I never knew Kaduna was such an interesting city; the scenery, the buzz, the people and the lifestyle were all different from where I was coming from. If all the news we got from the media then was anything to go by, I was supposed to be seeing corpses littering the streets of the city. As a young man from Jos, another city that’s always in the news for same reason as Kaduna, I had already developed a thick skin before going into it. These two cities are still known for sectarian and religious crises. This city welcomed me with open hands as I entered into it without any precautions.
Barely four months out of school as a fresh graduate awaiting posting from NYSC, the firm I worked for then, sent me to Kaduna to tie up loose ends to get us ready for the yuletide. On the very first night I stepped into the city, my host made sure I got the best of the evening before I commenced work the next morning. The isiewu was tasty. It reminded me of the ones we normally ate at Atili street, behind Moon Shine hotel in Jos; so sweet and complete. Yes, I said complete because of my experiences with isiewu. Infact, this one had all the compliments of isiewu. I made sure I confirmed that none of the parts was missing; not like the type Steve discovered at Mama Emeka’s place on the same Atili Street in Jos before we migrated to the expensive Nwanyi Onitsha’s joint. Steve and I brought down the joint that night by fighting for our rights. Thanks to the isiewu that made us rediscover our spirit of activism.
“Why this goat get only one eye?” Steve queried the attendant that served us.
“Na so we see am oh,” the attendant responded.
“Call your madam make I ask her myself. Which kind nonsense be this one? Abi una goat na pirate or na one eyed goat una dey sell?” I asked the attendant as I licked my right pinky finger.
The woman arrived and was so confident in telling us that, that was how she bought it and that there was nothing we could do about it.
Steve was the bigger bully. I usually initiated the moves because I knew he would always get my back.
“Madam, if we dey pay you, we go remove money for one eye because we no fit pay for two eyes whereas na one eye we chop.” Immediately I said that, the woman started shouting at the top of her voice, calling the attention of other customers. She almost accused us of trying to swindle her. Knowing Steve very well, I knew we might end up not paying for the whole isiewu. When the other customers gathered, some of them supported us and complained of the same thing. That was our last day of patronising Mama Emeka and we shifted to Nwanyi Onitsha. We paid half of the bill anyway.
So, that night in Kaduna, I made sure I used my fingers to count the parts. I just didn’t want to have a one eyed goat for a complete one. That was the first place I had “33”; that beer felt good. It had all the trappings of a good beer. Three bottles courtesy of my host transported the isiewu effortlessly down my already bulging stomach and paved the way for a perfect sleep.
Work resumed for me immediately at the Nouvel Apparel located at Kasuwa beside the bank. As the sales manager of the company, I interacted with a lot of women comprising of mothers, single ladies, students, working class ladies and anybody female you can think of. Business was brisk in that year.
As expected, I became friends with so many of the ladies especially the single ones.
Just in a twinkle of an eye, things turned.
In one of my nocturnal outings in one of the bars located on Kigo New Extension Road behind the famous Ahmadu Bello stadium, two girls accompanied by three young men walked into the lounge and sunk themselves in the available sofas that were directly opposite me. My restless eyes found comfort on the girl with a melanin skin that was sipping from her glass. I was interested in what she was taking and I asked the attendant to refill her glass. Everything about her touched my soul. She impressed me as someone who deliberately takes her time to look good. She must have stepped out from the front cover of the November edition of Elle magazine, I thought. She was by far the most beautiful girl in the pub. Her body size seemed alright for her long and well ‘sculptured’ legs. My heart skipped like a CD that was cracking. ‘What a beauty!’ I said under my breadth.
The unexpected happened when I went to the restroom to ease off; I saw her coming in as I was zipping up to come out. I could hear the sound of my heart beat; it felt like an Olympian somersaulting for gold at the Olympics. Still fumbling with my trousers, I said, “hi.”
