I’ve always had a problem with introductions. To me, they don’t matter. It’s either you know me or you don’t—you get? If you don’t, the main thing you need to know is that I am a hustler through and through. I’m that guy that gets shit done. Simple. Kick me out of the house at fifteen—a barged-in-on secret behind me, a heartbreak falling into my shin as I walk—and watch me grow some real useful muscles. Watch me learn how to play all the necessary games, good and ungood; watch me learn how to notice red eyes, how to figure out when to squat and bite the road’s shoulder with all my might. Watch me learn why a good knife (and not just any type of good, but the moral-less kind, the fatherlike kind) is necessary when you’re sleeping under a bridge. Just a week after that, watch me swear on my own destiny and insist to the God who made me that I’m bigger than that lesson now; then watch my ori align. Watch me walk from that cursed bridge a free man and learn how to really make money between age damaged and age twenty-two; watch me pay the streets what I owe in blood and notes (up front, no installments); watch me never lack where to sleep again. Second thing to know about me: I know how to make the crucial handshakes. Third thing: I no dey make the same mistake twice. Almost evict me from my place in Surulere at age x and watch rage stab me forward. Watch how in three weeks, I treat my own fuckup with not just a room but an apartment four times as big in Gbagada. The how is irrelevant. Fourth thing: I am serious about being alive. Because of this, there is nothing I can’t survive. Anybody who knows me knows that; the rest na breeze. It is my God-given right to be here. This life? Me, I must chop am, and it must be on my own terms. What makes all this worth it, otherwise? Nothing. Someone I know joked just two days ago sef, that even if I end up in hell at the end of the day, I won’t stop kicking, I won’t stop reaching for something, I will insist on my space. In reality, I’m not the kind of guy who ends up in a place like that because fifth thing: I’m not the kind of guy who believes in hell, or in a god who imagines a lake of fire. I just can’t see it—you have a mind that’s wider than the sky and that is what you use it to picture? To me, that sounds too petty, too human, too undivine to be real. People sell all kinds of gods all the time. I know the One that moves me and it’s not the one I was raised on. To me, you can’t say you’re love, choose to roast people for eternity, and then pretend it breaks your heart. Pick a side. Anyhow, the guy said the hell thing to make a point and it’s true—luck finds my head, business competes with my blood on who keeps me best, and either might fail depending on the day. So now, I always wonder: What do people want to use my name for? It will not buy you anything. Name-drop me and they’ll still redirect you to me. In that sense, it’s irrelevant to know. I answer a first name only and it’s for the people I know. But my story? Ah damn. Now, that? That, many people can do a whole lot with.
Start here: I’m not inspiring. When I first moved to Lagos, I didn’t come here with good mind. I came here with one mission and one mission only: to get a lot of money, so as to prove my popsy wrong. That’s all. For me, blood family doesn’t mean shit. Family is your spine dividing into four, hot metal in your back, red life shooting out of you in a geyser. It’s you falling forward in slow motion, a yelp in your neck, whole outfit ruined in the air. You, reading this, you’re here, alive, because your parents synced and you showed up. That’s it. Even if they planned for a child, it was still a raffle draw. A hand went in a bowl and picked you. The tree shook and a fruit fell down. If it pains you to read, then cry. It’s deeper for your mum because she probably pushed so hard her body gasped, only for your ungrateful head to come out of it. But your father? Half the time, all he did was grunt and drop some bands. And on the way to where I am, what I learned is that anybody with money can drop money. And most men, ehn? Can drop money. Even poor men. That’s something I wish my mother had known so she wouldn’t have but-at-leasted herself into the ground. Money loves circles and men run in circles stinking, adrenaline pumping. Money hardly goes to lone dots, unless you threaten it. And even then, believe me when I tell you it probably took a hundred-person team to execute that threat, most of them unnamed. The face of a thing is not the body of it. Even women with serious money—few and far between dots—have to pretend they don’t have. There’s a reason, you know? It’s in the code; it’ll take a new world for that to stop being true. Men with small money will still impress each other over beer, men with medium money will find ways to barter, and men with large money will slice this country like cake if they get sad enough, bored enough. Dropping money is all tied to pride and they taught us that we need pride. So for many of us, that act alone—of rescuing someone, of fulfilling a duty, of settling a debt—pumps blood somewhere specific.
Watch Eloghosa Osunde and other Issue no. 234 contributors read from their work at our Fall 2020 launch event.