“They ran away. And just like her husband before her, they swept the rooms clean and left only the dead body for us.”
“Where did they pass bikonu?” Mr Zubi said.
“Ask me. If that woman and her daughter leave that room carrying a mountain on their heads would you notice? Is it not those god-forsaken waists you would put your eyes on?”
“There is something about the ikebes of women from other African countries aswear. This may not be apparent to a white man or an Indian. But we Nigerians know that a South African or Ugandan or even a Ghanaian bottom comes different even if comparable in size to those of our women. They have a subtle dimensional variation that precipitates a loss of tranquillity in us. We have now discovered that even little Togo produces life-consuming ones as well.”
“Oga Lawyer! All this English over bumbum. God help us!”
“I wonder if men from those countries feel the same way about Nigerian nyash.”
“I’m glad you said nyash. Our women have nyash. Endowed women from those countries have something you want to find another name for. Scroll through instagram. The moment you saw a foreign one you just knew!”
“Elite Nigerian ones are now being corrupted with BBL. They do surgery and put foam inside and it stays forever. Nigeria always takes the lead with such nonsense.”
“If you want to talk nonsense, you should at least get your facts right. It is not foam they surgically put in the bottom. It is fat from other parts of the body.”
“Ndifreke, Josiah, Jide, concerned neighbours from number 223. Are we seriously discussing the anatomy of African women when we have a dead body on our hands? Not only that, the killers fled right under our noses. They did not only flee, they removed everything he owned in broad daylight and no one noticed! But it is their bottom that gets the attention of my neighbours!” Mr Zubi said.
There was silence for a minute and then Josiah spoke.
“Yes, we are discussing the anatomy of African women Mr Zubi. We are because in finding a lasting solution to this tragedy, we must get to the bottom of the matter.”
“Now that was smooth Oga Josiah,” Ndifreke said.
“This is not a joke.”
“Of course, it isn’t. Tell me Mr Zubi, have you been yourself since those women came to this compound? Or we should begin by saying what we know about everybody’s behaviour since they came?”
“That is beside the point Josiah. Whatever you think of my behaviour, I did not kill Achike and steal his things and vanished like smoke. Can’t you see? It is wicked and baffling. Everything is possible in number 225 Katakata Street except absolute secrecy. It can only happen by means not physical and that is why I worry. Who were those people? Who was Agbonyibo and his women? Why did they come here in the first place?”
There was another pause before Josiah resumed.
“Mr Zubi, Achike is in the mortuary and the police are doing their jobs. As for the mysterious clearing of the room, Agbonyibo did it and we know he was a wizard of the highest order. How did we think that a man like that would not put his wife and child where he belonged? The first thing we should have done as soon as we found out about that man was to send his family away forever. We do not share space with witches. We banish them. Even the bible says we should burn them. That brings me to the question of their anatomy as you call it. Maybe now we should be open about our lustfulness in this compound. After Awero we promised ourselves we will not see that kind of death here again. I remember it was the reason we started these council meetings. But what did we do to prevent a reoccurrence? Nothing. There have been many near misses. Eyes have been lost. Heads split open. Innumerable physical combats. Many of those could have resulted in more deaths. Each time something happened, we sat here and instead of talking about how we were letting our genitals let us down, we only wanted to know who threw the first punch. Now it has happened again. So today, we will talk about that anatomy. Because if those women did not have that type of nyash we would have acted with clearer heads and Achike would still be alive today.”
“With all due respect to the dead,” Irikefe said with his face contorted to the degree of his disgust. “Achike no try. Nyash wey all of us dey use appreciate the kingdom, e reach him turn Achike marry am. He married the daughter and still kept the mother for himself. Who does that? I know say we too dey fuck for this compound but let’s call a spade a spade, Achike own too much. He was greedy. If one big nyash can kill a man, wetin him think say two go do am? Una surprise say load disappear for broad daylight. Una say una no know say dem be winch because dem get big foreign nyash. Make God forgive una.”
The men of 225 Katakata Street had come to accept that Irikefe only grew up to be a man who spoke his mind no matter whose ox was gored. While he was impetuous and mischievous before, now he was forthright and fearless. If the older men felt sore with his take, they did well not to show it. They were relieved to see that Mr Cosmas was itching to speak next.
