Two Laborers

Sun, the laborers' eternal enemy. It shone like it was having its last outing, letting loose on us its sweltering intensity like there was something at stake, perhaps a big Lord was wielding a stick beside it, daring it not to shine.

Our brown skins were tanned coal and trails of sweat slinked down our backs and disappeared beneath the bands of dirty boxers. We paused to catch our breath. Chukwudi's stomach growled like a famished lioness robbed of her cubs. He leaned on the truck to steady himself. His ulcer was acting up again.

"We could have some bread and share a bottle of coke," I said in ibo, in my bid to sympatise. "Since we haven't much to jingle in the pocket. These would do."

He said nothing. His eyes were shut meditatively and he gave off birdy whistles, knitting his brows in pain,in thoughts .

He was thinking of the contractor at the construction site where we worked,the fat bully and his demeaning,empty threats; He was thinking of our brash singing while our backs were bent to the rhythm of work.

He was thinking of his OND certificate, neatly lying in a brown envelope under the worn mattress we shared.

He was thinking of Mama, miles away and how fast her cough was wilting her away to nothingness.

Afar off was the lady of the mobile restaurant, Mama Olaedo, wheeling her truck which, unlike ours, was laden with delicacies that made our mouths water. I tried to wave at her, giving my most servile smile but my hands stilled in the air as she swiveled her wares to the opposite direction.
Mehn, nobody is smiling today o, I thought. Not Mama Olaedo who often gave us free food because she said I shared a resemblance with her last son. And not even the Sun.

(Image courtesy Phaneross Photography)


  1. Ucheoma, your words cut like a sharp knife. In those brief minutes while I read, I already was with the two labourers, wanting to help if I could.
    Say, Sweetheart, how do you manage to grip us with your words always?

  2. You know just how to captivate readers, nice piece... true bibliographer


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