The wine man, Ekiti, methodically rinsed and poured, rinsed and poured, took cash, gave change, rinsed and poured. I don taya (I am drained) for dis work, he mentioned in pidgin English when pouring Emu one scorching afternoon. Since my father don die 17 years in the past na dis work I dey handle. ( I’ve been doing this work for 17 years now since my father died). He added. His darkish pores and skin polished by wind and solar. His palms have been pink and swollen from years of rinsing and pouring, his fingernails discolored and disfigured. Every time, earlier than ingesting their elixir, Ekiti’s prospects would maintain this calabash between thumb and finger, examined the milky purple liquid as if eyeing one thing useful, after which, shortly drank it.
One different factor that made Ekiti well-known amidst the hustle and bustle of Oshodi was his pele or facial mark – one massive vertical line on every cheek. Ekiti was among the many minority of individuals with facial marks in a metropolis like Lagos. He used to complain of his each day encounter with individuals who ridiculed him. He counseled how fashionable methods of considering has succeeded in wiping out the importance of tribal marks. After a heavy downpour one afternoon, and with no prospects to take care of, Ekiti sat silently on a bench – gripped by anxious ideas that usually rattled him to tears.
Ekiti had misplaced 5 of his 12 kids to measles inside every week. He misplaced 3 of his 4 wives to poverty. They deserted him as a result of he may now not afford to care for them. They left behind all of their kids and headed for his or her respective villages. They have been glad to change the grind of city life with Ekiti for the peace and serenity of the countryside.
“Lance-Corporal. You no go barracks as we speak?” (Have not you been to the barracks as we speak?). Considered one of two males on an okada, a bike taxi shouted out as they handed by.
“Na God go poonish you.” (God will punish you). Ekiti shouted again.
“Na so folks dey name me-oh.” Ekiti lamented.
“Ekiti, however you by no means inform me say you don go serve in di military earlier than.” (which means you did not ever inform me you ever served within the military earlier than). I requested.
“My broder, no be say I serve in di military earlier than. Dem dey name me dis means due to dees my facial marks… ” (it isn’t that I’ve ever served within the military earlier than, they name me this fashion due to these facial marks… ).
“How come?” I interrupted.”
Wanting haggard, Ekiti replied:
“Dem dey name me dis means not as a result of I be member of the armed forces, however due to di variety of stripes that dey on my cheeks.” (they name me this fashion not as a result of I am a member of the armed forces, however due to the variety of stripes which might be discovered on my cheeks).
“Wanting shocked, I queried:
“Ekiti, I no match perceive dis.” (Ekiti, I can not perceive this).
“I imply say, as a result of di stripes on my cheeks be di similar variety of dat on di uniform of a Lance-Corporal in di military.” ( I imply to say that, the variety of stripes on my face is the same as the variety of stripes on a Lance – Corporal’s uniform within the military).
He recalled his final try to cross the Sahara Desert into Libya three years again.
“Like I don dey for Tripoli by now. If not due to dangerous luck.” (I ought to have been in Tripoli now if not resulting from dangerous luck).
He mentioned he was cheated out of his cash by unsuspecting rugged camel riders who had promised to move him on a camel’s again from Agadez in central Niger to the Libyan border. After that incident, as soon as proud Ekiti was lowered to carrying sacks of sand on his again for work with a purpose to make sufficient to return to Nigeria. In line with him he had borrowed some huge cash to embark on that failed journey.
There at all times was once just one dust-coated electrical fan blowing away the Oshodi warmth from Ekiti’s stall. The environment largely mirrored folks, who actually got here from throughout Lagos for a calabash of the candy elixir. What was so particular about this very stall, and its just one calabash-from which each and every buyer drank, was solely identified to Ekiti and his prospects.
“Naija no be poor nation, however take a look at how we don dey undergo, my broder.” Ekiti lamented one afternoon. (Nigeria is not a poor nation however take a look at how we’re struggling, my brother).