BQ Entanglements

Eddie has been on a video call with a South African lady he’s trying to convince to visit Abuja; all expenses on him. Tokunbo isn’t here yet.

Mallam Hassan and Mr. Cele are not here too.

After Eddie gets done with his call I tell him that Mr. Cele is going to arrive here complaining of something someone did to his house or his vehicle. Eddie thinks I’m being cynical. We take a bet.

Mr. Cele arrives soon afterwards, looking as grumpy as he always is. We greet him and ask him if all is well. He says all is well. Eddie eyes me triumphantly. I ask Mr. Cele if he’s sure. He says yes, then pauses for a moment and grumbles something about his mechanic messing up his bumper. Stupid Abuja mechanics, he curses.

Eddie owes me Shawarma tonight.

Tokunbo saunters in dramatically, like she always does whenever she was sure that people were watching. Eddie chuckles. Mr. Cele sighs. Tokunbo greets us and hisses at Eddie.

She settles down and announces that she has a gist. I’m eager to hear it. Eddie props up on his seat to signify interest. Mr. Cele feigns disinterest but we know that he’s paying rapt attention.

She’s about to start when I catch the gait of Mallam Hassan walking into the lounge. We greet him as he settles down. The waiter instinctively starts to walk up to us.

After we take our offers, we shift our gaze back to Tokunbo. She makes a show of adjusting her blouse before she starts.

She says her brother has temporarily moved to her place. Eddie’s eyes brighten. I ask if he’s now homeless. Mallam Hassan asks if all is well at home.

She says her brother, who stays in a BQ, had some entanglements with the landlord’s daughter.

Eddie’s jaw drops. Mr. Cele readjusts his seat to focus properly. Mallam Hassan says “aha!”

Eddie asks if she can go into more details about this “entanglement”. She tells us that apparently her brother had been seeing the landlord’s daughter. Mr. Cele is shaking his head judgmentally.

Ehen? Eddie urges her on impatiently.

She says, like Eddie, her brother also has the habit of mixing Ewedu and Egusi. Eddie tries to complain about the comparison but Mr. Cele tells him to shush it. That his amorous tendencies are no secret to anyone. Tokunbo continues.

She says her brother brought another girl home one night while the landlord’s daughter was home. The landlord’s daughter saw him driving through the gate from her window upstairs and let him enter his BQ self-contained apartment before coming down to confront him and the new girl.

Eddie loses it at this point. He says that the landlord’s daughter has no business in a tenant’s private business. I remind him that the moment the young man got himself involved with the landlord’s daughter, he made it her business. Mr. Cele nods in agreement. Mallam Hassan smiles.

Tokunbo says that there was the typical stand-off, and before her brother could do anything to quell the tension, someone slapped the other one.

We all gasp. Eddie asks if it spiralled into a full-blown fight. Tokunbo says it did, and that is why her brother is staying over at her place for the weekend to keep a low profile.

I ask which of the girls won. Eddie says he’s sure the most “endowed” girl won. That girls with little molds on their chests were good for nothing. Mallam Hassan bursts out laughing his “big-man” laugh.

Mr. Cele declares that young men who live in the Boys’ Quarter are riff-raffs. He swears that he’ll never let a single young man live in his BQ. Eddie reminds him that he doesn’t have a BQ in his property. Mr. Cele responds by saying he has extra space behind his home he’s planning to build one on.

Mallam Hassan says that not all young men are trouble. That he has had some experiences while he was much younger back in his first home. He explains in his calm, exotic Kano accent how having young people living in the same compound as their landlords could be a complex situation, considering how restless and adventurous the youngings typically are. He says it takes a level of experience to reasonably discern between a BQ tenant who would be trouble and one who is not.

Mr. Cele insists he’s not taking single young men when he finally builds his BQ. Eddie tells him no young man would want to live with a grumpy landlord in the first place. I try to intervene but Mallam Hassan signals me not to. He sometimes enjoys their bickering.

They continue their back and forth until our orders arrive.

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