The rains came and for the first time for as long as anyone could remember, compound members did not need to bail water from their rooms. In fact, during the first heavy rain since they returned to the compound, when they waited and saw that indeed Alhaji Sirika’s intervention had solved the water problem, Josiah proposed a toast and they all cheered albeit with empty hands.
“I will buy a crate of coke and keep it under my bed and wait for the next time it rains like this. If everywhere is still dry, we will do a proper toast with something in our hands!” he had said.
“A toast in Number 225 with only one crate of mineral. That means some will drink and some will go for issorait!” Achike teased.
“It is a toast. Even if it is one-one drop of the coke in a cup, that is enough. But seriously it calls for celebration.”
“From now also we can also be doing like normal people do when it rains. Enter your room, lock your door and shine some congo,” Irikefe said.
“Just make sure you have consent,” Jide said. “We all remember the last time somebody tried something like that without consent here.”
They all laughed and Irikefe scratched his head. Still undeterred he said, “When you are at it, I recommend slow and passionate. Hold your woman tight. Hold your man tight. Exchange body heat. I don’t want to hear tatatatata. That is not for rain. That is for when you want to release tension after a hard day in this Buhari’s economy. All of you unromantic men learn the difference. Let God just give me a wife!”
“Ask him for a job first. Sex therapist isonu.” Josiah said.
And so when the council of Elders sat that evening with everyone present, Mr Zubi decided to start the day’s deliberations from there.
“The first time we did not believe our eyes. Now it has rained several times and all we need to do is to close our doors and windows and stay indoors. We are very pleased. We are also pleased that Achike’s mother-in-law is back alive and well. We thank God that He did not allow us to hear any more bad news. Now, gentlemen, we can continue our normal lives and hope for the best this election season.
“What best are we hoping for? Already the ghost of 2015 is here again. Tinubu has no certificate like Buhari never had and he is the likeliest successor. Who did we offend in this country?”
“He is not the likeliest successor, please. Have you not heard of Peter Obi? Are you not OBIdient?”
“And who says Atiku is a pushover? He is the principal Northerner in the race. A Fulani for that matter. Those people regard the presidency as their inheritance from the British and their region is the most politically aware in Nigeria. When you people in the South will be playing football on the empty streets on Election Day, all their men, women, children, and cows will be at the polling station casting votes. I suspect that they will also close ranks and vote their man Atiku.”
“See, postulate what you may, the OBIdient movement is like EndSars. In fact, it is almost the same players – The Youths. We are tired of these recycled thieves. Have you not noticed that neither Atiku nor Tinubu has used the word corruption since they started their campaigns? They are two of the most corrupt men in our history and if we don’t do anything, we are in for another eight years of fleecing. We may not survive it this time.”
“Well, Tinubu has no certificate. I don’t think it will go away as Buhari’s did. He may be disqualified.”
“Underestimate that man at your own peril.”
“They said he would rather insist he has no certificates than to produce them because then his real name and origin would be known. He is said to have changed names after he was prosecuted for drug crimes in the US.”
“Omo! See impending drama. Make I ready my plantain chips and cold zobo.”
“Did you hear that the US has outlawed abortion? Mr Cosmas did you talk to Biden?”
There was mild laughter and Mr Cosmas spoke. “Yes. Great news from the week. But California I think is still defiant. How a State can go against a Supreme Court ruling I don’t understand but as it is, all of America cannot go to California to get an abortion so the ruling will have a considerable impact and it is a good thing. You know that developing countries like to mimic the West. We can be certain that with that ruling we will not be going near any kind of legislation that would encourage such. Prevent pregnancy. Use condoms. Take pills. Do whatever you can but once there is conception, have your baby. Whether it is defective, ill, poor, or whatever, it is a life that must be lived. As you roll together in this weather better know what you are doing.”
