My underwear has a tear in its under part. It is a small hole where the stitch has parted. My balls keep going through this hole and dangling free outside the underwear. It is not just any underwear, it is a swimming trunk; and a blessed swimming trunk at that.

I really don’t use underwears, and I dispense with boxer shorts as much as it is convenient for me to do so, and that is always. I hate how those flimsy bits of garments give big wahala, getting soiled too often, and one has to change them everyday till they have become a heap by laundry date. I hate laundry when I am the one doing it. Thank God I discovered swimming trunks. With swimming trunks, you don’t have to keep a stock of them for changing, and a heap of dirty underwear don’t build up. One swimming trunk can serve you as good as seven can. Each time you take a bath, you wash it, and by the time you are done bathing, your swimming trunk is dry and ready for wear again. Great underwear breakthrough swimming trunks are.

I had my first authentic swimming trunk during my seamanship training. Since then, a swimming trunk is a piece of garment I don’t travel without. It has even become the symbol of my profession but I made a mis-take and came on board with only one. This kind of unfortunate development is why I hate packing. I always forget one essential item or the other. And now, this one has spurn a hole, letting my balls out of confinement. I should just discard the thing and go without underwears like I used to, but I can’t; This threadbare swimming trunk has been blessed by our Reverend father.

On December 31st, during the New Year Eve Service, tagged “CROSS OVER NIGHT”, everyone had lifted high the tools and symbols of their trades and professions to be blessed by the Holy-water being sprinkled by the priest. The parishioners had been advised about that prior to the service. I had been confused, not knowing what to present as the tool or symbol of seamanship, and I settled on one of the stock of swimming trunks I brought back from my training in Warri.

Diverse items had been brought to mass. As the Ibo traders made up the greater population of the parish, the church, that night look almost like a shopping mall with all the goods on display. Writers and those in white collar jobs brought pens and papers. Those who were jobless had nothing in their hands but prayers in their hearts (I think writers should have joined this latter and not the former group). Me, I had not gotten my seaman’s passport by that time, so I thought hard on what to present and the swimming trunk came to mind.

When the priest asked us to lift our tools up to heaven with both hands so that the big man up there might see it and reward us, I spread out my swimming trunk for all – both man and God to see. One small Ibo boy, with curiosity written on his face, asked if I was a wrestler since I had a “wrestler pant”. I replied in the negative, explaining to him that I was a seaman; he didn’t get it even when I explained that seamen drove ships. Perhaps he was wondering why anyone has to don a “wrestler pant” to drive a ship, or what a ship was. He only seemed to get my drift when I told him that I roam with sharks and dolphins as a seaman. I ignored his next question about Jonah being swallowed by a fish.

Various automobiles spare parts, and electronic gadgets- brand new and tokunbo- were showcased. There were okrika sellers, polluting the air with the sickening smell those overseas cast-off clothes emit, deadening the sweet aroma of the pastries and confectionery the bakers and confectioners brought. The madam sitting to my left brought jollof rice and fried turkey wings that reminded me of what a sweet-smelling offering was, and why the bible endorsed it in the book of Leviticus. I wonder what hustlers: prostitutes and 419 ers and agberos brought for God to see and bless. Every article of trade was blessed and sanctified – my swimming trunk was adequately soaked with blessings. The drought of holy water sprayed on the thing almost made it soggy. Although, it got dry before the end of service, my faith in its sanctity had remained steadfast since then.

I always wear the blessed swimmimng trunk under my clothes as a sacramental. I can say it is working, although it is not making me the money I need to buy the Hummer Jeep the priest prophesied each parishioner was going to buy before the 6th month of the New Year . I just hope the prophesy comes to pass before my tired swimming trunk give way, or squeeze the life out of my balls.

I am not even considering mending the rift in my underpants. Why? It is a miracle. I believe in miracles now. You will never understand. I didn’t understand too until the parted stitch taught me a mystery. The size of my balls are like perfectly formed chicken eggs. I could have said turkey eggs for exaggeration, but I have to be factual at this point. Why and how those egg-size balls keep slipping out of my underwear through a hole not larger than half a inch in diameter is the mystery: a mystery akin to birth. The head of a fully-formed foetus is far greater than the diameter of the birth canal. But life is possible because, despite the discrepancy in sizes of the foetus and the birth-canal, a life still comes forth.

My underwear showed me a hidden mystery, so I am keeping it.



The School where I had my primary education was as crowded as a poultry range; and as noisy and as filthy as well. The school was a good place to pick up potentially fatal germs and bad habits. However, human-beneficent things can come out of such a dump as where I went to school in my formative years: things like the idea of FOOD BANK.

Ako ile je, which is Yoruba for “eating from the dust” was a pastime for us kids. Me and my gang of alley cats plied Dustbin Foraging to perfection in those days. Ako ile je had great perks and thrills for us barack pikins. It was untill Adebayo- one of our number- died of a disease they told us was diarrhea, that we kicked the habit of foraging in dustbins for discarded lunch.

It started with pooling and feasting on our lunch together. We shared variety of gourmet pleasures with much love and happiness. We were having great fun untill Adebayo started the trend of Dustbin-Foraging when he brought a sand-crusted and ants-infested piece of badly eaten chicken wing as his contribution to our gang’s food bank. In those days Chicken was a luxury that only families of top-ranking officers could afford on ordinary days.

Adebayo was the son of a mere civilian. He was privileged to have gained admission into our school- an exclusively Army Children’s School. Adebayo was in my class; he shared my desk with Bukky, and I didn’t like him. He was gaining too much attention from Bukky, the cynosure of every eyes in the class. The dimpled and neat Bukky was the class teacher’s daughter- another civilian, and Adebayo as a Yoruba was her tribesman. I was from Bendel State and the alien on my desk that sat three. I sat in the middle between the blob of fat that was Adebayo, and Bukky; but they would be chatting across me as if I was not there at all. Although I spoke yoruba fairly well, Bukky and Adebayo always shut me out of their private world. Even during play outside the classroom, Adebayo was always crowding my space, by throwing his weight around around me, stealing the shine of what little spotlight Bukky beamed on me.

The trend of foraging in dustbins became a juvenile pastime of sort- a game of who would come up with the crunchiest or juiciest cast-off, even though the booty from barrack dustbins were mostly rotten and unfit for consumption.

Adebayo started it all, Bukky followed suit. I who had no qualms about doing anything to be in Bukky’s line of vision followed suit. Rebecca the wide-eyed, nose-picking Idoma girl, who would do anything I say or do, followed suit. Sule the lanky chap from Gongola State who was mooning after Rebecca, followed suit. Dustbin foraging became the holy grail for we, fairly odd group of geeks.

Even when I get to the top of the game by pulling out the crunchiest or juiciest piece from dustbins, Adebayo always had a way of knocking my hustle, and stealing my show with his rather gross habit of munching on the craps- maggots and all- to the admiration of Bukky. It became my life’s goal to outdo Adebayo. A tough mental and physical struggle for me, but I gave up contending with the greedy blob when Chukwudi tried and got knocked out, puking all over his shirt front and taking ill for days, and leaving our team.

The game of foraging in dustbins for crunchy or juicy craps never died out until Adebayo passed on. Until he succumbed to diarrhea, Adebayo was the undisputable Champion and reigning King of Ako ile je.

When I consider the contemporary global tradition of #FoodBank I wonder if I may not have helped start it. Maybe today’s tradition of Food Banking has nothing to do with me. Perhaps it was a social norm that I inadvertently indulged in. Maybe Dustbin Foraging, or Ako ile je, is also a global trend today. Who knows for certain?