SING ABOUT ME I’M DYING OF THIRST
by Daniel Ogba
Sing About Me I’m Dying of Thirst – Winner of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)
Everybody for Odogwu lodge hear am that night…
Eduboy first came to my room one sunny Sunday afternoon, a wry smile tugging the corners of his lips. Him dey prepare correct jollof for him babe, come discover say him Maggi don finish. Abeg, if I didn’t mind, I fit run am one Knorr cube?
He scratched his head, one foot inside my room, the rest of his body outside. He wore black-and-white checkered banana republic boxer, nothing to cover his muscled chest and abs. His upper body glistened with sweat. Omo, I was tripping, no lies. Normally, I’d have stood up from the bed, walked into the small kitchen, grabbed one cube, and passed it to him. But, e be like say something possessed me; a whole Eduboy was at my door, asking for what? Ordinary Maggi? Of course, I didn’t mind. I told him to enter inside the kitchen and take it himself, top counter by the right. He smelt of smoke and spices, and it pleased me. He didn’t waste any time. Just walked in there and, before I knew it, out.
I’d never imagined Eduboy the kind to near a cooker, no. 1 fresh boy like him, so I jokingly said, “Lord knows how your food go taste.” It was the first I’d spoken to him officially, asides regular guy hwfar.
Eduboy chuckled, then, before he left, replied, “you go confirm na.”
I did confirm, at quarter past 5p.m., when someone rapped twice on my door, Eduboy. He came bearing a full-lipped smile, with a covered plate of jollof.
“Dude, thanks for saving my ass,” he said. “I owe you one.”
Everyone in the Art faculty knew him. The Eduboy, everyone called him, including lecturers. Especially lecturers.
The first time I saw him inside school was after GS class. One of his goons was celebrating. They all rounded the guy, stoned him sachet water. But something stood out. There was this particular guy in the circle who, out of nowhere, popped a bottle of Andre and wasted it on the celebrant’s head. The crowd crazed instantly. We were just walking outside the building, me and my guy, when he popped the second bottle. I tapped Alain and asked who the show-off-dude was.
“You no know am? Him dey our department na,” Alain said. “Eduboy na a veeery big guy.” With an emphasis on very.
I’d never seen him, not once, in any class gathering. It was during second year. I would see him a couple more times in lectures hanging from a window or sitting on the boulevard outside. And then he’d disappear. Within that time, I watched him with the interest of a scientist observing a species – the way he bounced, his feet lifting off the earth with each step, the way his trousers slouched a little below waistline, exposing sparkling white underwear. Where he regularly lunched (mostly 11:45 restaurant ), the boys he hung out with (people I’d not occasionally find myself in their company; dudes with serious levels), and babes that gyrated to his honeyed smoke aura.
Eduboy never wore a shirt twice to school, I confirmed. He didn’t even overdress, just moderate senior man attires. But his drip was on a steady. From Calvin Klein to Versace to Burberry to YSL, all his shirts repped this or that brand. He changed clothes like nylon. It was his kicks for me, though. There was one time in 300 level he wore this molo-molo black Air Max 720 to class, for mid-semester.
He arrived late for the quiz. The lecturer, a moronic man, ordered him to the podium, wanting to disgrace his ancestors. He had his hair tinted brown, so it gave the man ranting material. Lecturer called him nincompoop, imagine. Eduboy’s eyes darted like a hawk’s, I know he must have felt like slapping that man. I did, too. But I was focused on his kicks. When the lecturer shaa dismissed him, Eduboy walked straight to his seat, picked up his bag, and bounced. He didn’t return for that class. He didn’t write that course. Energy!
Later I’d googled Air Max 720 price; I was shook, to God. The amount tensioned me. Somebody wore forty-f**king-five thousand naira just on his legs, me what did I wear? Kito sandals. Even the Season 7 I owned was secondhand pass-down.
What did Eduboy do that I couldn’t? G+? Prostitution? Were his parents ritualist billionaires? Lord knows. Me, I just knew I wanted to be his paddy.
I didn’t know Eduboy was from Aba, till someone casually mentioned it during football training. It was my team against his, they were whooping our behinds like mad. There was this courting he gave me, and I just tumbled like a brakeless Volvo.
Someone said, “Onye egwu, nwayo, na your brother be that.” He looked back and smiled. After training, he walked to me, asked if I was really from Aba. I said yes. And Eduboy threw his hands up, pulled me into his chest, his Arsenal jersey drenched with sweat. He embraced me tightly, and called me nwanne.
Eduboy would call me his nwanne that day and other days, and a refreshing calm would set over me. Perhaps it was the lightness with which he said the word. Nwanne. A renewed assurance that I was his own blood, his person. That he wouldn’t do me anyhow. I believed him.
We got really close and shit. He’d crash in my bed, I in his. A bit out of context but, I discovered Eduboy couldn’t sleep without his lights on.
In his room one night, he dragged kush while I played PES. A Kendrick Lamar song vibrated the walls, his favourite jam. He passed the joint to me, eyes a wild red. I said, thanks but no thanks. He did not pressure.
Eduboy started rapping along with the music. He leaned in to me, his face covered in smoke clouds and half neon-blue light. He put a hand on my face, and recited along with a woman’s voice on the track, dragging the words out of his throat;
“Young man come talk to me… /Why are you so angry?/ See, you young man are dying of thirst/ Do you know what that means? That means you need water/ Holy water.”
I got the chills. He was obviously high, but with his hand pressing my face, I wanted more. Next thing, he was passed out on the bed.
That night in my room, I went online, downloaded the song, and played it till morning.
Forget all that fancy hard man stunts, na smokescreen. Truth be say, Eduboy was lonely and scared sh*tless. But this our world no get use for soft men, so he had to man up, had to don the mask and be ‘fine.’ That’s how the world expected you to be. Fine. He invented versions of himself for our sakes, and because he was in such a desperate race against time.
When I asked about family, Eduboy said he preferred to not talk about them. Later he told me. His mother finally died two months back. Not like she did live even. But before then, his father left them. Dude remarried to get his life going, he was a public figure.
He told me — and he did warn me not to tell anyone — what took his mother was coming for him next. And, although he didn’t know how long he had left to stay, he knew he wouldn’t ever face it like his mother had; wilting, powerless, annoying box-machines ever beeping, counting down till the very here moment. No. He had decided his fate in his head. It wasn’t a pleasant one, but there was no alternative. Eduboy cried like a child when he told me.
It was new, the Eduboy I experienced that day. I didn’t know how to relate, so I just held him and told him we’d get through together. Nwanne to nwanne.
You fit change a man’s heart. But his head? You can try, only there’s so little you can do. And Eduboy get coconut head. True true.
I was in my room when I heard it that night. A pop sound, like somebody dropped raw egg. I ran outside to the verandah, other tenants too. Someone pointed a flashlight from the fourth floor, where Eduboy’s room was, and we all saw it. Omo, I was too shocked, even though I knew somehow he’d do it. I didn’t know what or how to feel. I only felt my legs sinking deep into concrete. My heart slipped into my stomach.
The only thing I remember hearing, before the high-pitched ringing in my head, was a girl screaming from across, oh my God oh my God oh my God what the f*ck?