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Three weeks to the start of GCE, Kiki and Bauchi were still at loggerheads with each other, Ezekiel hated his guts, and he didn’t seem to care. I was his only ally in the house and it was something I felt comfortable about.
Oge’s protruding stomach was getting noticeable; her wedding ceremony with bros Emma was the next Saturday. Tope and Ugo were around briefly, I was very happy to be with them again.
Ugo complained about the dilapidated state of the Police College, he told us stories of having to defecate in the bush and sometimes go days without bathing because there was no water and the well was dry. He described the opulence of the senior rank and how the money from the federal government never filtered to the bottom. He said he fully understood why cops collected 20Naira on the streets from commuters. It was a process of our bosses collect from the government, we collect from the people.
Tope on the other hand was still the same, except that he had a new friend. Her name was Uju, she was a law student like he was. She visited him while we sat in a bar by Zone A car park. I was surprised when she walked in; I think Ugo was also because we didn’t believe tope could score a girl as cute as that.
“Guys, meet my queen and life,” he said, blushing as she sat beside him.
Bauchi had taught me to stand when a girl was on her feet or has just entered a room in which I am, so I stood to shake her. Ugo just followed suit like a zombie.
“Nice to meet you, I have heard so much about you,” I said, though I didn’t know anything about her. She smiled gladly.
We ordered Maltina for her while the others took their Lagers; I was in love with Guinness. I kept stealing glances at Uju, didn’t she see what we saw or was she blind?
“My man!” a voice screamed that was unmistakably Bauchi’s. With him was a guy that we all knew in the area, his name was Odogwu. Odogwu was short, black and pot bellied. He was also a notorious Igbo seller who found himself in the police then regularly. Mothers used him as a warning to their children…’you will end up like Odogwu if you don’t take time’, ‘that boy has started smoking igbo like Odogwu’, those were just a few.
Though we had grown, we still feared him; I was equally shocked when Bauchi led him to our table. They joined us with their seats with no invitation.
“Oh my God, sweet banana,” Bauchi said kissing Uju on the extended hand she had expected to receive a handshake with.
“Hello,” she said.
Tope unconsciously placed his left hand on his temple.
“This your skin fine die, abi Odogwu?” Bauchi asked his semi drunk friend.
“Nna meeeen, she fresh die, if no be say anything like that, I for just chance am from this men dem.”
Tope let out something that was supposed to be a laugh but came out more as a shriek.
“Bros Bauchi, na my guy chic o,” I quickly added.
“Ahn ahn, we know na, we are just paying compliments, though I must admit she is as fine as the devil’s mistress.”
Uju hiccups came from nowhere.
I guess she started feeling uncomfortable because she excused herself to leave after a while, Odogwu wanted to leave to so Bauchi saw him off, telling me to wait for him so that we could go home together.
“That Bauchi guy is strange,” Ugo said, taking a cup from his second bottle.
“Make sure you arrest him as soon as you have the license to.”
“For what offence, specifically?” Ugo asked.
I thought about all Bauchi had told me, about what he had done and still does.
“Just arrest him for being Bauchi,” I said, chuckling.
He looked at me with penetrating gaze; he must have thought there was something I was trying to say. I changed the topic.
“So your sister is getting married this weekend?”
“Yes, my little sister is. I don’t like Emma, but I’m glad he didn’t deny the pregnancy.”
“Yes, he took responsibility.”
“Well he is the only person to have slept with her, so he had to,” he added.
I almost choked on the black brew.
“True…very true,” I said looking at the bottle in front of me.
Tope came back and some minutes later, Bauchi entered too.
He ordered the barman to give him another bottle. We had exhausted the money we brought t the bar, so I told him I was sorry and wouldn’t be able to pay for his beer.
“Oh Fifi, after all I had taught you, you are not guided,” he said, opening the very could stout.
I couldn’t remember this particular lesson, I swear.
“Guys, please if there is nothing you learn from drinking in this filthy bar, learn that whenever you go to drink, always have extra for your friends that might stumble in, because it is wrong to deny a true friend a drink.”
“There is a tale about Ogun, the god of iron that I want to share with you. He was still a man then. He went to farm and on his way back he saw a house in a distance, in front of the house was a bench and on the bench was a calabash.”
I loved Bauchi’s stories; we were all listening with rapt attention.
“Ogun was glad to see the calabash, as he was glad that he would have a drink of palm-wine before continuing his journey. On getting to the house, he saw that the calabash was empty; there wasn’t a single liquid inside.”
“So he remained thirsty?” Ugo asked.
“My Igbo brother, yes he remained thirsty, but first he called the owner of the house and when the man stepped out, he killed him and filled the calabash with his blood. Ogun like Sango had very bad tempers as men.”
“Are you still thirsty, Sire?” Tope asked, smiling.
“My multiple coloured teeth man, I can never be angry with Fifi. He is my Niggie, forever and a day.”
That was the first time I had heard the word ‘Niggie’.
“I have some change, I can pay for your bottle,” Ugo volunteered.
“Thanks, my man. I will instead pay for what you guys have drank and what you are about to drink.”
“But we are okay,” Tope protested.
Bauchi opened his mouth like Tope had uttered an abomination.
“Guys..guys…if there is nothing else you learn from this beautiful assemblage that Yoruba men call bia palow, learn that you never refuse a bottle from a true friend, never ever do that!”
“Can we stand up and pee, sir?” Ugo asked
“Ahn ahn, of course my man, but come back before your Guinness gets hot.”
“But we don’t drink Guinnes,” Tope said.
“Oh, Guinness is the only drink I can pay for, I am sorry, ask my man, Fifi.”
“Barman, please bring four bottles of Big stout with four plates Nkwobi!” Bauchi screamed.
Tope excused himself to go pee too.
“Bros, why are you victimizing my friends like this?” I asked Bauchi as soon as we were alone.
He winked at me with that wicked, fascinating arrogance.
“I am just kidding, na only one-one bottle I go fit pay for sef, I lose my money for Baba-ijebu.”
To Be Continued