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The Mechanics Of Yenagoa (VII)
Post Series: Mechanics of Yenagoa

It had only been 15 minutes since we discovered Anda was missing, but it seemed like 15 days. The tension and anxiety in the room was so strong, it could have been written by James Hardley Chase for one of his crime novels. I didn’t try to comfort my elder sister because it wasn’t something I did very well. So I let Saka, BRD and Biodun do the job. Even though I was too distraught myself to look Ebiakpo directly in the face, from the corner of my eyes I could see she was being frustrated by a call that wouldn’t go through.

“This wakawaka man has switched off his phone again. This is exactly what I have been telling him for months now, but would the foolish man listen? No. He has gone to carry one of those his ashewo again in Hospital Road and has turned off his phone because he doesn’t want to be disturbed, but God will expose him today. The God of Reverend Ebizimor will expose him, because now there’s an emergency and the useless man’s phone is telling me it is unavailable. If anything happens to Anda, if anything happens to my son, I swear, God will punish his entire generation. It will never be good for them.”

I couldn’t get why Ebiakpo was raining curses on a man that wasn’t even present, instead of focusing on the issue at hand and how to come up with a viable course of action for search or reporting to the police if need be, but who was I to tell her what I was thinking. If anything, I knew to thread carefully when dealing with my sister. Knowing her, it wouldn’t be long before she remembered that her son got missing in my house and so I must somehow take all the blame even though both of us were out together to see Honourable Aaron at Ox-Bow Lake at the time my little nephew vanished from the house.

Not wanting to question her unwarranted attack on her husband, I signalled to Biodun to be on the lookout for Saka and Broderick who were already on their way back from combing the neighbourhood. The three of them came back to the parlour a few minutes later and from the look on their faces and the sluggish way they approached my sister and I, I knew without asking that their mission wasn’t successful.

Ebiakpo must have sensed it too, and as if in slow motion, she tossed aside her phone and began rummaging through all the items of furniture again. Chairs were turned, bed sheets were on the floor and mattresses were standing upright. She stormed the kitchen, and I could hear the sound of pots and pans clanging as Ebiakpo upturned and shook utensil after utensil, hoping that her little boy would somehow, miraculously transform from silverware back to real boy. Even knives, spoons and folks were not above suspicion as they loudly protested their innocence and the callous way she allowed them crash to the floor. Back in the bedrooms, drawers and wardrobes doors were almost yanked off their hinges and no item of clothing was spared the humiliation of being kicked and trampled on.

“Ebiakpo, you know that scattering things about won’t solve this mystery confronting us. If pushing down chairs and breaking beds would bring Anda back, I’m sure he would have been found even before we got home. Sister, you need to calm down.”

“Ebinimi, don’t tell me to calm down oh, because if you do, you’d have to tell Blessing to calm down when she has a four year old son for you that suddenly goes missing after the two of you finally come to your senses and stop this boju-boju love you’re playing inside church. When that time comes, remember to tell her to calm down oh!”

I ignored Ebiakpo’s outburst, choosing to vent my angst on Saka who in our absence, should have been the adult in the house.

“Saka, why ehn? Why are you guys always this careless? This is not a car you have gone to fix brake pad for instead of clutch oh, this is a human being, my own blood nephew gan gan we are talking about oh. How can a human being just disappear like that under your watch enh Saka?”

“Oga Ebinimi, the thing sef surprise me oh!” The only reason I didn’t give him a hot slap was because he was older than me and he looked completely crushed. Behind him, BRD and Biodun were shaking uncontrollably like leaves. Together, the three of them cut a sorry sight, perhaps even more pitiable than the broken-hearted mother of the missing child.

“How e take surprise you, ehn? The three of you should listen, and listen very carefully. What I want is an explanation, a very cogent explanation for why the child we left in the care of three hefty adult men can just vanish into thin air right under their noses. Abi the boy na spirit?”

“Ah Oga Ebinimi, how Anda take be spirit na, no be the boy when dem born for my presence again?” Broderick asked.

“But aren’t you the ones that said he vanished?” I retorted. “The last time I checked, only spirits have the power to appear and disappear at will.”

“Oga Ebinimi, abeg no vex for us,” Saka pleaded. “Me, I been no dey for workshop sef. Immediately you and madam Ebiakpo waka that time, that madam when dey use that red Kia been telephone me say make I come help her start her car when no gree to start after she buy fuel finish for NNPC filling station. When I return, I see the two of them outside yard,” he said pointing to Biodun and Broderick. “Dem say whether na me carry Anda comot? I tell dem say I no see the boy oh! Na so dem begin hala say the boy don loss. As dem tell me the matter finish, na so all of us begin shout him name but him no answer. We come enter house and scatter everywhere but we no see am. We even check the whole yard, we open all the cars and look for the back of the plantain tree for backyard but we no see the boy.”

“The thing worry us well well Oga Ebinimi no be small,” Broderick jumped in, “na so we comot for compound come enter all our neighbour them house one by one, but the boy was nowhere to be found.”

“Where was he? Who saw him last?” Ebiakpo blurted out impatiently.

“Me, I been dey sleep for room oh, I didn’t even know what was happening until I heard Broderick shouting my name.”

“Biodun, I didn’t ask you where you were. What I asked was who saw him last? Broderick, was it you?”

“Me and Anda been dey watch TV for parlour, na him I hear person dey shout for gate. As I go outside, I see say na that fat guy and some of him friends.”

“Which fat guy?” I knew the answer even before asking.

“That guy when say him forget money for car.”

“Tiekuro!” I blurted out in anger.

“Yes sir. I told him you were not at home, but he said I was lying. He even said he would not leave until he collected his N500k otherwise the whole of Ovom would hear the matter.”

“Ebinimi, what is this boy saying?” Ebiakpo asked, jumping to her feat. “Is he saying that somebody is holding my son ransom because of a debt you owe him?”

“I don’t think he has said that yet,” I was on the defensive. “Broderick, can we hear the rest of your story?”

“As he entered the house, he just chook head for parlour. He didn’t even enter inside oh, him only put head small for door and when he didn’t see you, he left.”

“You saw him leaving the house?” I asked.

“Yes, Oga Ebinimi,” Broderick responded. “I even escorted him outside to be sure he left without damaging anything and so that I could lock the gate properly after him. I waited until he drove off with his friends and when I came back to the house I didn’t see Anda or Blessing.”

“Blessing, did I hear you say Blessing?”

“Yes sir. Sister Blessing, that your former madam, been come find you, but she been enter inside your room go sleep because she say sleep and hungry dey catch am. But she been give me and Anda meat-pie and puff-puff and fanta when she been carry for bag.”

There was graveyard silence after Broderick spoke. I couldn’t tell if his explanation gave clarity and provided pointers as to what could have happened to my nephew after we left for my meeting with Barnabas-Treatment or if the matter just got more complicated.

“Did Anda eat it?”

“Yes Ma. He finished it and was even asking for more.”

“Hey! Hey! Hey!”  Ebiakpo was already rolling on the floor.  “Blessing has killed me. Blessing has killed me oh!”

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