I met him when I was just fifteen years and in all the years we have been together, I have never met anyone as incredible as this guy. The day I met him will always remain burned in my memory. It was the beginning of something great. I grew up in a broken home. My father was a violent drunk while my mother was a violent prostitute. They broke their bones, jugs, mirrors, everything even my face. I don’t know why they remained together, for even though it was ‘broken’, they weren’t seperated. I started fending for myself at the age of 6. Or around that age. I can’t remember clearly. All I remember is I used to be very hungry. I scoff. That word doesn’t do it justice. I used to be famished,starving. Give me a stronger word. I thank God for my life today though. Funny story the way I met him. I was waiting for a bus to get me out of my shitty neighborhood. The previous day, I had been beaten by a mob cause I stole money. About twenty thousand naira which was a lot of money back then so I was still sporting some very ugly bruises. I try to imagine how I looked that day and smile. I was a brute and if not for some forces, I wouldn’t have left the place alive. As a fifteen year old, I might have looked bigger than my age but I had the mind, the heart of the fifteen year old that I was. My father may be a drunk or a wife beater but he wasn’t a thief or a liar. So, after my narrow escape from the mob, I was scared of my father’s reaction. The location wasn’t far from where he worked, so, I feared he would have heard. I almost didn’t want to go back home. I remember shivering all the way home when I finally decided to. I can’t say that I was surprised at what I met at home. It just was unexpected. I scoff. My parents were high on dope. They were just walking around the house like zombies. They didn’t even know that their son had almost been killed just a few minutes prior. Never in my life had I truly appreciated been an only child. I couldn’t wish my life on my enemy let alone my sibling. That day I realised that if I stayed a day longer in that house, I would end up dead with nothing to my name like my father was. The beating I received from the mob compounded with the state of my parents put a different feeling in me. Feeling that was the force that beat a different tune in my heart. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. I just grabbed my dad’s prized hunting knife and flew away with the only the clothes on my back and the money I stole from my mother. I didn’t give our house a backward glance. I thought if I had left early I would get a commercial vehicle going to the ritzier part of this state. Which reminds me, we were in Jos, Plateau state. I waited for almost an hour but I couldn’t get a bus. I was almost giving up when I heard a shuffling sound behind me. For a minute, I was scared. I thought the mob was back. Yeah, silly me. The little thing just stumbled out of his hiding place. He looked helpless. Not poor but just helpless. He looked up at me and I could see tears in his eyes. He obviously was scared. I guess he wasn’t doing as good a job as me. Instantly, I could see we had something in common. That the both of us weren’t necessarily put in the best positions. That minute I made up my mind not to ask him any questions. I just nodded at him and faced away towards oncoming vehicles. He shuffled some more behind me. He was really making some ruckus in the silent morning. I wanted to scold him but I didn’t have the mind too. Soon though, he tapped me and passed me a piece of paper. I read it with my little knowledge. Is this the way to Lagos?
I laughed and laughed and laughed. This boy was very funny. Back then, I had little knowledge but even I knew Lagos was not ten minutes away. I looked properly at him. He was just a helpless timid boy. Make that helpless timid beautiful boy. He had a striking beauty that even girls didn’t have. For a second I wondered if he was actually a girl that was acting like a boy. He wore a blue shirt that had tom splayed across it and jean.
“What is in Lagos?” I asked acting like an adult. I had someone to intimidate with my half knowledge and was acting up to it. He didn’t answer but was just looking at me like a lucozade boost. “Can’t you talk, boy? Or are you deaf?” I said. The way we mixed ‘deaf’ and ‘dumb’ back then was funny. People that couldn’t talk were deaf and dumb was only used for people who lacked intelligence. I laugh.
The boy shook his head and fresh tears streamed down his eyes. I looked down at the piece of paper I still held tightly in my hand and looked at the boy.
He tore another sheet from the book and scribbled something on it then passed it to me. My dad. I feel a vessel tear in my heart as it actually dawned on me that this beautiful boy was dumb. I wanted to help him but I didn’t know how because I was just fifteen. I could barely pick out my own clothes. How was I to take responsibility for a whole human being? I sighed deeply.
He wrote again and passed it to me. Please just take me to Lagos. My father will take care of the both of us. I was sorely tempted by the idea of being a part of a family unit. Wait. I thought. What did he mean by that? Was my fear obvious too? Did I look helpless? I changed my countenance trying to rid his mind of the idea that I might be scared. He smiled wanly but although wan, it warmed my heart. I wanted to help him not because of the sense of belonging but because of child trafficking that was rampant in Jos at that time. I deceived myself. We wouldn’t want this beautiful boy to be wandering around the wolves, would we? I deceived myself. “What is your name?” I asked. I saw that he was concentrating really hard on my lips so I repeat my question albeit slowly this time.
He scribbled again and passed to me.