When he came out of the committee room – feeling the coolness of the air conditioner in the absence of the bright lights on him when he faced the committee – he dialled Sade’s number and got a computerised voice telling him the number is switched off. He dialled Bunmi Affi’s number, expecting to be rejected but clinging to the possibility of a good end.
He thought he heard a long musical girlish laugh. He looked around. He focussed on the call.
“Badoo, I just saw you on TV. Your presentation was impressive.”
“Are you okay?”
He exhaled deeply. “I will be.”
Dr Masango Masango walked in right then with a smile that seemed to say he had just been pleased by someone outside the door. A bigger smile when he saw Badoo on the other end. Badoo did not know the doctor was back from Zimbabwe.
“Take care of yourself.” Bunmi Affi was saying.
“And you too Bunmi.”
Her voice became suddenly thick as if a great sin has been brought to mind. “I hope you know you cant call this number again?”
“You cant. Because I said so.” Her voice was full of something he hadn’t heard in it before.
He wanted to say, “The fact that we are no longer together doesn’t mean we should be enemies.” But what he did was end the call because Dr Masango Masango was now too close and he had this smile on his face as if he – Badoo – is a girl the doctor is about to take to lunch, a girl he could soon lay hold on and let all the rest unfold.
“Badoo. How are you?”
“I’m super Doc.”
“I saw you there on TV. You were on fire, men. I mean that was one of the best cases made against law enforcement robots.”
“Thanks.” He said with a shy smile.
“You just nailed it.”
“What would you like? How would you like living it up in Abuja? I know a couple of restaurants around. Chicken Peri Peri, some Bokotoo, some afang soup with some nyana gbegiri and roundabout.”
“Dr MM, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a question.”
“Go ahead. Let me hear you.”
“I’m sorry if it sounds probing. Sir, I know you have a wife in Ekurhuleni. But you are much more of a son of a soil now, I mean who would have thought you were not born here?”
“Ask your question Badoo.”
“Sir,” he looked around as if to be sure no human or cameras and mics would pick his words. “Are you Bi?”
“In other words, would I shove my thing up your arse if I get the chance?”
He was so casual about it; that was what shook Badoo.
“Yes sir. If you are not offended because I put it that way.”
“Look Badoo, anybody can make you do anything if you surrender your power to such. I don’t have a gun or a knife or something that would make me enslave you with fear. I cant make you do anything that is not your choice.”
He stared at the man, suddenly not-so-hungry anymore. He would take the next flight to Akure. He had asked a simple question; Dr Masango Masango, the examiner of sanity, he could not even answer a question in simple terms. Didn’t someone say simplicity is the best sophistication?
He was home before sunset that day; his mother waited outside, beside the gate. One would have thought he had not gone to Abuja, as if he was on his way back from New York or Berlin or Melbourne; somewhere so far away and strange. He could smell Akintola leaves when his mother embraced him.
“My son, I am proud of you.”
“Do you know how many people saw it live? I got eighteen calls during the programme. I recorded it like all of them said they would do.”
Badoo’s mother set the table with fine china and pounded yam balls, and roasted chicken and egusi. She even placed a bottle of palm wine beside the plates of food.
“You are a good cook Mum.”
“You better get married and start eating your wife’s soup.”
Badoo finished the pounded yam, and swept the plate with the egusi clean, and washed his hand as he was set to pour himself some palm wine.
“That is fresh palm wine o. Pa Fakunle says we need to mix it with water.”
“Pa Fakunle brought the wine?”
“Yes,” She said, searching his face. “Is anything the matter?”
“When he came, did he ask of me?”
“He did mention you. Asked how you are doing, asked about your health.”
“Yes, is anything the matter?”
He wondered if the recorded interview had been as popular as his mother’s body language implied, or as effective as Dr Masango Masango had hinted. After all there are billions of YouTube videos and billions of Vimeo Videos; Badoo couldn’t possibly be as popular as the entertaining saxophone-playing masquerade. Who gives a damn about what a police officer still living with his Mum in his thirties thinks?
Badoo had been deliberate about his style for the interview. He was determined not to speak in the manner of African politicians or government officials.
