Martins hated to stroll into Ajegunle at night; the place sends shivers down his spine. Again the traffic congestion that besieged major roads in Lagos was a hurdle he had to painfully and constantly cross even after a long and stressful day at work. Martins dreaded the thought of going back home after a long’s day’s job not because the condition of the hotel he lodged in was sub-par but because the location of the hotel was a nightmare. He had only stayed there for four nights yet Ajegunle was a jungle of some sort; a haven for criminals in his mind’s eye. The night life in Ajegunle terrified him.
It was some minutes past eight when Martins walked past a hood which had men of unscrupulous characters, who were more active at night, smoking marijuana. He had his heart in his mouth as he made his way to the street that led to his hotel. Martins was alarmed at the convergence of jobless youths and ill- mannered teenagers that formed clusters on the untarred road covering the entire length of the street. He wondered why people that engaged in idle talks and never took a bath during the day sowed their wild oats and became bulls at night. The young female faces that usually lacked colour when Martins stepped out to work in the morning had seemingly become a sight to behold.
However his nose was having a hard time differentiating the stench that emanated from the Open engorged sewers and the valley of garbage that were the hallmark of the neighbourhood, from the pungent fragrances of the cheap perfume the scantily dressed females that walked aimlessly around the streets had bathe themselves in. The pollutants that filled the air Martins breathed reminded him of Nadia, his Hausa classmate back in the days. By the time he gets to his lodge, Martins was certain he would be without a sense of smell. At another spot close to the bog –filled gutters were two kids, the eldest couldn’t have been more than 6 years yet they were left alone to jump gutters at that time of the night. Martins wondered where the boy’s parents were. He didn’t have to wonder for too long when a woman who had been walking behind Martins all along called out to one of the kids.
“Ma!” The older kid replied
“What? Did I hear well? Did that woman just call her son by that name?” Martins said under his breath
“Kinimose? Some Parents are wicked sha…what could that boy have done to deserve such name?” He pondered.
Kinimose in English means “what have I done?” and Martins just couldn’t fathom why the innocent child was assigned such name. It just didn’t click!
As Martins was making a turn at the bend that led to his guest house, he saw a couple come out of the hotel. The duo walked far too close for comfort as the man held on to the lady tightly like she was some conquest. Martins had met the man in the hotel the day he moved in. He had also noticed that the middle age man had a different girl every other night, albeit his latest acquaintance looked quite young. Martins could swear the young lady wasn’t 18 yet. However that was the least of his worries. What baffled Martins more was that the girl was heavily pregnant. Martins shook his head in disgust at the thought of what would have transpired between the duo under the sheets in the shameless man’s hotel room; he shook his head so hard that his neck cringed in protest.
He took his eyes off the love struck outlaws as he made his entry into the reception just in time to eavesdrop on the conversation between the two hotel attendants who were alone at the reception at the time.
“That Alhaji dey use those girls wey him dey carry for juju, with all those rings for him hand” Hadiza, the female hotel attendant opined
“But wetin go make am carry pregnant girl now?” Ekene, Hadiza’s male colleague asked in a concerned tone.
“You no ask say wetin the girl dey do with am abi you think say that babe na human being? Na her fourth pregnancy she dey carry so”
“Na lie!” Ekene opens his mouth agape, shocked at the revelation
“Person wey don tear eye since J.S 2,” Hadiza continued
“You know am?” Ekene quipped.
“Who no know stella for this yonder? Na her hobby be that now. Na every guy for area don cross am”
“Ehn, Ehn… abeg I no follow oh” Ekene echoed his disagreement
“Who you be? Ekene, who know you abi wetin you sabi sef? You be jew naa…” Hadiza said in a bid to ridicule his colleague.
“Hadiza wetin bring that kain talk, I don tell you say make you no dey call me jew again. Make I no do you strong thing for this place.”
“Huh! You? Omo Igbo, you wan do me strong thing? Soro niyen sha? With this your thin frame?”
Hadiza bursts into laughter just as Martins who had been lazing around the entrance to the reception approaches them.
“Hmm…babe you are harsh oh! Na Man you wash like that?” Martins questioned Hadiza
“Ah Oga, Good night…I mean good evening” Hadiza is embarrassed Martins had overhead her verbose witticism at Ekene.
She evades his knowing looks as she suddenly gets busy.
