I waved the filthy newspapers at each passerby,the smoke emanating from the train chocked my breath and blurred my sight but each time, i placed my hands on my nose to escape the stink, still determined to sell the newspapers dated 27th may 1956. “Latest news from all over the world” i said with a wide smile and a man grabbed it and for a minute, he stared at me as though to tell me i had lost my senses. He threw it back at me and brushed pass me,infuriated. A smile lingered on my face, at least someone had recognized my presence at the train station.
“That boy is selling old trashed newspapers” i heard the man report to his friend who gazed at me maliciously until they got into the train. Although he was right, i felt as though someone had lied about what i was selling.
I stared at my tattered shirt and for a moment, i pitied myself. It was nothing to be compared to the tick fabric that had just caught my attention. i wondered how the fabric was glued to the man’s body as though he was born with it. A kid was on the man’s right hand carrying a box that read “magic my world”.
I couldn’t tell why i couldn’t stop smiling. I wanted to grab the box, touch it and see what was inside. I also wanted to perform magic but as soon as the man took sight of me and smiled, i ran off without hearing what he wanted to say. “Hey boy!” I heard him shout but i didn’t turn back for reasons i didn’t know about.
I stopped to catch my breath. I sat on a chair in the train station,my head throbbing in pain, i was hungry. My tummy rumbled and my mouth watered at the sight of a girl eating hot pie. Her legs were crossed against the other with her long red hair and makeup beaten face. She seemed rather cocky from a distance.
I approached her and she diverted her gaze at me . “Can you help me with 1 pound?” I asked and her face sent a powerful message of disgust. Not only did her mouth change shape, her eyes seized me from head to toe and she finally said what i was waiting for and then walked into the train.
As the warms fed on my tummy, i dug my hands in my pocket hoping i would get some magic notes or a penny. That would have been possible if my pocket was not bored with holes. This had become my work each morning so as to have a meal. It always went well but today seemed quite harsh. It would have been a lot better if that red head girl told me i was poor than telling me i was a begger because i am not and will never be. Bare not for the fact that my master wouldn’t give me food until night time, i wouldn’t be asking for money.
It struck me in momentum that i had forgotten to go to the pharmacist. I ran out of the train station and into streets. I stumbled and bumped into a police officer. His blond hair and heavy pistol scared me. His total British look scared me the most and then he said “are you a blind man?” Before hitting me with the pistol and for a moment, i prayed my country, Nigeria would gain its independence quickly to be set free from colonization. “I’m sorry” i pleaded earnestly before he let me go.
At the pharmacist small shop was a British man with full beards and immediately he sighted me, he smiled and said “hey boy!”. Of course no one knew my name and neither did i. All i knew was the name my master called me and that was “hey boy!”.
“Hello Mr bean, i need erasol, the one my master takes for his kidney problem” i said and the man handed it over to me and added “you know you owe me for the 2 i had given you before, make sure you pay up boy!”. I thanked him and moved out, indebted to him for always being kind to me unlike my master, a white man with an air of pride and always with a toothpick in his mouth. i pray he will choke on it someday.
The walk from the pharmacist shop to the house seemed like a long distance. I knocked at the door a billion times but no one opened up. I jumped in through the window and behold was my master, laying dead on his bed. Master!…master!” I cried out, not because i liked him or wished he lived long but because he was the only reason i ate food at night. What was i going to do now? I jumped out through the window and escaped into the street so as not to be accused for a crime i didn’t commit.
I trudged down the street with no idea as to what had happened or what i should do. I slumped and began to cry. I hoped a rich man would see me crying and raise me up just like in the movies but under the bridge was were i sat, crying through the cold night, i famished and so was my take on life.
The morning chill seeped through my skin and the sign of imminent rain greeted. I caught sight of a postal on the street and i could recognize the face of the performer. “Gerald’s voice” was the title of the show which was written below the picture. The head title read “G.G circus” and below “featuring Gerald….”
I had never attended a circus and i wished i could. I didn’t want to attend as an audience but instead, one of the performers. I could remember back then in my early years in school when Gerald and i would stroll down to a stream in the village to fetch water and along the way, talk about our dreams. Once, he had said “i want to be an opera singer” and then, he would sing on and on,until we went home. But as i stared at the postal, i was sure his dreams had come through. why hasn’t mine? I asked myself and cursed at myself.
My mate had made it in life but here i was, not being able to eat 3 square meal. Will i just be poor till i die? I asked myself before my tummy ate me up. I rushed into a store, giving less attention to the consequence of my action, i tore a bread and ate.
The black security guards grabbed me and threw me to the ground. They battered me until i vomited the food. On the ground was were i lay until i heard someone shout “stop it!” . I raised my head and before me was Gerald. I could not believe my eyes. “I will pay. so please…” he said and raised me to my feet.
In his car, i sat stiff, determined not to look at him and afraid i might see a visage of pity on his face. I hated that look. “Talk to me man!” He said and so was the genesis of explaining my life to him and then he caught me short on my story and said “come with me”
The circus was very wide and the lights were so bright, i covered my eyes. Thousands of people were gathered and there i was, among the crowd waiting for Gerald to finish his performance. “Be careful in this circus, no one is your friend” Gerald had told me and i agreed.
I was pressed and decided going to the toilet but as i scanned around, i seemed to have lost my way. I saw a man, i tapped him from behind but he didn’t turn around so i went ahead with my question “where is the restroom?” “Hey boy!…” the man finally spun around and now i could recognize him, the magician i had seen at the train station. “I will tell you were the rest room is but you would fill up the gap for my boy” he said and i just stared, confused. “My boy cannot be found so i want you to fill in the gap” he continued and i rejected, taking the advice Gerald had given.
“Okay fine, i will pay you 5 pounds” he said and my mouth dropped. In a rush of excitement, i grabbed the small box. Gerald was singing when the magician bagged in with me and threw a red cloth on Gerald and Gerald’s voice seized and the crowd went silent. I could detect the look on Gerald’s face was that of betrayal and i grabbed the magicians stick with faith, determination and belief ,and then i pointed it at Gerald. I grabbed the red cloth with the stick and flipped it over Gerald’s head and the last pitch Gerald hit was a pitch no one had ever hit in the history of opera.
The crowd cheered loudly for a very long time and i approached the magician to confront him but he smiled and bowed. He said “i knew you could do it. I recognize a born magician when i see one. I had learnt mine but you are the first to be a born magician. Have faith in yourself and believe.”
The crowd had never cheered so loud for any circus show but as i stood in the middle, the crowd cheered and it was recorded in history as the greatest show with a REAL MAGIC!
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