Netflix recently debut a Marvel series titled Jessica Jones. From the smattering of intriguing characters in the show, the most intriguing of them all is the villain, Kilgrave. Kilgrave is the man whose wish is your command. Seriously, whatever he wishes for, it will be your utmost desire to make it happen.
White man juju, one of my friends called it when he saw an episode with me.
And like all things Western, Naija has long since replicated this juju. I’m not talking about the ‘Timbenlands’ and ‘Tommy Hilfingers’ of Aba. No. I’m talking about what I very recently witnessed.
So, in the past few days, MTN has proven itself once more to be a darling of the Nigerian people, when the fracas over sim registrations was visited upon the subscribers. To ensure that we remain the people’s darling, all service centres have had to work from sunup to sundown to tackle the tide of irate customers teeming at the offices. This means that I’ve had to say a temporary goodbye to five o’clock closing time and say hello from the other side to 7-8pm closing time. For someone who doesn’t like traipsing about this city after dark, I initially found this new timetable off-putting. But hey, it’s the job. I had to get with the program.
On one such evening, it was getting on 8.30pm when I was home-bound. The junction in Ikeja was unusually without much human or vehicular traffic. I was standing several feet away from some other pedestrian, who it seemed was also waiting for a bus or keke napep, as I was. A light traffic of private cars kept zooming past, ignoring us, and making me wonder why Nigerian motorists have decided that they won’t make heaven when they keep forsaking the Good Samaritan portion of the Bible.
Before long, a small group of two young men converged on this other pedestrian who was loitering at the bus stop with me. I’ll call him My Fellow Passenger (MVP – sorry, MFP). So these two niggahs drew up to him, smiling and chattering and hailing him. One clapped him good-naturedly on his back, while the other grabbed his hand in a boisterous handshake.
Old friends stumbling upon each other, right?
I was watching them, out of nothing better to do, and it seemed curious that the MFP they were saying things to like ‘Ole boy, long time o!’ and ‘Ogbeni, e don tay o, how far your side!’ did not respond with any greeting – or exuberance – of his own. If anything, he seemed bewildered, slow on the uptake, like one of those passersby who are startled when pounced on at the roadside by a television crew, and a microphone is shoved in their faces as they are asked to tell the viewers at home who they think is more talented – Wizkid or Davido.
I was watching them, and felt a sudden alarm when one of the boys, in a very genial tone oh, said to MFP, “Guy, abeg make I see that your phone first.”
And like an automaton, MFP dug what looked like an android phone from his side pocket and handed it over. Just like that. No muss, no fuss.
The second guy interjected with an apologetic smile, “Abeg, you get small money for there? We dey find transport.”
Again, MFP retrieved his wallet from his back pocket and placed it in the outstretched palm of the guy who’d asked for it. Both phone and wallet vanished inside the two guys’ pockets. And MFP was standing there, cool as you please.
In that quick moment, it occurred to me that this guy had just been Kilgraved. All these thieves had had to do was ask, and MFP had obeyed like he was under TB Joshua’s anointing. I could not believe my eyes! I mean, I’d heard about this kind of covert robbery before, the kind where the house help suddenly returns home from an errand, goes upstairs to madam’s room and with robotic precision, carts away all the valuables she can get off to those strange men who stopped her on the road and instructed her to.
I had heard, but I had not seen.
And here I was, witnessing it –
And clearly targeted as the next victim; because the two guys turned from MFP, saw me and one called out with a smile, “Ah, Omo G, how far na?”
Who is ‘Omo G’? Me? Maka why? Even when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, I was not baptized and re-christened ‘Omo G’.
I jejely started removing myself from the situation by moving to the left-to the left.
“Wait! Guy, you no remember us?” one of them hollered. They were still moving toward me.
Clearly, this desperate time was calling for a desperate measure. So I dived into the road, sprinting over to the other side, and just not stopping. Because the gene of Lot’s wife was strong in me, occasionally I would look back, and even though they did not give chase, my momentum did not stop until I was well away from them. Then I stopped, and a minute later, a keke napep came trundling along.
The next morning, I was back at work. “Next customer, please.”
A familiar-looking, coffee-coloured man approached my work station.
“How may I help you, sir?”
“I want to retrieve my line,” he answered.
“What happened to your line?”
“Nna, my brother, you won’t believe what happened to me, how they stole my phone, just at that junction near here.”
A light bulb came on in my head instantly, and I realized that the customer looked familiar because I’d seen him just the night before. I was face-to-face with MFP.
“Yes, please,” I said, getting comfortable on my seat, “tell me how it happened.”
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