Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The House My Father Built 3

The House My Father Built_front

By and by, my lawyer came back to say that all was now on course and that the eviction would be carried out the following week. Unfortunately, he failed to do the proper checks, otherwise he would have seen that Pepsi had gone down the same route as Ngozi and the Alhaji and filed a motion against the ‘purported consent judgement’ he had agreed to the previous year. As with the Alhaji, the matter had been heard in my absence and a date set for a hearing three months hence. Worse yet, we only discovered this when the bailiff and his boys came to evict him, but not before Pepsi himself received a beating.
The bailiff turned up with his boys just before dawn. I gave him money to go to the station to register the action and collect two policemen, as he should already have done, while the rest of us settled down in Prince’s parlour with the obligatory bottle of Chelsea and some reefers. Dawn was breaking when a jeep pulled up in front with Pepsi and four armed policemen. I was surprised because I hadn’t seen Pepsi leave. He must have been watching us from his kitchen window and had perhaps been doing so for a number of days. I went out to meet them and introduced myself as the landlord and asked them what the problem was. Their Oga said that Pepsi had come to complain about some ‘miscreants’ in the compound. I said that the only strangers around were from the High Court come to evict the very man who was making the complaint. I added that the bailiff was even now registering the matter at their station. As I spoke, they drifted back to their jeep, where they waited with bored expressions. Eventually, one of them said, ‘Oga, make we dey go, I never chop,’ and off they went.
Pepsi loitered about for a while, apparently confused as to what to do next, and then his wife came out and told him to go and wait at the junction. As soon as he was gone, Prince told the bailiff’s boys to follow him and keep an eye on him.
‘Can you imagine,’ Prince said. ‘Pepsi brought police to arrest us.’ He was incandescent, as well he might have been. ‘He is in trouble today. I was about telling the boys to go easy on him but because of this I will tell them to teach him a lesson. And it is his wife who is putting him up to it. Pepsi can’t go to police by himself.’
He entered his bedroom and emerged in a singlet and a flat cap. Prince favoured caps, which he pulled down low over his eyes.
‘Let me go and see what’s happening,’ he said and marched off with his springy step, his heels barely touching the ground, his back straight, his head held up: a man ready for action. I went upstairs to make my morning tea, but while I was waiting for the water to boil I saw a small crowd heading towards the compound. I got downstairs in time to see Pepsi being dragged along by a policeman. His feet were bare, his T-shirt was torn and blood was running down the side of his face. The policeman held him fast by the collar and the top of his shorts, which were filthy, as if he had fallen into a gutter. The bailiff’s boys followed behind, breathing heavily.
‘Why are you doing this to yourself?’ I said.
‘Do I know for him?’ the policeman quipped as he marched him to the back, where he stood him up against the wall.
‘Where is the key?’ the policeman demanded, pointing to Pepsi’s security gate, which was padlocked.
‘I don’t have it,’ Pepsi said as he crouched against the wall.
One of the boys kicked at the gate, which held fast. He turned to me. ‘Oga, bring money, let me go and get welder.’
I gave him and he set off.
Prince appeared. ‘His wife has the key,’ he said. ‘She’s refusing to come.’ He was breathing heavily, his big belly going up and down. He turned to me. ‘Come, let’s go inside.’ We entered his parlour, where he poured himself a generous shot of Chelsea and then told me what had happened. Apparently, they were all standing at the junction when the bailiff arrived with the two policemen. Prince pointed to Pepsi, who suddenly bolted, almost colliding with a car. The boys took off after him, closely followed by the policemen. They caught up with him at the next junction one hundred meters away ‘and beat hell out of him.'
‘It was terrible,’ Prince continued. ‘You should have seen him, curled up in a ball. The boys beat him for trying to get them arrested and then the police added their own for making them run this early morning. Afterwards, they carried him in the air and started coming until some people begged them to let him walk by himself for the sake of his dignity.’
‘What of his wife?’
‘That one? She just stood there and did nothing. Does she care?’

Aluta continua

© Adewale Maja-Pearce
Adewale Maja-Pearce is the author of several books, including Loyalties
and Other Stories, In My Father's Country, How many miles to Babylon?, A
Mask Dancing, Who's Afraid of Wole Soyinka?, From Khaki to Agbada,
Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and Other Essays, A Peculiar Tragedy, and
Counting the Cost, as well as the 1998 and 1999 annual reports on human
rights violations in Nigeria. He also edited The Heinemann Book of African
Poetry in English, Wole Soyinka: An Appraisal, Christopher Okigbo:
Collected Poems, The New Gong Book of New Nigerian Short Stories,
and Dream Chasers.

Click here to see Maja-Pearce's
amazon.com page: http://www.amazon.com/Adewale-Maja-Pearce/e/B001HPKIOU