Saturday, June 13, 2015

Monitoring Spirit. (A short intresting story)

Kunle stepped out his car, exhausted. He had had a completely exhausting day. From the very moment he opened his eyes in the morning, it had been stress all the way. Or more likely, from the various moments he opened his eyes through the night when his two month old baby decided to start bawling for a new reason neither he nor his wife, Funke could fathom till, on his own, the baby would just shut up and go to sleep. Only to resume crying the moment Kunle’s eyes started drooping. By daybreak, Kunle had decided the boy needed deliverance.

Then work. A different story entirely. It had been one task after another. Tasks that took him from floor to floor of the company’s 15 storey building. On a day both elevators were out of order. By early evening, Kunle was sure he had the most muscular thighs on earth. That needed a good and proper massage from anybody but Funke’s hands that felt like reinforced concrete. But if Funke saw any other woman lay her hands on her husband – any other person for that matter – he wouldn’t be needing a massage but a hospital bed. He groaned at the thought.
He looked up at the three storey building he called home and the first thing that struck him was the darkness. No light.

Normally, Kunle would have sighed and started contemplating how he would battle the heat and mosquitoes all through the night, seeing as the mosquitoes in his flat seemed to have developed an uncanny resistance to the effects of all the popular insecticide brands. Like they were wearing gas masks. But today, he smiled to himself. The past three hours he had spent on a queue at the petrol station were totally worth it. Some of his most committed driving in the midst of [i]danfo[/i] drivers and [i]okada[/i] riders meant he managed to get to one of the fuel pumps, fill his car’s fuel tank and a 50 litre jerry can. And to make his “victory” even sweeter, the attendants had decided to stop selling just after he paid for his purchase. At least on one thing today, God was on his side.

But there was a problem, Kunle realized as he made to take the keg out of the car boot. Getting the keg from car to flat without being spotted. His neighbours were like fuel zombies; especially Mr. Adesola who seemed to be able to smell fuel from his flat at the top floor. If any of them knew he had fuel anywhere, he was in trouble.

Two days ago, Eze had raised an alarm when he went to check why his generator at the back of the building went off suddenly. Apparently, he had filled his tank to the brim that morning before leaving for work. Only for his generator to go off less than five minutes after being switched on. It was only on checking the fuel guage that he realized that his fuel tank was completely empty. Opening the fuel tank and peering in with a flashlight revealed that it was so empty that the fuel thief must have turned the generator over to ensure he/she extracted every drop of fuel.

The curses that were rained that night were enough to make a tout blush.
Last week, Kunle had battled touts, angry men and cursing women to secure a twenty five litre keg of fuel at the fueling station. Congratulating himself on the amazing feat, he got home and had stopped at the compound gate to rest a bit when he was accosted by Mr. Adesola.
“Ah, neighbor. Good evening.”

Kunle was in no mood for a conversation but he had been raised better than to ignore a friendly greeting.
“Good evening. How are you? And the family?”
“I’m fine o. We’re all fine,” Mister Adesola replied, eyeing the keg. “It’s just this heat. The weather has been warm for a while, you know. And we haen’t been able to switch on our generator. You know, this scarcity is really bad…”

“Yes o, really terrible.” Kunle responded, eager for the conversation to end. “I…”
“My brother, things in this country are just too hard. I have looked for fuel everywhere to no avail. Me, I can survive on my own but, you know, the children and the wife…”
“This scarcity should just end.” Kunle interjected, not liking where the conversation was going. “It’s making things difficult for ALL of us.”
“Really difficult. MY last born cries every night from the heat. Has started developing these nasty rashes too….”

“I’m really sorry about that.”
“Thank you, thank you. I just wish I could get fuel somewhere. Even the wife is sick now and this heat wouldn’t do her any good. And the mosquitoes….”
Kunle began regretting his decision to rest at the gate. Why didn’t he just get into his flat first before resting?
“My phone battery is so low now. And my oga at the office sometimes calls at odd hours to confirm certain things. If he can’t reach me, it might be a problem. I just don’t know…”
Kunle sighed, annoyed at the words he was about to utter.
“I could let you have some fuel…” Kunle murmured.

“Ehn?” Mr. Adesola responded. Kunle’s heart leapt at the thought that the man hadn’t heard his offer and was going to retract it. “Thank you so much!” Kunle’s heart and face fell. “God bless you. May your keg never run dry. May you never lack anything. Thank you so much!” Mr. Adesola disappeared into the building and emerged almost immediately with a twenty five litre keg of his own, like he had kept it there, expecting he would receive fuel. Kunle found himself parting with ten litres of fuel and his happiness for the night.
So he wasn’t going to take chances this time. He peered around carefully. Nobody was in sight. He stepped outside the compound gate and looked down the street both ways. Nobody was approaching. He ran back to his car, opened the boot and began lifting out the the keg…
“Ah, neighbour!”

Kunle dropped the keg back in the boot.
“Mr. Adesola! Good evening!” He slammed the boot shut, wondering how the man that was approaching him from the side of the building had manifested “How are things?”
“Fine o, neighbour. Would have been much better if the power supply were better. Or one could find where to get fuel.”
Kunle began to wonder if there was some form of witchcraft the man possessed.
“My brother, i tire o!” Kunle replied, leaning against the car. “I drove all the way to Berger to look for fuel, without luck.”
“Ehnn..” Clearly his story wasn’t being bought. “No wonder you’re back so late.”
“Yes o.”
“Things are just so hard in this country. How can an oil producing country still be importing fuel? And the marketers are just holding the entire country to ransom…”
Kunle groaned inwardly. He would have to leave the fuel in the boot for now and come back to get it much later in the night. For now, he had to endure a conversation with a Mr. Adesola that continued his political rant while stealing glances at Kunle’s boot.

And endure he did. For close to an hour, Kunle leaned against his car while being lectured on Nigeria’s political troubles and the need for the common man to band together and help each other in times of need because the government wasn’t going to help. A lecture that would have gone on for much longer if Funke hadn’t called to find out where he was. Kunle had never been so relieved at his wife’s call.

He spent the next to hours like a SWAT operative. Constant glances out of the window revealed that Mr. Adesola remained outside for thirty minutes after they parted before disappearing into the building. Kunle gave an axtra hour and thirty mintes to make sure Mr. Adesola had gone to his flat and slept. Finally by a few minutes past midnight, Kunle carefully unlocked his door, tiptoed downstairs to his car, quietly unlocked the boot, lifted out the keg, lifted out the keg and practically sprinted back to his flat, stopping to put the keg down so he could open the door. No sooner had he touched the door handle than he heard a sound that chilled him to his bones.
“Ah, Neighbor!”

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