Gerald squinted as he looked out for customers. 14 years old and a street kid. Sold drugs for a local drug baron. Gerald had lost his mother a few years ago to tuberculosis. He never met his father. No aunts. No uncles. No relatives. Nothing in this world to call his own except for the clothes he had on and the ones he had secured in his sleeping spot But he was street savvy. So he survived.
Over the past few days Gerald had been drawn to this street. It wasn’t his assigned portion to deal his illicit wares. But he felt compelled to be there.
The pains he had infrequently on the scar on his stomach had increased A scar his mom said he had been born with. The doctors couldn’t explain it. It wasn’t the only weird thing about him. Sometimes he had flashes and episodes were he zoned out With glimpses of memories he couldn’t recollect. Sometimes he dreamt of a life he had no clue about.
Suddenly Gerald noticed a potential customer and beckoned. “How many parcel you want?” “Give me three hundred naira own with one pack of Rizla. Shey na four for three hundred?” The buyer asked. Gerald nodded and rushed his transaction as someone walked purposefully towards them. The buyer walked away.
“G why you dey spoil my market na. Go sell for your side,” the approaching figure said. Gerald quickly replied, “Calm down na just small change. Oya take this H hold your side.” Gerald passed him a 100 naira note. It was all smiles as money exchanged hands. At that moment a lady walked past with a boy that looked Gerald’s age.
There was something quite familiar about the boy but he couldn’t place it. With the woman, it was worse. His scar started to hurt very bad. Gerald bent. The pain was excruciating. The woman stopped and asked if he was okay. He averted his face and grunted that he was fine and left. She stared at him as he trudged away holding his side.
Maria watched as the boy held his side and left. “I hope he is okay.” She said. Her 13-year-old son Daniel replied, “Mum he doesn’t look okay to me.” I’m sure he will be fine Danny. Now let’s go in your dad is waiting for us.”
Gerald woke up with a start. He looked beside him and saw a figure lying next to him. Female from the shape. He jumped to his feet. What was he doing in bed with a woman? He wasn’t intrigued by sex as most of his mates. Gerald was about his survival.
Suddenly he was walking down the stairs. He opened a door and stepped outside to where a car was parked. Gerald noticed someone trying to pry open the door of a parked car. He rushed towards the burglar.
There was a scuffle and a shot rang out. A sharp pain deeper than anything Gerald ever felt hit him. He’d been shot. Gerald collapsed and his focus became blurry. A feminine voice kept rambling but he couldn’t hear her. He saw the contours of her face but couldn’t make it out completely. A song played at the background but he couldn’t place it
“I’ll be so far away
Promise you’ll wait for me
I go dey think of you everyday my love.”
Gerald could feel life leaving him. Then he heard someone screaming his name. “Gboy, Gboy morning don reach wake make we go find food chop.” Gerald opened his eyes. It had all been a dream. More vivid than his other dreams. His right side still hurt like a bitch. He grunted as he got up. Washed his face and changed his clothes. The clean ones he kept when he wasn’t selling drugs.
The song he had heard still lingered in his head. Someone waved. It was Bright. Bright was a pickpocket. Very quick fingers. He had a soft spot for Gerald. “Abeg i wan check something for your phone. I no sure but make i check weda e dey.” Bright gave him the phone. He knew Gerald was different. Not suited for the streets but smart enough to survive in it. “No finish my data o,” he warned Gerald.
Gerald searched and surprisingly found related searches all centering around Johnny Drille. So he downloaded all songs he could find. Bright would kill him if he found out. Then he played Wait for Me. It was the song in his dream. Had he heard the song somewhere?
At that moment Maria passed in a cab. She was surprised to see Danny pressing a phone and talking to another boy who looked older. She almost stopped but was running late so she decided she would bring it up with him later when she returned home. She didn’t like him hanging around strangers. But they’d been here for close to a year now. She knew she had to relax. Maria forgot to ask Danny.
Two days later. Danny and Gerald ran into each other. Gerald had collected an MP3 player and was playing it. He had finally moved all the songs he downloaded on Bright’s phone to a memory card that was now embedded in a slot in the mp3 player. Danny was walking past Gerald wondering why he was playing his mother’s favourite songs. Gerald’s eyes locked on Danny’s. They both exclaimed. It was like looking in the mirror. Almost. There were slight differences but the resemblance was uncanny.
