One of the quick ways to avoid trouble in a Naija University was to join a fellowship on campus. It was either you chose the good guys or the bad guys came looking for you. For Samurai, it had been one curveball after another, he had narrowly avoided being trapped by the famed cultists in his freshman year. It was a bit surreal to him because he never viewed himself as a prospective candidate for Mafia life, it wasn't as if Scarface or any of the characters in the Godfather wore spectacles. But he had the physique of someone who worked out, so the glasses were a little distracting.
Anyway, he sought refuge in the numerous fellowships on campus as an escape route. The churches/fellowships were in abundance, it almost felt as if they were competing for the lost misguided souls of students. Samurai had attended a few where the prayer sessions were almost as violent as the Biafran war. Devil slaying, fire-breathing, tongue-speaking students who were determined to relocate the devil from hell to a worse place.
Sometimes he stood while the prayers were rained down around him, being a conservative Anglican, he struggled to understand the ferocity of the prayers. Surely these prayers would kill the devil, ressurect him and kill him again, he thought to himself, such was the intensity. What got under his skin was the tag "Brother Samurai". It irritated him deeply and he hated being called "Brother", he had only 1 brother, Ragfella, and Ragfella never called him "Brother", so he felt that the constant declaration of brotherhood and sisterhood was a bit unsettling. He finally settled on a popular fellowship on campus, a bit flamboyant, Shimon commented, but Samurai didnt care much, after all Shimon didn't attend any fellowship. It just wouldn't feel right if Shimon went to fellowship, he had this aura of a diplomat, and surely Shimon would laugh at the ferocity of the prayers.
Life in Paco had slowed down to a rhythm for Samurai and Shimon, they still didnt speak to most of their neighbors, but the good thing was that Cubana had moved out. To replace him, Looney Tunes had rented out the room to a new dude who was simply from another planet. Let me introduce you to the new neighbors:
La Sugar had a striking resemblance to Taye Diggs, a feat that never escaped his attention. He wasn't just in love with his looks, he was in love with everything about himself! He had a good heart though he saw himself as the best thing in life since sliced bread. He sang like a bird in the morning, had a polished accent that was a hybrid between British, American and Onitsha. Shimon hounded him all the time because he loved the good life while Samurai found him entertaining and funny because he simply couldn't figure out if La Sugar was normal or delusioned.
Nelo and Soso were 2 beautiful ladies who lived in the room next to Samurai and Shimon. They were simply wonderful and Samurai thought the world of them. Nelo or Soso would cook and offer some to the bespectacled young men who looked like twins. Nelo was vibrant and a true live-wire, she loved to dance and there was always a twinkle in her eye. Soso on the other hand was more reserved but could light up a room with her smile. In the evenings, they would sit outside and trade gist with Samurai and Shimon about Pacoliso history.
On a particular Friday morning, Samurai returned to Pacoliso, after spending a night somewhere else. He met Shimon in the room, luckily NEPA was in a good mood, so within a few minutes they had turned on music and started planning what their options for breakfast was. The final decision was Bread and tea, possibly with sardine or some other big boy accessory (they had graduated from Akara and bread). Samurai put on water to boil with their electric kettle and for some odd reason they both decided to go out and buy bread.
It was still early, 8 or 9ish, and the weather was pretty nice, the day couldn't have started any better. It was a 5 minute walk to where the bread sellers displayed their wares, they got there and for an inexplicable reason spent almost 10-15 minutes trying to figure out what type of bread to buy. Finally they settled on a choice, stopped to buy sardine at a nearby store and walked home, gisting happily, and planning the rest of the day. Just as they got back to the main gate to Pacoliso, they ran into a friend of theirs, Ichiro.
Ichiro was as funny and crazy as Chris Rock, he could induce labor in a pregnant woman by just telling jokes. He also happened to be in the same class as Samurai and Shimon and was a regular visitor to Pacoliso.
"Ol boi how you dey? This one wey you dey sneak comot from Paco this early morning, you sure say you never get belle?" Samurai said to Ichiro, while Shimon laughed.
"Make una two dey there laugh while una house dey burn", Ichiro replied. For some reason, this sounded so hilarious that Samurai and Shimon laughed even harder.
"Oya no worry, continue to dey laugh, the house go soon burn reach ground finish", Ichiro said. This time Samurai's laughter started reducing, because he noticed Ichiro wasnt smiling.
"My friend, no dey talk nonsense" Shimon said, his laughter had started fading too.
"Nonsense abi? Remain there na, when you laugh finish, you go sleep for floor today", Ichiro repeated again.
This time, Samurai could feel a knot building up in his stomach, the cold hands of fear and uncertainty. He brushed pass Ichiro and stepped pass the gate, the first thing he saw made him realize that something was wrong. Oga Sam was standing at the security post by the gate, his hands on his head, shaking his head like he was in a Nollywood movie. "Oga Sam, wetin happen?" Shimon asked him. Oga Sam just kept shaking his head, his eyes sad and distant like Yoda in Star wars. Shimon knew the worst had happened, Ichiro wasnt lying, he sank to his knees, the bread and sardine falling in a pile beside him.
Samurai started running towards their house, his heart beating harder with each step. As he made it round the bend, their room came into view...he couldnt feel his legs move anymore...The sight that greeted him was like a scene from Hotel Rwanda. A crowd stood outside their room, all the Pacoliso ladies, some clad in wrappers, most still in pyjamas, carrying buckets, their property was scattered on the lawn just outside their room, smoke tendrils were still coming out of the room, he could smell the thick smell from where he was.
As he approached, they all turned and looked at him, sadness and concern etched on their faces, he stopped in his tracks, as if that would make everything vanish. Time froze for a second or two, Samurai stood about a few yards from his room, his eyes surveying the chaos, looking at the faces of the beautiful young women and men who had saved his and Shimon's property from the burning room, he was speechless...Everyone stood watching him, not knowing what to say...Nelo and Soso walked out from the crowd and held his hand...