“Good evening” Martins slowly responded to Hadiza’s greetings with a smirk on his face
“Bros good evening“
“Good evening Ekene” Martins answered in between loud yawns
“E be like say today hold up bloody?” Ekene asked
“You can say that again. In fact I’m really exhausted right now”
“Sorry oh…Na your key be this” Ekene hands Martins his key
“Thank you! Wetin happen wey light dey today?” Martins asked Ekene while resting on the counter that separated the attendants from Martins.
“Bros dem just bring am oh, dem fit take am anytime. You know say this Nepa people way no pure.”
“Abeg make them never take am oh. At least make dem wait till 10 when una go on una gen. Sebi una still get fuel?” Martins said as he made to leave for his room.
“E be like” Ekene replied
“Abeg make una go find oh, if una no get”
Martins took the flight of stairs adjoining the reception to his room on the second floor. He inserted the key into the keyhole and turned the knob clock-wisely as the door opened ajar. The moment Martins opened the door the inevitable happened; the lights went out.
“Oh God! Nepa!” Martins howled in displeasure.
He needed the light badly to cool off after the marathon hold up that left him wondering for a moment if hell would be better than living and surviving in Lagos.
Martins heard loud hisses and silent complaints down the hallway by some aggrieved hoteliers. He exhaled audibly in an avalanche of sadness laced with tiredness, having confirmed he wasn’t the only one that needed the light after all.
He quickly put on the torch on his phone when it appeared unseen shadows were gnawing at him in the darkness.
Martins couldn’t stay one minute more in the room. He took out his shoes then changed into something more comfortable as he walked out of his room. He heads for the reception after locking the door behind him.
On getting to the reception, he finds Ekene and Hadiza talking in muffled sound. If Martins didn’t know any better he would have thought they were an item
“What are you guys up to this time?” Martins asked the duo
“Ah nothing oh!” Hadiza said rather suspiciously
“Eeyah! Them don drive you comot for your room” Ekene addressed Martins, deviating from the initial question
“Yes oh, I no fit stay for that place, make I no go die of suffocation” Martins replied.
Martins stepped out of the hotel, making his way back to the street. Hoping to calm his frayed nerves with a bottle of chilled malta guiness, Martins walked tiredly to a bar on the other side of the road just opposite his hotel.
Somewhere close to the bar, Martins could observe a cluster of mean looking youths with blood-shot eyes. Getting to the foot of the bar, Martins dilemma immediately reached crescendo level. All he could see were men who seemed to live a thug life talking loudly like they had scores to settle with some persons of higher power. Martins feared a civil war was in the offing as he uncomfortably reclined into one of the few empty plastic chairs in the crowded bar. He knew he had to leave Ajegunle by the end of the weekend if he still loved his life. For a moment Martins thought he heard gun-shots from a distant or probably he was beginning to hear echoes in his head as a result of the environment he found himself.
Almost immediately, a haphazardly dressed teenager ran past the bar like he had just seen the ghost of the much talked about town’s dead witch doctor.
“Area!!! AK boys don show oh!” The teenager exclaimed profusely at the top of his voice.
Martins looked around him in an attempt to identify who the teenager referred to as ‘area’ forgetting for a moment that he ought to be running for his dear life instead. However, it was hard to tell as the bar was already in disarray after the sudden red alert.
The gun-shots that Martins thought he heard drew closer and louder as the crowd in the bar made an attempt to run for their dear lives. Though he was utterly dumbfounded at the commotion that ensued and even watched as a young man fled the bar and dived into the lagoon that bordered the bar, still Martins bum remained glued to his seat.
A fast moving police van swerved from the untarred road on the street into the entrance to the bar while crashing into some plastic chairs. Sporadic shootings rend the air as people scampered for safety. It was then it dawned on Martins that there was indeed trouble brewing in the air. Martins rose from his seat in a flash and had taken to his heels when several police men jumped out of the van. He ran into one of them as he managed to buck him.
“Stop there! I said stop there!” A cop yelled at Martins
Martins tarried on. The cop hits him on the head with a baton as Martins fell on his knees shrieking in pain
The police man hits him again and again, this time with his rifle as he collapses and gradually goes blank.
READ ALSO: The BROUHAHA of OGA MARTINS 2.0 | Chapter 5
The Brouhaha continues next week…