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

Blessing didn’t show up last night. She didn’t pick or return my calls either, even though I must have tried her number more than ten times between 8 pm and midnight when I finally gave up trying. Whenever she gave me the silent treatment, it was either because she was mad about something I had done that day or I didn’t give her money she asked for.

A number of times, it was because she suspected some hanky-panky with some other chick, and those times she’d put up cryptic messages about men and unfaithfulness on her WhatsApp status in addition to going quiet on me. Her messages were never lost on me.

Since I couldn’t think of any way I had offended her in the last couple of days, I brushed aside the disappointment of spending another cold December night alone on my big bed. I told Siri, the iPhone messenger, I wanted Alicia Keys’ Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart on repeat, and then I selected two of my softest pillows, wrapped my arms around them, and went to sleep.

I woke up still thinking it was weird for Blessing to give me an attitude when I should have been the one mad at her. Against my advice, she had gone to Reverend Ebizimor about my late brother-in-law’s secret marriage in Port Harcourt. She had also not called or visited Ebiakpo since her husband’s death and I thought that was immature on her part, considering they both worshipped in the same church.

I knew Ebiakpo had apologised to her after the fight they had when we all erroneously thought she had abducted Anda some months back.  Apparently, Sister Blessing still carried a grudge over the humiliation she suffered in the hands of my sister.

In the past, whenever Blessing wouldn’t talk to me, I was always the one desperate to reach out to her for a resolution of the issues – real or imaginary. This time though, I decided to borrow a leaf from her playbook. After all if I survived the night without her, I would surely survive the day if I didn’t see her or speak with her on the phone.

Putting aside Blessing’s behaviour from the night before, I quickly prepared to begin my day which from all indications would be hectic because we had three vehicles from two days earlier that had to be worked on and delivered to their owners before lunch time.

When I got to the workshop, my workers were having morning devotion, one of the innovations introduced by Oputi when she joined us on Kalakala Street. After we said the grace and I had assigned all of them their tasks, Oputi raised her hands to grab my attention. She said she had something she wanted to discuss with me privately so I asked her to follow me back into the main house.

“Oga Ebinimi.”  That smile, I tell you, it can end wars.

“Madam Oputi.” I smiled back even though I knew my own teeth would never land me in a toothpaste commercial. “I’m so sorry I haven’t had time to thank you for the other night – the movie – and then afterwards – at FMC.” I didn’t know why I skipped the part in my room before Ebiakpo’s call came.

“It’s the least I could have done,” Oputi answered shyly. I think she suspected where my head was at that moment, but she didn’t go there. Instead she asked, “So, how’s your sister holding up?”

“It hasn’t been easy, but I know she’s a soldier; she’ll pull through, mostly because of my nephew, Anda.”

“Thank God she’s a strong woman.”

“Trust me, she is,” I concurred. “Okay, Oputi, let’s hear it because I know you didn’t ask for this meeting just to discuss my sister’s strength,” I said, pointing to the sofa. “So what is it I can do for you this morning?”

“It’s Saka. I think you need to speak with him.”

“Saka? What has he done this time?”

“I really don’t know what has gotten into him lately,” she began, “we haven’t posted anything new on Instagram for days now because he has refused to sing with Biodun and BRD.”

“Why wouldn’t he sing, isn’t that what he likes to do?”

“Every time I tell him we need fresh content for the Mechanics of Yenagoa, he tells me to go and speak with his manager.”

“Saka has a manager now?” I would have laughed out loud, but then I didn’t know how Oputi would take it, so I kept a straight face and listened.

“Yes, his girlfriend Agnes. She says she’s his manager and she’s really, really, really getting on my last nerves,” I could see the frustration in Oputi’s face as she spoke. “She keeps making demands and giving us conditions.”

“She has conditions?”

“Plenty conditions. First, she says she must be in every short video we shoot.”

“As what?”

Waka pass, siddon look…anything. She says she too must become popular on social media like her boyfriend.”

“Well, if that’s all she wants, I guess we can somehow accommodate her in the videos.”

“I thought so too, until she showed up all made up like a masquerade. When I told her she had too much makeup on, she flared up and even threatened that her client would boycott all future shoots if I didn’t stop ordering her about like a small child.”

With all the things troubling my mind, I didn’t think I wanted to add Saka and Sister Agnes’s revolt into the mix.

“See Oputi, just give them whatever they want.”

