(The title is ironic. It says no words, when in reality, there are seven hundred and forty four)
Wow! It hit me really hard. Who knew a random conversation could bore deep into the soul of a young man? It’s possible, but words from someone that is not even an acquaintance?
What seemed like the average afternoon for me turned out to be the turning point in my life. Thirty minutes or thereabouts of what started out as unimportant banter ended up with me reminiscing; thinking about the entire almost nineteen years of my life.
It started out as a normal day. Everything went fine; normal. And then I had to leave the house to go get something that belonged to me.
Sure enough, at about 3:40pm, I had gotten what I wanted to get and so I began to head home. I was walking along the road; somewhere in Surulere, on the road practically since the sidewalk was wet, looking ahead and thinking of nothing in particular, you can say I was in my own world. Odd?
Then all of a sudden, I heard my name. I am definitely not the only Seyi on earth and so I imagined whoever shouted the name was referring to someone else. I kept walking and then I heard my name again. The street I was on was sane; sane because traffic was light and not so many pedestrians were around. Owing to that fact, whoever was shouting Seyi had to be referring to me. This time, the voice sounded closer. It’s a popular superstition around these parts that if you hear your name, and there’s no familiar person you know around, it is a spirit that is calling you; reaching out to you. I personally do not believe some of the superstitions but then I can’t be taking chances. I’m still young and there’s so much I have to do before death becomes an option.
Again, I ignored the voice and kept walking, much faster. And then I heard it again, this time very loud and clear. It was the voice of a boy. I stopped and turned around. There was a middle-aged woman that seemed angry, two men laughing annoyingly loud as they walked together and then there was a little boy. The boy smiled when my eyes met him and immediately, I was consumed by fear. He said my name once more and began to come closer.
This boy was definitely not one of those street urchins that disturb you for money. I could tell from the clean pair of black jeans he had on and this really nice yellow And1 t-shirt he had on. It was when I saw the Heely’s on his feet that I was convinced that this was a normal little boy with parents.
Then he grabbed my hand. It was a soft grab so he obviously meant no harm.
‘What is your name? Who are you looking for?’ I asked him. He stared back at me and his eyes began to well up with tears. Lagos can be a very dangerous place and so naturally, the first thing that came to my mind was to leave this young boy and keep going my way. But I felt peace in my heart. There wasn’t a slight hint of worry in me. It was a feeling that assured me that this wasn’t part of some kidnapping scheme. Besides, God’s angels are always with me.
So, I crouched and asked him why he was crying. My thighs were sore from some work-out I had done not too long ago so I couldn’t remain in that position for too long. Luckily, there was this bench close by and so I held the young boy’s hand and led him to the bench. We both sat and I asked again, ‘Why are you crying? What is your name?’. He stopped crying and answered ‘Emmanuel’. ‘Okay Emmanuel, how old are you?’ I asked in this tone those primary school teachers use when they pretend to be nice. ‘Eleven’, Emmanuel replied. ‘Where are your parents?’, I asked. Emmanuel pointed to a store that was not too far from where we were sitting.
I was about asking him why he wasn’t with them and how he knew my name but I sighted a young lady that was clearly walking towards me at a suspicious pace, and so I paused.
Wide-eyed, obviously filled with shock, she exclaimed, ‘OH MY GOD!!’
To Be Continued…