Morning came sooner than expected. I yawned and stretched my body while smiling tenderly as I remembered my ordeal with Shade’s man two nights ago before he left for Ilorin.
I stepped out of the room and headed towards the small urinal area I shared with over fifty other tenants, the toilet was dirty as usual. Filthy wraps of faeces filled nylon bags decorated the place, flies danced Azonto around the toilet’s brown bowl and not minding the irrepressible state of the place, I squatted and got down to business.
I had just emerged from the toilet when I heard the loud clang of the bell, inquisitive as ever, I walk towards the sound of the bell as some of the tenants were also heading towards the same direction. The sound was coming from the huge centre of the compound, a man wielded the huge bell and rung it at rapid intervals as he spoke.
We all stared at him in fear, his eyes were red rimmed and his teeth were stained with brown sooth. Suddenly, Shade emerged from the other side of the house, her eyes were filled with tears and in her hands, were her man’s clothes. I gasped in shock as I watched her dump the clothes at the man’s feet. The man started dancing and making snakelike moves, his eyes glazed and shone as though there was real fire within, he started asking questions.
“ Hmm…who has touched the owner of these clothes? Hmmm….whooo?”
Shade quickly stepped out and knelt before him saying;
“I don touch am… na me be im woman.”
“I no go ask dis question again, who don touch the pesin wey get dis cloth wey dey ground so?” The man asked again searching the crowd of tenants as though looking for something.
I stood beside Iya Sikira and Sisi Chianu, my feet solid and immovable, somehow I had suspected Shade’s silence since the day she beat me up for sleeping with her man. After that day, she minded her own business and even when we washed clothes at the tap, she always tuned her phone’s radio on high and hummed along with it. Now I am convinced that she surely has a plan up her sleeves.
“If una know say pesin wey stand by una side fit dey jolly with the man wey get dis cloth, abeg run comot for im side.” Said the man again.
This triggered a response from the crowd of onlookers, they quietly parted from my side, each eyeing me with suspicion. ‘How easily they can be fooled’ I thought, without flinching, I stood my ground and stared at Shade and the intruder. Shade, whose eyes were formerly closed, opened them and turned to stare at me, hatred pouring from her gaze. I hissed and begun tapping one foot. The mad man with the bell, left his spot and started pacing the compound, ringing the bell louder; ‘Gbagam…gbagam…’ I still didn’t move, Shade couldn’t take it anymore, she stood to her feet and walked towards me.
“Na she be dis, na dis ashewo dey totori my man.” She screamed.
The man with the bell stopped ringing his bell and walked up to me, sniffing the air around me as though I had some kind of irregular smell, I scoffed and looked away. The man jumped up and down and kept ringing the bell and singing loudly, after a while, he broke into a run then slowed down and suddenly dropped the bell and started clapping his hands. Shade was getting exasperated, I could feel the hatred burn from her eyes.
“Na wetin you dey do? Abi I pay you one thousand naira to dey jump, shout and ring bell? Break this ashewo hand from my man matter kia kia.” Shouted Shade as she turned to face the man.
“No be wetin I dey do? Abeg cool down…” Pleaded the man, turning to me he said;
“Auntie…err …fine gial abeg…release her man, he fit no be the one for you…fine men plenty for outside even me sef join.”
Shade couldn’t take it anymore, she physically attacked the man, biting, scratching and screaming as well.
“Ole…olori bukruku…give me my money ooo…you dey craze…God punish you…” Shade shouted as she pushed the man to the ground and sat on his stomach, beating him blue and black.
As for me, I hissed and turned away from them, my hips swaying to the movement of my legs. As soon as I entered the room, Janet pushed her phone to my face in anger, obviously, I had a phone call which had disturbed her beauty sleep. I have never had a phone and I use Janet’s to communicate.
“Alos…” I cooed into the receiver.
“Hmm…my sweet sweet yellow, I dey miss you bad.” Said the voice which I instinctively recognized as Shade’s man’s.
“Oga Larry my sugar… I miss you too…” I whispered.
"Guess what sweetie?" He said.
'Hmmm... wetin be dat?" I cooed in reply.
"I don reach Lasgidi."
"Heyy....Oga Larry, you dey totori my belle no be small... wia you dey? Why you never reach house?
"I crash for my friend house, dat stupid gial Shade send me text message, she dey yarn say, she no wan see me for her house again."
I was puzzled, did Oga Larry mean that the house he occupied with Shade wasn't his?
"No be you dey pay rent for una room?" I ask.
"Na me na... but that one na anoda tori for another time... how you go come see me?" He asked.
"I no get money for transport... na only twenty naira dey my hand, home and abroad." I choke.
"Hmm...no worry sweet yellow, enter taxi come, you hear."
I was so happy to hear that I'd be boarding a taxi for the first time in my life, infact, I have never stepped into a private car before except public buses, barrows and bicycles. Quickly, I take a mental note of the address of his new place and hurriedly shed off my clothes and tie my wrapper around my chest.
