Nigerians celebrated the end of the coronavirus in the country too soon. How anybody thought that airplanes from endemic countries flying in unrestricted and offloading people into the country on a daily basis would not also bring other sufferers was beyond reason.
“They even began to create memes and talk about how nothing survived in Nigeria. Omo, the virus shock us. This is real,” Josiah said.
“Word is that there are a lot more sufferers than we can see, especially as we can’t even trust our testing system,” Achike said.
“Speaking of which, are we even sure that it is proper testing that they are doing? Because if in America they are complaining about testing and test results are taking 4 days to come out, how our Nigeria that we know are testing people and getting results within hours is worrying me.”
“And what if somebody has ordinary catarrh or sore throat and they go and say it is coronavirus?”
“Catarrh is not one of the symptoms.”
“What of sore throat?”
“What if it is ordinary sore throat?”
“I think ordinary sore throat and cough and all those things have suddenly disappeared since their senior brother corona came. Haven’t you seen that no one wants to be caught coughing and sneezing anymore? If you can control it, then it is ordinary cough and sneezing. But if you cannot control it, then you have coronavirus.”
“My word Josiah!”
“It is logical.”
“No. It is a virus. Identifiable under a microscope. Science not logic sir. It is only through testing that you can know if you are infected or not. If you feel you have been exposed to the virus or exhibit symptoms, isolate yourself, go and get tested.”
“Isolate yourself for this face me I face you? Let us just pray it doesn’t come here because we go die finish.”
“And churches are going to be closed this Sunday apart from the ones in shops. God finally remembered the small pastors.”
“Please be vigilant. If they pack more than fifty people in any gathering report them. They are a danger to all of us!”
“Oyedepo and Fatoyinbo held services in defiance to the government order. Do they not have Romans 13:1 in their bibles? It says, “All of you must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God,” If those pastors are not arrested and prosecuted, I will conclude that we are lost in this country.”
“They don’t preach such. The only obedience they preach is the archaic obedience to the law of tithing. Nigerians open your eyes! These men are clearly telling us that we can choose what to obey in the Bible. And I say obey the verses that tell us that God does not need our money and let’s watch them find some humility. Meditate on Psalm 50 all of you.”
“But people must have access to God in these perilous times!”
“Let them pray at home. Or fellowship with their families. Wherever two or three are gathered in my name I am there.”
“See how this coronavirus has made one forget everything else that is going on in this country? Gandollar bundled Sanusi out of the Emirate on corruption charges. Can you imagine the irony? They have been playing Oshiomhole like ping pong. Buhari is borrowing thirty billion dollars at a time like this, Liverpool’s long wait for a Premier League title continues because of coronavirus. Interesting times.”
“The coronavirus has shown us what is most important in life. Now we can all see how valuable the simplest thing such as to breathe is. We don’t want to travel the world anymore, we don’t want to meet people anymore, we don’t want to party and hang out and shop anymore. We just want to breathe clean air. Be humble oh ye man!”
“True, Cosmas. But let me say that as far as Sanusi is concerned I have no sympathy for him. He is corrupt. Any man that marries four wives is corrupt. Four kpekus for one man under the same roof. Chineke nna! Is that not greedy? Is greed not the harbinger of corruption?”
Elizabeth led Ndifreke back to her flat and straight to her bedroom. She pushed him on the small couch she kept there and watched as he desperately avoided her eyes.
“What were you up to lover boy?” She said and perched beside him. Then his phone rang and he grabbed it and they both stared at the caller ID. “Nurse Jo.”
Elizabeth watched him. He fidgeted for a while and then switched off the phone.
“You are sleeping with her too?”
Then realization dawned on Elizabeth.
“I get it now. That’s where you were headed when I arrived. That’s why you were jumpy. Get up,” she said.
Ndifreke got up and Elizabeth got up with him. She patted him down and found the packet of condoms in his hip pocket.
“They are for us Lizzy.”
“I knew I was coming here.”
“Lying doesn’t suit you boy. Now sit down and listen.”
Ndifreke did as he was told.
“I am in no place to direct your life but you have to know that you can’t live to just have sex. God, why are men so cheap?” She said and placed a hand on her temple and stood up.
“I don’t live to just have sex.”
Elizabeth nodded and said “okay. Let’s leave that for now. How is Maya?”
“How will I know?”
“Hasn’t she contacted you yet?”
Ndifreke looked at her and opened his mouth and then closed it again.
“I thought so,” Lizzy said.
“Jonjo is good for nothing. She was going to realize that soon. And when she did, she would remember you. Especially as she is expecting your child.”
“I don’t want her anymore.”
“Stop going there. Stop working for Jonjo so you can stay away from her.”
“It’s not going to work, boy. Jonjo will humiliate you both. He has started with her.”
“Then what do I do? Move in with you?”
“Start your own business. Start your own modeling agency.”
“Right in this slum. Take the initiative and harness the talents here. Maya and you came out of this place and you are two of the most beautiful people the industry has seen.”
“But how do I go about this?”
“Get an office. Register your business. Get on social media. You are already recognizable. Make use of Twitter and Instagram, pay influencers to loud your hustle. Get busy. There’s a vacant shop where you live right?”
“I think so.”
“Let me think about it Lizzy. It’s a huge adjustment. I have never run a business before. I don’t know if I could.”
“You can do whatever you want to do baby. And I am here to support you. Think about it. Your job will be to identify the hidden talents in these parts and deliver them to the world. I still have contacts in the industry that would be interested in your models. You get a cut from every deal you broker for them, and repeat.”
“Sounds good the way you say it but let me just sleep over it.”
“All right. Now come and fuck me first.”
