Badoo knew he would be a star in the eyes of the opponents of robot importation. He knew how closely the committee hearings would be followed by the rank and file. He was not thinking too highly of himself though. He knew the power of the money bags behind the idea.
The morning after the hearing, he skipped breakfast at home. He had told his Mum to stop stressing. She heard him. She would never know how tired he was of noodles, bread, energy bars, and corn flakes.
A dark-as-soot woman with a pair of big glittery dangling earrings that hung all the way down the sculptured bones of her bare shoulders crouched beside a tray of okpa with her back against the wall. She would keep herself busy with her I-pad as it was her practice during the wait in the parking lot; certain of patronage.
Badoo got two from her – two okpas – so he got one in his pocket and ate one all the way to the door of the complex. He placed his left hand on the punctuality button, tossed the plastic-bag wrapping in the bin, and hurried upstairs as usual.
Badoo was one of the main customers of the okpa-selling woman. He thought her style too loud for an okpa seller. There was something promising about her smile. That invitation to curiosity, that pouty look, that sublime invitation of a confident woman; red lipsticks, powdered face, the earrings. Why should he not delight himself with her look? Why is Sade talking about a dirty mind?
He opened the door of his boss’ office; expecting to find him alone with the usual fat-frog look, expecting the usual expression of his boss’ feigned concern for his health and family. They were Yorubas after all; they had an eku for everything.
“What the hell is good about the morning?” General Ojopagogo fired back, showing his brown teeth. “You are a big fool!”
Badoo was so shocked; he didn’t even remember saying good morning. General Ojopagogo of the electronic army, Dr Masango Masango, Mr Falajiki; he was not expecting to see the three together so early.
Mr Falajiki had his hands on his stomach. “Sit down.” He said gruffly.
“Why should he sit? Why?” the general’s voice boomed like a loud speaker on eleven. “You incompetent fool! Why should you make the status of our investigation public?”
Badoo knew he had to be on his feet. He had not given the slightest thought to the possible reaction of the electronic army to his submission.
“Sir, I’m sorry. I was talking about cybersecurity. I didn’t mean to say that the electronic army is incompetent.”
Mr Falajiki cleared his throat. “The world would not hear what you mean to say. They hear what you said. And what you implied last night is that the electronic army is incompetent.”
“That was not the context of my words.”
“Forget about the context of your words!” Ojopagogo snapped. “We are talking about an on-going investigation!”
“Concept, content, and context,” Mr Falajiki said, stifling a yawn. “Badoo; you’ve not taken the police public relations module.”
Dr Masango Masango pouted and smiled. “Badoo, you made a very good case against the importation of robots, but you also complicated things.”
“I did not.”
“Shut up!” General Ojopagogo slammed his fist on the desk and made Badoo flinch. “You could have mentioned cybersecurity without mentioning the electronic army’s recent case.”
“Yes sir.” Badoo mumbled; his eyes on the floor.
“You owe me you idiot!” Ojopagogo’s eyeballs were like the size of walnuts. “You owe me!”
“Sir, I didn’t say it to ridicule the electronic army. I was indeed talking about cybersecurity.”
“If it had been an army invasion with bombs in every inch of our land the award winning electronic army would still be looking for its enemy while we all end up burnt to crisps – that, sounds like ridicule to me.”
“It is.” Mr Falajiki said with a sigh.
“I’m sorry sir.”
General Ojopagogo stood up, came close, and made Badoo think a fist would soon land on his face. “Such ridiculous submission from someone who watches porn in his office.”
Mr Falajiki got wide-eyed, as if he was choking on a ball of fufu. “Porn?”
“Mr Falajiki, you don’t know your boy has been watching porn on the office computers?”
“Ngbo Badoo,” the boss said. “Is that true?”
Badoo avoided every eye; you would have thought something was on the floor.
General Ojopagogo was not done yet. “And how about Boitumelo? Huh? How about her? The things you did with her in your office. You remember that cold night of Manini’s arrest. You really had a good time abi?”
Badoo had to lift his eyes to see the face of his boss, and the face of the doctor. Do they all know what the general is talking about?
Dr Masango Masango retained the look of someone who would never be shocked by the bizarre and mysterious. His eyed narrowed behind his horn-rimmed glasses. “Badoo, something else came up.”
The general tugged at his goatee, Mr Falajiki stifled a yawn. Badoo listened with a pounding heart.
“I checked the test you had in my office. I had some doubts and had to look into it again with one of my colleagues. I just noticed some parameters are missing. Now, these parameters no doubt will affect the outcome. Badoo, sorry for the inconvenience, but officially I have to test you again.”
“Yes doctor.” the general sneered and licked his lips as if he had just tasted something sumptuous. “If I get to know of a man who had been speaking with a dead woman for over two years, I would say the brain needs thorough examination.”
Badoo had downloaded the video of Eminem’s ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ on YouTube after watching the 21st Century Top Hip Hop hits show on MTV Base. That was before Sade’s death. He kept hitting repeat a few months after the download. He couldn’t imagine doing something of the sort with his Mum.
He had never considered the possibility of himself in a singlet, glistening with sweat as he worked with a shovel by a graveside.
The tombstone read: IN LOVING MEMORY OF THE BELOVED SADE OMOWUNMI FALADE, DAUGHTER, LOVER, FRIEND.
The digging was hard work for a man who had – for a while now – been doing little aside pressing buttons. It was a few minutes past four but the sun was still hot as if the whole place was an open sauna. All Badoo had in his stomach was the okpa he had taken in the morning.
