BARIGA BREED: CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

You know how you only remember people who owe you when you are broke? Well, that was what happened earlier in the day.
The way I spend money when I’m in Lagos ehn, Na die. Thank God I don’t live here!
Anyways, it suddenly occurred to me that my tenant hadn’t paid his rent for six months now. The last rent I remember collecting from him was sometime in February. Eh! So I have money! God punish poverty!!

So I run to take my bathe and change out of the pajamas I’ve been wearing for the past four days(don’t blame me o. Ees because I didn’t have anywhere to go to ni. Charly Omams and Abraham Adeojo have refused to take me out and Timmie, Fresh fish of laive has been forming gangjaban for a couple of days nau. I cannor be wasting clothes. Ees money I wee use to buy soap to wash them ). Okada!! I yell. Sholanke!

Anyone who hears me say my tenant now will think its one gigantic modern day flat that fetches one huge amount in rent lai dat. Big geh levels.  Well, lemme burst your bubble. I do have a tenant. But its a room I inherited in my grandma’s house. Its not even a self contain apartment o. Its a face me I slap you house. And the rent? 3 thousand Naira a month 3×6=18. A whole whooping 18 tazan Nigerian Naira in this my current Broklyn Buharimony? Mehn, I’m rich!

I grew up on Sholanke street, Akoka-Lagos.  You can call it Bariga sha. But its not really Bariga. If you enter a bus going to Bariga from Oyingbo or Yaba, you’ll alight at Pako Busstop.

I was pratically brought up by my grandma(God bless her soul). Mama as she was fondly called. Mama was a spirikoko. She attended Deeper Life Bible Church in those days.

I remember those days when I used to notify her weeks beforehand that I wanted to wear trousers to a party. Even then, there was no guarantee that I would get to wear trousers on the said day o. Rara o. Grandma could always change her mind. I learnt to fold my trousers in my bag or wear it underneath my skirt before leaving home(Omode gbon, agba gbon la fi da Ile-Ife). I was a sprikoko in those days too sha. Its probably why even now, I only own two pairs of trousers because I wear more of gowns. Its probably why I don’t wear earrings till date. I’ve only worn earrings once this year and that was because I had to tie an head gear to Wura’s wedding. Before then, the last time I had earrings on was at my Convocation ceremony in 2014.

Gosh! I remember my first encounter with sex. Brother Sola was one Spirikoko tenant Grannie had in those days. So on this day, he ordered me to bring a bottle of chilled Limca from Grandma’s shop.  It wasn’t cold, so I ran to buy from Alhaja down the street. On getting home, I heard his visitor; Sister somtin somtin, moaning “O Jesus! O Jesus! Sweet Jesus!! O my Gawd!!”. I figured they were praying so I went in to drop the Limca, only to find Brother Sola the Spirikoko slacking Sister’s Ponyor like his life depended on it. I would learn that all those: O Jesus! O my Gawd! that Sister was moaning is what people refer to as “ringtone”.

Reminds of my secondary school days when Bilquees Abubukar, Racheal Okocha, Uchenna Amadi,Nancy Nchewube,Ann Chukwu, Ibrahim Balogun, Omatsola Oneisirosan and I would trek from our school in Onike, through AbuleOja,AbuleIjesha,Folaagoro, Bajulaiye, Sholanke,Chemist,Bariga until we had each gotten to our respective homes. Not like we didn’t have transport fare o, just that it was kinda fun. I’d rather use my t-fare to puff-puff or fish and zobo. Hmmmm,Omatsola. Omatsola was my Secondary School flame. I guess you could call him my first love. Omat! Fine dark handsome “quit bobo” with pink lips. Chai! I digress.

Did I tell you we didn’t have a television in Grandma’s house? Not because we didn’t have the money o. But because a television set was reffered to as Apoti Esu(Devil’s box) in Grandma’s church.

Directly opposite our house was Baba Anco’s house. That house was the real fuji house of commotion. If his wives weren’t fighting,then one of his daughters had been impregnated by Lasisi the Vulcanizer. One week,one drama.

I remember the days of the famous Fadeyi versus Shomolu boys fight.In those days, a girl will jejely want to go and buy goody goddy from Aboki or ojojo from Iya Kudi down the road.  The next thing you’ll hear is gboaaa! O boy! Eni orii  yo odile ni o! If not, broken bottle or stray bullet may fall on you. Just run and enter the nearest compound o. Don’t worry, your parents aren’t looking for you. They know you have enough “street OT” to  hide your head. As a Bariga breed, the first lesson you learn is that ‘Moja mo sa la fi n mo akin kon ju lo oju ogun’. In other news, he who fights and runs, lives to fight another day. But then, that feeling of excitment after the danger has passed is next to none, the rush of adrenaline. Or is it the gist you hear afterwards? Or the neighbourhood guys who ran into hiding only to resurface and start shouting after the fighters has gone? Sholanke was lit!! Of course, you will later learn how to break  bottles and hurt your opponent with it without hurting yourself. We call it self-defense. Your  gender doesnt matter. Its a skill you must acquire.

In those days, NEPA guys used to fear our street. You dare not climb the pole and cut our light. Who you be? Cutting the light isn’t the problem o. The problem is how do you get down from the pole when 6 hefty guys are waiting to beat you when you come down? One time when NEPA refused to give us power supply on the street for about 2 months, guys came together,had a meeting and decided to storm NEPA office  on a Monday morning. 4 guys per house. For two weeks after that, NEPA did not even blink our power supply.

And when it was time to parry? We partied hard. We used to shut down the whole street. Bariga style. Our street carnivals was always a hit back to back. Growing up in tha hood was lit!!

I discovered novels after one particularly bad experience. I withdrew into my shell and only found succor in books. I began to read anything readable. Story books, motivational books, novels,even the Bible. You do know there are very interesting stories in the bible right? Its probably why I really don’t have friends. Acquintances, yes. But friends? Just an handful really. I kinda prefer my own company. I’m more of a one woman mopol. A lone wolf.

All the street credibility I now have, I got from Sholanke, Bariga. Sholanke street taught me that the streets have no mercy on the weak. You either go hard,or you go home.

All my fun experiences happened on this street.

Beautiful bonds were formed. God knew I’d need the strength of brothers later in life, so he gave me Kelechi, Ikenna and Segun to look out for me and always have my back.

And the experience that changed my life leaving me scarred forever, happened on this same very street.

As I walk down the street on way back home, I am filled with a feeling of nostalgia. Flooded with memories of a bitter sweet childhood that leaves a sweet sour taste in my mouth.

******

P.S I didn’t even get to collect the rent I went for. The state in which I met my tenant and his family, only a heartless person will ask him for money. Instead, I gave the last #500 I had on me to his children. There really is hunger in the land.

 

Yours Truly,

 

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