Funmilade took out his keys from his pocket and opened the door of the flat he lived in with his mother. He sauntered in tired and collapsed on the single couch in the living room. It had been a long day and he was famished. He cradled a can of Bournvita in his arms and he used the key in his hand to open the can. Naira notes and coins stared at him. He shook the can and it rattled. He was shocked that a few people still spent the coins when most people had moved on from it. He dropped the can carefully by his side. Right now, he was hungry. He would come back to the can after his meal.
He walked into the kitchen and uncovered a pot of ila asepo. The aroma wafted into his nostrils and he took a deep breath. His stomach rumbled acknowledging its desire to be filled. He touched the pot and immediately retrieved his hand. It was still very hot. He looked to his right and noticed the brown cooler. He opened it and whistled as he saw two mounds of pounded yam neatly wrapped. He took out the bigger one, scooped out some soup into a bowl and settled down on a stool right there in the kitchen.
He knew he should wait for his mother to arrive as they always had lunch together whenever he came back from school but he was so hungry and he had to break the tradition today. He gulped down a cup of water after his meal, washed the plates and placed them carefully on the kitchen zinc.
He went back to the living room to attend to the can he had previously abandoned as a result of hunger. He picked out the money, straightened them out and counted them. It was five hundred and thirty-five naira. Fifteen naira out of that amount was in coins. Not bad; he thought. In a few minutes, the events of the day wore him out coupled with the heavy meal and he began to doze off.
Iya Funmi opened the door of the flat with her key and walked in. She knew her son would be back from school waiting for her, so they could have lunch together. As she placed her bag on the centre table in the living room, the sight before her shocked her. She looked at her son but he was unrecognizable. She immediately ran out and started shouting as she placed her hands on her head. “Ará àdúgbò, ë gbà mí o” (Neighbours, please save me). Very soon, she began to draw the attention of her neighbours who lived in the other flats. They came out and began to ask each other what the problem was. When no one could answer the other, one of the men looked at Iya Funmi who was already seated on the floor and crying.
“Wetin happen, Iya Funmi.” The man asked.
“Na my pikin oh. Àwön tí n wón sá tèlé mi ti mú ömö mi o.” (Those running after me have taken hold of my child). The man looked around at the faces of the other neighbours and someone interpreted Iya Funmi’s lamentation to him.
“Oya make we go inside go see her pikin.” The man said. The others looked at each other but no one made a move. “Make we go inside nau.” The man repeated.
“You dey go for front. We go dey your back.” One of the women answered.
Another man stepped out of the crowd and the two men entered Iya Funmi’s flat.
They walked in to see Funmilade sleeping peacefully. He was however dressed in a torn tee shirt which had been previously white. He had his jeans trousers rolled up to his knee on one leg while the other was rolled down. He wore a white pair of socks which looked new on the leg with the roll up. He wore two different types of sneakers. One was green while the other was red. His face was also painted with make-up which looked like the job of a child playing with crayons.
The men stood at a distance and called his name. “Funmilade, Funmilade.” When he did not answer, one of them saw a mop stick by the corner and stretched out his hand to hit Funmilade on his leg.
Funmilade woke up with a start. He looked at the men before him and wondered why they stared at him like he was a clown. He heard voices outside and also heard his mother crying. Why was his mother crying? He thought. He stood up and the men retreated immediately.
“Ahn, ahn….Chigozie, IK, why you dey run?”
“U no mad?” Chigozie asked.
“Mad ke? Which kain question be dat?” Funmilade looked at them confused.
“Your mama say u don mad.” Ikechukwu said.
“Me mad?” Funmilade asked. He looked at himself and it suddenly dawned on him. Funmilade burst out into laughter and this further confused the two young men. They looked at each other and both of them ran outside.
The neighbours who were waiting for the outcome of their visit all scattered and ran in various directions when they saw the two men emerge in a run. Funmilade walked out and all the neighbours peeped from their hiding places to catch a glimpse of him.
Iya Funmi who was still seated on the floor and crying looked at her son. “Ah…ah, Funmilade, ta ni mo sè?” (Who have I offended?)
“Màámi, mi ò ya wèrè.” (My mother, I am not mad).
“Ah…ah…” Iya Funmi shook her feet and banged her hand on her laps as she lamented.
“Màámi, è dìde n’lè. Mo ní mi ò ya wèrè.” (My mother, get up from the ground. I said I am not mad).
Funmilade removed the tee shirt and began to clean the make-up on his face. He rolled down one leg of his jeans and removed his sneakers. “Màámi, rag day là n se ní school.”
Iya Funmi who had stopped crying and was watching her son while he was getting himself cleaned up looked at him. “Rag day?”
“Ni wón wá ní pé kë múra bíi wèré.” (And you were asked to dress like a mad man?)
“Rárá, Màámi.” (No, my mother).
Iya Funmi stood up and held her son as she turned him to the left and to the right scrutinizing him like a newly acquired product. “Funmilade, o ò ya wèrè?” (You are not mad?)
“Mi ò ya wèrè, Màámi.” (I am not mad, my mother).
“Ömö mì ò ya wèrè o. Jésù o sé o.” (My son is not mad oh. Thanks be to Jesus). Iya Funmi raised her voice as she began to dance to an imaginary tune.
The peeping neighbours all began to step out one by one. “Funmilade, you no mad?” “Wetin be rag day?” “So una dey pretend to be mad people for una school?” “Which kain madness thing una unifasity students dey do sef?”
Questions flew from the left and the right. Iya Funmi looked at her son again as she held his hand, thanked her neighbours for their concern and went into her flat.
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