Ndifreke walked into the room and found Mkpoikanna packing his things into a Ghana-must-go bag.
“Bro, what is this?”
“I dey go. You no dey treat me well.”
“Na me bring you come this compound. As you finish school ya papa call me ask me whether you fit come stay with me find work. I gree. Okay, things come bad for me. Corona come make dem pursue me for wharf. I no get handwork. God come bless you you come dey give me food. You come rent this two-room when Alhaji repair the house finish. After I don thank God say I don climb upstairs, na im because of woman you want make I follow you go down again, for dat room wey near toilet wey I go dey swallow smell of shit morning and night. Eyeneka, iyo! I no want. I dey pack my things go Ojuelegba. I go go follow those boys live for moto park. One day dem go pity me put me inside Akwa Ibom motor make I go back to village.”
“No way bro. What has come over you? I appreciate everything you have done for me. You are my brother! Maya is only a woman who will find life difficult living there.”
“Me nko? Dem tell you say I go find life simple? I know say every night you go follow am go sleep for up, I go dey dia alone make dat Ability abi na Iniquity come cut my neck.”
“Don’t be ridiculous bro. Iniquity will not cut your neck.” Whispering, Ndifreke said “Maya is a girl. He could sneak in and rape her and her sister at night! Think about it!”
“Me nko? Den no dey rape man for this compound? E get wetin dem no dey do hia? Abi you no hear say Iniquity been dey sleep with oga Agbonyibo?”
“Iniquity dey sleep man and woman! Wetin I go tell my Papa when I reach home if another man come fuck my nyash wey hunger don already dry finish?”
“My God Bro Mkpoikanna. That is not true.”
“Okay, him no sell ya keke?”
“What if him carry me go sell?”
“For goodness sake how can Iniquity go and sell you? Are you a bicycle?”
“Dem dey use person make money now! Him fit carry me go Ijebu go sell me! You go dey with ya Maya you no go know say dem don cut my head put me inside wardrobe make I dey vomit money!”
“Jesus bro Mkpo that only happens in Nollywood!”
“You don dey follow dem call me Mkpo! I no be anything for ya eye again. Leave me make I pack my load dey go!”
“No way bro. I can’t do that. You gave me shelter when I had nothing. I can’t let you go out there and go and live in the motor park.”
“Okay. So make we stay here. Make Maya go stay for the room wey hin rent.”
“I can’t do that either bro. It is too risky.”
“So you care for Maya pass me. Ordinary woman o! Woman wey another man dey fuck!”
“Don’t you dare say that again!” Ndifreke said with his eyes bulging out of their sockets.
“You see.You see ya life? You wan beat me now.”
Mkpoikanna finished packing by putting his bathroom slippers in the bag. He slung it over his shoulder and said, “I dey go. When I reach home I go tell ya Papa and ya Mama. I go tell dem wetin you don turn to for Lagos.”
Ndifreke sat down and watched Mkpoikanna walk out of the room with the bag containing his belongings. He then fell on the bed and covered his face with his hands and cried himself to sleep.
He drifted in and out of consciousness for about thirty minutes before he picked himself up. He had work to do. He called on Irikefe and Castro who helped him to move his things downstairs. Mkpoikanna was right about the room but there no going back for Ndifreke now. What he would do would be to volunteer to wash the toilet more often, even when it was not his turn. He would be able to hold his own against Iniquity.
Once he was settled downstairs in his new place he strode out to the frontage where the men were already seated and discussing. They talked about the corruption in the NDDC and Akpabio’s denial that he said the lawmakers benefitted from contracts. They talked about the killings in Southern Kaduna and the irony of our President flying to Mali on Peace mission while his own house burned. They talk about Big brother just starting and housemates already pairing up in bed. They talked about the possible outcome of the last day of the English Premier League with three clubs battling for a two champions league places and the equally enthralling relegation battle. Then someone looked up from his phone and announced that #ArrestBuhari was trending on Twitter. They were joined by the Alfa who the men told to rein his son in or else the compound will go to the police and have him evicted for criminal activities and habouring a criminal. The Alfa was adamant that compound members were part of the problem because they called his son Iniquity. His name was Usman. If people called him Usman Iniquity would be far from him! the Alfa opined.
