Chapter 5

It was approaching dusk by the time Kenneth limped into Atitebi Street with Alfred and their heavy burden. And as they entered it, they made straight for the house which Alfred had spoken of: a modern, chrome yellow bungalow, sitting in a long row of houses in the street with a narrow verandah. The house safely stood away from the poles that carried electric cables and from the tertiary road that ran through the street while an expanse of space demarcated it from adjoining houses. Kenneth had no doubt that the design of the house conformed with the town planning rules, and it therefore did not surprise him that the house did not carry the bloodcurdling X-mark but was however amazed to find Mathias and Marcus seated on its open verandah munching groundnuts and roasted maize blithely. They were bare chested and tiny beads of perspiration were coursing down their dark, hairy, chests while their boisterous voices loudly reverberated through the air which petered out as soon as they caught sight of him. He stepped onto the verandah with Marcus and exchanged glances with them.                                                                                                                                                ‘’You’re limping,’’ Marcus said with a mouthful of groundnuts, his eyes on Kenneth’s flopping leg.    ‘’Those Mopol didn’t shove you, did they?’’                                                                         Mathias chipped in, ‘’They apparently did, judging by the way he is staggering.’’               Slowly, their eyes narrowed down to the torn trousers that revealed a flaccidly swollen, knee which was red and they guffawed mockingly which made Kenneth glow with anger.                                                                                                                                               Alfred was amused by all the byplays.                                                                                   Mathias gazed up at Kenneth. ‘’They caught you,’’ he said, smirking, ‘’how could you let them?’’                                                                                                                                                 ‘’I guess they caught up with him because his legs couldn’t carry him fast enough. ’’ Marcus said and turned to Alfred, ‘’did he limp all the way down here or you had to carry him like a baby . . .’’                                                                                                                              ‘’Keep shut, will you?!’’Kenneth snapped turning red with anger.                           Mathias burst into laughter, as he rose up and walked away, leaving Marcus on the bench.                                                                                                                                      Kenneth set his luggage down and moved close to Alfred who was standing on the door mat, already knocking on the house’s front door.                                                                         The door was opened and a dark, young man in his mid-twenties, in a bright red sleeveless round-neck shirt on blue jeans, came out and exchanged greetings with him. The lanky man eyed Kenneth inquisitively.                                                                                                    ‘’This is my friend, Kenneth,’’   Alfred informed him. ’’He also lives in the Gully.’’                 ‘’Kenneth, this is Bolarinwa.’’                                                                                                            The host grasped Kenneth’s hand and shook it lukewarmly and quickly withdrew it. He eyed Kenneth coldly and heaved a deep sigh. The visitors were surprised by the host’s frosty antics.                                                                                                                             ’’Bolarinwa?’’Alfred said, eyeing the man in the red shirt curiously. ‘’Is there a problem?’’                                                ‘’Look Alfred,’’ Bolarinwa said in a rather stilted tone, ’’I know things are pretty tough for you both at present. I know you have no home and no one to turn to, but the problem here is that our house has only three bedrooms And I’m going to tell you how we share them: my parents use one room, my two sisters use one and I own the third; now my plan was to share my room with you, Alfred, but as you can see Mathias and Marcus are already here and now there are two of you.’’                                                                           ‘’How would I have known those two would end up here?’’ Alfred muttered.                   ‘’Does it mean you’re turning us away, then?’’                                                                      Alfred’s words made Bolarinwa wince, he thought briefly as his eye ran over the desolate faces of the visitors and the bulky luggage at their feet, then said, ‘’I will take you in, even if it means making a make-shift arrangement like sleeping in the living room; my mother is not likely to make a fuss about it but I tell you my old man will blow his top if he returns and finds the house packed out. Luckily, he’s out of town and will not be back till three days’ time.’’                                                                                                                  ‘’Then we can stay till he returns.’’                                                                                        ‘’Yeah, sure, but the party ends once he returns and you two will have to leave or he will chop off my head,’’ Bolarinwa said, then turned around and entered the house.             Alfred hesitated briefly then added, ‘’It’s even very likely that I move out tomorrow morning to join my parents who reside outside the city.’’                                                                     ‘’I see,’’ said Bolarinwa.                                                                                                         Alfred stepped into the house with Bolarinwa while Kenneth dropped on the bench outside, sitting beside Marcus.  Again his thoughts were muddled up, no thanks to the cold reception from Bolarinwa. The conditions under which Bolarinwa was going to accommodate him had only brought a temporary relief to him. ‘’What will happen to him in three days time when Bolarinwa’s father returns?’’ he asked himself as his heart began to thump again. He had no intention whatsoever of rejoining his uncle and living with Fikayo under the same roof anymore.                                                                                                                                              ‘’I know how it feels to be sad and alone,’’  Kenneth suddenly heard Marcus say to him, ‘’I heard everything Bolarinwa said to you, he said a similar thing to Mathias and me when we came.’’                         ‘’We can’t blame him, ‘’ Kenneth replied.                                                                                   ‘’Sure, I don’t blame him, rather I’ve been thinking of where I’m going to go, once his father comes back.’’                                                                                                         ‘’Me too.’’                                                                                                                   ‘’Mathias told me he would be travelling soon, but I don’t see myself leaving this city, no matter how hard the condition.’’                                                                                                  ‘’I also intend to stay,’’ said Kenneth.                                                                                   ‘’Seems Alfred also wants to relocate.’’                                                                                 ‘’I guess so.’’                                                                                                                          ‘’How about your uncle?’’                                                                                                      ‘’He’s managing somewhere with his wife.’’                                                        Marcus nodded. ‘’My parents are living in another part of the city, I can’t imagine going to live with them for any reason,’’ Marcus said. ‘’If only we have enough money we could have both rented a room,’’ said Marcus.     ‘’Clearly, that would be pretty difficult.’’                                                                              The two sat speechlessly for some time, during which time Marcus brought out a balm and gave it to Kenneth. ‘’Use that to rub your knee,’’ he said.                                            Kenneth collected the ointment and thanked him.                                                   Moments later, Kenneth turned to him sharply. ‘’What you did to that man out there on the field was cruel,’’ he said.                                                                                                          ‘’What was that?‘’ Marcus asked.                                                                                           ‘’I was talking about how you cruelly kicked that man, a while ago at the City College of Technology.’’                                                                                                                          ‘’Of course, he deserved it, he wanted to turn us back , imagine that! He’s nothing but a goat! If I see him again I’ll beat him up!’’                          ‘’Still you’ve got no right to assault him, it’s very wrong and threatening you’ll beat him up again doesn’t portrait you well.’’                                                                                      ‘’I don’t care, he’s a fat pig! If the police hadn’t showed up when they did, I’ll have beaten the devil out of him!!’’                                                                                                   Just then Kenneth’s cell phone rang, he dipped his right hand into his pocket at once to grab the mobile device, but as he did, his fingers touched on the complementary card he was given at City College of Technology. Suddenly, a smile lit up his face as he remembered the man in the black corduroy suit who had come to his rescue just a few hours ago and the complimentary card he had left at his feet.                                                                                  Marcus stared hard at him, wondering why his face was suddenly beaming with a smile.

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