Guest Writers Short Story

THE CHRONICLES OF A MADMAN – The Punishment | By Dele Dassou

By default, I am a lazy person. I could lay down all day and do nothing but read away the time. I could lazy about like that for one week straight. You’re asking what I do for a living, sey? Gbéborun, mind your own affairs. Having been thus apprised, the good reader is advised to journey back to the first sentence. If you have done so, please be informed that, worldwide, THAT is the most blatant lie you will read today.
What I am is not lazy; but a son of a man who has his settings, by default, set to “procrastinate”. From time to time, I fall into the procrastinating pit and it takes extraordinary effort to retrieve my body. When responsibility awakens me, I engage in my activities with redoubled zest, fuelled by the petrol of guilt and lost time.
Does the good reader possess within memory the Scriptural idea that no sinner shall go unpunished? If yes, well, I get punctually remunerated whenever I have been in and out of the aforementioned pit. On the day the story you are now reading opens, I was punished. I had been loafing, lounging and lazing; reading ghost stories manufactured by some eighteenth-century scribblers.
Two days before our story opens, I had, actuated by hunger, made myself a plate of those lifeless worms called noodles. Having earlier sacrificed to my stomach the egg intended for the decoration of the food, I shovelled the unappetizing worms into my mouth without much attention to the content of the plate or observing any table-manner, reading about spooks, spectres, ancient cemeteries, and vaults — sepulchral things generally. How long I ate, I know not. So transported was I by the writer’s power of description and dexterous use of word-pictures that I could see uninvited ghosts chowing with me. Nay, I was in that ancient haunted house — which the writer was at that moment painting with words — witnessing and verifying the scribe’s scene. I possessed within my mind the thought that I… But let us leave my thought and come back to events that are of material importance to our story. Suffice to say that eighteenth-century English writers were descriptively adept to perfection.
Two days on — that is the day on which our story opens, I finally decided to subject the pot I used to brew the noodles to a wash — after postponing and procrastinating for how many times only Satan knows. My abode not possessing within itself a proper kitchen, I took the pot without. I hadn’t been out a blink when one of my ears — I can’t say which — registered the following conversation between individuals whom I shan’t suffer myself to describe:

Man: “I saw you this morning, abi?” He asked.
Boy: “Yes,” he said.
Man: “Where did I SAW you?”
Boy: “On the other street,”
Man: “Did you SAW me too?”

Really? No, it has got to be the ghosts playing with the strings in my ear. So overtaken by surprise was I that my sense of hearing failed to perform its office any further; I strained and jerked and, like an antenna, adjusted my ears in many directions to no avail. If surprise WAS a tangible force, you all would be preparing for my funeral right now because I most certainly should have been crushed.
I stood there gaping, with my jaw dropped, leaving my big mouth wide open and providing thoroughfare for flies, germs and all the rubbish that use my mouth as business centre; giving my senses leave to wonder how such un-English utterances could be made in this time and age, when CHANGE has finally come to Nigeria! This is a matter of urgent national importance and President Buhari must hear about it!