Photo: Larri

Fela Don Die

Abdulrahim Hussani

Since dis Saturday mornin wey I comot for bed waka inside compound, my mind no gree forget wetin my eyes see: Morewa, my friend, don begin to dey get breasts. See, ehn, I no fit to tell una how de tin do me for bodi. E be laik dem carri anger, shock, join am with jelosi come nack me for bodi. No be small tin to see woman breasts.  My inside come begin dey make one kain ugly-ugly noise wey make me remember sey I never chop food since I comot for bed. As I jus dey waka anyhow, sotey I come begin to dey comot for compound, one Fela song wey dey play for Baba Simbi radio come hold my bodi make e no gree move. Na so me sef follow stand for one place laik one old soja:

If you call am woman

African woman no go gree

She go say, she go say, I be lady, oh

She go say, I be lady, oh

She go say, I be lady

She go say, I no be woman

She go say, Market woman na woman

She go say, I be lady . . .

Wen afternoon don near, me and Simbi, anoda of my friends, go siddon for one mango tree for awa backyard make we talk small-small talk on top Morewa and her new breasts. Morewa sef don see de two round tins for her chest. De tin bin look laik snooker balls wey boys wey dey smoke Benson near barbershop dey use play. Any time wey girl dey jelos anoda girl, dem no dey fit hide am. Na so I tek know sey, true, true, Simbi no dey hapi since de time wey she carri eyes chook for Morewa new breasts.

“See how she dey push her chest front-front since mornin, as if she dey say, ‘Notice me, notice me’.” Jelosi dey disfigure person face, I swear. As Simbi dey talk, na so her mouth tek carri one kain shape wey I never see before.

“She neva talk to me for two days now,” I tell Simbi. I no need to carri mirror, but I know sey no be small vex dey my face.

“Me too. Check am na. She don see sey she no be awa mate again. How she wan talk to us?”

As Simbi dey ask kweshun, na so I follow dey add kweshun. How Morewa don quick-quick get breasts laik dis?

Las las, Simbi say na angel wey dey dash breasts to small-small girls na im visit Morewa for night. Una hear talk? How I want tek believe dat one? Since my mama born me, I never hear sey dem get angel wey im job na to dey give breasts to small-small girls. Even if dat be true, why e be only Morewa wey de angel go visit first?

Morewa of all people?

Morewa wey no get respect? Morewa wey sabi hada talk with her mama? Morewa we no dey gree work until im mama koboko touch im skin? Morewa wey im mama carri sweat money buy koboko from one Ijebu seller wey dey always pass awa street? No na. Morewa dat wey dey always squeeze dat her face laik sey she carri bitter leaf inside mouth? Why Morewa? Why e no be us? We wey no get strong head. We wey sabi obey. We wey no dey wait for awa mama to finish call us before we appear, gbam, laik magic. Even awa knees suffa as we dey always kneel-down greet people wey senior us. We wey no dey frown face or do small-small talk laik Morewa dey do if her mama give am small work. We wey dey fill empty drums with water from community well even before sun comot begin dey fry awa skin. Na run we dey run go buy maggi, salt and pepper for awa neighbours. We dey even follow carri dia pikin wen dem dey very busy. Upon all dis suffer-suffer, na Morewa na im Angel Gabriel fit see. E blind? Why no be us?

For my life, de only bad tin wey I fit remember sey I do na de day wey I steal one small, very small egg from my mama black pot, cook am, come chop am, lick my fingers join. But after dat one, I ask Baba God make im forgive me. I ask am, I swear. So, I no come understand Angel Gabriel. I no be bad child anymore. I be born again. And I know sey even Simbi no be one kain bad-bad child.

But you see dat girl, Morewa? Nobodi wey no know sey she be confam bad girl. Nobodi dey follow am drag that title. Her mama sef don taya to dey complain. But see how God dey tek do im tin? Inside all of us, na de same Morewa don start to get breasts. Imagine. Is not fair na. Dat angel wicked no be small.

“What if e no be angel? What if na sometin else?” I ask Simbi. Simbi jus look me with dat I-no-understand-you or wetin-you-mean eye.

“Den, wetin e kon be?”.

“I no know. Mek we ask Morewa wetin she do,” I suggest. But how we go tek go near dat girl wey don dey give attitude laik sey we don turn shit and she no sabi us again?

As we dey dey wonder, na so we hear noise from outside. Na Morewa and her mama don begin dia fight again. E no shock us. We wish sey her mama beat her well-well before another woman kon enter the room begin form peacemaker on top de matter for Morewa.

* * *

For three days, Morewa jus avoid me and Simbi laik sey we carri chicken pox. I hate de way she dey look us. But I no get choice. Simbi don get plans for me.

