Mickey had watched the new girl run off in pursuit of the
young boys and laughed. She knew that there was no way she was going to catch
any of them unless she was Usain Bolt. On the other hand, if she had been the
one in Chekwube’s shoes, she’d have just gone straight to the boys’ families to
speak to their parents since she knew them so well and save herself the stress
of running after them.

This was going to be so much fun; she smiled as she jumped
off the pavement and made her way into the compound. The new girl was going to
go through hell in Lagos and she was going to make sure that she contributed to
it. She was sure that before the month was over, Chekwube would have packed her bags and
fled to the village where she belonged.

“Mtchewww…village rats trying to overpopulate Lagos.” She
hissed as she made her way into the house.
As soon as she walked in, she headed towards the kitchen
area to be sure that her mother was preparing dinner as she’d promised. Mickey’s
mother had made it a habit of giving her daughter some money to get food
everyday of the week except for special occasions when she cooked for the
family.
There was nothing to celebrate and there’s been nothing to
celebrate these past few months but Mickey’s mother had decided to cook to
celebrate the fact that her daughter was finally being promoted to the next
class, a feat that none of her other children had ever accomplished. Mickey
wasn’t the least interested in the reason behind her mother’s celebration but
her mouth watered at the thought of the food. No sooner had she made her way
towards the kitchen than her brother Baba Tee, as he was popularly called by
all and sundry bounced out of the other kitchen. She was surprised but didn’t
speak and with the way he walked out with his eyes straight ahead, she knew he
didn’t want to speak about his sudden interest in whatever it was that was in
that other kitchen. Mickey waited for him to disappear from sight before
walking over the second kitchen and peering in.
Mr. Nosike’s wife was the only one there and she was staring
at her hands, immediately she saw Mickey, she startled.
“I think that you’re my sister…she go to grind beans…”
She said, speaking English with difficulty.
“Who’s your sister?’ Mickey spat and walked away. “Please
ooo…mind yourself.”
As she headed towards the kitchen her family shared with
four other tenants, she wondered what Baba Tee had been doing inside the
kitchen with Mr. Nosike’s wife. She shook her head in disbelief. Everyone knew
that her brothers loved women, Baba Tee in particular as he’d dated all the
girls in their compound.
“She’s married ooo…” Mickey whispered to herself as though
in warning to her brother.
She stopped at the door to the second kitchen and smiled
when she saw her mother bending over the cooking stove.
‘Finally!’ She thought.
**************
Ola was tired of waiting for her sister, she paced about the
kitchen in worry.
Mr. Nosike stood at the entrance to the kitchen and stared
at his wife.
“Ola…is everything alright?” Her husband asked in their
language.
She startled when she heard his voice.
“I sent Chekwube to grind beans since…it’s almost an hour
now…” She said.
“The day is already dark, are you sure she didn’t miss her
way?”
“How would she miss her way? The place is not far away at
all. It’s opposite this street.” Ola said in worry.
“Come, let’s look for her…let’s go to the place she
grinded the beans and ask questions.” He said.
Ola nodded and together they left the kitchen and soon, they
were standing before the woman at the grinding mill.
“She come hia na…nor be she grind beans? She don go house
since.” The woman at the mill said.
“But…but she’s not…she’s not home.” Ola’s husband said.
“Ha! I nor know ooo…my own na to grind.” The woman said
and focused on the grinding mill.
Mr. Nosike placed his hands on his hips and looked at his
young wife in worry.
“What do we do? How do we look for her?”
“Heiii….my sister ooo…what do I tell my parents?” Ola
broke down in tears. “If I knew, I wouldn’t have allowed her follow me to
Lagos…”
“Calm down, we will find her. Let’s go back into the house
and look for her…” He said.
Ola nodded and they walked back towards the house. While on
their way, they saw beans paste on the ground.
“Isn’t that beans paste?” Nosike asked his wife.
She peered at it closely and since it was dark, she couldn’t
really see it well.
“Let me touch it and see.” She said as she bent over to
touch it. “Yes…yes it is…”
Mr. Nosike looked around in worry.
“That means she got home with the beans then it poured away
but where can she be?” He asked.
“Maybe she’s afraid that we might scold her and ran away.”
Ola said. “But my sister is no coward, she’d rather face me with the truth than
hide. What really happened?”
Ola and her husband looked at eachother in confusion, no one
had the anwer to their questions.
*************
Chekwube was tired of walking, the more she walked, the
farther she went from her sister’s house. She had no idea of what to do or
where to go.
“Please…is there a police station around here?” She stopped
to ask a man selling recharge cards.
The man looked at her and asked.
“It is very far from here, are you looking to report
someone?” The man asked.
“No….I…I am lost.” She said sounding very terrified.
“Lost? What street did you come from?” He asked.
