Sixth Prize winner 2015 Teecoks writing competition; LONG ABRAHAM from IGBOBI COLLEGE YABA
The light turned red and the taxi came to a screeching halt. I rested my head on the steering wheel with every bit of tiredness. The old man, I had picked up a while ago complained, slow down boy. I am not ready to die. I ignored him, turning up the volume of the battered and ancient radio. This seemed to make the old man even crankier, as he wiggled uncomfortably at the back seat. Listening to it was as essential as breathing to me. Some would render this exaggeration, I thought otherwise. I remained glued to the radio, every minute of the day, desperately praying for a miracle. Hoping that plateau would once again be the free city it once was.
The fatal explosions had never once failed to send a deafening pulse through my ears. My heart could never stop pounding against my chest. I would hastily pick up Amina and along with Halima, hurry towards the underground shelter. Terror-stricken, we would sit there silently for hours. Putting my arms around them, I would pray because praying was all I was capable of. This feeling of helplessness ate me from within, so when my brother suggested we migrate to Lagos, I agreed reluctantly.
After coming to Lagos, I was forced to work as a taxi driver because no matter how hard I tried, every job application was rejected. In Plateau, I was employed as a Secretary for a lawyer. It was not much but we led a comfortable life. Not rich nonetheless, content.
The blaring horn of the car behind brought me back to the harsh reality. After dropping the old man at his destination, I drove around. My mind nowadays was always distorted. Casual drives like this one were the least I could do to settle down a bit. Driving around, I could feel these people looking at me their demeanor inhospitable, their tone condescending. They never tried to imagine what it was like to leave our motherland and try to make a life for ourselves on a new soil.
I parked the taxi in a corner, waiting for customers. A man was unloading fruits and vegetables from a truck. Tempted by the apples, I reached into my pocket, but then realized that I did not have enough money. It dawned on me that I would be saddled with these unfulfilled desires, probably for the rest of my life.
I bought some wrapped biscuits for lunch and headed home. I was greeted by complete and utter chaos. Children were fighting, screaming incessantly and pulling each others hair. I handed the biscuits to Halima and she served me food. Irritated, I went outside. I was fed up of this constant yelling and shouting. We lived in one room; my family, my brothers and my uncle. This was one of the many reasons I grew fond of the solitude.
Following lunch, I went back to the taxi station, turned up the radio and drove around looking for customers. When nobody showed up, I got out of the taxi and walked on the stone paved path. As I walked pass the fishmongers shop plain whiffs of blood and the putrid smell of decomposed fish assaulted my nostrils. I felt like my lunch was coming back up. I instantly changed my direction. Standing before an electric shop, I stared across the glass wall at the TV screen, listening to the news. The shop keeper rudely told me to leave. I turned around to go when I heard it. The Nigerian Army has just successful finished rounding up the remaining terrorists from infamous Boko Haram sect. The streets have never been safer now.
It felt like a dream. In a fleeting moment everything changed. Words could not describe how I felt. I raced home, the taxi all but forgotten. Halima was at the doorstep. Her eyes glistering but these were tears of joy. I hugged her tight and whispered in her ears. You know what this means right. Home she replied.
My brother and I made arrangement and within a week we were in Plateau. After entering the city, I fell on the ground and kissed it, felt the soil in my hands, I was finally home. We made our way towards our old house and even though it was in ruins, we decided to stay there. I sat outside a broken wall of the house, gazing at the sky, the night was unusually starry. Everybody was sound asleep. When I was finally alone, I felt surprisingly happy, a feeling unknown to me for quite some time.
Homecoming! Homecoming!! Homecoming!!!
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