Boy at the Bend of the River by Olatuja Oloyede

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 Boy at the Bend of the River

- August 29, 2017

Omiri, the great boarderless river of Tansa
Has grown wicked horns

Ever since the prophets came from the city
To sacrifice to her, goats and cows
They said she was angry
But the blood of bulls are not enough mo more
She prefers the soup of flesh 
Cooked in human skulls

Omiri, the bathing place of my birth
Where dazzling rainbow of my childhood drank
Omiri, the jeweled coast of my youth
Perfect as the orange sun sinking in twilight breeze

You are now the den of thieves
The dome of darkness
And the breeding ground of murderers.

Are you angry because your children left
To distant towns and cities
In search of education and civilization?
Because they won't return
Until they are drenched in western degrees?

Is it because of the company 
Towering on the bed of your bank?
Those visitors you gave a drink
Have grown too big to keep
Now they feast on your children
No more fishes in the river
No more sons in the land
Is that why you mourn and haunt the land?


Just as the sun tied his wrappers of darkness
Sinking into the firmament of the horizon
I decided to take a long walk by the river
If the memories of my innocent childhood will be rekindled

There are some questions in my hearts unanswered
Things have change and so have you

I stroll down the bank of your water
At the river bend
Where the big Omuona tree stood
I saw a boy playing with the sand
A bony malnourished child
Exposed to the tyranny of the world
Who had lost his way in this complex life
I heard my own breath under my nostrils
As my heart pants with curiosity

"Boy, who are you?"

A little pleading faced stared long at me
His face swollen with too much tears and hunger
His mouth shivering in an overboiling evening
Then he answered

"I don't know"

"Where are you from?"
"I don't know"

"Where are your parents?"
"I don't know"

"Who are your parents?"
"I don't know"

"What will you eat this evening?"
"I don't know"

"Where will you go from here?"
"I don't know"

Millions like him are scattered across the earth
Homeless and helpless
He stood before me chewing only one tasteless song
He has chewed all his life

"I don't know"

Is hunger the fate of one
And abundance the destiny of the other?
The divided the lots of men?
Who determined the course of life?

I stood bewildered
Not just because of this boy
But because I too do not know who I am

They said my father was a young predator
And my mother his early victim
Who after planting his seed in fertile soil of her womb
 Took to his heals never looking back
But mother could not wear those rags of disgrace for too long
So she came down to Omiri river to end her life

There under the Omuona tree 
She gave birth to me
Leaving me without a second look
 In the dust facing the sun
To face the wickedness of life alone
Unwashed, uncuddled, untended

She drown herself
And the water swept her body away
Far into that distant land of death
Beyond where my tears could retrieve

I am a boy who never knew the tender touch of a mother
Or the protection of a father

Though a barren widow rescued
But I had learnt early in life to survive alone
Bringing sunshine and happiness to the old woman's life

But here is a boy too
Who do not know who he is
Could it be that his father had done what my own father did?
And his mother what my own mother did?
Could it be that the world has conspired against him?

Could I be the angel sent 
To this lost and lonely kid?
Could he be another greatness 
Wasting away in the slums?

Yes in deed he was

When I look back at that very day
When I met the boy at the bend of the river
That beautiful evening hidden under the planks of years
Rolled hurriedly away in the wind
A blossoming flower of joy springs in my heart
A cloud of satisfaction gathers in my spirit

For two weeks now
TV and radio stations have been roaring his name
He had just won the election

© Olatuja Oloyede

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