Thursday, January 05, 2017

30th December

By Fiziedeen

Tari didn’t realise how bad things had become in Nigeria; in Rivers state to be precise, until today. Ever since Buhari came with his “Change” slogan, things have changed so much. Taxi drivers, market women, civil servants…everyone now sings songs of recession. Not that Tari hasn’t been hearing these songs, but somehow it felt like he was living in a bubble and everything was happening outside. Today, the 30th day of December 2016, his bubble burst.
He had been in Port Harcourt for two weeks. He works in Lagos but likes to spend his vacations in Port Harcourt with his parents, to help out with some only-son duties. Part of his only son duties involves waking very early in the morning to help his dad shave the resilient grey hair that grows on his head overnight, before he goes to work. Shaving is a daily ritual for his dad. His reason is that grey hair makes people think he is very old, whereas he is “just 68”. He hardly mentions his age to anyone, and on the few occasions he does, he never fails to precede the figure with “just”. It was as though calling 68 years “just” actually makes him younger. Tari doesn’t exactly know for how long his dad has been shaving daily, but word on his family street has it that he has been doing it even before Tari was born – over 25 years ago. He’d have someone help him shave his hair with a razor blade fitted in a shaving stick. Tari also doesn’t know what his dad has against the modern day electric clipper, but his guess is that clippers won’t uproot the hairs from the depth of their pores, the way razor blades do. Whenever Tari isn’t at home, his mom does the shaving for her husband. Turns out she is the one that isn’t at home this time. She had been away at her village for a week now. She had to go and represent the family at Boma’s wedding. Boma is Tari’s “cousin”. Tari uses the word “cousin” whenever he’s unable to exactly explain how he’s related to the person.
Over the years, shaving his dad whenever he’s at home, had grown from a mere daily ritual to something he and his dad have come to cherish so much because it is during this time that they have their very short, yet very comforting heart to heart, father to son conversations. He’ll open up to his dad and fill him in on the happenings in his life. If he has problems at work, or if there are updates about the various Ponzi schemes they indulge in, he’ll tell him everything. His father will in turn dish out fatherly advises. He’ll also let out personal things that the father Tari knows, will normally not say to anyone. The conversations are so confiding and comforting. For this reason, Tari and his dad enjoy their shaving time, though they never admit it to each other.
On this fateful, bubble-bursting day, Tari woke up around 5am to shave his dad. While they were at it, his dad specifically reminded him that it’s only two days before the year ends. He said that from experience, awful things happen around this time of the year. He warned Tari to in turn warn his siblings, that they should be careful when they go out, so nothing bad happens to any of them. It’s safe to say his dad jinxed it all, because a very bad day followed for Tari.
His mom had called the previous night to say DSTV sent her a mail saying if she pays for two months subscription before the year runs out, she’ll get an extra month for free. Tari agreed and told her he’d go to DSTV office the next day to subscribe, so that’s what he set out to do on the bubble-bursting day. He left home at about 11am. The harmattan mid-day sun was already out, bitterly cursing everyone beneath it, like they had a hand in making it an inanimate object – like if given the chance, it would prefer to be a human being instead. The dryness in the air told tales of hardship evident on cracked lips and straight faces. Everyone was minding their businesses. It was a typical “no look Uche face” situation. No be when you don chop belleful, na him you go get energy to hail another person for road under hot sun? Tari was already getting angry at no one in particular. He was having his usual thoughts that ushered in depression. “If to say things connect like good network”, “If to say I get car wey get AC like Obinna now”….he went on and on. He knows very well that comparing yourself with others isn’t a good thing to do, but pain demands to be felt. He thought about how many years it had been since he graduated from university, and how he should have figured things out by now, like he planned. He thought about all his friends that have cars, and are doing well for themselves. He was angry at life and it seemingly angered the sun more. He stood for about ten minutes, before he got an okada that’ll take him to the junction where he’ll get a taxi to Rukpokwu. On their way to the junction, police stopped them. The okada man wasn’t expecting to see police on this route. It was probably their first day there. They did their customary sabi sabi check. He was all clean. He had a license and his papers were intact, but the police men still no gree. Tari was cursing again. “Which kind nonsense country be this? Why policemen no fit just get sense for one day?” From the stern look on Tari’s face, you could tell that if he was given a gun and three bullets – one each for Vic O, Bobrisky and the policeman - he’d forgive the first two and put all three bullets in the policeman’s eye. After all the time wasting, the okada man parted with fifty naira before they were allowed to go. The okada fare from Tari’s house to the junction is one hundred naira, and the policeman had taken fifty naira out of it. Which one be for fuel? Which one come be the okada man gain? The man shook his head in sadness and muttered “I tire for this country”. When they got to the junction, Tari gave him two hundred naira and hurried off just in time before the man started singing his thank yous.
