From Primary To Tertiary Here Is My Diary Part (28)

From Primary To Tertiary Here Is My Diary Part (28)

12th May 2024, NewsOrient
Books, Arts, Culture, News
By Dapo Thomas

As a trainee in Darasingh’s Garrison, you must be “high on something” before training. There was no exception. Thuggery is not evangelism. The school of Thuggery is not a monastry. You must smoke something or you must drink something. Something that would take you from the normal level to “an abnormal altitude”. It was a rule hinged on a traditional belief that a thug derives his inspiration from an anomie.

That was rule one. How did I escape the rule? The very first day I joined the Garrison, I had told Oga Dara that I would not be able to smoke Indian hemp. It was after my fourth trip to Rainbow Cinema that Oga Dara decided to know why I said I won’t smoke marijuana. I told him that I was living with my 89 year-old great-grandmother who loved me so much.

I couldn’t afford to misbehave in such a situation. If by any chance, after taking some dosage of marijuana, I started misbehaving, what would she do? How would she cope with my “agano” ( crazy tantrums) He sighed and said okay, I had to smoke 10 sticks of cigarettes during the 2- hour training for me to arrive at “Pon loju level” (blood shot eyes level).

At that time, I was smoking between 3 to 4 sticks of Benson and Hedges per day. I didn’t want to stretch my luck with him too far, so, I agreed to his terms and conditions. That was how I became a chain smoker. I could finish 2/3 packets a day. I didn’t tell him the second reason because it was personal.

In our neighborhood, there were two guys who had advanced “agano” (muscle twitch) as a result of hemp smoking. At this stage, there was no need to hide anything from Iya Ibadan again because my entire body always reeked of cigarette odour. No amount of perfume could drench the odour of my sin.

What fragrance could extinguish the savour of a seamless vapour!!
The second rule was intriguing too. You MUST strip down to your underwear before the start of any fight. You must remember that hoodlums have no shame. A hoodlum is not a Rev. Father or a Pastor that is under strict moral obligation to commune with decency.

A hoodlum is an unrivalled epitome of apostasy . Everything about a hoodlum should remind you of “Community Violence” and “Unrepentant Trouble-maker”. This rule was not just funny, it was ridiculous. First, where was the underwear? At that age, was I really wearing any underwear?

Two, I couldn’t imagine myself stripping down to something in front of Risi Pupa, Risi Dudu, Saro, Bolanle, Shade (my two crushes living at Iletumi), Toyin, Vero, Ronke, Kudi etc. This was outrageous. On hearing this, I wanted to bow out or just stop coming.

What did I have “downstairs” at that age that I would now be showcasing to all my crushes in the neighborhood? This one cannot work at all, at all. Would I because of revenging my shame by Dada involve myself in a greater shame of anatomical exposition?

In my mind, I had ruled that out but I would play along at the training ground. It was a small place at the back of Rainbow Cinema. Besides, it was fenced. Even at that, I still took permission to go and buy a fitted underwear at Ojuwoye market not far from us.

The third rule was not bad. Before you go into any fight , or even if it was a spontaneous fight, make sure you look around for bottles and glass, sticks and planks, plastics and dirty water and other things you can use to hurt your opponent. You can never tell when you would need them. For instance, you may need the bottle or glass to cut your opponent. The strategy is that, you would distract him once he sees blood all over his body. He wouldn’t know whether to attend to you or the injury. And if by any chance, your opponent got a bottle before you, what you would need is a long stick or plank to get the bottle off his hand. In thuggery, there was nothing like “No retreat, No surrender”. Oga Dara would tell us it is: “First retreat but don’t surrender.” A hoodlum should not surrender because his life could be terminated easily. The best you could do in any complicated scenario was to retreat tactically or strategically. He said you should be running in a zig-zag formation looking on the ground and bending down as if you were looking for a weapon to fight with. Meanwhile, you are paving way for your escape by increasing your speed at intervals. He would warn that you should never run straight. Just keep looking left, right and centre and continue to bend until the coast was clear to run straight and smooth. By looking down, you would confuse your opponent because he would still be thinking you were looking for weapons not knowing that “Ọmọ ti di etu” (you have turned to a deer).

There was no doubt that hoodlums’ trainings were rigorous. In less than three hours, I had received intensive training on hooliganism and thuggery. I felt fortified and confident that I was good to go for my revenge. Unfortunately, it was Late-tua that became my first victim.

I returned home tired and famished. The whole house was incensed with cigarettes’ fragrance as soon as I came in. It was a very strong scent that even iya Ibadan’s cat knew that something or somebody weird had entered the house the way she was “meowing” around the house.

My eyes were as red as those of albino rabbits. Everybody, including the cat, was just looking at me in awe. Iya Ibadan was unusually sitting in the parlour despite the fact that there was no power failure. Unusually because since I had been staying with her, she would only sit in the parlour when she had visitors.

Her favourite locations were her room and the front of the house. But my tobaccoIistic odour had sent her away from her room. I was glancing at her as I was moving from one room to the other. I spotted her looking teary-eyed as she looked at me. She kept shaking her head as if she had failed me or as if I had failed her. She knew I used to smoke but this one was terrible and offensive.

I subjected an innocent woman to an odorous torture by encroaching on her sanity and privacy, blocking all channels to comfort. She probably was wondering how her great-grandchild that she had suffered to train in the way of Allah was derailing in imbibing all the values she had taught him since he was brought to her as a child.

