Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The Blast! [Part 1]

Eleven hundred days after the Atomic Junction blast in Accra. Life had returned to normal. The owner of the fuel tanker at the centre of the tragedy had replaced his lorry with a fleet, long before the driver in question died. That got Africa tongues wagering that the souls lost in the blast were used for money medicine. Then, the journalist whose empty hypothetical conjectures to sway public opinion towards holding a kebab seller responsible for the blast had long forgiven his advisors after he had caused a stir by pre-empting the report from a committee of enquiry, and marshaling thugs towards undue public revenge on the poor young man, a situation where the kebab seller had been fingered, tried and proved guilty in the media instead of the law courts. Talk less about the trauma caused the accused.

How and when the journalist’s sympathizers jumped to his defense without recourse to second thoughts about what their darling had done still felt new today. For now, the journalist had benefited from ‘advertising his hideous ignorance’ as one social commentator had said. According to the commentator, what the journalist was calling an insult was ‘in fact timely advice to him in an unfriendly language’.

Now, the fueling station had been cleared and Members of Parliaments’ call for the inspection of such facilities before relicensing had been long lost. But there still was one outstanding issue: one of the corpses in the blast remained yet unclaimed until late yesterday. Today was his funeral. That journalist was attending the funeral because he had been taken off air and now had plenty time to spare.

The funeral ceremony itself was brief, brief and very brief but the drama surrounding it caused it to last long.  It was like a movie, and sure, Santiago had got it all covered with several cameras, and could make a movie out of this funeral.

Some survivors attended the funeral without even knowing Togbe, the recluse. They recalled how the fire raged in the face of several dousing attempts. In fact, the fire blazed hotter and louder in the media than was practicable. The panic created was unprecedented. Thank God, they survived it.

The preacher for the day, a young man, barely 30 years old was rather candid and far blunter for a typical African funeral. But he was wily too. When he began, he was able to grasp attention, make mourners smile and then bring the tears back. He allowed a lull in the storm with a mischievous mimic of the deceased’s funniest demeanor.  The whole congregation soon forgot they were mourning, and that was the calm before the storm.

When the preacher eventually struck, it was a sudden burden. He said Togbe was his closest friend. He referred to him as a brother from another mother, and referred to himself as one of the people who failed the deceased, because as he put it, the deceased was sly, coy, cunny and intelligent but was not too bold to face up to nonsense, and he,  the preacher, failed to make him able to face up to twerps. Then he turned the fire on the deceased who failed to fight the boys who attempted robbing him near the fueling station saying if he had, he would not have made it into the blaze.

Then he gave it to the loudest wailing lady at the funeral, Thelma. He didn’t name names, but everyone knew whom the cap fit. Togbe helped this girl to get enrolled in a midwifery school and fed her all along. She thought Togbe was coming to propose marriage to her so she said to Togbe her friends were teasing her she was dating a limping man. “Indeed, we all know Togbe limped”, he hollered. When she realized she was losing Togbe’s friendship and philanthropy, she tried luring him to sleep with her, and when that failed, she attempted poisoning his coffee.

“But there she is in the crowd, shedding crocodile tears”, he pointed out plainly. The crowd of mourners sighed. “Please, don’t sigh yet, I’m coming to you”, he announced. “What about you who milked him dry because you had a son for him? Did you not ask him to sell his motorbike to buy you Brazilian hair?” Some sighed, others giggled. He’d hit below the belt. Then he talked about the neighbour who accused Togbe of impregnating her 16 year old daughter, after Togbe had helped her pass her BECE. The crowd booed, knowing how morally strict Togbe was. How could anyone have imagined such a thing?

…….to be continued