Gbenga was in his bedroom with his friends, Lanre and Austin.
The three boys were looking through some magazines rated eighteen.

“My brother goes back to school in two days so, I have to
return these mags to his drawer.” Austin was saying.
“Chill jo…you just brought them out today and you’re
threatening to take them in already.” Lanre hissed.

“Do you want my brother to fry me? That guy is so mean
ooo…he doesn’t act as though we’re both brothers sef.” Austin said.
“How I wish I could get my hands on magazines like these. My
parents are too strict and check my browser history all the time so I can’t go
to all these erotic websites.” Lanre lamented.
As they both conversed, they noticed that Gbenga was not
speaking, he was pouring through one of the magazines in silence.
“What’s up with this one? Are you mesmerised?” Lanre joked.
Gbenga didn’t respond.
“See dis boy oo…” Austin said and grabbed the magazine
from his hands.
Gbenga looked at his friends and sighed.
“Is anything the matter?” Austin asked.
“Wait…don’t tell me that it’s already beginning to bother
you that we’re in a higher class than you are.” Lanre chipped in.
“Stop it Lanre….Gbenga got into basic nine this time or
didn’t he? Atleast we’re just two classes ahead of the big head.” Austin
smirked.
Gbenga looked at the boys who’d been his classmates two
years ago and sighed. Even though he’d repeated twice, they still remained his
friends, unlike some others who’d stayed away.
“It’s not that guys….and please stop taunting me.” Gbenga
said standing up from his bed and walking to his messy wardrobe.
“What is the problem?” Austin asked.
“My old man is changing my school.” Gbenga said sadly.
“He’s what? So we can’t be the three musketeers anymore?”
Lanre asked in shock.
“What? Why?” Austin asked.
“It’s his sick way of punishing me for not being at the same
level with my mates.” Gbenga said turning to look at his friends.
“That’s so unfair!”
Lanre hissed. “Our parents think that it’s the school that affects their
children’s learning when most times it’s not the school at all.”
“So, what school are you ….” Austin started and hung his
question in midair.
Gbenga shrugged.
“You don’t know the school yet? But it’s only a few days to
resumption.” Lanre said.
“You guys, let’s drop the subject jo…I’m bored already…”
Gbenga said.
His friends nodded and were about to change the topic when
there was a rap at the door. The boys quickly scrambled for the magazines and
stashed them under the bed. Gbenga walked over to open the door. Mummy Justina
walked in.
Mummy Justina was a very tall and big woman who was in her
late fifties; she was a distant relative of Gbenga’s dad and had been the
closest thing he’d had to a mother while growing up. Mummy Justina lived in
their home and did the chores, she also took care of Gbenga.
“Mummy Justina.” Gbenga greeted.
“What are you boys doing?” She asked in a very loud voice as
she pushed her way into the bedroom.
“Ma? We were…we were…” Gbenga stammered.
“I hope your television wasn’t on because school starts soon
and your television privileges will soon be over.” She said.
Gbenga and the boys looked at her in silence, she quickly
held out the uniform she had neatly pressed to Gbenga.
“Put this in your wardrobe. It’s your new uniform and please
tidy up that mess in your wardrobe.” She said and turning around, she walked
away.
Lanre and Austin hardly waited for her to leave the room
before rushing up to Gbenga.
“Is this your new uniform? What school is it?” Austin asked.
“It’s a school! Will you let me be?” Gbenga said as he
struggled to shove the uniform into his wardrobe.
“Wait…I’ve seen that uniform somewhere. That’s MacAnthony’s
uniform.” Lanre said with a frown.
“Who’s MacAnthony?” Austin asked.
“He’s the son of the driver of my next door neighbour. The
guy attends a public school.” Lanre said.
Gbenga stood rooted to the spot as his friends stared at him
daring him to tell them otherwise.
**************
Chekwube was happy with Lagos. She knew that this was the
place meant for her. She loved the noise in the streets, she loved the compound
she lived in with her sister and husband because she could sit outside for
hours and stare at the kids play and speak rapid pidgin. She wanted to be like
them; carefree, tireless and fun.
“Chekwube…go and grind beans.” Her sister, Ola, said to her.
Chekwube who was crouched by the small stove in their
cooking corner, shot up to her feet and took the money from her sister.
The kitchen was quite spacious because some people went
against the rules of the house and cooked infront of their room doors. Chekwube’s
brother in-law had told them to cook at the corridor when they were sure that
the landlord wasn’t coming for house inspection but cook in the kitchen if he
was coming for inspection. Chekuwbe and her sister had no idea who the landlord
was but just as they were preparing to cook, they’d heard a deep voice and had
raced to the kitchen.
“It’s the same place we passed the other day on our way to
the salon right?” She asked.
“Yes…you remember that my husband pointed it out to you.”
Ola said.
“Yes, he did.” She replied as she took the bucket of already
washed beans and left the kitchen.
When they had arrived Lagos, a little over a week ago,
Chekwube and Ola had been surprised to find that Ola’s husband lived in just