“Gentlemen, I’m sorry to spoil the mood but Mr Zubi just said we have returned to normal life because our rooms did not flood and Achike’s mother-in-law is back home. I reported the case of my stolen pot of soup and that is forgotten already. I thought you people said you set up this council to take care of such things?”
“Erm Mr Jide” Mr Zubi began.
“Oga sit down” Irikefe interjected. “God will bless you Oga lawyer. I’m glad you could see for yourself. Every day you will sit here and talk about the government and corruption but sweep important matters under the carpet. Well, Alhaji Sirika has restored me back as the caretaker. I was waiting for Mr Zubi to do the right thing and announce it but since he has decided to play to the gallery, as usual, I am taking back control. If anybody has a problem with that they can phone Alhaji.”
They knew Irikefe was telling the truth. Mr Zubi did not like it that the Landlord did not tell him first but he also knew that Alhaji Sirika did not care about pleasing anyone and always acted arbitrarily. Irikefe was saying, “Now, Iniquity or whatever you call yourself. You have twenty-four hours to settle lawyer Jide or you and your family will receive a quit notice.”
Alfa stood up and said, “I already said I will pay for the pot of soup. Here is 3,500 young man. I will pay the balance later.”
“Baba I told you I will take care of my shit. Keep your money. I will see you after the meeting brother Jide,” he said with a smirk.
“There is no need. I will deal with your father.”
“As the caretake, I say that this old man be left out of this. Let the person that stole the soup pay for it.”
“That is not for you to say. I had agreed to deal with Alfa while you were doing god-knows-what the other day.”
“Anyway, let us sort that out. That is what this council is for and I will make sure we tackle these kinds of matters.”
Castro approached him from behind and spoke in his ears. Irikefe glared at him and said to the hearing of everyone, “I have another plan for that.”
Elizabeth held her temple and struggled to suppress a scream. What had she just heard?
“We knew you would know what to do. Castro here wanted me to mention it in our compound meeting but I knew it would be of no use. People would see you on the road tomorrow and say “see that fine aunty? Her boyfriend is sleeping with a little girl in their compound. So I said the best thing to do is to report it to you.”
“How long has this been going on?” She managed to say.
“Ah, it’s been long o. Almost as soon as the girl came down from the taxi when they moved in and he saw that her breasts were now big. We did not like it. I spoke to him about it. I told him to think about his reputation and the reputation of the people that love him. But he would not listen. He hated it that we were advising him. Then as soon as we made one small mistake he sacked us.”
“You don’t work for him anymore?”
“He didn’t tell you? Well, we are not surprised. He knows you will ask him why and he cannot give a good reason. When last did you see him?”
“Two weeks or so. Frankly, when you knocked I thought he was the one.”
“He will not come. As e don see new nyash so? Aunty you will not see him until they have broken his heart.”
Elizabeth sighed and shook her head. Bastard, she thought.
“Does Maya know?”
“We don’t know how to tell her. The last time she was pregnant someone told her that Ndifreke was in bed with the nurse and she fell down and had a miscarriage. We don’t want that to happen this time so we have not said anything.”
“He told me what happened that day. He wasn’t in bed with the nurse. But that is by the way. Maya will have to know about this. It is her little sister that is being exploited by no other than her boyfriend and the father of her child. Good lord!”
“They are claiming they are not together anymore but we know our bros.”
Elizabeth thought for a while and then said, “Thanks for coming boys. You can now leave.”
“What will you do? You will deal with him right?”
“Leave that to me.”