None of it interested Ndifreke. He kept watching the road for the arrival of Maya. She had been there the previous day to clean the rooms downstairs. He had seen how displeased she was that she was going to be living there. He had not said anything to her. Giving up his place upstairs was intended as a surprise. Irikefe would lead her upstairs when she arrived and then tell her what Ndifreke had done. He glanced at his watch again. It was 5pm. When was she arriving?
Chisco sat outside the whole day. The thing about face-me-I-face-you compounds was that no one worried anyone about trespassing. You only elicited worry if you entered the compound and entered somebody’s room. If you stayed outside the whole day, everybody would think you were the guest of somebody and would leave you alone. In Chisco’s case, they already knew him, so even though Achike did not want him hanging around, he was powerless to stop him from doing so. Achike made sure to ignore him.
Chisco took a seat in front of Mama Cowbell’s shop and bought rice and beans and washed it down with agbo. No one had forgotten that there was coronavirus. They bore in mind that it killed the big people and for the small people, they just needed a cup of agbo a day and they were guaranteed longer life.
Chisco finished his meal and prophylactic and stayed on to watch the compound. He saw the Alfa and family return. He saw Iniquity and his disinterest. Then he saw Wasiu, aimless and dejected seated on the soakaway slab. Chisco walked up to him.
“Ojoo nwata! Who remove you from prison?”
“Cisco! Na your eye be dis? Omo na government o! Dem say make we no share coro inside there.”
“See o! Your eye don correct finish o! Thank God.”
Wasiu and the thug Ibadan had attacked Chisco more than a year before and nearly rendered him blind in one eye as he took it upon himself to protect Josephine from a double rape. It surprised Chisco that Wasiu would mention that now.
“Yes na true. My eye don good again,” Chisco said. Now he wanted to just go away.
“Why you siddon here like this,” Chisco said.
“Oboy I dey think about my life o. I no even know where I go start from. Abeg you fit follow me go councillor house? Make I see wetin I fit go carry from my property. I get blanket wey I fit take go park go sleep this night.”
Chisco thought about it. He remembered when Achike had thrown him out and he went to sleep at the motor park and Wasiu let him stay in his room.
“Alright we go go. But you fit come stay with me for my place.”
“You mean am?”
“Yes. You let me stay with you before. Now na my turn.”
“Omo! Abeg take five!”
They did the high-five and both stood and embraced with only their shoulders touching.
“Thanks man.” Wasiu said.
“But you no go sell igbo for my house o!”
“No na. you think say that prison dey sweet? I wan ask this yeye Irikefe whether I fit come continue that Mama Akunna ogogoro business for here.”
“Why you wan do that kind thing?”
“I been learn from Mama. Money dey the thing. I miss the old woman mehn!”
“Abeg no talk dat kind nonsense. You miss who?”
“Mama Akunna na. You know say I be her boy.’”
“Na true. Oloshi boy!” Chisco enthused and they both laughed.
“Dem say Mama na winch. I no see her like dat.”
“You no go see am like dat na. Winch no dey touch people wey dey smoke igbo.”
Wasiu laughed and said “True. I know dat one since.”
“So now wey dem kill my mama for me, winch no dey dis compound again ba?”
Just then Eyonyam came out of the compound, looked around before proceeding down Katakata street. She must be going out to buy something. Chisco gritted his teeth.
“See de new winch dia!” Chisco said.
“Na lie!” Wasiu gasped.
“No be your broda wife mama be dat?”
“Winch dey fine? Winch dey get that kind body?”
“Na me dey tell you.”
“How you take know?”
