My phone beeped as I stepped outside the face-me-I –face-you compound I lived in. Pearl, appeared as the caller; that was my mother calling. She took it upon herself to always call me in the morning which is what best friends do. It rang out the first time I didn’t pick, it rang again, and still, I didn’t pick. I wanted to traipse out of the mess of a road that led to my area before any other thing. It had rained with so much anger the previous night. The muddy road had used baby pampers and excreta, the ones deposited openly and in black nylons, all over the place. Every of my step was well calculated, I couldn’t afford to step into that mess and get to my place of interview immersed in stench. It took me ten whole minutes to leave that road, with the excessive jumping, tip toeing and almost sliding to the ground but for my Michael Jackson’s moon walk skills.
I got to the junction fifteen minutes to seven and to my dismay, El-rufai bus hadn’t come. The aim of waking up early was defeated, I thought. I only had a thousand naira on me. The money was given to me by Ibrahim, whom we fondly called Eto’o because of his resemblance to the former African footballer. Ibrahim was one who could take a bullet for me. I stood there with my head in circles. I couldn’t wait any longer, interview was scheduled for nine, I would be stuck in Maraba-Masaka holdup if I stayed any longer. I walked down the road in forlornness to flag down a cab when I heard a honking of a horn; it was loud and familiar, by the time I looked up it was El-Rufai bus. Everything in my body leaped for joy and I ran back to the junction where it picked passengers. Having settled in my favourite seat at the back of the bus, I took my phone and flashed Pearl. I had 0.25 kobo as unit on my phone. In less than a minute, she called,
“Ho lo? Ho be n’wire yashi n’na?” she said In Gbagyi, asking of my wellbeing and why I wasn’t picking my calls before I could respond, she broke into prayers. I kept on muttering amen-with the corner of my eyes I could see the lady beside me breaking into bits of smiles. She must have been wondering why I was saying amen. It made me shy and I couldn’t wait for the call to end.
“Don’t worry God has given you this job already! Take care of you. I will be waiting to celebrate the good news” Mother said in English.
I dropped my phone and I smiled at her, she smiled back. It was a cue that she was up for a chit chat. My phone rang as I was on the verge of saying hello to the lady, it was no other but the talkative Ebuka, whom we called fat boy because of his size, we belonged to the same football club 33 Export Lager FC; the club came about that name because most of its members consumed more of 33 than any other lager beer.
“Gwari!” Ebuka began that was the name my crazy friends called me, “how far? Wetin make you no come training on Saturday?”
“I been go meeting for town?” I replied.
“ Go joor. Abi that my igbo sister knack you die for night!” Ebuka said heehawing.
I looked at the girl beside me with the fear that she was listening to our conversations for my phone was unforgivably loud; she wasn’t, she had plugged ear phones on and was listening to music, quite loud too.
“ You dey craze oo! Shey you know say I dey go for interview ?“ I blurted out.
Ebuka laughed, “You never tire to dey go interview? Me I don give up oo. Na me and 9jabet oo! We die here, I swear!” I giggled, hoping my friend would end the call but he continued, “Baba you hear wetin happen for club house?”
“No,” the question pricked my curiosity, I wanted to know more, Ebuka rang out his usual laughter that sounded like a faulty motorcycle,
“ Onye’m mess up o! E go knack one oloshi laik dat an e no get money to pay. E come promise her say e go do transfer only to discover say na three hundred dey e account!” I sat with mouth opened as I listened to the story, “Baba na Abdul come pay for em oo!”
“Na wa oo! Wetin dey worry all these men sef?”
“Ask google na!” he started laughing again, “Make I dey go glo don warn me. All the best, I just say make I give you the latest.”
That was Ebuka, he was that friend of mine who had one gossip or another to entertain us with.
8:30 Pm, I sat down at the bar staring at the bottle of 33 Export lager beer in front of me. I was dejected. The interviewer did not look at me before sending me out when I couldn’t provide a letter from a godfather. It was the usual Nigerian story.
I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket, when I brought out, it was Ibrahim. In the background, I could hear voices of my friends; Michael, Chibuzo, Ebuka, and Abdul. In less than five minutes, they had joined me,
“ open em!” they flung a brown envelope on my legs, I gawked at them, sighed and when I opened, I saw one thousand naira notes. I sat mopping at them.
“Na 200k dey there” Chibuzo said.
“Use em start your photography business!” Ibrahim added; my lips quivered as tears ran down my cheeks,
“Abeg, bring 33 for us make we celebrate,” Ebuka said.
“ Gwari, behave yourself oo!” they teased me as they rallied round for chilly bottles of 33 Export lager beer; drinking and laughing.