The lockdown order has not gone down well with humanity. From New York to Brighton to Lekki stories abound of people flouting the orders and doing as they pleased, though not without consequences. Funke Akindele and her husband are now ex-convicts in Nigeria. Thirty-five joggers in Gbagada are now in compulsory isolation and would be doing one-month community service in addition for their troubles. Jewish mourners in New York were blasted with high-velocity water from fire service equipment to disperse them. An Illinois Mayor sent police to disperse a house party only for them to find the Mayor’s wife there in attendance dancing away. A couple on a Brighton beach had their barbecue tryst cut short by law enforcement who politely drove sense into their heads and sent them back home and to safety. The Metropolitan Police released a map of centres across the UK where people continued to hold gatherings and parties; one glance and you would wonder if that was the same nation recording nearly a thousand deaths daily from the devastating covid 19 disease. Simply put: humanity was not ready for this. Neither was Ndifreke ready for the kind of night that was about to unfold before him at 225 Katakata Street.
The lawyer’s sister was Maya and Evae rolled into one. How 225 Katakata Street managed to attract such beautiful women was a question Irikefe later put to Ndifreke. This time however, as soon as Ndifreke saw the girl, the only thing on his mind was signing her up as his protégé.
She recognized him. She had seen his face on billboards. He was well known as the slum model.
“Hi, I’m Ndifreke. And you’re?”
“Funbi,” she said and extended a hand.
Even though she had come out to escape the toxic air around his brother and his wife, the sight of his crimson lips under the incandescent bulb of the shop frontage sent the kind of waves through her spine that made her to immediately forget her gloom. He was more handsome in real life than on the billboards.
“Welcome to number 225 Katakata Street Funbi. And may I say that you are beautiful.” Ndifreke kissed the back of her hand and took a theatrical bow.
He had just straightened up and shaped his mouth to talk again when the Uber with Maya arrived.
Funbi watched him choke on his next words. She recognized her also. His famed girlfriend. Funbi cleared her throat, stood, and sashayed back into the compound.
Ndifreke had not seen Maya in more than three months. She looked like the setting sun on a rapidly darkening horizon. She wore a generously cut off-the-shoulder boo-boo with no makeup but was as alluring as he had known her to be. She had a small bag. That sent Ndifreke’s heart racing.
“Are you just going to stand there? Won’t you welcome me?”
“Yes, Ndi. I came.”
Ndifreke scratched his head.
“I came to your place. I don’t live here anymore. Now, are you taking me inside or not?”
Ndifreke looked around. He could see Irikefe and Castro in one corner watching. He looked upstairs and there was Josephine pretending not to be watching. He looked beyond Maya down the road and was surprised that Elizabeth was not coming. Everything might as well happen tonight he thought.
“Why do you have a bag, Maya?”
Maya lifted her dress and jumped the gutter and landed beside Ndifreke with a thud. She rolled her eyes and walked past him and he strutted behind her. She stopped as she entered the corridor. It did not look the same. There were fewer doors now and she was not sure which was his.
“We’re upstairs now,” He said and took her bag.
He let her into the room and then followed. Mkpoikanna who was getting ready to turn in sprang to his feet when he saw Maya.
“Maya!” he cried.
She went to him and gave him a hug and held him tight. Mkpoikanna’s eyes spun in his skull.
Maya left him and walked into the inner room and came back.
“I’m impressed,” she said. The stingy Alhaji finally did something good. But where is your toilet and bathroom? Didn’t he say it would be self-contains?”
“Well, it’s not Maya. And please, tell me what is going on,” Ndifreke said.
Mkpoikanna gestured to Ndifreke that he was leaving but Ndifreke urged him to stay. Maya was still inspecting their new abode.
Ndifreke walked up to her and turned her around and then noticed that tears had welled up in her eyes.
“I want to stay here until the lockdown is over.”
“I have nowhere else to go to.”
“What happened to your apartment?”