My hands itch as I race to the bathroom with my torn wrapper and small iron bucket filled with water. Latching the bathroom door behind me, I scoop water with my hands and pour it all over my body. I scrubbed my body with thick sponge and soap till soap suds covered my face. I later stooped to scoop water with my hands and splashing the water down on my face in a haste, I didn't expect to open my eyes and see Onochie staring at me. He had partly opened the bathroom door and was peeking through its side.
"Onochie! You dey craze?"
I startle and shout as I use one hand to cover up and the other to shield down.
"Aunty I swear... you too fine."
Onochie, is the first son of my compound's landlord and a notorious drunk, even as he spoke, his breath oozed of alcohol.
"Close my door..." I shouted.
Onochie did not bulge but clung to the door like second skin and kept starring.
"I go shout ooo." I warned.
"Shout..." He said, smiling and wagging his tongue at me.
Almost immediately, Madam Ireti walked towards us and slapped Onochie at the back.
" Who you dey look for inside bafroom?" Madam Ireti asked.
"Mind yaself ooo." Onochie warned turning to wag his finger at Madam Ireti.
Madam Ireti peeked and saw me still clutching my irreplacables in the bathroom while soap suds thinned on my body.
"Ah...na you...I no know ooo..." Said Madam Ireti.
"Madam abeg help me tell am make him comot." I begged.
"Abeg ooo, I no fit put hand for ya matter, see wetin you don turn our compound into... " She let her last words hang in the air as she left me to my fate.
I had to hurriedly pick up my cloth and wrap it round my still soapy skin and pushing the door hard, I stepped past Onochie and left the bathroom area. Onochie followed me and laughed hard while I ran.
"Why you dey run na? Body wey Oga Larry don see tire... bush gial."
As soon as I step into the room, I hurriedly wear my pink trouser and yellow stripped vee-necked top. Begging Janet for her perfume, I hastily bath my body with it to her greatest displeasure.
"Abeg no finish am..." She warned.
As I stepped out of the compound, I breathe a sigh of relief as Shade and her guest had long dispersed.
Getting a taxi was not so easy as Oga Larry made me believe. The first taxi I saw was driven by an older man in his late sixties. I have never waved down a taxi before and neither did I know how to wave one. Stretching out my two hands I began to wave in a circular motion but the taxi driver didn't stop. Another one passed and another until I figured out that people were looking at me strangely.
I was still waving my hands in a circular motion, this time I dropped my old handbag at my feet while I waved down the fast speeding taxi's, I was still at it when a man approached me.
"Hello." He said.
I didn't know what to say, I averted my gaze and kept on waving.
"Sister I'm greeting." He echoed.
"I resemble your sister?" I ask puzzled that he should call me his sister.
"I saw you from afar and decided that you fit my description of a beautiful model."
"Model! Wetin be dat?" I ask, angry that he is interrupting my taxi waving.
"Shio...no tell me say hot babe like you no know wetin be modelling."
"Abeg if you no get issue, disappear." I say rudely.
"Err...sorry, make I break am down, you too fine, I want make you model for my agency, we go pay you good money, e fit be dollars." He said in smiles.
I only picked two words, the first one was 'fine' and the second was 'dollars'
My eyes widened.
"Why you no tell me dis one since, you dey here dey yarn rubbish." I say to him.
"Sister... no vex, abeg make I give you flier... you go come audition for this venue." He said to me as he pointed to the flier in his arms.
"Raudition? Venue? Wetin be dat?" I ask confused.
"Okay...err...you fit come No 7 Akinkulatun street tomorrow?"
"Wia be dat?"
"Okay...just follow my hand, you go waka straight, after you go bend den corner for the last junction and..."
I listened to his directions and nodded in understanding, he had bad breath and so did I, so I wasn't bothered. After giving me descriptions to the place of audition, he halted a taxi for me. I was too grateful and sat at the back of the car, daydreaming over my new found avenue to wealth.
Oga Larry's friend's place wasn't too far and as soon as the taxi stopped, I alighted like a queen before the building my man had described and screamed his name loud.
"Oga Larry ooo... I don come."
The taxi man and some people on the street stared at me in surprise with mouth open wide. I repeated my announcement again and Oga Larry walked out of the compound in a white T-shirt and blue jeans. I ran over to greet him, jumping into his arms, he held me close and gave me a big kiss on the cheek.
"Oga Larry.." I murmured.
As we looked into eachother's eyes with love glowing in our hearts, the taxi man walked up to meet us in anger.
"Abeg pay me my money." Said the taxi man.
"How much?" Asked Oga Larry, releasing me from his embrace.
"Eight hundred naira." Said the taxi man.
"Fear no catch you... how you go collect eight hundred naira for that short waka?" Asked Oga Larry.
"No try me ooo..lai lai, I be alaiye ooo, I fit arrange ya paroles for here." Screamed the taxi man.
"You dey craze...you never see pesin wey craze like cat...come make I show you." Shouted Oga Larry.
Before my very eyes, Oga Larry removed his shirt and threw it at me, I dodged it and it landed in the gutter but he didn't care, he pounced on the taxi man and they fell to the ground in an endless fight. I turned around and walked into the compound with no care in the world, clutching my modeling flier in my right hand and dreaming of millions to come, smiling in glee, I said to myself;
"Senorita don ready to paint Lagos to sure levels!”