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Right Next To Hell (RNTH) – On A Good Day

On A Good Day

As we walk down to his tokumbo of a car, he introduced himself as Michael. I smiled. I didn’t see it necessary to tell him my name, and he did not bother to ask. Not until we got into his car and he ignited it, ready to drive. He clapped his head, picked his phone, apologising to me, he went ahead to make a call. It was in the middle of the call he asked me my name. He was calling the friend of his, whose house he was taking me to, to sleep over at.

r“Layefa!” I said to him.

r“Excuse me? I mean sorry, I didn’t quite get the name,” he said. I was tired already. So instead of repeating the name, I told him my other name, “Beatrice”. My full name, being “Tamaralayefa Beatrice Johnson”, Layefa is the short form of my first name, which is an ijaw name, that’s where I am from. Johnson on the other hand is my surname. It’s how the men from my side would rather answer an English name, magnifying it over their native name. Just like the late poet, John Pepper Clark. No one would know his name to be Bekederemo. The world probably know, him only as, J.P Clark, excluding the ijaw name attached to it.

r“Beatrice!” Michael said to the person on the other side of the phone. He soon ended the call after saying he was on his way.

r“Beatrice is a lovely name, but what about the name you first mentioned?” he asked. He seemed to have noticed that I had changed the name.

r“It is my native name, Layefa. But I figured you may find it difficult to pronounce, so I gave you the other, non indigenous name, 'Beatrice’. Figured it would be easier,” I said. He shook his head slightly as he let out a laugh. He soon drove into the road, taking me to where I do not know, but my heart already trust he was taking me to his female friend who would offer me space for the night. The call he made in front of me actually made me feel safe. Although, growing up, my mother would always tell me not to keep friends, and my father would ask me to stay away from strangers, I feel like what they failed to realise is that stranger is not a person’s name. Anyone can be a stranger and still be nice. And not all friends are bad. I used to have one when I was fourteen. We got separated when her uncle decided to send her back to the village. Well, at least, I’ve come to learn life by living it.

rI felt a tap on my shoulder, and realised I had slept off in Michael’s car. I stretched my hands the best I could. Then I cringed my neck to look around. It was already dark. I asked Michael what time it was, and he told me it was already past 7pm. I sighed heavily. I had slept all through the ride. I could not even tell where we are, except that it is part of Lagos.

rI opened the door and stepped out. Michael followed suit after a while. He ensured that the car was properly locked before leading me through a walk in gate. His car was the type you could refer to as the over used car. It has probably stayed for long. I doubt he bought it a new one, when he first got it. It’s probably secondhand, or worse. I could not imagine how he feels as a young man who drives such a car. Anyone would assume it belongs to an aged long man.

rI stood by the side as Michael knocked on the third door along the line of apartments. They are probably flats or self-contains or perhaps, just a single room. Michael began to cuss under his breath when the lady friend he talked about was taking long to respond. I doubt she was at home.

r“Funke, don’t tell me you can’t hear me knocking on your door o!” Michael said. He seemed to have lost his patience. The door soon opened. It’s how she did not lock the burglary in her apartment. Michael had passed through it before knocking on the main door. But who am I to judge her for not locking it? I lost my luggages to a boy. He barely looked fifteen. Perhaps, fourteen if not less. And yes, while trying to find him, looking confused around the area, someone offered to help me find him. He could not find anyone and soon asked me to enter a bus that would take me to where I was going to. Told him I was heading to Moshalashi. How was I to know that there were more than two Moshalashi in Lagos Mainland? I ended up entering the wrong bus without realising that my purse and phone had been stolen. The guy who seemed to be helping me out had ended up taking away my purse and phone. The worse part is that, the bus I entered was heading to Mushin and not Moshalashi. So even when I was dropped around the market area, I could not really tell the conductor where I was headed. I just kept telling him Moshalashi. He lost his patience and asked the driver to leave. Someone told me I was lucky. She said, on a good day, I would have been beaten up by the conductor and publicly embarrassed. How lucky could I have been, losing everything in one day.

rThat was how I ended up roaming around the market looking for a way that seemed not to show, getting bumped into and molested by that old man. I have heard a lot of dreadful stories about Lagos before, but it was my first time coming here. Funny, how the first welcome party thrown at me was the negative side. I also heard Lagos is where the weak are molded into strong and unbreakable brands; where names and fame resides.

r“You could have just gone ahead to break the door. Is she the one?” Funke asked, pointing at me. Michael told her I was the one. She asked me to come in. While she was ready to shut the door at Michael’s face.

r“Won’t you let me in?” Michael asked.

r“No! My boyfriend is around!” Funke shouted, shutting the door with a loud bang. It was too late. If I had heard earlier, I would have turned and gone back to Michael. The said boyfriend stood before me wearing boxers, while drying his body with a towel.

r“Babe, this is Michael’s friend. She will be spending the night here,” she said.

r“Is it that urhobo Michael?” her boyfriend asked. Funke nodded her head in affirmation. So, Michael is actually from Delta state. We were both from South-south. But then, I was not comfortable here. How could I stay here together with Funke and her boyfriend. He stretched forth his hand to shake me, Funke slapped his hand away. She kissed him, telling me to make myself comfortable while pointing at the couch in the sitting room, they both went in to what I presumed to be the bedroom.

r

Chapter end

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