This story is fictional and again, inspired by @88factor”s illustration but is also based on actual occurrences and experiences.
Idris was working the back of my head when it happened.
I knew it had happened. He knew I knew it had happened. I could see from the way Baba Lasisi flinched and, catching my reflection’s eye, quickly looked back into his newspaper, that he too knew it had happened. And yet, none of us said anything; we all just acted like nothing had happened. I think it’s called denial what I was going through as I sat there and let the buzzing go on behind my head. I can’t speak for Baba and Idris though. I can’t say what made them not say anything. I can’t speak for anyone else either, all the other folk who discovered what had happened later. What happened must have had a way of leaving everyone who saw it dumbfounded and unable to tell me when they discovered it.
I’m still not sure what caused it. It could have been one of or a combination of several things…
Spain had scored again and the entire stuffy room of young men and the odd girlfriend here and there had either groaned, winced or just fallen into a grave silence at the occurrence. I witnessed Idris through the mirrors visibly wince while glancing up at the suspended tv to see the replay. Everyone seemed torn by the goal, all except Peter. He had jumped out from behind his customer and lifted Idris clear off the ground screaming “Gooooooooaaaallllll!” directly in his face. Followed after dropping him by, “Tiree zero! I don win, men. You musto pay me my money today. Next time you no go bet wit shampion! Haha! Rubbish Eagles.” As Peter returned to his customer, leaving a dejected man in his wake, Idris’ girlfriend, the daughter of theiya alata who also sold indomie and bread just outside, came over and gave him a peck, which drove the entire Fine Boy Cutz into a frenzy of slobbering catcalls and whooping hecklers. In all of this, somehow, the device buzzing never left just behind my head.
It was when Idris’ full attention returned to what he had been doing I realized something was amiss. From the way he froze for a few seconds, the gears in his head audibly whirring and then looked up to see if I was looking, I could tell that a problem had presented itself. If that was not enough to convince me, seeing Baba Lasisi, who sat directly behind me, look away the way he had made me sure. And yet, none of us said a thing. Idris just returned to what I would later discover were attempts at corrective measures.
The match came to an end, the spectators dragged their dank selves out and away dejectedly and the fresh air was let back in, thankfully. Idris finished his work and removed the protective cloth around me, letting me up, all the while refusing to meet my eye. I paid him and tried to make small talk while I expected he would be trying to swindle me out of my change as usual but no. He seemed really distracted as he handed me my correct change and stepped out. Probably in search of his gehfren. I looked in the mirror one last time, swiveling my head this way and that to be sure I looked good and having assuaged all doubt, left, hailing Baba Lasisi on my way out. Ordinarily, the old man would choose that time to reminisce on the years back when he was more tormentor than mentor to us kids while I would be trying to escape his nostalging, but not today. Today, he seemed really engrossed in whatever stale news it was he was reading in those papers and replied my hailings with only a grunt.
As I made my way down the street, odd stares burned into the back of my head. Everytime I tried to meet one of them, the eyes got averted, a mischievous twinkle in the eye every time. Friends I had grown up with, new neighbours, ex-girlfriends, street boys, young uns… They all would just looked away.
I arrived home and stepped in front of the small mirror hanging in the bathroom, wondering what it was that had happened back at Fine Boy that had Idris so spooked. As I turned my head this way and that, my little sister, Yimika, steps in behind me and bursts out laughing manically.
In turning to look at her, I catch a glimpse of the profile view of my shadow, cast against the wall by the lone bulb affixed to the wall just above the door. My previously nice, round afro is now flat at the back of my head, forming a wedge-shaped crown.