By The Zhuu
- A Night Out at Ojuelegba
A small paved lane seemed to link the little homes which had front porches where a man could sit with a friend and ask for a couple of beers fished from refrigerators inside the houses.
He and his cousin would sit there and watch young women pass by. They were looking for company. Most times, he thought, it was better to look at them and admire them than to take them home because they were bound to cause trouble.
One night he went home with one of then, a tall black woman. Elegant. An attractive sissy Eko. At bedtime, she began to cry.The so many tears pouring down from her eyes alarmed him so much that in his inebriation, he thought himself in danger of drowning in a flood of tears.
She would not tell him what the problem was in spite of his pleas. He thought that perhaps they executed her father or boyfriend at a Barbeach show. Deeply concerned, he gave her what he felt was a generous sum of money and asked her to get ready to go home. No, she cried, torrents of tears flowing down her dress She held his hand and begged him to make love to her.
This was the devil at work. And surely he would face the wrath of the Almighty if he took advantage of one in such an extreme emotional distress. She would bring bad luck. No. He flung the bedroom door open. She had to go.
On another night he went with his cousin to Ojuelegba. Surely, he was going to be lucky this time. A good hardworking man like he deserved the occasional embrace of a pretty, good young female.
He and his cousin were cautious. They made their choice very discriminately. This time, slender, charming young women who were full of the promises of an unforgettable experience and appeared ready for anything.
He got home. He was about to slam the bedroom door. She stopped him. He could not do so if he did not pay her. Pay for what, he wanted to know. She walked past him into the main room leading to different doors where every other occupant of the house slept.
He was worried. This was meant to be a clandestine affair.
What had he gotten himself into. She demanded that he pay, her voice shattering the stillness.
In a swift bizarre incomprehensible transformation, she turned into a wild tigress, tearing his clothes, biting and kicking him, dragging him by his torn clothes. He tried his best to save himself. They were crashing into furniture and destroying things.
” You want a woman, right? My money. Where is my money?” The devil, he thought. Again. The devil. Why do you follow me everywhere I go.
What had he gotten himself into. He whispered a warning, pointing at the shut doors and urged with an odd, diffident combination of eye and hand signals that she keep quiet. She erupted, shouting instead. She demanded that he pay, her voice shattering the stillness.
2. One Night in Houston
He is lonely and bored, watching television all by himself in his one bedroom apartment on Fondren road in Houston. Stacked on the carpet, in one corner of the spacious living room are movies he had never had time to watch.
Metu, a Nigerian immigrant, has lived in Texas for only a few years. It is Friday night. He is not working the odd job. He decides to drive to Bunmi’s place where his new associates in Houston gather.
Driving along Fondren, he reflects on his days in Lagos. Pictures of Ajegunle, Mile Two, Festac, Surulere, Oshodi and Mushin flash through his mind. It was dangerous sometimes but there were lots of good times. He misses his friends.
When the light changes at West Airport road, Metu drives on, passing by the dark, wooden fenced enclosure where roofs are visible from the road. He has witnessed a noticeable traffic of young men and women going in and coming out of there and always wondered what was going on. Drugs? Probably.
At Bunmi’s hangout, a makeshift bar and restaurant where Nigerian favoured beers and dishes are available at night, Metu warms to the joyous, friendly company of many other lonely Nigerian men and the occasional young women.
Listening to the highlife, soukous and reggae music spicing the loud banter, arguments, debates and laughter in Bunmi’s place, Metu is entertained when somebody gets to their feet and begins to dance. At Bunmi’s place, life is always good.
Metu normally stays until the place closes at two in the morning. Tonight he decides to leave early. After three drinks, he feels satisfied though he is sure to be lonely when he gets to his apartment. He has another reason.
In the wallet in his jeans, he has the money for his monthly rent and the money he had promised to send to his mother in Nigeria. It is too late to purchase a money order for his rent or to remit money. It is unwise to go around with so much money.
He makes a turn when he reaches Fondren road. Along the road, there is a girl walking alone. When Metu’s car gets close, she waves. He slows down and pulls over, scanning in his mirrors the road behind for the ever present police.
She walks to his car. He opens the front door. She sits next to him. She is pretty, young and very dark. She must be in her mid- twenties, he thinks. He starts to chat but she is cold, adamantly distant and quiet.
Metu turns his attention to the traffic light ahead. Then in a swift instant that is a blur to him, the car is stopped in the middle of the road, and even before Metu realizes that the girl had pushed her leg on the car brake, she is fleeing out of the open car door, his car ignition key in the bunch of keys she is running with. She disappears behind the fence of the mysterious wooden enclosure.
Metu’s mind races. Luckily, the car ignition is broken. He can start the car by turning the switch with his hand. He starts the car and drives into the Shell gas station at the intersection.
She has taken the key to his apartment too. She could have robbed him, he thinks, alarmed. In his mirrors he sees four young men walking toward his car. If they were coming to negotiate the return of his keys, sure, he was prepared to pay.
As he watches the four young men approach, he is nervous. He might be wrong. He drives off. Just then a huge stone lands with vengeful force on his car dashboard. The stone has smashed through the rear mirror of his car. He drives home.
Next to the apartment where Metu lives, there is a small corner store. He stops to buy a beer taking care to take from his wallet only enough money to pay for his beer. He must calm his nerves before finding the way to get into his apartment.
A group of young men are loitering around the store chatting and smoking. Leaving the store, Metu barely notices a little white car following his vehicle to the gate of his apartment.
At the gate he stops and punches the gate code. The iron gate swings open. Metu drives in and parks. The little white car stops not far from where he is parked. Has he made a mistake, he wonders. These might be strangers. He should not have let them in. Anyhow, while inspecting the damage to his car, he is too upset to care.
Metu walks to his apartment. He is still wondering how to deal with his problems as he passes by the little white car without looking at the five young men sitting quietly inside.
When he hears footsteps behind him, Metu turns his head. A gun is pointing at him. As he is bade to lie face down on the paved ground, all Metu thinks about is the money in the wallet in the back pocket of his jeans.