These class – the ruling class with their rosy promises – would have their ideas. These ideas, when presented would be expressed or wrapped up in such extravagant abstract language, in direct contradiction to the concrete and sensuous culture of the people, that it became clear that such ideas were expressed to conceal either rosy ideas or lack of ideas.
Badoo had prepared to speak in concrete, sensuous language; and with a clarity that would exclude the scholarly taint of ambiguity.
Ambiguity in speech, he thought, belonged to the oracle and the scholar.
He had his hands in the pocket of his jeans trousers and his sunshades on when he sat beside the water fountain outside Captain Cook, waiting for the man who said he had deep insights into fejerun.
His google search on fejerun had taken him to the young man’s website. He dialled the number on the contact page of the website.
Zabazebe said he would show up at four; he promised to give a discount on consultation fee to anyone who shows up on time. He was already beside Badoo on the park bench when it was a minute to four.
Badoo would have loved to go in. The last time he was in Captain Cook – inside the building, not like now, beside the water fountain with Zabazebe – Sade was with him, mocking the names of the strange recipes in the five-page menu card: Fufu one chance, Maize Kawasaki, Jeun Soke beans, Ori e de be yam, Washere cakes. She ordered fried rice and chicken; he wanted amala and gbegiri.
“You wanted to know about fejerun?” Zabazebe asked in a business-like tone that weighed it on Badoo that this was not a meeting of close friends.
“Yes, something deeper than the sketchy details about it online.”
Zabazebe nodded impatiently. “Why would you want to know more? What about it fascinates you?”
“I think—” Badoo hesitated and was about to lower his voice.
“You think you are running on fejerun?”
He was stunned but relieved. “Sort of.”
Badoo spoke first. “Is it common these days?”
“What? To run on fejerun?” Zabazebe smiled. “What makes you think so? Why are you so curious about the popularity of it? What has been happening that has been hinting a run on fejerun?”
“Why so many questions?”
“That’s the only way I can help you. Have you had any blood covenant with anyone before?”
“Do you know what a blood covenant is?”
“Of course. Is it not like a promise, some commitment involving the blood of two or more people?”
“Tell me about the secret promises you have made.”
“I can’t. I can’t be telling you my secrets.”
“That’s the thing about fejerun Badoo. If I don’t know the real you I cant answer your question. Fejerun is about blood. Your blood or someone’s blood.”
He pursed his lips; he removed the dark sunshades.
He was not afraid. Zabazebe is one of the twenty second century ipadabo Abijas who could soon make people like Pa Fakunle redundant. The old man should have a website, he should have a visual wall, he doesn’t even have a cell phone. He doesn’t have a laptop. You drink his herb for about a week and he could not notice quick enough that you’ve been given the wrong medication.
Badoo had studied Zabazebe’s CV for about an hour, he knew he needed someone like him – the future of leaves-and-herbs power in Africa.
He would tell all to Zabazebe. He really wanted to know more about fejerun. No effort would be spared on hiding facts.
Zabazebe’s face changed immediately he took in the part about Pa Fakunle and the herb that had taken him five years, six countries, and a hundred rivers to prepare. He waited for Badoo to say that part about dry droppings of ayekooto when he interrupted.
“You took Pa Fakunle’s fejerun?”
Zabazebe was on his feet, suddenly in a hurry, cold eyes, voice of the bored. “If it involves Pa Fakunle’s fejerun, it is then definitely a ground-breaking thing I wouldn’t dare interfere in. Are you not Yoruba? Won ni ode ogbudo fi bante ode wodi wo. I don’t want to be involved in this. At all.” A hunter should never wear another hunter’s belt
As he walked on, it was the confident strides of someone who had indeed firmly decided to walk away.
“I cant help you Badoo. Go and see Pa Fakunle.”
From there Badoo drove on the four-lane Oba Adesida road in free-flowing traffic, towards the west end of the city, to the redbrick building closest to the hill beside the river.
He was not expecting a warm welcome.
He pondered on #KeYona for the umpteenth time. Thank goodness she hadn’t mentioned him in the tweet. He grimaced at the thought; he reminded himself he was still on the road.
