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

When I woke up in the morning, Blessing was gone and Saka had become an Internet sensation. The Instagram handle, @MechanicsOfYenagoa, had 374 followers. My first post had 1294 views, 386 likes and 79 comments all about Saka. My boys had captured people’s attention with their impromptu singing and dancing. Almost everyone who saw the video on social media asked for more.

I jumped out of bed to break the good news to the guys, but none of them was in the sitting room or out in the workshop.

“Saka! Saka! Biodun! Broderick!” I called.

Saka ran out of the bathroom to join me in the veranda. He was covered in lather and had water dripping from his body on to the tiled floor of the front porch. The brown towel around his waist used to be white, but it wasn’t my place to tell him how long he should use it before trashing and buying a new one.

“Oga Ebinimi, wetin happen? The house dey on fire?”

“Mehn, the only thing on fire right now is you guys on social media! See, see…” I passed him my phone and he glanced at the screen; a blank expression enveloped his face. I noticed from the look he gave me that he couldn’t understand my excitement. I could tell also that he didn’t appreciate or comprehend the import of what he was looking at.

“You bin dey video us with your phone that day?”

“Over one thousand views in just about 7 hours Saka, I know people who would give up their hands and legs, and even go completely naked for that number of likes on Instagram. And the comments, you should read the comments. People really like you guys.”

“Which people like us?”

“Saka, why are you like this? Abeg give me my phone jare. Where Biodun and BRD dey sef? Na them go understand the implication of wetin you dey look so.”

Just then, Biodun walked in through the gate with what I suppose was his breakfast – a large bowl of noodles and nice scenting stew with boiled eggs he must have bought from Mama Favour at the junction.  I showed him the post.

“Wow! Oga Ebinimi, make we go record another video sharperly.” The way he jumped up and down beating on his chest, anyone would have thought he just won something at the Olympics.

“Na so. You no sabi say some of these things na luck?”

“But see na, dis one pass luck oh, even Tunde Ednut sef comment and him even regrann am.”

“Make I see,” I collected the phone back from him. “Chai, I no even see this one oh! Ol’boy, 9,763 views and 445 comments in one night!”

Instantly, Biodun had ideas for a new video, which he began sharing with me while Saka went back in to finish washing up.

“Make we sing dat Tubaba song with Perruzi – Amaka disappoint me, dat song na heavy banger. Abi make we do Fake Love when Wizkid and Duncan Mighty sing? Me I feel say dat one go better pass. Saka go dey for front dey sing him nonsense, den me and BRD go lie down for ground – ”

“Na true oh, where BRD dey sef?” I interrupted him, already looking around for signs of my youngest member of staff. “I no think say I been see am for night when una been dey watch that Juventus match for parlour.” When I said that, I noticed Biodun’s countenance change. He wasn’t smiling anymore and he had his eyes to the ground.

“Oga Ebinimi, BRD matter don tire me oh!”

“What has he done this time?”

“I no sabi di kain bad guys when him don dey follow diz days oh. Di oda day wen you been no dey around, na so dem come pack all him fine fine shirt and jeans. Dem even carry him phone go, remain small thing dem for beat am if to say Reverend Ebizimor been no come out come beg. Dem say him dey owe dem plenty money for something wen dem supply am.”

“I hope say this guy never go join cult sha?” I wondered out loud.

“Oga, I won’t be surprised if he has oh. Yesterday evening, he still follow some other guys like that comot. Dem say dem dey go Asters for Express. Na 3 o’clock this morning Broderick jump fence enter house. His tongue was all blue and I could see he was as high as a kite.”

It had to be Swinol. “So where is he now?”

“The guy still dey sleep for room.”

I was worried for Broderick. I knew it was time I spoke to his parents about the change in him that was making all of us in the workshop uncomfortable, but how do I do that? It was easy to blame it all on adolescence, but I knew it was much more than that. I too was 20 years old once and never for a moment succumbed to the pressure of joining cult gangs and doing drugs. Now suddenly, here I was with a huge problem on my hands.

I had met BRD during my undergraduate days in NDU. His parents were my landlords in the dilapidated face-me-I-face-you one-room off-campus apartment I rented in Amassoma all through the four years of my stay there, plus the nearly two extra years of ASUU strikes. Back then, Broderick and his younger brother, Funakpo, did my laundry and ran other errands for me and my two other roommates, Kendrick and Amabebe.

Even then, BRD would skip school. And while his kid brother today is a freshman studying History and International Relations in the University of Africa, Toru Orua, BRD was still struggling with WASC and JAMB.

Three years ago, his mother begged me to let him join me in Yenagoa as an apprentice in the workshop. Under my care and mentorship and with her prayers, she hoped her son would turn out a better man, much better than his father who was a security guard in the university by day and a kai-kai drinker by night.

Thankfully, her son BRD now has four credits in WASC after three attempts, and with any luck he’d make it five by the next. As for the JAMB examination, it has been a steady but laborious climb to the 200 mark demanded by universities, but I have made plans to fast track the process next time around. My only fear now was that with the way he was going, that day may never come because BRD was now a “cultist” and a “drug addict,” and I must now summon courage to tell his mother that I had let her down and failed to take care of her son.

The sound of someone banging the gate interrupted my reverie. Biodun and I exchanged glances. I wondered who the early morning caller was. My first instinct was to think Aguero. He had told me the night before that he’d be coming to see me, but then I doubted he’d drop by so early in the morning. Then again, I thought it was probably someone from the church coming in early to pray or maybe even a customer desperate to get his or her car fixed before the place turned into a mad house.

I was certain it was the latter though. Why some customers wouldn’t read the notice outside the gate that announced our resumption time as 8:00 AM was beyond me.

“Oga Ebinimi, you dey expect customer?” It was as if Biodun read my mind, but he was already on his way to the gate before I could respond to his question. When he got back a couple of minutes later, he had a mischievous grin on his face.

“Who be that?” I asked him.

“The new apprentice,” his smile broadened and I wondered why he was being so coy about whomever it was he met at the gate. “You nor even tell us say we don get new member of staff.”

“New member of staff?” What the hell was he talking about? I was about to accompany him to the gate to see things for myself when I remembered. It must be the person the owner of the place I honed my skills as a mechanic a few years ago in Agudama spoke about when he called two days ago to complain about the floods that had submerged his workshop and chased his customers away.

When Oga Emma asked if I could temporarily accommodate an intern in my workshop, until the floods receded that is, I couldn’t say no. After all, he taught me everything I knew about repairing cars and I still consulted him secretly whenever there was a tricky situation I couldn’t handle myself. So, I agreed to take in his trainee. I figured I needed the extra hand as well, especially now that BRD’s future in Kalakala Street was uncertain.

“Oga Ebinimi, make I open gate for am?”

“Yes, yes, let him in.”

This time Biodun didn’t walk, he ran. No, he didn’t run; he flew. Walking beside him as he returned to join me on the veranda was the most beautiful girl in Nigeria, and I mean it quite literarily.

“Good morning sir. My name is Oputi,” she said with the voice of an angel and a smile that rivalled the sunshine. “My Oga spoke to you about me.”

Come, come, come oh, Oputi isn’t a guy? Damn! Why didn’t he tell me Oputari was a girl?

I stretched my right hand for a handshake, and the instant hers touched mine, I knew we had a connection. Is this what people call love at first sight?

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