Mkpoikanna was determined not to be quiet. He stormed the council of elders the following morning and without even saying good morning went straight to the point.
“Oga elders. I no go keep quiet, M’ Abasi something go happen for this compound.”
“What happened Mkpo that you cannot even say good morning?”
“Na winch. Dem don start again. See my body!”
He then stretched his out his arm and it was there. Three feral marks. “For my neck too,” he said and stretched his neck till his eyes were bulging out of their sockets.
“Dem no know say I come from Uruan. Make una go Uruan for Akwa Ibom go ask. Na for afternoon we dey do awa own. Anybody wey carry him winch come my side for dis compound wan die!” With that, he stormed away.
“We have not heard about that sort of thing in this compound for a while now. What could have happened?” Mr Zubi said.
“Well, they are back. Isn’t that obvious?” Achike said.
“And why would they come back?” Mr Zubi said.
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it – Albert Einstein,” Mr. Kingsley said.
“It is true. We have been here before. Efe even called a name and we turned blind eyes,” Achike said.
“Yes that is true but you all know that what we are talking about is not a trivial matter. You can’t just wake up and call someone a witch. Besides, it could be that he scratched himself. I have never seen Mkpo flit his room since he came to this compound. All the mosquitoes from Mushin and Ajegunle converge there and it could have been when he was scratching his body that he gave himself the marks.”
“You know you are talking nonsense Mr. Zubi. You know that right?”
“You better shattap before I talk something.”
“What do you want to talk?”
Mr Zubi made the slightest turn towards Agboynibo.
Many understood and chuckled.
Then Mr Cosmas stepped in.
“Alright, gentlemen. I have already spoken about this witch matter. If you guys want to do something to make yourselves feel better I’ll say you go ahead and do it and let’s get it over with. Otherwise, we are better off not talking about it.”
“How will you not say so?”
“One day, we will find out where you truly belong.”
“Make una no worry,” Papa Efe said. They all looked at him. He had been pensive all morning. “Na me be caretaker. I go take care of de problem.”
Something about the way he said it made them to believe him. They all could even relax. Then someone said:
“Next week na sallah. Alfa I never see your ram.”
The Alfa shook his head and said “No ram this time. It is Eid El Fitr.”
“And so? If you kill ram na bad thing?”
“No ram this time.”
“Alfa you don lose weight for this fasting o.”
“Wetin you been dey expect?”
“Upon say una dey wake up for morning chop well well. I never still understand dat kind fasting.”
“The meal is the suhur. There is a blessing in it according to the prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa salaam and it helps to avoid crankiness and weakness during the fast.”
“But is that not the whole point of fasting? That you are weak and cranky and then when you are able to control yourselves in that situation God answers your prayers?”
“We fast to purify ourselves and increase our good deeds and God-consciousness. That should be your focus.”
“But una dey announce am for radio say una dey fast. Sotey una go dey wish una sef happy fasting. We Christians, bible say when we dey fast, we wash our face and smile wella so that everybody no go know say we dey fast.”
“What does it matter? Either way, you are all hypocrites,” Mr. Cosmas said. “Live consciously and obey the laws and you will be alright. You don’t need to deprive your bodies of nutrients. Fast all you want but if you continue to do evil and are without love, whether you are a Muslim or a Christian you are wasting your time.”
The Alfa stood up and bowed and left the gathering.
“You have chased him away Cosmas.” Mr Zubi said.
Mr. Cosmas shrugged.
“Today they are inaugurating the President for a second term and Governors across the country.”
“Will that reduce the rate of suicides that is now growing like malaria infection?”
“No be lie o. Every day in the news someone is committing suicide. How can people open their eyes and want to take their lives? I can’t just get it. Rich, poor, students, workers. The latest is the steward in Borno Government house. What is happening in our society?”
“It is not only those that drink sniper or hang themselves that are committing suicide. We have become suicidal generally as a people. It is as if we cannot wait for the end of the world again. When they tell you smoking kills and yet you are still smoking, is that not suicide by installment? They tell you don’t have premarital or casual sex for the many inherent risks and you go and have sex, is that not suicide by installment? They tell you you must work before you eat because if you do not eat you will die, but many are still slothful and sleeping for sixteen hours and waiting for miracles. Is that not suicide by installment? While we are sad that some people take the faster route out, all of us should look at ourselves and our lives. The man who wakes up one morning and dies suddenly may have started his suicide ten years before. It only manifested the day his heart finally had enough and stopped beating. First, remove the beam from your eyes.”
