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I walked through the mouth of a market one day, and saw a circle of crowd cladding what seemed to be a boy that kept wailing and tossing his body on a blood splattered floor like a decapitated earth worm. Sprouting words of heaviness from his lips, he kept pleading for his life. Before I could move closer, i saw flames emerged from the tires hung around him, people made videos of it, and then turned his body like a barbeque.

At first, he looked like an artwork in flames, but later on he suddenly became like a sacrifice. A rotten sacrifice. I walked up to an old woman sitting with her smoked fish that keeps calling houseflies by name at the road side, and asked what the boy had done. She replied with an odd smile showing off her chocolate teeth, ‘he stole it ‘ she said.

Stole what? What could he have stolen that costs more than his life? Who do we think we are when we make the fairest judgment by killing? The pictures of him burning and crying kept displaying itself in my memory, though I didn’t see his tears, but I could tell about the motions laid in his mouth, it’s of terror. I wonder when people will start to realise the consequences of jungle justice.

 I watched the boy die slowly, most times he tried standing up to run but his legs have been seduced to pain and low energy due to the burn and several other injuries, so he definitely fell. Again he raised his hands and turned his body over sand and concretes, but the flames were much and no one cared to just turn him and quench the burn.

under the sheets

Even me, though I dared not, lest I also become a burnt sacrifice to the gods who watched a boy die on the maps of jungle justice. As I watched him, pictures of my neighbour’s child ‘imran’ jerked into my memory. As of height, imran is of the same height with the boy, and he also is a thief. An original one.

I remember clearly the first time he robbed me, I was caught unaware. That day, I pleaded on his behalf; if not, he would have turned into a handicap by his mother. or let me say through his mother’s beating. 

A woman dragged me out of my thoughts by tapping my arm and telling me I was sitting in her space, and that’s where she sells things. I stood up to leave, only to find my purse missing. Again!

Didn’t we just see a boy burn to death for stealing? So what did he died for if others can’t learn their lessons through him? Definitely they’re everywhere.

My head hurt, and I couldn’t think straight so I walked home unsteady, finding a way to stone my thoughts for others to see or hear or know or even perceive it. Just like Vincent who used and dumped me after being caught cheating on me, or Emmanuel who also stole my heart and shred it into pieces, or dad who left us when I was three, or grief who’s bosom I tasted nostalgia, or death who took mom away from me, or our government who turned embezzlement into an achievement, or those people who justified theft by killing a boy; I say in this country we’re all thieves, even death.

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Wisdom Adediji is a poet, essayist— writer. He loves nature and art. He says “ Geo rules the world ". Feel free to stalk him on Instagram @wisdomadediji7, Facebook @wisdom adediji.

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