If you missed episode 10 click HERE
Final semester in FUTO, I was on my project writing which involved a lot of researches. I had to visit several Libraries and nearby higher institutions
The strain in my relationship with Chioma deepened and after several visits to make her see reasons proved abortive, I had to focus more on other things, more over Katty and Tessy were taking her space. She said I was uncaring and selfish; she accused me of being stingy and lots more.
On one occasion that I had gone to her hostel room to plead with her, she was not at home and Tessy attended to me. I explained my position on our issue to Tessy and she saw reasons with me. She said I should move on with my life and get another girl who would be more appreciative and understanding, a girl who could give me double of the attention and care Chioma was giving me, a girl who does not want my money, a girl like her!
I was not surprised, DJ Slam had prophesied it. She slept in my room that night; it was one hell of a night!
The next morning was a Saturday and we were cleaning the hotel premises when I gave Slam the gist of who slept my room the previous night. He laughed and jumped about, then he came and gave me a hand shake and said “Welcome to Owerri” the “O” town! Na now you dey do like a guy! Just dey wire dem de go! BJ the bad guy! Now na Amara remain o! You got to wire Amara so that the equations go complete!
Which yeye equation be that? I asked.
Omo my Man! He saw Emeka walking by and he called him; Mekus “lekwa”! Omo yoruba a bukwa a very bad nigga! You are here selling beer while Omo is here eating all the meat! He laughed hysterically and hugged me! Nna men! You have made me proud today omo.
Ogini k’a Omo mere? What did he do? Emeka asked
Look at you! So you want to know? Jew man! Common get away from here! Go and bring your sister so Omo can show you what he did! He rebuked Emeka.
DJ Slam, please stop insulting me! You were the one that called my attention to your gist! Emeka said.
Who is insulting you? Have you been drinking soured beer so early in the day? Or don’t you know your mates again? Common si ebe a puta kita! Get out from here! Small boy! I invited you to a senior joke and you are already feeling like a senior boy!
Is that why you said I should give him my sister? Emeka countered
Oh! Is that your problem? Okay don’t give him your sister! Give him your mother! DJ Slam said.
Chineke mee! Mma m! DJ, Mmam! I will report you to manager today! Emeka ran off crying towards Oga Dan’s room upstairs, he did not know that Oga Dan had travelled to Enugu the previous evening.
Look at him whining like a baby! Slam said after him; small boy!
He was so happy and I could not help feeling like I did something heroic though I don’t revel in such things.
I defended my project on the 17th of October 1996, it was a memorable day. As I came out of the project defense hall to the open field where students were gathered rejoicing, I was immediately picked up by my friends. I was raised up high and carried to the center of the field where DJ Slam was waiting with his instrument in his Car boot blaring aloud. I was stripped to my boxers alone and bathed with wine, water and beer, some guys pulled off their belts and whipped me. It was the ritual and it was fun coupled with the sound coming out of Slams car. Every other student that defended their project joined the party as they came out of the hall.
Amara was around to congratulate me, Katty left her school to FUTO to rejoice with me. Chioma was invited by Slam but she did not turn up, she was the one that told her friends and Katty alone came.
We moved the party from the school arena only to join another party being arranged in my honor by Oga Dan and the management of Vita Logistics and Construction Company. It was crazy, I was bathed over and over with alcohol, there was enough to eat and drink. I woke up the next morning in DJ Slams bed with Katty and Tessy by my side and we were all unclad. Till date I cannot remember how that happened but one thing I know for such is that it was one hell of a night.
Two weeks after my project defense I was summoned by the school’s senate board to defend my result. I got a cumulative average of 4.98. First class. It was not difficult defending my result because I worked hard for it. I demonstrated complete theoretical and practical competence expected of an electrical engineering graduate and I impressed all the academic professors and Doctors on the board. I was adjudged the overall best graduating student and I set a new record in the department of electrical electronics engineering. I left the office walking in the air.
I wrote a letter to my mentor and gave him an update of happenings in my life. I continued working at the hotel as an all-rounder. By this time, my proficiency in Igbo language had improved tremendously. Katty and Tessy are still friends and they share my bed individually. I still wondered what they did to me on my project defense night. Chioma had finally abandoned me because I refused to part with a huge sum of money and buy her a car.
Amara on the other hand was still crazy over me, I do not love her, even Tessy and Katty are mere bed mates with mutual understanding of the limits of our relationship, my hand was full already and I was not ready to add Amara to the mix. This was the scenario I painted to DJ Slam inside his Cubicle on a certain night while he was entertaining our guests at the Bush Bar.
Why you no just wire Amara so that her body go calm down? He asked
Haba Slam! I protested; why your own no dey pass to wire? You mean I should take advantage of the girls love for me? I asked
Who tell you say she love you? He asked; ever heard of the word infatuation? She just wants to wire you! So wire her! He advised
How you take sabi say na wire she wan wire me? I asked
Listen BJ! She knows you and Chioma have issues now and she is not happy that Chioma’s friends are closing in on you. It would have been her opportunity to get you! Look! Don’t be a Jew! Wire her! You don’t even need to toast her, just grab her hand and say; Amara follow me! And you will see how she will follow you like mumu to your room! The girl dey melt for you my guy!
