Abe Igi’s breeze was cool as always. Little wonder that Iya Asake sited her bar there. We ordered our usual but we sat in silence. Silence was rare whenever we showed up for peppersoup and the coldest “33” export beer but a lot had happened that none dared talk about. The town was still in mourning and the seven days of oro for the Kabiyesi’s only daughter Adebimpe had just been completed. She was found in cold blood along Oba River. I studied the dew making its way down my cold “33” export bottle then I looked to the sky. The moon was full and I busied myself counting stars until Ojo coughed. The pepper soup had gone straight to his head. I finally broke the silence:
‘Oko iyawo nko?’Ojo said when he found his peace. He was referring to Aremu, the jester that was constantly preaching about marriage. I still remember the weekend he refused to join us under our precious spot – he claimed his wife accused him of spending more time with us than with her.
Ajani answered Ojo with a question of his own:
‘Should one not be careful of situations that portend danger?’
‘Would you rather be between a woman’s thighs?” I asked. My friends erupted in laughter. Ojo’s laughter was infectious so I laughed too. Aremu’s distant answer quieted us.
‘I knew I couldn’t find the joy of friendship in the laps of Ariyike’, he said.
‘Is marriage not as sweet as wine, anymore?’ I inquired.
‘Ore, nothing tastes better than a “33” export bottle shared with friends’. With that, he downed my beer.
‘You know, Ariyike wouldn’t stop recounting various versions of Adebimpe’s death she heard in the market. It is so hard to listen to…’
‘You contradict yourself; you claim there is no better company than ours yet a minute does not pass without the mention of her name’ said Ojo.
‘I smell jealousy on your breath’ – Aremu replied
I swallowed my beer as I watched my friends barter words. It was familiar. Ojo hated talks of love. Ajani seemed to have no stomach for the words being traded and his statement bore the same darkness as his face.
‘What really happened to Adebimpe?’
Ojo stared into his beer before speaking.
‘I saw Olusegun walk towards Odo Oba that night. I greeted him hastily and the next morning Adebimpe was found a few steps away from where we met’
‘Why does death come to us?’ inquired Ajanni.
‘Why does Oludumare give then take back? Why are we forced to fight a cause we cannot win?’
It was intense and the times of laughter were long forgotten. Ajani’s questions probed deep.
The day before Adebimpe died was payday and we celebrated at Abe Igi. We lost count of the number of “33” export bottles we drank that night. We were singing like maidens wooing suitors when the police van arrived. It was the second time the DPO’s men would march in, not to share drinks but to forcefully imprison us. We fled at the sight of this men.
Aremu called my attention to a beauty when we had gone away from the bar. We followed her for a mile or two until she came to the Iroko tree very close to the Oba river. Even by moonlight, her stand was regal and her skin seemed to glow. My eyes must have been blurry, that must be why it took so long to realise it was Adebimpe–the love only my dreams gave me. I begun to wonder why a Princess would venture far alone at night.
‘Idowuuuuu!’ Aremu shouted, jolting me back into reality.
‘Mo gbo pe mo fe ro oku Adebimpe (I hear they want to invoke her spirit to avenge her death)’, Ajani was saying. I realised my friends had been conversing while I was lost in thought.
‘Shouldn’t we leave that to Olusegun to worry about?’ murmured Aremu.
‘What more do you know that we don’t?’ I asked.
‘Is it not obvious that you all don’t have women in your abode?’ Aremu bragged.
‘Not to break your heart Idowu but Ariyike told me that Olusegun and your Adebimpe were secret lovers. They had some sort of sacrilegious secret between them that Adebimpe wanted to take to the Kabiyesi. Some traders think the DPO advised his son to commit the act!’
‘And you believed such! You––’ I said in disbelief.
‘Anything can be true. I saw Olusegun around that side but why would the DPO advise his son to do such?” said Ojo.
‘To outplay the Kabiyesi! The police are better politicians than we thought…’ Aremu continued
‘But what sacrilegious secret can two lovers keep that eventually leads to murder?’ I wondered aloud.
‘Why don’t we leave Adebimpe’s spirit to decide the truth about her death? Culture presides over law. What is important? Justice? My only concern is of whom would my dear Idowu dream about every night now? The gods forbid we dream about the dead!’ Ajani concluded as he ordered for more bottles of “33” export lager beers.
‘He never even spoke to her!’ Ojo retorted.
“Her beauty rivals that of Osun in the tales of old; her smile could bring the heavens down if they truly exist, her voice…”
‘Idowu, who finds pleasure in talking about the dead?’ Ojo questioned me. They laughed at my fantasies of Adebimpe as they always have.
‘It is time to go home. The clouds are pregnant.’ Aremu said.
‘You mean it’s time to get someone pregnant!’ Ojo replied with glee.
‘Do not worry, we would be there to share bottles of “33” export when Olodumare blesses you with a seed’