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The sky had veiled itself with a sea-blue shade before Alani woke up that morning. The sinister cockerels had bathed dawn with coo-like dirges, and the sun in its bleached majesty loom above the lucid clouds unsure of which way to set. He groaned as he turned his side on the cozy mat he lain on. He stretched out his arms so hard that his bones cracked joyfully, "ahh". He sat up and bent his heads craftily to the sides and yawned, a pint of carbon dioxide oozed out of his unwashed mouth. He looked around his hut as if looking for something or someone that's not actually present to greet him. He sighed and got up, staggering about the room with his hibiscus colored eyed slightly opened like a drunk. He reached out to a clay heathen pot just behind his raffia basket and gulped a sumptuous amount of water from it, rinsed his mouth and swallowed. Satisfied, he jarred at the heavy wooden door and pulled the log used as a lock behind it away and opened.

The misty morning welcomed him with a new chapter of an history book. Children, girls in their pinafores and simbi hairdo, with lunch bags, madefrom local raffia to match and boys with their ever haggard but smart shirts tucked into their over-sized shorts with marching khaki sandals, chatted happily to school. Farmers with their sickles and nets walked with zeal down their farm path with their illiterate but hardworking children trailing behind them like blood from a menstruating woman. Alani looked on and sighted the long chaotic queue in front of Iya Dara's akara stall. Few successful men with their bicycles wink at innocent girls coming from the stream, with waterpot sitting graciously on their choral heads. These sights bore him, he shook his head, and sat down on the lawn of his hut, bare-butted.

Just two moonless nights ago, he had come home from the farm tired and dehydrated and his mother had caressed and massaged his body with shea butter but today she has gone to rest with her husband leaving her only son, Alani, to sojournthis world alone. Tears well up Alani's eyes and it fell in tiny rivulets down his cracked face.

He remembered when Maami, as he fondly calls his mother, had bathed him herself on his ninth birthday and had opened floodgates of prayers onhim. She'd sold virtually all her clothes to buy goat meat to make a delicacy for him on that day. He remembered when she'd run to the village priest when he was sick and cried bitterly at the priest's feet to help her son. He'd watched her face then and felt something he would never understand.

Likewise today, he couldn't understand why God should take all his family and leave him in penury."Everything good will come", he whispered and entered into his hut again and that was the last of him.

Often times when I go to town, to ilè olùjí, I still see strange inscriptions made on the shackles of a broken hut. I can't read them but I have this feeling they're directed to me, like this man that always visits me at midnight on every moonless night.

*George O. Victor.*

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