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

I saw the WhatsApp messages from Blessing when I came out of the bathroom. She wanted us to meet at Comfort Kitchen in the afternoon. As I typed my unavailability because of the number of cars that were still unattended to in the workshop, I wondered why she didn’t just come over to the house instead. I wasn’t happy that she wanted us to meet in one of the most expensive restaurants in the city where I’d have to spend money buying food and drinks when we could just as well have met in my house and I wouldn’t have to spend any money at all.

Blessing didn’t like my suggestion about her coming over to Kalakala Street instead for this meeting. She texted back immediately that she was still sore and too humiliated to meet with anyone from the workshop or the church. She insisted that we met “IN CAMERA” to discuss “URGENT MATTERS.” Seeing those key words in upper case, coupled with the way she finished off her sentences with a lot of exclamation marks and that sad emoji thrown in there awkwardly at the very end of her request, when she should have just used a full-stop was enough warning that my woman wasn’t taking no for an answer.

I’d come to realise that whenever Blessing did that thing where she mixed up capital and small letters in one message, it was either I was in trouble or she just wanted attention. Obliging her when she got like that hadn’t ended well for both of us in the past and I wasn’t in the mood for her one-sided arguments and endless tirade over an incident she ought to have moved on from, but I was powerless to resist any further when she played the victim card and reminded me that I didn’t stand up for her.

Ever since the vanishing and dramatic reappearance of Anda, and the pounding Blessing received from Ebiakpo in the interval she was the prime suspect in the presumed abduction of my nephew, she had refused to put the matter to rest or forgive me for the part she thought I played in the harassment she suffered in the hands of my sister. In spite of my several apologies and honest explanation that the entire episode was a mix up and a crazy misunderstanding between a garrulous wife and her insensitive husband using their son as bait in a game of mad-people’s-chess, my on-again-off-again girlfriend hasn’t stopped crying and cursing, and insisting that my action was deliberate and that I had ganged up with my sister and her sister-in-Christ and fellow church member to beat her up and embarrass her in public because of our last nasty break up.

“Me? Ebinimi, me? Na me, your sister disgrace like that for public like say I be common runs girl when snatch person husband, abi? Chai, I don suffer! Blessing Bassey don suffer for this Yenagoa, no be small. If no be this Jesus work when we don enter so, when come cool me down like ice water, do you think I would have let another woman disgrace me the way your sister did so tay my Brazilian hair almost comot for my skull sef and I didn’t bite one of her ear comot or pour hot water on her face or even rub hot pepper in her private part? Me Blessing, I don soft no be small. I swear, I don soft finish.”

“Blessing, don’t talk like that na, abeg. I have told you it was an honest mistake. When Broderick told us you came to the house, we all thought – ”

“You all thought what,” she interrupted me, “that I would kidnap him and ask for ransom or force you to marry me, otherwise I won’t return him to his family?”  She paused to shake her head for a bit as if in contemplation of how weak she had become. “You think I’m that desperate for your rice-without-meat-love, when correct guys, commissioners, permanent secretaries and bank managers dey line up for my shop to take me out and spoil me with better money”

“No na, Blessing. It’s not like that ehn. E never reach make you dey insult me na.”

“Why wouldn’t I insult you, Ebinimi, weren’t you the one who first insulted me when you came to my house with your sister to attack me and almost strip me naked in front of my younger ones and my neighbours on top of something that I didn’t even know anything about, ehn?” she asked, her voice rising and drawing the attention of the other customers in Parliament Bar where I had agreed to meet with her because she had refused to come to the house so we could trash out the issue between Ebiakpo and her, once and for all.

“But I have apologised a thousand times on behalf of my sister and her husband,” I pleaded one more time. “Please, believe me, it was not intentional. We were all confused and worried that something bad had happened to Anda.”

“And that something bad was me kidnapping him, abi? Why on earth would I do that, me Blessing Bassey of all people! Why would I now go and hide Anda? Think am na? What do I stand to gain by kidnapping him, your hand in marriage?”

Someone close to where we sat chuckled and I almost lost it, but I quickly held my anger in check not wanting to create a bigger spectacle than we were already making.

“Blessing, I have told you it was a mistake and we are all very sorry for the assault on you that night. How could we have known that it was the boy’s father that came and carried him away when no one even saw him enter the compound?” I asked her, hoping that my question wouldn’t infuriate her even more. “Remember that the very Broderick who should have been looking after the boy was fast asleep and didn’t even hear you leave – ”

“When I came out of the room, I saw BRD and Anda sleeping on the couch,” Blessing cut in. “I didn’t want to disturb them so I left and bolted the gate from the outside like we normally do when we close from the church. As I say I shouldn’t disturb the boy’s sleep, na bad I do?” Blessing asked me.