“Also tell them Cosmas, after we were promised change and things only changed for the worst, people still went back and voted the same government. Is that not suicide?”
“Na you sabi.”
Evae stealthily opened the door and entered Papa Efe’s room.
“Good morning Papa.”
She perched on one of the two armchairs in the room. She was clearly worried.
“How you dey my pikin?”
“I dey fine, until my papa come back.”
“You know say him dey lie abi?”
“How him manage make himself to look like dat?”
“My papa fit do anything. E dey surprise me everyday.”
“You think say him go give us trouble?”
“I no know. Na why I come meet you.”
They both looked at each other intensely and then started talking again. This time, from their souls.
“My father is a man on a mission. He will not be quiet for long.”
“First, he will break your rule. He will be the first on the rooftop tonight.”
“What will you do?”
“If he lives here, he will have to abide by the rules.”
“He is very clever. Both as a man and as a wizard. I wanted to know what you were thinking and to tell you not to underestimate him. Please don’t.”
“I know not to do so. He outwitted me when he took my boy. So I know what I am up against.”
“There is a new witch in the compound.”
“Do you know who it is?”
“I think we both know who it is.”
“How do you think it happened?”
“My guess will be bitterness and vengeance. Toxic people are always one step away from full-blown witchcraft. They are vulnerable because they already give off the type of energy that attracts darkness. They only have to walk into the wrong place and they are initiated. Easily. Tell anyone that wants to listen – live simply, laugh plenty, forgive and give thanks and know that there is nothing in this world. Take life too seriously and you will find yourself where you do not want to be.”
“True Papa. But what will happen to her now?”
“What will happen to her, is what she has invited on herself.”
“So the ban on night activities still stands?”
“I am caretaker here. I promised the elders that I will take care of that, and I will.”
“I am afraid that things may get really bad.”
“Sometimes, things have to first get bad before they become good.”
Agbonyibo got up and found his bandages and other props and made himself look the way he wanted to be seen and stepped out of his room.
Every one that met him greeted him and and asked about his health.
“I dey well. God dey work for my body,” He kept saying.
He went and sat in front of his shop as was always his custom. Shortly after, Mama Akunna crept up beside him.
“Welcome back, my oga.”
“Call me Agbonyibo wen we dey hia.”
“I no been think say I go see you again.”
“My time never reach.”
“Your time don pass.”
“I no think so.”
“I hear say you kill ya granpikin.”
“Hin no fit live de kind life wey that man want make we live.”
“Yes. You know say de man dey hide since? Hin senior us for yonder!”
“Hin senior you but hin nor senior me.”
“Hin say make we no perform again. My pikin no gree. Hin come lock am outside.”
Mama Akunna lowered her voice and said “Master, we need to cut am comot for ground. I happy when you come back because I know say na only you fit face am.”
“You know say I just come back. I no wan make dem call my name say Agbonyibo don do anoda tin.”
“So you nor go comot for night?”
“Why I nor go comot?”
“He say make we no comot.”
“Hin no fit!”
“So how we go do am?”
Agbonyibo thought for a while and said “Follow me enter house. I go give you something wey you go use before you comot.”
“I trust you my oga.”
“When we reach up, we go know wetin we go do de busybody.”
“Chai, my oga! As I see you I know say my own don better. ”
“You know say Mama Tobi don chop?”
“Make you nor fight am again o. We need am for we side. And na you go show am road.”
“Until we meet for yonder before we know how e go be.”
“Meanwhile, my pikin go dey use ya shed sell ewa for morning.”
“No problem my master. But…”
“Dat ya pikin.”
“Wetin do am?”
“I nor sure say hin dey with us. Papa Efe don turn hin head.”
“Leave am. She don useless for now.”
“That frog don give am belle.”
The two self-contained apartments of 225 Katakata street were situated side by side, such that from one, one could easily communicate with a person in the other while both occupants still maintained their privacy. And so when Irikefe and Castro requested the presence of Mr. Cosmas before they said what the wanted to say, Mr. Zubi simply put his mouth through his window and shouted “The Cos!”
“Yes Mr Zubi.”
“Do you have a minute?”
“Please come over.”
With the two men settled and ready, Irikefe nodged Castro, and Castro, in turn, nudged Irikefe to speak.
“It is about Agbonyibo.”
“What about him?”
