Novel Afrique joys in promoting young, promising writers. Akeem Alawoki came across as a surprisingly witty writer whose maturity is evident in his words. We hope you enjoy him as well we did.
Sir Buri and Sir Lami were young when they left home. According to the older guys around here, they were always reeking of sheer innocence and required vigour to make some pieces per day. They said inmates of the garage loved Sir Buri more because he was diplomatic and always careful of not stepping on already sore and bloodied toes, but Sir Lami didn’t give a rat’s bottom.
After they both hustled and jostled in the garage; selling sachets of pure water, conducting commercial buses, picking pockets and selling more sachets of pure water, they made it. They made it really big. The last time I heard about Sir Buri, he was done with his sixth and biggest building, built in his name and by himself. Sir Lami is not doing badly too, only that he is quite bad with girls.
I, too, was young when I left home. Few thought I would. Unfortunately for my parents, they were not part of the few that considered that odd, but I had always known that I would stowaway. I was not just sure about the time.
My parents were so sensitive and overbearing that I could hardly play outside the imprisoning walls of our boring compound. Each time I manage to do so out of the blues, mum would raise the dust and beat the hell out of me and report to dad, claiming the she had not touched me – something that always made me wonder whether she had herself in mind when she told us that “all liars shall go to hell!”
It was on a Friday afternoon exactly five years ago that I decided to take off. I was sent on an errand to the next street to get some brown loaves of bread and I took my chance to enjoy pure freedom. Never did I know where I wanted to go at first, but after I weighed a lot of options, I trekked down to the garage at Oshodi and finally to the one at Mushin. Oshodi wasn’t the best place for me since I didn’t want to get found!
My parents weren’t the only ones who could easily find me at Oshodi. Mr. Dodo could too. He was the wicked and dreaded principal of our government secondary school. He was famous for snooping about buses at Oshodi garage almost every morning looking for students of our school who were seeking asylum from strokes of cane that were awaiting them for daring to come late to the school.
In truth, Mr. Dodo also played a major role in my decision to stowaway. I was an inveterate late comer and he, like himself, was an untiring flogger. Our innumerable encounters had made him know me by face and voice – to my amusement. Although he was always having me caned, something in my heart tells me that he liked me and I think that it’s because of the prizes I won every time I got to represent the school at inter-school competitions, mostly debating and quiz. But I hated and feared him for every single stroke of the cane he inflicted on me and my peers.
Now that Mr. Dodo and mum and dad are my past, I can enjoy the moment in this blistering cold of the garage, where boys are bad and men untrustworthy; where you make enemies faster than you make friends and friends are erratic and fickle.
They call me Fresh. They say that I act like a boy from a wealthy home because I am quite a dandy; always wanting to look clean. I make about 300 naira daily and when I am ahead of my game, I make 450 naira or 500 naira, but that is very rare. Before now, I was always having my pocket picked by the garage boys. Boss, one of my friends around, told me that it was the norm. Since I didn’t like such, I decided that it was going to stop, and it did.
If there were anything that I fear the most in the garage, it is the sodomites. The sodomites are the reason why we wear our pants before going the sleep. They would penetrate boys at night leaving most of them bleeding. And they mostly attack docile boys. I have been attacked before but I was lucky.
I can only fancy the life here because of the freedom and the fun of being a wild garage boy. But I fancy more. I want to make it out of this mess, make some decent mullah and be the pride of my people. I believe that I could, even some boys here too. I hear them say that I’m gifted with the art of waxing words like a spirited ghetto rap star. They told me that I could be the next Olamide and make it bigger than Sir Buri and Sir Lami.