Lagos Market Fire

12.03.2023 Featured OPINION: The Poet: Hope and the Victims of Lagos Market Fire

Published 12th Mar, 2023

By Abimbola Abatta

There he stands in his dark blue shirt,
On the darkened rubbles of stalls owned by others,
Decades of wealth turned into ashes and soot,
Within minutes.

Hell gave no warning;
It simply unbottled its anger before dawn stirred from its sleep.
Flames and smoke, smoke and flames;
The sky lit up with scorching orange tears.
Livelihoods of five, ten, and even twenty years engulfed in an unplanned midweek furnace.

The years of struggle and suffering,
The unending daily toil that gave him wrinkles and rough edges slowly replay before his mind’s eye.
Then he remembers the unpaid loan and debt.

A man who loses everything still has something to lose.
He has hope:
His personal conviction to look at life with burning gusto.
But when he loses this too,
He becomes a walking dead.

READ ALSO: OPINION: The Poet: Until Freedom Conspires in Their Favour

Like a dreamer lost in his sleepy wanderings,
He tries to shake off the nightmare,
But the cold hands of reality jolts him from his daydream;
His unmoving body and spirit reject this twist of fate,
But no amount of fiction can save one from the finality of facts.

Yet he sees hope,

Amid the finality of the facts that grip his sagging strength.
He sees hope,
The messenger that breathes on his dead demeanour.
And like a phoenix rising from its ashes,
His sinking survival instinct kicks in.

Photo culled from Twitter

Reluctant and unsure, he raises his fist.
Slowly at first, but the fist receives the baptism of belief,
And it jumps into the air in symphony with the words of the herald of hope.

His fist speaks for the scorned of the earth,
The hapless victims of an inferno who are learning and daring to dream again.
His fist speaks for the voiceless who wake before the sun awakes in a bid to fetch luxurious lives for their families.
If hope could speak,
It would be the audacious belief that screams from his fist.

On one side,
The absoluteness of the gaping horror forces out masculine tears,
But because hope walks before him,
Each wrinkle on his tear-stained face and the crease on his raised fist reveal the staggering streaks of light that await at the end of the tunnel.

Published 12th Mar, 2023

By Abimbola Abatta


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