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.
“Loko, he is in a bad mood again,” retorted the man sitting next to the driver in the front of the bus.
“Loko? Is that his name?” some woman asked.
The man looked back with some incredulity, “That’s his name; you must be a stranger in town.” He said.
“Yes, I come only on the market days.” Said the woman.
“No wonder,” the man said, “Look, that big two-storey building painted all white,” he pointed out of the window, “he built it, it is his house.” the man informed.
“How do I believe that?” the woman said.
That house was outstanding in Dagbolu, and not just because it was built along the main road that travelled by the heart of town. A grand house of twelve rooms. Although by now it was bush encroached, grasses had grown on the roof, there were several gaping cracks in the walls and the paint had paled and peeled badly, yet there was no mistaken of it that the building had seen brilliant better days. It was a desolate place now with only goats crawling under the fence to gain access to the verandah where they lay at noon taking shade from the sun or rain and chewing their cud. The floor was littered and stained with their droppings and urine. The place was redolent of goat’s peculiar odour. The front door was locked with a flimsy padlock but that was a place that no one went now. I found out all these when I decided to visit the place the following day, being inspired by the tale of Loko told by the man at the front of the bus.
The man patted his cap. He said Loko, a true son of Dagbolu soil was a fine young man and a teacher in the community elementary school. He taught arithmetic and elementary science and lived a simple quiet life in the midst of his people, sharing a roof with his father, mother and Amope his only sister.
Once upon an uneventful season, Amope, a hunchback, was struck with a malady and she died. Her remains were buried behind the house. Two nights after she was so buried Loko approached his parents and announced to them he would be taking a break from town; following morning, before cockcrow, he had picked his bag and left town.
He had left in the middle of an academic year, abandoning his pupils. However, within the same week, the union of teachers decided to live up to its words. Teachers declared an indefinite strike action. They said the government had failed to honour its promise to give them a rise in wage. They said they were tired of working like elephants and feeding like ants. They said a teacher could not afford a decent living as opposed to the other government workers all of whom of course had passed through the tutelage of the teachers. And they said the strike action would last for as long the government was unwilling to respect their position. Now school children waited at home while the classrooms were locked up.
The strike went on for a couple of months and Loko was away the whole time. Then he returned one bright afternoon riding a posh car into town. That day, Loko and Ajala his father were locked in a vehement argument. Father’s voice was heard ringing high out of their house; he was so agitated that his protracted cough surged into a paroxysm that left his chest constricted and his eyes watery. Mother’s muffled sobs were like a soundtrack to the whole melodrama. No one knew the crux of the matter only they saw Loko pack his things and move out of the house.
Within the week Loko bought the land and laid the foundation for his house. It was evident he had hit his fortune where he travelled while the teachers’ strike lasted. In less than a month the house was completed and it was the most magnificent sight ever seen in Dagbolu, unfailingly compelling passers-by to stop and mutter a wish.
Loko called the town to a grand feast on the day he warmed the house and the lavish party was such of which talk lingered on people’s lips for a long time. But when people talked of it they also mentioned that Loko’s parents did not come and for this no one was offered any answer.
Last Posts in the Series – Loko:
- Loko (Intro): Life on the Street of Dagbolu
- Loko (Part II): The Day Loko Chased Abraham
- Loko (Part III): Loko’s Blessed Night in Iya-Osu’s Shop
Next Post in the Series – Loko:
- Loko (Part V): Suspicion About Loko’s Business Travels