Greetings Ma, e ku isimi. Going by your Christian Faith which you held unto till the end, I suppose it’s fair to ask about Life in Heaven, your probable abode. So, how’s the land of purity? Hazy memories of my Sunday school lessons paint a picture of purity, inhabitants clad in white garments, walking on streets paved with gold, enjoying eternal bliss. Well, mama, sometimes, I really don’t know where I stand with regards to such relative intricacies of religious faith. But then, I know for sure that you’re resting off from the mix of drama called Life so much more a relief in a society as peculiar as ours.
Phew, it’s been now a little over 2 years since your demise with your funeral clocking exactly 2 years few months back. Seems just like yesterday when we witnessed fanfare in the hood at your funeral. Trust your people, they represented to the fullest: booze, grubs, live band, money spraying, ancos of all sorts ranging in costs varying from a few thousands to tens of thousands over what some termed a celebration of life. For many in the hood, it didn’t matter that hearts of the bereaved were indeed stung by your passing. N’ibo (for where!)! All that mattered were the free flowing booze and food. In fact, ever since the news of your passing broke, all that resonated round the hood were best summarized by two questions: ‘date’ and ‘location’? In other words, D-day for the funeral and location, not for the internment but for the reception.
It was thus no surprise that the Church rite and consequent burial at the cemetery received fewer guests in contrast to the venue of the reception that followed. In fact, the three cows that’d been kept in the hood days before the D-day heightened expectations amongst neighbors and made them salivate. For me, the irony of the whole was best captured by a statement made by a passerby saying, “if the grand cost of the funeral arrangement had been spent on you while alive, you’d have lived for another thirty years plus the 88 you spent on earth”. Funny cos I wouldn’t know but I recall the conversation we once had where I pointed out if you’d like to live to see the age of 120 and your response was that you’d rather God spare you the characteristic sufferings of such ripe age. Almost every family was well represented. Also present were the new flocks of the 20th century employees in the hood namely, the mai-ruwas (water sellers) of Northern origin ushered in by the breakdown in what was once a running public water system. Well, your funeral opened our eyes to their social traits contrary to the famed conservatism of their ilk as they joined in the celebration, drinking and eating.
Mama, apologies for keeping you waiting this long with the gist. If any, the longevity of my absence serves to sweeten the juiciness of this. Believe me, it never was intentional. A day or two after the funeral, I hit the road back to the Capital City to keep up my pursuits whose rewards are still unraveling. Just hit the Wild Wild West late last year to change course with the flexibility that my calling dictates. Been in the hood a couple of times but Mama, I’m sorry to say I can’t put up there again. I know it sounds pretty surprising given the hood’s been a part of me since cradle. If you ask me, even I am surprised at my stance but it’s beyond the peripherals. The hood just doesn’t seem to have that attraction about it anymore. It’s relative and so, for me, my lifestyle just doesn’t fit with the hood I’d long known since the eighties.
Mama, everyone’s all grown up now and eyes have opened beyond what we used to know so much that the hood has lost its famed innocence characteristic of it in the Eighties. You must know that the childhood games that we used to know growing up have since given room to the likes of baba ijebu (Local lotto) as youths and adults alike scramble to its franchised makeshift kiosks scattered all over to predict numbers in the mornings only to check back in the evenings for the results. For many, their chances for overnight zillions hang on these results ever since Yahoo (internet scam) stopped delivering owing largely to the public awareness that’s since spread all over the world at the tricks of the trade. In fact, as the Yahoo trade wound down, players took to other extreme means labeled Yahoo plus! Here, fetish means were resorted to in desperation to keep the magas (mainly victims from developed countries across Europe and America) paying.
Thus, it became prevalent to work into cyber cafés (or ‘office’ as termed by the boys) in the hood to find these crops of boys bombing (sending scam mails) with one leg placed on live animals specifically tortoises, wrists marked with incisions bearing charms etc. Others used incisions on their tongues as a way to force magas into dancing to their tunes while they spoke on phone with them, often times leaving me wondering how they manage to spin-off such tricks with their clear poor grammatical construct. Well, they hardly say much so you often mainly hear them yelling into the phone with thick local accents, “I say, jus pay the money, pay in the money”. As reality further tightened its grip on the trade, many sold off what was left of material possessions acquired in the thick of the trade such as fast cars.
