- 1.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (I)
- 2.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (II)
- 3.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (III)
- 4.Mechanics of Yenagoa (IV)
- 5.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (V)
- 6.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (VI)
- 7.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (VII)
- 8.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (VIII)
- 9.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (IX)
- 10.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (X)
- 11.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XI)
- 12.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XII)
- 13.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XIII)
- 14.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XIV)
- 15.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XV)
- 16.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XVI)
- 17.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XVII)
- 18.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XVIII)
- 19.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XIX)
- 20.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XX)
- 21.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – I
- 22.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – II
- 23.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – III
- 24.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – IV
- 25.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – V
- 26.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – VI
- 27.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – VII
- 28.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – VIII
- 29.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – IX
- 30.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – X
- 31.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XI
- 32.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XII
- 33.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XIII
- 34.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XIV
- 35.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XV
- 36.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XVI
- 37.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XVII
- 38.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XVIII
- 39.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XIX
- 40.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XX
Oyintari, AKA Jigger, AKA Sucking Blood, asked me what Saka looked like, and so I handed over to her the only copy of his photograph I had. It was from four years ago during Anda’s dedication in Reverend Ebizimor’s church. He was not alone in the picture. Back then, Broderick hadn’t joined the workshop, so it was Aguero and me in the middle, flanked by Saka to our right and Biodun on our left. Biodun was tall and gangly, and a lot slimmer then, but Saka didn’t change much. We were about the same height and build, but he was darker and his broad smile made him standout in the photo even though I was better dressed and clearly the focus of whomever the photographer was – or so I thought.
My decision to bring along a physical picture was because I didn’t think it was smart transferring some more recent photos I had of him from my phone to Tiekuro’s or one of his girls’. It wasn’t as if they were going to kill him or anything like that, but they would just teach Saka a lesson on my behalf. I didn’t want anything linking me to it. I was wiser now.
I did show them some pictures from my phone though, but that was how far I was prepared to go when they kept insisting that they needed a clearer image of the target.
When I got back to the house, everyone was asleep. Thankfully, NEPA—or is it Port Harcourt Distribution Company they call them these days—decided we could join the rest of civilisation, so I saw an episode of Power, you know the one where Ghost was released from prison and his son Tariq was starting to become a villain.
It was almost a quarter past midnight when sleep came. I kept waking up intermittently because I was having the same bad dream about someone dying. The first time, there was a body on the ground but it didn’t have a face. The second time, it had a face but it wasn’t someone I knew. The last one was of a boy. I recognised him as one of the kids on Kalakala Street, but when he spoke, it was in Anda’s voice: “touch not my anointed.”
I woke up to pray and drink some olive oil. It was the special one Reverend Ebizimor sold for N3k to his congregants because of the bottle it came in and the anointing it carried. And it helped.
The first thing I did in the morning was to call Ebiakpo. That dream about her son made me realise that we hadn’t seen in a while, not since Blessing dropped the bombshell about my nephew’s paternity anyway.
She sounded excited on the phone. Ebiakpo said something about her husband Benson being awarded a contract by the state government to build some classroom blocks in Ekeremor. The value of the contract made my jaw drop, but I quickly picked it up again to invite myself over to her house to “wash” it.
“Before you come, I go don prepare correct starch and banga soup dey wait you,” Ebiakpo said. We said our goodbyes and then I ended the call.
As an Ijaw man that can eat starch and banga soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I wasn’t going to Ebiakpo’s house because of the food. I needed to study Anda’s face so I could see for myself that he really looked like Reverend Ebizimor.
For some reason, it was a slow day at the workshop, and as at 11 o’clock only two cars had come in – one requiring a simple oil change and the other was to change the shocks. Since I was planning to see Aguero at the police station, I didn’t want to get my hands dirty so I allowed Saka handle the cars while I got dressed in my favourite etibor and matching black trousers.
At first, they wouldn’t let me see my friend. I pleaded with them, but they didn’t bulge. I was already in the car I drove to the station when they sent a corporal to call me back.
Against the backdrop of all that stench from unwashed bodies and three stained posters that boldly declared the police as my friend, that bail was free and that I should not give bribe to the police, I handed over ₦5k to the sergeant who then ordered one of his men to bring Aguero out of the cell.
“How you dey na?”
But Aguero didn’t answer my greeting. He did try to smile though, but it was the smile of an innocent man in so much pain from being tortured and forced to confess to being guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. I tried establishing eye contact, but he wouldn’t let me see the tears welling up. A lone drop balanced delicately on his left cheek, and seeing a usually upbeat and suave Waritimi so broken and dishevelled almost forced the truth out of me.
