DÉJÀ VU

They watched the man amble away, just the way he had come. Like harmattan breeze.

“Bet me, Alhaji Sirika will collect rent from this man before sunset today. Which kind wahala come be dis for dis number 225 ehn? See what that useless coward Josiah has brought us. This is another Agbonyibo!”

“Ten children! And he is an Alfa!

“I hear the Alfas are like Babalawos. They go about commanding demons all over the place. To think that we just survived Agbonyibo, if at all we have!”

“And he is a mallam. They always carry dagger.  That means he will one day chook somebody in the stomach.”

“Where will he be doing his fifty times a day prayers now?”

“And you know before they pray they will wash their hands and blokos. In the full view of everyone! Kai, my children!

“Now that is enough gentlemen.”

“No it is not enough Cosmas. You know Alhaji Sirika. Ten children Cosmas! Ten! A muslim, Alfa! Terrorist!

“If the Alhaji gives him the room, there is nothing we can do about it.”

“How can we cope with that kind of a person?”

“You are all basically ignorant.  An Alfa is only a devout muslim. And Islam truly is a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness. An Alfa is not necessarily evil. And all Muslims are not terrorists. Some lean toards extremism but a vast majority of them are awesome people and a true Muslim can bring light.  This may be the opportunity for y’all to learn tolerance.”

“I am here as a tenant. If I want to learn anything, I will go to school. I don’t want to share a compound with a Muslim man with ten children. And we did not ask him how many wives.”

“Be tolerant my friends. He looks a kind man to me.”

“That is what you said about Agbonyibo. Now Achike is wearing pampers.”

“We cannot always expect the worst from people. I know Agbonyibo did not turn out so well but that does not mean the Alfa will be like that.”

“Why didn’t he go to Agege where Hausa people stay? Why is he coming here? I don’t like Muslims. I will never trust them no matter what you say Cosmas.”

“And you Cosmas, which one you are defending a Muslim again? The other day you quoted from the Quran.”

“I try not to be discriminatory, judgmental or tribalistic. I know that all religions have their bases in truth. The problem has always been man’s interpretation and the distortions that the Holy books have suffered. But I respect deeply religious people because I understand that they are seekers, even though many times they seek in the wrong place. My advice is to have an open mind, because the more you know, you will come to the realization that you know nothing.”

“Alright.” Mr Zubi said, taking charge again. “If the Alfa comes, what we must do is to bring him into the council of elders from day one. Let him see that we are responsible men who live communally.”

“Why not we pray that Alhaji Sirika does not give him the room?”

“On a second thought, why not one of us here take the room instead? That new Calabar by is doing well now, Achike’s brother as well. We must resist any attempt for any more trouble from outside.”

“That is true. We will talk to the two young men and see.”

“Didn’t you people see another man carrying the Calabar boy’s girlfriend away?”

“The man works with them. Don’t get excited,” Mr. Cosmas said.

“Eh hen? Okay. Make we dey watch. Gals of nowadys. Once they see car with tinted glass they will be opening leg like Atilogwu dancers.”

“Did you guys notice the hypocrisy of the aftermath of that Success girl video?”

“Everyone is now falling over themselves to give to the girl; including the government of Delta State which should be hiding their face in shame for not making ordinary primary education easily attainable.”

“I hear they have dashed the girl more than five million naira!”

“The person that made the video also cried out and guess what? They started dashing her money and even a car. Even Daddy Showkey who knows that there are thousands of children in Ajegunle where he grew up who also cannot go to school, transferred 100k to the girl.”

“He has achieved his aim na. Now we know he is still alive and can dash somebody 100k. I was thinking he had followed Ras Kimono to the great beyond.”

“Shame! Shame!”

“The worst thing this week was those shameless Ex Big Brother people coming out to remind us that they too are not dead. One of them told a barefaced lie that she makes 5 million naira daily selling weave-ons.”

“It is our fault. We are the ones that make stupid people famous. Tell me, what value have they added to society now? Revealing that one person slept with another after they left the house. How does that stop Alhaji Sirika from giving his house to an Alfa with ten children?”

“You still haven’t forgotten this matter.”

“How can I? I told you I don’t trust Alhaji Sirika.”

“Meanwhile one fellow that did not even get one thousand votes nationwide in the last presidential elections has gone to court seeking nullification of Buhari’s victory on the grounds that he and Atiku spent over 1billion naira to campaign, which is contrary to the provisions of the electoral act 2010.”