I didn’t know exactly what she was thinking but I knew she was hopelessly disappointed in me because of the cigarettes ‘ odour. From the blue, she screamed the Moslem name she gave me: “Idris , bo sibi” (Idris, come here). “Do you want me to tell the world to hold you responsible if I should die suddenly?” I shook my head to indicate rejection. “Kilode to wa n pin mi lémi?”(why then are you hurting my spirit?).

As she was lamenting her frustration about my behavior, my mind was on the field where I planned to have my revenge on Dada after which I could listen to any homily. However, I pretended as if what she was saying was sinking into my skull but I knew I was faking the remorse by squeezing my face as if I wanted to cry.

Actually, I was trying to force water out of my eyes but revenge is a terrible thing -no single drop of tear was in my eyes because my mind did not cooperate with my eyes knowing that I was being deceitful. She continued; “Ni oju emi mi, o ma se orire. Ni eyin mí, o ma se orire. Wáhala mi lori e ko ni já sa asan lola lailai illalau” (For as long as I am alive, it will be well with you. Even after I have gone, it shall be well with you. My efforts to see you prosper will not be in vain by the grace of GOD.)

My “Amen” was more sincere than my attention because my mind was not just there.

  As soon as I finished eating, I rested for about 15 minutes before gallivanting to Paddington for the epic battle. I didn't know whether Dada was thinking about me or not but I was thinking about him. Since the day he punctured my face with reckless punches, I had not gone to Paddington because of the shame. 

So, everybody was surprised that I was appearing for the first time since then and I was excited and beaming with smile.  Nobody knew about my relationship with Oga Dara but most of them had heard about him because of his notorious popularity especially in the whole of Mushin. Meanwhile, I was looking for an  "ote" (pun)  for rehearsal but nobody looked for my trouble.

Regrettably, the set for that day was moved from Paddington to Elelubo. As at the time we were moving to Elelubo, I didn't see Dada. I was becoming restless. I couldn't explain the energy of that day. "Agbara n gún mi" (I was in a fight mode) but I didn't want to start one since Dada was my target. After some time, I started calming down in order not to overstretch my muscles. They were choosing  players for the two teams being the first set of the day. They saw me but nobody picked me despite arriving early. 

They were telling me indirectly that  time of arrival was secondary to football artistry when it came  to team selection.  Yes, I could see this principle being applied because all the selected guys so far were better than I. But while the selection was still on, my hope of being selected was dimmed when the two captains beckoned to Late-tua  who was just running to the field from the house. 

I was livid with rage in the sense that Late-tua that was just coming from the house had been selected ahead of me. Two, when it came to soccer artistry, he didn't have it but they always chose him because of his "rascality" They did  not know that there was a new Sheriff in town called Dapo Thomas aka "Omo Dara

As soon as Late-tua jumped to the field, I went to sit at the center of the pitch waiting for the person that would come and push me from the field. I was happy “egbon Attacker” was not around on that day. I wouldn’t even dare if he was around because “Attacker” and Darasingh were like friends and they both respected each other.

As for Late-tua, he was my brother, I could handle him. Nobody came to drag me from the pitch because they didn’t want to incur Late-tua’s wrath knowing that he didn’t like anybody to touch me. So, it was Late-tua who came to me. He was murmuring some words into my ears but I didn’t bulge. I knew Late-tua himself was unpredictable, so, in line with rule three, I had looked around for weapons in case…..Time was going. I had wasted about 20 minutes of that set already.

There were gurgles and babbles on the field but I remained undaunted. I didn’t do rule one because I left my cigarettes at home because of what iya Ibadan told me. I couldn’t strip down to something because it was unnecessary and I had vowed not to do that. But when I saw Late-tua coming towards me for the third time, I knew he was coming to drag me from the pitch.

I stood up as he approached me. He was dragging me and was becoming violent. I had already removed my shirt so that he would not have anything to hold onto apart from my trousers. As he was pushing me, I ran towards a particular stick I had been eyeing, raised it towards him but Late-tua underestimated me or he thought I would not dare . He walked towards me daringly and I aimed his eyes with the stick.

He groaned agonizingly as the stick went into his right eye with blood dripping out. People rushed him to the house as he started crying against his own principle that “Ọmọ ita o gbọdọ sunkun” (A hoodlum should not cry)..

This time around, ọmọ ìyá meji lo nsunkun as I started crying too saying “Mi o mo mo” (it was not deliberate.). I remember hearing Ibikunle Macaulay’s mum saying “Ọmọ ìyá meji ti ri ewele”(two naughty brothers have outmatched each other) as we passed through her backyard to our house. Late-tua was eventually taken to Vita Chemist on Tejuoso street for necessary medical attention.

 When my mother heard what happened, she told me to pack my things and get ready to go to my father's house. I did exactly what she said I should do. With the admission letter in her hands, we crossed the Western Avenue road to my father's house. On getting there, she showed my father the letter. 

After a thorough scrutiny of the letter, my father accepted to take full responsibility and asked me to drop my luggage. My mother asked him how and when they would go to the school with me. But my father said that was not her business and that she shouldn't come near me for as long as I was in his house. My father also said that he forbade me  from going to my mom's house for whatever reason. 

My mother flared up with an uncommon ire. On her instruction, I picked my luggage again and we both left. I saw my siblings giggling and grumbling.  I didn't hear what they were saying but I could see that they were not happy at all. Kunle, Niyi ⁸and Yewande were crying but I couldn't go near them. It was a sad day. 

Iya Ibadan was visibly angry with my mother for not accepting my father's terms and conditions. It was late. She vowed to follow me to my father's house the following day but........


Dr Dapo Thomas’ From Primary To Tertiary Here Is My Diary Is Serialized Here Weekly Every Saturday

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