of the Twentieth Century
I shared a half hour of my life this morning with Rammi, an Igbo man from northern Nigeria who drove me in his taxi to the airport. Chicago rose up as a mechanical giant with soft insides buzzing around to keep it going. We were part of the spin.
Rammi told the story of his friend, who one morning around seven—a morning much like this one—was filling his taxi with gas. He was imagining home, a village whose memories had given him sustenance to study through his degree and would keep him going one more year until he had the money to need to return.
As the sun broke through the grey morning he heard his mother tell him, the way she had told him when he was a young boy, how the sun had once been an Igbo and returned every morning to visit relatives.
These memories were the coat that kept him warm on the streets of ice.
He was interrupted by a young man who asked him for money, a young man who was like many he saw on his daily journey onto the street to collect fares. “Oh no, sorry man. I don’t have anything I can give you,” he said as he patted the pockets of his worn slacks, his thin nylon jacket. He saved every penny because he knew when he returned he’d be taking care of his family, a family several houses large.
He turned back to the attention of filling his gas tank. What a beautiful morning, almost warm. And the same sun, the same Igbo looking down on him in the streets of the labyrinth far far from home.
And just like that he was gone, from a gunshot wound at the back of his head—the hit of a casual murderer.