Ireti Oladapo: The man with a story

His shoulders arched, poised on the walkway of the third mainland bridge, ready to leap into the waters.

The looks in his bloodshot eyes mirrored the menacing bayou. He was by the link, mid-way through the bridge that leads to Herbert Macaulay Way, a whitewashed bag round his neck, his head bent to shield him from the whiff that blew in his face.

Oblivious of a life edging away, cars and busses raced past on that Tuesday morning, off to the market, a meeting or a business place. Life, paused for someone, a frenzied motion for others.

The man looked in the direction of a garnet Honda CRV 2013 model that had stopped, he drew hopeful breaths in short gasps. Surely God had sent someone. He straightened up and loosened his grips on the bars. He had promised if he got someone to talk him out of his quest, he was going to reconsider and give life another shot.

As the car reversed and got closer, he dropped his bag. As though a submarine had been lifted off his shoulders – and life- he sat on the edge of the road, his left feet on the eighth lane, hoping the person approaching would not deem him rude.

He could have taken steps towards the car but his leg felt like a mass of brass was tied to it. He had no strength.  Then he caught a glimpse of the woman behind the wheels. She had smooth brown skin. Human hair flew in whirls as her eyes darted from the side view mirrors to the rear view mirror.

He thought she was beautiful. She had sharp shoulders, he wished she would step out of the car, and he tried to imagine her nicely shaped slim legs and trimmed toes sticking out of peep toed shoes. He held his breath, his heart thumped louder than the hunger in his tummy.

He wondered if she was a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or a commissioner or simply the wife of a rich business man who owned a magnificent sky scraper on Ajose Adeogun. Perhaps she would give him a drink and then a job or some money to start a business, he might be lucky, he thought, she might ask him to become a business partner.

When the car got to his side, the woman looked at the tall tired man she mistook for a cleaner in her office who always carried a blue bag and had same grey stripped shirt. The man’s shirt was torn and stained. On his cheek was rough pale beard that needed a shave. For a moment she considered his smile, not an endearing smile but one that laid claim to unspoken sorrows.

“Good morning, Madam,” the man began to say.

The woman might not have heard him. She changed the gear to drive, momentarily glanced over her right shoulder and sped off.

By noon, multiple versions of the man in grey stripped shirt found floating in the lagoon by native fishermen saturated social media. Bloggers attempted to trace his house, it was said that he lived in Oworonshoki.

The grapevine suggested he was called Akin, others disagreed and called him Akeem. Some said his wife was having triplets and he struggled but failed to settle hospital bills, another plausible theory opined he was unable to pay house rent and his belongings had been flung out like bags of mashed potatoes, a minority said he was never married, had no kids but had contracted the HIV.

We may never get to find out the truth behind the man who had once lived and once hoped and once believed.

A man with a story who died with his stories untold, whose truth we will never find out, a man with a wealth of experience who stopped dreaming and believing.

Reduced to a mere bloated unidentified body that used water to fill up the emptiness created within by the circumstances of life.

But we know that just like all of us, he had compelling issues, was faced with tragedy, did not own his tragedy, did not allow it transform him into a more beautiful person than he is but permitted the ugly claws of life and despondency to swallow him.

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental

Comments (3)

  1. What a nice article ,very constructive .thank you for this .GOD BLess u more Ireti oladapo

  2. May the Lord grant us grace never to give up in life. Whatever challenge we are going through must be seen as temporary, and it will soon expire. Just trust God and He will convert your pain to gain by making it the step to your next level

  3. This is a very good and descriptive piece that drove its message home. May God grant us the grace to allow our issues and tragedies transform us to more beautiful people.

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