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Cost of Love, Nothing

Updated: Mar 7

I wish I can tell this #story the way it happened.

Fast forward to 2011. He was running after an unseen taunter with a machet. It was in the evening and I overheard him say, "you're foolish and if I get you..."

Average in height, dark in complexion and with tattered goatee...

I dropped a line and he heard it and stopped. He looked at me askew, and I said again, "yes, not only foolish but stupid." I assured him we would deal with the guy, and urged him to rest awhile by my side. Hesitantly he sat, jerked his knees and rested his elbows upon. The sun set.

He was the best madman in town, and I noticed that, when I was seeing him off. We discussed at length but the width of it all was out of the depths. It was dark, apart from few flashes of light from torch bearers, and dimmed voices retiring for the day.

I invited him around tomorrow.

Next day, he had totally forgotten about who he was pursuing. We talked different things from our different differences. I know you don't understand, but honestly I didn't understand either. The day was fast to wind so I set to see him off. I asked him if he would be my friend. He smiled, and said, "na so." He was wont to say this, or "ọ kwa ya" in his happy solemn affirmations. Now, the village people were perplexed, and wondered what sort of friendship ours could be. A madman, and a non-madman rendezvousing amiably was not a common sight here and around.

Suddenly he went esoteric, and I could grasp that an apparition of a sad crying woman frequented his space. He mentioned this vaguely on other days, and always ended with, "she didn't do any wrong, they, my people unjustly killed her."

I didn't let it slip off like other times, so I told him to console her when next he sees the ghost, and tell her to stop crying. I said to him, "Tell her to stop crying that God has heard her wailing, and will visit her case with Justice and recompense." He nodded, and at the particular junction we part ways, we bade goodnight.

The next day, and forever he never mentioned the woman. I didn't prompt him either. I guessed he consoled her with those words, otherwise the ghost story had always punctuated our truncated discussions. We spoke about sports, hunting, farming, music, fashion etc in no orderly order.

On fashion, his was outlandish, and akin to the funny things they wear on some big brand's #fashionshow runways. I once praised him for dressing like WWE's Jeff Hardy and that pleased him." He would wear two long, but different coloured hoses gripped on the biceps with rubber bands. One was torn at the end, but gripped at the wrist with the rubber, the other still intact, made mess of every sense of uniformity. However, having praised him, I thereby encouraged him to tear apart the later which he did. That was the day I told him he looked more like Jeff.

"Na so o."

Hence, it was fine when he did, but his shoes were a thing. Indescribable is an attempt at definition! OK, have you seen those worn by masons mixing large concrete? He wound some cloths around a pair of old moccasins he wore on regular. I told him these were great too but, I mean, "how?"

It was by providence that I saw same moccasins in a fairly used items store. It wasn't as costly as I had thought, so I bought them, and a pair of football boots with two face caps. He agreed to trim his goatee because I had told him he'll exactly look like Kanu Nwankwo if he did.

He did and behold, he's been a handsome young man all these madness. He loved the moccasins, and discarded his favourite hitherto. He loved the boots, and the jerseys I gave him. The first match we played with the villagers, he was fast, furious, untiring, but mostly ran solo with.

Next was how not to put on the caps I bought, at the same time. He had worn on an ash polo tied up to dangle an ending like a pigtail. He said he will never let that go because it served as a memorabilia of certain distant sorrows. All my soft persuasions to discard it was futile.

On one of the days we visited the Chapel where we lit candles on the terrazzo, and mostly said no words but gazed at the Blessed Sacrament, I told him, "We've to burn the headgear so you can forget the sorrows." He simply said, "nothing can burn it even if fire comes from thunder"

And I said, "if I burn it, it will just give me a chance." He agreed but said he will bring it out from fire at the count of Five. We took a lighted candle and went where he made a small bonfire and bemused for minutes before casting it in the fire:

1 2 3 4

. ...and I grabbed him

He was too strong, and almost wrenched himself out from where I pinned him on the ground; stopped when I said I'll alert the villagers he was fighting me. He said, "It has not come to that." In deed, it wasn't a duel; I led him where he sat, and it was no secret he mourned the lose.

"Have you drunk small stout before?." No, he said. So, I got a bottle for him, he sipped said it was bitter. "Yes, good bitterness, go ahead and drink all, it will calm you down." He slept off on the pavement under the shade of a pear tree till dusk. I walked him home speechless. Thus, I bought the caps, and he began to wear them contemporaneously. I was able to convince him to wear it one at a time so he wouldn't be known with the usual. Things went by, and we would enter my car and drove around. We discussed music in bits like listening only to acoustics. We would listen to the sound(s) of flute, drum or gong in a track, and lip-synched it. I intended precising by separation in order to effect wholesomeness. I didn't even know what that was becoming, we enjoyed it. Disruptive, but I began to track coordination in his speech & action.

For a longer chitchat, I gave him #money to buy boiled groundnut which we crackled up, chewed as we chuckled. His exclamation was often, "Ọkụ a gbaa nchi n'ọdụ," which translates into, "the tail of the grasscutter has been burnt." So, I brought in hunting, and spoils it brings. We talked about delectable smoked grasscutter with pepper, and ụtazị sauce sent forth down the throat with a bottle of chilled O'mpa. We drove down to the market square, and bought nchi meat, and two bottles of happy chilled beer. At our rendezvous, under the pear tree, we feasted.

Again a handsome young man hidden away in the burdens of mind. Now, in earliest dawn, he came around, and swept my compound for he had started going for paid jobs. Indefatigable in farm or mason work that other labourers wondered his source of strength. I bought a phone for him, opened a bank account for him so he can save his earnings as well as communicate with the phone. In a certain bazaar the upper year, he bought a bowl of apple, and brought it to me. "This is for you" he said and smiled away. It was same year that a woman came to see me trembling.

That was his mother. He was actually the one who called, me and said a woman was looking for me. She said, "I am his mother," still shivering. "Whose mother?" She pointed at my friend, and said, "this one, I've come to thank you, and I don't even know where you took him for healing."

"Hey, why did you say a woman, instead of your mother?" He giggled, and said, "I wanted you to discover." We laughed, and as I made to get kola, she pleaded with me not to border. She said she actually mustered all the courage she could to present herself; she was wondering the cost.

Love doesn't cost a thing, its cost is love; it heals body, mind & soul. Most people on the streets need love to go home; but we often prefer to call them mad or homeless. Meanwhile, typing this on a phone is unnerving but as 2021 winds up, let this 2011 story inspire you to love.

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