by ‘Seun Salami
There were many of such bus preachers around town these days, giving the genuine ones a bad name. I tried to imagine Uncle Solo preaching in a bus, but I couldn’t. It just didn’t seem right.
READ PART 1: Uncle Solo, a short story by ‘Seun Salami
Uncle Solo got outside our house, looked to the right and to the left and then began to walk down the road towards the bus-stop. I followed him, maintaining a safe distance. I had told Edwin to take care of the house because I needed to get to the bottom of this. Uncle Solo got to the bus-stop and simply kept walking. He didn’t stop to join the people waiting to board buses to their various destinations. I also noticed that people looked at him in a strange way and left the road for him as though he had a contagious disease. I was sure some who may have known him wouldn’t have been able to recognize him. My curiosity was really beginning to grow. I began to think of several possibilities.
Maybe Uncle Solo was going crazy. No, I thought, after all, he was always crazy. This had to be something serious.
Maybe he was going to begin preaching in buses in a location where nobody really knew who he was, and so he would be able to deceive people and collect money from them in the name of ‘supporting the ministry’. There were many of such bus preachers around town these days, giving the genuine ones a bad name. I tried to imagine Uncle Solo preaching in a bus, but I couldn’t. It just didn’t seem right.
Or, maybe he was really a changed man now; maybe he was even going to become a Pastor. No. I don’t think so. I couldn’t even imagine Uncle Solo as a Pastor. He would be the lousiest clergy ever. A typical prayer session in his church would be loaded with several strange terms and concepts, especially the destroying of demons. No demon would even listen to Uncle Solo if he were to try to cast out any. The demon would only have to remind him of all his past sins and atrocities and then ask him, “Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are you?” Thinking about Uncle Solo as a Pastor makes one remember a certain Pastor with long beards and a bald head, who they said set fire on his church members for fornicating. Uncle Solo can destroy people like that.
I was beginning to get tired of walking, but Uncle Solo kept walking very quickly, as though he had an appointment to keep. I struggled to keep pace with him, still maintaining a safe distance, although he never looked back. After a really long while, we were greeted by the noise of bus conductors and travellers at the inter-state bus park. Then Uncle Solo suddenly vanished amidst the crowd of people. I cursed and kicked my carelessness for letting him get out of sight. But I have come too far to back down now. I would wait.
About twenty minutes and several pure water sachets later, I suddenly saw a frame that looked just like my brother emerging from one of the several spaces between rows of buses. “This can’t be Uncle Solo,” I thought to myself. He looked completely different. Like thirty. No white garment. No bible. No candles.
He wore a white Polo t-shirt. It looked original, because Edwin always says that if you see a Polo t-shirt where the man was either chasing the horse or the horse was chasing the man, then it was a fake one. He said the fakest one was the one where the man and the horse would be pursuing the stick. The man on Uncle Solo’s t-shirt was sitting on the horse and he held the stick in his hand. Uncle Solo also wore a pair of blue jeans and white trainers to go with his shirt. He looked stunning. My mouth formed an O shape as I watched him raise his right hand slightly to find out the time on what looked like a very expensive wrist-watch. Then he brought out his mobile phone and made a call before hurriedly walking towards the road. I followed him, making sure not to lose him this time.
He stood just by the road and soon, a taxi parked and a lady alighted from the cab. She was no ordinary lady. Slim, fair-skinned and tall. Not like the fat ones Uncle Solo usually brought home. She looked like something that was brought out of a magazine cover. She had to be a model. Then she hugged and kissed my brother, right there on the road. I licked my lips. This kind of girl shouldn’t even agree to date Uncle Solo, let alone kiss him in public. Something was certainly amiss.
I quickly hid behind one of the buses as Uncle Solo turned around after receiving the lady’s luggage from the taxi driver and paying the fare. He began to walk towards one of the long luxury buses holding on tightly to the lady, while the bus conductors hurried towards them to collect the luggage.
But I still didn’t understand it. Where was Uncle Solo going? Holiday? Why did he need to lie to us to get out of the house? After all, he had often left home several times for days without having to explain to us where he was going or where he had been. Or was this a permanent move? Was he eloping with this Omalicha, or is she the one who has been collecting all the money from the sale of our father’s properties? Maybe he was really leaving us for good now and would therefore have us believe that he was on some mountain somewhere praying for us. My head began to ache. I called for another sachet of pure water.
What would happen to Edwin and me now? What about my music dream? How would we even feed?
As I thought hard and long, trying to figure things out, suddenly the lyrics for a song began to form in my mind. I sang it out to myself while I bent my head slightly, pouring the cold water from the sachet onto my head:
Uncle Solo solo, I see you when you want to enter Marcopolo, bros,
You dey wear Polo polo, you think say I be mumu abi I don kolo…
Uncle Solo solo, I see you when you want to enter Marcopolo, chai!
Bros, you dey wear Polo polo, I see you when you want to follow Tolo tolo…
I repeated the lyrics several times until a broad smile lit up my face. I loved the sound of it. My legs began to move too as the beats formed in my mind and I made sounds with my mouth. Maybe I can even sing it one day and it will be a big hit and I will become a big music star. Maybe this is the way God wants to take me and Edwin away from poverty, away from the hardship Uncle Solo has put us through all these years.
(This fiction story was inspired by a soon-to-be-released song titled, ‘Uncle Solo’ by Wale Waves – the song performer for the award winning movie soundtrack of Kunle Afolayan’s Figurine – Araromiire. The song is due for release next week).
‘Seun Salami is the author of ‘The Son of your Father’s Concubine’, a collection of short stories. He works as an Editor with Bookvine, a publishing firm in Lagos. You can follow him on twitter @SeunWrites
Other stories by Seun Salami on YNaija are:
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.