Fiction

Tale of Two Nigeria: A Short Story by ‘Lakunle Jaiyesimi

Once upon a time, the diseased elephant lay dead beside the flourishing rat.

The rat had blown his flesh with the meat of the elephant. The rot lay beside the freshness. And a warm breeze descending the poles came to merge the disparity. The gentle wind delayed, had been brewed from a plant in a refined region away from our branded reality. It brought with it, its own ways. It had its own eyes, its stance, its culture, its people and its life.

In the wind, I saw it all…the field of cold and warmth, as of two cities resolving to live together. The intermingling of splendour and squalour; the breaking of hearts by hearts. I saw it all in the air, the culture of the land so far away from our touch that we only basked in the gigantic appellation of her name. The name of a chord of people of races, whose variation translates into inequality – the chasm of manipulation.

I saw a white structure with the cementation of muscles, in walls, fences, bridges, stares, pools and the pillars. There were the eyes that were shimmering bulbs, glistening above the faces of gardens, pooled waters, Chippendale furniture, swollen cheeks of rugged men and animal fur. This was a different house, customized for the legislator, who never spoke a word at the floors of debates. He rather sat with bulbous eyes beneath pointed cap of wool, a multicoloured Ankara. A pair of glasses would perch on his ridged visage, with a sneaky smile. The verandah, like his pointed cap, overlooked a heap of stench. The stench of putrefaction; of acrid filth and death; of withering debris and the corpse of curs; of grand misalliance between fleas and midges; of stinging cans and stones; of marshy loam and plants. The window overlooked the stench that rather housed the presence of a duo of infants. Infants barely weaned from their mothers’ suckle. Infants with a faint hope to survive, and if not, to steal being overlooked by dump legislators in beds of aerated comfort.

It is the story of two worlds, set apart by gloom, hunger and strife. The story of wealth and poverty. The story of the cobwebs being jabbed by the network of electrical wires. Two cities in one. Our legislator drove a four-wheeled jaguar pass the stench infant, splashing waters reeled with clay into his money-making rubbish he had gathered from the stench of refuse. The boy must have come to know the rains to be favouring, sentimentally. When it poured good to the misanthropes, disguised as political altruists, it poured only waters into the others’ rusted jerry cans. It gave them back the remains of what was licked by the sun from the waters that the fishes bathed their skin, eggs and filth with. They did good, and remained in the city where people skinned themselves into vanishing with the air. The others resided where obesity took lives.

Recently, I stumbled upon the University, where in exotic cars, panama teachers adorned with gray beards, drove out in bumping sprees. They headed for the spots that marked the utopian state of any nation. A citadel of brilliance, excellence, and prided dignity. They have named it the University; and it sat just beside squalor. It sat beside stench, and death to hunger; beside diseases and ignorance; beside shameless nudity that characterized the village’s daily discolouration.

I saw it! The difference made of the lives of the legislator and the infant. The infant’s hunger led him in the long run to theft; while the legislator’s theft led him in the long run into hunger. The battle line was drawn, and each camp was on either side. The legislator and the infant. The difference and the similarity. The careless abandon to usurp power and the urge to survive. The wind of change and the stagnation of incumbency. They all lived together. Class struggle. The killer and the dier. The two elephants and the grass. Or the weak elephant and the willed rat. The battle line is drawn, and weapons were drawn. Drawn from pouches, ready to draw blood. Two cities with a difference of will.

The elephant runs from a rat, for the former’s quest is sated but the latter moves with piquant strides. The rat nibbled away at the largesse of the elephant’s feet. It fell with its weight and shame, sprawling like the root of ancient almond. When did I see it; and was it the white structure with the cementation of muscles? Collapsing with the herald of dust? It reminded me of the apes seizing the white house – after years of servitude, and adapting the face of Lincoln to theirs. A change in the fact of history; or better, a reversion to history. The rulership of the people by the people. The independence of the mind and will. The start of civilization.

The rat fell the elephant and took up its possession. It took up its belongings, its wives, and its livelihood. It took up its place in the order of things; even its bigness was transferred. The rat, with its small teeth, nibbled away at the elephant. The time came, when the cities could no longer exist side by side. It was a time, when the flood of forbearance became superfluous. Overflow! The legislators’ dome at the Rock, built with the blood of natives from the Delta of the Niger, was unabridgedly overwhelmed by the invasion of the people. The hungry lot of the other Nigeria. They had pulled down the structures strong legs and tore apart its muscles. The building collapsed to the wrenching force of number. The number in the other Nigeria outmatched that of the Nigeria. Everything was torn into shreds  – buildings and human flesh.

Their secrets and the truth were laid bare before all to see. With the zeal of a wounded lion, they pursued the ungrateful misanthropes out of Nigeria. A swap! They were a people in the Nigeria who were misanthropes, wont to disguise their theft with high-sounding phrases and shammed saintly appearance. They were sent out of the Nigeria into the other Nigeria, while the infants; infants about money, fame, power, authority and self-reliance, walked majestically into the Nigeria to rebuild their history in a future – a posterity that speaks volumes.

Totems were displayed on the poles, to serve as the embodiment of the new Nigeria. A Nigeria that is united; a Nigeria with only the shamed repressed by selves. A Nigeria, where the good of one is the good of all; and an injustice to one is an injustice to all. A Nigeria, where there is no structural and essential disparity. A place, where the family is extolled. Where the self does not govern, but selves govern selves. A Nigeria where the people’s destiny lies in their own hands. Where a vote is a number, and not just an exercise, maybe in futility. Where education translates into national development. Where the skies and the sun shower their gifts upon all with no discrimination. Where the rats and the elephants are but the same; converging their characteristics in one animal. Where they both are antelopes or ants or weevils. Where they both work for the community, and the community for them.

The future holds the time, an extrapolation of the once upon a time, when the diseased elephant shall lay dead beside the flourishing rat. And their children shall become one in the antelope, the ant or the weevil.

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