately.
“Okay. I’m glad I have just become friends and brothers with Ugoh and Buka. I will never move with anyone who does any bad.”
“I’m glad you said it yourself.” I told him.
“If I ever end up bad and prematurely in the hands of death, my ghost will hunt you, Aunty Amara.” Buike said to me.
I was shocked and scared for a moment. I started at him but he wasn’t looking. His eyes were on the kids coming towards the shop. I hit him on the back and was about to say something different before three other kids walked in on us and I allowed them to discuss and it was so unfortunate that Ugoh was absent all through.
I shushed them when I heard them delving into girls discussions. I didn’t even
understand. They were discussing the girls in their classes and how one other kid their age, on the street has been going after her.
There were a few
other things I don’t remember right now but before we parted, we agreed on doing something today – Independence day. Even though I found it too much a task to begin to explain to them.
We agreed we were going to tell all of what we had talked about through pictures and today, we did!
My Name is Mbagwu Amarachi Chilaka
- I write. I tell stories – in words; with ink and voice.
- I do mobile Photography.
- I am roads not yet walked
- Songs not yet sang
- Pages not yet flipped
- I am human. I am imperfect.
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