Loko – A Delicious African Tale

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LOKO (Part I)

This is the first part and introduction to a series of posts about this young man called LOKO.
 
It's a short story; so fasten your seatbelt as we delve into the world of LOKO – how he changed his own life, hurt his family and the community around him. 
 

He was a palpable and an integral part of the community. If a stranger came to Dagbolu, he would discover Loko in less than two days as an indubitable thread in the community’s fabric. Tall and strongly built, he walked shirtless with measured slowness bearing his frame with boldness and something akin to a sense of narcissism. In between his fingers was a piece of charcoal which was never lacking. And it was easy to know a place where Loko had taken a pause from his mundane wanderings – there were scribbles on the wall which he left behind as a memento of the moments spent in every place. The handwriting was beautiful but the letters were rather written in great hurry. And although each word was real and certain, there usually was no point of focus in the compositions or maybe if the compositions made any sense at all, such was beyond the scope and capacity of the normal mind.

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LOKO (Part II)

On the said day Abraham closed late from work and because his motor had broken down earlier on he was only left with the option of trekking down to the bus stop to catch a bus home. It was past 7 pm, an hour when the sun had set and darkness had begun to descend. The expressway was lonesome safe for the vehicles rolling off at neck-breaking speeds. Abraham sighted approaching a bus painted in the regular commuter colour of blue with white stripes on the sides and he waited by the road, hailing and waving. The bus however sped off, not waiting. Apparently it was full of passengers.

But just as the bus wheezed off, seeming to carry the echo of Abraham’s voice in its wake, Abraham sensed a sharp rustle in the bush just behind him and with it came a furious whack on his shoulder. It seemed his shout had disturbed something on a delicate balance.

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Loko (Part III)

Another of such moments with Loko never to be forgotten was the night that Iya-Osu, the popular seller of amala and gbegiri at the roads’ junction had locked Loko in overnight. As it happened, earlier on in the evening Loko had had one of his rarest tranquil moods and mingled with the crowd at the coronation of the new otun of Dagbolu. The men had had all they could of  the generous undiluted palm wine placed in gourds at several angles of the coronation ground yet there was still plenty left by the time Loko joined in towards the tail end of the day. He secured himself several calabashes of the sweetened liquor which he downed sitting at a little stone in a corner. Surprisingly, the men had been too busy or excited that no one seemed to care about Loko. Soon he got himself drunk.

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Loko (Part IV)

I hadn’t always known his name or I might have even taken it for granted that he had any at all until the other day when I closed from work and joined the regular blue commuter bus, going home. Shortly after I had entered and sat by the window, watching the bush dance by, the bus slowed again and picked a woman.

“Why didn’t you wait at the main bus-stop?” the driver asked her.

“That mad man is occupying the place.” the woman replied.

“I see,” the driver retorted, shaking his head with a knowing air.

Then we got to the bus-stop and there was Loko, sitting under the government-built shed like a dedicated sentinel. Today too he was in a bad mood. He was agitated and soliloquizing frantically, aggressively charging at and warding off some unseen taunters.

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Loko (Part V)

Loko had resigned his post as a school teacher and was doing business now or so he told the people. He was out of town a lot and the new house was under lock and keys while he was away, yet his parents lived under a thatched roof that leaked mercilessly whenever it rained. Many a morning, Loko was seen on the balcony among his friends – he had attracted quite some now – drinking palm wine supplied by an early tapper while everyone went about their daily endeavours. Loko’s place whenever he was in town had become a place of merry.

He had a peculiar smoking habit. He was found with a stick of cigar quite so often. Wherever he sat, used match sticks with black burnt heads littered the floor. Actually, he did not smoke much.

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Loko (Part VI)

Two years later, Loko’s mother passed away and once in the two seasons he had a real reason to go under his father’s roof. His hoary father stood at the door and swore his son would never step within the house. It took the elders many hours to persuade and prevail upon Ajala before he would let his son in. Loko threw a grand funeral such as had become a byword with him in Dagbolu. At sunset, the corpse was lowered into a grave at the back of the house.

Three days later, the compound awoke to discover a disturbance at the grave. It was as if some person had come to re-dig the place. Ajala insisted he wanted the rotting remains of his wife dug up to ascertain the status. Who had heard of such a thing? But the stubborn man got himself help from kinsmen and carried out his wish. A horror consumed the people when the grave was opened and the corpse’s head had been chopped off and taken away.

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Loko (Part VII)

Following the discovery of the headless corpse of his mother, Loko was not seen. Days rolled into months and months into a season, life dragged on its wheels.  Then he returned one bright afternoon but this time he did not come back driving a posh car into town; he came trekking on foot. He looked shell-shock like a sparrow which suddenly just discovered a scarecrow on a cornfield where it had been stealing throat-full of grains. He had trekked a long distance for his feet were swollen, the soles had broken at the edges. His clothes were well worn and torn in places. His face was covered with hairs unshaved for months. He had been battered and beaten by all the weather kinds.

He did not go home rather he promptly took his place by the foot of the stairwell at the school. He was full of paranoia and looked like he would soonest jump out of his skin.

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