Dat afternoon, na so I approach Morewa. De moment wey she carri eye see me, the yeye girl begin dey squeeze her face laik pesin wey drink agbo jedi-jedi. Me, I no send am. I smile one fake smile come meet am. Simbi sey make I tell am sweet, sweet tins, as girls dey fall for sweet mouth.

“Morewa, I see Lekan dey look ya chest.” Lekan na one small big boy for awa street. “Na dat time wey you dey fetch water for mornin time.”

Morewa head begin dey swell. I smile. “Even Kadiri sef, I catch am dey look your chest.” Kadiri na Bimpe younger brother. Dem get de big house for back of awa street.

I look Morewa. She dey happy, because her squeeze-squeeze face melt sharp-sharp, laik sugar wey dem put inside hot water. She open her dirty teeth laik one mumu. I know sey na because of dos small-small boys she jus dey push chest laik agbero wey dey push wheelbarrow for Mushin. I wonder if Morewa no dey feel back pain.

Everytin change wen I tell Morewa:

“Morewa, ore mi, you know sey we be friends since we dey small-small, since dat year wen we dey play suwe and ten-ten? Tell me how dis tin for ya chest tek happen. How your breasts grow? Wetin you do? Me and Simbi, we wan know. We sef wan begin get breasts laik you.”

Morewa frown her face sharp-sharp. I tell Simbi sey dis style no go work for dis evil girl. But stubborn Simbi say na de only way be dis to get wetin we want. Me, I know sey even if we go kneel down, beg her, and full awa mouth with sand, Morewa no go gree ansa us. I no laik am, but I wan make de oda small-small girls for area to dey look us with respect small and make those boys eyes dey open anyhow, even e mean sey make dem go borrow eyes join.

But dis stupid Morewa no wan gree. She turn away come start to talk small-small talk. Who she even think sey she be? Mtscheew! I think inside my mind, come waka comot.

Na under awa tree I find Simbi tell her wetin happen. De news no sweet am for belle.

“See, ehn, maybe you no ask her with suffri voice.”

I give her dat kain you-better-respect-yourself look.

“You no know dat girl. Na satan pikin she be.” Simbi laugh dat her yeye laugh laik sey na comedy I dey yan. Simbi come talk sey she go Talk to Morewa by herself. I no talk anytin. I siddon pim watch as Simbi carri her oversabi dey go.

E no reach ten minutes wen she come my place again. Na so so smile full her face.

“Wetin she tell you?” Simbi still dey smile, as I ask am.

“Notin, but e no go tey she go come tell us.”

“Why she no fit tell us now?” I ask. No be only confuse de tin confuse me, I carri vex join on top am.

“We go need help Morewa do house work for five days before she tell us!”

My ears no fit believe wetin Simbi talk.   

“Na jus five days. Finish!” Simbi continue, laik sey to do house work for five days na to chop ekuru.

“I no fit do am. Dat girl sabi spoil pesin mind, I swear.”

“Hehe! We go do am. Na we want sometin. We go jus close eye ni,” Simbi say her mind and jus waka leave me dey vex.

Dat night, as we dey ready to sleep, na dat time Baba Simbi choose to disturb us with im Fela again. De man too laik Fela. From morning to wen night reach, na so-so Fela dey sing for im radio.

I no be gentleman at all

I no be gentleman at all

I no be gentleman at all o

I no be gentleman at all, at all

I be Africa man original . . .

* * *

De five days pass slow-slow and I no know how I tek stop myself from shouting and cursing Morewa. De witch jus dey form big girl while me and Simbi wash plate, sweep and fetch water for her laik house girls. After all de suffa-suffa, Morewa open her fawo mouth talk sey she no dey tell us anytin until de following morning. If no be Simbi, I for fill dat her smelling mouth with sand. No misunderstand me o. I been laik Morewa before-before o. But small-small, I no kon dey laik her again. E be laik de way wey rain dey tek fall heavy-heavy, den begin to dey reduce small-small until e die. Now I dey feel laik to do one kain bad tin to tek handle dis Morewa witch. I wan do sometin wey go pepper her, make her to cry water. See, eh, na for Baba God to forgive me o.

De following mornin, after house work, me and Simbi go look for Morewa. As we near her house, we hear noise. And we know wetin dey happen.

“Hold your mouth! Hold your mouth! If I hear pim! Ole! Olori buruku!” we hear Morewa mama jus dey para.

We jus shake awa head, turn back.

After one hour wey Morewa mama don finish show her correct pepper, Simbi manage drag de witch to awa normal place for backyard. To make Morewa calm down well, na so we contribute money buy her zobo.

“Morewa, five days don pass,” Simbi start, laik sey na both reminder and warning. “We don try for you no be small. Oya, tell us abeg.”

