The heaven and the earth must have stood still the moment Martins set eyes on his one-time roommate and best friend. At that point Martins knew he was at the right place at the wrong time. And for the rest of the occupants of 5, Otolorin street, Lawanson they had no inkling of what was going on. All they saw in their mind’s eye was their caretaker cringing at the sight of a white walker.
The silence in 5, Otolorin Street, Lawanson was so deafening that you could hear as ants crawled on the ground beneath. Martins had come to the rescue of the landlord at the nick of time, albeit it seemed he needed someone to rescue him too.
Deji stared hard at the intruder like a constable who had finally caught up with a fugitive, many things were going through his mind as his lips tried to make out words. In a flash, memories of events that led to his arrest and subsequent imprisonment played out before him, and all he saw in Martins pale face was a backstabber and a betrayer. He had sworn he was going to pay dearly for it if he ever came out of Kirikiri alive, and he had meant it.
“What the heck are you doing here?”Deji inquired as soon as he found his voice, however, Martins still remained mute. “Dude! are you now dumb?”
“Good day, Deji” he managed to respond.
“I’m sure you never saw this coming. That look on your face must mean the evil men do lives with them right?”
“Martins looked aloof, he wondered who Deji was referring to as the evil one; the person that led robbers to assault a bank which led to the death of his fake client, or the person who gave policemen the identities of the bank robbers”
“It seems you’ve lost your tongue yet again. Do you see your doom already? Common man, we are still friends. Let’s put the dark years aside for now.” Deji stretched out his hand to exchange pleasantries with Martins, but he remained transfixed to the spot. He appeared down in the dumps as Deji made a last effort to bring him out of his misery. “Dude! You wouldn’t want the rest of your crew to know about our little secret, would you?
Martins finally responded to Deji’s outstretched hand of friendship, but instead, Deji drew him towards him to whisper a note of warning to his ears. “Do not let anyone know that me I’m an ex-convict. Let what happened four years ago remain between us, do you understand?”
“Yes!” Martins answered soberly like a primary school pupil who was being scolded by his teacher.
“I’m still your friend, an old friend right?”
“So what was it you said you wanted” Deji asked, he pretended everything was okay between them. However, Martins strange reactions and inactiveness in front of Jamiu’s flat had aroused suspicions from the spectators who were waiting for the commencement of the meeting.
“Martins what is going on?” the landlord finally broke the ice.
“Nothing sir” Martins answered even before the question was asked.
“Nothing ke! Na him you stand in front of person flat like LASTMA when we they wait you here make meeting start”, Uju vented her frustration.
“Oga Martins, you dey there they look like person wey see ghost and you say nothing they do you”, Nneka added
“I just saw an old friend, I will be with you guys in a jiffy”, Martins thought he was saving his face, yet he was implicating himself more.
“Old friend? In Jamiu’s house? Oga Martins is something wrong?” It was time for Runo to raise an eyebrow
“Landlord na you cause am o! Na Gen wey you allow am go off turn my oga to mumu”, Sylvanus blurted out
” Jamiu don use him jazz turn am to robot” Uju added sarcastically. Martins continued conversing with Deji amid the side remarks from the tenants as the landlord remained speechless
“This is strange! He’s just been there talking in low tones with whoever is there”, it was time for Mr Obong – the oldest man in the gathering, to offer his own analysis to the situation on ground.
“He doesn’t even appear to be listening to us”, Mr. Okafor commented yet again
“Sylvanus na that babe him dey follow talk abi another person dey that house?” Uju inquired.
“See question oh! No be here both of us dey so?”
It appeared the landlord had seen enough of the unfolding drama, “Martins!!!”
“Are you under a spell?”
“I’m just trying to sort some things out” Jamiu who had been in his room with Patricia all along, came out to join Deji in the living room. “Dejex wetin happen naa? Who be the lunatic wey off my gen?”His sleepy eyes were able to notice Martins’ presence at the door. “Who be this one? Oga Martins you don come back?”
“Good morning Jamiu”
“Ah no say na only you fit get liver off gen for this compound. Dejex wetin una dey yan naa?”
“Free the guy for me”
“Okay naa, abeg make una on the gen oh! make gbege no happen for this compound.”
“Guy enter room!” Deji gave a rejoinder. Immediately, Jamiu sauntered into his room while murmuring incoherent words. Martins thought it was time to make his exit, “Please I have to join the others for the meeting”
“Not until you put on that gen…”
“Of course.” Deji slammed the door on him as Martins rambled back to the meeting place still in a confused state of mind.
“Finally! The spell has been broken” Runo heaved a sigh of relief
“I’m sorry for taking your time, I was having a chit chat with an old friend.” Martins’ response intrigued Mr. Okafor, “An old friend in Jamiu’s house? Who could that be?” Mr. Obong on the other hand was beginning to lose patience, “Please can we start the meeting now?”
“Martins!” Deji howled from the window of Jamiu’s living room
“I thought we had an agreement?”
“Oh the gen! ….sorry I totally forgot”, Martins rose from his seat in the speed of light to the chagrin of everyone present. “Just a minute please…”
“Wetin happen again” Uju retorted. He walked up to Jamiu’s generator house, and in less than a minute, Jamiu’s generator came alive again with a deafening sound that incapacitated everyone outside
“Chai! This Jamiu juju strong oh!” The small crowd in the compound was held spellbound by their caretaker’s sudden weakness