My ₦5k qualified me for a seat on one of the benches behind the counter and Aguero was allowed to join me. His white singlet and sky blue Nike shorts were clean, one of the perks of being wealthy and having influential parents, I guess.
“Wetin ol’boy dey do na? Make him make some calls so you go leave this place.”
“You think he hasn’t made calls? See, this thing dey come from the top I dey tell you.”
“Adinna told me about her aristo, that money-miss-road, the old man when get one leg for grave and the other one for—”
“I no even know when dem open the boot.” Aguero ignored my rant. It was like he was in a universe where it was okay to talk to himself. “The next thing I dey hear na gun, gun, gun.” Aguero was whispering now. I guess he didn’t want Sergeant ₦5k and his men listening in on our conversation. “Only those guys for the checkpoint know how the guns take enter my car I swear. This thing na heavy setup and Adinna is right, that her boyfriend hand dey inside.” Aguero dropped his voice even lower, “and you know wetin dey pain me pass? Even as my pops dey make all these calls to Commissioner of Police and his friends in government, he doesn’t believe that I didn’t do it.”
“Because of the bunkering thing?”
“That, and other things that have happened in the past. Anyway, the DPO here says they’ve finished their investigation and that I would be arraigned next week Monday.”
“Oya oga e don do! Your money don expire. If una still wan talk, you go see our oga again,” one overzealous policeman at the counter called out to me.
I had some extra cash on me, but I thought using it to buy boli and fish for Anda was way better than letting my friends in the police station have it. So, I apologised to Aguero that I had to go but I promised to see him again before his Monday court date.
When I got to my sister’s house in Edepie, Benson was out and Anda was asleep inside. I joined her in the kitchen as she warmed the soup and prepared the starch. Ebiakpo was usually talkative, but this news of the impending millions coming into her husband’s account added a whole new level of volume to her garrulousness.
“…I’m telling you Ebinimi, a new car, one correct jeep with AC. That’s the first thing I am buying once Benson gets the mobilisation. I wouldn’t have to follow you to Lagos to buy it, abi?”
“No, you wouldn’t have to. Just tell me the kind of car you want and I’ll take it from there.” I was tempted to interrupt her and go right away to ask about Anda’s father, but something told me to eat the food first. I didn’t trust Ebiakpo not to throw me out if she didn’t like what I was saying.
As if on cue, Anda came out of the room just as I was swallowing my last morsel of starch.
“Uncle Ebinimi!” He jumped on me and we immediately got into our ritual of questions and answers. I asked him some random questions about school, friends and his parents to which he returned with the funniest responses a kid his age could give. All the while I was examining his eyes, his nose, his mouth, his ears, his eyebrows…and I think I found what I was looking for.
Seeing as I hadn’t washed my hands, his mother ordered him to get off me and back into his room to play.
“I told you I had another exciting news,” Ebiakpo said, joining me in the parlour after she cleared the plates.
“Yes. You mentioned Benson’s contract and something else you’d tell me after the meal.”
“Ebinimi. God has finally done it again. This is really my month of double double like Papa said in church two Sundays ago.”
“Out with it, big sis. You know I don’t handle suspense very well.”
“I’m pregnant. 12 weeks.”
For the second time in one day, my jaw dropped. There, I was trying to unravel the mystery of the first one, and now Ebiakpo has gone and done it again. If there was some suspicion about Anda’s father, could my sister and the Reverend still be…
I summoned courage and just blurted it out. There was no point beating about the bush. Besides, I figured that a direct confrontation might rattle her into coming out with the truth.
“Is Benson responsible for this one? Because I know that he isn’t Anda’s father.”
The shock in her eyes and the tremor in her voice told me that she was taken off-guard.
“Who told you that?”
“Apparently a number of people in church know this already and they are whispering.”
Ebiakpo was silent for a very long time, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Perhaps it was less than that though, but I could understand why it would seem that it was longer. Finally she spoke.
“Benson must never know about this. Not now when things are finally working out for us again and he’s even promised to buy me a car and give me money to travel to Dubai to buy goods to trade.”
It was my turn to be stunned. Blessing was right. I was silent for seven minutes. I checked. And then, I spoke.
“You know he has to close down his church and move out of our compound now, don’t you?”
“Why would Reverend Ebizimor close down his church and move out of the compound?”
“Because one day, your husband is going to see how much Anda looks like him and he wouldn’t only be moving out, he’d be bloodied and maybe even killed.”
“Ebinimi, what are you talking about? There’s no way Anda would look like the Reverend when he’s not his father.”
“If Reverend Ebizimor isn’t Anda’s father, then who is?”
“I thought you said people were whispering?”
“Ebiakpo,” whenever I called her by her name she knew it was serious. “Who is Anda’s biological father?”
“Your friend…Waritimi Aguero Kimikeama.”