The famed Onyegu brothers next-door have since relocated back to the hood into their mothers apartment as they could no longer keep up with rents in the apartment they’d moved to while the trade was rife. Well, it was to be expected and came as no surprise to many. Even Chief Ezeogo aka Chiefo alias father-of-the-poor who’d made a living from the trade has been hit hard as his automatic benz lies fallow in front of the block covered in thick dust, home to rats and cats of all shades and sizes.
Remember the famed carpenter, caretaker and painter, Mr. Abugo? Well, came home one day to hear he’d sold off his apartment for a few millions and relocated to a remote part of the state. Akobi, the first son, checked out to South Africa to hustle, another word for drug peddling to say the least.
The Olori’s are still here, spending everyday like a party boozing. And I must add, they’re all still caught up in the hustle. Their second son hit the altar sometime last year. Words on the street from reliable sources say it was an arrangee wedding as no one could fathom the connection between the ill-read unemployed groom in his late thirties and the bride, late thirties and manager in a new generation bank. Omoluabi, the one I used to hang out with, remember him? Well, he’s doing fine…going back to school after the break occasioned by his becoming a father. Yes, it turns out the birth of his daughter was a blessing and the wakeup call for him as He went on to get a regular job. He’s since added another baby and moved out of the hood to a more decent place conducive enough to father children. Igbadunlaiye, his immediate elder brother just refuses to grow up. Mid-thirties now yet still unemployed and running the street playing baba ijebu, hoping d numbers bring fortunes while spending evenings boozing and smoking. Last I heard, He had a fight with Osomo where He smashed a bottle on his head. Heard, at the center of the fight was Kurumodun, the midget who stays in the flat renowned for freshly brewed ogogoro. I hear He’s madly in love with her. Wonders shall never end!
The Omoba’s…hmm. I wish I could say different but the dramas that had been playing out as far back as I can recall remains. The hallmarks of poverty or better still, rough upbringing still hangs over them. One of his many sons even hit the entertainment scene years before you passed on in what many sensed as a desperate bid to break the family curse. Well, his album remains to be released donkeys’ years into his pursuit. The runaway patriarch, Obalola, heir to a throne we’d long heard of returned from a somewhat life in exile. Heard, he’d been on the road heeding the call of faith as an ‘alagba’ in one of the white garment aladura churches while putting up with yet another wife somewhere in town before his return. Well, now, he’s rejoined one of his many wives in the hood selling petty stuffs to keep body and soul together.
Erinlomo…yes ma, the rugged one next-door. Well, He checked out of the country years back. Recall how much peace there was to finally see his back. How his departure sort of ushered in a fresh breath of air as opposed to the thick odour of Indian hemp we’d endured while He was in the hood. Hmmm…heard he’s now in Russia doing gburu (hustling) as they say and he sure did come back a year or so ago. Mama, you should have seen how rugged He looked, hallmarks of substance abuse written all over. Heard he’s a multi-millionaire now with a number of properties in town even though he didn’t look it one bit. Words from the street indicate he’s into illicit business. One rumour mill even has it that he’s a hit-man for the Russian mafia. Well, shouldn’t surprise you going by his affiliation with cults back in Naija. Even heard he’d remarked to friends before leaving that ‘He’d either come back a multi-millionaire or dead’. You know the rest.
As for Egbon Ara, the agriculturist or so we thought. Well, after years of substance abuse, he moved out of the hood to seek redemption in a wilderness of some sort. The Cannabis farm he’d kept under the guise of cultivating vegetables and rearing birds has since been destroyed. Not like anyone was fooled by his guise while it lasted but we kept mum to maintain peace.
Ma’am, I could go on and on but I wouldn’t hit the end of this lengthy episodes playing out in every household in the hood.
Regards to Baba, Alhaji, all the folks over there and do please constantly remind Baba God that I’m not yet ready to come over. Love always. Your favourite grandson.