Taba and Tomos were left at Marioka’s place alone together, the host had a sudden emergency to attend to on the other side of town. It was a nice well-decorated three bedroom house overlooking a leafy park. Both men were in one of the bedrooms upstairs working on the computer server for the organisation they belonged.
Tomos was up to his evil heartless old tricks yet again. Smartly dressed as ever Tomos was smugly taking a nasty verbal swipe at Taba. He smugly boasted of his father’s exploits as a notable architect while linking his on-and-off friend, Taba, with peasantry and obsession with parvenu. Tomos was patronisingly educating Taba with as nasty sarcasm as one could muster that one is either well-born or not and that self-made men are usually ‘one generation wonders’. Taba was in his trademark leather jacket, polo shirt and jeans which always looked cool on him and seeming very relaxed.
Tomos intent on provoking Taba went as far as saying the man was ultra-aware of his [humble] position in society and pitied his untiring obsequiousness; an antic he was just as guilty of. He asked Taba if he knew the long-term cost of ambitiously pursuing relationships with people he was clearly beneath and by great margins. Taba was now irate and had taken enough derision from Tomos. He slapped Tomos but the slap did not land well enough because he significantly overestimated the height of his foe. If the slap had land four to six inches lower it would have been behaviour changing assault on Tomos. Big talk somehow occasionally made small men look bigger. However, Taba was neither that much taller nor bigger.
Tomos did want to get Taba angry but never actually expected to receive a slap from him. Tomos reacted by summoning Taba to go down to the back garden to have a proper fight of which they mutually accepted. In mutually separate ways both men unflinching believed that the fight was one they would individually win. A win for Tomos would be a win for pride while for Taba justice was it. As they both shuffled down the staircase it was unclear if pride or justice would win the fight.
Now in the garden, jackets and shirts off and brawling both Tomos and Taba proved to be excellent fighters. Tomos demonstrated fine pugilist’s skills moving much, weaving and bobbing stylishly, using clever feints effectively, punching craftily and leaving his opponent without space forcing continuous retreats. His athleticism though totally unexpected was incredibly impressive. Just watching Tomos move and box was a delight and amazingly he did not look diminutive at all. Taba’s approach was much slower and linear but he readily delivered well-aimed powerful punches mostly to the mid-section of Tomos and his highly efficient strike timing compensated for the few punches he delivered. Taba also looked deadly which slightly disconcerted Tomos. As the fight progressed, the punches to Tomos’ body had made him fight with more caution and a medium- impact head-butt from Taba temporarily slowed his pace to a standstill.
Their contrasting fighting styles made the fight even more interesting. There was a brief but spontaneous pause where both men stopped fight as if mutually agreed by instinct. Both of them were somewhat hurt at least facially but the fight had to continue to its logical conclusion; it had been a long time coming and today was just the inescapable opportunity. This fight was about pride and justice. Taba wanted to punish Tomos for insulting his family, for that was receiving justice. Pride was what Tomos was fighting for, he always felt a perverse sense of entitlement and dignity.
The first move of the second phase of a fight was a shocking well-aimed kick. Tomos had kicked at the crotch of Taba who yelled a strange sound. Those who understood the art of onomatopoeia would know that Taba’s holler was not so much one of pain but an expression bitter self-abnegation, such as “I don suffer for this lowly fool”. Tomos could not decipher Taba’s unspoken message and delighted in the fight-changing strike he had scored against his opponent. Taba unexpected started biting very hard on the lowest phalange of his left thumb. Any of Taba’s childhood or teenage friends who saw this action would immediately know Tomos was in a lot of trouble and might even die. Taba only resorted to biting his own hand when being bullied by much bigger boys decades ago and the bullies caught violent hell afterwards. The transformation was a case of ‘demon activation’.
