Chapter 4

‘’Boy,’’ Alfred said,’’ the demolishers arrived with their equipment shortly after the three of you left and wasted no time in pulling down houses, shops, restaurants, whatever structure that carried the red X-mark. The storied-building in front of which we normally relax is also gone.’’              Kenneth leant against the fence of an elegant house just across the street that had evaded the demolition, his eyes glazing over the upheavals across the street. He fleetingly shut his eyes as he wondered how he had got to his present location, then, through half-closed eyes, gazed wearily at Alfred then glanced down at the brown folder lying at his feet, he perceived intense aches in his joints and his throat was pulsating from thirst.                                                      ‘’Where are Mathias and Marcus?’’Alfred asked, his eyes on Kenneth’s soiled, unbuttoned shirt, then added somberly: ‘’I know things went bad; it’s all in your eyes. You were exhaustively lying out there in the sand like a lame pig stuck in the mud. I had to pull you up and carry you over here then I had to fan you like crazy to bring you around. What happened to you?’’                                   Realizing all what Alfred did before he could come to, he eyed him thankfully and then dropped his head in anguish, his eyes probing the brown sand grains and was lost in meditation, later he slowly lifted up his head up and turned to Alfred.                                              ‘’Pandemonium broke out at the venue, it was like a battlefield,’’ he muttered through clenched teeth even as he felt powerful throbbing in his head and knee.                                                           ‘’Where are Mathias and Marcus?’’ Alfred asked smirking, with an expression that scathingly proclaimed: I advised you not to go, didn’t I?                                                                    ‘’Don’t know,’’ Kenneth grumbled, ignoring the smirk just and shutting his eyes again.       Alfred regarded him queerly and then turned his gaze across the road that ran across the street, there and then, he saw Tammy and Fikayo trudging in their direction – the husband was hauling luggage while his wife was trailing him with a taut face.                                                ‘’Your uncle and his wife are here,’’ he announced.                                                           Kenneth flipped open his eyelids and saw the couple approaching in a rather slow-pace, Tammy’s face was moistened from profuse sweating and among the luggage in his hands was  a huge, heavy, brown threadbare bag which Kenneth quickly recognized as his own.                                    ‘’We’ve been looking for you all day,’’ Tammy said after he had moved close enough, dumping the brown bag at Kenneth’s feet.                                                                 Kenneth pulled himself together and sat up, his eyes went down to the brown bag inquisitively and rubbed his eyes frantically with his hand, ‘’I’m having a breather here, I returned a while ago,’’ he muttered with a frayed voice.                                                                  ‘’That bag contains your things, we‘re unprepared when they came, so, we could only pick up the most important things,‘’ Tammy said, nodding his half-whitened head to the brown bag on the ground, his tone was unusually brief and impatient and had deliberately not bothered to inquire about how things went at the recruitment venue, already, he had seen how desolate his cousin looked in his rumpled clothes , he had no doubt the job-search had been yet another futile exercise and now was not the time to talk about that. He had come to discuss a more exigent matter, ’’Things have spiraled out of control.’’                                              ‘’I know.’’                                                                                                                   ‘’So, we are packing up and leaving the Gully, we’ve got a temporary place with one of my friends at …You’ll have to do yourself up quickly and join us. We’re setting out now.’’                                                                                                                                           ‘’Join us?!’’ Fikayo interjected fiercely, and Tammy turned to meet her eyes which were flaming with anger in the stained gown she wore. She stood arms akimbo as she faced her husband, barely reaching up to his shoulders, she jerked up her head and hinged herself on her toes as she scowled , ‘’how could you say that when your friend is giving us just one single room to manage!’’                                                                                                                    ‘’I know, but we just can’t leave him behind…’’                                                                       ‘’There are six of us already, do I have to remind you that?’’ Fikayo snapped. ‘’You think your friend will welcome us open arms, if we arrive at his house with everything but the kitchen sink?’’                                                                                                                                  Tammy became speechless, wondering why the day had presented nothing but shocks and trepidation. Right before his own eyes the house which he had rented and come to know as home had crumbled like a house of sand, leaving behind ruins, wailings and a potential playground for toddlers. It was after long moments of disheartenment, that he and his wife had summoned courage to gather their belongings from the rubble before putting a call through to a friend he had known at work to narrate his ordeal, after a long persuasion, the friend had then grudgingly agreed to lease a room in his house as a temporary lodgment for him and his family. In a way, he knew Fikayo was right, the idea of stocking seven people like sardines in a room was appalling but he also found the thought of living his cousin, whom he had brought to the city, high and dry equally horrifying.                                             ‘’You don’t have to worry about me,’’ Kenneth said as if reading his uncle’s thoughts, and trying not to allow things to hot up between him and his wife on his account and added rather hastily: ’’I can manage on my own.’’                                                                                              Tammy eyed him queerly, ‘’where are you going to stay?’’ he asked in a voice that reeked affection.                                                                                                 ‘’Somewhere in the neighourhood, I will call and inform you once I have settled down.’’

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