This story tries to explore the remote causes of the Idi-Araba crisis of 2002. An attempt to fictionalize the events have been made, while presenting the likely remote causes of the bloody clashes between the ethnic and religious groups of the area during the clashes of February that year in a way that allows for some further thinking and re-thinking.
Adamu is one of those people who don’t care where he gets his water from; so long as he gets good, clean water. He will take a beggar’s water from him so long as it satisfies his needs without any qualms or apologies; he is selfish that way.
He is lanky for a nineteen year old boy of Nupe-Fulani extraction. He has deep brown eyes that shimmer in the dark. Many times he had been saved a lot of heavy beating from people he got into scraps with, on account of his eyes. He is a tough boy, the go-to man at the park for all kinds of items and tools. From ganja to cutlasses and charms; he can source for anything if the price is right. He however, will rob a blind man of his wares – if the said blind man has anything worth stealing. He is a torment to all the kids around the area, nicking things from them and “teaching” them to be streetwise.
Adamu is popular, very popular. But he is also trouble waiting to happen.
By virtue of his unscrupulous nature, he is the kind of guy who will piss people off. And of course, in a small park where bragging rights are always contested, he has been involved in quite a few. Many of which had been against Ifreke.
“Ifreke,” he muttered with disgust, as he lay on his mattress trying to make out his next move after yesterday’s incident.
Ifreke who had come and thought he could run things just because he looks rugged. Well, he can’t have everything to himself. He has claimed the ultimate prize over him this time.
Adamu didn’t like Ifreke and the feeling is mutual. However, the poor fella has to come to him for his supply of ganja; not by himself of course. He sends others, but Adamu knew but pretended otherwise. Money is money. No matter where it was coming from.
And money is what he worships. He has done well for himself. He lives alone, one of the other things that set him apart from his Fulani peers. Those fools exist like pack of wolves.
He shook his head in self-admiration. He has always been a non-conformer. Making his own way out of life, ever since he left his father’s compound when he was nine.
He is his own man. He thought to himself with a sense of mild satisfaction as he lay on his bed that morning. He had broken free from under the wings of his overbearing father and has come quite far on his own. Although, some things have helped him along the way.
After all, he is the main guy. He had been born and bred in Lagos, so his swag quotient is way above all the other ruffians who hang in and around the motor park at Idi Araba. They all look up to him. And of course they should. None of them can match him when it comes to finding their way around in this Lagos.
His popularity is not to his father’s liking. The old man thinks of him as a vagabond.
Well, maybe he is. After what he had done yesterday evening.
“Baraquat,” he smiled at the nothingness above him. He had been lucky yesterday, and being a smart chap he had not let the opportunity pass up on him.
He sat up on his bed. He had also been brutal yesterday, but still he knew what he had wanted to do and why. He was quite conscious of his actions. He can recollect everything.
He had been sitting by the entrance of the park, smoking a cigarette and counting his earnings for the day from his runs when he saw Baraquat approaching the park.
She had on a cheap crepe roll-on shirt, with a round almost sagging neckline which was caused by the wear and tear of constant washing; this over a cotton wrapper. Her feet were adorned with a pair of well-worn slip-ons. On her head was a tray of almost sold out oranges.
Adamu could not but admire her well-shaped hips as she sashayed towards the park. She is beautiful. The most beautiful of all the girls that trade or come to the park. Of course, majority of the female passengers that come to board buses look better.
“Only better because they can afford better clothes and so on,” Adamu had said under his breath as Baraquat approached him.
“Good evening, Adamu.”
“How now, Quat.” Adamu pronounced the Quat as cat. He loves to call her that, even though she always protested every time he did. He liked the image the word conjured in his mind, especially if he can get her alone. He knows he can get maximum satisfaction. He has seen her waists…they are wide in the right proportion.
“I am fine. You nko? You don make plenty money today o, “she had joked at the wads of note in his hands.
Adamu had been surprised at the fact she had not protested over him calling her Quat.
That is not usual. “I thank Allah, it is a good day. I go enjoy small today.”
“Ehen! Make I enjoy with you now, make you no spend the money finish o,” Baraquat had said as she walked past and made her way to her auntie’s shop at the far end of the park.
“Make you come back after and I go buy you suya,” Adamu had called after her.
“Okay o, no run away o.” She replied over her shoulders.
He couldn’t believe his luck. Before now, Baraquat will just greet him and walk past. Every time he had toasted her and asked her to be his girlfriend, she had withdrawn more and more from him…until only the greetings remained. She was not rude to him, just didn’t give him face.
However, he seemed to have struck better luck today. Or maybe his luck was turning. After all, there was a time when they were really good friends. That was before Ifreke showed up at the park.
Adamu had gotten up after Baraquat was gone to buy some more cigarettes, those will come after he lights up a roll of hash-hish. He was feeling very much in the mood. Plus, the promise of a date with Baraquat means he needs to have his wits around him.
They had met an hour after, some distance from the park. He was waiting for her on the side of the street in front of LUTH wall, knowing she has to pass that way on her way home. Baraquat had changed into something better, though still not elegant. She was sporting a blue spaghetti top over a pair of faded black jeans. Her hair was loose now. Neatly combed and cuffed behind.
She looked much better.
“Ahn ahn, I was only joking now Adamu,” Baraquat had laughed when she saw him. He didn’t mind the laughter at all. It had been too long she laughed with him.
“But me I no joke. I wan buy you suya.” Adamu looked at her seriously, in hope it will be enough to convince her he is desperate to buy the suya.
“Okay o. I hear o.”
