The turbulence seemed to be in conformity with the playful nature of the sinuously moving sea, as the whole environment was bereft of the usual visitors. One could guess the reason why a beach so famous would look deserted on that beautiful morning as the sun streaked across the palm leaves to romance Adim’s well shaven head- no responsible man would ignore his hustle to savour the beauty of the sea on a Monday morning. On a second thought, the definition of responsibility is subjective, a poet with a pen and a pad at the sea side would probably not be qualified as an irresponsible fellow. His was an exception to the approbation and reprobation- if doing what needed be done at the right time qualified as being responsible, Adim deserved an Oscar for that. Yet, without being a poet, life had offered him a free ticket to stare at the sea like his life depended on it.
Adim was a promising young man from the Eastern part of the country steadily watered by the mighty Atlantic. For Adim, any job would do. Even as a graduate, he had worked as a bus conductor with Musiliu, the no nonsense ‘danfo’ driver. However, the relationship did not last as Adim was accused of being too civil and gentle with passengers on a daily basis. ‘Woo, ma kana, emi o raye oshi o, break him mouth, ko de gba senji mi.’ Musiliu had interjected in this manner with his heavy accent one day while Adim was pleading with a stubborn passenger to pay in full. When Musiliu realized that Adim was nothing near an aggressive street pugilist, he opted for a suitable employee to the consternation of Adim as the bus left the park that day with the hyperactive new conductor chanting ‘wole pelu senji e ooo, iya mi o le pariwo o’ (enter with your change, my mother can’t shout).
As early as 4:00 am on the second day, Adim left the bakery where he stayed as a tenant at sufferance. After hours of moving from one firm to the other with nothing to show for it, he met himself where he left himself- the state of joblessness. Soon enough, hunger started playing pranks on him, he could feel the sharp touch deep inside him. To beat that, he licked his dry lips and swallowed his saliva with the psychological pretence of drinking a cup of water. That should do, he taught to himself. After all, he ate two nights back and he expected that his tommy should flow in tune with the reality of his pocket. ——————————————————————————————————–
Nothing is too small to help me, may God not throw you in eternal darkness.’ The pathetic looking old man chanted repeatedly in a Nigerian language as he staggered on the quick sand with his walking stick and a black bag. The scent of his locally made lavender seized Adim’s breath as the tender breeze had a break to pave way for the uninvited passerby. Adim looked at the direction the unsolicited prayer was coming from and sharply looked away to avoid the likelihood of giving out the #10 on him. The silent voice from within got louder ‘come on, you are here alone with this wretched thing, grab him by the neck and dispossess him.’ In reply, Adim licked his lips again, gathered a handful of saliva and sent it down his demanding intestine. But for once, his nature would fail him- the hunger grew stronger and uncontrollable. He stood up from the sand, dusted his old khaki trousers and walked after the beggar who was still struggling to get his steps in the quick sand.
‘This is the Lord’s doing! What would a beggar be doing at the beach? Why would God leave us all alone if we are not here to help ourselves? People will give him more…’ Adim muttered those words silently as he increased his pace. He dug his left hand in his pocket and brought out the faded #10 note. His conscience whispered ‘offer him this and God shall repay you.’ It was too late to have a rethink, he caught up with the old man and grabbed him from the back. Carefully, he removed the black leather bag and made away with it as the old man struggled to remove the turban covering his face in an effort to put up a fight. It was too late, Adim was beyond gone. ——————————————————————————————————–
‘The position of the law is clear. The offence of armed robbery is one that is grave in law. It gets worse when like in the circumstance of this case, lives were claimed…’ These were the words of the learned Judge as Adim stood manacled in the dock. How could he explain that he was not the original robber? Who would believe him if he said he got the black bag from the old beggar? Why can’t this just be a dream? Agreed, he should be punished for letting circumstance determine his fate, but not as a robber! Can circumstance just take him back to the point he was dieting on his own saliva? These questions kept emerging in Adim’s mind as the emergence of one made the other vanished without an answer. The judge continued ‘the evidence against you is overwhelming, you robbed a family, took the lives of three persons and ran with their money. Nemesis is faster and it has caught up with you…
The judgement of this Court upon you is that you be hung by the neck until you be dead, may the Lord have mercy on your soul.’
Adim was led out into the waiting vehicle. Right at the other side of the road, he saw a crowd of beggars taking positions to seek their daily bread. He begged to satisfy the humble request of his conscience as his hands were freed to allow his last act of kindness. He put his hand in his pocket and brought out the #10 note. He was accosted to the other side of the road as he handed the faded note to one of the old beggars wearing hats.
‘Nagode,’ the old beggars chorused in appreciation. Adim was made to turn back in continuation of the journey to the end. Right behind him was the gang of robbers that committed the crime he was going to pay for. No one knew that, let alone realizing that the disguised old man Adim met at the beach was the notorious gang leader in whoms guilty hand Adim just dropped his last #10 note…
Author: ‘Dipe David Oluwasegun