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“Good afternoon ma,” I said, trying to look at as normal as possible.
She shoved me away and walked into the apartment. Mama Joshua was a short, fat woman. Her backside was probably bigger than her entire body, that didn’t stop her from being agile though. Her store doubled as a provision shop and a pharmacy, I doubted if she was certified. The ruthlessness in which you used in injecting the kids of the zone when we fell ill was a nightmare.
“Where did you people put my chicken, they told me that you stole it. Ugo! Where is my chicken?”
Ugo looked at his feet like his toes ought to talk for him. Tope ran out of the kitchen to greet Mama Joshua.
“Mummy J, good afternoon ma, you are looking wonderful oh!, Ah!” he said, smiling cheekily.
Mama Joshua shook her head slowly; Tope was quite a pathetic sight. His idea of ass kissing wasn’t working at all.
“What did you people do with my chicken? How can you people just take what does not belong to you. Una no dey fear God?”
Tope walked closer to her.
“ Mummy J, we don’t know what you are talking about, all those lazy neighbors that don’t have work are telling you rubbish, if they had a big shop like yours, it would have been better for our societal values. But we shall not be deterred, mummy! We must pray for them. Go home and worry no more, you chicken is somewhere enjoying the afternoon sunshine.”
Like Ugo, I can’t remember the first time I saw Tope, because he had been with me all my life. But his grandeur speeches had started when he got to SS1, I thought it was a thing of the moment then, but it apparently never stopped.
“Tope, if I slap you ehn!” she said, storming into the kitchen.
Ugo was shaking, Tope’s hands were on his head, I had to think of a way out, apparently, there was none.
When she came out, it was with a black pot, badly stained by the fumes generated from bad wicks used in kerosene stoves. Inside the pot were pieces of boiled chicken. Its head was the most visible, its eyes were closed.
“Ugo, your father must hear this. I don’t know how a policeman will have a thief as a son. As for you Fifi, I pity your life, Tope..hahahaha..Your mother and I will talk!”
“Mama Joshua, let’s not put the cart before the horse,” Tope said, faking a smile.
“Tope, just shut up!” Ugo screamed.
Mama Joshua’s head gear was around her waist, she was ready for war.
“Ma, we didn’t know the chicken belonged to you,” I said.
“What if it belonged to someone else, that gives you the right to steal it?” she asked.
“No ma,” I said, feeling stupid, “How about we get another one for you, same size and colour?”
“Hehehehehe, you want to go and steal another person’s chicken for me?”
“No ma, we will go to the market as soon as you leave,” I replied.
“If you knew you wanted to eat chicken, why didn’t you go to the market instead of stealing?”
That was another question that made me feel stupid.
“I will give you people till 7pm, after that, your parents will hear about it,” she threatened.
She must have forgotten that I didn’t have a parent, except she intended to write a letter to my mum.
“Thank you ma!” Ugo said, relieved.
She hissed and walked out, raining abuses on us as she descended the stairs.
“Fifi, how much chicken we go buy?” Tope asked.
“How much dey your hand?” I asked in return.
“50 Naira, sorry 40, I buy bread 10 Naira this morning.”
Many a time, I have wanted to throw a punch at Tope, this was one of those times, but I held on to my fist.
“I get 300 Naira, how much you get, Fifi?” Ugo asked.
“200 Naira, and that chicken in the market will be nothing less than 900 Naira,” I replied.
“We are bleeped,” Ugo said, looking dejected.
His father was a violent man. It was not strange to see Ugo with belt marks in school. He was also a drunkard, but he was smart enough not to carry his rifle to the bar.
Tope took a wing from the pot and started chewing. He was shaking his head with remorse at the same time. The picture looked annoying.
“Let’s go and look for Tony, that’s the only chance we have now,” I said.
“I don’t like that guy, I am sure he is not going to give us the balance,” Ugo retorted.
“He wouldn’t give us, we would have to earn it from him,” I said.
“How?” Tope asked.
To Be Continued