I love beer parlours!
Not the type where a bottle of lager costs as much as a bucket of chicken nuggets at a highbrow fast food outlet, but the open-air type where the cool evening breeze hits you with reckless abandon as you gulp down your preferred alcoholic beverage over a plate of grilled catfish with music blaring full blast from speakers in the background.
The sort you get to see lined up on virtually every major street and road from Agege to Akowonjo Road, through to Ikotun and right down to Abaranje; where regular office workers and civil servants, who for some reason or the other cannot reside on the Island as some of their co-workers do, throng to at the close of work; where a bottle of lager goes for the advertised price, as seen on television and in newspaper adverts.
These are also the category of bars where everyone’s favourite ‘Okada’ riders, bus and trailer drivers and ‘Area Boys’, as well as policemen, head to at the end of the day to soothe their nerves and recount tales of the day’s adventures before heading home to hit the sack.
Most of these tales range from anything from the Okada rider who got arrested by cops for riding his bike after the much-dreaded 10 pm deadline, and as a result had to part with most of his day’s earnings in order to get out of the mess, to the tale of the cop who almost got run over by a reckless driver, right down to who was responsible for the battered corpse left lying on the highway for three days before it was FINALLY carted away by some government agency.
But there was no account on this particular night, about a fortnight ago, more captivating to my ears – and my slightly-woozy-from-drinking-alcohol brain – than that of whom in Heaven’s sake was responsible for the bulge in the tummy of the neighbourhood lunatic called Mama?
Nutty may not be an exactly accurate description of this lady, who appears to be approaching her forties, as she can be heard speaking, oftentimes to herself, pretty good English with an accent that can only be gotten from having spent considerable time in Her Majesty’s country, England.
Some of the patrons at the bar actually said she had spent a considerable number of years in the UK before she was deported by the British authorities, but regarding what led to her psychiatric predicament no one specifically knows.
While some believe she was a victim of some form of voodoo or witchcraft, others such as the neighbourhood motor-park tout, Aro, believe she found herself in her nutty state for getting high on the ‘wrong stuff’. By the ‘wrong stuff’, Aro, who appears to be much taller than his six foot frame owing to his skinny figure, meant she took narcotic substances stronger than the marijuana that, though illegal, is sold openly at most major bus-stops in Lagos.
Her diction aside, Mama also has the decency to dress up like every regular Joe and appear sane to the uninitiated eye like the Policemen, who accompany officials of the Ministry of Environment in their day-to-day task of ridding the streets of Lagos off insane elements; the group of people that are, in Aro’s opinion anyway, responsible for putting Mama in the family way.
Aro’s view was, in typical beer parlour fashion, quickly discarded into the thrash-bin by a giant of a man, who was later identified to be a policeman, but only after he threatened to lock Aro up for daring to state that cops were responsible for Mama’s bulging tummy.
Aro, usually calm for an area boy, was however, uncharacteristically defiant on this night. Maybe the alcohol had something to do with it, or maybe he was still reeling from the effect of having smoked too many wraps of marijuana earlier in the day, as he kept insisting the ‘men in black’ were responsible for Mama’s condition (Of course, his defiance only confirmed a belief I had long entrenched in my consciousness: alcohol and drugs don’t go together).
The situation at the beer parlour appeared to be on the brink of escalating from a verbal exchange to a full-scale assault on skinny Aro, who I felt was being foolish standing face to face with this man mountain of a cop, before a man in his late sixties and with a few missing teeth, called Papa Kay, stepped in to douse the situation, screaming at the top of his voice: “Na mad man give am belle!”
Papa Kay is always at the beer parlour. Of course I could be wrong as I only come around twice or thrice in a week, but I have never ever been to my neighbourhood beer parlour and not met Papa Kay sitting over a bottle of his favourite ‘33’ lager beer with a stick of cigarette in-between his first and middle fingers.
Having gotten everyone’s attention, including the cop who by this time had Aro’s shirt wrapped in a knot in his huge fist, Papa Kay went on to narrate how so many years ago, when he worked as a security guard at a very popular Lagos-based asylum, he had been opportune to witness on a number of occasions sexual acts involving two insane people.
Of course, in typical beer parlour fashion, Papa Kay’s statement triggered another round of yeas and nays from patrons, like a group of senators in the House of Assembly, but that did little to satiate my curiosity.
Yes, Mama is pregnant. That part is pretty much obvious, that is unless she has a rare form of kwashiorkor. But I find it difficult to grasp the idea of another insane person being responsible.
Of course, that may not be the case, as she could have been impregnated by a staff of the asylum she gets driven to anytime she is unfortunate to be picked up by Ministry officials, or by one of the numerous herbalists who claim to have a cure for lunacy, or even by Aro and his fellow Area Boys (another set of theories put up by another of my beer-drinking brothers).
But regardless of who or not is responsible for Mama’s delicate situation, the problem on ground is that since that night at the beer parlour over two weeks ago, Mama has been missing.
It has become customary for Mama to go missing from time to time, but hardly for two weeks at a stretch. Even when she gets whisked away by government officials, she always finds her way back to the neighbourhood.
But considering the size of the bulge in her tummy, something tells me she may have been whisked away by those responsible for the decent clothes she gets to sport from time to time.
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