It was a dark Monday morning when Ben arose from his bed. Taking a look at the time it was past 5am, his one room apartment which he shared with his four friends always irritated him. They shared the floor not even a Bed, the roof had leakages whenever it rained. It smelt bad as the room was the closest to the septic tank but Ben had always had a dream of one day living in one of those mansions on the Lagos island. First, he had to accomplish today’s mission, if not, he would have to go hungry all through the day .Ben had been surviving by pick pocketing or shop lifting items from people’s possession and on occasions had been successful; this time he headed out with high expectations not knowing what the day had in store for him .
Ben observed from afar how successful his friends had been as they lifted items from the traders store and from people as they walked passed them. He wanted more; he wanted something huge than what they always ended up getting on daily basis, so he headed for the bank and observed the customers as they made transactions. His heart raced faster as he observed a woman place a huge amount of money in her bag. Quickly, he followed her. He made sure he got on every bus she boarded trying to sit close to her in other to steal the money. He was really nervous and convinced himself on how he was the best at pick pocketing amongst his friends. But as he struggled to take the money from the bag, she always moved the bag to a different position. This was really getting hard and complicated for Ben. As the bus approached the next bus stop he forced his hand into the bag and withdrew the money. “Thief, thief, thief !!!!!” she screamed as Ben jumped down from the bus and made his way into the market hoping to hide himself in the busy environment; but he was wrong. Everyone quickly understood the man in motion was a thief as she kept screaming, pointing at him as he ran for dear life. Within minutes, he was apprehended and punches flew at him from every corner; “please, please!!!” he yelled, but the angry mob had no time for his plea. The frustration in their eyes told him just one thing; DEATH, these were people who had given up on themselves and are looking for someone or something to place their anger on and he was the scapegoat. Ben kept searching for a way to flee this torture, but the more he tried the more fierce the crowd became, two men came with iron rods in their hands and swinging them at his legs, down went Ben, they kept hitting his legs till it felt lifeless; “bring fuel”, one of the men said; “tire and rope”, the other added. This time Ben knew it was over for him, he said not a word as they made their preparations to burn a fellow human like he was an animal, all he did was cry. Quickly, they tied him and placed him into the tire. He sobbed out loud as his broken legs hurt but they never cared. One of them kicked him to the head and blood gushed out from his nostrils and mouth. The gas from the fuel choked him and hurt his eyes and wounds as they poured it on him. As the mob searched for a match, Ben thought of how he had gotten to this mess, once from a noble home, born without a silver spoon, he once had an ambition but life had pushed him down this road. He starred at the crowd who watched this horrific event, he wanted to beg once again but his mouth won’t let him, his mind was conscious but his body had accepted its fate, he recognized four faces in the crowd; they were his friends, none could render help; where was the police? He lifted his eyes to the heavens, searching for the face of God;”not even God can help you this time”, whispered a voice from within. Finally the match came and from a far distance he threw the burning stick at Ben and the flames rose. Aman’s cry came from the flame for some seconds as the dark smoke rose to the sky, then silence filled the atmosphere. Helpless in the scorching fire, he accepted his fate, a single prayer did Ben make at the minute he was between life and death; “God save my friends from this end”, he never prayed for his soul for it was already damned. His body became an apartment for maggots, the sun laughed at him through the day but the moon wept for him all night, then came the rain to have its own share of fun on his body, rejected by men; silently he laid, not until a Thursday morning he was nowhere to be found. What became of him? I never can tell for I never saw him again.
Author – Tito Ubabuko