By Taju Tijani
The journey was long winding. The cold January air was biting through the skin. I had two hats on my head to shield up against the cold. The Northern Line train from Edgware was not heated. It was cold, dreary and damp. There were forlorn looks of resignation all around me. I hid my frustration behind a dark glass as I feasted on “As Sparks Fly Upward” by Michael Carr, my late pastor and founder of Harrow International Christian Center. He wrote on weathering the storms of life. I was embarking on a journey to meet how some Nigerians are weathering the storms of marital breakups.
After an agonising forty-five minutes of shivering in the womb of Northern Line underground train, I disembarked at Elephant and Castle. I put a call to Gbolahan Teniola Badmus. “Teejay Baba,” he hollered asking where I was. We exchanged some pleasantries and ended our chat. I love South London. It is the play area for us who live in North London. We visit the south for authentic Nija restaurants, bars and dance venues. It is the melting pot for the different tribes that make up Nigeria. You could meet a long-lost friend on the paved high street of Peckham. You could bump into a jilted lover, your landlord, your mechanic or your debtor who had been on the run from you.
Ever dapper Gbolahan Teniola Badmus “GTB” looked rich. He oozed confidence, panache and successful. He wore a well starched, green guinea brocade over a cap that shot through the sky. He was in a black slip-on shoe and a black Rado watch to match. The time was 4pm. We got into some preliminary gist. He swung into action fielding calls to guys who will later speak with me. He motioned one of the beautiful waiters to offer me the restaurant’s in-house special cocktail. “Teejay, se kiwon fun e ni small chop pelu cocktail e,” GTB asked. I nodded affirmatively.
The small chop when it arrived was nowhere small. It contained edo, ifun, abodi, shaki, red meat, turkey meat, goat meat and fuku. Other plate had chinchin, puffpuff, raisins, walnuts and groundnut. Not to be misunderstood. I protested. “Ah, GTB, elo ni gbogbo eleyi to wa niwaju mi yi,” I inquired. “Teejay, everything is on me. Enjoy yourself…more on the way. Just chill. The night is still young”, GTB assured. I felt relieved and settled for the feast. I wolfed the first meaty plate with relish. I betrayed one great weakness of writers – we love to be entertained for free in a world where there are no more free lunches.
In between my meal, I took in the decor of the restaurant. The ambient was relaxing, warm and dimly lit. The colour was gold and black. There was a big picture of a lion plastered over the east side wall of the restaurant. At the sideways was a massive fish tank with assorted fish swimming around merrily unconcerned with the activities in the restaurant. The chairs were all leather. They look plush and classy. The dance area was very expansive. There were loads of disco ceiling lights. They were all multiplicity of colours. The DJ stand was massive. Deck over decks of DJ sound systems and massive Jamo speakers stood majestically around the four corners of the dance area.
Rows of expensive drinks adorned the bar. Brandy, whisky, beer, rum, liqueur and wine. A young man with dreadlocks manning the bar came over to me and asked me what I would like to drink. He guessed right. Would this be free again? Unknown to me, GTB had detailed his staffers to ensure that I was well looked after. “Ekale sir, kile ma mu…we have different drinks in the bar,” the dreadlocked bartender asked. “What’s your favourite,” I teased. He dissolved into an embarrassing smile.
“Ok, get me Guinness, not cold,” I requested. “Ok sir, Nigerian Guinness or foreign”. “Nija of course,” I shot back.
Wale Osiewu, the bar tender ran to the bar and brought back two big and intimidating baba dudu for me. GTB was off and on pottering around and making sure that the night was set. He came to me occasionally to throw banters and disappeared again into the mill of things. READ ALSO:
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It was now 7.0pm. I had downed my first bottle. My head was whirling with ideas. I still need to investigate if Guinness is a fuel for our muse. The first Guinness awoke my muse. Now, the writer in me was burning to go. It was looking to roar and put my first interviewee through a firework inquisition. Marital disaster tale telling could either be a therapeutic process or an emotional volcano. I have seen it all. To be driven away from home by a woman could be rated as the worst abomination for a man.
Are the victims of such sacrilege prepared to see it as an experience to thrust them into a forward trajectory. Or are they going to see the experience as a traumatic horror deserving of death penalty? The bar was now brimming with life. It was 9.00pm. “Teejay, get ready, my guys are here. Let me call Biodun Ajanaku for you. Speak to him first,” GTB said.
“You see Teejay, it is a long story,” Biodun started looking angry.
…To be continued next week.