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A Street Littered with Things | Zenas Ubere

A Street Littered with Things | Zenas Ubere

A Street Littered with Things by Zenas Ubere Agbowo Art African Literary Art

The street is littered with empty water bottles, styrofoam cups, nylon bags, squeezed serviettes stained with oil, glass pieces, food particles, cigarette stubs, drink caps, and plastic plates. Gutters lay on both sides of the street like two gray strips. Cement blocks are stacked across the gutter by my right. Some canopies stand a few steps away from me, some are dismantled and lie in untidy piles by the side. A woman in green ankara is under a canopy. She sits leaning forward, right elbow on right lap, palm supporting chin, fingers folded inward covering lower mouth area. Her head is tilted to her right—the direction I walk from. Two bumps swelled out from the tar, swellings I have to cross before I reach her.

I cross the first swelling and hit the smell of liquor and a drunk’s vomit. My nose squeezes in reaction to the stench. I endure it and trudge on. I cross the second swelling and am punched in the nose by the putrid smell of sour jollof rice and blood.

The woman in green ankara is some steps away from me, staring blankly in my direction. Tears lined her cheeks, black colouring gathered underneath each eye like paddings. A mole clung to the side of her face, inches away from her nose. I approach her with caution in my chest. Nylon bags swish as they move away for the wind. Muffled sobs and low sniffles play out from the woman in green ankara. A siren rings in the distance. A dog responds.

“Good morning, Miss,” I say. She turns her head to my direction, briefly, then resumes her previous posture. Like she did not see me. “Can you hear me?” I say. No response. Her eyes are glossy and reddened. Some plastic chairs around her are broken and spotted with wine-coloured stains. A spread of congealed liquid gummed a part of the floor. Glass splinters are scattered around, giving off twinkles. I reach for one chair to wipe it so I can sit. As I touch the wine-coloured stain a jolt runs through my finger. My hand recoils like a mamba after striking and memories flood into my head.

***

I’m in this same spot and it brims with people. The area around me is dark except the DJ stand which has a naked filament bulb glowing overhead. Music blares from tall speakers into the bones of the people—youths with thirsty eyes and mouths, sweaty thighs and cleavages. They all stand and are dancing, hands in the air, hands holding waists, bums shaking against crotches. Naira Marley’s Soapy is on. …kirikiri jo soapy… Some are doing the dance: one hand in the air, the other in front of crotch doing the mock wanking motion.

I’ve had too much beers and need to pee. I dawdle into the darkness to discharge at a concealed area. I trip into a bump and almost fall, regain balance and continue my walk. The crescent moon floats in the sky throwing off a mocking smile and a dim glow. A guy is bent over by the side of the street, his guts spilling from his mouth into the gutter. I walk past him to the place where cement blocks are stacked like cubes of sugar. I hop over the gutter and stand beside the stack, open my zipper and fling out my member from its holding; the liquid gushes forth, slushing over the cement blocks. I’m packing my pecker and zipping up. Low voices creep out from behind the blocks. “The drug don de catch her, begin do.” “But still hol her hand just in case.” Curiosity drags me by the hand and I follow. Some feet behind the blocks, a woman is sprawled on the floor, a man on top of her, his buttocks moving back and forth. Their legs point to my direction. A second man is holding down her hands. I turn on the flash light on my phone and it startles them. I dash into the scene and drive my shoe into the man on top. He rolls off clutching his balls, groaning in pain, cursing. The woman’s green ankara gown has been moved up to allow access. A mole clung to the side of her face, inches away from her nose. Her eyes are shut, hair ruffled. The other man stands and charges at me. I recognise him and wish I hadn’t played saviour. He is Aluma, one of the local tyrants. I run and he chases after me. I sprint towards the canopy area. A bottle lands in front of me and smashes into studs. I’m still running. Another hits the back of my head and my legs slow. I’m close to the canopy, ready to scream. He hurls himself towards me and we fall crashing into some chairs. The chaos breaks through the music and the dancing crowd. Everyone scrambles and disperses like a group of rioters after teargas is thrown. He is above me now, ramming punches into my body. I’m returning as much as I can. Blocking as much as I can. His fist meets my jaw and sets a tooth free. The bottle he lifts above his head catches a glint of light from the naked filament bulb at the DJ stand. His hand swings down. A smashing sound on my head. A pool of blood underneath.

***

I’m back in the canopy with the woman in green ankara. She’s opposite me, still sitting. Still maintaining her posture. The sun has crept into the canopy, pressing silhouettes to the floor. I look and the floor is without my shadow. I sit on a chair and lean forward. Tears line my cheeks. My left elbow rests on my left lap, palm supporting chin. I fold my fingers inward covering my lower mouth area. I tilt my head to my left and stare blankly into the distance. The street is littered with things. A lot of things, like wild flowers in a graveyard.

 


Zenas Ubere Agbowo Art African Literary Art Zenas Ubere is a Nigerian writer. His works appear on African Writer and the K & L Histories of Yesterday anthology. He currently lives in Owerri and enjoys prose as much as he does poetry.
Twitter: @zenasubere
Photo by Ashutosh Jaiswal from Pexels

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