“But apparently after you left, my brother-in-law, Benson, stopped over for a visit believing that his wife and son were also visiting too. Lo and behold, he came in and saw Anda and my apprentice that should be looking after him both fast asleep in the parlour. He tried waking Broderick up, but the foolish boy was too far gone to even stir, so he carried his son home and switched off his phone to teach all of us, including his wife Ebiakpo, a lesson in carefulness and security consciousness.”

“So that is how I would have been accused falsely of something I am completely innocent of and maybe sent away to languish in Okaka prison. That is after Sister Ebiakpo, the dragoness and deputy mama of Reverend Ebizimor and His Jerusalem Warriors International Group of Churches must have plucked my eyes oh.”

“It was never going to come to that na. Thank God that Benson called off the torture and switched on his phone to let his wife know that Anda was fine and that the entire episode was orchestrated by him drive home a point.”

“Anyway, all of you should thank God that some of Reverend Ebizimor’s anointing has robbed off on me and I am not who I used to be. If you doubt me, go to my secondary school in Uyo and ask about me. If they do not remember me there again, then I can refer you to Lagos where I learnt this make-up and hairdressing business I am doing today. They will tell you everything you need to know about me.”

That was three days ago and nothing has changed.  Blessing still calls me every morning, afternoon and night to complain about aches and pains in different parts of her body as if fixing cars was the same as tending to the human body. The last time I checked, I was a mechanic not a medical doctor, but would she listen? No! Now she wants to finish my phone battery life with all seventy-one nonsense messages about wanting to see me urgently and I’m supposed to shut down my business just to humour her.

Because of her insistence, I agreed to meet with her in Aguero’s place at Amassoma much later in the day. I knew my friend Aguero was in town because we spoke just before I went to bed about a lecturer that wanted us to raise some money for him to bury his father. Aguero thought buying a cow and supporting this particularly difficult man with a cash donation of N500k would guarantee our graduation with flying colours when the time came. Mindful of the number of calls and messages I had received from customers that needed their cars fixed and returned to them before the close of day, I made a mental note to clear with Aguero, in case he had plans of performing a sacrifice at the altar himself.

I rushed the breakfast of beans, yam, bread and pure water BRD bought for me from Mama Favour’s joint, and then slipped into my grease-and-dirt crusted navy blue khaki overall before heading outside to join Saka and company in the workshop. I had anticipated a very busy day and that was exactly what it was. The cars kept coming in and out as if we ran an assembly plant, so I couldn’t catch a breather – not even for lunch. It wasn’t until almost 4pm when I saw a reminder from Blessing about our plan to meet up in Amassoma that I remembered I hadn’t even spoken to Aguero about using his apartment that evening.

I put a call across to him that rang through. Knowing my friend like I did, it was easy to guess that he was either at a business meeting or with one of his babes. But I was certain he’d return my call as soon as he got a chance. I returned to the crankshaft that was proving too stubborn for Saka and me, and soon lost track of time again. When twenty minutes later my phone rang and it was Aguero, I had a knowing smile on my face as I touched the green light on the screen of my Tecno phone.

“Sergio Aguero!” I hailed him.

“Ebinimi J, wetin dey happen na?”

“Nothing oh, your boy still dey hustle to make am na.”

“Which one be hustle again, Oga Ebinimi? No be you dey keep all the Yenagoa big boys on the road?  If you lock up shop one day alone, you sabi how many big big men and women go enter keke for this town?” We both laughed and bantered for a few seconds before I went right to why I’d called him initially.

“Guy, abeg the altar go dey free this evening?” I asked, “Blessing say she want to see me for something important, and I suspect say we fit offer some burnt offering afterwards.”

“Ah, it won’t be possible today. I don arrange sacrifice there for this night.”

I masked my disappointment with laughter and a joke to make light of it. “Father Abraham! Na who be the Isaac na?” Aguero laughed too. “Whose daughter has fallen into your trap this time?”

“This one is not a trap oh; it is very serious. In fact we are already talking marriage.” The sombre way he said it made me laugh even harder, but I was still curious to know if he was serious or just pulling my legs. Aguero was already married and I could have sworn he wasn’t the type that would want to formalise anything with a side chick.

“Who is this babe that has done you strong thing like this abeg?” Aguero was silent, and the silence lasted for two long it made both us uncomfortable.

“Adinna.”

“Adinna? My own Adinna?” I was surprised I could still speak.

“Yes,” he replied, still sounding sombre. “Adinna Lakemefa. She and I have been dating for some time now. I just didn’t know how to tell you.”

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