‘Jibola Lawal | Klo3
It was an Orchestra.
No matter how macabre it would be to you, it was.
All the instruments that made an Orchestra complete were represented.
The clear whine of the mosquitoes rivaled the quality of the violins and violas made by Antonius Stradivarius. There were two distinct sounds coming from what would be no less than a hundred mosquitoes. The first was the higher pitched sound like a bow moving swiftly across silken strings, and the other was a steadier, prolonged, whine.
From the corner of this crammed room, you’d see a man and his wife on a bed built for one. The man faced the wall with his back to his wife. And then if you looked from the bed, past the little coffee table that rested against the bed, you’d find a little boy no more than 14 lying on what was supposed to be a couch, staring at the ceiling. There was movement on the bed as one of the mosquitoes zipped past the older man’s ears, and he slapped himself. Classic move. He wondered angrily, when he would stop falling for that.
The strings did not let up. After them, come the brass, well in this case steel. There were probably 11 of them, for the individual families except his, Baba Mukaila and the Ikwerre family on the ground floor who also didn’t own one of these little contraptions. I beta pass my neighbor – these special power generator sets were called. How apt. The generators were no bigger than a stool but could supply power just enough for a small apartment. Thus making you better than your next door neighbor engulfed in the darkness caused by power cuts for not owning one.
Baba Mukaila had a generator but it sounded like a percussion instrument. It’s deep and guttural sound dwarfed all the others and it was supposedly far away. He didn’t understand why anything but a miniature generator would be allowed in a – kpetehs – 2 storied apartment building. If you could afford a generator that made so much noise, then you could get better accommodation.
And finally the wind instrument that vibrated the air with impunity came from right behind him. His wife, she snored. You could call it his imagination, but he could somehow see the air molecules vibrating around her vocal chords. He was certain that no one who knew her in broad daylight could tell that she snored like a man. Many years ago, It seemed her snoring had subtly progressed into the third movement. He ‘mistakenly’ jolted her.
And then he heard the clash of the cymbals. Someone was trying to silence the violins – the mosquitoes– Efe.
“Efe! You never sleep?!”
“You this boy… you never slee-”
Papa’s impending spiel was interrupted by the harsh scream of the neighbourhood vigilante’s gong which rang out repeatedly like it was never going to stop. But it did, after twenty strikes. It stopped for all of three seconds.
Efe and his father followed the vigilante’s count in the dark, both of them willing the gong to ring one more time so they would be an hour closer to day break. Maybe out of sheer spite, the vigilante stopped at 4. There would be no parole for them, for another hour and half – when the world began to wake up.
“Make you sleep for there na na”
But he didn’t, and neither did his father. Both men stared out into the darkness. It would have seemed that the gong had silenced the whole neighborhood, but if you listened closely. The brass instruments had never stopped, the mosquitoes had brought out their rare Stradivariuses again. A snort rang out from behind Papa Efe as a reminder. Of course, who could forget the wind instrument.
He sighed, it was all he could do, save for running mad.
It is 4am and you are welcome to the Bariga Philharmonic.
Jibola Lawal is a budding Nigerian writer with a passion for photography. He uses both mediums tell stories that are commonplace, yet unique to a country like Nigeria and is fuelled by an undying passion to see these, (and by implication African) stories told on the world stage.