I am a woman and a lover of women. An emotional speaker and a love coach.
Latifa is Mr Ali's sister in-law. She came from the village to live with her them. To her, her sister was married to the richest man. Her sister was known in their village as one of the richest married woman, due to the bags of rice and gallons of palm oil, along with cash she usually sends home.
Lagos was like London to her, and she came to shine her eye and grab. Her usual slogan is: I no come Lagos come carry last. One of the things she decided to change first was her name: Latifa.
Sometimes she would tell people her name is Juliet. Other times she forgot and told them Rita. She wasn't permanent with one name. As long as it sounded foreign and nothing like; Latifa : it was good to go.
Often at times, her male lovers she managed to grab will come looking for her, only to be told by her nephew or nieces that such person with that name do not live here. That was a problem for her. After much complaint from her lovers for giving them a wrong address; Latifa made sure the people she lived with knew that any foreign name belonged to her, and she should be called immediately to attend to her visitors.
It was no longer news to her family and people in the neighborhood that Latifa followed and slept with many men. To her, she dey shine eye; she no fit carry last.
Cynthia who lived opposite Latifa's house was viewed by Latifa as: small girl. To her, she was the only girl on the street who was beneath her, because Cynthia was not like her and the other girls who wore flashy things given to them by men or purchased by having sex with various men.
As Latifa sat in her sister's shop in front of their house where they sold provisions, she was chatting up some of her numerous boyfriends on her smart phone.
I want to buy something o! A customer called out.
What do you want to buy? Mrs Ali who was lying down on a mat on the floor asked the customer.
I want to buy eggs 150 naira own.
Mrs Ali turned to look at her sister who was busy with her phone. Latifa attend to the customer now.
Oh sister! I am busy with my phone o! I can't leave what am doing.
Mrs Ali also had a similar excuse. She was tired to get up. So she told the customer: please go somewhere else to buy. Sorry you hear. I no fit get up abeg. And the customer went away.
That was the usual trend in that shop. Many people on that street had vowed never to patronize them due to their irresponsible behavior regarding their business.
Immediately Latifa sighted Cynthia from the chair she sat, she rose up from her once busy phone chat; to flaunt herself at her. Today she was wearing a faded designer jeans, skimpy top and had lots of wig on her head; she looked like a 1931 harlot.
Cynthia! Latifa called out.
Yes! Cynthia reluctantly answered.
How you see this my hair? Is it fine?
After looking at her hair style; Cynthia knew for a certainty that this lady must be on her way to see a junkie! It had to be a junkie.
It is okay. Cynthia managed to lie.
Latifa went on. This my guys can spend! And they always want me looking good. I just hope this looks is expensive enough for them. She said; shaking her head and chewing her gum like she always did and eyeing her. You look hungry Cynthia; are you hungry?
No am not.
You can confide in me. Look I was once like you. I didn't have much, until my sister married a rich man. So don't be ashamed to tell me things. Can I give you bread and sardine?
Cynthia was not going to give Latifa any satisfaction. Common babe, if I am hungry, I know the road to my kitchen na. I have enough food. I am just tired due to my exams I have been reading for.
Oh really! Well I have an invite for you.
And what invite is that?
It's called the big boys club.
Big boys club? Cynthia reechoed.
Yes it's were you go to get connected. You meet all manners of bigger boys and girls there.
Yea. Latifa replied, happy she was getting Cynthia's interest. You just have to be naked in there. She added.
What! Naked! Why?
Why are you acting like a small girl. What is naked? Why and what? The people that attend the club are very respected people o. The rule of the club is that when you get in, you have to take off all your cloths in the hallway before you step into the club. Everybody there is naked. No one is ashamed o.
God forbid! What kind of nonsense is that?Cynthia asked out loud, with a disgusting look on her face.
Don't shout! Latifa looked around. Do you want people to hear us.
You mean they are completely naked? No underwear?
Yes na. Nothing on. But they are all respectable people o. She stressed. They never have sex inside the club.
As if there was need to have sex again? Respectable people indeed. Cynthia said to herself. Please Latifa, am not interested. As she began to excuse herself; Mrs Ali's step son came out of the gate, straight to Cynthia.