When he got to the DSTV retail office at Rukpokwu, it was locked. They had a post on their door saying they’ve closed for the year, that they’ll reopen on 3rd January and that they are sorry for whatever inconveniences this might cause their customers. “Sorry? Wetin be sorry? The thunder that will fire you people is lifting weights in the gym”. Tari left even angrier than he was when he got there. He boarded another taxi to Rumuokoro. The plan was to stop at Timo’s shop. Timo is one of the best phone repairers in Rumuokoro and its environment. Tari knows this because he has been in Port Harcourt since he was nine. Timo sabi him work wella. There’s almost nothing that can go wrong with a phone, that he won’t know how to fix. But knowing your trade very well has its own problems - he gets much more customers than he can handle conveniently. Consequently, lie no dey finish for him mouth. Come today, come tomorrow. Once, Tari had jokingly said to his mom “if i eventually go heaven and I see timo for there, I go ask God how”. Tari had given Timo his sister’s phone some two weeks back. The screen was broken. Timo asked him to come back the following day and even though Tari didn’t expect the phone to be ready within 24 hours, he didn’t expect it to take up to two weeks either. He got to timo’s shop and it was filled with customers as expected. He could tell he was in for another story from the way Timo avoided eye contact with him right from when he got in. “See ehn, I don find that your screen tire for the whole Pitakwa, I no see am. But no worry, I send one of my boys go Lagos yesterday. Your screen follow for the things wey I send am to buy. Come back next week Tuesday, e go don ready by then”. Timo said the words with the ease of someone that has said them so many times - like a primary school kid absent-mindedly reciting the national pledge. Tari nodded his head and left. With all the anger he was bottling, he knew it was a bad idea to say anything.
By now, Tari was all sweaty. The boy no kuku too fine before, so with the sweat, tiredness and anger, everything made him look like an Obasanjo offspring. He remembered an old trick Satan and his agents always pulled on him during his university days. Any day he went out for lectures all freshened up looking like the son of a god, he hardly ran into any of his female friends. On the other hand, any day he mistakenly went out looking tattered – maybe for one reason or the other, he didn’t take his bath, he’d surely run into almost all the fine girls he knew on campus, and na that day them go wan hug am. Life fucks us all at every chance it gets. Tari hoped it wouldn’t happen, but it did. The only difference was that he was too angry to care.
He set out for the DSTV office at stadium road. He needed cash so he kept on looking out for a working ATM. The only one he saw had an unbelievable queue. The queue was so long, it was obvious that many of the people on it had no other option but to stay on it. Some fit no even get transport to go back house. It had happened to Tari once, but that’s a story for another day. He got to the DSTV office, and thank heaven, it was open. But isn’t a DSTV office the least place one would expect to find a queue? It was almost as long as the one he saw at the ATM. Here, the queues were two – one longer than the other. Upon inquiry, he was told that the longer one was for people who didn’t have cash on them, and needed to use POS. That the queues were long was one thing, that the officials were very slow in attending to them was another type of witchcraft entirely. Their excuse was the inexhaustible “Abeg make una no vex, our servers are down”. Servers dey ever dey up for this country? Tari stood there wondering what to do with his life, almost bursting into tears from the day’s frustration. “So person go line up for ATM to collect him own money, still come line up for DSTV office to subscribe? Which kind nonsense country be this?” he cursed again. He brought out his phone from his pocket, plugged in his earphones and started listening to a random song. Even music that is his normal getaway couldn’t work this time, as he was too angry to hear Sarkodie say money no be problem. He unplugged the earphones and returned his phone to his pocket. The wait was very long, but it eventually got to his turn. He told the official what he had come for, and after putting down his smart card number and other details, it was time to pay. He inserted his ATM card into the POS, selected savings account, entered the amount and entered the pin. The machine read “Processing” for a while, then showed some error message. “You sure say you get money for this account?” The official asked. Tari was too angry to recognise it was a joke. “Which kind insult be that one na? Them dey follow you from village?” he retorted. The official noticed Tari wasn’t in the best of moods, so he simply asked him to insert his card and try again. This time, the transaction was approved and a receipt was automatically printed out almost immediately. Almost immediately too, Tari got a debit alert on his phone, and it irritated him. “To commot person money no dey hard una, but if na to credit person account now, server go dey down”.
By the time he left the DSTV office, his skin was all dried up. The AC in the DSTV office was about the only positive thing from his day so far. He walked a few hundreds of meters to a nearby junction where he’d get a taxi to Rukpokwu. The taxi that was loading had just gotten filled up, so he was the first passenger in the next taxi. He entered from the door adjacent to the driver’s, and was already shifting to the seat behind the driver’s – his favourite in any car –before someone got in from the door behind the driver’s. Someone else also got in from the other side, leaving Tari in the middle – something he hates, but was too tired to give a fuck about this time. To come down come wait for the next Taxi fit take another ten to fifteen minutes, and he was facing a race against time – it was about a few minutes before 5pm. The engine came on, and off they went.
They had been on the road for about five minutes, and he was almost dozing off when he got a text on this phone. He brought it out and saw that it was from GTB. He hoped it wasn’t what he was thinking, but it was. They had debited him twice. It was at this point he realised it’s him that is being followed from the village. “All these evils in one day? Life no get conscience? Which old woman did I offend?”…he was still lost in thoughts when the words “Pass me that phone” snapped him back to reality. It was the passenger at his left, and he was pointing a gun at him. The sight of the gun sent cold shivers down his spine. Things were happening too fast for him to comprehend. Before he knew what was happening, the other passenger at his right had collected the phone from him, and was reaching out for his wallet too. They were partners. By now, Tari’s trouser was soaked with hot urine, and no one could blame him really. They collected the small two thousand he had in the wallet and gave the wallet back to him. The taxi stopped, and he was pushed out. It dawned on him that he just got robbed. He tried to hold back, but tears rolled down his cheeks. God had forsaken him, and he didn’t know why. The incident replayed in his head. Why was the driver quiet all through? How about the two passengers in front? Were they accomplices too? There were so many questions, yet so few answers…. 

Check out some songs from Fiziedeen:


  1. Omg if all these should happen to me ehhh I'll just sleep by the streets.

  2. All these shit in one day! Na six fit be that ooo.

  3. Great read. Everything happens for a reason, find yours.


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