“Abdulrasheed!”, I heard a voice shout my surname as I walked on our street. It was deep and depicted a prolong exposure to smoke. “It can’t be me”, I thought; nobody in my street called me by my surname anyway. “Ibraheem!”, the voice called out. I turned back to see who knew me so much. It was a skinny fair man of my height. His eyes were pale and his lips were already blackening. The nerves in his neck and arms were fat and thick. The eyes looked familiar but I was sure it’s an old memory. I tried to remember the face “but this can’t be the only person I know with this facial appearance.” “Tirimisiyu??” I tried. He nodded as he made his way to me.
My brain couldn’t be compelled by what my eyes just saw. Tirimisiyu? What on earth could transform Tirimisiyu to this?
I went closer and we had a masculine handshake. “How far now, shey àdúgbò yìí ló shin gbé? (Do you still stay in this area?)”, He asked me in his frightening tone. I answered affirmatively and asked about his faring too. I played along as if nothing was wrong while I wondered what could have befallen him.
Tirimisiyu was a primary school classmate in Hikam and had a high sense of spiritual dedication. In a lot of occasion, he would come to school with Muslim men cap on his uniform. We used to compete for Muazzin(prayer caller) whenever we wanted to pray in school. His mother was a dedicated Muslim woman and it reflected on him and his sister. Although I don’t know about their father. He left us in primary 3 apparently due to school fees deficit and that was the last time we met. But now that fate crossed our path after over five years, Tirimisiyu has grown to a lout whose mouth welcomes all nature of cigar.
I asked about the school he attended while we exchanged words and that was when he unveiled the root of his ill-transformation. He was in a public secondary school then. He started by talking about his new friends and kept emphasizing the word “jara ẹ (wise up)” as we chatted. Although he didn’t tell me pointedly that some people made him what he was, but I could read it was from the friends he made in school. He talked about how they used charms whenever there was inter-school feud and how he couldn’t do without drug every time we met and talked. Another reason I could point out from his tearful change was the leniency or nonchalance of his parents. No responsible parent would watch their child becoming what Tirimisiyu became and won’t take decisive actions to curb him.
I hide everytime I set my eyes on him to avoid his vicious chats. But whenever he was able to stop me, I listened to him with my heart heavy from fear of ever taking his path while I pray that the Almighty transform him to the Tirimisiyu I knew.
Abdulrasheed Ibraheem Akande