It is raining very heavily this evening. Relentless drops of rain are drumming on your rusted corrugated sheets. You look at your father and your hearts connect in a prayer, asking the rain not to drill any more holes in the roof because you have run out of basins and buckets to collect water whenever it leaked inside house. You know the position of the basins like the lines of your palms, so whenever the weather changes and gives portents of rainfall, you expertly place all the ten basins under the leaky spots. Tonight’s rain comes with a gusty wind that breaks trees into two as easily as splitting firewood across the sole of your foot. Whenever it rains with this gusto, it is difficult to know where the roads end and the gutters begin. Everywhere is always flooded and the road and gutters blend into one vast sheet of water. This is the kind of rain that makes your kid brother, Mazpa, say that God is flogging all the angels in heaven for being bad boys, and their tears is what causes the heavy rainfall.
Your father waits for the rain to abate by 7:45pm and tells you he is going to watch a Champions League match. You remind him that the floods take a long time to subside even when the rains have stopped. But he glowers at you, switches on his torchlight, and walks into the watery night.
Champions League matches end around 9:45pm, but there’s no trace of him by 12am. You are scared but you know he has probably followed a friend to his house for proper post match analysis – as he always does – and has decided to sleep over. But when you wait till 10am the next morning and there’s still no sign of him, you slip into a sweatshirt and knickers and flip flops, and go out to the streets to search for him. You visit every single one of his friends. Still no sign of him. So one of his friends advices you to check at the place people always go when they can’t find their loved ones: Kaggwa Mortuary.
At first you are hesitant, but you eventually trudge to the mortuary down the dirt road, about two miles from your house. Goosebumps rise on your skin as you enter the morgue, and it feels as rough as a grater. Your palms are clammy with sweat. You hurriedly ask the attendant if one Mr Gbenga, dark and tall with a full beard, was brought in here yesterday, and she motions you to have a seat while she checks her register. She moves her finger up and down the pages, and then she finally looks up at you. Your gaze is glued to that finger moving up and down the death register. “Yes. He was brought in yesterday. I’m sorry. Please follow me to confirm.”
Tears are flowing in streams and drenching your face, but you follow her silently through a dark corridor and into an angular room. Corpses are lain all over the ground, sullied remains of once bubbling humans, and you are very careful so you don’t step on one of them. She pulls one drawer to reveal a figure draped in white linen, and you are so relieved when she takes off the linen that the man lying lifeless on the table is Gbenga the village drunkard, not your Gbenga. Your eyes shine like neon lights and your reddened cheeks return to their normal colour.
You race back home to see if he has come back, but you when you pass by Okija market, you hear two women engaging in small talk about a man who walked right into the big gutter last night, as if he was blind, and how the last they saw of him were his flailing arms as the raging flood smashed his head against the concrete slabs, forcing him into submission, and sailed away with him at neck breaking speed.
You hurriedly gather some street boys and follow the water canal for three miles until you reach where it empties into the river. Then you find him, covered in an old fishing net, his head is split open, his outer skin peeled off, dirt stuffed in his mouth and nostrils. His eyes are wide open, the way you open your eyes in shock when you watch a famous comeback victory in the Champions League.