“Gentlemen, this has been most unfortunate. But is anyone here really surprised? While I take exception to some use of language here already, I must admit that Josiah and Efe have made good points. However, we must be careful that we do not sit here and judge. We are in no such position. All of you here would have done what Achike did given the opportunity. Was it not in a meeting like this that Agbonyibo offered his daughter to us? We saw some of you turn into donkeys following that. You have turned sexual relations given to us as a means of expressing love in loving relationships into a life mission. It has become a propensity that has enslaved your soul and will surely be the end of you. You will be chained by your genitalia to this earth for thousands of years if you don’t free yourselves while you have the opportunity. Even if those women had put placards on their heads announcing that they were witches, some of you would have followed them anywhere still.
“You attack each other to kill just so that you can have some cheap release. Children are no longer children so long as you can find a passage. Shame. I hope you learn from Achike. Dying like that is not the end you want. Because it will not be the end at all. It will be the beginning of an existence you did not think possible. He who has ears let him hear.”
Mr Kingsley cleared his throat.
“Get yourselves and your families out of this place if you can. No one should live like this.” Looking directly at Mr Cosmas he continued. “Say whatever you will homeboy, but in a cramped house where everybody can see everybody’s bedroom and we all use the bathrooms at the same time and bump into each other willy-nilly in the corridor, at the backyard, at the frontage, on the staircase, everywhere! We live like animals so we fuck like animals! I don’t know how you do it Cosmas but for the rest of you,” he said looking around, “I repeat, get out of here if you want salvation.”
He went back to stroking his beard with seeming disinterest. He did not quote anyone. That was the gospel according to Mr Kingsley. An original.
“There are no mistakes in creation,” Mr Cosmas said. “You are all here because you are meant to be here. You are to experience these tragedies to find the impetus to mend your ways. When something bad happens to others, the right attitude is to look within and strive to free yourself of similar faults as theirs. You can make all the excuses you want Kingsley. It is not a sin to be poor and live where you can afford to. We still have people in this compound who have lived honourably and they are not eunuchs. This is not the only compound like this on Katakata Street yet we have buried more people, have had more hospital admissions and more police cases than the rest of the street combined. There is a reason why this is happening. See the opportunity it offers for your spiritual growth.
“You may live like animals but you are not animals. You are spirit. But until you recognize this and awaken, you are no different from an animal because you have the same material consistency as an animal therefore your bodies would behave in the same way as that of an animal. But your spirit is what makes you different. An awareness of this is how you subjugate the animal flesh and bring it under control. It is OK to strive for better living conditions but what is more important is to recognize your higher standing and adjust your life accordingly. Wait your turn in the bathroom without peeping at your neighbour’s wife. Walk the corridor or the backyard or wherever and be conscious of the fact that these are shared spaces and don’t fake bumping into people so that you could touch them. That someone’s door is open does not mean you should strain your neck to see the colour of their bed sheets. You behave the way you do because you do not have self-control or even self-awareness. You are unaware of what makes you different from an animal!
“When you get to the beyond, you will find yourself in the midst of lustful beings like you who are harming themselves relentlessly because that is what they lived for. No one will ask if you were living in a mansion or a shack. Achike will awaken and see others who were more affluent than he was but with similar propensity in the same place as he and he will recognize that he was not there just because he shared a room with his mother-in-law. Quit looking for excuses and work on yourselves. If they catch Chisco he will die by hanging by the letter of the law and no one will care that he was not living in a flat. People in mansions and even King David from a palace found a way to seduce his neighbour’s wife. A propensity is engraved on your soul because of how much you have fed it. If you were to wake up to your faults and decide to free yourselves in a place like this, you are better than a man who goes into seclusion or runs to a bigger house because he cannot face his weakness. He falls flat the day he ventures out. Give thanks for where you have found yourself. See the opportunity it accords you for your upwards striving and grab it. You are not here by mistake.”
“Erm Mr Cosmas. What did you say about Achike waking up in the beyond?” Mama Cowbell’s husband asked.
“When you die, you wake up in a region corresponding with how you were inside. The law of spiritual homogeneity will take you to souls who are like you. If you were a murderer, you will all be attacking each relentlessly to kill but you will not die because you are no longer in the flesh. You will suffer the viciousness of the attack and this can continue for thousands of years until there is genuine repentance and a cry for help following which a hand will be extended to you. If you were lustful you will find yourself amongst your kind. Imagine being attacked sexually for eternity. Do you think you enjoy sex? Wait until you die by sex and wake up where all you do is have sex for the rest of your existence. Seek ye the kingdom of God and its righteousness you have been told. If you spend your life seeking anything else, you just might find it. And it will not be what you expected. Awake!”
