Kalu, in a flash, ran out of the room holding a bucket and sponge case with a towel flung on the shoulder. He prayed for the bathrooms to be empty by the time he gets there; it was a fruitless prayer, the bathrooms were never empty especially in the mornings. The landlord had built two zinced bathroom for fifteen tenants, it was usually the case of “first come, first serve” whoever entered first was either king or queen, that person had the power to do and undo but whenever whoever was inside took too much time, it turned into a fight.
On getting there as expected there was a queue, the first bathroom which was the better of the two for it still had a door had more people on its queue so he ran to the other, who had just three, Ene, Precious and an elderly man, they called him Old Soja Zakka.
Kalu: “Good morning, Old Soja!”
Old Soja: “Morning!”he gave Kalu a grey smile, “Kalu,I dey come maik you keep my chance fo me o!”he left,Kalu nodded.
Kalu stood nervy, he kept on whistling, after waiting for few minutes, he became tensed, couldn’t hold it anymore, he ran to Precious who was next to enter brushed pass Ene, who raised her voice at him,
Ene: “Blind Bartimaeus!” she hissed, Kalu ignored her
Kalu: “Presh, please,eh, I’m late for a job interview! Abeg maik i enter before you,biko!”
Precious was a gentle person, hot tempered but hardly made trouble. They were quite close with Kalu even though he knew she was a night worker. Intelligent and charming but had to take to that way of life to sponsor her younger sister in school. They had lost their parents at a tender age and were abandoned by relatives. From that tender age, she took care of herself and her younger sister. The loud mouthed Ene never liked her. The kind of rivalry that was between the older women,Iya Kpati and Mama Chinedu existed between them. Ene was always the trouble shooter.
Ene: “Eh,eh o! don’t even think of it. E no get how e go bi, I must enter bifo you ,” she gloated at them, Precioius turned to her,
Precious: “Ene,please na, he is late for a job interview!”
Ene: “No bi only late fo Interview! How dat wan take affect di price of crayfish fo market. Abeg o,maik everybody dey e lane dis morning cos wetin Iya Kpati and Mma Chinedu do dis morning na small o! I go give anybody wey stay ma road as e dey hot!” snapped her fingers and looked away.
Time was going, tension had almost ingurgitate Kalu, it was showing all over the body, his watery pupil especially,
Kalu: “ Ene a…” Precious gave him a sign not to say a thing, he swallowed his words and stepped aside, she had a plan.
The person in the bathroom increased his singing to the irritation of Kalu, especially. That was Pastor, he was fond of singing and spending hours in the bathroom. He was a Pastor of a small church, with three members himself, his wife and a young guy. There was a joke about his being called into ministry, Iya Kpatin was its originator, she had said that it was not God that called him but he had called God,
Iya Kpati: “Wish kin pastor dey always beg fo food. E shursh don reash 3 years oo but even wan singular members e nefa get! Na wa o!” she said to Mama Chinedu.
They were enemies but when it came to gossiping about others they became allays.
Iya Kpati added that she was told that when he had the call or decided to call God according to her; he said he was called as an evangelist after preaching from one neigbourhood to another for a month,
Iya Kpati: “As hunger wan kill em. E say na Pastor bi d gan-gan call!” Mama Chinedu laughed in jest.
In her narration, she said after a month of pasturing, there was no fruit so he came across a younger guy who was frustrated and started preaching for close to an hour,”It’s now time to receive Christ as your personal lord and saviour,”. It happened that the young guy wasn’t listening for he was troubled; Pastor out of anger and hunger pounced on him and after beating him to his satisfaction, he then led him to Christ.
Iya Kpati: “Na so e get di only member for e shursh,” no one could really tell if her narration was true or just her fabrication.
Ene: “Pastor, you fo just carry pillow and mattress enter!” she hissed,Pastor kept up with his songs, from one medley to another that was how he sang always; he had them arranged in an unchanging order,Kalu was annoyed too.
Pastor came out smiling but he was met with grumpy faces, Precious stood like a guard and Kalu understood and ran inside, Ene annoyed tried forcing her way screaming,
Ene: “Una tink say I get shame abi? Kalu we go baff together today!” Precious who was stronger stopped her from making her way into the bathroom as the struggle was going on, Kalu in a rush poured water on the body, Ene Kept kicking and cursing but Precious who was taller was no match for her.
In split seconds, Kalu rushed out and threw a “Thank you,Presh” in the air, Ene like a stubborn child charged towards him but Precious who was laughing, held her, telling her to go in, Ene shrugged then entered into the bathroom,
Ene: “Maik una no worry. Tomoro na for dis bathroom I go sleep maik I see di Idiot wey go come say e wan baff!”
Precious: “E do joor!”
Ene: “God punish you!”she ranted as water entered her mouth.
Kalu got to the junction but the cars there were scanty, confused had twirled around him, what was he going to do, it was 8:30 am,an hour behind schedule.
Kalu: “O boy,owfa?” he beckoned on one of the area boys that helped drivers call for passengers, “wetin maik cars scarce?”
Area Boy: “ah, bros,”he pronounced the bros with the emphasis on the ‘r’, “na fuel scarcity cause em o!”
Kalu:” Na wa o!”his hissed.
He heard read last night that government had planned on increasing fuel price from ninety naira to one forty-five, it wasn’t tentative when he had come across it from the newsletter sent by his favourite blog,Adelove.com.
Area boy: “money to town don increase sef!”
Area Boy: “yes o na 300 now!”
Kalu: “from 150?” the boy nodded and ran towards a car.
The only money Kalu had on him was four hundred, that was what he had budgeted for the trip.
Kalu was disappointed with the new government but still hoping things would get better, since they emerged all they have busied themselves with is preaching the tenets of change and blaming the previous government for the country’s misfortunes. The country was really experiencing change but on a negative route; food prices had hiked to an alarming rate, Rice that was the most consumed had been increased from two hundred and fifty naira per bowl to seven hundred naira, a bag was now seventeen thousand from five thousand. Ibe, Kalu’s friend never saw anything good in the government,
Ibe: “I don’t understand this government. You stop importation of rice when you haven’t developed your local industry, isn’t that foolishness? The painful thing is that most of these pot bellied men, especially, those foolish senators keep pocketing millions for doing nothing while we wallow in abject poverty,” he hissed, “I now see reasons why Achebe wrote There was a Country!”
He was a big critic of the new government.
Finally, Kalu got a car, a saloon, they were four at the back and they pressed against one another. The discomfort didn’t bother him; missing the appointment with his Uncle was the major chaos. Thirty minutes into their journey, they bumped into Road Safety Officials,
Driver: “Ah, e don bi! Only in Naija oo,” he uttered in frustration
The driver tried to hide behind another car but he was spotted and made to park off the road. Kalu was frustrated. It seemed he was under a curse. They were made to step out of the car as the Road Safety Officials beckoned on the driver. Kalu didn’t know what to do.
Question: Is Kalu under a curse? Will he still make it to his Uncle’s office?
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