ONE DAY AT A TIME (final chapter)

News reaches us that Maya has had a baby boy. I am happy for her and I text her to congratulate her. I am still in my new state of ease with the world. In the evenings, I sit alone on the soak-away slab and watch the street. After dinner when it is dark I am there again gazing at the stars. When I go to bed, I fall asleep within minutes.

Irikefe has now moved out and Castro went to live with him. Castro says he too needs to go out and find himself and I agree. Both young men receive my blessings and we have been texting on WhatsApp every day.

The council of elders have sat a few times since the afternoon of Maya’s delivery. I have not felt the need to be a part of the meetings. Sitting by myself has been enough for me.

My neighbours have let me be. They think I am on my own because I am heartbroken. If they find my bearing at variance with this line of thought, they are happy not to say. I have to be heartbroken. What else should there be? What else would make them happy?

Josephine approaches me at the soak away. She is wearing jeans and a T-shirt. I remember the last time we sat here together. She had been wearing a bum short and a top that was not more than a few strings around her body. We wanted to make Maya jealous after our first major fallout after she lost the first baby. Things got heated and I was about to go to bed with her when Mama Akunna showed up. The compound had just been praying after we were rid of all doubts that the old woman was a witch. Her alighting from a keke hale and hearty after we had finished casting her to the bottomless pit of hell made us all scram in different directions. I aborted my mission to Josephine’s bed. Someone else, Wasiu, then surreptitiously went and took my place.

Just like then, she comes and sits close to me now. This time she keeps a respectful space between us. She does not start a conversation at once. People now perceive the need to be economical with words around me and it gladdens me. Finally, she says, “I delivered her of the baby you know.”


“I thought you’d like to know.”

“Well yeah, I suppose it’s good to know.”

“That man wanted to be in the room. I chased him out with the heel of my shoe.”

I chuckle and she continues, “He stood there cursing and swearing the whole time! What kind of fucking hospital is this? Can your doctor speak English? Are your instruments clean? I swear to God if anything happens to her you’re all dead! Yen yen yen!”

“That sounds very caring,” I say.

“Caring my ass. He was just showing himself. ‘We should have gone to St Nicholas. We should have gone to Lagoon. Fuck! This place stinks!”

“And why didn’t they go to those other hospitals?”

“She was already crowning, that is the head of the baby was already visible, while they were in the car.”

I shift uncomfortably and she reaches out and squeezes my hand.

“Don’t worry he didn’t look. She announced it to him and told him to come to our hospital. She knew it was my shift. It was a great pleasure.”

“Yes, I saw you just heading out that afternoon.”

“Yes. It was too easy for a first-timer. I’m happy for her. Happy for you too.”

Again, number 225 Katakata Street begin to lurk around. I can hear their unspoken thoughts. He has found a willing replacement for Maya. Let’s wait and see when they go inside. I shake my head.

“Why are you happy for me Nurse?”

“It’s yours Ndi. The resemblance! I have never seen anything more obvious.”

I sigh and say, “Why do people say this of newborns? A month in maybe. The only obvious thing when they just emerge is if they are white or black or mixed race.”

Now it is her turn to chuckle. “Trust me the resemblance is always there. And in some families, there is even a running trait. I remember one case where this old woman came in and all she was saying was let me see the eyes. I want to see the eyes!”


“It’s a family where they have big eyeballs. As I later learnt, one hundred per cent of the time their children come out with the same bulky eyes. If you say you are having their baby and it comes out without the family’s eyes, just pack your things and go. No DNA needed.”

“Now that is risky. Genes mutate. Sometimes the resemblance is borrowed from an ancestor and not the immediate family.”

“My dear as I learnt that day, if you are pregnant in that family, just start praying from day one that the genes do not mutate. The old woman was the boyfriend’s mother who did not want her son to marry the girl. She did not believe the pregnancy was his because she used to shake her bum on TikTok. The first time she smiled at her son’s girlfriend was as the baby passed the visual DNA test.”

“It had big eyeballs.”

“Just like the father’s. Just like all seven family members men and women that came at different times that day before they were discharged. It was incredible.”

We become silent. I can see more of Willy Willy’s boys in the usual places.

“This one looks like you too Ndi.”

I nod and continue to stare into space. Someone is burning a tyre from a distance. Black smoke rises into the sky. The voices coming through are frantic.

“I hope all is well over there,” I say.

Josephine hisses and says, “All is well Ndi. People here did not start acting crazy today. I’m talking about your child now. Your firstborn son!”

