My absence on the blog has fetched me several names in the past, but none has been more solid than the one I got some weeks ago.
He must have seen me in his dream or something. I’ll bet he woke up and decided to drag out the object of his nightmare. BBM helped him do that. I’ll call him Brutus.
Brutus: You eh? Na wah to you!
I was waiting for my garri to elevate to the benchmark at the time.
Me: Sir, what I do??
Brutus: You have backslid.
Just like that!
I tried not to laugh, but I failed. I put myself in the place of Peter, backsliding ―denying Yesus. A silly cock made a mischievous crow, but I hurled a stone at it before it did the nonsense two more times. I’d rather do something than cry foul.
I really appreciate the gesture Mr. B.
I have missed blogging, but sometimes it’s best to sit back, watch and learn more instead of trying to put something out at all cost. I guess the dwindling economy has made―or, is making―inspiration something the strong taketh by force.
In the spirit of not moving from backslider to betrayer (I don’t ever want to see myself in the place of Late Iscariot Judas), I found a way to get inspired. Actually, I begged for it.
Please read and let’s have your comments.
The moment the green lights shone in my direction I knew something was wrong. I had a foreboding trouble was brewing, but nothing had prepared me for this cup of coffee.
“Believe me! There’s nothing shady going on… just the occasional help and you know about it! You know all about the kitchen leaks.”
Nkechi ran towards the door, hurdling obstacles like she had a gold medal for that; doing everything possible to maintain the distance between her and her husband. He was standing―or so it seems―at the other end of the room, charging like the horned beast in a bullfight.
I was somewhere in the middle. Their voices got fainter at every passing moment.
My name is Tobias. I am the victim in this story.
It’s been five months since I lost my job; five long months since I became friends with Jamal. He is my bald neighbor in my humble abode; a neat row of one-room apartments (the type we call face-me-I-face-you in local parlance) located in a not-too-serene environment. Jamal has been without job for as long as I’ve known him and it appears he stopped trying. I don’t know how he survives, but I have never caught him stealing. I have seen him prepare rice or eba on days someone’s pot of stew is missing in the general kitchen though.
Rather than loaf and spend the best part of everyday brushing my hair and snooping like Jamal, I kept applying for jobs. Jamal always reminded me that writing applications wasn’t as effective as knowing someone in the system who would “just do it”. It was only rational for me to stick to what I knew, seeing as no one had “done it” for him.
Oga Cletus at the other side of our compound didn’t seem to be affected by the trend in town. Although he married around the time twenty baskets of tomatoes would get a plot of land at an outskirt of Lagos and a few bottles of drink to celebrate the milestone, Cletus could still afford to live a reasonable lifestyle and take care of his beautiful Nkechi who was unemployed like me.
On one of those typical mornings in the life of two jobless men, Jamal decided to lecture me on the economic plunge. Moments earlier Mama Ejiro had almost murdered Ejiro because she forgot rice on the sawdust-powered stove and burnt the whole pot. Jamal even quipped that prostitutes have been forced to slash their service charge. He narrated how Oga Cletus, the man who seemed to be immune to the downturns, sold his car and lost a fortune to fraudsters. Oga Cletus moved into “other jobs” to maintain the status quo. He would leave very early in the morning and return late in the evening.
I met Nkechi at a school where we both applied to. The school turned us down because the management couldn’t afford to pay more teachers. They blame the parents who in turn cite non-payment of salaries or pension. We quickly found a common ground and became friends. Unemployed attracted unemployed, or something like that. She would sometimes call me to come help move heavy structures, free a clog or fix a thing or two, which I always gladly did. Plates of edibles began to find their way from her to me as dividends of friendship in no time. Jamal hated this, not just because of the food, but also because he felt every time I went to her place, I was sleeping with the lady he had repeatedly admitted he had a crush on. I gave up convincing him that I was only friends with his “Nkechi Peperempe”, as he fondly called her behind her back.
It seemed like forever, but I later got an invitation for an interview in a company I couldn’t even remember applying to. The notorious cable thief had done the usual at the transformer so I quickly brought out the coal iron kept for days like this and pressed my shirts. I hustled into the cold the following morning, only to meet the craziest traffic I have ever seen. A contractor had blocked a part of the road all in the name of construction, and a once-in-a-lifetime congestion built in its wake. I hailed a motorcycle in an attempt to circumvent the gridlock, but I wouldn’t be able to afford the fare even if I tripled and then doubled the content of my wallet. In times like that, motorcyclists who are among the first group of people to lament and point accusing fingers at corrupt politicians would charge outrageous fare, and perhaps entertain you with fresh government scandal through the ride.
“N1,500 to carry me to Akilu junction! I be rock? Ordinary Akilu junction down there?!”
“Oga you for walk go there na! Shebi na ordinary Akilu. Dollar don rise; fuel sef don coss.”
It was his chance to make a lot of money and he was ready to milk dry anyone available to be milked. The same opportunist would call the government thieves in the evening while counting the profit of the day or probably in the middle of a meal of steaming noodle at the Mai-Shai’s corner. I wasn’t ready to be milked. There was no milk anyway.
Since walking wasn’t an option I began to ask for help, but the stares and looks on faces reflected the hardship in town. As if begging wasn’t embarrassing enough! The words of a grammarian landlord in my neighborhood echoed: “the hardship is ubiquitous”. I had not made much progress before it began to rain and my appointment time finally lapsed. I gave up on the effort and went back home. Jamal felt bad for me at first, until I told him I wanted to go see Nkechi and the pity changed into envy. He turned green like spinach.
I wasn’t prepared for what I met at the Cletus’ house. It was rather odd to see Oga Cletus’ wife dressed in something figure-hugging and titillating, but since I was the visitor I kept quiet. I have no right to tell a lady what to wear in her own house. I felt something rise up to the occasion in my trouser, but I rebuked the devil and shifted my attention to the rug like it was Aladdin’s magic carpet. Meanwhile, the magic refused to stop in my boxers.
Nkechi kept moving very close and made several eye contacts that made me feel my blood simmer in my veins, or whatever vessel that carries blood these days. She would make unnecessary body contacts, smile provocatively and bend for no reason, at angles that would make the derriere stare at me—I wasn’t the one staring. I guess I could have resisted harder, but I didn’t. I’m not sure I could’ve pulled the stunt of the famous Joseph with Pharaoh’s wife. Mrs. Cletus went for my trouser and – well, I followed suit. We did the thing Jamal had always insinuated, twice. It was the devil, it must be.
Did I mention it was a cold day?
I was just leaving the bedroom and adjusting my zipper when I raised my head to a widespread palm closing in on my face. For a brief second while I still had my balance I saw a familiar bald head with a smirk on the face through the window, right before Mr. Cletus backed-up the slap with repeated blows. At this time Nkechi skipped the bedroom and ran for dear life. A head butt to my nose finally sent me crashing.
I was like those that dream.
“Kitchen leaks? Ke ihe ina akowa by kitchen leaks?! Do you think I’m stupid?!!” Oga Cletus boomed.
I lay motionless on the floor, unable to feel my face down to the waist. I felt my ears somehow; they could still hear faint squeal and sound of collapsing furniture, but not for long.
Maybe I shouldn’t blame Jamal, Nkechi Peperempe or the head-butter Oga Cletus.
I blame me. Economic slump, maybe.
Another thanks to Monsieur Obayemi.
I am @jossef69 on twitter
photo credit: google images
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