​FIRE! | by Betiku Ayokunle Samuel

Tayo saw the reflection of his face on the window of the Black Maria. He stared, mouth agape in shock at his swollen tearful eyes, swollen lips and unkempt hair.This image he saw (if it truly was his) was a far cry from the young handsome teenager he knew he used to be.This was all strange! How had he gotten to this point? The Judges’ awful sentence echoed ominously in his consciousness: “Having found you guilty as charged, you are hereby sentenced to death.”  His lips trembled as tears streamed down his face.
Just then, he felt roughly prodded from behind toward the mini-cell of the police van. His mind suddenly became conscious of his handcuffs and the surrounding crowd, particularly his mother who stood at the forefront, weeping bitterly and uncontrollably despite attempts to calm her down. A sharp pain shot through his heart as more tears poured down his eyes. The numerous insults hurled at him by the crowd added salt to his emotional injury. He could hear one tell the other,

‘The boy is a disgrace to his mother. I even heard his father died eight years ago’

‘Ah! Eyah!’,  the other replied morosely, ‘he couldn’t even pity the poor woman’.

His heart sank. He was led behind the van and roughly prodded into the mini-cell. As the van took off, he watched his weeping mother through the slits of the cell, her voice sending waves of pain through his skull- Tayo! Tayo!! Tayo!!!


The police van sped through the road. The sound of the siren only served to increase Tayo’s agitation. Hot sweat beaded on his face as he thought of his siblings and his mother. Oh his mother! He had caused her much pain. He remembered how he recurrently stole her money and hurled insults at her when scolded for his wrong-doings.

The van halted, waking him up from his broodings. He was led out of the van to the execution spot. Once more, a large crowd had gathered to watch him killed. As two policemen tied him to a long upright stake, a priest made prayers for his soul. Tayo wept once more. If only he could live a few more years, he would never live his life like he lived it.

He watched as the soldiers took positions, then he heard the command,

‘Aim!’

Tayo trembled as the soldiers pointed the guns at him. He looked at the surrounding crowd and shut his eyes.

He screamed in fear as he heard the last command,

‘Fire!’

Something cold and wet hit him on the face. He opened his sleep-reddened eyes to see his mother glaring at him in annoyance with a bowl of water in her hands.

‘As usual, you have refused to wake up early because it’s sunday. Ehn?’ said his mother angrily.

Tayo looked at his mother frantically, then he took a quick look around the room. So it was all a dream. He was still alive!

‘Why did you scream from your sleep and why are looking like that?’ his mother asked apparently displeased, thinking he was playing one of his numerous pranks.

Tayo burst into tears.

‘Oh mummy, I am so sorry’, he said as he held his mother who looked on with a confused expression on her face.

 

Ayokunle Samuel Betiku is a 300 level student of the Department of Microbiology, University of Ibadan. His interest in writing began in primary school and got heightened by reading classic novels such as ALLAN QUATERMAIN by Sir H. Rider Haggard. His work has appeared on parousiamagazine.wordpress.com.

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