Josephine looked at his sleeping form and shuddered. How did it happen? She had felt secure in her free-spiritedness. But there she was looking at a man and feeling as though her heart would stop if he was no longer there. She did not know if it was the European in him. For she had known many good-looking men, men who could cook, men who could fuck, men who could do chores, even men who had money and were ready to spend it. Apart from the money, which Josephine was convinced would come; he did everything else to an added degree. He never raised his voice at her, listened better than a priest at confession, and was protective but not possessive. He would laugh it off when someone ogled her in public or made catcalls or any such aberrant behaviours. It had begun to worry her that he was not even jealous until a man touched her bum at the bus stop and he delivered an uppercut so smooth the fellow woke up the following day in the emergency ward of their hospital. He let her do the things she wanted. Never checked her phone. Never demanded an explanation for anything. He trusted her like an infant would its mother. Once he knew his Spanish was her weakness, he would deliver a sweet sentence when he could have cussed. Sing to her in it when she felt low, and the meanest of all was he cooing the words when he was deep inside her. Each time her legs would begin to shake even if he just entered her. But he never just entered her. Every time they made love was a session of body worship. He never wanted to know if she was sweaty and sticky, was on her period, or had just pooed. His tongue went everywhere, his fingers touched everything. Night was day and day was night. How could a woman now prevent herself from falling in love?
He seemed to have read her thought, turned in his sleep and kissed her naked thigh, and drifted off again. Was he even human? What sort of sweetness was this?
She continued to reminisce until he stirred awake. Then for the first time, she looked at him and saw worry etched on his face.
“What is it Señor?”
“I have been thinking mi amor. It’s been months now since I have been back. Remember my plan of opening a bar around here? I spoke to Irikefe the other day and he said the shop previously occupied by the barber would soon be available.”
“Si mi amor.”
“And he will give it to you?”
“That’s good news.”
“I suggest you commit him with money so he doesn’t give it to another person. Then when Lukman removes his things you just move in.”
“Si,” he said and then looked away.
“What is it my Sunshine?”
“Errm I don’t want to trouble you with my problems mi amor.”
“No no no please don’t say that.” She gathered his face in her hand and searched his eyes. Your problem is my problem. If you don’t tell me, whom will you tell? Is it pregnant Maya or little Clementina? You are my man.”
“Si. It’s just that, you know, it is not gentlemanly.”
“I need a loan. The shop is N360,000 a year and then with agency fees, lawyer fees, and everything else I will be paying about N500,000. I have N100,000.”
“Is that what you couldn’t tell me?”
“Si. A gentleman only provides and not take.”
“Nonsense. We are partners. I know that if you have you will do the same for me. I will give you the money.”
“Oh mi amor!” he said and jumped on his feet and Josephine stood too. Tears touched her eyes as she saw how happy he was. He was just like a little boy. A sweet little boy.
“Once we pay, we will start getting the furniture and then begin to plan for the drinks and bar food.”
“What bar food?”
“Oh, a light menu of burgers, chips, and those types of things people enjoy their beers with. I know Maya talked about point and kill and things like that. But we can do something different. I have a picture of a small bar in Malloca where I first waited tables. I’ll replicate it here. We will dare to be different.”
“In that case, you will need more than N500,000.”
“Apparently,” He said and immediately lost his mirth.
Josephine would not let that be. Her smiling prince was everything lacking in the world.
“I can squeeze out another N300,000.” All the money in her savings account was N1,200,000. But she believed in her man. He was brilliant and had an enthusiasm for what he wanted to do. She would believe in him and support him.
Joseph moved in and began to kiss her.
“Te amo y te haré sentir orgullosa”
“What does that mean Señor?”
“It means I love you and I will make you proud.”
“I’m sure you will my love.”
Joseph then kissed her fully and pushed his tongue into her mouth for her to suck on. Then he said another sentence in Spanish and a well burst in her loins. He removed her large t-shirt and gasped at her luscious body and then he scooped her and she wrapped her legs around him. She expected him to take her back to the bed but instead, he seemed to find an extra hand with which he guided his stiff penis into her and gathered her huge bottom cheeks in his hands and began to fuck her standing. She threw her hands over his neck and her eyes rolled to the back with supreme pleasure as he shafted her from an angle she had not known before, loosening her tongue to produce whatever words entered her mouth at that moment. He could not hear her. He was not listening. He was enjoying himself way too much. And imagining himself in his white shirt and bow tie running a bar like Katakata Street had never seen before with her money.