She still loved him; that, is the problem.
Apart from Boitumelo and Pa Fakunle he could not be sure any other living soul would know the significance of #KeYona; yet according to Bunmi, Badoo had used it in their intimate time together in the car.
He wanted Bunmi’s help. He really needed it; he needed all the help he could get on this. Not help for the sake of unity; not the oyinmomo-ayangility-in-view-kind of help. They could forget about the sex, they would focus on the big picture. She is scared, he thought. Who wouldn’t be with a revolutionary tyre-slashing, breast-sagging, slut-shaming, twenty-second-century-savvy ghost?
Bunmi Affi had pictures of physically fit men on her phone; more than a dozen of them. They were her uncles, or cousins; not one of the men is anything but an uncle or a cousin. That’s what she said.
Badoo tried to be understanding: She would definitely meet many men in her line of work.
She opened the translucent glass door for him before he knocked. She was not frowning, but no hint of a smile either. The place had the smell of fried fish and curry; yellow lights like the yellow-light section at Galaxy. No word of greeting from the woman with the flat chest, all he got was a grunt when he said “Good evening Bunmi.”
“I’m travelling to LA tomorrow.” She said. She did not tell him to sit down. She did not even look at his face.
“Oh. For the breasts. But you can do it in Ondo. I swear they are as good as the ones you are going to meet.”
“Are you kidding me?”
She glanced at the wall clock; the blinking red lights that speaks of deadlines and the burdens of the rat race. “Badoo, it is getting dark. Tell me what brought you here.”
“Why are you so harsh? I understand you want us to end this thing, and I’m with you on that.”
“It doesn’t mean we should be extreme with the animosity.”
She shrugged, folded her arms and avoided his eyes. “I’m with you on that one too.”
“Bunmi, did she threaten your life? What has she done to you? A few days ago you said you were not afraid, that we would fight for this; that we would fight for us.”
“There is no us Badoo.”
“We had something.”
“Well,” she shrugged. “Not anymore.”
“Because I said so. Because I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to LA to get my breasts done again! Another hundred thousand dols down the drain!”
“That is not what this is all about Bunmi. The last time I came here you didn’t have the breasts in their glorious state. We had something, then you changed when you said I tried to snap your neck.”
“Tried? You call that tried?”
“I’m sorry, OK? There must have been a misunderstanding.”
“Misunderstanding.” She snorted. “Are you going to tell me why you are here?”
“So now it is so bad that I can’t even visit without some grand reason?”
“Yes sir it is that bad. When I get two hundred texts messages in twenty four hours, all telling me in nasty ways to stay away from you, when someone threatens my father and kills my mother’s cat – by the way, do you know what it takes to send 200 text messages?”
“I’m sorry Bunmi. I didn’t know about this.”
“Well, now you know. Look, when we are drunk in love, we say these poetic things, we weave pleasing words together, flowery language, we make promises, we think we can cross the ocean, bring the moon down and be heroes; but when the real test comes, that’s when we know the true meaning of love. Badoo, I know what love really is. And I know I don’t love you. Believe me, I really don’t.”
“OK. I’m not really here to be loved. What I need is your help.”
“I cant help you. Did I tell you about that Lagos blogger who just bought a jet? He wants to do a story on calls from your dead girlfriend. She has called eight times already. When would I ever have the time to train with all this shit hanging around me? Soon enough the story will be in the papers and online. Bold banners. Olympic medallist’s grace to grass decline.”
Her phone rang on the stool beside the visual wall. “DISPLAY” she ordered, and the face of a woman filled the screen. The billionaire blogger.
Badoo looked into her eyes. “Whatever you do babe, please don’t speak to her.”
“REJECT” she ordered. The woman on the other end would be disappointed but would keep in mind to try again. Bunmi folded her arms once again and looked into his eyes.
“I’m going to have to block your number Badoo. And don’t ever come here again.”
About the Author:
Feyisayo Anjorin is a writer, an actor, and a director. His writing has appeared in Litro, 365 tomorrows, Bella Naija, and Fiction On the Web. He plays the character “Cassius” on Mnet Africa’s flagship TV soap “Tinsel.”