Slam, I beg my hand don full already! I no want any more girl! I said
Stupid Jew man! So all these your muscle and six packs na for fashion! I beg come wear head phone biko make I go ease myself! He handed the head phone to me and left the cubicle while I took over the wheel of steel mixing sounds for the people’s delight
It was Mr. Goke’s reply to my letter that helped me to retrace my steps. He wrote in his letter that I have graduated with the prospect of a good job at sight, he said I should not rest on my oars. He wrote that I should not forget where I came from, he reminded me of my home town, he reminded me of my mother whom I do not know, he reminded me of my house in the Village and he reminded me of the need for a serious relationship with a responsible girl who would love me for who I am and not for what I would become. He reminded me of Modupe and her mother. His letter took me back through memory lane as I reflected back to secondary school days when Modupe made school unbearable for me, I remembered my dog Pharaoh that was beheaded in his sleep, what a way to die! I reflected on the adventures I had with Pharaoh as company, we had scavenged together, we hunted together and we slept together on the same mat back then. I remember the house on the hill top, Alabi and his family and the encounter with Baba Oloro. I remembered my Village in the suburb of Ekiti land.
So many years have passed, I left the village as a seventeen years old Lad and now I am almost twenty-seven. A full-grown man with prospects. I now could speak good English and Igbo languages and a graduate engineer. I really have weathered the storm and all thanks to my mentor that brought out the best in me by mere words of mouth! He challenged me years back! He dared me to change my life situation and make a name for myself. I smiled as I imagined that I, Bolaji will now be referred to as Engineer Bolaji, I went through school and of course school went through me. It felt good but I felt a vacuum still needed to be filled in my life. My mother was still aloof, I never knew my father or his back ground. Am I Yoruba for real or not I mean biologically, where is the man who impregnated my mother from? How absurd it would be if I finally find out that I am not a Yoruba boy? There are some tribes I never wished to come from. I could even be from one of these small neighboring countries.
I took a short vacation and traveled west. It was an impromptu decision I took after reading the last letter from Uncle Goke. I felt home sick; I was done with every academic activity except for my clearance that would be done before the NYSC programme. The only people I told about my journey were Oga Dan and the Manager of Vita Logistics. DJ Slam was away on political rally; he mobilized body guards for some politicians and had to be on ground to keep his dogs under close supervision.
My first point of call was at Mr. Goke’s house at Ibadan, a four bedroom bungalow with a two room boys quarters at Apata area of the city. He lectures at the sociology department of the University of Ibadan, he also owned a two hectare of land along old –Ife road where he farms, he goes there on public holidays and week ends.
He was visibly surprised at the transformation he saw in me. I had grown taller and muscular compared to how I was five years before.
His first child Oluwayemisi had gained admission into the University of Ife and was away at school when I came. The son was in final year in secondary school and the wife runs a Grocery shop built at the front of his house.
I was with Madam at her shop after all morning chores and Mr. Goke had gone to work and the son to school. Madam left the shop at mid day to the popular dugbe market to replenish her stock. I was with the two paid sales girls she employed at the shop. Customers were trooping in and out of the shop from morning till evening. It was more hectic in the evening because the house is strategically location at a junction of three streets and as such returnees from work make their last-minute purchases at the shop before getting to their home after the days activities.
Mr. Goke had three cars in his compound. The Mitsubishi Van used by the wife for her business, a Toyota RAV 4 used privately by the wife and a Toyota Camry 2. 2 used by himself. I was proud of him as he had steadily climbed up the success Ladder over the years; he has even developed a budding pot belly. He does not drink and he does not smoke but he entertained me with my Ultimate Lager when I came around. “Gulder, the Ultimate”. The wife sells chilled beverages in her shop.
I got to his house on a Thursday evening; I rested on Friday though I helped out at Madam’s shop then on Saturday we went to the farm with his son Gbadebo. When we got to the farm we changed into farm clothes, I wore an old cloth of his though it was under-sized, it suited the purpose, we went plucking ripe maize and cutting down the stem of the plant, we later went to the Wife’s Garden and plucked the ripe Okra, pepper and vegetables, the harvest was reasonably large because the back of the Mitsubishi Van we went with was full.
After working for three hours, we settled down and roasted some fresh maize. We made a big fire and threw the maize in it without peeling of the shaft. The fire cooked and roasted the maize, and then we pulled the burnt shaft out and peeled it off the maize revealing well cooked and delicious fresh maize grain. I ate six pieces and I was full. We drank from the chilled water bottle we brought from home before proceeding on second round of work which was tidying up the farm and the area we cooked. We gathered all the maize stems that we cut down and the shafts of the maize we ate and kept them on a plane ground to dry up for burning by the next visit to the farm. This would allow enough air into the farm land for other crops to thrive.
We got back home around 4 PM and went to off load our harvest at Madam’s shop. She immediately displayed the maize and vegetables in smaller portions on a table outside her shop. She sold off everything before retiring into the house at 8 PM. People returning home from work in the evening bought off the fresh farm produce. Madam shared the proceeds of the sale into two halves and gave her husband a portion. That is how they live their lives; there was mutual love and understanding. Uncle Goke then gave Gbadebo his pocket-money out of the money. He offered me some money but I declined. He was feeding me free of charge already. I owe this man my status today.
