Evae did not want to sit around and feel sorry for herself. She was only a few weeks gone but knew she had a big year ahead of her. She was determined to start her business and start saving money like her life depended on it. She would encourage Achike to work hard at his and help him to live frugally so they could gather the much they could before she reached full term.
Achike still did not understand what was happening to them. He continued to rage, went to the council of elders to drum support and stopped greeting her father hoping that it would prick his conscience. Evae knew it was all futile. Agbonyibo would make her carry her pregnancy for five years if it came to that. Evae had seen him do it before.
So that same day, after she had finished crying, she obtained five thousand naira from Achike and went to the market and bought things for her first pot of ewa agoyin. She first went to the bakery and arranged for twenty loaves of one hundred naira bread for a start. She would have liked to start with boiled yam but reckoned it would be too much trouble and her funds were limited. With bread, they would agree for her to pay after she had made sales. She did not need plates or anything like that. She would sell to customers in their own plates. Mama Tobi was willing to help her with firewood and a small tripod for her pot. She would be all right.
The first day went better than she expected. The crowd around her pot of ewa was the type they saw gathering at football viewing centres on premier league afternoons. Within two hours of her business debut she had sold all the ewa agoyin and the twenty loaves of bread she had. She rushed to the bakery and paid for the supply and ordered forty loaves for the next day. The next day, the ewa and bread finished again in record time. All the men seeking street food only ate Evae’s ewa agoyin and bread those two mornings. They also dubbed her the sexy elewa. Achike was pleased with the money she made even though he did not like the attention Evae received and the new nickname. But when he remembered that she was carrying his baby and would be out of shape in a matter of weeks, he smiled to himself and focused on her new found prosperity.
One person who was however not pleased with Evae’s bright beginning was Mama Cowbell. All week, her sales dropped by half as more people opted for Evae’s designer beans and bread instead of her rice and beans.
Number 225 Katakata street was about to see the other side of Mama Cowbell.
Ndifreke returned to the compound with a lot on his mind. Maya had been gone for three hours and there was no word from her. He called her on the phone but it rang through to the end three times and she did not answer. Elizabeth’s words kept searing at his heart. He could not help it that his mind kept conjuring images of Maya in various sex positions with Jonjo. What could they be doing now? What happened when she first walked into his office? Did he just lock the door and started groping her? Did he talk to her first? Did they talk about him before, during, or after the act? Did she think about him while they were doing it? Was she enjoying it?
The thoughts were driving Ndifreke paranoid. He brought out his phone again and dialed her number and still it rang to the end without a response. He stood up and left the room and went out to the frontage. What then happened in the thirty minutes that followed seemed like something from a movie scene.
Josephine was returning from work and was swaying into the compound when Iniquity marched towards her like an arresting officer and palmed the two large cheeks of her behind and shook them like tambourines. Nurse Jo was so mortified that she turned and swung her hands at him. He deftly evaded her attempted blows. She then threw her handbag at him and he dodged it, all the while laughing like a drunken hyena. Then Chisco materialized from the shocked crowd that quickly gathered and dived at Iniquity and his shoulder connected with his midsection and the impact sent them both crashing onto the floor. With his advantage, Chisco climbed onto Iniquity and began to throw blows at his face. But Iniquity was not Agbonyibo. He was an expert at evading shots, such that after throwing multiple punches and only succeeding in landing two, Iniquity used Chisco’s momentum to flip him over and then disconnected from his attacker and adopted a karate defensive posture and waited for Chisco’s next move. Chisco charged at him again and Iniquity easily evaded him. and used Chisco’s momentum to drive Chisco into the wall of the house mouth first with full velocity. Iniquity was using Chisco’s power against him. With the calmness of a cat, he continued to pick off the increasingly angry Chisco who could not touch Iniquity however hard he tried.
“I go kill you today.” Chisco kept promising.
“That is if you can catch me you primitive monkey,” Iniquity teased.
He would crouch and tackle Chisco to the floor, or grabbed him by the extremities and threw him into the crowd each time Chisco powered towards him. Everyone watching gained a lesson in defensive martial arts until the men waded in and stopped the fight. Chisco was left panting with a bloodied mouth, while Iniquity looked like he just stepped out of a barber’s shop with a brand new haircut he could not wait to show off. He flicked imaginary dust from his shoulders and trotted out of the compound towards the uncompleted building down the street. The men held down Chisco who still wanted to attack. The Alfa was seen raising his prayer beads to the sky and muttering something under his breath. Iniquity’s mother went into a tirade in Hausa. The council of elders immediately pealed to a corner and started talking. Ndifreke went after Iniquity.
“Where is my keke?” Ndifreke said when he caught up with him.
“Why do you ask me?”
“You were seen giving it to someone this morning.”
“Who told you that?”
After what he had just witnessed, Ndifreke understood why no one wanted to be in Iniquity’s bad book. But he was not going to let his keke go like that.
“Did you or did you not remove my keke from where I parked it?”
“Was it not chained to a pole?”
