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BIAFRA HEADQUARTERS S01E03

Ajiri watched as Q arrived from work. His heart skipped a beat as she sauntered into the BFQ compound carrying a lot of shopping bags. Obviously, she was just returning from the market. He stood from his seat and walked over to help her out.

“Welcome.”

“Thank you sir” Q responded tiredly.

“Make I helep you carry on the bags”

Q smiled. She could not resist the offer.

“Thank you very much sir. God bless you”

Ajiri smiled as he collected two of the bags and moved aside so that she could lead the way to her door but the truth was that he preferred to walk behind her, to view those heavy things God had placed there.

Q got to her door, dropped the bags she carried and turned to Ajiri.

“Let me take them from you here sir” she made a move to collect the bags from Ajiri, but he stepped back and smiled:

“No worry make I helep you reach inside your room, me I no get problem”

Q was overwhelmed with gratitude. She smiled, turned to her door and unlocked it, stepping into the room with Ajiri close to her heels. Ajiri dropped the bags and turned to leave.

“Thank you for your help. God bless you” Q said as she plopped on the bed “Would you mind to share lunch with me sir?

Ajiri was dumbfounded; he could not believe his ears. He turned to Q and stuttered. Q felt he was angry so she quickly made to explain herself.

“What I mean is that, I am about to prepare lunch and since you helped me with my bags I could repay you by preparing food for two instead of only me”

Ajiri could not trust his voice not to betray him, so he nodded rapidly instead. He stepped out of the room smiling like a dunce who had just being given a piece of meat pie. Suddenly he turned back:

“Madam, no dey use sir for me o. My name na Ajiri. If you wan call me , call me Ajiri or AJ like my friends dey like to call me”

Q smiled as she responded:

“My name is also Ngozika but my friends call me Quin Li. You can call me Q. I will call you when the food is ready sir…. “Then she quickly added, mischievously: “Oh sorry…. Ajiri”

As she shut the door after her, he felt as if he just won a million dollar lottery. Whistling, with his hands in his pockets, he strolled out of the house heading for Mama Enah’s stall.

*************************************************************************************

Dele walked the length of the corridor on his toes approaching room twelve cautiously. After being certain that no one was around, he quickly inserted the key in his hand to room twelve key hole and opened it gingerly. The key to room twelve turned slowly in the lock and the door swung open. It closed as swiftly as it had swung open and Dele locked the door. He looked around the room, taking a mental stock as he set to begin the day’s job

Seven crates of empty bottles of Guinness alcoholic beverage, otherwise known as big stout, were stacked on the other side of the wall. Opposite these, another seven crates of big stout were stacked, except that these ones had drinks in them. In the middle of the room stood a five by four table under which about 10 bags of pure water were arranged and another bag filled with corks of big stout. On the table was a local cork-screwing machine.

It was room twelve of the Biafra headquarters. On the outside, the room had always been empty. Despite the lack of window curtains no one could see inside since the louvers were the milky type. In fact, the room had never been empty but was a mini-factory for a make-shift production manager – Dele, who served as the manager while Halyah had gone to his shop every day.

The business was a brainchild of both of them but they had agreed that Dele would handle the production business while Halyah would handle the marketing. They had paid for the room lying to caretaker that they wanted the room to store crates of drinks for their business. Since the rent was being paid regularly, the caretaker had no reason to suspect any foul play in the room. Also, whilst they brought in empty crates of drinks they also brought in filled ones making their neighbors of ever suspecting them of foul play whenever they brought out full crates of beer to take to the market.

Dele walked up to the table in the center of the room. He dragged a crate of empty bottle out of the empty bottles corner and placed it on the table. He did the same with the crate of the filled bottled. He also pulled a bag of pure water and the bag of big stout corks from beneath the table and placed on it, and then he set about to work.

He would open a filled bottle, pull an empty bottle close and share the contents into two equal halves between the filled and the empty bottles. After that he would add water from the pure water sachets to both bottles and then a small amount of a powdery substance which he had brought along with him to the room. When he finished, he would cork the two bottles, using the local cork-screwing machine, with two brand new corks and return both into another empty carton, then he would move to the next bottles.

After working for several hours he stopped and looked around him. There were no empty bottles in the room again; he now had 14 full crates of big stout. He mentally calculated the gains for the day as he started to stack the crates against the walls. He picked a napkin from the corner of the room and started to dry the wet table. When he was through, he brought a vial containing a liquid from his pockets and begun to sprinkle around the room. This was to reduce the concentrated smell of the big stout from escaping beyond the four corners of the room. When he was done, he unlocked the door and stepped out of the room and locked it after him.

*************************************************************************************

Mama Enah hissed as she watched Q and Ajiri enter the house together.

“Wonders shall never end” she thought.

“Imagine this stupid girl o! The man wey I don dey follow follow all this while wey him never gree, na him this winch-girl wan come monopolize”.

Mama Enah hissed again as her mind began filling up with different images. She imagined Ajiri and Q in bed and she began to perspire. She just could not believe it. How a ‘nobody’ would just waltz into the house and take dominion over her ‘lover’. Not that Ajiri had confessed loving her but she knew it, that over time he would come to love her.

The more she thought about them the more she got convinced that she had to do ‘everything’ necessary to ensure Ajiri was hers, even if it meant harm for Q.

*************************************************************************************

“The number you are calling is currently switched off, please try again later”. Wemimo hissed.