They had crossed the street and bought the suya. He had also bought her a can of mountain dew to go with it. They had walked side by side chatting. Adamu had felt the need to try one more time for her overtake him. This time, it will be win or burst. He will be crossing a threshold with his longtime foe, Ifreke. Ifreke who had claimed this beautiful girl as his own. A girl he himself had fantasized about for long, even before Ifreke came to the park.
“What are you doing with that Ifreke sef?” Adamu had asked suddenly as they approached the turn into his own street, from where they will part and Baraquat will continue on her own way home. It was nearing half past seven. The air was getting colder and the night life beginning to spring to life.
“Ifreke?” Baraquat had asked surprised. “What do you mean, what am I doing with him?”
“You know na. You and him dey tight. Na because of him you no gree talk to me again na. Since he come dis park, you changed towards me. We no dey talk like before again. You sef know dat.”
She was silent for a long time. Adamu sensed that she had changed, she seemed different. He couldn’t place what the difference was, but there was something hanging in the air around her. His excitement over being able to talk with her again clouded any other consideration he could have pursued along those lines.
“See ehn, I like you o. But you sef no say nothing fit happen between us. So, why you dey bring up the matter?” She stopped walking abruptly. Her arms folded across her chest, her eyes not meeting his as she concentrated on looking away from him.
“Quat,” Adamu started pleading, then stopped; “Baraquat, no vex na. Please, don’t be angry with me.” He held her hands.
Adamu felt the hand go tensed then it relaxed, her cool palms nestling nicely into his own.
“I no vex. As you call me by my name, I no vex again.” She smiled at him in the dim light.
“I dey happy.”
“No be anything o. I no just like as you dey call me Quat,” she smiled again.
“Okay, if you know say you don forgive me, come make I show you my house.” Adamu’s heart was thumping. He was taking a big gamble and he knew it. But, what better time to go for the kill?
He seems to have gotten his feet in the door, so why retract it? Why let it all go to waste? If he can get beyond the door, why not try to?
They were still holding hands and Adamu could feel how Baraquat was squirming hers in his. She seemed undecided.
For a moment as they stood, Adamu felt like he was going to lose everything if he didn’t have Baraquat for himself. He knew there and then for a certainty that he had to have her for himself. But, also he knew it will come at grave costs. If he knew anything about his adversary at all.
Ifreke won’t lie low.
“Adamu, it is late and I need to get up early tomorrow.” Baraquat’s voice came to Adamu from far away.
He forced himself to focus, he can’t let this day fritter away.
“Look ehn, na for me to show you,” Adamu started saying.
“But, I already know your street. Dat one is enough for today.
“That means you never forgive be dat.” Adamu let go of her hands. He was playing high stakes now; he waited with bated breath hoping his gamble does not backfire.
“Ahn ahn….you sef wan vex?” Baraquat grabbed his hands and twisted it. “No vex na. Oya make we go.”
Adamu’s heart would have jumped out of his mouth. He pumped her hand, and felt her squeeze back.
Adamu smiled inwardly.
They had walked quickly through the street and he had brought her to a stop in front of the one storey building he lives in.
“You go enter?”
Without waiting for an answer, he had pulled her hands and they had gone in.
He had seen the surprise and quiet respect in her eyes when they stepped into his room.
His room was neat. It was always neat. His sound system was placed to the side of his Vono Double-decker mattress, which was on the floor, occupying a place of pride almost in the center of the room.
He kept his things neat and his room was not that bad and to see the quiet acknowledgement in Baraquat’s eyes was pleasing.
“I no get food for house, but we can share your suya abi?”
So they had sat, and ate and talked.
After finishing the suya, Baraquat had cleared the trash. Adamu followed her every move with his eyes and he could not help the growing sensations in his loins.
When Baraquat came back to sit on the bed after disposing of the trash, he held her hand and looked deeply into her eyes. He could see her looking back. Not shyly as he would have expected.
“Baraquat, I love you.” Adamu croaked on the word.
She looked away then, forcefully gaining back her hand from his grip.
“Adamu, I wan dey go.”
“‘ How can you behave like this to me now?”
“How I behave?”
“Shey you no like me at all at all ni?” Adamu asked. He took her hand again and drew her closer.
“I tell you before say I like you.”
“So wetin come be the matter?”
Adamu knew he had to take his luck all the way then.
He leaned forward and kissed her.
They had kissed for a while, but when he was really getting into the groove she jerked away and stood up.
“Make I begin go,” she started making for the door.
He had let the real Adamu take over….
Adamu got up from his bed. The deed is done. He has claimed his prize before Ifreke took it from him. But, now that it is done he knows he has to watch every step he takes now.
If Ifreke finds out.
But what makes him think she will dare tell him? She is a big girl, she can handle herself. After all, she had afterwards told him a shocking thing after, on her way out of his room.
He could still remember.
But, could she be serious?
Well, that is not important anymore. What is important is how to deal with Ifreke, if he is stupid enough to come after him when he finds out.
Adamu looked at his watch, it was almost time for him to get to work and face the consequences, if any, of his actions yesterday.
He lifted up his mattress and retrieved a long bladed knife. The sharp edges glinted at the reflection from the powerful bulb hanging over head.
Adamu sheathed the knife and tucked it into the band of his corduroy pants. He picked up his black shirt, the one he wore the previous day and shrugged into it, using the un-tucked flaps to hide the knife.
A boy’s scout is always prepared. He thought to himself as he stepped out of his room.
He was smiling, thinking of the prospect of what he would find on Ifreke’s face when they meet.