Friday Night Conversation With Yinka – collection of short stories: (Terms of Endearment Part Four)

Continued from Part Three, published on: Oct 25th 2014


termsPart 4.

But for the so-called village counselors or small chiefs who usually comes around, using their walking sticks to trot like they are next in line for a coronation! Proudly telling anyone who care to listen about the lands and farms they own and how they have managed to raise the foundation or have plastered the walls of an un-completed boy’s quarter. The self-acclaimed landlords who by the way, still cannot afford to buy his newspaper!

Eeeoo! What a pity!”Hmmm, he’s dead too? One of them would start, and the others will carry through with their usual pity party monologue – all still holding on to the newspaper, the obituary column-page spread wide open in front of them as one of them quickly writes down the address of the burial ceremony’s evening gathering. Pa Sammy calls them the “The Obituary crashers” and would quickly advance forward, snatch the newspaper from them and ask for payment first or just place the paper down and ignore their questioning looks.

He’d learn the hard way. When he first started the newspaper vendor business, he’d been so loyal to a point, allowing passer-by to engage him in distracted conversation while they quickly glance at the news headlines – without making them pay for the whole newspaper. Getting home, he’d informed his wife, Mama Ovie that sales was slow, she’d cursed him out for being a bad trader, regarded him hopeless and had compared him to all the other successful men doing well in their village. After all, he should have been a good school teacher, articulately adorned in khaki shorts, white starched shirt and a cane! not a vendor! Useless paper man!, she would say and begin to cower as she sulks. A usual trait of hers.

Pa Sammy’s mind was set today. He needed to resolve the issue of cooperative trade he had started with his partner. He had been saving up for a while and had almost gone into shock when he realized that his only son Osa had been taking money from the brown envelope he had kept secretly inside the empty tin of bournvita,  hidden inside Mama Ovie’s old wedding dress and accessories box – a place he figured no one will ever visit, after all, what will she be looking for in her forgotten portmanteau of over 20 years! Filled with about 2 dozens of camphor! He felt it was a safe place to hide his money. He was mistaken and broken-hearted.

But last night, the embarrassment he’d witnessed was too much for him. Disturbed and confused, Nengi, their landlord’s daughter had quickly rushed in to call for help as Osa was involved in another gang fight by the second gate entrance of the College of Education. He was under arrest again, the 9th time this year!

What was Osa doing there? Wasn’t he supposed to be out-of-town? In the seminary? Father Peter from their church had assured him that since Osa had no intention of pursing his education, it will benefit him to sign up for servitude at the seminary in Eleme junction, miles away from the city. Hopefully taking him away from distraction could help him settle down and focus on God. Pa Sammy was elated at the news of Osa in the seminary. Osa had caused him so much heart ache and disgrace. All he needed now was for him to leave and go somewhere for a while, well to a place where He could discover God and change his ways.

But the seminary could not hold Osa down either.

Just last month the corporative fee, He’d taken some loan to start another lucrative small business of paying his landlord’s son, Soki to help him in buying a bale of overseas used clothing. According to most of his newspaper customers and the stories from around the motor park, that was the best business to invest in now, especially around on campus.

They say campus students always have lots of pocket-money on them. They want to keep up with fashion and new trends and would spend their last money on a pair of new stoned washed jeans or a t-shirt that reads I LOVE NY! – Rather than buy a newspaper that tells of the horror happening within their country. His mind was made up and he was going to surprise his wife and also convince her that he’s getting prosperous in his choice of business. And she would be so impressed, will begin to dance, Oh! The native dance would melt his heart.

Mama Ovie is a very good dancer when she’s happy, and then she would rock his bald head in the cradle of her soft palm and sing some sweet songs of praises in their native dialect and then cook him his favorite dish. Yam pepper soup on the side and then later, bitter leaf soup with giant green periwinkle over steaming starch. And they will eat together from one bowl, feeding each other, laughing together and for one moment, forget about the troubles of Osa, and maybe even forget about Ovie and her so-many dramatic tale-telling and fake life…ah!

Where and how these students get their money from, is still a mystery to him. ‘Pa Sammy’, eh, listen very well…eh, you don’t need to bother yourself o, eh, on how they get the money, you just sell to them, and always say its first grade” Soki had coached him the first time he received his goods. “In fact, eh, you can even say, eh, your brother in overseas is the supplier, ok ” He’d ended that line with a very disturbing laughter that confused Pa Sammy.

Was he making the right decision? Should he use the money to bail Osa? Should he use the money for investment, in his new business? Or should he just catch the next bus going to the university to discuss it with Ovie? Would Ovie acknowledge him? In the midst of confusion within his mind, a sudden rush of crowd emerged towards him as he…To be continued

Written by Yinka.

