By: Sunday Michael Oyeleke

You think sleeping in a gold-plated duvet you newly acquired from China will cure the inner persisting drumming in one of your ears. But it hasn’t.

You lie alone awake on your exotic bed that is of a standard football pitch in size; that is said to be the finest from Milan, and is said to be lesser than a feather in weight when you sleep on it. But it always feels like a rock every morning you wake alone on it, especially since you mistakenly relegate your wife to the kitchen and other rooms in the village when gibbering with some of your distant friends and it gets to your her hearing. You miss her cuddling every night and wish she will forgive you in the privacy of your bedroom without demanding that you bend a knee for her in public over your unruly remark about her in public.

It appears your Asonia (inability to clearly distinguish the difference in people’s voices) has got worse since you return to Aso village – the same village some of your kingmaker-friends have once conspired and banished you from about four decades ago. Your long convoy movement around your village last night shows nothing has really changed except all your old mates in class.

You wonder how they have grown so big that they cannot pass through a single door entrance anymore. Even when a set of two adjoining doors is fully opened for them to access any house other than theirs, they have to squeeze in their pot-like bellies that they all seems to wear as uniform. You are grateful to Allah you have not become like them because you and your childhood’s favourite stick of sugarcane can equally compete not only in width but also height. You chewed such stick only sometimes ago to calm your nerves after a taxing day with your rat-infested office – that in particular, where the finest quality of rodenticide is produced and stored.

You rise from the bed and remember last night’s quarrel with your since-childhood family doctor-friend in the village, Mallam Ado. You have just lost him from the list of your friends in the village who have nicked you “Mr Integrity”. Mr Ado is obviously angry that you have lost confidence in his treatment.

He grumps like Trump, the United States President on Twitter ever since you leave the village, “Haba, Mr. Bo Harry! Even if you had wanted to replace the whole ear with that of the elephant, why lose faith in me now? Didn’t you promise you will never leave the village for any treatment as all your mates in class have been doing? Didn’t you promise to give me all I need in the village that even distant medicine men and their kinsmen will come to me for their treatment?” But you wave it off with the thought that you have many other friends in the village who still call you Mr Integrity.

You hear hoaxes that nothing has really changed since you return to the Aso village and you decide you’ll use this morning to inspect the village again. You order a long trekking convoy to inspect for yourself and realize they are all just hate speeches from envious villagers that can never be pleased.

You wonder why they have not noticed the tall bushes that now bury the poles and transformers installed by Lugard himself which now enable the village hunters to comfortably tarry their sleep under the warm arms of their wives while antelopes walk up to them at their bedroom and pythons glide into their wives’ cooking pots, just waiting for those who love snake meal to come and strike a match.

You wonder why they have not noticed the fish ponds that have been extended to the roads during raining season so the village fishermen won’t need to stress themselves going far for a river. You wonder why they have not noticed the lazy youths you have sponsored to Lalaland and who are now so busy with playing Baba Ijebu. You wonder why they have not noticed that everyone is now ungainful vigilantes day and night. You wonder in every wandering in the long convoy.

As usual, some of the villagers hail you as you stand out in the trekking convoy “Bo Harry! Sai Bo Harry!” But a chap suddenly leaps forward among the villagers and his voice overrides every other saying, “Mister Integrity cried when we told him we pay as high as 97 Naira for a pint of fuel. He cried with us and promised then. And today we buy it cheaper at 145 Naira. All hail our messiah! All hail Bo…” You order some aides and they throw him into one of their vans in the convoy.

Not long, a boy, whose black skin is like a transparent nylon covering a woven frame of tiny sticks, is blown forward by the wind. The wind gathers and brings to your ears the sound that seems to emanate from his parted lips thus, “Misa Intagiti, mama said you cr-i-ed and liduce supergati be four 80 Naira, now 200 Nai…” But you order some aides and they “Kai!” him into evaporating into the crowd.

Almost instantaneously, an aged man leaps forward shaking his entire body as he stammers, “Mi mi-ster Inte-intefriti, can can you tell us who, who,who g-g-ive you inte-inte-tefri-friti? You, you cry and, and and promise to, to to, to to give us 5000 Nai-ra montily. You prom-ise only one, one one, one term but this, th-is is se-second cond term.” You also order some aides and they throw him into one of their vans in the convoy. You soon order the end of the tour and return to your home that same morning. You feel unwell and order another appointment with your ear doctor faraway. Now, it seems you have lost your hearing completely. You have become the ghost of yourself. The people in the village now call you many names but none seems to remember their late Mr Integrity.

Michael Sunday Oyeleke hails from Odo-otin Local Government Area of Osun State. He has his first degree in English and Literary Studies from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is a multiple award winner, a poet, short-story writer and essayist. He currently runs a postgraduate studies in the same course and at the same university, and resides in Zaria.

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