Tolu’s ears perked up as well. ‘This would be a really bad time for a joke, James.’ Bade quickly shushed him.
‘What do I have to do?’ Bade asked, turning his full attention to what he hoped would be a lifeline.
‘There’s man in Ibadan who has fixed this kind of issue for people before. I don’t know his position with NYSC, but I know at least two people that he helped get reposted to states of their choice. We could talk to him.’ James said.
‘Do you know him personally?’ Bade asked.
James shook his head. ‘Not personally, but I can get us in to see him.’
Bade was already shaking his head. ‘You don’t understand, if you don’t have a personal relationship with him, what reason would he have to help me? I don’t have that much money to offer.’
Tolu broke in. ‘Is he a religious man?’
James looked stumped. ‘How the heck am I supposed to know that?’
‘Too bad, if he had been, we could have used God to beg him.’ Tolu replied.
Bade breathed out, ‘I guess I’m screwed for real.’
‘Don’t just give up like that, let’s talk to him at least. The people that he helped then were just like you and I, it’s not like they were millionaires. We have no idea what he would ask for. I say we should still give it a try. What’s the worst that could happen?’
‘You know what, I think you are right. How do we see him?’ Bade asked.
‘I’ll get his contact and set an appointment. You get on your knees and pray we find the favour we need.
Bade lived with his parents and two sisters in a two bedroom flat somewhere in Adamasingba, Ibadan. As soon as he opened the gate, their downstairs neighbour’s dog started barking from its cage behind the flats. His father’s old and battered Toyota was parked downstairs on the cemented grounds. It was late evening, which meant his mother would be in the kitchen getting dinner ready while dad watched news> His youngest sister, the only other child at home, would be doing her assignment. He climbed the stairs to their front door and knocked.
‘Who is it?’ His sister’s voice asked.
‘Me.’ He replied shortly.
The door opened to reveal his little sister, Temilope, smiling at him, her dimple showing. She stretched out her hand, palm out. He smiled back and placed the suya he had been holding behind his back in her hand. Then she stepped aside and ushered him into the house.
‘One day, I’m going to surprise you and come home empty-handed.’ He said as he passed, a finger raised in warning. Her only response was to stick out her tongue at him.
His mother’s voice called out from the kitchen. ‘Bade, is your sister extorting you again?’
‘It’s not extortion if it’s voluntary. Besides it’s not like I’ll be around to do that much longer.’ He shouted back.
‘E kaale sir.’ He said as he passed his dad, a tall bald man, who waved a hand in response, his focus on the television set. A passing glance showed Bade images of men sitting at a round table at a summit somewhere. He passed through the dining room and entered the kitchen. His mum, a short, plump woman, was at the gas cooker, preparing amala, with a stained apron and sweat beading on her forehead. She smiled at him as he came in.
‘So, what is the news from UI?’ she asked.
‘I think it’s best I tell you and daddy together.’ He replied, resting on the little kitchen cabinet. They spent the remaining time talking about her day while the day slowly turned to night.
He broke the news to them over dinner.
His mother burst into tears. ‘No, no, they can’t send you there.’ She wept. His dad too looked shaken. But there was a befuddled look on his sister’s face.
‘What’s so bad about Kano?’ She asked, her 9 year old mind not understanding. His mother wept harder, and his dad got up to comfort her. Bade was forced to smile.
‘Kano isn’t a very safe place now. There are some terrorists killing innocent people over there. And they want me to be one of those innocent people.’ He stretched out a hand to her as he saw the realisation begin to dawn in her eyes, she grabbed it as if she never intended to let go, and he guessed he didn’t want her to.
‘Don’t worry little sis, big brother has got a plan.’ He said.