By Femi Akintunde-Johns
IT was a lovely garden we entered; white lovely Brazilian lounge chairs and assorted outdoor furnishings here and there. Few praying mats dotted the left section of the garden designed like an alcove.
We were forced to sit on the ground. No one else was in the garden, as far as I could see. Then, a little child walked over, tentatively… with more courage, he cantered over to where my son was sitting glumly wondering what was next.
The little child was pulling at my son’s hands; obviously perking for tumbling game around the garden. It was all so quiet for a toddler in that huge glorious mansion.
Turai came out, resplendent in while flowing gown-dress favoured by Asian aristocrats…she was taken aback at the tug-of-war prattle between the little child and my son.
Her frown dissolved…she smiled, revealing a pleasant set of teeth on a well proportioned face, if a little chubby. She actually looked beautiful, I thought to myself, as I morosely glanced at my wife whose beauty had been severely diminished by the horrors we had gone through in the last 15 minutes.
“Mr. Man,” Turai broke my thought.
“Stand up, tell your people to sit down properly… “
She turned to my son, “Please, feel free, play with my grandson, don’t be afraid…just stay within garden.”
In sweeping musical movement, the little woman changed the course of the drama, sending us into different state of action and inaction.
And in a string of high-pitched and recriminating Hausa, she spoke long and harshly to the soldiers, and then the men in suits… all scampered around and about apologetically, and a little incredulously.
“Don’t mind these security people, sometimes they do what you do not send them,” she switched to us in English, with hardly a pause.
“I have gone through the security tapes of the past one hour, they should have noticed that you people were genuine strangers looking for fun.
Of course, it is strange, about the tape, but then if you are after information, you would have noticed as soon as it fell from you. Me, a simple woman, I saw all that.
So, it means they don’t do their work well. You should not have been allowed to pass their Point 2. So, very sorry, ko?.”
“Thank you, madam for your kind words. Thank you very much.”
“Don’t mention. So, you are a press man?”
“Well, I’m planning to retire, the wahala is too much.”
“Ah, it’s everywhere kuma! If I tell you all the wahala your people give us in this place you will be sorry for us.”
REALISING she was in a mood for bantering, I decided to ride my luck. With long practice snooping for news, I’ve sharpened my memory as a backup for the tape-recorder. I plodded on.
“But madam, how can anybody want to give you wahala, when you have the power of life and death.”
“Ah, no, no. No one but Allah has that kind of power. And then the military. You see, if it was the military that has this kind of problem, all your colleagues would just be looking. No one would dare write all this rubbish they have been writing.”
“But then,” I got carried away, “on the other hand, if it were during military period, the over 80 days you stayed abroad would have led the boys to Gowoned you.”
“Te he he… what is that?” By now, bottles of non-alcoholic wines had emerged with glasses and assorted kebabs…my tongue had totally lost its bridles, to the consternation of my still bewildered wife.
“Have you forgotten that Gen. Yakubu Gowon was in Kampala for OAU summit in 1975, when he was over-thrown? So democracy has its good points too.”
“I know, I know, but your people are too annoying. Ok is it a curse to be sick? Why don’t they want to wait for him to get well? Is it not his own tenure?”
“People are saying any government official who falls sick usually hands over to his assistant, and goes to his hometown to get his strength back. Some people say he can no longer recognize you…”
A moan and firm nudge stopped my flow; it was my wife waking me to get my pillow off her head!
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