There is a dramatic ring to the last sentence. It sounds like something out of a Nollywood flick. The expected reaction would be for the addressee to spring to his feet, shake his head, and roar something like ‘impossible. Nothing must happen to my heir! The first seed from my eminent loins! Show me the bastard and I will cut off his scrotum!” Instead, I smile and squeeze her hand in return and say nothing. She continues to regard me. I recognize a similar expression on her face to the one on Irikefe’s the other time. But Josephine seems to have more faith in my sanity, because, after a while, she says “I know you need to do a lot of thinking. You cannot be rash with your actions. The fact is that that man is an asshole and my girl deserves better. Consider the baby.”

I remain silent and continue to take in my environment. A familiar cock with one leg hops into view. I watch as it stops and cranes its neck in the direction of the frontage where it lost its other leg. The boys of number 225 once took offence at it for pooping on their playground and crippled it with a stone and a good aim. The owner is the oldest resident of number 221 who built a small cage in their backyard for the three birds he rears and lets them roam free in the daytime. I always thought Baba Taju belonged more in Number 225 than in any other compound on Katakata Street. Rearing chicken on the chaotic street is the sort of endeavour only a resident of Number 225 would undertake. He had a piece of red cloth tied to the feathers of each bird. Irikefe once said, “Who wan thief dat kind dirty fowl? Fowl wey dey chop shit! Na disease go kill you before even the juju.”  I give full attention to the cock now. The way it throws its neck from front to back makes it look like it is reconsidering its decision to visit Number 225 again. It succumbs to wisdom and hops back in the direction from where it came.

Josephine shifts uncomfortably. She is still studying me. Then suddenly she says, “But what are you even supposed to do? Our girl has gone and had her baby and has left with the man. Does she expect you to now go and pull down their door and demand for the baby? What will you even do with the baby?”

I do not feel the need to respond.

“Why are you even so calm?” She says.

I tilt and face her and smile. She cannot sustain eye contact with me. It is in the evenings like this back home that I would take to the top of the guava tree in my father’s compound. I like the mean rootedness of trees. They bloom rain or shine and are unfazed by wind or gusts. They may lose a leaf here or there, and sometimes a branch would snap under harsh conditions, but they always rejuvenate and remain. In my delicate moments, I took to the tree and I was there until I felt rejuvenated. My worries float away as it ventilates. My mother had said that the only thing she was grateful for as I was leaving the village was that I would stop nestling atop trees. It terrified her that I could always be found there even as a child. They said in the village that it was even more unusual to see a six-foot young man finding the top of trees accommodating when there were girls to chase. I sigh and take a deep breath.

“It doesn’t make sense right? I mean, I’m not making sense,” Josephine says. She bites her lips and continues, “You know, Maya has made her choice. I know you are not a saint but neither is she. You do not put a man in such a situation. I mean… what a mess! You just remain cool okay? When your child grows up, he will look for you.”

With that, Josephine gets up, hesitates and then says, “You will move away too right? Your boys are gone, Jide and Funbi married last week. You know that right?

I nod.

“Maya has happened, Achike gone too. Not to talk of all those that went in the past both on foot and in coffins.”

“Alhaji has sold the house. This time, we all don’t have a choice.”

Alhaji Sirika’s red cherookee jeep stutters to a stop as and he hops out with three Asian men in tow. Without speaking to anyone he takes the men on a tour of the house and at the end of it they stop at the frontage and Alhaji Sirika announces loudly:

“Ehm…all of you see your new Landlord o! Mr Cho. Say whatever you want to say. They will all hear.”

There are not many people on the frontage now. But Alhaji knows what he is saying. Whatever is about to happen will be transmitted in no time to everyone who needs to know. It is Number 225 Katakata Street after all.

The oldest-looking of the three Asian men clears his throat and stutters, “I buy house I change house for warehouse all you pack go!”

“Have you people heard? Please go and kill yourselves somewhere else. No more. A lawyer will come and serve you official notices. Your rent will be returned for those who still have time. May God never let me come in contact with human beings like you again.”

Alhaji Sirika hurries back into his car together with Mr Cho and his compatriots. We all know we will never see him again. 

A commotion erupts in number 225.

“How did you know Alhaji had sold the house?” Josephine says to me as neighbours scamper.

“I did not know.”

“You said it just before he drove in.”

“Did I?”

Josephine regards me for a long time, shudders and walks away.

Mr Cosmas joins me at the soak-away. We sit in silence and observe. We watch as the news of our final eviction notice develops legs and moves from room to room and all the crannies of Katakata Street in no time.

“Mr Cosmas,” I finally say.

“Young friend,” he responds.

“I knew Alhaji was going to come and do what he just did before he got here.”


“How did that happen?”

“You tell me. You said you knew.”

“I was just speaking with the nurse and she asked if I was moving out given that my friends, Jide and a few others are gone already and things are the way they are now following the death of Achike. I answered that Alhaji had sold the house without even thinking of what I was about to say and just then he drove in with his announcement.”