“Does it not have a key only you keeps?”
“That means you secured your stuff. If it is missing, then you have only yourself to blame because you did a bad job of keeping it safe.”
Ndifreke held him by the shoulder and halted his movement and they faced each other.
“You have no right to take what does not belong to you. I will report you.”
“When you do, you will have to produce evidence that I took your thing or at least provide witnesses. I will be waiting for them.”
“I’m going to fuck you up man!” Ndifreke said.
“You know you can’t do anything,” Iniquity said.
“Who do you think you are?”
“Usman. My friends call me Iniquity.”
“Fuck you! See you at the police station.”
“Suit yourself” Iniquity said and continued on his way.
Back in the compound people had broken into groups and were discussing the latest fight. Children were jumping about imitating Iniquity’s moves. Josephine was nursing Chisco’s wounds in one corner. Iniquities parents were in the midst of the elders. His mother kept swearing in Hausa.
“Alfa. You must rein in your son. We cannot tolerate such behavior here.”
“I understand. Make una no vex. Wallahi I go deal with am.”
“Ya kamata mu bar shi a kurkuku,” his mother kept saying.
“Alright,” Mr. Zubi said. “Alfa, you must control your son. I hear they call him Iniquity. That is not good. Not good at all.”
“I will do what I can,” tha Alfa said and led his wife away.
“He stole my keke in broad daylight,” Ndifreke said. I just accosted him and he has asked me to do my worst. I am going to the police. I thought I should first let you people know.”
“What sort of problem is this one now?” Mr Zubi said. “Go and talk to his father first and give him some time.”
“I will give him till this time tomorrow to return it.”
The council of elders then went on to talk about the polity. They talked about the EFCC withdrawing the 25 billion naira fraud case against Danjuma Goje the moment he agreed to step down from the Senate president race to pave the way for Ahmed Lawan, Buhari’s anointed candidate. They all expressed their shock and worry about such shenanigans in the face of the anti-corruption mantra of the present administration. They talked about the uprising against President George Weah of Liberia over the disappearance of $100 million newly minted money under his stewardship and his subsequent blocking of all social media in that country. Someone pointed out that he behaved like that because he once played for Chelsea. Another opined that it was yet another lesson for Africa. Charisma did not always equate a good politician.
Chisco was still assuring Nurse Jo that he would avenge Iniquity’s assault on her buttom.
“I go kill dat boy.”
“Leave him. He has done the much he can.”
“No no no. Me, the Ogbu Agu of Arochukwu!”
It was only Chisco who did not realize that he had lost the fight with Iniquity. No one pointed that out to him still. They kept begging him to forgive Iniquity until Nurse Jo took him upstairs to her room.
An Uber pulled up and Maya alighted. Ndifreke rushed to her side and led her to his room. She could not look him in the face.
“What happened? I was calling you since you left and you did not answer.”
“What do you mean by nothing?”
“It was a difficult day. You saw his messages. I had to have something to tell you.”
“Okay so what do you have to tell me now?”
“He told me to return to work immediately otherwise he would also have my contract canceled and I will pay him back my sign on fees.”
“So that is what he wants to do to me? Take back the sign on fees?”
“He won’t do that anymore.”
“I begged him. I know you can’t afford to give him back the money.”
“And did he agree?”
Maya heaved a deep sigh and said “Yes, eventually.”
“He was very unhappy with you. He said he was disgraced in a slum where people only previously saw him in the papers or the internet.”
Ndifreke gazed into Maya’s face. She averted her eyes more than once.
If your girlfriend comes back and tells you that she has begged him and he has forgiven you, know that she has fucked him.
Keep a rein on your emotions. Your girlfriend is already compromised. Stop living in Utopia and play along. Now we are talking about your survival. You will have enough time to fall in love when you are old. One mistake, even a senseless argument with your girlfriend and your life is ruined. Do you want to go back to poverty and suffering
He reached out and touched her breast, and she slowly removed his hand and shifted in her seat. She sighed and said “I’m tired. I want to go to my room.”
“So I will not have to await his lawyers summons?”
“What will happen now?”
“You can even return to work. I asked that too and he agreed.”
“Did you have to do anything for him to agree?”
“What sort of stupid question is that? What was I supposed to do? Is that what you have been sitting here and thinking?”
“No honey calm down!”
“I will not calm down!” Maya said and stood up. “I have been begging that man since morning. Do you think it is pleasant? Instead of you to thank me, you are asking stupid questions!”
“I’m sorry honey.”
“Sorry for yourself,” Maya hissed and left the room.
Ndifreke slowly sat back in the bed and gazed at the door. He thought for what seemed like two hours, it could have only been ten minutes because he was pretty clear about what he was going to do next.
He picked up his phone and dialed Elizabeth’s number.
She picked on the first ring.
“Hello beautiful boy!” All she could hear from her end was his heavy breathing. Then he said: “I can’t say it.”
“You don’t have to say it. Just come and do it.”
TO BE CONTINUED.