“Thanks for the drink,” she said. She extended her hand for a handshake and gave me her phone number (not wanting the group she came in with to see us exchanging numbers). I saved her name as Melanin.
I came back to my sofa feeling like an emperor who had just conquered another kingdom. I was happier which made me reward myself with this word, ‘barman’. He came with another round of the 33 I was having.
A lady named Laila who was about a decade older than my Melanin walked straight to me after she left with her company and started questioning me. I had a feeling that a day like this would come. Laila always came to me and offered me free drinks whenever I came to the pub. She always detested any girl who came close to me and always wanted me around her. Coupled with the fact that she was a mother of a twelve year old son whom I have seen twice, I didn’t find her attractive and father always warned us never to sleep with any married woman. I detested her presence like a plague. But she won on this day.
“What were you doing with that beautiful girl in the toilet? Don’t you know that what you did was wrong? How could you drag a girl you were meeting for the first time to the toilet?”
It now dawned on me that I had a stalker. I felt I was being wrongly accused. I decided to defend myself before she would spread the news.
“Laila, I don’t know what you are talking about. Didn’t you notice that I was there before she came in? Besides, I was already stepping out before she came in. Or did you just choose to see what you want to see? Why are you telling me all these, are you my mum or my wife?”
I angrily walked pass her and went outside to continue doing justice to more bottles of beer.
Two hours later, in my drunken state when the pub was almost empty, Laila found a seat at my left hand side and whispered the most romantic words into my ears and the next thing I noticed was that I was looking for the key to insert into the key hole of my door. I couldn’t tell how we got home. She must have settled the fare on our behalf. I didn’t know how I got home. What I could remember vividly was when she asked me to flog her with my belt before having sex with her.
“Who does that? How can you ask me to flog you before making love? You must be out of your mind. No. No. No.” As I was saying that, I felt a sweet sensation as her lips touched mine.
I can’t remember if I flogged her as she proposed. I only remembered trying to unhook her bra from behind. I can also remember her lying on the bed while I was looking for my Durex. I couldn’t remember anything again until I woke up at about 6 am. I woke with my belt in my hand. Did I flog her?
After she had left very early the next morning, I started looking for my boxers, the one I was wearing when we came in. I searched everywhere for it, but to no avail. I didn’t have her number, so, calling her wouldn’t have been possible. I soliloquized, “even if I call her, what would I ask her?” I almost urinated on me. I was very scared of the situation. My thoughts were: did she take my boxers for some ritual purposes? Why was she after me? Is my destiny worth taking away by this woman? I remember shedding some tears that moment. I thought of calling my mother. But same question struck me, ‘what would you tell her?’ May be I would say, ‘ma, your son had a one night stand with a stranger and he woke up this morning to discover that his boxers are missing.’ I was supposed to laugh at this suggestion, but laughter was murdered since that morning.
Remembering all what happened the previous night, I concluded that she must belong to a coven. She must be a witch; how can a woman want to be flogged before sex? Who goes home after a one night stand without asking for some money? Why would a mama go after a young man? I concluded that my village people have finally located me.
I sat on edge of my bed with my head dropping in my chest and wondering where this lady had taken my boxers to. I stood up, pacing from one side of the room to the other. I shouted!!! Oh God! Please, God, don’t allow her mission come to pass. Let the power of the Holy Spirit neutralise it, in Jesus name. Imagine a fornicator invoking the power of the Holy Spirit. I immediately slumped on my knees to ask God for forgiveness. I thought of going back to the pub to at least ask the operators her of whereabouts.
Just as I was about to wear the jeans I didn’t even know how I pulled last night, I saw my new brilliant white Ralph Lauren boxers in it. I screamed like a supporter whose team had just equalised at the dying minutes of a cup final, especially in the European Champions league.
I rushed quickly to my phone, scrolled to the contact list in search of Melanin so that I would have a swell time with her in the evening. I was not surprised when her name was no longer on my list. I could swear that I knew who deleted it.