This life, this country and this our Lagos sef are enough topics to write on. I mean my own life as a Nigerian living in Lagos.
The real me lives here at No.10 Anuoluwapo Street, Mushin. And No. 11 on the same street is my shop where I do my tailoring job.
At least we thank God. From the proceeds on this job I have been able to raise something for Iya Ramota my inestimable jewel- to start her long time conceived business idea of running a canteen.
My wife’s Yakoyo canteen is now along that busy Onipanu road. You’ll think I am exaggerating when I say that sometimes she enjoys more patronage than this other eatery situated along same street. The obvious reason is that her food prices are averagely ok for the averagely-ok-people living and trading in the vicinity. Unlike those ones that sells ordinary meat-pie for #200. With this amount at Yakoyo, you’ll not only be filled, you’ll also collect your change.
Ramota my beloved daughter too has just gotten an admission into Unilag to study Microbiology. But I am worried lately by the kind of big books my daughter carries all about. What then is micro about the biology when the students have to read these voluminous books? I am actually concerned about the large sum Ramota asks to buy books on what is meant to be micro.
Well, I think I should confess, that my wife’s scarcity (I hope you understand the scarcity here?) since she started this her canteen business has left me with no option than this Sefia lady that sells alomo and varieties of paraga opposite my shop. It’s so hard to take my eyes off her dangerous and well-shaped kaks. Aside that, she also knows how to do it well than Iya Ramota. But after we did it once, I had to be very careful because I observed that this stupid Danladi boy that sells maishai near my shop also tops Sefia’s something. Not only him, and a couple of these bad Mushin boys that comes to take paraga and igbo here every morning and night.
I am a bit scared because that one time I had it with Sefia, it was skin-to-skin. However there’s this radio show on Radio Lagos that encourages one to go for the HIV test and it’s free. At first I had ignored this, but seeing my urine becoming yellowish in color, I had to make up my mind to go for the test sometime soon.
There are just so many things to talk about.
And for my imaginary life……… hmm, that one lives at VGC o.
Anyway, let me take it one after the other as I take first thing first.
I used to live in Ikrirun. The town is very close to Oshogbo where I was born. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get the exact year I was given birth to. And now I need to know this because it has denied me of many things; I couldn’t register for the national identity card during the time government launched it, and even recently I couldn’t get a voter’s card. A few friends however wanted to manipulate an age for me but I refused. Why should I be lying at my age?
Our father was a first-class illiterate who couldn’t use the base of a bottle to write a simple ‘O.’ He never kept our birth records. How would he? I am the twenty-seventh out of thirty-eight. Albeit, we are now thirty. The first eight children has aged and died. My mother was the sixth out of our father’s eight wives.
At least my mother tried, she told me that she gave birth to me on the second-to-the-last day of that unknown year. So I know my birthday is December 30th.
So, the other day I went to see this my more learned friend- Headmaster Salawu at his home-office, if he could help trace my year of birth. I trust his accuracy.
He asked if I had been born before the independence. I said yes, because I remembered how the Ikirun town crier sang round the whole place then. “Naijiria ti gbo minira lowo awon oyinbo o” (Nigeria has been freed from the Whites).
Salawu nodded, saying ‘very good.’ Then he asked if my right hand touched my left ear when stretched across my head.
Salawu actually made me laugh. Of course I had started attending one of these missionary schools in Ikirun. Although our father wasn’t happy about it because it affected our work on his farms which mattered to him most.
When I told him this, he bursted into this crazy laugh of his. The kind of laugh that makes one laughs too, but I didn’t laugh. Then he started slapping his balding head- calling me the way he normally does.
“Yes?” I nodded.
“Ramo father!” He called again and to the third time, and then he asked,
“how many times did I call you?”
I looked around to be sure that my friend wasn’t acting under the influence of his regular kronebourg. No he wasn’t. But I was still unsure because while we caroused together the night before at Jesu-Seun Cool-spot along Cooker Street- Salawu emptied six against his normal four. Perhaps my friend was reacting to the extra two. Or how else would he be asking how many times he had called me, when I was there seated in front of him.
Nevertheless, one shouldn’t undermine the intellectual might of Salawu.
He is a subject of envy to all of us, his friends. Salawu has about five degrees from various universities across the globe and currently, he is the Head-Teacher at Orile Agege Community Primary School.He pioneered and also facilitates The Salawu Gratuitous & Salutary Adult Educational Centre for the Advancement of Eximious Encephalon. He said he had to create the centre mainly for people like us whose highest or sorry only qualification is a Primary School Testimonial. Salawu has assured us that at the completion of our terms here, what he’ll award us would be equivalent to the degrees he bagged from Oxford and Yale and Wellington.
He noticed the suspicious look I had on him, and then he coughed and continued, shaking his head vigorously.
“Ramo Father, com’on! Do not think I am inebriate. Ordinary half-dozen of kronebourg can never incarcerate my medulla-oblongata. That wasn’t enough to clog my reasoning pipe, it is still pellucid as ever.”
Well, Salawu doesn’t talk with his nose like most of these England returnees I get to see whenever I have the opportunity to go to Victoria Island or Ikeja-GRA. However, he is always mindful of his enunciation and picks his words like beans to be cooked.
For years, we have struggled to understand most of his gigantic words, but instead of softening the coconut leaves, it rather gets hardened. Salawu has promised to use all the English words before he dies.
He looked at my worried face as I try to silently pronounce the word ‘incarcerate.’ That is if I would know what it means and then relate it with the context which he had used it.
“Hahahahaahehehehehahahahaha” Salawu went into this crazy laugh again as he swung his head backward. And after some seconds, he returned and patted my shoulder, “my friend, I have always told you not to be defeated intellectually. You must always romance your thesaurus, in other words your lexicon or else you will always remain in grammatical aphonia.”
I sighed and became more worried.
“But Salawu, for God’s sake will you be able to help me with that which brought me here- my year of birth?” I asked with a frustrated look.
“Oh yes of course! I should, going by the compendious info you answered about your childhood.”
“Good!” I smiled and he continued.
“You see, Ramo father my good friend, I have avidly studied the provenance of not only African history, but had become a pedagogue of the ecumenical history and I’m mentored by the books of Herodotus- the historical father of history.”
This time, anger had started building from my stomach. Haha! Kilagbe kile ju?
Even if I understood what he had said, what has it got to do with tracing my age? The anger almost jumped from my stomach out of my mouth, but I had to subdue it by maintaining my silence as Salawu continued.
“Having said that, your avidity to knowing how many calendars you’ve cancelled shall therefore be quenched and as we- in succinct do a conspectus on the sempervirent pre-colonial tales of the entity labeled Nigeria.”
“Salawu! Salawu!!” I eventually shouted.
“Oh yes! You are calling a three-man!” He smiled and I hissed as I picked my cap on his table, dusted it and stood to take my leave.
….To be continued…….