Friday Night Conversation With Yinka – collection of short stories: (Terms of Endearment Part Three)

(Continued from SEPT. 20th – Part Two)

Or else… Or else… ‘heads will roll on campus!

It is Friday morning. The hustle and bustle at Onne Motor Park has never disturbed Pa Sammy until today. Traffic had started to build up. Crowds of pedestrians, market women with babies strapped on their back as they struggled with setting up their merchandise, shoppers are seen making fast strides along the pavements outside the shops or trying to cross the main road to get to the other side of the market, either looking left and right and then left again before suddenly taking off on their heel like they were being pursued by a possessed madman!

Inside Onne Motor Park, there are noises of buses and taxis hooting, the main attraction, varieties of “FOOD IS READY” shops, fabric stores, electrical goods shops, pavement stalls with small items like imitation costume jewelry sold by Mallam Bashir who hardly makes eye contact with his customers, but spends a lot of time grinning at his small portable radio that’s usually balanced on his shoulders with some strange music blasting away – whatever it is that’s booming from that radio of his, is certainly all the company he needs in a day.

Within the inner caucus of the village meeting, Pa Sammy heard that He usually carries a matchet with him, hidden secretly away under his flowing shirt. No one ever saw this, except the day Osa tried robbing him. The mark carved below Osa’s left ear had been a result of the ordeal with Mallam Bashir, even though Osa had boasted that he received the cut while defending his mother from a group of armed robbers and within days, even while the wound was still as fresh as can be, still oozing blood, stained with indigo iodine and trying to escape the cotton wool plastered on it, He’d told the same story, but changed the characters. This time, He’d boasted it was during his fraternity initiation. Again, no one witnessed this. No one ever bothered to ask Osa’s mother or his father or even his sister Ovie, or even as close as look into the blood-shot eyes of Osa’s notorious friends when they come visiting him either. But in all, the message was sent. No one ever dare mess with Mallam Bashir since that incident.

On the other end close to the luxurious bus passengers waiting area are petty goods vendors attracting customers to buy their wares. Amidst all the bewilderment, one can still relish the delicious aroma of fried cocoyam served with spicy dried fish gravy, crayfish yam porridge garnished with oziza leaves, hot deep-fried bean cake and other nice flavored delicacies floating in the air, tempting passers-by to stop for some morning refreshment.

And then, there’s the usual gathering of campus students rushing to get into the over-worked Datsun-cabs, still covered in their early morning splash-wash, dripping water as their drivers chew on sticks, adjust the rear view mirror while they also use it to view themselves as they apply Saturday Night powder on their face and under their armpits – a casual daily personal hygiene habit! While their conductors holler and bawl to get passengers in and quick. Aba road! Campus Junction! – 2 chances!!

By the entrance of the motor park on the left hand side is a giant sign, hanging above the food store, it reads: “I-J-E-O-M-A – travel well Food is Ready” owned by Madame Cecelia. And there she is, a heavy set light skinned woman, robust and cheerful, the thickness of her dark toned brown powder in contrast with the complexion of her neck, her high cheek bones, painted in cheap glossy pink, contesting with her full large lips smeared with Vaseline. Always the same look, Decorated and glamorous. Glossy and animated, but always clean. She’s married to Papso, a trader with a two-toned 504 Peugeot and a parked white V-boot he usually only drives to church during Christmas and Easter. He also has a spare part dealership store in Emenike shopping complex and also another one in Diobu, all in Port Harcourt.

She’s shouting orders across to her canteen helpers to hurry up with setting up for the day and the same time, waving away the agitated flies parading and in desperate search of a good will hunting spot. Customers were beginning to fill up the entrance of the canteen. A long line of anxious passengers waiting to grab a bite of the tantalizing oil soaked bean cake served with dough-infused bread and rush off to catch their ride.

Pa Sammy watches in bewilderment as life revolves so fast in front of him, still holding on tight to the brown envelope, as he remembered the contents of the envelope again, he quickly clutched it close to his chest, like his life depended on it. Well, today his life does depend on this envelope. He has been sitting patiently at the entrance of the lotto store, where he had managed to secure through the help of his daughter Ovie.

But as of recent, his vendor newspaper business wasn’t booming like expected.

These days, passengers usually engage him in local discussions, while they quickly and craftily glance through pages of the paper. Sometimes, he gets paid for the few pages viewed, and sometimes he has to remind them to drop something or keep moving.

His favorite customers are the campus students, who’d come, pick up “Grapevine” and any other gossip related magazine, drop off the money and tell him to keep the change. What they see in that magazine, He still doesn’t understand why anyone would derive so much joy in reading about latest gossips or about a personal issue discussed publicly. The headlines have been carefully designed to attract these college girls. “Scandal!! Ex-Senator Exposed!! Or “Trouble!! Ex-beauty queen caught in the middle of an affair” or “Lecturer in double mess” – hmm. Such humiliation!

