© By Ottih Onyedikachi
Ever since the road around my house was tarred years ago, we deal with flood when it rains heavily. The kind of rain that fell yesterday.
One particular lightning was followed by a deafening thunder that I and my siblings were sure that our louvers and mirror would not survive the heavy blast.
But this story is not about the rain, nor is it about me and my siblings, nor is it about the lightning and definitely not about the thunder.
Remember my mother’s fufu shop? This is where this story would take place.
We sat down in the darkness of our shop watching the rain pour down like an angry woman in labour, wondering if by any chance the earth is being flooded again.
I wouldn’t have been surprised if God decided to flood the earth. I mean, since we’re all locked up in our houses, courtesy of Coronavirus, the earth is supposedly healing(which is a beautiful thing).
The rain as usual flooded the road and covered up the small bridge my mother constructed for entry to buy our goods. As this is the case, we take special care directing people who are not used to the path, so they don’t fall into the gutter. We had been successful so far till the man came.
He was holding his umbrella so tight, you’d know that even his palm must be hurting him. When he stood in the pool by the road side, I came out immediately to ask him if he wanted fufu and he said yes. I asked him to wait so I package it and get it out to him, instead of having him wade through, looking for the bridge he’s not very familiar with.
The man shook his head and yelled back that I should not worry, he wants to come in himself. I started directing him.
“Ok! Oga, move a little to the right. A little. Ehen, stop there! Now, walk straight. Don’t walk sideways o, just keep moving straight, you’ll come in.”
He cast a ridiculous look at me, and indicated with a hand that I move away. His reply was ” I have legs. Don’t worry.”
I went back inside and took out a nylon, waiting for him to make the journey himself. Clutching ever so tightly to his umbrella, he began to feel his way through with his feet.
That’s a good tactic. I mean, that was how I manage to swim out of Cemetery market’s River of Jordan the unfortunate day it rained while I was still in the market. And oga was doing it.
He put one leg in front the other, careful before he relaxes the leg. Then the other leg goes next. But he was not keeping a straight line. My stomach muscles tightened and I prayed that before he finished his left-legged movement across, he’d already be at the table.
One leg front, another leg followed. One leg front, another leg followed.
Oga was slowly walking left.
The men sitting down in our shop, waiting for the rain to abate was screaming to him, “oga, gaa straight nah. No. Go a bit like this. Gaa straight! Look at this man o”
Oga ignored us all, and his last step to our shop, we heard a confusion of voices. Kpawukakawuuu! Kpakpakipduuu!
The man hit the plank, trying to grasp something, losing balance the more, pulling out the plank in a desperate attempt to hold on to something and avoid the dirt-filled gutter, slipped and graciously fell into the gutter. Chai! He just plunged in, still holding his umbrella, slippers positively disappeared underneath him. Everybody turning and stopping to look at him.
I’ve never felt so sorry and apologetic as I laughed at someone.