It was a few weeks to Christmas; the ground had hardened as if it had not rained three months ago. But he kept digging, under the sun. He had taken off the shirt of his uniform before working the shovel on the ground, but it took him some time to see the need to take off the trousers. All he had on at the end was his boxer shorts and his socks.
He kept digging, despite the dust, and the heat, and the sweat, and the thirst. He was not weary despite the grunts. His grunts were like the sounds that had accompanied his thrusts on those memorable occasions when he had had to work in his most physically natural state on Sade.
He heard a dull thud just when the burning feeling on his palms made him think of stopping to resume the next day. He knocked with his hand, he got some sand out of the way. He had seen the white polished wood years ago. He remembered the time it was lowered six feet below; and it had dawned on him that Sade was indeed gone forever.
He cried that day. The tears flowed from his eyes like rainy season streams.
The white polished wood was now a cream coloured mass. He wondered what he would see in there. Bones? Rotten flesh? Living Sade?
A coffin shouldn’t be this hard to open. It was as if someone inside was trying to keep it close. He grunted and grimaced and opened it.
An empty coffin. Inside was clean like new, warm and clean. He had forgotten his pile of clothes behind the head of the tombstone – the end that had the names. When his phone rang he knew where to look. He hurried.
“Badoo, where are you?”
“What do you mean? I’m at your grave.”
“You came for one of those love-talk to the one in the coffin?”
“Sade, I’m looking into your coffin now. You are not dead. Your bones are not here. Nothing. Clean.”
“You’re joking, right?”
“I swear to God. Where are you? This is all part of the act. Right?”
“What are you talking about Badoo? You mean my bones are not there?”
“Be serious Sade, you know about this.”
“No. Hell no I don’t know about this. Who took my bones.”
“Sade, stop fucking with my life!”
“Keep your voice down.”
That was when he noticed, he knew the shape, the walk, the dressing; from a distance he was sure. “Did you tell Pa Fakunle to come here to look for me?”
“No. No way! I don’t even talk to that man.”
“You don’t talk to him? You didn’t tell him I had a dirty mind?”
“Badoo, you cheated on me. With all your perfect-lover act. Mr Boitumelo. Isn’t it?”
“I didn’t have sex with her.”
“No you didn’t.”
“I swear I didn’t.”
“Of course you can swear you didn’t. She just sucked your dick for a fee and suddenly she becomes just someone Manini knows.”
The word struck Badoo like Mohammed Ali’s blow. Pa Fakunle was getting closer.
“What now? You’re suddenly dumb. Where are the sleek words?”
“Sade, It was not about love. She is a millionaire prostitute. It was my chance to get a piece of her. And besides, our relationship was not so superb at that point in time.”
“A little problem and you go get your dick sucked by another woman! Is that the kind of man I want to spend the rest of my life with?”
“Sade, Pa Fakunle is here. Let me call you back.”
He ended the call immediately. He did not wait to hear her response.
He was flat on the floor like the pictures he had seen on the internet, pictures of how Yorubas should respect their elders. “Baba ema binu, omode lo nse me.” Papa don’t be angry, I was just being childish.
“Why are you lying down Badoo? I thought we are now the same age. Am I not the boy and you the man?”
“Baba please, egbami ema je nyawere.” Baba please don’t watch me go mad.
“Please o, Badoo. Don’t prostrate for me. Since we are now the same age I’ve come for some of those rare morsels of wisdom that has been hard for me to pick.”
“If not for your rare insight, how would I ever know how out-of-date I had become?”
“Papa, please, forgive your son.”
“I’m the one you are using fucking fucking for? Talking like those idiots in Hollywood movies.”
Badoo had tears in his eyes this time around. “Baba edari jimi.” Baba forgive me. He knew the tears would work. He knew he would get mercy if he tried enough. Indeed if he cried enough.
“Badoo, you are growing wings. And I will clip your wings.”
“Edarijimi Baba. Edakun.” Forgive me Baba. I beg you.
The old man eyed him sneeringly and glanced in the empty coffin. “Where are her bones?”
“I didn’t find any sir.” Badoo said, sniffing like a child.
“You didn’t find any?”
The old man furrowed his brows. “Could that mean your troubles just got more complicated?”
“Please Baba, have mercy on me, because of the gods of the land. May the gods keep you long for us.”
The old man turned as if he was considering a swift walk away, but he walked towards the Akintola leaves growing near another tombstone. He was soon plucking the green leaves. Badoo waited, supressing the urge to beg some more.
“You will be fine by Christmas.” The old man said.
“Sir? I don’t understand.”
“I don’t know what you have done. I don’t know the truth you are up against. This is about ayekooto droppings and the work of your hands. Fejerun is not a small thing. You reap what you sow. Looto ni. But if you are able to wake up on Christmas day, you will be fine”.
Wake up on Christmas day? The young police officer would have to see Dr MM again. He would wait for the result of the doctor’s evaluation. He would switch off his cell phone, he would not check his emails, no time for social media. That would be as hard as an addict’s early days on the road to salvation; but he would give this issue whatever it would cost. Sade would have to walk to him to talk to him. He couldn’t do much about dreams.
He had publicized the failure of the electronic army so he would have to stay out of General Ojopagogo’s way. He moved out of his mother’s house. He wanted a decent place with enough space like the house he had grown up in. He wanted bright flowers and green lawns and a fruit and vegetable garden. It would take half of his salary but it was a stretch for growth.
After that time with Pa Fakunle at the burial ground he began living it one day at a time, waking up at five for his morning exercise, breakfast before his ride to the office, then the usual at the office with all the questions hanging over his head like a cloud. In the evenings he would drink palm wine in the yellow light section of Galaxy; he was always on time at work.
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.”