Mr Cosmas remains quiet for a beat and says, “You say you said it unconsciously. But the opposite is correct. You said it from true consciousness.”

“How is that?”

“Friend, if there is a summary to all I have advanced all these years it would be this – that the ultimate purpose of life is to awaken to true consciousness. A state of being where you are in touch with your transcendent self and in tune with the frequency of the universe. From here, you can see anything or hear anything.”

“I see. But how did I get here?”

“Usually suffering brings you to this point. When you are at tethers end and do not know what else to do and just surrender.”

“When I discovered Jonjo in Maya’s room after I had just spoken with you about her, something gave inside of me. As I stepped back out into the open, I found that I was completely free of all thought. It was a strange state of affairs. If I did not pay attention to the kids playing and to Mr Kingsley standing nearby, I would have probably headed for the lagoon.”

“Yes, it is usually so. You see how people moments before suicide appear calm and lucid. They even become friendly and at peace. They reach the end of their suffering and instead of riding on that wave to start to experience the world anew they go and end it all thereby missing the whole point of it. Suffering is meant to awaken you. You are more likely to awaken in the course of suffering than you are in your comfort zone. You grabbed your opportunity. Stay this way.”

“But must one always have to suffer to awaken?”

“Not really. Getting here through suffering, however, proves that there is nothing like a bad experience in life. Everything that happens to you happens to awaken you ultimately. Unfortunately, for many, when they experience life-changing events, rather than accept and see where it takes them, they run to spiritual highwaymen in the name of pastors, imams, prophets, babalawos and the like thereby missing great opportunities for their growth. Sometimes the humility that comes with a so-called bad experience is what the spirit needs to awaken.  Anyone hoping to truly become alive can start from where they are today. Start by quieting your mind. Stop the compulsive thinking. Shut off those sixty thousand thoughts a day mechanism that makes it impossible to hear or see anything. Not every thought that crosses your mind is true. Not even everything you see is what it represents. Take a few deep breaths when it appears you are being overwhelmed. Stay present and see how life unfolds for you.”

“Everything has become beautiful. I might as well die now.”

“No, you won’t my friend. Now your life truly begins. Alhaji Sirika did not just wake up and come here. He had thought about it and sent that thought out. It came to you because you were awake. All thoughts are living forms. It is how so-called spiritualists earn their living. They have found a way to access people’s thoughts from the transcendent and commercialized it. If we were all awake nobody would need them anymore.”

“I dreamt of the scene last night. I remember now.”

“Yes, that is possible. It’s why we dream. It’s a tragedy that some people do not even remember their dreams. They miss out on higher guidance.”

“Oh wow.”

Mr Cosmas nods.

“Maya had a baby. The nurse says it looks like me.”

“The nurse is experienced enough to know.”

“I dreamt that we were together again and the child grew up in our household. We had a big house in that dream.”


“I also dreamt of another baby. This one was by her sister Clementina. She came and dropped the baby with us and went off and never returned. Going by what you have just said and what has happened with Alhaji Sirika is it safe to conclude that Maya and I will get back together eventually despite her having gone off with Jonjo to have the baby?”

Mr Cosmas nods.

“And Clementina. What was that about? Is she having a baby as well? Is she pregnant? Could it be…?”

Mr Cosmas nods and puts his arm across my shoulder. We sit like that for what seems like an eternity.

“Do you think these are true revelations, sir?”

Mr Cosmas nods again. “Yes, they are my friend. I have already seen it all. I did not tell you because I am not a professional seer. I am glad you have seen everything for yourself. From the first day I met you, I knew that you would awaken while in this compound. So yes. I can confirm that you have seen what your future holds.”

“I saw us in a big house. Does it mean I will become rich too?”

“It has been shown to you.”

“I love Maya. I would forgive her anything. I would forgive her seventy times seven times. You know, as Jonjo took her away she was pleading with me with her eyes. I knew then that if she came back to me I’d still take her.”

“No one that knows you will be surprised about this outcome.”

“What do I do now sir?”

“Go out and face life with your new consciousness. Enjoy every moment of every day without any fear or doubt. Do not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself.”

“Ok, sir.”

“This is how we should all live. Even if you do not see anything in your dreams, whatever you desire, believe that you already have it and it will be yours. Live life one day at a time. Stay present.

“Indeed sir. One day at a time.”

Night falls on Katakata Street and we bid each other good night. In the morning, Mr Zubi summons an emergency meeting of the council of elders. We all gather but Mr Cosmas is missing. Willy-willy dashes to his self-contained when he notices that the meeting is not going to begin without Mr Cosmas. He returns to the gathering after five minutes, his face the colour of ash and says “Mr Cosmas is not there. There is nothing in his room. It is as if no one ever lived there.”