Cynthia dear, date me na. I love you. I will take care of you. Do you need money; bringing out a thousand naira note from his pocket: he showed her.
Latifa who was there smiling; decided to become his spoke woman. Take it na Cynthia. Ahmed loves you o. She urged.
No thank you, was Cynthia's reply, as she walked away quickly. Who do those fools think they are self? It's just a pity they are seeing me here. Useless human beings with no moral values. Look at that Ahmed that his father sent to school but doesn't attend lectures and fools himself around with different things he calls girls. He has been in that school now for six years no graduation. Feeding on his father's money, acting like some king. Don't worry, matter go soon end. Money go finish one day. Like father, like son.
As she walked to her friend's place which is number 12 on the street, she knew she was going to hear more gist of what's happening in the area. Mercy was such a gist pal! She knew everything happening on the street. And it was fun being with her.
Mercy! She exclaimed as she saw her coming out of her one room apartment she shared with her family, which was built at the back of the main building.
My darling Cynthia! How are you? She asked as she hugged her.
Am good dear. What about you?
I am fine o. My mother has been asking of you self. She said it's been long she saw you. Before she finished saying the word; mama Mercy flew out of the house to greet Cynthia. She loved her dearly. She was a very fine example for her daughter and she was happy she was her daughter's friend.
Cynthia you remember us today! Was her way of greeting someone she hadn't seen for long.
Ma I always remember you o. It's you I hardly see when I come here; Cynthia replied.
My dear what will I do now. You know say I be business typhoon. Only me dey sell pap, only me dey wash people cloth, only me dey sweep people compound. Work to plenty for my hand.
Ma! Take it easy o! Cynthia replied laughing. She was use to mama Mercy funny remarks. She was an illiterate and used terms she must have heard from educated people discussing. If only she knew what business typhoon is. She wouldn't dare refer those words to herself throughout her lifetime.
What can I do now? I have to do any kind of work to train my pinkin dem. Na only two I born. I be wan drink pap o. Abeg come join me.
Oh thanks ma. Am okay. She replied honestly.
Mama mercy entered and came out again some seconds later angry. So mercy, you get mind drink my milk abi? Milk wey I wan use drink pap now, na him you don use abi?
Oh mummy I forgot to buy it back. I am so sorry. I use am drink garri for afternoon. Mercy apologized.
You this stupid girl! I go out everyday to hustle and come home to still hustle. Can't I for once meet things prepared for me? She went on and on.
Mercy got tired of her complains and called out to her younger sister. Blessing! Blessing! Please come and go buy mummy's milk back!
Common get away from her! You this dirty billionaire! What do you think you are? Eh, so I cannot complain again. Foolish girl. She walked in angry. I don't need your milk! She shouted.
Cynthia see me see trouble o. I no buy the milk, she complain. I wan buy am, she still complain. Laughing hard and continuing with her gossip she asked; do you remember that my Ghanaian friend who married that old man?
The one that stays at number one. She emphasized again making sure.
Yes yes, Cynthia resounded.
Hmmm that man that cannot impregnate her. My friend decided to go outside to get pregnant o; after much treatment she had undergone with her husband. Only for her to have tried two other men but still no sign of pregnancy! It's now obvious that the fault is hers.
So if she had gotten pregnant for one of the men, what would she have told her husband?
Does he have to know? Haba! Na wa for you o! Why you dey talk like small pinkin?
Cynthia recalled that this isn't the first time that she has been called small pinkin today.
And speaking of pregnancies. Mercy continued. Guess who is also pregnant? She asked wide eyed smiling.
No idea. Abeg gist me!
Who else but Faith. Mercy said smiling.
Eh! Which faith?
How many Faiths do we have on Paradise street!
Jesus is lord! You don't mean it. The same Faith that has four children for a married man? That just had a set of twins barely two years now? The very faith that has been fooling herself around with that fine boy she claims wants to marry her? My God!
My sister you dey talk too much! Make I gist you.
Gist me Mercy! I dey hear.
Hmmmm can you believe the man she is pregnant for has a child with another woman?
You don't mean it!