one room in Lagos. They had thought that everyone who lived in Lagos lived in
sprawling mansions but Ola’s husband proved them wrong. The compound had been
too noisy and a lot of neighbours welcomed them. The first words the neighbours
uttered were;
“Mr. Nosike, na pikin you go marry? Dis one reach to be ya
pikin na…” They said, referring to Ola.
Chekwube could see that the comments affected her brother
in-law and as soon as they entered the room which had nothing but a bed and a
sofa, he instructed them with these words;
“Listen and listen well, this is not Umunata, this is Lagos.
A very big city where bad things happen. Do not and I repeat, do not make
friends with anyone in this compound because people here are bad. They gossip
alot and their words are full of lies. Thank God you have eachother, if you
want to talk, talk to eachother and don’t bother talking to the people in the
compound.”
Ola had nodded readily but Chekwube had stared at her
brother in-law skeptically. There was one thing she’d noticed about his
neighbours; they had echoed her exact thoughts on marriage. They had said that
Ola was too young to be married to him and that was exactly what she thought as
well. Chekwube also felt that the world was big and free and that no one could
stop her from mingling with people. Besides, she wasn’t a puppet that couldn’t
move unless controlled.
On the evening they’d arrived Lagos, a loud and rude bang
had startled them and when Nosike, her brother in-law opened the door, a young
girl of about her age but dressed very differently bounced in.
“How far? Wia my food?” She asked, then looked up to see
that she was being regarded strangely, then added. “Wia our wife? Abi she drop
her pikins dem and comot?”
“Mickey!” Her brother in-law had said in warning.
The girl picked up the food and left hastily while Ola and
Chekwube had contined to stare.
Mickey’s outburst gave her brother in-law another reason to
get upset and after he’d given her the food he’d kept in a bowl, he’d reiterated
his earlier warnings.
As soon as Chekwube left the kitchen they shared with four
other tenants, she noticed that a strange looking guy that was headed there. ‘What
was he looking for?’ She wondered as she knew that it was only her sister that
was in the kitchen.
With the bucket of beans on her head, she turned to regard
the fellow and shook her head at what she saw. The waistband of his trousers
hugged his knees and his boxers could be seen in broad daylight. The young man
happened to be one of the brothers of the so-called Mickey, who moved about as
though she owned the world. ‘What was he doing inside the kitchen?’ Chekwube
wondered, besides, his family shared the second kitchen with some other
tenants, so he had no business with theirs.
Chekwube made her way out of the compound and was out on the
streets in no time. Soon, she’d located the place where she was to grind the
beans and in no time, her bucket of beans was ground smooth. She paid the
woman and hoisted the small bucket on her head again.
She was making her way down the street and was about
crossing the road to enter the compound when she felt something hit her legs
and she fell to the ground with the bucket on her head. She stared at the
wasted effort in horror.
The children who were playing the ball quickly rushed to pick up
their ball and scrammed. Chekwube stared at them in dismay, she didn’t know
what to do.
“Olodo!”  A voice
called out to her.
She turned to regard the voice. It was the unruly girl,
Mickey. She was sitting on a pavement and eating some oranges with gusto.
“Pursue dem na! Abi you wan explain how your beans pour? You
need a scape goat!” She sneered.
Chekwube nodded quickly and began to run. She chased the
little boys who had hit her with their ball but they were fast and soon, they
had scampered into different houses. Before long, she became confused as so
many other children were running around the streets and just when she’d thought
she’d caught one of them, she heard a woman bark at her.
“Wetin you dey find? Why you hold de boy?” A mean looking
woman asked.
Chekwube was tongue tied, her palms circled a little boy’s
arm and the funny thing was that the boy wasn’t scared or trying to run from
her.
“He…he…played ball and hit me and it pushed my beans to
the ground.” She stammered.
“Which kain ball? For wia?” The woman fired as she walked up
to meet her. “De boy wey dem just send on errand now now…”
Chekwube’s heart beat fast as she looked at the boy she’d
caught. He was holding a crumpled fifty naira note in his hand and an empty
plate.
“My mama send me go Iya Bussie, I wan buy beans.” He said to
her.
Chekwube quickly released him and stared at the woman.
“Abeg mind yaself ooo…look well before you blame innocent
pesin.” The woman said and walked away.
“Yes ma…thank you ma…” She stammered and turned around
to go back.
She was confused. The street was very much like hers but she
could tell that it was a different street. She knew the name of her street
started with an ‘A’ but she and her sister had laughed over the difficult
street name some days ago and the complexity in pronouncing it. Now, she had no
idea of how to get back home. The day was already growing dark and her heart
beat fast with fear.
She was lost.

 

To be continued tomorrow….

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here