“It’s too lonely.”
“What of your boyfriend?”
“I see the harmattan more frequently than I see him.”
“Does he know you are here?”
“What do you think will happen if he knew you are here?”
“Enough of this Ndi okay?”
“What do you mean by enough of this? You show up at my place uninvited. Another man’s girlfriend! Do I need to tell you that I have moved on as well?”
“I am with a man who does not care. I cannot be alone at a time like this.”
“For heaven’s sake Maya you made a choice, live with it. It is not my problem!”
“I am carrying your child Ndi.”
“What is that you just said, Maya?”
“But you know this. I did not stop being pregnant from the last time we spoke.”
“Did you not say you were with a modern man who accepted you like that?”
“I did not say he has stopped accepting me. I am saying that he is not always there for me and there will be restriction of movement now such that if I needed help I would not get it and Clementina is in school.”
“So you came here.”
“Yes, I came here.”
“And you believe I have your time.”
“I am pregnant for you.”
“You know what Maya, please leave.”
The thing about face-me-I-face-you houses was that there was no such thing as a private conversation. Everybody lurked around to hear what everyone else was saying especially where there was a potential for drama. The corridor was full of neighbors who knew Ndifreke and Maya’s story and so as soon as Maya arrived and they went into the room, they all took up positions in close proximity to the room to glean what was going on. Then as often happened, someone knocked on the open door through the curtain and entered.
“Nurse,” Maya said and stood and embraced Josephine.
“I heard your voice. I wasn’t sure.”
“It is me, nurse. You look well.”
“And so do you,” Josephine said.
Ndifreke scratched his head and punched the wall.
“Easy loverboy. The lady is pregnant and has had a rough ride here I’m sure. You should at least give her water to drink.”
“For goodness sake Josephine.”
“And congratulations both of you. I know it will stay this time.”
“What?” Ndifreke said.
“Maya, I stay in the rooms opposite and I am alone. These boys will not know what to do with you now. Come spend the night with me while they sort themselves out.”
“No Josephine. She is leaving this compound. Now.” Ndifreke said.
“She is my guest for the night and you don’t tell me what to do,” she said and locked eyes with him. He had been evasive since the night he was supposed to sleep in her room but ended up somewhere else. This was a good way to pay him back. She took Maya’s bag and they both left the room.
“Which kind wahala be this? Ndifreke said to his cousin.
“Maya fine like angel. My brother, God just bless you.”
“Oh shut up!”
Irikefe entered the room without bothering to knock.
“Bros I saw what happened,” he said.
“Bros no just gree.”
“That lawyer sister na your future bros.”
“What are you saying?”
Irikefe took the sit Maya vacated and said: “bros, you no see as she been dey look you?”
“Irikefe. I thought you saw what just happened?”
“That is what I am trying to address. Maya is an opportunist and you must not let it happen. The new girl is as fine. I saw the way he was looking at you.”
“I can’t believe this,” Ndifreke said.
“Bros no dulling abeg. Forget Maya. Move on to the new chic. And by the way, how all these fine girls dey take come this compound?”
“Irikefe. Maya is here claiming to carry my child when she has a boyfriend. Josephine is also playing games and soon Elizabeth will call me, that is if she doesn’t come down here to drag me to her place. And what is your solution? Another girl!”
“Bros make I analyze am. Maya is your ex. Nurse Jo…well, I no understand that one. Elizabeth, come on…even she knows she is history the moment you find someone your age. You are the finest boy on the street. Fine boys have these problems. You will be all right.”
“The new girl fine die! See height, see body, see face. And were you not already toasting her before Maya showed?”
“That was not what I was doing. I don’t want to talk about that now.”
“She has fallen for you bros. I checked the line outside and saw that she went and dried her pant under her towel shortly after she left you. The thing wet sotay she go remove am.”
“Oh Lord Irikefe.”
“No dulling bros. Don’t let Maya see the vacuum in your life to come back. That girl no try.”