“You no know say I be medicine man for my village?” Chisco said.
“Omo! Abeg how I go take join?”
“Which kind nonsense talk be dat?”
“I wan fuck dat woman aswear. See waist!”
“Na because of dat you wan join winch?”
“Wetin I kuku dey good for? Maybe if I become winch I go dey useful for life.”
“You no well.”
“But I want the woman. Help me na Cisco.”
“I want make de woman disappear. I want make she comot for my broda house.”
Wasiu thought about it. The woman was beautiful and he wanted her. It was more than a year since he had been with one. He did not stand a chance if he wanted to go and proposition her. But he could make her disappear if he wanted. He had been in prison with boys who were in for kidnapping. They shared many stories and he often thought that if he would comit any crime outside of drug peddling it would be seizing someone. He only needed a hideout for a few days. Two of the boys that might help were released the same day as he. He knew where to find them if he wanted their help. He would get his woman and also get Chisco such that he would be guaranteed of a place to stay forever if he wanted. Chisco would be an accomplice afterall.
“You say you want make she disappear?”
“Dem no go find am?”
“Na him Togo people go come find am?”
“Your broda nko?”
“Wetin hin fit do?”
“Okay. First follow me go councillor house make I go take my things make we dey go your place. I know wetin I go do.”
Ndifreke looked up when someone asked Mr Cosmas about his statement that the Holy Spirit of God did not dwell inside of man.
“It is not something you must worry yourself about too much. It does not make you any less spiritual. Just that man thinks of himself too highly in the grand scheme of things. Man thinks he is the centre of the world. There are those who believe the universe comprises only heaven and earth and the Almighty exists to pander to their whims and caprices. That is why a preacher can go on the alter and say that he drank tea with the Almighty. Why you will hear them always say “God said to me”, all of which are not possible because of the vastness of the Almighty and the distance between Him and us in creation.
“Without even going into technicalities, think about it rationally. Can God lie? Is God confused? Those who say he gave them revelations and yet the revelation never came to pass…are they not liars? Doesn’t that tell you that it is not the Almighty that speaks to them? That still small voice that speaks to you is your own spirit. It transmits from the Spirit realm where there are numerous helpers before you can get near to the Almighty which is still impossible. You are spirit while the Almighty is Divine. Two different species the vastness you can’t even comprehend.
“The Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 40:15 had a fair idea of this when he said “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are considered a speck of dust on the scales…”
“The whole world equals a mere drop in the bucket! A speck of dust! If you understood the might of the Almighty you will tremble at the mention of His name. Understand this you man and realize that you cannot drink tea with Him and he cannot stay inside you. You carry a spirit that allows you to exercise your free will. You carry a spark that connects you to the place you will return to at the end of your sojourn on earth. The Almighty has given you all you need and has no need to come and live inside you. Nothing entered inside of you on the day of Pentecost to teach you anything new!
“The Almighty is like an artist who creates his work and stands beside it. You can sense the artist in the work, you know the message he portrays but he himself stands outside of his work. And as an artist He is not limited to just one work. There are numerous other worlds and beings in other places swinging in the will of the Almighty such that the earth can vanish today and he will continue to be from everlasting to everlasting. That is not the sort of Being that will live inside you.”
As Ndifreke mulled Mr Cosmas’s words the moment he had been waiting for all day arrived. A truck pulled up carrying Maya’s belongings. The meeting dispersed as everyone thronged out to welcome Maya. Ndifreke also sighted Clementina. She had grown so much from a year before when he last saw her. Irikefe broke it to Maya that she would be staying upstairs courtesy of Ndifreke. Maya looked around for him and saw him and nodded in his direction. Then everyone joined hands to help her move her things inside.
Maya did not pay any more attention to Ndifreke. Ndifreke saw that that was so because a man he did not know, early thirties, tall and muscular after helping to put her things inside did not leave with the truck that had brought them.
The man was living with Maya.
TO BE CONTINUED.