I left for Ijan Ekiti on Saturday morning to return to Ibadan in four days before going back to the east.
My house was as I had left it. I had to break the padlock because I had lost the key. I got there at 9 AM and started to clean up until after noon. There were dust and thick cobwebs all over the place. I opened all doors and windows as I cleaned
Villagers came around when they noticed that some one was in the house. Every one that saw me screamed out their surprise at how much I have grown over the years, my physical features had changed save for my eyes. I left as a boy and returned as a man.
On Monday morning I went to my land. The two plots given to me by the community some years back. It has been left uncared for all this while and has been over grown by trees and weed. I decided to keep my self busy while at home by clearing the land and fencing it.
I went round my home town. Some of the old butchers were still alive and selling. I saw some urchins on stand by waiting for the butchers to throw something away. I greeted the butchers, they were happy to see me; the old women that sell vegetables and fruits remembered me and prayed for me as I gave them some money.
I went to greet Modupe’s Landlord “Baba Landlord” who happened to be my name sake. Another tenant had taken over Modupe’s house. He was very surprised at my transformed self. He asked if I ever ran into any member of Modupe’s family. I said no. He sent some fresh curses to them where ever they were and I said Amen.
Akin, Modupe’s boy friend years back came to my house the next day Tuesday, I was at my plot of land working in company of Tunde, a young Lad that was born just before I left for secondary school years back. He is the grand son of Baba land lord and has taken an immediate liking to me. He saw me going out of my house with my Cutlass in the morning and had run to pick up his own Cutlass to join me; he thought I was going to farm. He was named Babatunde then because he was born a day after his father died. The pregnant mother died out of high blood pressure which had led to a forced labour that produced him. He had been with his grand father since then. He did not suck his mother’s Bosom. Baba Landlord has three daughters while in active service. His wife had died of cancer several years back and he lost his first daughter who gave birth to Tunde. The other two daughters are in their husbands houses.
Things were not too rosy for Akin. His influential father had died six years back and his wealth shared amongst relatives. He did not get much. He had graduated about three years back but yet to get a job. None of his father’s acquaintances could help him. He had believed so much that his father’s connections would pave way for him. He was disappointed in the City so he has come back home to farm, and since he cannot farm alone, he had put a young girl in the family way; at least life must go on! He had said.
He apologized to me for taking sides with Modupe years back when we had a quarrel. He said Modupe and her family had relocated to Lagos with my money. Modupe gained admission into the University of Lagos to study secretariat studies while the mother shuttled between Nigeria and Dubai for business. He said they lived in Amuwo Odofin estate. He could not continue his relationship with Dupe after the death of his father because he was short of cash and could not continue to service the extravagant life style he was living with Dupe. He was ashamed of himself as Modupe was then a Lagos girl with high taste and expectations.
He went to my house to get a Cutlass and together, the three of us worked on my land until the evening. We retired to my house and took our baths. I sent Tunde to buy a gallon of palm wine from “Baba Elemu” the wine Taper. We sat outside the house on the terrace drinking and gisting and before long there were about ten youths drinking and gisting. Baba Landlord joined us later with an additional gallon of freshly tapped wine.
Akin reminded the small forum to stop referring to me as Bolaji but Engineer, he told them it was not a small feat to achieve while Baba land lord went into a story telling session about the white man’s technology called engineering, he held the listeners spell bound with lies that sounded like fact to my hearing.
Baba landlord was a police officer that had worked in several Cities before retiring in Lagos as a superintendent. He built his houses while still in service and till date, his detractors say he built the houses out of bribe money called “egunje”
Every time he told a lie that surprised the small audience and they exclaim their disbelief, he told them to confirm from me. I simply said “beeni” it is so! Every one was high on palm wine and would not remember the discussion by the next day. Akin was just enjoying himself laughing at their gullibility.
By Friday, the two plots of land was cleared, my friends that came to drink at my house all turned up with their Machetes the next morning and we descended on the land cutting down and up rooting trees. Of course at night we drank ourselves into the night again and this time, there was bush meat and some Village girls too to spice up the forum. Three girls joined us from no where. These were girls that have had at least two kids in their father’s house and were ready to go home with any man as long as you can buy them drink and food and give them a little change to fend for their Kids.
I called a brick layer to build a fence round the two plots of land while a contracted a local welder to build a gate for me. He was happy to charge me half of the amount I had expected to be charged for the job..
There were no more innocent girls in the Village. All the little girls I left in the Village have become Baby mamas to some elusive boys. They roam the village with their babies strapped to their backs while their boy friends eke out their living by riding commercial motor cycles in Ado Ekiti, the capital City. Their only hope is to be married eventually to a widower or to be second wife to a local rich farmer. It was sad to see how low our girls had degenerated.
They were shy to come to my house for fear of being ridiculed by the elderly, especially Baba Landlord who has made my veranda his resting place in the afternoon drinking palm wine until evening.
To Be Continued…