“There is no vacuum in my life and she has a boyfriend.”
“Bros there is, and that man is not a boyfriend.”
Achike’s ears were fully tuned to every sound emanating from the other room. Chisco had played him. The idiot. And his mother in law did not even help matters by saying “Him no go disturb me bro Achike,” and saying to him “If e get as e do you for night make you call me you hear?” Achike was sure that Chisco would be writhing in pain all through the night for that attention. He kept straining his ears until he fell asleep as abruptly as a rousing orchestra in response to a conductor’s stop gesture.
She knew Chisco would make his move. She also knew that his son in law was awake. She closed her eyes and thought about Achike. She thought long and hard and then felt herself in his consciousness. Then she whispered “Sleep. Sleep my boy.” Achike immediately began to snore.
Eyonyam did not have to wait for long. She felt him reach her back like a magnet to an opposite pole. She felt his huge hardness in between the cheeks of her buttocks. He was so hard she was sure he would burst through her wrapper and penetrate her. Then his hands cupped her breasts and his fingers twiddled her nipples. He began to grunt like a bear.
How was this woman anybody’s mother in law? Chisco thought. Her breasts and buttocks felt better than any young girl’s he had been with. It must be the gains of early motherhood and bearing just the one child.
She began to roll her waist to match his own movement as he reached for the hem of her wrapper and pulled it up. She held his hand and turned to face him.
It was pitch dark but their eyes could make out each other. He was breathing hard. She chuckled and reached down and found his already naked and throbbing penis. He did not know where the oil came from, but he could feel the slipperiness as she began to stroke him. She squeezed, stroked hard and fast, slowed down… Chisco bit his lip and drew blood as he attempted to stop himself from howling from the extreme pleasure she was giving him. But he wanted more.
“Abeg make I enter now,” he whimpered.
She paid no attention to his words. She continued to pleasure him with her hands. He could not stop her even if he wanted to. Eyonyam knew what she was doing. Chisco started speaking in his mother tongue:
“Gbuo m nwaanyị Togo. gbuo m ooo!”
After five minutes of relentless stimulation, a big sound escaped Chisco’s lungs as Eyonyam directed his penis ceilingward and he ejaculated all over the room.
She laughed softly as he regained his breath.
“Why you do like that? Why you no let me enter?”
She brought her face closer to his and whispered “You no go fit fuck me.”
“Wetin you mean?”
She chuckled again and squeezed the tip of his penis and took his remnant semen in her index finger and drew something indiscernible on his chest and said: “your brother go kill you when him see wetin you pour for hin house.”
Chisco bolted upright. He found his shirt and a torch and started cleaning his mess.
Eyonyam turned her back to him and fell asleep instantly.
She had drawn the outlines of a canary and an owl on his chest.
Jide turned from his wife and faced the wall. He could not get the man out of his mind. He did not believe how lucky he was. He had been wondering how he was going to survive the lockdown without his lovers. The man was perfectly built. He clearly was a giver. Jide reached down and touched himself. He wanted it inside of him. From the stillness of his wife on the bed, he could tell that she was not sleeping. Then she said:
“Who are you thinking about now?”
“None of your business.”
“Please let me go Jide. I beg you.”
“Why should I do that?”
“We don’t belong together.”
“Yes, we do.”
She turned and faced the opposite side and began to sob.
Jide decided he was going to take his chance. He stood up and put on his shorts and singlet and stepped on to the corridor. His destination was the last two rooms before the bathroom and toilets. He turned the doorknob and the door gave. He was seated and smoking a cigarette.
“I knew you would come,” Inspector Akpan said.
