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The Mechanics Of Yenagoa (Season 2) – I
Post Series: Mechanics of Yenagoa

My name is Ebinimi, Ebinimi Jacob. Call it my unapologetic peeve, but I detest it when people call me anything other than my first name in full. I like the alphabets—E, B, I, N, I, M and I—that make up my pretty common Ijaw name all pronounced together, just the way my late dad intended when he christened me after his paternal cousin and closest childhood friend who drowned in the glistening waters of the Tungbo River at the very young age of fourteen. Same age as my dad had been at the time. Now that I think of it, it is kind of sardonic that years later, my father would also die in a water-related accident.

You see, this isn’t a narrative I get to tell often; in fact I don’t think I’ve told anyone how my parents came about that name choice since I got to know myself, when I turned fourteen.

I believe my dad, Ebikabowei Bibliography Jacob, God bless his soul, chose that particular time to tell me his story because he felt it was a milestone age for me to be taught some important lessons about life and how to live it with caution, and especially why he never let my sister and I visit the beach or learn to swim, even though every Bayelsa boy or girl was thought to be a natural creature of the sea, river, stream or pool and could swim like a fish.

That other Ebinimi, the one I was named after, his parents had allowed him accompany my dad and my grandparents to the village for the Christmas holidays that year. It was the first time they would let him go on such a trip.

I want to believe the fact that my grandfather and his father were brothers, and that they were holidaying in the village where they both grew up, made it easy to let the boy join his uncle and cousin home that December.

In the end, the tragic death of the lively teenager caused a rift between the two families that started that day my grandparents had to travel back to Port Harcourt to break the sad news of the death of an only son to his parents. That rift became a family feud that continues until this day, long after both men passed on.

If that Ebinimi had lived longer, he could have been a great fisherman or a sailor – my dad said he loved water so I guess it was ironic that he would lose his life in the river that ran through our village, his village. My dad also told me that he loved to make things with his hands and fiddle with cars and metal objects, so perhaps he would have made a good mechanic or even an engineer, designing and building cars. My granddad says I got my love of cars from him. He says it runs in the family.

As I prepared for my journey by road back to Yenagoa from Abuja, where I had spent more than two weeks with Mr. Freedom recuperating and waiting to see the boss, Honourable Aaron Barnabas-Treatment, the newest addition to the President’s cabinet, I wondered why that particular story came back to me. I guess it was because I forgot the advice my dad gave me all those years ago. I threw caution to the wind when I got entangled with bad people and almost lost my life.

The memory of that day—almost two months now—still haunts my nights, and I don’t know whether it was the fear of missing my bus and not getting a refund from the management of God-is-Good Motors or the uncertainty of not deciding whether to forgive Teikuro and put the whole mix-up behind me that kept me up all night. I was still torn between letting go and arranging a counter hit on him just to make it clear I wasn’t someone he could mess with.

Every time I closed my eyes, the sequence played back with an exactitude that denied me the rest I craved. I remember the neatly dressed guy that came to the workshop to get his car fixed. I’m not sure I’d recollect his face if I saw him now, and that really bothered me because it meant he could walk right past me on the streets of Yenagoa and I wouldn’t be able to knock his teeth off. I remember driving his white Toyota Avensis and him telling me to take the turn into Mike Okpokpo Street and into the gated compound where he got off to get something.

Everything after that was a blur. First, it was the door being forced open and someone dragging me out of the car and unto the floor so violently a body part snapped – I’m not sure which. I was immediately gagged and blindfolded, and then came the blows to the head with sticks and knuckles of steel. There was more dragging and punching, and even though I was blinded by the pain and the thing tied around my eyes, I could sense bleeding. I remember the darkness and the confinement as if I was in a coffin or some box with a lid on it. I also remember being in motion because of the nausea and the horns from the cars around us that blared like the much talked about trumpets in the last day prophesies.

The pain from the beating was excruciating, but I willed myself to stay conscious. I was convinced the rapture had come and I was being driven straight to hell. I wanted to be wide-awake when I was ushered in so I could personally plead my case to my maker.

I remember Tiekuro’s voice. He was saying they had the wrong guy or something like that. At this point, if it were a movie, I would have told you how an old farmer found me and took me to his house because I had lost my memory. He nurses me back to health and I marry his beautiful daughter or something along those lines. But no, this isn’t a movie script. It is real life, and so instead of the old farmer, it was some errant schoolboys.

I don’t know what brought them to that deserted part of Imiringi road, but they were there, like little angels sent from heaven to save me. One of them had a phone and they helped dial my number.  As it rang, I prayed that someone in the workshop would pick up my phone, which I had left charging somewhere in my rush to attend to the well-dressed gentleman that needed my help. Saka picked up the phone, and the rest as they say is history.

At the Bayelsa Specialist Hospital, the doctors discovered after reviewing the scan results from the Diagnostic Centre at Imgbi road that my condition wasn’t as bad as it looked. Nothing was broken and there was no internal bleeding. Apart from a dislocated shoulder and a deep gash on my skull that was of some concern to the doctors, the rest were minor cuts and bruises that required stitching. I was discharged from the hospital after two weeks and by the fourth week, the sling and cervical collar were gone. Of course, during that period, I had to stay off work and all kinds of heavy lifting, so Saka was in charge of business at the shop.

Everyone was curious to know what really happened that day, but there was no way I could tell anyone that I was the victim of an attack on Saka gone wrong. No one could ever find out the truth, not even Blessing or Ebiakpo, the two people that tormented me the most for the full gist.

My decision to travel to Abuja was partly to run away from the questions that wouldn’t stop coming while I recuperated, and also to discuss with Honourable Aaron about relocating to Abuja and working with him full-time. I could be a second PA to the Minister, I could be his driver, anything at all just to get away from Yenagoa and start a new life.

Mr. Freedom was gracious enough to let me stay in his room in Transcorp Hilton even though most nights I was forced to sit in the lobby or by the poolside pretending to be pressing my laptop because of the light skinned women he brought back to the hotel. Sometimes he’d come back with one and just as she was leaving another one was calling from the reception. He says a man has never really lived until he has slept with an Abuja babe.

However, after being in Abuja for almost three weeks and not seeing Honourable Aaron because he was either in one meeting with the President or being briefed by the security chiefs about the latest Boko Haram bombing in the North East, a sleep depraved me knew that my life was in Yenagoa. I am a Yenagoa mechanic. That is what I am, that is what I’d always be.

To be fair to the Minister, when Mr. Freedom told him I was going back home to Yenagoa, he gave me N300k. I promptly sent him a text message thanking him for his kindness and praying for more blessings and favour in his new position.

The journey from the federal capital territory was smooth and uneventful. After about eleven hours on the road, the bus dropped me off at the GIG Park in Kpansia just before 6pm.

As I highlighted from the keke that dropped me off at Kalakala Street, the first thing that caught my attention was the signboard. Reverend Ebizimor had rebranded.

The big bright signboard announcing his ministry no longer read “Reverend Ebizimor and the Jerusalem Warriors International Church.” It was now “Fire for Fire Liberation Ministries.”

I hadn’t been back for one minute and it was already clear to me that my tenant was spoiling for a fight!

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