Taba stopped biting his lower thumb and started to resemble a sci-fi alien facially. His eyes seemed much bigger but blank, his face looked triangular and his mouth became half the usual size. Taba could have been in a stupor or trance. Tomos noticed this change in Taba and was bouncing and dancing waiting for Taba to recover so he could finish him off with a glorious knock-out. The smile on Tomos face was a celebration of the supposedly mangled testicles of Taba. If not for hubris Tomos would have been concerned about Taba’s facial and dispositional transformations. In a befuddled manner, Taba took eleven short steps backwards then with lightning speed took three steps forwards and with his fist struck Tomos in the chest stunning him. Taba repeated the move and the strike made Tomos to start coughing.
Now it was time to see the edge of athleticism of Taba. Eleven steps sluggish backwards then three steps forward, one, two, three, vaulting on the right leg toes to deliver the strike invoked memories of handball and cricket. The punch delivered looked like a handball penalty taken and the Tomos’ reception of the punch was akin to the inescapability of a bowler’s ball to a batsman in a cricket match. The third time Taba executed the move Tomos tried to avoid it but Taba aimed most successfully for the stomach this time with left hand. As Tomos was going down Taba landed rancorous and severe slap to the face of Tomos annihilating any sense of pride that remained and this time properly gauging his height. It was a slap of life also known as “Gbokhra“. Now down on the grass Tomos was spat on in the face by Taba with utter contempt and the sputum looked very pasty.
As Tomos lay down facing upwards his stomach rumbled loudly and violently while his anus sounded like a hybrid between a talking drum and a thick fluid boiling; “phuun phuun, kpetu kpetu” with various permutations were the sounds he produced bum-wise. In a very vain attempt Tomos tried to cover his ignominious helplessness by shouting “my belle dey run purge since yesterday O!” No one was listening.
Tomos’ intestines and person were denied any vestiges of good fortune or respectability for at that point he became that which was happening at the arena of his anus. The accompanying smell was at best torturous. Eating what you can find and improvise such as stale bread and tomato ketchup or white rice and salted peanuts on background of plenty alcohol were not kind to Tomos’ stomach’s flora. How Tomos managed much poverty and a high-minded sense of pride was evidence of either significant to severe mental disturbances or well-crafted denial.
In retrospect, with the third punch of the move Taba had inflicted an “Ubituevu” on Tomos, simply a “diarrhoea punch” but literally “the punch that makes the victim to suffer instant defecation”. Up to the 1960s in many communities along the River Ethiope their men had an unusual traditional way of determining the victor and vanquished in a fight. It was not a knock out or surrender or injury. The victor would make sure he incapacitated his opponent sufficiently enough to have the liberty to stamp on his stomach with his heel hard enough to cause instant uncontrollable defecation. Men who were disposed to fighting in such communities would walk around by habit as if digging holes in the ground with their heels; people admired such a walk and girls found it sexy. Looking back most admit such a walk and practice was unquestionable primitive and wicked. Ubituevu was its refinement back then in punch-form. To see it in the UK in 2015 was sheer “cultural retro”.
Taba was now cooling down from his bout of ‘demon activation’. Demon activation is different from demon possession. A person possessed by a demon has no control over the manifestations and actions of the invader or occupier because it is dominant and extroverted. Demon activation is the summoning of the resident demon by means of pain, self-harm or allergens and the like because the invader / occupier is introverted and dormant till when invoked. Once the host becomes cool again the demon becomes instantly dormant. Taba’s alien features were now reverting to normal. When Taba realised what he done to Tomos, he simply left the house, got in his car and drove away.
As Tomos lay there in the grass he did not know if he would live or die but he was sure there was much blood in his diarrhoea looking at his checking hand and the pain in his intestines was overwhelming and increasing. Tomos tried hard with only partial success to blame his defeat by Taba on black magic. Then he blamed himself for liberally giving Taba the time to recover when his testicles were supposedly perplexed. The left side of his face was stinging from the slap which he considered excessive of Taba. Tomos who was unable to convince himself about what might have happened if things were different passed out with no help in sight. Tomos by now was having an out-of-body experience.
Will Tomos make it?