“I…the street starts with A and the name is
Ani…u…something like that…I’m not really sure.” She said.
The man looked at her cluelessly.
“How come you don’t know the name of your street?”
“I just…just came from another state and I…have not
stayed there a long time.” She said in a shaky voice.
“Hmmmm….Tiwatope!” The man called out. “Tiwatope!”
Chekwube stood there while a young girl of about nineteen walked
up to them.
“Wetin dey do you Garba? Why you dey shout my name for
street? Abi na you born me?” The girl asked, not sounding pleased.
“I called you because this young girl doesn’t know her way
back home and I could have helped her but I’m not really familiar with the
area.”
Tiwatope turned to regard Chekwube.
“What’s the name of your street?”
“I…err….I….” Chekwube stammered. “It starts with A….”
“Haba! There are many streets that starts with A, there’s
Anthony Rowlings, Ayinde Makinde, Ajani Mosebolatan…the list goes on.”
“I …can try to spell the name but I can’t pronounce it.”
Chekwube said with fear in her voice.
“The first thing you do whenever you come to a place for the
first time is, get the street name and the house address, just in case you miss
your way. Do you have any phone number that we can call?” She asked.
Chekwube shook her head.
“Haba! Why? People hardly get missing nowadays because the
world is global. How can’t you know the name of your street and then not even
have a phone number that we can call?”
“I …I don’t have…” Chekwube said already crying as she
realized that she might not find her way back home and eventually end up
wandering the streets all night long.
“Can you describe your compound? Maybe I’ll know where you’re
coming from.” She said.
“It is a small yellow building…downstairs…errmmm…I
mean bungalow but many people live there…”
“You mean, face me I face you quarters.”
“I don’t know what it is called but each family has separate
rooms….”
“Yes, it’s called Face me, I face you.” Tiwatope said.
“The compound is not too big.”
“Ha! My dear…I don’t know ooo…because we have many of
such buildings around here. What is the name of the owner of the house?”
“His name is oga landlord.” Chekwube said.
Tiwatope and the man that sold recharge cars began to laugh
loud and hard.
“Every house owner is called a landlord, didn’t you learn
that in school?” Tiwatope asked.
Chekwube looked at them in desperation as she tried to think
of whatelse she could say to help her out of the present predicament.
“How did you get missing? Did you leave the house to
sightsee? What happened?” Tiwatope asked.
“My…my sister told me to grind beans and after grinding
it…errmm….I was on my way back home when some young boys kicked a ball at
me and I fell. Then, one of my neighbours, Mickey, said that…”
“Mickey? Your neighbour’s name is Mickey?” The girl asked.
“Yes, she’s a young girl of about my age but she acts like a
boy and…”
“Ha! You’re in luck! Mickey is Baba Tee’s sister na…and
Baba Tee is my boyfriend.” Tiwatope said with pride.
Chekwube felt air rush into her lungs, she was relieved.
“The street name is Adeboyejo street….is that what’s
difficult to learn?” Tiwatope asked with a smile.
“I will never forget the name now….I promise.” Chekwube
said.
“Thank God, you mentioned Mickey’s name.” Tiwatope said as
she held out her hand to Chekwube and led her home.
***************
Some of the tenants had gathered round with their torches,
they were listening to Mr. Nosike.
“I never take eyes see dat ya wife sister ooo…how she be?”
Brother Ebuka asked flashing his torch light.
“She nor fair and she nor dark. She get small height and she
dey on low cut.” Nosike said in reply.
Just then, Ola shouted in relief and rushed up towards
Chekwube who was walking into the compound with Tiwatope.
“Chekwube! Where have you been? We were about to send a
search party for you.” Ola spoke in their native language.
“Some boys pushed down the beans and…I chased them and I
got lost.” Chekwube said in relief. “Tiwatope helped me.”
The crowd of neighbours began to disperse; Mr. Nosike
quickly thanked them and rushed to his wife’s side.
“Thank you for bringing her back home…thank you.” He said to
Tiwatope in gratitude.
“No problem but please advise your sister in-law to memorise
street names and phone numbers. If she hadn’t mentioned Mickey’s name today,
she won’t be here.” Tiwatope said.
At that moment, Baba Tee walked out of the house, he looked
surprised to see Tiwatope.
“Hello darling.” Tiwatope greeted, walking up to give him a
hug.
“What’s up? Wetin you dey find for hia for dis kain time?”
He asked.
Tiwatope frowned at him.
“Which one be wetin I dey find? Nor be my boyfriend house be
dis?” She sulked.
“Nor mind me jare, I just dey wonder because you nor tell me
say you dey come.”
Tiwatope gave Baba Tee a brief summary of what had happened
and he nodded in understanding.
“Thank you very much, we are grateful.” Mr. Nosike said to
Tiwatope. Then to his small family, he said. “Let’s go inside.”
Chekwube was so relieved to have finally come home safe, she
kept repeating the name of her street in her head as they made their way inside
the house.
As they walked into the house, no one saw Ola turn to regard
Baba Tee and his girlfriend and no one saw Baba Tee look at her and give her a
wink.

 

To be continued next week….

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