Gerald felt the pain building again and bolted. Danny looked back. Wow. If he didn’t know his twin was late he would have sworn he was looking at David Jnr named after their late dad David. Sometimes it was complicated explaining his family. Danny rushed back home to inform his parents of his find.
Gerald sat under a tree trying to contemplate what he had seen. Was it possible he had another brother somewhere? A twin his mother didn’t tell him about or maybe his dad had another child out there? It was possible but what were the chances of meeting your sibling out of the blue. Possibly just a doppelganger. He had seen that word in the dictionary. A slap brought him out of his reverie. It was Stone. His boss.
Gerald jumped up. “So you no dey sell again. You never submit money for days now.” Stone barked. Gerald replied, “Boss I no well. I go settle.”
That’s your problem. Your money na 20k plus 10k on top for late delivery. One week or you know how dey be. Gerald racked his brain on how to raise the money. “Boss e go hard o. Sorry for me na.” “Go follow boys run street. I want my money.”
Gerald wasn’t going to start stealing for anybody. He had used the money to enrol in an afterschool class since he didn’t have anyone to pay for regular school. He didn’t see himself remaining on the streets for long.
It was dark and he felt the urge to walk towards Maria’s building. As he neared the street he saw a lady walk towards the house. It was the lady from the other day who had asked if he was okay. Behind her two guys materialized. And it was clear they were going to rob her. With no regard for his life he ran towards her. It was almost like a compulsion. “Watch out behind you,” he shouted as jumped straight into one of the assailants.
Maria swivelled as she heard the boy’s scream of warning with unexpected speed. A round house kick and she had floored the second assailant. With her past experiences she had enrolled in self defense classes. She delivered a vicious kick straight to the head of her attacker and he was knocked out cold. Maria turned straight to the other assailant who was now beating a hasty retreat though he could have taken on the boy who had warned her comfortably.
Gerald turned and faced Maria. Maria gasped in shock. For a second she could see them. It was so scary. It couldn’t be. It was almost as if she was looking at her dead husband and son. “David,” she said. “I’m not David I’m Gerald.” At that moment people had come out and after much debate the police came and picked up the other assailant who had been knocked out cold.
Gerald looked around the house. He’d been invited in by Maria and her husband who was very grateful for his timely intervention. There had been an ahhhhh moment when Danny met Gerald again. They could pass for twins. When they were all seated. Maria asked Gerald who told his story. When he mentioned the night he was born Maria dropped a tear.
“Gerald. My husband died on the night of my wedding. The same day you were born. He was shot.” “Where was he shot?” Gerald asked. Maria pointed to her right and Gerald lifted his shirt. There was sharp intake of breaths ” I was born with this scar. I feel sharp pains occasionally there. Some days ago i dreamt I was shot. And I kept hearing a song. I was able to pick out a couple of words and found out it was Johnny Drillle’s song. Since then I’ve been hooked.
“This cannot be coincidence,” her husband exclaimed. He’d found himself in a rollercoaster ever since he met Maria. Ever since Ken saw her all bloodied after she had discovered her husband’s killer and killed him. She had been through a lot. Maria was an Amazon.
“Yes, Drille was one of his favourite artiste. You look so much like my husband and my late son who died in an accident.. How that is possible is beyond me. But now I believe in reincarnation. He died too young. I guess he always wanted to live. David always said ‘when life gives you yam’.” Gerald replied automatically “You make pounded yam.” Maria smiled.She needed no further confirmation that indeed her husband had come back again.
She noticed Gerald’s uneasiness. “Relax please. You already told us you live on the streets. We wouldn’t mind having you with us until you decide what you want to do.
Gerald knew this was the life for him and he had to come clean. He explained his situation with Stone. It was the right move because a meeting was set up immediately with Mr Stone.
Sitting across them the next day, the sum of fifty thousand was given to him. As Stone left, Maria dropped a parting shot. “Forget he exists. I’m big bad momma bear when you mess with my cubs.”
Gerald tried to stifle the tears that threatened. Finally his dreams were coming alive. A home. A father, A mother. A brother. A break of dawn. Maybe just maybe life was fair after all.