The apparition moved through the corridor and the rooms. It could not find a place to anchor. It could perceive what was happening between Eyonyam and Chisco but there was nothing it could do about it. It checked and saw that Evae’s padlock was intact in her womb. That was already sealed before it departed the earth. She was now in her twelfth month and counting. Then it began to sense something familiar, something comforting. The two men. The force of their congress sucked him into the Inspector’s room. The apparition could feel more traction with its surroundings as it watched them. It went closer and found that it could touch and feel. It reached out and touched both their scrotums. Oh, it felt so good. As they continued he saw that the soul of the younger one was becoming feebler and feebler. Something was happening to it. It was his wife. Her tears. She was crying as he was being hammered like a stray dog. With every tear that dropped from her eyes, his soul wavered some more.
He was left exposed.
The apparition saw its chance. It went in quickly, displaced the weak soul and took hold of the body.
Inspector Akpan then felt the young man gain more strength suddenly. Then with what was clearly another voice, he heard the lawyer say “It is now my turn.”
Before he could explain that he only gave but did not receive the new man turned him over. The inspector then for the first time in his life, got penetrated. But it was not just that, he got to experience what Achike experienced in the hands of Agbonyibo in that compound over a year before.
As that was happening compound members were awakened to pounding in the kitchen. Everyone heard it this time. Kpoi, kpoi, kpoi, kpoi at 2 am.
Irikefe dialed Ndifreke’s number at once.
“Bros Freke. Did you hear that?”
“Loud and clear.”
“Jesus Christ of Nazareth!”
Everybody was awake. The compound WhatsApp group came alive.
Irikefe typed “Mama Akunna is in the kitchen.”
“We can all hear it now.”
“I am terrified.”
“What do we do now?”
“Nothing.” Mr Cosmas typed. “It will go away.”
“I am afraid.”
“Can I come to your room Mr. Cosmas?”
“You can come.”
“I am coming too.” Two other people wrote.
Irikefe, Ndifreke, and Josiah stole out of their rooms and went to Mr. Cosmas’ self-contain.
“How can we have this kind of thing this Easter? Today that Christ rose from the dead?” Josiah said. “It is bad enough that we are celebrating Easter in a lockdown. We also have ghosts for company!”
“Two years ago I spoke about this in this compound.” Mr. Cosmas began. “Unless you are new here I should repeat myself. Easter is fine. I do not say you should not celebrate. But know what you are celebrating.
Now hear this: Jesus did not rise in the flesh. There was no need for him to. The Almighty does not need to conduct a circus for humanity to believe in Him.
“Jesus went to heaven when he departed this earth. But he went as a spirit. In heaven, there are no bodies made of matter. Our physical bodies as they are cannot enter the spirit realm. They are not needed there. Physical bodies belong only on earth.
“The Almighty created the world and put in it self-acting laws. He is not a man to act on whims. He will not even change the laws for Himself. If he would, he could have dropped Jesus from the sky in the flesh. Instead, he followed His laws and had him born of a woman as that is the only way a spirit can incarnate into this world.
Heaven as you understand it is of a different, finer consistency that does not support matter. The human body is gross matter and belongs here on earth. There are no wardrobes for the flesh up there. It would be too cumbersome. Actually, it is impossible for it to get there in the first place. It is against the laws of God. Please understand this.
“The bible is replete with fantastic tales from Roman mythology and misrepresentations. Let’s not even talk about the confusing accounts of what transpired after the “resurrection” as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It all doesn’t add up.
“That he did not resurrect in the flesh does not make him less godly I must tell you. He is still seated at the right hand of the Almighty as the Prince of Peace but as a spirit. God is a spirit. He would be too heavy to enter heaven with his flesh, robes and sandals. Those things are useless where we are going.”
“So you mean we will be naked in heaven?” Irikefe said. “Will men and women be going for service together? I want to know now so I can stop peeping in the bathroom here. I will see everything I want to see when I get to heaven.”
“With a mind like yours, hellfire is where you are destined for,” Ndifreke said.
“There is no hellfire. At least God did not create one. But that is a story for another day.”
“Mr. Cosmas you have come with your story for another day,” Ndifreke said.
TO BE CONTINUED