SONG OF THE BANDIT 1: The Stupid Man
“Ina jin yunwa, Sule,” said the short, stocky man holding the cellphone.
“You are always hungry,” hissed the tall one. “Yaro will soon be back. Then you can eat yourself silly. I only need a cigarette. Really, really. bad. If I don’t have a smoke soon, walahi, I will kill this stupid man. He makes me jittery with his stupid coughing. If he coughs one more time, walahi, I will blow off his head.”
With his heavy boots, he delivered a severe kick to the fellow sitting on the ground. The blow caught the man in the ribs.
The three of them were directly under the shade of a large mango tree, its huge branches drooping from the weight of fruits hanging all the way from the top to the lowest branches.
But all the fruits, with no exception, were tiny, green and unripe.
The two men with the AK 47 were on their feet, seemingly attentive to every sound around them.
Only the man who got kicked in the ribs was sitting on the bare ground.
The kicked fellow winced but did not make a sound.
His heavily shackled legs stretched out straight in front, he jerked back when the kick caught his ribs, hitting his head against the lower trunk of the tree.
He inhaled deep, and emptied his lungs slowly, as if to dull the pain from the kick, and also to prevent him from coughing.
“The Stupid Man is gradually learning his lesson,” said Sule, spitting on the head of the seated man. “Yesterday he was yelling like a pregnant woman in the delivery room—if you as much as poked him with your smallest finger.”
The Stupid Man had both hands, tied at the wrists, resting on his lap.
“If I have a cigarette my nerves will calm down.”
“But you still have one left,” said the stocky man called Dauda.
It was not his real name. It was just his bandit name. They don’t use their real names when operating.
“I never smoke my last cigarette.”
“I have noticed that,” said Dauda. “Why?”
“The mullah warned me never to smoke the last cigarette on me.”
“Talisman?” Dauda asked.
“Dauda, do the video now before Sule arrives. He will leave the food with us and take the video back to the mullah.”
“Aminu, I warned you several times to stop giving me orders,” Dauda said. “I am senior to you in age and rank.”
“But it is not an order,” Aminu protested. “Just telling you what we need to do next. That is what the mullah requested.”
“Then why do you think I don’t know what to do next?” Dauda retorted, angrily. “I will report you to the mullah. Maybe he should allow you to smoke your last cigarettes. Because you always get so impatient and irritated when you run out of smokes.”
“Alhaji Dauda,” Aminu said pleaded, “please don’t get upset. This place makes me nervous. I don’t know why.”
“Me too,” said Dauda. “Maybe it’s the mango tree. They say these mango trees harbor evil spirits.”
“I don’t understand why mullah picked this location for our operation,” Aminu replied. “It is not far enough from the highway. I will feel better if we used the other location down the hill, by the cave.”
“The mullah knows best,” Dauda replied.
“I am not questioning his authority,” Aminu said quickly. “Or even his wisdom.” Aminu glanced at Dauda to catch his eyes and read his reaction.
But Dauda’s eyes were inscrutable. His large black turban covered his entire head, exposing only his eyes.
Aminu continued, quickly. “I will never question the authority of the mullah. I’m just a bit irritable because of the cigarette.”
“That’s why I never smoke,” Dauda replied. “Tobacco is addictive and stinky.”
“It keeps me from getting short-tempered,” Aminu said. “Can we do it now, em—can we shoot the video? Walahi, let’s get it ready for Sule to….”
“Okay, alright,” Dauda said. “I have lots of charge on my cellphone battery.”
“Stupid Man, place your right leg on this stone.”
Stupid Man looked up and coughed.
Aminu hit him on the head with the butt of his AK 47, and barked, “Stop coughing, pig.”
Dauda pressed the video button on his phone as Stupid Man placed his right leg on the stump in front of him. Stupid Man’s body was shaking uncontrollably.
He clenched his teeth and shut his eyes as Aminu placed the muzzle of the gun on the leg of Stupid Man and pulled the trigger, muttering, “Allah Wakbarr!”
To be continued.
***This material is totally fiction. Any semblance to anyone living or dead is absolutely coincidental.
Copyright reserved by Moyo Okediji.