Jide Falomo did not care about where he woke up when he died. He was happy that at the moment he woke up in the midst of men and spoke like a man. No one lifted a brow in the council meeting when he led the discussion about the anatomy of the African woman. He pinched himself afterwards when he remembered his takes, particularly the fluidity of his finishing remarks. “There is something about the ikebes of women from other African countries aswear. This may not be apparent to a white man or an Indian. But we Nigerians know that a South African or Ugandan or even a Ghanaian bottom comes different even if it is comparable in size to those of our women. They have a subtle dimensional variation that precipitates a loss of tranquillity in us.” That last line was the best one. The best thing yet was going back into the room and finding Funbi lying on her right side of the bed facing the wall and her equally distinct Nigerian bum making a good impression on him.
She did not know if she was dreaming. She was in no hurry to pursue her curiosity. No way did she want to wake up yet. It was what she missed most about her last relationship – when he crept up behind her and spooned her, his arms around her, his broad chest ingesting all of her back, and his stiffness threatening to drill a new hole into her until she adjusted her hips enough to make it rest correctly before her rapidly moistening vulva until he was ready to take her. He did not usually rush. He knew how much she loved the spooning so he held her like that until he heard her mourn of readiness. If he wanted to be kind, he quickly lifted her legs apart at the knee and entered her. On some occasions he let her squirm in anticipation and grind herself onto him. He would chuckle silently and wait until she took the initiative and lifted her legs and guided him in from the rear or sprung up and straddled him. She found that when he let her take the initiative he lasted longer. He would let her ride him until she got tired and then he would turn her over and destroy her. She always woke up five hours later wondering what month of the year it was. She missed him so much but she knew it had to end. His wife, her sister, found out and made sure the whole world knew what she had been doing for the four years she lived in her home. The only person that took her in was the friend in a sham marriage with a gay man. Her heart began to accelerate as it became increasingly clear that she was not dreaming. A man was spooning her and touching her delightedly. It could only be one man. But what if it was an intruder? What if it was Iniquity? The thought got her flying out of his warm embrace. She dug her knee into the mattress and faced her companion. It was not a dream. It was who she wanted it to be. The beautiful man she had cohabited with for two years since his wife left him.
He chuckled at the initial alarm in her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak but he stretched his index finger and thumb and pressed her lips together. What was there to say? It was at times like this that the limitations of words became too apparent. Slowly she laid back down and backed him again, then with quiet excitement she pushed her bottom into his hardness and reached for his arms and wrapped them over herself. He pressed himself into her and even began to caress her breasts and twiddle her nipples through her silk nightie. It was wonderful to finally see him do what she always wanted him to do. She reached behind and felt his hardness. She could feel his face spreading into a smile at her back, where he had been sniffing deliciously around her neck. She did not want to ruin this by taking the initiative as she had always done. She was always quick to guide him into her once she sensed the coming of his hardness before it lost it. When they did the missionary style she would look into his face and his closed eyes and know he was thinking of a man. More than once he had blurted out the name of some bloke. After the fateful visit of Iniquity, she was sure she did hear him call his name once while he came inside her. That was the day she knew her sojourn with him had reached its limit. Maybe homosexuality was never truly reversed. Maybe they were really born that way. But this was a good man who was suffering. And she had gone beyond her brief in trying to “correct” his “deviation”. But here he was, without any help from her, doing what a man should do. Now she had to see him do it looking at her.
She turned and faced him. She reached for the light switch beside the bed. Not that it was dark because it was morning and a slice of sunlight through the drawn curtain kept the room fairly illuminated. But she wanted more light. She wanted to convince herself that this was real! He was smiling at her. That idiotic smile men wore when they were horny and scared that you might change your mind.
“What is going on?”
She chuckled and said, “I know.”
“And you have the best ass of all.”
“Jide. What is this about?”
He pulled her into him by the waist with one firm jerk. It was the most masculine thing he had ever done to her. He kissed her. Gently at first and then hungrily with his eyes closed. It was the only time he closed his eyes. She placed a hand on his chest and eased back. He came after her and stripped her of her nightie like it was infested with soldier ants. His smile was now more assured. He looked like a man who knew what he was doing. She expected him to turn her over but he did not. He lay her on her back and held her legs apart by the ankles in the V position, gained stability with his knees both side of her hips and penetrated her deeply. He was slow and sure. He did not once break eye contact. He was with her one hundred per cent.
