Someone is playing my favourite song ‘Mo le jo’ by Boqui, but whoever it is, is not letting the song play out before making it start all over again. This has happened severally, and I’m just about ready to scream at the person, when I realize that it is my phone ringing, and I had fallen asleep while browsing Facebook on this boring afternoon. As I look at my phone to check to see who has been calling, it rings again. ‘Anyi USA’ is displayed as the Caller ID. I smile in excitement, all traces of sleep fleeing from my eye. Anyi is my brother-in-law.
My husband is the first child of his family, and he has two siblings, Ifeanyichukwu and Ihuoma. Ihuoma is married to a Ghanaian, and lives with her husband in Ghana, while Ifeanyichikwu lives in America. He is the family ‘hot head’. It is not as if he is reckless, or that he is dependent on anybody. He just does not believe in what others believe in. For example, he does not believe in religion, or marriage. However, he is a very cool guy, handsome to the point of beauty, and so nice he could give you the clothes on his back to make you happy, even if they are the last garments he’s got.
My instinct towards him is usually protective, because I always believe people are likely to take advantage of his sweetness. My husband does not share my sentiments. He says Anyi is tougher than he lets people see. I do not doubt him anyway, but I cannot help but feel protective towards his brother.
“Anyi bros!” I hail him when I answer the call. “I si ka ichete m…” (You decided to remember me)
Anyi is coming into the country today. He is finally putting to action his thoughts of relocating to Nigeria, and he is coming around for two weeks or less just to feel out the country, and check for jobs. He is not interested in joining my husband to run the family business that their father (of the blessed memory) started. This was what he told me when he called two weeks ago, and he is going to be our house guest for the duration of his stay, at my insistence.
This won’t be any trouble at all, because we live in a four bedroom bungalow, which used to be the family house. Two rooms are just there, unoccupied. I had drawn a list of things to put in place and menu to make him as comfortable as possible. And so now, I tick off my list – Arrange the guest room… Check; Cook jollof rice with grilled chicken (this is what he ordered)… Check; Cook ede with ora soup and egusi soup for freezing… Check; Stock the house with assorted cereals and other provisions… Yet to be done.
I look at the wall clock; it is 11:34am. I pick up my car keys to go get the provisions. As I fit my feet into my sandals, my phone ping alert goes off. I continue fitting the sandals with my left hand as I attend to my phone with my right. The BBM message is from Chinwe.
Me: What’s up?
Chinwe: Can you come to my place? It’s very urgent.
Me: Ah! I’ve got tons of things to do. What is going on?
Chinwe: I just need an ear.
Chinwe: And it is not a BBM thing.
Me: Oya let me call you.
Chinwe: It’s not a phone thing either.
Me: Tomorrow nko?
Chinwe: Ok. Tomorrow.
Me: Cool. Whatever it is, it is well, you hear? *bbmbighugsmiley*
I drive out of the house in a big hurry. I have to get to Shoprite, do all the shopping, and be in Gabby’s school to pick him up for the day all within an hour.
I get to a certain road with this huge pothole that stretches from the middle to the left hand side of the road, which is my right of the way. Since there is no car in sight on the other side of the road, I decide to take it, in a bid to circumvent the pothole. Then –
Glass splinters and spreads on my body, one of it cutting me slightly on the cheek. A bike had appeared from nowhere and hit my side mirror, shattering it.
I clear to the side, and come out to check for any damage to my car. There is none. The bike man keeps moving as if nothing happened. If looks could kill, he would be dead and six feet below with the one I’m giving him right now. Well, there is nothing I can do. I have to keep going. I get back into the car, and start it. Out of habit, I pull down the mirror, and then I see the cut on my cheek. Through my rear-view mirror, I give the bike man another scathing look (this one would add four more feet to his six feet), as he rounds a bend and out of my sight.
“Such an imbecile!” I fume, reaching for my bag. I take out a handkerchief and dab my cheek. The cut isn’t deep, and it will heal fast. I sigh as I engage the gear, and release the hand brake and continue my journey.
There is a little bit of hold up around the Fire Service junction, and by the time I get closer, I realize that Federal Road Safety officers are doing their patrol. I mentally check off all they might ask to see. I’m good to go.
I am flagged down and asked to clear. The officer asks me to show my fire extinguisher and caution sign. Next he asks for my driver’s license, which I refuse to give him to check. I have had brushes with officers, can’t remember which exactly, but they seized my driver’s license until I gave them some money. I am not in that kind of mood today.
As we argue about the driver’s license, he notices the broken mirror, and his voice goes three octaves higher in outrage. I keep insisting that it happened just as I was coming out, shows him the broken glasses still sprinkled all over the car and my cut face. It makes no difference to him. He keeps shouting and calling me names.
Ijeoma’s husband works with the Federal Road Safety, and I battle with myself over the decision of whether to call her or not, considering the fact that we haven’t settled our quarrel. I have tried pinging her, but she doesn’t reply. Typical Ijeoma! No matter who causes a quarrel between the two of us, I am always the one to say ‘Sorry’. The way it usually happens is; I annoy her, she gets angry, I apologize. She annoys me, I get angry, she gets angry at my anger, and I apologize. Sometimes, I wonder why we are still friends. I used to have her husband’s number, but it is stuck in my bad phone.
After twenty minutes, during which the annoying guy doesn’t budge, I decide to call her. As expected, she didn’t answer my calls. In fact, she ends them deliberately.
I stay at this checkpoint till 1pm. It is time to pick Gabby from school. I walk to the man that is apparently the ‘oga’ on the patrol, and explain to him that I want to go and pick up my baby. He calls the guy that checked me, and asks what my offence is.
“Oga,” the subordinate starts, “this woman na reeeeal troublemaker! I just wan check her driver’s license, na im she start to dey abuse me–”
“Hey!” I scream in total shock and disbelief.
“Oga, she even abuse road safety, say we be tiff,” he continues, obviously on a roll.
“Hey!” I scream again.
“I come see say her side mirror break, she come lie say na nau-nau-nau e happun–”
“Seriously?” My incredulity has given way to anger now. “Shut up that your lying mouth!” I snap.
It is his turn to be shocked into silence.
I turn to the oga. “Sir, with all due respect, this man is lying. I did not abuse him at all! I simply refused to give him my driving license. Please, come with me and see my broken mirror. Come and see the shards still in the car. Look at my face. This happened just now as I was coming out of my house.” My angry tears are flowing freely by now.
“But madam, you know you are not supposed to drive without mirror?” the oga says sternly. “You should have parked the car at home till you fixed it. We are going to book you, and seize your driving license, until you come to our office, pay the infraction fee and take the required 2-hour lecture.”
This is not going well at all!
“Ok,” I say with a heavy sigh. “Do what you have to do, please, I need to go now and pick my son from school.”
Just then, the two Road Safety men stiffen and do a quick salute. I stare back at them, bewildered, wondering if perhaps they salute an offender before booking, and whether I should return the salute. Just then, someone taps my shoulder from behind. I turn.
It is Ijeoma’s husband! I smile, then laugh, then cry in relief at his presence.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Written by Adaku J