It takes an hour for me to get to Tudun Wada. Inside Mami parlour, three men occupy a table, hollering over their drinks. A loner on the far end sips his drink in quietness. Ignoring them, I approach the barman.

“Good afternoon, I’m looking for a man named Big D.”

The barman narrows his eyes for some seconds, and says, “Never heard of him.”

No doubt, he’s lying. “But he was here, yesterday.”

“Seems like you know him, already.”

“Who’s he lookin’ for?” The loner, speaking in a fake American accent, turns towards us.

“Big D,” the barman replies. “Told him I don’t know. You know Big D, Khalid?”

“You come here to send ’im to jail?” Khalid’s eyes trail my black suit. He must hate lawyers.

“No! I just want to talk.”

“Round here, we don’t talk to law officers. We beat ’em.”

“Alright, I’ll go.” I leave with a farewell of profanity.

All the shop owners in the area prove to be as helpful as the barman. The only thing I gather from my investigation is that my murderer is a feared and faceless human; his identity, unreachable. I am about to give up when a lady boldly walks up to me, asking if I need anything. Her makeup is heavy, and her clothes revealing.

“I’m looking for Big D.”

I blurt out a lie to stop her from leaving: Big D is my brother and something terrible has happened back home. This only earns me a pout.  After further persuasion, she consents to a price that will empty my account. We exchange numbers, agreeing to reconvene by seven pm.

Mami Joint has a different vibe at night. Coloured lights bounce along the blasting afro beats. There is no empty table, and the space at the centre has a lot of people dancing in a frenzied motion. A blend of beer and pot floats in the air.

Bibby, as everyone calls her, takes me to a section barricaded with beaded curtains.

“Tell them why you’re here,” she points at two hefty bouncers. “And they’ll tell Big D. He is inside. My money.”

Snatching the money, she disappears into the crowd. For some seconds, fear makes me inept. Taking deep breaths, I tell one of the bouncers I have a message for Big D. He parts the curtain, remaining there for what seems like an hour.

He returns, smirking like the devil himself. With a loud snap, a sack is pulled over my face. I need no seer to tell me it is over.

Day 365.

Nothing unusual happens during the day. But by five pm, I hit the road to Tudun Wada, clad in Divine’s distressed jeans and black T-shirt; armed with firecrackers, petrol and a penknife; accompanied by two friends. We were able to hatch a plan that may take down my murderer.

My friends plant the firecrackers inside the building while I discreetly sprinkle petrol outside. The first firecracker explodes at the entrance. Screams fill the air as more explode. People are running out of the Joint. I drop a lighted matchstick on the ground and run off to hide. Gunshots rattle for the next twenty minutes.

Then silence.

Scurrying back to the building, I’m hoping that my murderer will live up to his ‘fearless’ status and still be around. I creep in through the back door, making out three figures by the entrance door. The disco lights are replaced by the blazing fire outside.

The men stood by the front door talking, unfazed by the situation. I move into the kitchen to eavesdrop. And yes, there’s the mention of Big D. One of them is Big D!

Elation makes me shift, hitting a bottle. It crashes on the floor. The conversation halts. I freeze.

“He’s here,” one of them says, in a loud comical voice. “My men saw when he came.”

Hush replies follow. I turn to run, but the exit is now engulfed in flames.

“Just go home, I can handle him alone,” says the comical voice. He must be Big D.

Two figures disappear. Approaching footsteps.

“Come out, I’ll make it easy for both of us,” Big D vows.

Silence. Louder footsteps.

I grope for a bottle and tiptoe to the kitchen door.


The aim is perfect. I’ve hit his head with the bottle. Big D pulls me down with him. We wrestle. A gunshot pierces the air, and I slump to the ground, gritting over the sharp pain in my left leg.

Big D drags me to the hall, away from the fire. He glances at his wristwatch, cursing. Here, I notice the mask on his face.  

“You’re about to kill me,” I slide my hand into my pocket. “And I have no idea why you still have your mask on. Afraid of something, Big D?”

“Shut up!” He leans beside me, the tip of his gun on my temple. Stealthily, I plunge the penknife into his stomach.

Big D is screaming, blindly shooting his gun. He exhausts the bullets and I’m relieved none of them got me. We aim fists at each other, but my blow lands first, putting out Big D. Finally, finally, I pull out the mask.

I’m lost now, staring back at my face. Has it been a game all along? But the scar on the left eye tells me otherwise.

“Divine?” I whisper, dreading the answer.

Big D nods.

I let out an anguished cry. The raging fire is advancing. But I don’t care.

“Why?” I tug Divine’s shirt. “Tell me why!”

“Because I’m tired of being the black sheep!” Divine yells back. “I’m tired of the comparison.”

“It’s the life you chose! You hated school!”

“You know how our parents will strip me bare when they hear about this case you won. I’m sorry man, but I’m tired of being ridiculed.”

“And killing me is the best option?”

Divine doesn’t reply.

“Why 8:03?”

“Mama told me it’s the time you came into the world, twenty minutes after I was born. Why not end the misery at the exact time it started?”

“Foolish.” Hardly have I said the word, when a burning table falls on Divine. A sharp cry ensues as I shove it aside. Divine passes out.

With burnt fingers and a useless leg, I begin to manoeuvre out of the building, pulling my brother. Do I leave him, No? Big D may be faceless, wicked and deserving of death. But the face I see now belongs to my brother, mirroring mine. No, I won’t let the ravaging flames lick it.

Reaching the sandy ground outside, I collapse, giving into exhaustion.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

2 Responses

Leave a Reply