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FICTION: Paper Mache 3


 





The air was thick with the smell of alcohol. One inebriated guy was attempting to break dance on a plastic table. The table was trembling with his weight, making his already comical attempts at dancing look even worse. One of the servers tried to persuade him to ‘step down from the stage’. Two macho-looking guys were arguing bitterly and loudly. One girl was giving someone a lap dance in the corner. Then in the centre of the room, two tables had been joined to form a big one, around which about nine corpers sat. A couple of them were smoking, another couple were groping each other beneath the table, one was passed out, and the others, clearly drunk, made failed attempts at mimicking their platoon officers.
Folake shifted nervously beside him. He glanced back at the other four people. The guy, Kaseem seemed like he couldn’t contain his excitement. The tall girl, Rose, grabbed her friend’s arm-he forgot her own name, nervously. Her friend rolled her eyes. Osas and Mfon, the two other girls Austin had hurriedly introduced them to, looked on in disinterest.
Now Wale followed as Austin made his way over to the not-so-clean table by the entrance of the shack. He was relieved and grateful that Austin had taken his claustrophobia into account while he was choosing a spot. Austin ordered Smirnoff Ice and spiced asun for all of them. Osas and Mfon objected.
“Beer”, they said, simultaneously.
Christ. Such weirdos, Wale thought, as he nodded to Runtown’s ‘Mad over You” which was blasting from the speakers.
“I don’t take alcohol”. Folake said, hesitantly. Wale was a little surprised, and felt slightly guilty at the same time. He didn’t enjoy taking alcohol too, but at the same time he was definitely not about to be odd one out in the group.
“Why na?” Kaseem said
“Alcohol Intolerance”
“Wetin be dat one” Austin.
“Olodo” Wale laughed
“It’s a genetic condition in which your body unable to break down alcohol efficiently, causing immediate unpleasant reactions when you drink it” the smoky voice belonged to Osas.
“Eeya, sorry”, Austin said
“Sorry for what?” Wale and Folake spoke simultaneously. Austin shrugged. Then the server brought the order and placed the items on the table.
“I’ll drink hers” Austin volunteered unnecessarily and ordered a malt drink for Folake. One of the guys that were arguing got up and gave his friend a punch to the face. Not willing to be outdone, his friend returned the blow promptly-in the guts. Then they began to wrestle. The owner of the restaurant, a buxom woman, hurried over to the scene to settle the fight. Wale laughed out loud at the thought of the woman trying to separate the two men by insinuating herself in between them. But she, in a deep, commanding voice, just ordered them out. Then they broke a table and she yelled, “Emma! Kingsley!”. Two even heftier men came in from the back, grabbed them and pushed them out of the restaurant. The woman looked around at the remaining occupants. “No fighting in this bar!”, she said, then stomped towards the back, flanked by her sons. One of the people at the big table started clapping and cheering.”Applaudisez!”
“Shut  up”, a girl said between puffs of cigar smoke
“He speaks French when he’s drunk”, said another person.
By now almost everyone at Wale’s table had finished their first round of drinks. Austin ordered another. “Out of the corner of his eye, Wale spied lap dance girl and partner as they left the restaurant. Probably to go finish the job somewhere, he thought.
“Oh my God, I’m so bored” It was Rosie’s friend in a fake American accent. Kaseem moved closer to her.
“Let me entertain you”
“Right”, Mfon snickered. It was the first word she had uttered since they got there. The server brought the drinks. Wale observed that Austin had cleverly positioned himself beside Folake, and was whispering to her as she sipped her malt drink delicately. Rosie kept throwing her baleful looks, munching her asun like she was chewing leather. Wale felt a light touch on his arm- it was Osas.
“I’m Osas”
“I know”
“You’re rude”
“You’re drunk”. She smiled, not letting go of his arm
“Your girlfriend will break my head….”
“Err-“
“She’s a lightweight”. Mfon said as she grabbed Osas’ arm as she stared Wale dead in the eye. ”Doesn’t mean you can take advantage of her”
“Excuse me?”
“You heard me right.”
“What’s the deal with you two, are you lesbians?
“You’re mad”. Mfon swore at him. Austin stopped making out with Folake and looked up, confused
“What’s happening?”
Osas wrenched herself from Mfon’s grip and gave Wale a sloppy kiss on the cheek. Mfon looked betrayed. “We are going. That’s what”
“Heyy…” Austin protested, but they were leaving already.
“What’s your problem?” Mfon was saying to her friend as she pulled her along
Wale sighed. Rosie was staring daggers at Austin now. Then she smashed a glass on the floor, and made a beeline for him. He shifted uncomfortably as she sat in the chair Osas had vacated, faking a smile.
Kaseem was paying a lot of attention to her friend, making oohs and aahs as she prattled off
“Graduated First Class Honours from Harvard University…
“Wooow”
“Not based in Naija but my parents are based in Abuja and I have a place at Lekki”
“Oooh”
“Have my own fashion line, with offices in the US…
Wale couldn’t take it any longer. “Sorry ma, but why then did you come for NYSC?”
Kaseem was peeved. The girl just took a sip from her drink. Then Davido’s “IF” came on the speakers
“This is my best song!”, Rosie yelled over the music. She sang along, “Tehti billiohn for da accounti oh”. Then she began to dance provocatively, moving closer to him, yet still staring at Austin.
Wale felt tired. He took out his phone to check for messages. He was still scrolling when Rosie fell into his lap
“What the-“
“Wale?”
He pushed her off his lap and looked outside for who had called him, stumbling a bit
“Sade?”
“Yeah! Wow, long time!” She hugged him awkwardly
Sade was his former schoolmate and Kenny’s close friend. They hadn’t been particularly close in school, but had mutual respect for each other for Kenny’s sake.
“Yea..didnt know you were in this camp”
“Kenny didn’t tell you?”
“Nah”
“Perhaps it slipped her mind”
“Yeah…so…”
“I can see you are occupied. Maybe we’ll see later?”
See for what? Wale thought.
“Okay” he said.


