You are sauntering home from work. Fatigued, battling with a banging headache and definitely hungry. You are counting the minutes until your mouth devour whatever food you’d find in the kitchen.
It had rained cats and dog earlier, the weather being awfully chilly. The breeze terribly whooshing past your skin. The frozen princess made a decisive effort to stop by your little town, you had thought whilst rubbing your free hand up and down your exposed arm. You are wishing you played wise in the morning and took your sister’s cardigan along. You are adjusting the flimsy excuse of a shawl that keeps slipping off your head- and then, you spot him.
His shoulder is hunched with his quite big head hanging lowly in between his thighs. You see him sitting in the most unusual place. On the gutter right beside the makeshift bridge you’d walk on. He hasn’t noticed you. He is looking at the small stream.
As you approach, you are wondering what he could be doing sitting there, with his head bowed. Another spontaneous thought is crossing your mind, questioning how you intend to get past the mysterious man- unharmed. For all you know, he could be a kidnapper or a ritualist. You aren’t sure but you know such can be the case. Saying within yourself “this is Nigeria o”, you faltered in your steps. Apprehension quiet taking over you.
You are at a safe distance, quietly approaching him. It is a residential area but most people are indoors, probably drinking hot beverage or cuddling or just doing things that provides warmth. You could only care more because if anything were to happen, no one would be there to witness it. And most importantly, save you.
As you carefully stride towards him, he raised his head. He exchanged surreptitious glance with you. You are still approaching him. And then you stop, daring to hold him in a staring stance. His darks eyes meet yours and this affords you a glance into his mind. “He looks troubled, might be considering jumping into the small stream”, your inner voice says.
Averting your gaze, he urges you to walk on. “There’s no problem. It is safe for you to pass.” He says, surprising you with his excellent verbal communication skill. But that is less of a concern to you. “What are you doing…” pointing your index finger at him “…sitting there of all places.” You realise you are indeed talking to a stranger.
Ignoring your question, he mumbles “Will you continue standing there or simply walk across this plank and be on your way?” It then appears to you that he isn’t ready to answer you. You take a closer look at him, your eyes trailing to his dark face that houses a nose mask just beneath his chin and then, to his hand. His right middle finger- it is strangely swollen. A yellow-orange cotton wool wrapped around it. You look at his face again, his once pitiful eyes now giving hints of diabolism. You didn’t intend to, but you let out a gasp.
“I’m scared.” You didn’t know when the words slipped out of your mouth. He then stands up and moves a little distance away from the gutter. His expression urging you- again- to move ahead. Yet, you stand your ground. “Are you okay?” You ask him with concern now etched on your heart-shaped face. “It is a personal issue and clearly not worth your concern.” He retorted and walks even further away from the foot-bridge. Taking that as a cue, you take the first step that closes the three-metre gap between you and him. Pleading the blood of Jesus, you walk with a doubtful mind, half expecting him to sprinkle something on you or grab you or do something to confirm your fears. But he does nothing of such as you ran the little expanse with your sturdy legs barely touch the wooden plank.
Now safe, you look over your shoulder and watch him return to his former position. Your phone vibrates against your tote bag and you reach in to pick it up. Seeing it is a friend that probably used Airtel ‘flashing’ to call you, you turn off your screen.
Your mind still on the mysterious man, you glance over your shoulder yet again, only to notice him conversing with another man. A man you’ve seen multiple times. You feel a slight pang in your chest on realizing he chose to talk to the man and not you. You walk ahead, intent on not looking back. The cold resting over you again.
Here you are, twenty-seven hours later, reminscing over the events of that evening. Thinking as an afterthought, if the man was just enjoying aloneness which he chose for himself as opposed what you earlier thought of him.