“Oga Ebinimi, that’s not all she’s asking for oh!”

“What else could she possibly want?”

“70 per cent.”

“Of what?”

“Remember the guys from Axel Auto Oils I told you about the other time?”

“Yes I do?”

“Well, It turns out the company’s PR people are really serious about using Saka for a commercial and they are willing to pay up to ₦500k in fees. I told Saka this and he tells his ‘manager’ and now she says they must take 70 percent of the money and any other money we make in future from his singing and appearances because Saka is the brain behind the Mechanics of Yenagoa.”

“But I am the brain behind the Mechanics of Yenagoa. I started this damn thing,” I almost yelled in disbelief.

“I think what Agnes meant to say is that Saka is the star of the show or something like that.”

“And does Saka know about his girlfriend’s meddling?”

“He does, in fact he was standing there the whole time.”

“Look, Oputi, I think it’s too early in the day for me to get worked up over percentages and boycotts, so let’s deal with this later. I think you should fix a meeting between his womanager and me for tomorrow or the day after. There’s just too much work for us here at the moment to allow ourselves get distracted by Agnes and her demands.”

“Okay, Oga Ebinimi.” Oputi didn’t get up so I knew there was more. “I made you sandwich and iced tea.”

“Hmmmm,” I smiled, “movies, sandwiches, iced tea…you’re turning me into ajebutter oh.”

She laughed. “Speaking of ajebutter things, have you heard of the Ink Potters? They are a group of young Yenagoa-based poets and creatives – one or two of them were in the university with me.”

“I’m listening.”

“They organise this monthly poetry slam at Davem and the Christmas edition comes up this weekend. Would you like to attend?”

I wasn’t expecting that, but I was happy someone as pretty, classy and exposed as Oputi wanted to spend time with me because I was really getting to like her. She was calm, focused, innovative, smart, loving, calm, attentive, sweet, gentle, soft-spoken, loyal, calm –

“Oga Ebinimi, would you like to come?”

“Poetry, you say? I’ve never really attended anything like that before, but if you promise it’d be fun, then I’m game.”

“Okay, Sunday is a date then.”

“Sure thing.” I had an extra spring in my steps as I walked with her back to the workshop.

The next two days went like a breeze; it was all work, work and more work which was a good thing because it helped take my mind off a lot of things. I even forget about my meeting with Sister Agnes until Oputi brought Saka and her to the parlour that evening. She said she only had fifteen minutes to spare because she didn’t want to be late for the communion service with Reverend Ebizimor.

“Sister Agnes,” I began, “what is this thing I am hearing about you demanding 70 percent of the proceeds from the Mechanics of Yenagoa. I don’t know if Saka hasn’t told you yet, but I started this thing. It is my brainchild and since I handed it over to Oputi, she has taken it to a whole new level.”

“I no dey argue that one with you, Oga Ebinimi. My own point be say if not for Saka, the thing for no go anywhere. This Internet sensation, Internet sensation when people dey call am now, no be by pressing phone oh,” she turned and made a face at Oputi. “Na by talent.”

“Nobody talk say Saka no get talent. My own be say na me start this thing, and I no go because of that one, begin give everybody condition or begin dey ask for lion share of any money when we make.”

“Brother Jacob, but make you sef reason this matter na. Na Saka be the main man, na him dey bring hold up – ”

“Traffic,” I heard Oputi mutter under her breath.

“Na Saka be the koko and that na why the Axel Oil people ask for am.”

At that point, I thought it was necessary to hear from Saka himself. It was important I knew where he stood in all of these, but I really shouldn’t have bothered questioning him. I should have known.

“Me I support anything when Agi talk oh.”

“Saka, so after everything I have done for you in this house and in my workshop, you seriously want to throw all away because of ordinary ₦600k? Oputi here is very talented, she can make you a household name in this country. Agnes on the other hand only wants to control your money. She can’t help you make or grow anything.”

“Saka, make we go. Las las na dem go come beg us.” Agnes stormed out of the parlour but to my greatest surprise, Saka didn’t join her.

At that point, I couldn’t help myself. I knew I sounded worse than a frog when I sang, but since Saka was on strike, someone had to do the singing. I thought the words of Davido and Kizz Daniel aptly captured the moment.

“See baby, if you want leave o, biko leave,

No do shakara, no dey carry your shoulder oh

As you see me so baby, na because of you I don kolo

See I don dey go, one ticket to obodo oyibo.”

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