As the bus left the terminal in Accra, Agbenorxevi, could not help but wonder whether this trip was going to be his very last one or not. All through the journey he avoided eye contact with any of the other occupants of the eighteen seater bus by hiding his eyes behind his two inches thick tad dark tinted spectacles. Secretly in his heart, he blessed the man who invented them because he could see the eyes of the others when they looked at him yet they couldn’t tell whether he was looking back at them or not. To avoid the temptation of being drawn into any form of conversation, he turned up the full volume of his Walkman, that the lady seated beside him turned twice with an expression that asked whether he wanted to go deaf or was just plainly mad without even speaking those words which he thought was very diplomatic on her side. Somehow he caught her nodding and tapping to the Kojo Antwi tune blurring out of his headphones and this made him smile.
After almost eight years of self-imposed exile, it felt a little bit awkward heading back to Ho, the town in which he had grown up. His history in that town were as huge as the spear heads of giants poking out of the dead bodies of those decayed years that it was impossible for anyone who was new in town not to hear or know a little bit about the exploits of Agbenorxevi. When the bus got to ‘Kponvie’ police barrier, Agbenorxevi’s heart began to beat like the tick tocking of a 1956 malfunctioning omega engine wrist watch and his life in Ho began to roll on the wheel of his thoughts that it felt as though he was reliving it. He could feel his body stiffen as the policeman scanned through the vehicle and stared at him for more seconds than he had stared at the other occupants. He could feel a sting in his conscience that made him nearly surrender himself to the emotions swelling up within him. He knew his goatee and the glasses he wore somehow made him look suspicious but these policemen were used to seeing people dressed like him come from Togo and Niger in search of a better life in Ghana and so felt a little bit secured. Moreover his appearance had changed over the years.
He was not born with a wooden spoon in my mouth for if that were to be the case it would have been a major blessing and the undoing of all the . He was told his mother was a mentally retarded woman who got impregnated by Mr. Nobody. Not wanting to sound blasphemous though, he could count the number of times as a child he had bragged that aside Jesus Christ, he was the only miracle baby conceived by a virgin mother. The only difference between Jesus and I was that, instead of an angel visiting and informing his mother about conceiving him, it was a shameless and ruthless he-goat of a man who decided to rape her, hence my coming into this world. As he grew older, he realized that his mother gave birth to him in the huge gutter along the market like a goat and died shortly afterwards since she had no one, What even sank Agbenorxevi into the base of self-pity and disillusionment was the fact that his mother’s family wanted nothing to do with a bastard conceived by a lunatic. He was also told that initially he was left in the gutter unattended to so he could die because he was considered an abomination but after six hours of starvation and his defiance to live, some of the youth around the market decided to stone him to death with his crime being that he was conceived by a mad woman. It took the intervention of some catholic nuns who run an orphanage to save him from them.
Growing up at the orphanage was hell on earth, not that he had been to hell before but based on the passion with which the nuns described it to them, a bigger proportion was synonymous to hell. Agbenorxevi experienced at first-hand what real bullying was. His first encounter was when he chanced upon Maxwell the oldest boys at the orphanage smoking ‘sigliku’. At age four he was already the bottom of all jokes and name calling and so catching Maxwell was a plus for him. He tried to blackmail Maxwell by threating to report him to Sister Maria, the no nonsense nun that even the Brother who was the head of the orphanage stutter like the sound of a chain of flatulence let out from a man with severe running stomach. Instead, his threat earned him a bloody mouth and Maxwell accusing him of smoking ‘sigliku’. That evening, Sister Maria made sure extra pepper was added to Agbenorxevi’s soup and one could hear ‘usuuuuuush husssuuuuh’ like the last loud coughs of the engine of the converts corn mill before it comes to a halt. From then onwards every little thing was blamed on him especially by Sister Marie. Sister Marie was very petty in structure but what she lacked in the physical seemed to have multiplied in her character. Among the kids of the orphanage, there was a joke about how Sister Marie could crack open a palm kernel with her buttocks and this translated to her nickname “Bum Nut Cracker”. When she finally got to know guess who she blamed as the orchestrator, Agbenorxevi. It was not as though he was not the culprit some of the things he was accused of, but it just got to a point that trying to prove his innocence was as useless as a gift of chewing stick to a toothless old lady. And so, just as Christians attribute everything evil to the devil, everything that went wrong in the orphanage was attributed to Agbenorxevi and Sister Marie was always there to do justice with her punishment.
At age sixteen he was booted out of the orphanage because he was considered a bad influence on the younger ones and based on the fact that he was standing his grounds. Armed with 7000 cedis that he was given by the other Sisters, he dragged himself with his back pack that contained a pair of Khaki shorts and an over-sized Lacoste he had received the previous year as Christmas present out of the opharnage into an unknown world. And so his life of crime and double crossing began after he was robbed off his personal belongings and was forced to join the notorious ‘Kpetonku’ gang and it was based on his exploits the he was named ‘The Cat’ . A name revered the people in the ghettos within Ho. As the vehicle got closer to the sign post that read ‘Welcome to HO’, Agbenorxevi became conscious of his surroundings, let out a heavy sigh and made the sign of the cross as the vehicle veered into the town. In his heart and mind, he knew only God would save him from what lay before him…