“Karma has a bulky body,
and a big mouth.
The body slows it down
and there’s no teeth in the big mouth”
Igwe was at the shop, sweating it out with the sewing machine. He had a target, a hundred boxers pieces today or nothing. Having come late, it would be impossible to get more than that number. The electronic machine he used made work easier, he didn’t not have to huff and pant like someone running for miles.
To his right, Uche laboured with his own sewing machine, throwing down one finished piece after the other. He was in charge of fixing the elastic to the boxers waist, a job that took less than one minute for him and he was on to the next one. Try as much as Igwe did, he could not fix the rubber the way Uche did, so he left it for him.
“I look like a masquerade,” Nwanneukwu said as he stood looking at himself in the mirror.
Igwe left his work to stare at him. Nwanneukwu was a grown man in his early thirties, but he reminded Igwe of a very old Smeagol from Lord of the rings. His eyes were popping out and his body looked like his flesh was making an exodus away from his frame. He wanted to tell the man that he was right, he looked ugly, perhaps uglier than a masquerade, but he did not know how the man would take such affirmation from a teen who just recently joined them. Ote, the other man at the end of the shop looking at his machine like it was some strange alien device, was known to fly off the wheels at veiled insults from Uche whose uncle owned the place.
Uche suddenly burst out laughing as he watched Nwanneukwu observing himself in his mirror.
“Uche, you’re laughing at me. Am I lying?” Nwanneukwu asked, goodnaturedly.
“Igwe, legodi o. Can you hear this man?”
Igwe smiled, a perfunctory thing, to get Uche off his back.
“He’s asking me if he’s ugly o,” Uche stated, laughing some more.
“No, no nah, I’m ugly. I look hungry,” Nwanneukwu said.
“Well, you drink too much. Too much kaikai is sucking your blood. Very soon there will be none left, not even your flesh,” Uche predicted, grinning wickedly.
Igwe chuckled despite himself, despite the issue weighing heavy on his mind.
“Igwe laugh o, if you want to laugh. Stop holding it in,” Uche said.
“Me nko?” Ote asked Nwanneukwu, “don’t I look like where a hen has scattered around for food?”
The question was to Nwanneukwu but Uche was not one to let a teasing opportunity pass him by.
“You have no hope, Ote. You look like a hen’s excreta,” Uche agreed, adding his own choice words to rub in the insult deep.
Ote ignored him, contrary to Igwe’s expectations.
“Keep drinking, you hear?” Uche said gleefully, happy to find himself in the advisor’s position.
Nwanneukwu went back to his machine, picked up a newly cut piece and was about to sew the pieces together when the light went off.
“Ndi ara!” Uche screamed.
“NEPA sef. Foolish people. Just now that I’m about getting back to work,” Nwanneukwu cursed.
Ote added some curses of his own, all of which were sure to raze down the NEPA building with the officials in it if words had that magical ability to turn into fire.
“I don’t know if there’s fuel here o,” Uche lamented.
“Get money from your uncle nah,” Nwanneukwu suggested.
“He went out with his wife,” Uche said.
Igwe simply leaned back against the wall and rested. The time on his watch read 5: 15 pm. He had wanted to go by 6, but he figured going home earlier would not be bad. He had to get himself in shape for what awaited him tonight.
“Uche, I’m going,” he said.
“Won’t you wait for my uncle to come back and pay?”
“I can’t wait,” Igwe said.
“You do know I don’t your money?”
“I’ll get it tomorrow.”.
Before Uche could respond, Igwe was already through the door, walking so fast that his limp was hardly noticed. He nodded at Ote and Nwanneukwu on his way out.
“This your friend sef,” Nwanneukwu said.
Outside, Igwe walked towards the building he had saved in his head. He knew every part of the house and exactly where he had to go when the time came. He walked into a nearby eatery and ordered food. When it came he ate everything quickly and asked for more. He was on his fourth plate of fufu with egusi soup, weaving his way through the nuisance the flies provided when he heard familiar steps coming off the stairway of a building. His ears pricked up as they did when he was listening to a distinct sound coming from a long way off.
His eyes filled up, tears bubbled on the edge of breaking out. He wondered why he did not do anything all those while he felt the child’s agony. She was the second child he knew going through abuse at the hands of people that should love her. The first one was dead.
He sat in the eatery till the earth donned a dark, night gown in preparation for the night. He left the place as they closed up and sat on a curb across the road. Sitting there, he watched people come and go; it was like life, the daily exchange of different lives which never stayed for long.
His watch screamed the time aloud to him, 9:00pm. It was time. He focused on the darkness around him and slowly melted into it. The next person that walked past him did not see the darkness at one with the night. She walked along and went around to the house Igwe had been observing.
She knocked on the gate and it swung open almost immediately. A rush of wind brushed past the lady, raising goosebumps on her flesh. She looked around hurriedly, there was no one there. Her gaze fell on the boy that had pulled the gate open for her.
“Close the gate,” she said. Then “has the lecture come back?”
“Yes,” the boy said.
“Lock the gate then.”
Inside the top floor of the one storey building, a youth had a 15 year old girl lying underneath him while he humped and puffed, thrusting into her. The girl’s sobs were muffled as he constantly reminded her that no one could hear her or save her. Two naked friends of the youth stood by the side, waiting their turn.
Presently they were three instead of two. They did not see something wrong with this, until they turned around and found that the intruder wore clothes and had a gun.
“Ikechukwu,” the intruder called.
“Shh, make una no break my stride,” the first youth said and thrust again.
He heard the gunshot the same time his head exploded, splattering all over the bed, against the wall and on the poor girl he had pinned beneath him.
Two more gunshots exploded around the room, the sound traveling far from the little room in the house.
When the girl looked again, there was nobody there, there were only her tormentor’s friends lifeless bodies on the ground, blood slowly spreading across the floor.
Karma came early.
READ: The Tourist Episode 1
Samuel Ogechukwu thinks of himself as a writer, a superhero, a song writer, the prince in shining armour for some lady in his fairy tale. He believes this too, because well, his stories are his, and he can be anything in everyone of them.