“Big dreamer.”

“In other climes, that would be a solid case. Even here, Buhari must not dismiss it with a wave of the hand. He might be embarrassed.”

“Embarrassed indeed. When two bullion vans entered somebody’s compound the other day, despite the law stating that no individual can transact any business of more than 5 million without going through a financial institution, what happened? This is Nigeria. The man only wants settlement. And they will settle him and we will not hear anything again.”

“That will be corruption. This government is anti corruption.”

“Indeed. Don’t just let me start.”

As they spoke, the car that had taken Maya away returned. Maya and the sophisticated man alighted, clutching heavy shopping bags of goodies.

Ndifreke was just coming out of the compound to rejoin the council of elders when he saw them.

Someone in the group shouted, “Look! Ndifreke!”

**********************************************************************

They saw him leap into the air and crash into Jonjo. The bags Jonjo held fell from his hands and loaves of bread, cans of milk, tins of sardines and other provisions scattered all over the ground. Jonjo landed on his back, Ndifreke sat on his stomach, and stated landing punches.

“You bastard! Don’t you know I live here? Don’t you know she is my woman? At least fucking pretend for the sakes of these people!” He breathed as he threw more blows at Jonjo. Maya was now screaming. Katakata Street, renowned for its appetite for drama hesitated before anyone intervened.

Jonjo, being an accomplished mixed martial artist recovered from the initial shock, seized Ndifreke’s hands, and with a leg combination that drew cheers from the already gathered crowd flipped him over and pinned him to the ground.

“What is wrong with you Ndifreke?”

“Shame on you!” Ndifreke said and threw a slop of saliva into his face. Maya’s lungs were almost on the floor. The men now rushed in and separated them.

“You bastard!” Ndifreke shouted. She is mine! You are an opportunist!”

“Ndi stop it. He is our boss! He is only here to help my mother!” Maya cried.

“Let him go to hell with his job! And you can go and continue fucking him!”

With that, Ndfreke stormed back into the corridor.

Jonjo dusted himself and smiled at the crowd. Some of the boys had already gathered the things that fell from his hands into the shopping bags and handed them back to him.

“Never mind, guys,” Jonjo said. “You can keep it.”

Mama Tobi who had also come downstairs when she heard the noise immediately went on her knees.

“Please sir. I’m very sorry. Please sir.”

“No Mama. It is not your fault. It is an ordinary fight between men.”

No it is not. That boy is crazy. It is why I told you to just marry my daughter and go away. That is the kind of person she is exposed to here. She deserves better.”

“Please, get up Mama.”

“Sorry about the things I bought. I will pay some money into Maya’s account to get you the provisions.”

“Pease pay it into my account. I have one now after they taught me a lesson.”

“Okay. Maya, text me the details. I have to leave now.”

“Ah…don’t leave without her.”

“I came because of you ma. She needs to stay and take care of you.”

“I don’t need any care. In fact, I am well now.” Mama Tobi then looked around 360 degrees. “I don’t see anything. I can only see my neighbors.”

“I’m glad to hear that. So I take my leave.”

Mama Tobi glared at Maya when Jonjo turned his back. “Go with him. I say go with him now. If you let that man leave here without you, you will cease to be my daughter from this moment.”

And so Maya followed behind Jonjo. She glanced back a number of times. It was both plea and a threat she saw in her mother’s eyes. Other neighbors stayed quiet and watched the drama. Jonjo had reversed his car and was facing the way out before he saw Maya, stopped and rolled down his window.

“I’m coming with you.”

“No you are not. Go and stay with your boyfriend. He needs reassurance.”

“To hell with him.”

*********************************************************************

The Enchanteaur was as Maya remembered it. She made Jonjo call ahead for the exotic massage she had received the first time and went straight in for it, while Jonjo went to his suite for a bath.

Maya’s instruction to the masseuse was simple. “Prepare me ma’am. Prepare me like it was my wedding night.”

**********************************************************************

At about the same time at Katakata Street, Alhaji Sirika’s red jeep lurched to a stop. Occupants of the compound felt a sense of déjà vu when he alighted with the Alfa in tow. They saw the smile on the face of the Alfa. The saw Alhaji Sirika smack his lips. They knew he had just received another two years rent. No one wanted to wait for an introduction save for Papa Efe. He was the caretaker, and it was his job to receive the new tenant.

TO BE CONTINUED.

EVAE’S LOVE

March 27, 2019

A TIME FOR EVERYTHING

March 27, 2019