She scrolled through her contacts, deciding who else to call. When she got to the contact with name ‘Dapo Bodija’ she dialed.

“The destination you are trying to reach is unavailable at the mo….” Wemimo angrily cut shot the computerized voice depicting the ZAIN network.

“Where are all these idiots sef. Will I not load my phone ni?” Wemimo was broke. She needed money. She needed just five thousand. Three thousand for BIS and two thousand for recharge cards. She was really broke.

Everyone she had called that day had had their phones switched off, including Dapo. The only one who picked her call and promised to send her the recharge cards she needed had switched off almost immediately she dropped the call.

It was Friday and she needed to know where the party would be hottest that night.  All she had left was less than five hundred naira. She needed to load her phone and call her boyfriends. She was sure she would be able to get one of the ‘mumus’ to take her out that evening.

She racked her brain thinking of who next to call. She scrolled through her phone non-stop looking for any name that would be susceptible to her lies that afternoon. Then a name struck her mind. Boiyi!

She smiled wickedly as she begun to devise a plan to extract money from him.

***********************************************************************************

Boiyi sat at the bus park swallowing large morsels of amala. Business was bad that day. Despite shouting for hours he had made less than a thousand naira and now he had to eat out of the one thousand before he died of hunger. With every passing day he got more frustrated with the way things went for him.

Gbegiri soup dripped from his fingers on his shirt. He cursed as he stopped eating to clean off the stain. His phone rang suddenly in his trousers’ right pocket forcing his right knee to jerk involuntarily thereby upturning the rest of his food sitting on the bench in front of him on to his sandals.

He cursed loudly forcing people around him to turn and stare at him. He was not sure of which got him more embarrassed; the shirt stained with red oil, the gbegiri soup on his sandals or the stupid ‘Pasuma fuji’ ringtone he used for his mobile.

Suspending every other thing he pulled his phone from his pocket. The caller ID made him forget every other thing. He stood up with a rush and dashed for a quiet place to receive the call. In his haste he completely upturned the bench in front of him but he took notice of neither that nor the soup that dripped after him as he jogged off.

*********************************************************************************

As sweetly as possible Wemimo narrated her story, she even went as far as shedding crocodile tears. After a few Yeses and Nos, she got off the phone and smiled wickedly again. Few minutes later, she got a text message with one pin code for #3,000 recharge card.

She loaded the card….

Sorry, this card has already been used or does not exist. For further enquiries please visit any of our service outlets or call 180.

She loaded it again….

Sorry, this card has already been used or does not exist. For further enquiries please visit any of our service outlets or call 180.

She was puzzled. She dialed Boiyi’s number.

“Sweetheart, are you sure the card has not been loaded before”

She paused as she listened over the phone.

“Are you sure?”

She paused again to listen to him.

“Ok, I will try it one more time. Hold on first, don’t throw away the card”

She ended the call, tried to load it again and got the message:

This line has been blocked. For further enquiries please visit any of our service outlets or call 180.

She let out dirty expletives and she dialed Boiyi’s number again using her other phone. Boiyi’s number was switched off.

************************************************************************************

Boiyi laughed wickedly.

“At least” he thought “dis one go teash am say me sef get brain”

***********************************************************************************

Norah turned the decision over in her mind. She could not just deny it. She was in love, in love with oga teacher. How it happened she did not know, but she knew she was in love with him. Although, traditions forbade a woman from expressing herself to a man first she would break tradition for oga teacher. She would walk miles for him.

“Would she cross third Mainland Bridge blindfolded for him?” She smiled at the thought and shook her head reflexively.

“Lailai! How I go cross third mainland close eyes? When no be say I dey crase. If I die, he go marry another person.” She would rather walk the streets of Ajegunle for him than cross third mainland.

Her mind wandered to how it all started. Oga teacher thought it started when he began teaching her for the UME but she knew it started well before then. She could not fathom why, but she knew that he was always in her thoughts, especially her innumerable erotic thoughts.

After she broke up with Musiliu, the fuel attendant at Texaco Mokola, she knew the only person that could give her the satisfaction she craved was oga teacher. Many a time had she hidden behind his window to listen to the cries of ladies who came for ‘afternoon lectures’ He sure knew how to ‘teach’.

She had always eyed him but he took no notice. She would bat her eye lashes at him but he always seemed to be engrossed in something else. When she eventually knew about his craze for big backsides she began to wear really scandalous dresses to reveal hers and draw his attention.

When that did not work she switched to allowing her iro slip ‘unknowingly’ in his presence. None worked until she devised the means of the UME lessons. Now that she eventually had his attention she would never let go. She knew deep in her mind that the UME was a ruse. She did so badly in the exams that she would not need a soothsayer to tell her that the result would be bad. Not that it mattered now that she had him.

Oga teacher had gone to work but since Norah had the spare key to his room she decided to go and lock herself up in his room and wait for him – under the sheets – naked. She stepped out of her room and walked towards his, looking around like a cat of a fish-in-the-stew-pot mission. Silently and ever gently she turned the keys in the lock. She swung it open, dashing inside before anyone caught her.

What she saw left her dead in her tracks and screaming on top of her voice.

“Oga teacher! Yeeee Mo gbe o! Mo daran!….”

(See you next week; rejoinders are welcome)

Hov.

AFTERS: Many thanks to AKINYEMI ‘Akin-The Son of a King’ ATOBATELE, a fellow member of the best ‘WORDOSAUR’ group in the whole world, for his assistance in editing this episode and correcting my ‘ibons’.

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