The teenage boys walked down the road. It was recently tarred, and the hot sun glinted off the tar and off the flashy cars that hurtled up the road, back the way they had come. Their fertile minds darted in various directions, wondering what mischief they could get up to, to kill the one hour it would take to get home. Two of them were brothers, the third was their friend. If it were just two boys, the following events might have gone differently, but like we all have come to know, the higher the number of teenage boys, the less their collective IQ. If you have ever taught in a secondary school with male students, you know what I am talking about.
They were well along on their otherwise ordinary journey, when it happened.
A man seated on a passing motorcycle was shouting loudly into his very large handset, and trying to direct the motorcycle rider at the same time. While this was an otherwise ordinary spectacle, because this was during the days of the general street madness, and it was commonplace to see people shouting into mobile phones roughly the size of a tablet today, teenage girls – God bless them – would have giggled and then gone home. But testosterone has many side effects, stupid decisions being one of them.
One of the boys shouted at the passing motorcycle: “Stop shouting, we don’t have network here!” Granted, he said this after proper thinking, and if it were a woman, she might have ignored the snide comment, but in keeping with the fundamental truth that men are fools, the man ordered the motorcycle to turn around. The rider swerved sharply, and an otherwise leisurely walk home from school became a motorcycle chase from hell.
The three boys took off down the road. A short distance from them was the friend’s house. They scrambled past the gate, and while the friend wisely went straight inside the house and locked the door, the brothers took refuge behind the manicured flower bushes in the compound, lying in dirt with their school uniforms.
The man jumped down from the motorcycle, pushed open the compound’s gate, and stepped in. Then he pulled out a pistol from his waistband and yelled, “I will shoot you if you don’t come out, before I count to three!”
At this point in a movie, the brothers would have glanced at themselves in alarm. But they were on opposite sides of the compound, down on the ground behind the flowers. The little scene outside had drawn the attention of people, and the gateway was getting crowded with people – neighbours and pedestrians – who welcomed the distraction from their everyday lives; the raptness on their faces said they couldn’t wait to witness someone get shot.
“One…!” the man bellowed. “Two…!”
The younger of the brothers stepped out from his hiding place, his hands in the air Hollywood style. Only the sight of the crowd at the gate stopped him from releasing hot yellow urine. The man with the pistol looked around and then calmly walked over to the other end of the compound and grabbed the perpetrator by his collar, pulling him out as he announced, “You are going to the police station!”
With this, it became apparent that no one would get shot, and so, some of the gathered people began to disperse. The boys began to cry and beg, and then, the man handed the older one his phone. “Call your father!” he barked.
The shaking boy kept dialing the wrong number, partly out of fear, and partly out of the realization that there was no way to explain the situation to his father. Finally, the nigga moment passed, as the crowd joined in pleading, since no one would get shot.
The boys were let off that afternoon, and they went home with their hearts beating wildly. The next day at school, the news had spread all over the school, and the older boy’s nickname quickly became ‘Call your father’.
PS: Call your father.
Written by Chika Jones, tweets at @chika_jones