My best friend, Bami and I were on our way to shop for groceries. It was the weekend, a time when we did our cooking for the week. But this time around, we were cooking for Bami. I was scheduled to spend a few days visiting my cousins in Badagry. I had met Bami at the NYSC camp and we had grown close, so close that everyone believed we were a couple. And each time any of us denied it, they scoffed or gave us look that told us they thought we were being untruthful. It did not help that Bami’s girlfriend was in Benin and I was without a lover. And while I had a slew of admirers, none had aroused more than a passing interest in me.
The 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus screeched to a halt. stopping just a few inches before the gun-wielding police officer.
The burning smell of a burnt clutch hit the air as the driver switched gears and wiped the sweat off his brow.
The deep creases on the face of the burly officer and his flared nostrils made even more sinister by the pointing gun barrel was all the warning the driver needed to be cooperative.
Some passengers hissed and slapped their palms together. A baby let out a wail, he had been suckling happily before the abrupt stop had forced his mother to withdraw her breast.
“Officer, wetin happen na?” The driver asked in a thick Ijaw accent.
He was due to arrive in a couple of hours.
Mum had worn her wig and that floral scent she reserved for those times when dad was coming from one of his regular trips.
“Guys, I know I promised we would go to grandma’s place this weekend, but I’m sorry that won’t be possible anymore…”
Before he finished, Ire had yanked off the arm that held him on dad’s lap and flung himself on the blue Persian rug in the middle of the living room.
My younger brother was only seven years old, but already, everyone knew about his legendary emotional reactions. He was quick to get hurt and throw a tantrum, but that was just because he had a soft heart.
“I feel claustrophobic in here. My kids are driving me crazy. Omo, no how wey I no go comot this house.” Bode said.
He had scrambled for his phone almost as soon as it rang. It was Felix, his longtime friend and colleague at Lion Consulting.
“Hahaha, guy chill. The thing dey affect everybody, but how we go do na, it will soon be over.”
“I’m trying to oh, but mehn, I don tire. Not even with this woman wey de want attention all the time. Abeg I don tire jare.”
Felix rumbling laughter rang through the speaker.
As he hung up, Bode could hear his three kids screaming at one another again. He needed no one to tell him they were involved in yet another scuffle. If they were not arguing about what cartoon to watch, they were fighting whose turn it was to occupy the rocking sofa.
The silence lingered. The park had a sparse human presence. It was Saturday morning, families and picnickers were yet to arrive.
“Hello ma’am, are you Mrs Johnson?”
“Please take a seat, Beatrice.”
“Have we met before?” She asked.
Banke’s lips curved into a smirk. She had prepared for this.
“I have seen you, I know what you look like. Take a seat.”
Beatrice wrapped her dress across her slim frame and sat on the edge of the park bench. She took in the dark-skinned woman who was now only a few inches away from her. She looked to be in her mid to late thirties. Her face was unfamiliar, this stranger regarding her.
It was the umpteenth time she would be reporting him to his bestie, Chris, and as usual, Chris was full of apologies on his friend’s behalf and assured her she would never cause to complain again.
But she had heard this before. She could still remember the words of her would-be mother-in-law the last time she had walked him on them arguing.
“Ada, you need to be patient. I am not taking sides with Bayo oh, only that I know a woman who wants to enjoy her marriage will need a lot of patience,” She had said, waving her palms.
“But mummy, are you saying I should put up with his cheating ways?”
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Amen.” The congregation chorused as Sunday mass came to a close.
Some members of Redemption Evangelical Church thronged forward to pay their respects to Father Brown the presiding priest of the parish.
“God bless you.”
“God bless you.”
“You are blessed.”
Father Brown had a prayer for everyone around him. The 6ft 3 inches bulky man of God was adored by his people. Even though he towered above everybody else, he was soft-spoken and a calm reassurance accompanied his teachings.
Zita was getting married soon and Nnamdi was not looking forward to the now imminent time when he would be the only child at home.
Her husband, Stanley and his people were due in Mbaise for their traditional wedding in a fortnight.
“I am going to be so bored when Zita leaves this house.” He said
The family was having their Sunday dinner. It was an unwritten rule that they all had their Sunday evening meal together to bond as a family and Nnamdi was worried about he would cope without his only sister.
“Livinus, I’m telling you that this time around, things go dey different. This new candidate don talk sey him go dey show face well. Sey all the things wey our community need, him go make sure sey him do something about them when him enter.”
Livinus wasn’t convinced. Over the years, they had heard different variations of the same lie, and at the end of the day, nothing changed. The politicians they had voted in the past had let them down. Once they secured the mandate of the people, they instantly became inaccessible, and now their constituency was a mess. Nothing worked. The roads were in a deplorable state, power supply was worse than ever, children of school age were out of school hawking wares, and the youths were idle.