- 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) – VI
- 26.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – VIII
- 27.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – IX
- 28.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – X
- 29.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XI
- 30.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XII
- 31.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XIII
- 32.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XIV
- 33.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XV
- 34.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XVI
- 35.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XVII
Ebiakpo and Reverend Ebizimor stopped talking when I barged into her room. I knew I should have knocked first, but Anda was being a nuisance in the yard, throwing tantrums and getting in everyone’s way so I had to drag him to his mother. However, in my haste to rid my staff and me of the little boy’s annoying antics so we could focus on the serious task of getting our customer’s cars fixed, I must have forgotten my manners and entered the room without being asked in.
My sister jumped up from her bed like someone caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing, and from the corner of my eyes I could see the Reverend was fidgety. He was perched uncomfortably on the only chair in what used to be my grandparent’s room. His eyes were on his chafed leather sandals and he didn’t acknowledge my presence even though I was sure I muttered a greeting to make up for interrupting their conversation.
Staying longer would have made them feel even more uncomfortable and I didn’t want my mind to think something when there was nothing, so I handed my nephew over to his mother and headed straight for the door.
“Ebinimi.” Ebiakpo’s voice stopped me before I could reach for the door handle. “Ebinimi, please don’t go yet, I was just telling Papa about the message I got from Benson’s people.”
“They sent a message to you?” I was curious to know what they had to say. Ebiakpo and I hadn’t really spoken about them since the last meeting that was a disaster.
“Yes. They say the burial has been fixed for the last week in January and that I must be there because that is what tradition demands.”
“There are certain traditional rites that the wives must perform according to Ijaw tradition and since your sister is the first wife, most of the responsibilities rest on her.” Reverend Ebizimor spoke without looking at me still.
To make him feel comfortable, I sat on the bed next to my sister and asked her how she intended to handle the situation.
“There was a subtle threat in the message. They would come for Anda if I don’t partake in the burial ceremonies. Ebinimi, I’m confused.”
“There’s nothing to be confused about,” I said to her as gently as I could. “You just have to let go of your anger and show up. He was your husband after all and you owe him that much. Or Reverend, what do you think?”
“I think you are right, Brother Jacob. Your sister must be there to pay her last respect, as should Anda. He may be young still, but you never can tell what he would remember in future. I think the boy deserves to have that final memory of his father being laid to rest.”
“That is the point I’m making,” my sister said, standing up again. “Benson is not his father, so no one can threaten to take him away from me or use that as a way of forcing me to travel with them to the village if I don’t want.”
“You don’t intend to tell them that now, do you?” I asked, surprised that my sister was even considering it. I didn’t see what good revealing a five-year secret would serve at a time when she was supposed to be mad at her late husband for cheating on her.
“Why not? If push comes to shove, I will tell them everything because if I don’t, that is how those foolish people would be troubling me for the rest of my life. In any case, as Anda grows up he would ask questions and I think he deserves to know the truth.”
“Sister Ebiakpo, I hope you are thinking this thing through as you are saying it. Telling them would also mean that you are ready to introduce Anda to his real father because that question would come up. Otherwise your son would be called a bastard for the rest of his life.”
Reverend Ebizimor had raised a valid point. Besides, I wasn’t so sure how things are done in Ijaw land, but I had read that in certain cultures in Nigeria, the child of an adulterous wife belonged to her husband and his family, but I dared not say that out loud for fear of how Ebiakpo would react to any piece of information she found unpalatable.
“Ebiapko, maybe you shouldn’t be hasty on this one. The burial is still a few weeks away, so there’s still time for you to think about how you want to handle this issue with your in-laws.
“I don’t want to lose my child or get into a nasty custodial battle with Benson’s people over a child that isn’t even his. Ebinimi, that is my point.”
“But the moment you go public with Anda’s paternity, there would be all sorts of questions and speculations about who the father of the child you are carrying now is. Are you sure you are ready for that now?”
“What does it matter to anybody who the father of my child is? The important thing is that I know and when my child is old enough I will tell him or her.”
