The Plumber & Mr. Cele’s Dilemma

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Mr. Cele stumbles into the gathering tonight later than usual. You can see the rage burning in his eyes. We know that he’s a grumpy middle-aged man most of the time, but the fury in his eyes tonight tells of a more profound frustration.

He sits down after Tokunboh helps him set his seat properly. He only manages to mumble a response to our greetings. He doesn’t even rankadede with Mallam Hassan as he typically does.

Eddie asks him if one of his kids has set his house on fire. Tokunbo nudges him by the side. We all know how well Eddie particularly gets under Mr. Cele’s skin when he’s in a bad mood.

Ah, is everything alright at home? Mallam Hassan asks, his fingers gripping his shiny Benson & Hedges cigar.

Mr. Cele says that he is considering disowning his son. We all exclaim. Eddie spontaneously asks if he caught the boy having sex.

Eddie! Tokunbo exclaims. But Mr. Cele’s expression has a sudden, curious glint. He asks Eddie how he knows about that.

Eddie says he knows for sure that only one thing can lead an African father to threaten his son with disownment—when the son starts having sex.

Mr. Cele says that Eddie is right. That his young son may have started dabbling into sensual territories. Eddie is swelling with some affirmative arrogance. Tokunbo rolls her eyes at him. Me? I’m just waiting for the full gist.

Mallam Hassan asks Mr. Cele how he figured out his son is sipping from the pond of adults.

Mr. Cele explains that the toilet in his teenage son’s room was clogged, and had made it very difficult to flush. He then called a plumber who needed to extract whatever was clogging the flow. The plumber finished his job and evacuated whatever was clogging the toilet, and they turned out to be—wait for it—condoms!

Eddie springs to his feet with his arms spread. He has found a godson, he triumphantly declares. Tokunbo says may God forbid. Eddie tells Tokunbo to leave God out of this. That the young man has already found his destiny.

I opine that the young man was only unlucky. That many other things may have clogged his toilet, especially when the plumbing wasn’t done right in the first place.

Mallam Hassan agrees that many Nigerians do not take the plumbing of their homes very seriously, preferring to pay more attention to more outward features like windows and spacing. He says he learned his lessons from his first home and narrates how bad plumbing had made sure his bathroom was always flooded because the drains were fixed at the higher end of a lopsided floor.

Tokunbo says she missed an important appointment once because the shower in her former apartment dispensed water so slowly that it took her close to 45 minutes to have a single bath.

Eddie accuses us of derailing from a more important conversation to focus on plumbing. Mallam Hassan asks Mr. Cele to calm down and understand that sex is a coming-of-age ritual for older teens.

Eddie tells Mr. Cele that he’s willing to adopt the boy as his son if Mr. Cele insists on going on with the disownment. Mr. Cele says God forbid, snapping his fingers around his head.

I’m just seated there, watching the debacle while wondering when my toilet is going to be clogged over all the unprintable things I’ve flushed down there.

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