Kenny was excited. She had been nominated by her platoon members, alongside another girl, Aisha, to represent them at the Miss NYSC competition. The platoon was divided over which of them would go, so it was decided that it would be put to vote after parade the next day, so that all the platoon members would be present. Since she was little, she had always dreamed of being in a pageant. However she grew up in a conservative, Christian home, where such things were regarded as vanity. In the University, she had thrown all her time and energy into her academics, having had to wait a couple of years to get in, and going by her father’s advice, ‘so that you might catch up with, and even surpass some of your former peers’. The hard work had paid off in form of a First Class degree in International Relations.
She missed Maami. She reached for her phone and dialled home. The phone was answered on the third ring
“Omokehinde mi”
“Mummy e ku irole ma” Good evening mummy
“How are you oko mi? O o ti e da si’wa rara” My darling. You didn’t even pay attention to us
“Haa mummy its camp o. We are always busy. Just getting back to the hostel since morning”
“Eh-en….pele. o ku die” Sorry. It would soon be over
“Yes ma. Gbade nko”
“Gbade wa b’egban e soro” Gbade, come talk to your sister. There was a shuffle
“Hello”, she heard a hoarse voice that already showed signs of pubescence
“Gbade-Gbade how far”
“Fine”
They spoke for a few more minutes before she said bye to her mother then hung up. She opened Whatsapp. Earlier she had sent some selfies to Wale, but if he had gotten them, he didn’t say anything. His profile picture had changed though- one of those quotes about music that he so loved. She smiled, read and reread it. Then the phone rang.
 “Shady” was displayed on the screen.

Seun Ajijala

2 comments:

  1. mehnnn!!! Guess the phrase - " the more you look, the less you see" - exists after all. The greatest of all lies is Half-truth and it doesn't matter how we arrive at the faulty conclusion because its destructions shake the strongest foundation in relationships. The mistrust after much repairs or healing(s) don't go away easily if they go away at all

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