He’d tried once to open the pages and feel their amusement as they would when they open up a gossip column and get so excited and animated. He just never understood the message behind it. All he saw were stories of rich spoilt people showing off their new houses, cars or another extravagant wedding celebrated with such annoyance and display of wealth that eventually ends up in one of the magazine he’s now selling. Thank God he wasn’t invited in the first place, how would he have managed to waste his one and only saved up green Guinea brocade for an event where he wouldn’t have been noticed anyway, but as God would have it, He gets to sell their stories afterwards. No stress for him at all.

That thought has always compensated Pa Sammy for missing out on little things of life. To think of it, headlines like the high cost of petrol, the current political issues in the country, mis-management of power and un-employment was the least of their problem. The campus students, Hmm! Why should he bother himself, so far as they keep buying it, that’s okay by him.

The usual customers that irritate him are either the group of students in Political science department or the underpaid Sociology lecturers. They usually come in fours or sevens. After greeting him, they will begin their debate on an outline displayed and begin to confuse and convince themselves with their point of view “The propaganda of the interim government policy…” and then another will chip in angrily “Nigeria’s government is facing rising religious violence in the north, a long-simmering separatist movement in the oil-rich south and now a nationwide strike fueled by widespread anger over the end of fuel subsidies seen by many as one of the few benefits of living in the largely impoverished state”

Pa Sammy will look at them, put his hands on his chest, and imagined it was his son, Osa discussing politics in a relevant way, and not conniving with gangs to cause trouble. He nods in acknowledgment with this youth whose passion and zeal for a better tomorrow was deep, contagious and rather alarming! As if they were already in the court of law or at a national assembly gathering addressing Mr. President himself – with no intent of buying the paper! In a way, He’d always enjoyed their company because they usually summarize the whole news message, makes him current and gives him a topic to discuss at his weekly town-hall meeting. But today he has a lot on his mind. If only… To be continued.






Friday night conversation with Yinka – collection of short stories (Terms of Endearment – Part Two)

create stirm( Continued From JULY 19th.)

Ovie is not always around anyway… ‘Who is Ovie? Omolara snapped back in disgust. Wondering what was going on now. She needed her cousins to explain it all to her.

Ovie is the typical know-it all girlfriend we are aware of, but not interested in hanging out with. Tall, dark skinned and skinny with puffy show-off bosom that dances along with her excitement during her showcase of telling tales of how her new fiancée Afam had begged her to marry him.

On campus, rumors has it that she’d escorted a friend to Calabar for a traditional wedding and ended up seducing the groom’s older brother, who was also in the process of planning his own wedding far away in Canada to a lady he’s been dating forever – until he came home for his brother’s wedding. He met Ovie dancing away to the beats of the local drummers who had come to usher in the bride, Ovie was the center of attraction, it was like she’d secretly paid the drummers to flow with the rhythm of her hips, the local beads around her neck and waist also in acknowledgment of the beats of the drum, all rising and falling in unison with Ovie’s captivating wide laughter and exaggerated passion. Afam got entangled in Ovie’s web on the dance floor. A web of confusion and catastrophe started on that dance floor!

Sharing a room with Ovie wasn’t a very good idea, her cousins knew that too, but then, she couldn’t stay off campus alone by herself in a fancy apartment she’d requested for. Her last letter to Ayibari had indicated “a spacious 2-bedroom apartment with 2 baths and a kitchenette” If only she knew where she was coming to.

So, who in the world is Ovie? And why do I have to stay in this room with her? Ayibari quickly pulled out an extra thin mattress from underneath the main mattress and suggested they quickly return to town before it gets too dark. Trying to avoid any more questions from Omolara, Ayibari and Ifiemi quickly pulled her out of the room and unto the main porch of the main building.

Sharing a room with Ovie is going to be a big challenge for everyone, especially Omolara. But knowing deep in her heart the reason for her escape, Omolara might have to deal with it. She will manage for a while and move on later. Ovie is always set in her ways. You pass by her while she’s standing outside the lecture hall, boastfully showing off her gold-plated engagement ring, and she could easily detect your body deodorant, tell you the name of a fragrance you’re wearing and if allowed tell you it’s the fake product you have on! And of course give suggestions on where to get the “real one”. There’s always a commotion ready to explode when Ovie is around. She has a particular group of girls who usually hang around her day and night, thrilled and captivated by her “performance” – a rare star! They’d called her once – but Ayibari claimed the girls were just hungry for recognition, intimidated by her fake life and needed to feed from her crumbs, her fake wanna-be crumbs and her true identity is only known by Osa her younger brother she’d banned from ever coming to visit her on campus.

As life would have it, Osa has encountered another gambling problem again, was on his way to meet his “famous big Sis” to fix it or else…

To Be Continued…

Written by Yinka.