Josephine stood there and contemplated the old man before her. The unassuming husband of Mama Kike. He was shaken and dead serious about his quest.
“Look am nurse,” he said and put his hand inside the small cellophane he carried and scooped the tiny bottles and showed them to her. “Chloroquine injections. Na me buy the remaining one for Philemon chemist. I don already give my wife and all my pikin tablet to drink. Abeg come chook us this injection this night. I no wan die. I no want make dem die.”
“What the!” Josephine exclaimed. She looked above his head at Ndifreke’s door. It looked firmly locked. Why would he play her? What was it about? She pressed her thighs together and tried to make sense of the scene in front of her.
“Dem say make we take chloroquine make that vilus no kill us. I say make I protect myself and my family. Abeg aunty, help me.”
Josephine glared at him and the old man shifted back a few paces.
“Get the fuck out of here oga,” she said and slammed her door in his face. She paced the room and then picked up her phone and dialed Ndifreke’s number. It rang till the end and he did not answer. When she dialed a second time an automated voice reported that the number was switched off. She sat in contemplation for a few minutes. Then she picked the phone again and went to the compound WhatsApp group and typed –
“Somebody just came to my room and requested that I administer chloroquine injection to him and his family because of what they heard on the coronavirus. Group admin, council of elders, please advise your people. Our hospitals are already having cases of chloroquine poisoning. You don’t need to take the drug if you are not sick and you cannot self medicate on the coronavirus and we are not yet sure what the whole chloroquine thing is all about. What you need to do now is to wash your hands and use sanitizers and don’t touch your face and don’t get too close to people. Please I don’t want that kind of disturbance again.”
She then removed the t-shirt she wore and crept into bed again and continued to touch herself.
Sister Esther rushed to him and held him. He looked like he had seen a ghost.
“Yes, I did. I’m sure I did. He was sitting in front of his shop. I know the way he moves.”
“But it is not even that late!”
“Did he see you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Was he doing anything?”
“He just sat there like he used to sit.”
“Have you told the men?”
“I had to come here first.”
“Who was outside with you?”
“This is serious. First Mama Akunna. Now…I can’t even say that rotten name. Heavenly Father! Protect your children. Protect us from principalities and powers. When people die they stay in the grave until the resurrection morn. Father remove these ones! Send them back to where they belong!” She then pulled a drawer and brought out a bottle of olive oil and put drops in front of their door. “This is the mark of the Holy Spirit in this habitation. Exodus 12:23. When they see the mark they will pass over you. Father whatever is the mission of these demons, let them see this mark and Passover your children.”
Mr. Kingsley then sat on the bed.
“It will be alright. They are not bigger than God. And your heathen friend made a good point. Those demons have no power over the children of God.”
Mr. Kingsley nodded.
“I like it now that you are talking again Kingsley.”
“So I think it is time for us to discuss our future.”
“My people will have to know that I am pregnant. And if I am pregnant they want to see the face of the man that made it happen. So what do you say?”
“Some things are so unexpected that no one is prepared for them – Leo Rosten.”
“Have you started?”
“Never change who you are just because someone else has a problem with it – Karan Narula.”
Sister Esther went on her knees and looked at Mr. Kingsley straight in the eyes and said “Uncle, I am pregnant with your baby and I am living under your roof. You see this old girl here, if you like, quote Aristotle or Apostle Paul or Pablo Neruda. You fucked me for three months and put me this way and now you will live with the consequence for as long as I breathe.”
“Ewoooo!” Mr. Kingsley exclaimed.
“Good. Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap – Saul of Tarsus. 62 – 64 CE.”
Evae knew the right time to see Papa Efe privately. His son’s feet were always itchy and he would be out of the house at the first sign of sunlight and Achike went out early as well. She knocked once and entered.
“He did it to me Papa. I am not having this baby. I have seen him do it before.”
“You will have the baby Evae. I know what to do.”
Evae looked deeply into Papa Efe’s eyes. Papa Efe allowed her to see what she wanted to see. When she understood, tears began to roll down her cheeks.
“You don’t have to do it Papa. I am still a witch too. I deserve what I get.”
“I should have gone with them. I have lived my life,” Papa Efe said.
“But you are a good man. You only showed yourself to help others. They were wicked. We are wicked. But not you.”
“That is one thing I want you to learn. We do not change what we are, but we can control what we do with the ability we have acquired. Resist the temptation to enjoy the nightlife first. When you do that, you will not see any reason to harm anyone. When your baby comes, make it your world. Have another quickly; immerse yourself in your business. In no time, you will forget what you are. I made those choices.”
“I will make my move in seven days.”
“Okay, Papa. Please be careful, if ever that was possible.”
“I know what I am up against. And I am ready for it.”
“Thank you Papa.”
Castro and Irikefe watched as the two new tenants moved in the same day. The policeman looked forty and did not have a family save for a pet dog in a cage. They noticed at once that he was not friendly. He only gave orders to the junior officers who offloaded his things from the truck into the compound.
“This one na wahala o. The man no get joy. And he get dog. Where him go keep am?”
“Na him problem be that.”
The lawyer was younger. Late twenties with a young wife and a baby.
“This laywer na fine boy sha.”
“And him wife just born.”
A message in the compound group chat popped in from Papa Efe.
“Make we gather for evening by six to meet our new tenants.”
“Okay I will be there.”
“See you all at six.”
Irikefe lifted his face from the phone when he noticed a girl in her early twenties moving in things with the young lawyer.
“See that girl with them, she go be the man sister. Fine geh.”
“Comot your eye for there Ewu Gambia. This one no be your mate.”
”This compound go sweet again Irikefe. I prophesy that.”
“No be lie.”
TO BE CONTINUED.