I looked at the picture, dangling from the dusty wall. The face looked tired, with pale lips and weak eyes. I was told he had taken the picture just days before his death, I found the information satisfying, because the picture stank of death itself . For some reasons I did not move, I used the cane in my hand to support my tired body. I had seen several pictures in my lifetime, from the ones that hung in the church hall way, mostly white men with smiling faces, to the masquerade paintings by the road side. Yet this was more.
“The man na good man, dem say na him build this domot, even the council building, na him do all”
I turned around to find my escort behind me, he must have noticed how attached I was to the picture, and felt he had to come up with the tale. It came out of him battered and broken, but his easy flow and hand demonstrations made his story mind gripping.
“The man na great man wen in day, e do plenty plenty things for area, my papa tell me say na this man even carry oyibo come”. My escort continued.
I do not know why, but I felt the story lessen in my ears, it dissolved into the background. My mind was still fixed on the eyes, I began to think I had seen it somewhere. I raced through my head, thinking of where I could have seen the long chin and short nose. The more I pondered and searched, the more confused I got. I took my eyes away for a brief moment, I looked in the direction of the escort I had come with. His bald head and stumpy figure complemented his role, the way he swung his hands as he talked had a way of selling his words better. When I first met him at the bus station, he had smiled, displaying his stained teeth. His handshake was very firm, as if he meant to assure me that I was safe with him. But as competent as he was, my mind still wondered to the old picture on the wall.
“What year did the man die?” I asked.
“ah, no be now o, na 1886, look the date wey dem write for the bottom of the picture, e dey dere”
I took a closer look at the picture and saw the date scribbled at the bottom of the frame.
The man had lived and died several years before my parents were born, yet he still looked very familiar. I wondered if it was a picture from Mama Mbonu’s album. She was my grandmother and had owned several albums that she stacked neatly by the edge of her bed. As a kid I had gone through her albums a lot, I wondered if perhaps that was where I had seen the old man on the wall.
I made to turn away, exhausted by the fact that I had been thinking too much, when I saw the scar on his left cheek. The horizontal line that spread down to the tip of his upper lip. I felt the Goosebumps on my skin.
I turned to my escort almost at once.
“What was his name?”
“oh, e no get who no know him name na, the man popular well well, e name na Edolphus Kiriba.
I almost fainted, the escort had just called my name, I was the man on the wall
Photo Credit : http://www.dailyrash.com
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