I had always wondered why ‘Baba Ibadan’ sat beside Iya Yemisi’s shop every single evening, staring and nodding into space. Sometimes he would stare at GB, Afro and I as we passed by him. It looked as though he had something on his mind to tell us but couldn’t summon the courage to. Well, I didn’t care anyway.
Baba Ibadan was a middle aged man who lived alone in the “face-me-i-slap-you” compound adjacent my house. Everyone on the street knew his daily routine. In the mornings, he would take a long walk to Bodija market and back. In the afternoons, when the sun was up, he would be in his one room apartment, resting. In the evenings up until very late at night, he would sit beside Iya Yemisi’s shop, doing nothing. Sometimes, he would have someone to keep him company, but this didn’t happen very often. Baba Ibadan did not have any wife or children, so his life seemed very lonely.
This evening, as I dressed up to meet up with GB and Afro, I looked through the window and I saw Baba Ibadan at his usual spot. He was chewing something and from his facial expression, he was really enjoying whatever it was that he was eating. Lucky him, at least he had something to eat. My mother had locked the kitchen and tied the key to her wrapper in an attempt to punish me for disobeying her. I had snuck out of the house to attend a night party organized by some of my guys. Mad Mash, one of the most popular hip hop artiste in the country was scheduled to perform live at the event and there was no way I would have missed it. Somehow, mum got wind of it and warned me not to step out of the house that night. While she was snoring in deep sleep, I found my way out of the house through the back door, met up with GB and Afro and together, we had the best night of our lives.
By the time I returned home this morning, mum had already discovered my absence. As soon as she saw me, she started screaming and ranting. She said I should call her a bastard if I tasted food in her house today. It was after this that she locked the kitchen and took away the key. This wasn’t the first time she was doing this so I was gradually getting used to it.
On my way out of the house, I peeped into mum’s room and thankfully, she wasn’t there. I didn’t want any unnecessary interrogation. I was almost out of the compound when I heard mum’s voice.
‘Where do you think you are going to, iwo omode yii?’, she screamed.
‘Nowhere. I just want to see GB and Afro down the street’, I replied.
‘Is that why you are dressed like a mad man?’ she said as she eyed me contemptuously.
I looked at my outfit. I was wearing a faded blue shirt which I left unbuttoned with my bare chest on full display. The waistline of my shorts was sitting comfortably on my buttocks, and I wasn’t putting on any boxers. I had a handkerchief wrapped around my head and another one wrapped around my left wrist.
‘Mummy what is wrong with what I am wearing?’ I asked her with a look of impatience on my face.
‘You must be very stupid for asking me that question. Omo ale. Oloriburuku. Are you an agbero? A street urchin? Don’t you know you will be addressed the way you are dressed? I don’t know why you are so bent on destroying your life. So, in your eyes, you look responsible abi? No, answer me’
I hissed silently. Why was mummy making noise for nothing?
‘Mummy why are you talking like this na.’, I replied. ‘I’m only going to see GB. I’m not going far. Just chill jare. No go give yourself heart attack. I dey come, I no go tey.’ With that, I bounced out of the compound.
‘Feranmi! Feranmi!’, my mum called out. I ignored her and continued on my way. I was tired of her wahala.
Ever since daddy left us four years ago for another woman, mummy had chosen me as the object of all her frustrations. My being her only child made matters worse. I didn’t blame daddy for leaving anyway. Mummy almost nagged him to death and she never saw anything good in whatever he did. Last year, I wanted to join him at Ogbomoso but mummy told me to take a knife and stab her to death instead. I didn’t have any choice but to stay back with her.
A few feet from my compound, I dialed Afro’s number. We had planned to hook up at Iya Awero Express joint for some pepper soup and bottles of beer. I didn’t even realize how hungry I was until my stomach rumbled at the thought of pepper soup. GB was also bringing Tomisin, his latest catch. It was going to be a fun evening. Afro wasn’t picking up his phone. I hissed loudly and continued on my way. As I approached Iya Yemisi’s shop, I saw Baba Ibadan staring intently at me. I looked away and pretended to be pressing my phone.
Just as I passed by him, I heard him call out ‘Feranmi’. I pretended I didn’t hear him.
‘Feranmi”, he called again. ‘Please come’.
What does this man want from me? I wondered. I didn’t have time to chat with a boring lonely man abeg. I turned round and greeted him.
‘Good afternoon my boy, he replied. ‘Bawo ni?’
‘I’m fine sir’, I replied, shuffling my feet as a signal that I wanted to be on my way.
‘Feranmi, I want to talk to you. Can you spare me a few minutes of your time?’
‘Baba, my friends are waiting for me’, I replied. ‘Maybe another time’.
‘You have an outing with Segun and Gbolahan?’
‘Yes Baba’. I wondered why he called my friends by their real names. Everyone in the area knew Segun and Gbolahan as Afro and GB respectively.
‘I won’t take your time I promise’, Baba Ibadan said.
At that moment, my phone rang. It was Afro. ‘Thank God’, I muttered. I picked it up.
‘Hello guy, how far?’ I said.
‘I don dey almost reach now. You dey there?’ He responded.
‘You go soon see me. I dey come’, I replied as I hung up and turned to Baba Ibadan.
‘Baba, I’m running late. I will see you later’. I raised two fingers as a sign of peace and I hurried along. From the corner of my eyes, I saw Baba Ibadan shake his head as he continued to stare ahead. He can go to hell for all I care. The pepper soup and beer waiting for me was all I cared for at the moment.
Thanks for reading. Episode 2 comes up next!
Face me I slap you: a conventional house with a narrow passage and rooms facing each other.
Iwo omode yii: you this child
Omo ale: bastard
Oloriburuku: useless person
Agbero: street tout
Ekasan: good afternoon
Bawo ni: how are you?