I imagined my bladder would burst and the piss I had been holding for what seemed like centuries would come pouring up out of my mouth and nose in a huge yellow gush, and that was how I would die, in a pool of my own piss. What a way to die, vomiting piss, accumulated piss, drowned by it . . .
But that didn’t happen.
What happened was, with every jolt of the lorry as it weaved and swayed to dodge potholes in the road, a few drops of urine leaked into my trousers, and I thought that at this rate I should have leaked out my entire bladder before we reached wherever it was we were going.
We didn’t know where we were going. We had been riding for hours, since morning when we were taken from farms, classrooms, workshops; heads shaved and bleeding, and crammed into the back of this lorry. Morning, early morning, when the sheet-whiteness of the skies was stained only by the bright-morning sun’s blinding, hard yellow and the black spots of a few birds flitting back and forth across the empty white space in their typical blitheness . . . A morning like any other.
But inside the back of this lorry, it was night – black, midnight-black; so black you couldn’t see the eyes of the person sitting next to you.
The one sitting next to me, on my left, was whispering something – a Catholic prayer, a traditional chant – something religiously rhythmless like that. The one on my right was as silent as black emptiness. I only knew he was there by the cold feel of his bony arm against me whenever the lorry danced its small dances.
At one point, the lorry stopped. The clamour in my bladder began with renewed urgency, and vigour, as if it could sense the stop, hence a slim of hope of release had ignited a urinary uproar; or, simply, it was just that without the constant distraction of external movement this excruciating discomfort of the fullness of my bladder had been brought to the fore of my consciousness.
There was no space between the knees on my left and right to clap my own knees together the way I usually do on nights when I have to go and piss and I can’t because the latrine is at the back of the house and it is black outside, like inside the lorry here right now.
The curtain that had fallen over the mouth of the lorry, over our faces, was suddenly lifted – it was just as black outside. Night!
A torch’s hard beam of light fell on the face of the boy on my left, the praying one; I looked at him – there was blood and snot coming out of his nose and entering his moving mouth, and there were tears trickling down the sides of his face. . . I felt like joining him in his crying, I had enough grief to, but all the liquid in my body seemed to have congregated in my swollen bladder. My eyes were dry.
The light touched me, pricked my eyes, it blinded me. I closed my eyes.
‘You!’ The voice behind the light was just as sharp as the beam, cutting through the silence and darkness. ‘YOU!’
My eyes flew open.
My bladder leaped for joy. I rose to my feet. There was no blood in my legs, only pins.
‘I say come hia before I faya you!’
The cold blade of his threat sent the blood circulating quickly.
The light and voice picked out two other boys, and we were soon standing on solid ground. Well, not quite solid; the ground was muddy, the earth had drunk too much water from the relentless rains of many months.
The swinging torches around us showed potholes that were as wide as yawning mouths. One of the gaping mouths had seized a tyre in its toothless grip and wouldn’t let go, no matter how furiously the driver revved, spitting mud in every direction.
The three of us, the chosen boys, the biggest, were gathered round the tyre, the front tyre on the left side. The soldiers had ordered us to lift it out. My bladder protested, and its contents tortured my penis with pain, threatening to break free.
‘I wan piss,’ one of the boys said.
‘Piss for bodi,’ a soldier answered, from behind his cigarette. That was the soldier whose light had picked us out. I recognized his large voice.
‘Please sah,’ the boy cried.
‘You dey mad?!’
‘Mousa leaf am make he piss.’ That was another soldier, a gentle one, he was the only one not smoking. He was my man, the one I would ask directly for permission to piss, after this boy had settled his own.
The soldier let the boy go to the side of the road, while we waited by the swallowed tyre. My urine waited for its turn, now a low throb on the tip of my penis.
I began sidling towards the kind soldier.
The pissing boy opened his fly and pointed his thing to the bush, but we did not hear the sound of any pissing. My bladder was getting impatient. ‘Piss!’ I hissed to myself.
Everything was still, quiet. Then, a sudden movement – the boy broke for the bush, in a wild rush of feet and grass.
There was a sharp response from one of the soldiers – BANG! BANG! BANG! – three deafening shots that seemed to come from inside my head.
Then dead silence as before.
‘Mousa, go bring am!’
It was the kind, gentle soldier; his rifle was still raised across his chest as if in readiness to take more shots. His voice had lost its warmth.
Mousa dragged the body out of the bush by the leg, like a big game bird.
The other soldier, my man, shone his light on the boy; the blood had already soaked into his shirt. He was still. The pissing boy was dead.
I had never seen a dead body.
‘Any of una still wan piss?’ the gentle soldier asked us, the two boys left. We shook our heads.
‘Mousa go bring anoda strong one from inside.’
As we lifted one side of the lorry and the hole let go of the tyre from its toothless grip, my bladder released from its clutch a flood of urine that warmed my thighs all the way down to my calves; it was a soothing feeling, it was like death, the sweet release . . .
It began to drizzle as we heaved and huffed. I liked how the wetness covered me, covered my shame. I just wanted to die out here in this rain, like that boy. Well, I had died my own little piece of death in that sweet moment.
Courtesy of Olubunmi Familoni
More of his works at : http://bunmifamiloni.com
featured image credits : http://www.un.org/News/dh/photos/large/2008/12-12-child.jpg