“Oh you did?” Mr Zubi said, deliberately widening his eyes in mock wonder.
“What did you lie about?” Mr Cosmas said.
“Things were not the way we presented them. There is nothing wrong with him. He is a con man. He was living well. He just wanted to come back for reasons we do not know and he used us.”
“Wow! What a timely revelation,” Mr Zubi sneered.
“So why did you help him?” Me Cosmas said.
“He was good to us in truth, but now we see that he manipulated us.”
The anger and disgust on Mr. Zubi’s face could have knocked the boys to the floor. So they avoided his face and only looked at Mr. Cosmas.
“Why are you telling us this now?”
“It is because our consciences have been disturbing us. And you know that Castro here is a child of God.”
Castro rolled his eyes and nodded furiously. Mr. Zubi hissed so loudly Willy-willy who was just in front of the door playing exclaimed “Ah Daddy!”
Then Irikefe hurriedly added “But why did you people believe us?”
“How can Irikefe and Castro come and tell you that Agbonyibo is a good man and you believed?” Irikefe said.
Mr. Zubi was annoyed that Irikefe was speaking in the third person. But he tried to stay calm.
“So what do you want us to do now? We already forgave him. We made Achike forgive him as well. He is settled back in the compound.”
“Unforgive him,” Irikefe said.
“Alright. I see that you have already smoked your igbo before coming. Now get out of here both of you!” Mr. Zubi said.
The two boys scrambled away before Cosmas could intervene.
“You should have allowed them to tell us more.”
“There is nothing more to hear. And you believe them at your own peril.”
“You think they are lying?”
“They are incapable of telling more than one truth a day. They have already told the only truth they can. Everything else will be lies.”
“Hmmm. So what do we do now?”
“Back to the original plan. But we now have to watch him keenly. We see anything we don’t like, we report him. We will report him to the immigration people as well. But since we forgave him already, we will leave things as they are for now. It was also good for Achike to have let go. We don’t want to open old wounds. But we should never take our eyes off him, and we must keep our children far from him.”
Mr Cosmas thought for a while and then said “But your boys sha….”
“They are your boys too,” Mr. Zubi said, and they both managed to smile.
“Wetin you think say your papa go do?” Irikefe said to Castro when they were outside.
“Hin go go meet Alhaji Sirika. Agbonyibo must comot for dis compound!”
“Nice one. Him think say we no go pay am back?”
“As hin get sense na so him still mumu. I wish say I get power like Chisco. I swear dis time I for burst him blokos join the head wey I for break.!”
“Meanwhile, e get wetin dey happen for dis compound wey you never know,” Castro said.
“Lai lai. Nothing fit happen wey I no know.”
“You now that Alfa pikin?”
“Na ten him get. No waste my time.”
“The senior geh na,”
“The one wey born pikin?”
“Wetin she do?”
“Lukman don dey fuck am.”
“Haa! As hin nyash flat reach?”
“Wetin my guy wan use nyash do na! as far as the hole never close.”
“Mehn, finally salvation don reach Lukman.”
“But dem dey code the thing. Lukman dey fear Iniquity.”
“I dey tell you”
Irikefe went to one of the windows on the ground floor and regarded his reflection in the glass. Then he said to Castro “Guy, time don reach wey I go barb my hair.”
“No be last week you just barb?”
“I need another hair cut.”
Realization then hit Castro. Hr grinned and said “Irikefe!”
“The oracle of Katakata Street!”
“Our three eyed raven.”
“Even though this one escape you.”
“I am allowed one mistake na, guy.”
“The virgin destroyer!”
The owl was the first one on the rooftop. As soon as it landed, Papa Efe, Mama Akunna, Agbonyibo, and Evae stirred awake. Mama Akunna and Agbonyibo each stood up, blew a powdery substance in their respective rooms and on the corridor and returned to their beds. One minute later, the owl was joined by a kite and a canary.
Papa Efe stood up and was about to mix his portion when he felt a strong resistance. He could not tell what it was but the feeling was crippling. He stopped what he was doing and quickly went back to bed. Five minutes later a green hawk burst into the midst of the new gathering on the rooftop.
Evae thought about it. But at that moment she felt Achike shift her pant to one side and lubricated her with his saliva and then entered her smoothly from behind. It felt so good that she immediately forgot about what could be going on at the rooftop and began to roll her waist to match his steady in and out movements.
TO BE CONTINUED.