There was pandemonium just before midnight in the room next to Akin’s. Curses flew in the air amid sounds of objects Mama Biliki kept throwing at Baba Biliki which missed him and violently hit the door. The curses were soon replaced with Mama Biliki’s wailing as her husband descended on her with a rage that made him shove Akin and two other neighbours that tried to pacify him. Baba Biliki was obviously not satisfied with the effect of his belt on his wife, so he dropped it furiously and ran to a corner of the room to pick up an iron rod that rested on the wall – Akin seized the rod before he got hold of it, and the other neighbours held the irate man with all the strengths they could muster.

By Tunde Ososanya

“Do you intend to kill your wife, Baba Biliki?” Akin questioned as he examined Mama Biliki’s bruises.

“I’ll kill this woman before she kills me with her adultery,” Baba Biliki said and tried to wriggle free, but the neighbours tightened their grip, clamping him like a psychotic on the loose.

“Let him kill me, kill me if that’ll will make you happy, you useless impotent,” Mama Biliki exploded.

Dead silence followed thereafter that one could hear if a pin dropped. Baba Biliki’s rage ironically disappeared and his visage suggested that he was truly impotent and that he never expected his wife to reveal such dysfunction of a sensitive part of his body to their neighbours.

The three men on the peace mission wore a pity look and realised that it was time to leave. They approached the door and pleaded with Baba Biliki to allow peace to reign. The only thought Akin had right from Baba Biliki’s room was about Biliki and his paternity.

“If truly his husband is impotent, then would they have given birth to Biliki?” Akin asked Kemi after telling her what transpired between the couple.

“Perhaps he wasn’t impotent before they gave birth to Biliki, or someone else might have sired their child.”

“I disagree, how many woman will stay put in a marriage that’s devoid of sexual intercourse?”

Akin resisted the urge to ask Kemi if she would stay put in such a marriage with him. He would be disappointed if she said no, but he would understand. He glanced at his daughter who was fast asleep and felt a surge of pride for fathering his own daughter and still able to make love to his wife.

“You are right, only a few woman will stay put in such a marriage.” He ran his finger across her hair then down to her earlobe to fondle it. Kemi reciprocated by playing with his beards. He loosened her wrapper and grasped her breasts while she unzipped his jean. There was no need to make use of the bed and disturb Itunu’s sleep, Akin lowered himself comfortably and gripped Kemi’s thighs with both hands while he made the first thrust.

Akin wasn’t skeptical of the job his friend, Shehu had just informed him about, rather he was bothered if it wouldn’t end the way others had ended.

Akin had just bumped into Shehu who had dropped out of school while they were in Secondary School, to learn how to trade in Kano. His reunion with Shehu after so many years often brought back old memories. Memories of their escapades with Junior female students, of scaling the school fence to visit nearby cafes to watch pornography, of frequenting beer parlour to unwind every Friday after school hour. Akin could not remember spending a Kobo on any of their indulgence, for Shehu whose father had a stall of Cows at an Abattoir ostensibly flaunted his father’s wealth among his peers. Shehu was not ashamed to reveal his aversion for education and his love for trade, so it didn’t come as a surprise to his friends when he finally dropped out and travelled to Kano to learn how to trade.

“I used to hear of that Company, I never knew it belonged to your brother, Danladi.”

“Danladi is one of the biggest men in Abuja. He’s still very humble and you won’t regret working with him. All you need to do is to go to Abuja for the interview and I can assure you that you will start work immediately. We’ve discussed everything on the phone, and he can’t wait to see you.”

“Thank you very much, Shehu. May God continue to bless you.”

“All thanks to Allah, I’m just doing what a friend should do for his friend. There’s nothing special about that,” Shehu said and glanced at his wristwatch. He brought out a bundle of one thousand naira notes from his briefcase and offered it to Akin.

“I have to start going now, help me manage that token as your transport fare to Abuja and for other expenses.

Akin almost became speechless with the amount of money Shehu called a token. A hundred thousand naira was more than a token as far as he was concerned, and at that moment, Akin’s pessimism about a new chapter of his life that would soon been written, was rekindled. There was no doubt that Shehu was a godsend and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

“May God continue to bless you. I really don’t know how to thank you.”

“Let’s just thank Allah. He deserves all appreciations. My regards to your wife and your little daughter,” Shehu said and approached the door with Akin who had already hidden the money in his pant, having in mind that someone might have eavesdropped, and that his room might be ransacked within the few minutes he would be walking his friend to his car. He didn’t deny the fact that he was living among criminals.

When is daddy coming back?” Itunu asked her mother as Akin dressed up for the trip to Abuja. She threw the question to Akin even when her mother had responded.

“I don’t know yet, honey, I’ll let your mummy know as soon as I know when I’ll be back.”

Akin put on a faint smile and lifted Itunu whose eyes had become tearful. Itunu gazed at her father speechlessly until her tears fell profusely, and before Akin could utter a word, she mumbled a plea which instantaneously threw Kemi up from where she sat as if she was going to spank her.

“You can’t tell your father not to travel, Itunu. Don’t you know he’s going for a job?” Kemi yelled.

“Take it easy woman,” Akin said to Kemi and rested his gaze on Itunu. “Honey, daddy won’t stay long, okay?” He wiped her tears with his palm.

“Daddy, I don’t want you to go.”

Kemi was able to control her temperament but wondered why Itunu was making a scene even after they had discussed about her father’s trip a few days before the day of departure. She reminded herself that Itunu was only three and that her childishness should be understandable. It was only natural for her to miss her Dad because Akin had never been away from home before.

“Itunu darling,” Kemi said in a soothing voice and stretched her arms to receive her from Akin. “Your daddy will not stay long, okay?” She realised that she had finally yielded and swiftly reminded Akin to double the number of Teddy Bears he had promised to buy her. Itunu loved Teddy Bears and she enjoyed the company of the three she already owned whom she christened Jack, Princess, and Jane.

As her father approached the door, Itunu remembered that there was something they forgot to do and quickly stopped him and said, “Daddy, we forgot something.”

Akin didn’t need to be reminded of what it was or rack his brain to figure it out. He smiled and turned back to perform the ritual of giving her a peck on her forehead in return for her pecks on his cheeks.

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