“It matters to them because you got pregnant when their brother was alive. And if I recall correctly, the last time we had this conversation, even Aguero didn’t know that Anda is his son.” I was hesitant mentioning names, but Reverend Ebizimor was already in on the secret so it really didn’t matter.
“I will tell him,” Ebiakpo answered stubbornly.
“And ruin his already fragile marriage? Remember that his wife Preye still doesn’t have a child for him –”
My about-to-be-impassioned plea came to an abrupt end when we heard a loud thud from the far end of the room. All three of us turned towards the direction of the sound at the same time only to realise that Anda had been in the room all along. He had tripped on one of his toys and hit his head on the floor. Although it sounded painful, he didn’t cry, but his tears or lack of it wasn’t the thing that bothered us. We didn’t know what the boy heard and how much of it he comprehended!
Reverend Ebizimor cleared his throat and hurriedly left the room without ascertaining if Anda was all right. I too could have run, but Ebiakpo had one last question for me.
“Am I being hypocritical?”
I was sure she knew the answer to that question already, so I left her to tend to her son.
Back in the workshop, it was really hot outside so I called for some cold water. It was Oputi who responded to my call. Instead of water, she came back with a bottle of ice cold Coca-Cola from the fridge in the house. As she handed it over to me, our fingers touched and she smiled. Since De Brass Suites a few days ago, we had been stealing glances at each other and laughing sheepishly like two secondary school kids discovering attraction for the first time.
“We should go out for drinks after work.”
“Today?” she asked, still smiling.
“Yes. Asters, and then we can go to the hotel afterwards.”
“Sorry, Oga Ebinimi, I’m afraid today would not work for me. I promised my sister I’d be home early so I can keep her company. I told you my mum had to go to Ibadan to see my grandparents.”
I brought out my phone from my pocket and sent her a sad face crying emoji on WhatsApp. As soon as her phone beeped, and she read the chat, she burst out laughing and I joined her.
“Please na, Opugirl, just for an hour or two and then I’ll drop you off at home.”
“Okay sir, I’ll think about it, but even then it has to be tomorrow evening. I really can’t let my sister down today.’
“Okay. Tomorrow is not far. I can wait.”
“Speaking of things happening tomorrow, how are we going to cope when Saka leaves in the morning?”
That was true, the deal with the Axel guys had been finalised and Saka was leaving for Lagos in the morning to shoot the commercial for some new product they had just introduced to the market. I took two last gulps of the coke and gave the glass and empty bottle back to Oputi. On her way back into the house, I called her to ask for Saka to see me.
When he came a few minutes later, I had completely forgotten why I sent for him in the first place because of the number of customers on my neck.
“Oputi say you wan discuss my travel.” That was when I remembered his trip in the morning.
“So have you booked your flight?”
“Flight ke? Oga Ebinimi abi you wan make I get hypertension for inside plane when fit fall from sky?”
“But they gave you money for flight and airport taxi. That is what Oputi told me.”
“Yes, but Agnes advise me to go by road and give her the remaining money to keep for me, so that when I return we go start to plan our marriage.”
“I see. So you guys are really serious about this marriage thing?”
“Yes oh, next year na our year. In fact we don plan everything finish. Hashtag AGSA is loading, abi no be so Oputi dey talk am?”
“Na so,” I couldn’t help laughing out loud. “I no say make you no marry oh, but make you just remember to dey match break once, make you no crash land because of woman matter.”
“Boss, wetin I wan match break for again na, abi I be tipper or tanker?”
“Saka, you know the suffer when you suffer for this Yenagoa before you begin work here with me. Now when this opportunity don open for you and people don dey sabi you small small all over the country, make you no rush begin carry another person responsibility when your parents and brothers and sister dey struggle for village.”
“Oga, make you no worry about dem, las las dem go dey alright. Make you just put me for your prayers, so that this Lagos when I dey go so, go better for me and all of us.”
I dropped him off at Agofure Park in the morning. I waited until the 14-seater Toyota Hiace bus filled up so I could wave him goodbye as they pulled out of the gate.
I was genuinely happy for him. Something told me that a new door was opening up for him and even if he came back, he would never be just another mechanic in Yenagoa again.