Yea! He has. In fact she just left him because she says he is irresponsible. And the fool told Faith that he is the only male child in his family. And his family has been pressuring him to get a male child. And that is why he sent his woman away because she gave birth to a girl. So he promised faith that if she can give him a male child; he will marry her. And that's why the fool got pregnant. She claims she is master in having male children because she already has three boys.
Can you imagine! Cynthia lamented. How stupid can a woman be? Eh! She will give birth to that male child and the man will abandon her! If he loves her, why not marry her first?
Or better still; why not adopt the three boys she has since their biological father has abandoned them. Mercy ended laughing hard.
See film o! This woman is old and stupid!
My dear, am even tired of this Paradise street. It's only the rich that are enjoying it. I just want to get married to a white man so I can go and enjoy better weather. Enjoy snow. She said smiling. At that moment her mother came out of the room and asked.
Who is snow Mercy? Mercy who be Snow!
Eh? Mercy asked surprised.
I say who be snow wey you wan go meet and enjoy? Who be snow? You better make sure he marry you before going. Don't come and be the second Faith on Paradise street.
As Cynthia left Mercy's home that evening, she couldn't stop laughing on her way home. Mercy's mother was truly innocently funny. If Cynthia knew what awaited her and the entire resistance living on number 17; she would have been better prepared. And today's culprit was Mr Tunde fondly called Americana.
Americana is just a disgrace to the male race; with numerous children born to him by various white women during his journeys in the white man's land. He finally came back empty handed and broke. He was usually very drunk so drunk that his car always fell into the gutter by his gate anytime he parked at night. But surprisingly, on this particular night, Americana's car didn't fall into the gutter when he parked, infact he parked so well that the Angels flying in mid heavens were shocked.
He staggered in as usual, up to his mini flat by exactly 1a.m, went to the porch and turned on his tiger generator. He went into his room, lit his cigarette, lay down on his bed and smoked his life away feeling high.
Exactly 1:39a.m, there were bangs and screams here and there in the building. Fire! Fire! Fire! Everybody Fire run out! And there were cries here and there. All the sleeping heads were suddenly awake. Cynthia and her mother. Piggy and her children. Neighborhood watch and the others. Americana's apartment was on fire. His generator socket had sparked and the fire had caught his curtain and his parlor was on fire.
This wasn't the first time there was a fire on Paradise street, and as usual the entire neighborhood was there to quench the fire. But something unusual was still going on.
Neighborhood watch; mama Ifeoma refused to come out of her room, reasons best known to her.
Mama Ifeoma come out please. Her neighbors pleaded.
No I am not coming out! She shouted from inside. I cannot leave all the small property my married daughter struggled to buy for me. I am a widow, I cannot continue to suffer and lose the little I have managed to get again since after the loss of my husband. I will stay in here and die with it!
Please ma, come out abeg! We need to pass through the ceiling to get to Mr Tunde's flat. He is locked inside. We need to pass through your end since you are next to him to quench the fire and help him out! The neighbors now turned fire fighters shouted.
It took lots of persuasion and lots of preaching from mama Cynthia to get mama ifeoma out and at last Americana was saved and the fire quenched.
They never knew something else was happening down the street until the following morning.
Mama Cynthia, mama Cynthia! A neighbor down the street woke mama Cynthia up with her loud voice.
Who is that this early morning! She lamented from within. I didn't sleep well last night due to Americana's fire. Now somebody is disturbing me. She staggered to the door, opened it and peeped. Yes she replied.
Mama Cynthia it's I mama Chika.
Oh mama Chika my dear. How are you? You heard about our fire incident right? That's why you are here.
Yea ma. So sorry. But am not just here for that. Your friend that you dey teach bible; mama Rejoice. She paused. You hear wetin happened?
No o! what happened to her. Now opening the door and coming out fully.
Thief came her last night o.
My God! What are you saying mana Chika?
Yes ma. Two thief. They steal all her money, even the one she wan use pay the company she collect bread from.
They been wan rape her too. But thank God she dey period.
What are you saying Chika! Almost now crying.
And the talk now be say, e be like say na that her lazy husband send the thief come, as she no dey allow him come house again and she no dey give am money again.
Oh my God! Oh my God! Please wait here. Let me go put on some proper cloths and go see her.
© 2020 Jade George Anibor