The weather was cool even though it had not rained that day. Cool enough for Jide and Funbi to keep their door closed while they played a game of cards. He had not touched her that day; she had sensed he needed a break. The soup thing seemed to bother him more than it should have.
“So his father is paying?” She said as she slammed a Whot and he grimaced.
“How come no one is mentioning Wasiu in this?’
“Everyone agrees it is not Wasiu’s way. The Iniquity boy just needed someone to accompany him and the homeless Wasiu did not want to offend him.”
“I think we should just forget about it.”
“Even if we do, the compound will not forget. It is a bad precedent.”
“But you just said they were reluctant to talk about it in the meeting.”
“Mr Zubi was. You know he is a politician. I should make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Someone knocked on their door.
Jide and Funbi exchanged looks.
Jide stood up and went to the door. He cracked it open and peered outside.
“Won’t you let me in?”
“Why would I do that?”
“I have the balance soup money”
“Give it to me.”
Iniquity offered the money and when Jide stretched out his hand to collect it, he held Jide’s hands, managed to tickle his palm with a finger, and then maintained the grip on Jide’s hand.
“I want to apologize to your woman.”
Iniquity could see how he struggled to keep eye contact with him. Jide felt like his legs could no longer support him. The body sensations triggered by the hand play were almost constricting his chest.
“Let me in,” Iniquity said and released his grip on Jide.
Jide stepped aside and Iniquity entered the room.
Funbi had quietly observed what was happening and was now watching Jide as Iniquity sat down. He could no longer look at her. There were sweat beads on his forehead and his hands now seemed to be protecting arousal that had nothing to do with her. But she could also sense his suffering.
She had once fantasized about a moment like this when the three of them would get at each other. But watching Jide now she felt revulsion and shame and pity. Jide had never looked at her the way he looked at Iniquity at the door moments earlier. Even though she knew he was queer and wanted to change his nature, it did not ease the agony of seeing a man she had now surrendered to show a desire for another like himself more than anything she had seen before, much less from Jide himself towards her, even when she had offered her body to him as an instrument of restitution. But then he suffered. She could see that as well. His body had won the battle over his soul. In the poignant silence in which they sat, she saw that they had made their decision already. She sensed that they were only awaiting her cue, which could have been anything: a word, a sigh, a cough, or the slightest movement of the body. They were ready to rumble. She was a participating referee who now had only seconds to blow the whistle. She did. But it was not what they expected.
“Get out of here!” she said quietly.
Jide sprang up like he just woke up from a train wreck and remembered his missing luggage.
“Get out!” She screamed at Iniquity who had a smirk on his face.
Jide sat back aghast. Iniquity began to laugh. He then left his chair, stretched a hand to touch Funbi’s cheek, and then from out of nowhere light exploded in his eyes.
The look on his face following the slap jolted Jide back to the present. As a legal intern years back, he had learnt to read facial expressions in order to get into the minds of hardened criminals, those ones whom you knew were already plotting their next malfeasance even when faced with inevitable jail time. It was a dangerous look.
“Do as she has said, Buddy. We will accept the money but don’t try it again.”
He slowly rubbed his cheek and then turned and left the room.
Funbi sat back, covered her face in her palm, and began to sob. Jide touched her shoulder tentatively. She shrugged his hand away. Then he squatted before her and said, “I thought it was what you wanted.”
She looked up and studied his face.
“I gave you what you wanted,” she said.
Jide scratched his head.
“Stop deceiving yourself Jide.”
She shook her head and stood up and entered the bedroom.
Moments later, they heard voices in the corridor and the Alfa’s hawling in Hausa. The compound gathered in front of their room. Alfa had walked in and found Iniquity naked on top of his sister who was also naked.
TO BE CONTINUED