“I no do anytin o!” Morewa confess. “Una no see sey I senior two of una? Make una wait till una reach my years.”

See, ehn, if person eyes fit kill another person, I for don kill Morewa before I begin tell una dis story. Morewa say she be thirteen years, but I no gree dat fat lie. Simbi sef no gree. How Morewa tek sabi her age wen we sef no sabi awa own? Morewa mama and awa own na de same: all of dem no go skool. Me? I fit dey around ten years, or ten years-plus, or even eleven. I fit even pass twelve ma sef. No be mumu I be. I remember de day my mama tell me say she born me six days after dem push de former militri president comot for im chair. Three Christmas pass between me and my small brother before dem born am.

As for Simbi, her mama say she born her one day after one tall building for Alhaji Bode Kanyin Street fall down jus laik dat and bury twenty-three people alive. We no know de true-true time wey all dis tins tek happun. We jus kuku think awa years — me and Simbi — na ten years. Now, na how Morewa tek senior us? Na which event wey she fit use remember de time wey her mama born am? Maybe na because she tall pass us na wetin dey make her think sey she dey thirteen years. Mtcheeew!

I no know why we be friends with dis stupid girl

“Haba! Tell us na. We don try for you o,” Simbi continue to dey beg Morewa.

Morewa use her smelling mouth jus dey smile anyhow.

“Okay. Na beans I use.”

“Beans?” me and Simbi ask at once.

“Yes, beans.”

“How?”

“Carri two seed of beans throway for inside well.”

“Den wetin?”

“Den una go wait. Finish.”

“Jus laik dat?”

“Ehen na, jus laik dat,” Morewa answer, put her zobo for mouth, come waka comot.

Me, I no gree with dis tin o. I no believe dat evil girl. But we no get choice. Simbi jus keep kwayet. Na so we jus dey look awa-sef laik two mumu.

Early in de mornin, Simbi voice carri me comot for sleep. She don already fetch beans for inside one small black bag. We waka go back of house, stop for one big well wey no get water inside again. I watch as Simbi comot two seeds of beans, do small incantation on top dem, come throway dem inside de well. Dis girl don dey fear me.

“Wetin you talk?” I ask am.

“Na prayer,” she ansa. “I wan angel of breasts make e no miss awa house again.”

I jus laugh Simbi one better laugh, before I put hand inside de bag fetch laik twenty seeds. De way Simbi look me, you go think sey she wan swallow me with her eyes.

“Morewa say only two seeds.”

“God punish Morewa! You believe dat satan pikin? Mtcheew! She no want us to get big breasts, na why she say make we pick jus two. I know sey she pour plenty-plenty. For dis life, ehn, no too dey trust wetin people tell you.”

Before we leave backyard, de bag don empty.

De following day, we wake up but awa chests still remain de same. No change. Me, I begin doubt dis tin.

“Make we wait till after three days, if notin show, we go give dat stupid girl sand chop,” Simbi advise me.

De next morning, awa chests still dey dry.

After three days pass and I no see anytin for my chest, I confam say to kill person na good sontin sometimes. With dat kain Oduduwa anger wey dey for my bodi, I fit kill Morewa o. Na so I tek rush enter inside compound. Dem go hear me and Morewa today.

But wen I enter inside compound, na so I hear shouting. People begin dey run laik sey de world don dey end. All of dem dey run go backyard. My mind cut. Sure sey no be de beans wey we pour for well na im people don find so? Me sef run follow dem go backyard.

Baba Simbi bodi dey dance from de mango tree. One thick rope tie round im small neck. My head begin turn. I run back laik pesin wey drink ogogoro, my bodi dey shake anyhow. How pesin laik Baba Simbi wey look laik pesin wey happi well-well go kill imsef? Na so so dance every morning and night im dey dance Fela song. Wetin kill am? Wetin?

I waka go back inside house. People full dem Mama Simbi room. I peep inside. Simbi sef dey cry. Na so I waka come her place come put her on top my shoulder. For inside my mind, I jus dey think sey de beans we pour for inside well follow be part of de wahala, follow for wetin kill Simbi papa. Dat girl! Dat Morewa girl, na witch! Na satan pikin! Why we do wetin she tell us?

But now, I sure sey as Simbi papa don die so, we no go dey ever hear Fela music for dis compound again. E go be laik sey na Fela don die.

As I dey think all dis tins, Simbi jus dey cry. I no know wetin to do to stop am. Na so me sef follow join am dey cry. Na friends we be. We dey do everytin together. Even if na cry, we go cry together, no wahala.


Hussani’s “Fela Don Die” is the first story in our Praxis Magazine Ten Short Stories for 10 Days of Christmas stories published from 21 to 30 December. Click the link above for details. Invite your friends.

DON’T MISS OUT!
Subscribe To Newsletter
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here