It was some minutes to ten in the morning when I was coaxed by Mom to go and dispose of our garbage even though the bin wasn’t full. My house happens to be one of the houses at the end of the street before the big Nkisi Bush in Onitsha.
I put on my glasses, still very grudging about this errand, took up the garbage bin and started out. I walked past the houses at the end of the street, before getting to the gully where the street residents dispose of their refuse. While I was doing this, I noticed two guys smoking weed in a corner. They often hang out there, and upon noticing me, they hailed me. I nodded back at them with a stern look, because I knew they’d start asking for “something” if I gave them a smiling face.
Having disposed the refuse, I hit the bin on the curb to further empty the bin. A bike came down the street with a guy as the passenger. He was young and was trying to make a phone call. The bike man dropped him beside me, he paid his fare and the bike man swerved and drove off. As I observed him, I don’t know what came over me, but I suddenly had an instinct this young, guileless-looking guy had trouble looming over him.
He stood there, glancing this way and that. I noticed his countenance turn instantly guarded when he saw the smokers and he walked over to me to ask for the location of a hotel. I pointed ahead of me, telling him that the hotel was still up the street, that the bike man shouldn’t have dropped him here. Then I turned to leave.
Just then, a guy strolled towards us. He had a smile on his face. He called out a name “Ify”, and the young boy I’d just spoken to nodded his affirmation. They shook hands.
In that moment, still feeling a bad feeling, I decided not to go on just yet. I was standing a few feet away from them and brought to fake a call with my back to them.
And then, a voice rich with acrimony burst out. “So, i bu homo, eh? Okpo ntu!”
I turned immediately to see that the smokers had advanced on the young boy, and following his snarled words, one of them slapped him, before asking him to hand over his phone.
I didn’t need further prompting. I dashed forward. “Kee ife o?” I shouted. “Why are you beating this guy?”
“Chairman, stay out of this o!” the other smoker snapped. “This guy na homo, so we want to teach him a lesson.”
I feigned surprise. “What?” I said. I looked at the boy; he was so young, achingly young and naïve. His eyes had already filled with tears and he was starting to beg. He seemed to see a savior in me and was pleading with me not to go, to save him. He was really sobbing.
“Who invited this guy here?” I asked the other guys, three of them.
None of them answered.
“Who asked you to come here?” I asked the boy.
He pointed to one of them, the one who’d first come to meet him, and apparently the one who he’d been communicating with through whatever hookup app they’d ensnared him with.
I turned to the one he pointed out, now looking very angry and asked, “Why did you invite this guy here? If you are not a homo, why did you invite him here?” I spoke in Igbo, with a hard voice so they’d understand that I had home advantage.
The other two were blowing smokes in the air; I didn't know whether they did that to scare me or whatever, but I wasn’t to be intimidated. I wasn't moving anywhere.
“What's your name?” I asked the boy.
“Ifeanyi,” he said.
“Where is your phone?”
He showed me an Infinix phone.
“Did they collect anything from you? I asked.
He said no.
“Oya come and start going,” I said, gesturing for him to be on his way.
The others instantly became alert to my intrusion. One of the smokers grabbed the boy by the belt. “We cannot leave this homo to go like that o!” he growled.
At this, I was no longer feigning anger. I was actually angry. I growled back at him, “See eh, if you don't leave this boy now, mu na gi ga anwu here!”
The guys instantly became wary, unsure of the demon driving me. “Oga, it's like you're even one of them,” the guy with his hand on Ifeanyi’s belt said. Even then, he let go of the boy.
“That one is your business,” I snapped. Then I turned to the one I’d noticed was a resident of my street and said to him, “You see you, just do anyhow and I will come to your house with police and I will arrest you.”
He recoiled. “Haba, oga, we have left him oh. I don't know what you are talking about police now oh.”
“You are mad,” I said, very antagonistic. “You want to rob someone on account of what you're not sure of. Don't worry. Just wait for me!” I threatened.
I don't know what it was about me that made them take me serious, but the guy began pleading for me not to involve the police on his matter while the other two urged me to forget about him since they were no longer interested in harassing Ifeanyi.
“You guys should be careful in this street,” I warned, finally acquiescing. “You should be very, very careful.”
I turned and picked up my garbage bin and gestured for Ifeanyi to follow me. We walked a little away from the gang of three before I stopped a bike for him.
“Brother please follow me to the junction,” he begged. “They might follow me.”
I assured him that they wouldn't. “Just be careful who you go to visit,” I cautioned him. “Make sure they are what you are before you go anywhere.”
He smiled tearily at me, his gratitude obvious. And then he turned to get on the bike.
I observed this time not only how young he looked but how succulent he looked. I wanted to ask him for his number but I decided not to when I saw that those guys were looking in our direction. I didn’t want them to have any reason at all to think I was anything other than a good person saving someone else from their wickedness.
Written by Nonny