My journey to Benin was to be a very interesting one, I wanted to meet Chris for the rascally interview he had insisted I attend with rock view technologies. I was going to fail anyways, I always lost my mind and manners at the sight of such panel, the type that happened four months ago during my last interview with AT & T in Victoria Island, I had hastily and bluntly refused to attend, feigning anger and wondering how such a reputable company would give an invitational letter barely 24 hours to their bloody date. ”imagine” I had told Chris on the phone” I just got this information yesterday and they expect me to be there today, they think everyone resides in Lagos? ”. I had expected an outright concurrence from him or at least some level of defiant accusations on the company before urging me on, but Chris didn’t see any wrong in that, my joblessness has become more worrisome to him than it should ordinarily be, ”what time tomorrow”, he asked. “2 pm” I replied with an air of leisure to portray the impossibility of meeting up with the date, before adding, “they can go to hell with their job”. But Chris refused to be cajoled, “you ‘ll attend Ben, give me a call when you arrive central pack, i will come pick you up” and he hung up. I was perplexed, Chris in fact needed to get some things right, I wasn’t completely idle or jobless, a teaching job in a government secondary school here in the east wasn’t menial, or if by Chris’ standards, it was, then I am not unemployed that’s the important thing, and my recent involvement in grassroots politics was gradually raising my status and firmness. I had served as the chief collecting officer during the last local council elections for Owumiri ward seven with an even better prospect of ascending the throne when my candidate progresses for the local government Position which he hopes to run in two years time. I can ascend from here, I told myself; politics pays in most African countries after all. But Chris hardly agrees to this, often forcing me to believe that my two years of mingling with the villagers had affected my reasoning faculty. We had planned on setting up a joint waste management and product recycling company having graduated in high grade from the Caritas University and studied material engineering. But our decision to immediately start up after the compulsory one year NYSC program which neither I or Chris saw any use for was thwarted by the blunt insistence of Chris’ father that we get some job experiences first “at least five solid years” as he puts it and which Chris later saw reasons to agree with, although I never bought into the idea, “you mustn’t be proficient to start”, I told him “you only have to start to become proficient”. Five years is a whole lot of time, I thought and is enough to cause a change of mind in me. Much of the capital we require to start up was to be borrowed from Chris father.That alone already gave him an air of control over us
I dumped the class assessment papers I was marking and headed to get my travelling bag from where it hung very close to my wardrobe, my attention occasionally being drawn to erotic wallpaper which adorned the corner of my room and the clenched gold necklaces entangled in the same nail and adorably covered with a red chieftain cap. My mind was immediately drawn to Olivia, my longest serving girlfriend and by all means the most successful, having stayed over a year, much against my ceremonial habit of not keeping them past six months or thereabouts, just any time sufficient enough to reap the fruits of my labor again and again until it becomes increasingly distasteful and that insatiable drive for a change of diet begins to grow again. But Olivia had stayed longer, and to the point of having a say in the appearance of my room, she had bought three of the enticing wallpapers of a white man and his lady both near naked and entangled in different positions and had insisted on replacing the widespread Manchester United papers in different corners of the room with them. She proceeded to paste them herself after she had beaten me in a short argument that erupted as to which of the two classes of pictures was more important in a room as mine. But the gesture turned out to be more of a kind one than I had expected, as the papers served as the bedrock of my routine love-making to her, letting me draw occasional strength even where it seemed impossible and increasing the number of cycles I could conclude each day and how close the repeat version would come. She was now married to a Lagos based business man and with two kids already. “Naughty world” I muttered to myself and preceded with my travel arrangements. I had contacted Gabriel to drop me at Emene junction from where I would board a taxi to peace park Uwani. I was as prepared as ever not to mistake a mistake this time, at least to keep alive my plans with Chris whom I perceived was beginning to underrate my competence in the future and was soon going to drop me for the planned company if things continued this way despite being more solemn than him. He was having the required experience already, having worked in Lagos for close to two years with a reputable tech company. His father’s friend had secured him a job in exchange for a handsome piece of land which his father had helped him acquire in a good site at the village. Nobody knew his actual reason for acquiring the land although rumor has it that the wealthy politician’s decision to spend 15 million for the land which is barely 3 plots and located in an area as remote as Owumiri may not be unconnected to the crude oil which was discovered in the area about five years ago. Gabriel arrived quite in time and announced his presence with a penetrating horn which I concluded he had just recently changed “Oga make we de go”, I hated been called oga by Gabriel, it often came with a demand that that his price should not be bargained, in exchange for his weighty greeting “I like the sound of your horn” I complemented, pushing my foot match slightly backwards with my left leg and pulling the door staple to a lock. Gab smiled childishly “ah oga nah just yesterday I change am put new one” he replied scratching the back of his head and savoring the tooth pick which adorns the corner of his mouth “I buy this thing, this small thing, 3000 ”, Gabriel was pointing at the speaker panel. I shook my head in pretended pity and raised my eyebrows in a feigned amazement although I knew the dare price of being sorry for Gabriel. ”things are costly everywhere now” I told him as he bent the bike slightly for me “no, oga na dat greedy Samuel way de sell costly for junction, he get luck say him neighbors no get my machine panel, if not God forbid say I go go buy from him”. “I see”, I muttered, much to myself, “so he sells costly” “very costly”, he replied emphatically. I needed the discursion to end so as to concentrate on my worrying thought about having forgotten something very important. But Gab continued “greedy man!” he cursed.