The Chronicles of Okiemute in Lagos.
As soon as he got back from mama Sikira joint where he had lunch, he tried to get some rest. While his eyes were closed, his mind was as busy as the third mainland bridge on a Monday morning. Different thoughts ran through his head. So that is how he will eventually be based in Lagos? The state he had often described as the worst place to live in among the whole southwestern states in Nigeria. “What an irony”, he said to himself. He thought of his mother and younger siblings back home. If his elder brother had put in enough effort, he would not have been carrying so much burden today. The art of ‘welding’ he was sent to learn after the death of their father, was replaced by the art of ‘wedding’ as he ended up impregnating the daughter of the woman who sold food at the workshop where he was supposed to be learning welding. Since then, he had become completely irredeemable. Were he not for a church member that had to take him along to be his assistant in welding industrial tankers for upcoming gas stations, and for trucks, he would have killed their mother by now with his troubles.
Okiemute smiled as he recalled the very first time he narrated the story to Bola back on campus. It was in their second year and his younger sister had used their mother’s phone to inform him that the elder brother was constituting nuisance in the neighbourhood, insulting the mother and scattering things in the house. Each time he remembers that day, he gets scared for himself, as the incident made him realise that he could not predict the extent he would go to protect his loved ones. As soon as he got off the phone with his sister, he left Abraka for Warri. Unfortunately for his brother, he met him at the junction, some distance from their house. Without waiting to ask any questions, Okiemute had pounced on him and a big fight ensued. A crowd started to gather with a mixture of amusement and surprise on their faces as they looked on surprised. It had happened so fast. As the crowd grew, the brothers continued to slug it out with punches, though the punches were mainly thrown in the air. Before long, the news of the fight got home to their mother who raced down the road to confirm what she had heard. She could not believe her eyes The shock and disbelief boldy written on her face made Okiemute break down in tears.
He had always respected his elder brother who is older than him by four years and nine months. However, the respect had been lost after he incessantly blamed everyone but himself for his woes. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he impregnated the same girl for the second time, after his initial mistake had already added to the house’s financial stress with an additional mouth to feed.
Okiemute laughed with nostalgia when Bola angrily shouted at him, condeming his actions for going home to fight his elder brother. “No matter what, he is your elder brother and you should have fought him”, was his line of emphasis. By the time he heard how he impregnated the same girl twice under the space of three years, Bola was the angrier of the duo. He was still smiling alone in the room when Bola barged into the room. That was when he realised he had forgotten bolt the door after he returned from lunch.
“My guy, have you listened to Erigga’s new single?”, Bola asked, smiling mischievously. With that kind of question from someone that was supposed to be talking about the clothes he went to buy, he knew something was fishy. “What is special about the song?”, he replied Bola with another question. “Why can’t you answer with a simple Yes or No?”, asked Bola, still trying to conceal his intentions. “Well, I heard the song from the guy sitting next to me in a bus on my way to Yaba this afternoon, and I could not help but transfer it to my phone”, he continued. “You can have it and listen to it yourself”, he concluded, and passed his phone to Okiemute. He took the phone and saw that Bola had already placed the song on repeat. That increased his nervousness as he quickly listened to the song from the beginning. “You are not serious one bit”, he said, throwing the phone back to Bola. Both of them started to laugh as they analysed the lyrics of the song. “I am not the Okiemute he is referring to here oooh”, he said, pointing to the phone. “Of course I know, but the ‘showmanship’ the said okiemute displayed, is a trait both of you share”, Bola replied teasingly.
“Oh boy leave Erigga matter make we face wetin concern us”, he said, as he stylishly looked around for the bag Bola should have brought in with him. When he couldn’t find anything, he asked Bola about it. “I dropped it with the laundry guy on my way home”, replied Bola. “With your dislike for the ‘scent’, I wanted them dry-cleaned before presenting them to you”, he continued. “That was so thoughtful of you, but what if they are not my size or I don’t like them?” Okiemute asked. “Then we will throw them in the wastebin”, replied Bola in a very sarcastic manner. Sensing that his words didn’t go well with Bola, he changed the topic. “Did you still bring the twenty thousand Naira loan, you promised?”, he asked. Bola passed the money to him and he counted it. While he was counting, he told Bola that Sandra called. “Be careful with that girl. I have told you times without number, stay away from her and save your career!”, he said, tugging at his right ear. “What is the problem with you? She only called to tell me that I have a short meeting with Mr Whyte by 9 am tomorrow, and that I must be seated by 8:45 am, that’s all!” Okiemute replied as he continued counting the money.
“Thank God! you just reminded me of something as you mentioned your early morning meeting scheduled for tomorrow”, Bola said. “I have made an arrangement with a guy that uses the ‘go my way’ app. So you will be going with him tomorrow and it will cost you a thousand Naira”, he continued. ” Wow, that is great! I am very grateful bro, I am serious this time, you are just awesome”, Okiemute said, with an hand shake and a hug. While they were still in each other’s arms, he added, “at least that would keep you from the temptation of running off with someone’s ‘change’ this time”. Okiemute pushed him gently and threw both hands to the air like someone in despair, “I know this will never end. That’s my problem with you, you will taunt someone until the person dies of guilt!”, Okiemute said, as he tucked the money in a corner of his box. Bola promised to bring the clothes to him on Saturday, to enable him know where he would be living. They both rehearsed the previous lines he had scripted to express his respect and gratitude to Mr Whyte.
Bola soon started the big brother role, explaining why he brought the song to him. “You heard how Erigga described Okiemute in that song, right?”, he started. “That’s how you act most times unknown to you”, he continued. “You want to be the best, you want to rule the pack, you want to break rules, shatter existing records and be in the spotlight. It is who you are and to some extent it is good. But remember, being in the spotlight exposes you to attack, and you must learn to build your defence mechanism!” He kept on admonishing Okiemute. “There is an African proverb that says ‘a cock always raises one leg up when it gets to a new place. It is after acclimatising to the new environment before it will drop its other leg’. Furlong Technologies is a new terrain, so is Lagos for you. Please tread carefully and don’t try to prove that you’re better than everyone you will meet. Don’t start by making enemies, especially that Agbaje you told me about, if he happens to be your direct boss, please ensure you covet his grace. It is important. A friend once told me that it goes beyond being qualified and competent in a corporation, you must learn the politics there, so you can enjoy your sail to the top. I know we are agemates, but as a friend, I need to tell you the truth to guide you.”, he concluded as he held Okiemute’s hand in his.
For the very first time in a long while, Okiemute missed his elder brother. This is what his elder brother would have been doing if he had put himself in order. As he listened to Bola, the thought of his elder brother ran through his mind, tears soon started to flow down his cheeks. He left them, without making any attempt to wipe them off. Bola starred at him, not knowing what to say, he helped him wipe the tears and pulled him up from the bed they were sitting on, “we will make it here in Lagos together, God helping me, I will always have your back”. They hugged each other again, packed up his things and went out to take a walk.
Tomorrow will be a new beginning for his friend, so Bola wanted to give him a surprise dinner in preparation for the launch into the next level!
IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.