Afterwards, she said, “Today, for the first time, you made love to me.”
“It was magical.”
“If you say so.”
“I mean, in the past, when I got fucked like that I just wanted to pass out immediately after. But today –”
“I just want to lay awake and absorb it all. It feels like I might lose something if I fell asleep.”
“Hey, hey,” Jide said and chuckled. They were lying on their sides with elbows dug into the bed with hands supporting their heads while facing each other. Bizarrely, they would still not break eye contact. They could not bear to do so.
Tears welled up in her eyes. He continued to gaze into them. It would be wrong to interrupt her emotions.
“You made love to me.”
“You said so already.”
“I have never been made love to before.”
He laughed and threw his head back and said, “I get it that it was enjoyable. Different really, but don’t overdo it. Which one is you have never been made love to before?”
“You did not think about any men.”
Jide blinked rapidly and his eyes widened.
“Yes, I know. I know you did so every time.”
For the first time that morning, he looked away. The sun through the blinds was now of such intensity that he reached out and flicked the bedside light switch off. The room remained as bright as before. He picked up the rechargeable fan remote control and powered on the device. When he looked at her again, her cheeks were glistening with the teardrops. But she burst out laughing and sniffling in a way that made him reach out and gather her into himself. She turned her back to him again and they stayed in the spooning position.
“You know why I left my sister’s place to come and live here don’t you?”
“I knew he was using me but I was powerless.”
“There were two or three before him but those were insignificant. You didn’t expect much from boys in school, did you? I always enjoyed sex. But what I felt today is something I never felt before.”
“Don’t let Mr Cosmas hear you. Today he was telling us that when you have too much sex when you are alive, when you die you will continue having sex till you died in sexual purgatory.”
“That’s not what he said. I was listening.”
“We girls gather in Josephine’s parlour upstairs during your meetings to eavesdrop. We hear clearly from there. I joined when he started talking and I heard everything he said. I can bet my life that what has just happened now is not what he was talking about. I have read something about purity in sex. I once dated a guy who was interested in tantric sex but he masturbated too much so he did not have the spirit for it. Today, I felt the kind of exchange of power that it talks about. It felt spiritual.”
“So if we died now we won’t go to the purgatory for sex offenders?”
“For what you’ve been through, if you died now you would go to a sexual heaven if ever there was one. I’m sure there were angels cheering on just now.” Turning to face him, she said, “It was wholesome. You got it so right I don’t see how you would desire a man again.”
“No, I won’t. I’m sure of that. You know, Cosmas said something about this compound being our destiny. That is something I can relate to. I don’t think I could have turned out like this living anywhere else in this world.
“Each time when there was a scandal, I thought about it repeatedly and strangely put myself in the shoes of those men and tried to see what they saw to make them behave the way they behaved. Forgive me for saying this but you see Achike’s mother-in-law, I found myself thinking about her a lot.”
Funbi pursed her lips and frowned.
“Hear me our hun. When Mr Kingsley fell for her, and Chisco kept coming here, and we all kept watching and laughing at the way Achike kept following her around pretending to be protecting her when we could all see the mad desire in his eyes, I took time to study her and to try to understand what it was all about. I will spare you the intricacies of my ruminations. And then when Ndifreke did Maya’s sister, and when Joseph was doing Josephine and then ran away, it was so much primal data that slowly, it began to somehow make sense to me. Again, this is difficult to explain, but there was enough in all of it to alter my sensibilities forever.”
“You confuse me Jide.”
“Words fail me dear. And it all came together this morning when we were talking at the meeting. Others may be concerned or ashamed of these behaviours, but the rawness of it all spoke new codes to some neurons in my head. And when I came into the room and saw you lying there, I knew for a certainty that I would forever want a woman’s ass.”
“I came to live here to become a man again. I see that now. And you played more than a passing role in bringing that to fruition. Complete me. Be my other half.”
“Are you proposing to me?”
“Yes, Funbi. Be my wife. I will go back home with you. We will go back into the proper echelon of society befitting us. I know where I came from. I only needed to come here to be free of all confusion. I needed to come here to recognize the ass I should live for.”
TO BE CONTINUED.