I roam about at dawn uncertain where to spend the night. Twice a week, I squat with a raven who gathers to share with me, not of his own volition, but because he is convinced that the universe has nudged him to do so, less he perishes, because a homeless man was the source of his previous breakthrough. But how can a dispossessed man possess the ability to fill your barn with plenty and ensure you never lack during a famine? I did not argue with him, months without a home taught me how to have and give despite owning nothing. I could leave a presence that sucks away grief, fear and darkness. I could share my thoughts with you and you will never cease to wonder about beauty coming from the debris of a broken pot abandoned in a cave of death. You see: the profundity of hunger, and intelligence from lack, is the lifter of men without another source of light.
Without money in the bank and reliable relationships, I find food like a bird. I open my eyes to see where the earth has made provision available. I seek and wait until breakfast arrives at noontime and dinner may never come at all. My legs are mobilised as a soldier ant in search of means and opportunities. I stroll along the desert, through the pathways on the mountain and when I get to the river I wait for the light to part the sea or I walk on water. The miracles of lack are the best gifts of life. One morning you have nothing to do or where to eat and by midday your phone rings and your hunger becomes unreal, your lack becomes a mirage and needs are supplied by nightfall.
What has yesterday’s overfeeding got to do with today’s hunger? Does goodwill ever last beyond the day of festivity? Do men reward their servants every day? Every day is not Christmas, Muslims do not kill rams every Friday. Sometimes I eat; most times I wait and hope for a home to call my own.
There is no room for me at home, no bed space for my kind in any house, no ship will have us on board and planes do not have cabins for my people. Like a bird we fly about, crossing borders and evading territories by grace and the will of our maker. Sometimes we get stopped, maimed and deported. Sometimes they can just decide to shoot all us because it’s the will of their God. If we’re lucky: they will give us food, a place to sleep and demand our souls as payment.
I dream of a home on a hill. Cut out of stone and warmed by the feathers of a thousand birds with rainbow plumes. I imagine a world where homelessness is a word to scare children into obedience. Alas I know a boy who refused to be scared of homelessness and he became me.
Amatesiro Dore studied law at the Igbinedion University Okada and the Nigerian Law School. He was awarded the Reimagined Folktale Contest and the Saraba Manuscript (Nonfiction) Prize. His short story, For Men Who Care, was shortlisted for the 2017 Gerald Kraak Award, and his nonfiction, How I Became, was recently published in the Religion Issue 125 of Transition. He is a 2019 resident and fellow of the Wole Soyinka Foundation, 2009 alumnus of the Farafina Creative Writers Workshop, 2015 fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency, and Regional Managing Editor (Nigeria) of The Theatre Times. His social media handles are facebook.com/amatesiro.dore and Twitter: @Amatesiro_Dore