My Name Follows Me is a story of the untold effects of names given to men on their initiation into fraternities. The story tells of Evo, a young man who unwittingly joins a university campus grown fraternity and finds himself in continual hopeless circumstances because of his new identity.
The Permanent Secretary for the Delta State Ministry of Finance, Dr Telegraph Aria, sat behind an opulent, oversized desk decorated with sparse objects. Besides his iMac, nothing functional sat upon his desk, not even a landline telephone. His grey afro, turf in need of grooming, stood firm upon his short face. Aria’s lips had an upward curl, but he was not smiling. Dr Aria’s eyes had the unmistakable bulge of controlled displeasure. He had a protégé sitting before him to scold for the umpteenth time. It was something he wished he could avoid.
“Look here, Evojemudia, you are the most able and talented accountant we have in this ministry. I do not know if it’s a curse placed upon you or sheer recklessness that causes you to undermine your promising career with your own fingers. Do you understand me?” Aria said.
“Yes, Sir. I do,” Evo said.
Facial tensions pulled Evo Agore’s forehead muscles towards its centre. The lecture he was receiving from his boss was causing him more distress than a body reader could observe. The powerful air-conditioning in the office helped keep him calm. Evo was the son of Chief Meme Agore, one of the major independent chartered accountants in Warri, Nigeria’s Oil City, and Delta State. Dr Aria had been a former employee of his father’s practice.
Evo was a good-looking guy in his mid-thirties with a long and broad face sporting a prominent beard and sparkling eyes. He kept them half open like he was peeping out of the lids most of the time. He dressed the same for work and play; a T. M. Lewin long sleeve shirt, dark tailored trousers often with a jacket, and laced or slip-on walking shoes. Perhaps it made him look taller than his five foot ten inches.
“I cannot go on putting in a good word for you on the grounds of you being an exceptional accountant when your few big mistakes and your many minor ones are indefensible.”
“Sir, I have a strategy in place for preventing such ever happening in my career again.”
“You have told me that several times.”
“I mean it this time, Sir. Not that I have not meant it in previous times. Sir, I will have my accounting reports proofed by my colleagues before I submit them.”
“It had better work and the proofers better be reliable. Go do some work.”
“Yes Sir. Thank you, Sir.”
Both Aria and Evo were unaware of a third presence in the room that stood one meter behind and one meter to the left of the younger man. The unseen man was over six-foot tall, thin all over, knotty knuckles, blank lost eyes, and a plain face that never woke up. He was wearing black trousers, a yellow shirt, and a blue patterned tie. The unseen man’s shirt had two blood-stained chest holes in it. When he breathed, some of the air blew in and out of his lungs through the holes. As Evo left the Permanent Secretary’s office, the unseen man followed him like a tag, keeping the one meter behind and one meter to the left distance with unfailing fidelity. Walls and other solid objects did not alter the tag’s position.
It was midday, on Evo’s wristwatch, and he went to lunch. His canteen of choice, Ndaa Comfor, a short distance from his office, was a large wooden structure that could seat up to a hundred clients at a time. He got there wading through the intense outdoor heat for a couple of minutes. The canteen’s ceiling was high, windows large and the combo of overhead and floor fans blew cool air over his body; he needed it. Evo had pounded yam, egusi soup with fried fish, and a bottle of Coke for lunch. His bill totalled 1,100 naira. His unseen tag left the one meter behind and one meter to the left position and put its finger on the notes Evo was counting to pay the server. Evo gave the server 1,600 naira. The unseen tag returned to its position. The server thought Evo had tipped her 500 naira, and she smiled with surprise. He thought he had given her the right amount. It was likely when he got home later, he would accuse the children in his house of stealing 500 naira from him.
Before he could stand up, a brother from his fraternity, Matthew Polo, came into the canteen and sat opposite him without courtesy.
“Muy, Erroneous Ledger, Ahaze! How are you not doing?” Matthew greeted.
“Muy, Toxic Narcissus. Ahaze. What’s not happening?” Evo replied, offering his hand for a tiger paws handshake.
“Good news to you, Brother. Yesterday, you only collected 900,000 naira of the one million you withdrew from our bank. You left two bundles of 50,000 naira on the counter. The female cashier raced to catch up with you, but you drove off too fast for her. She reported your mistake to the manager, and he sent me, the Most Marvellous and Honourable Chief Matthew Polo, Scion of Nine Generations, to hand the 100,000 naira to you with compliments,” Matthew said.
Matthew was wearing a light grey suit and a white shirt. He was a smallish guy with big goggles and a bald head. Evo had known him for decades from being neighbours at two separate addresses, a common trend among the families in Warri enjoying upward mobility decades ago. Matthew always acted three times his size and ten times his real importance to others or society. He was a financial risk assessor, but presented himself as a financier.
Matthew handed Evo a black plastic bag with the 100,000 naira inside it. One metre behind and one metre to the left of Matthew stood another unseen entity. It had very fair skin, an attractive face, and a perfect trim of his hairline-moustache-stubble continuum. It wore a tan linen suit and chic sneakers. With buffed nails and facial make-up, it had to be metrosexual. Evo’s unseen tag left its position again to greet Matthew’s version, but it snubbed him cold.
“Let me go now. We can have drinks later if you are free,” Matthew said.
“Thanks Bro, we shall meet up later. Much appreciation to you, the cashier and the manager; give them my words,” Evo said, doing the tiger paw handshake again.
Toxic Narcissus left walking as if his gait was a personality amplifier and his unseen tag followed with a “Look at me, Look at me” swagger. Toxic Narcissus and his unseen tag were a good match.
Evo had been unaware he did not leave his bank with one million naira. Maybe, when he found it out, it would have led to a fight with his wife or someone else to blame. The thought of yet another reckless error in counting money had made a temporary statue out of him. It was not catatonia, just a daze of helplessness and uncertainty. “I must be under a curse,” he said aloud. “The more alert I become, the less I see,” he further said, standing up. Evo left the canteen and headed back to his office. Worry tied his face up in knots and shades of tightness, but his unseen tag was unperturbed.
Evo had entered university with the ambition to achieve a first-class honours degree. His focus kept him away from most campus distractions, including joining a university campus grown fraternity. Evo studied hard and was a promising student, but he missed a first-class by the narrowest possible margin. His consolation was he graduated as a top student in his class and won the coveted Okigbo Prize. Evo’s decision to join came five years after his graduation.
The economic impacts of Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP) in Nigeria had been harsh. It made fair access to good employment and business opportunities ever distant. And the standards of living could not stop falling. Like watching the hands of a clock, the gap between rich and poor widened and the desperation to survive or prosper soared.
Another impact of SAP was the moral cost to individuals for wrongdoing in society, once very high, was now derisory. At the end of the 1980s and onwards the dominant impressions about upward mobility was the fastest way to attain it. These impressions included having connections, joining cults, and practicing homosexuality. Evo had connections through his family, but the well-connected were often cult members. Homosexuality, however, remained a rumour. It was invisible.
There was no doubt most fraternity members were neither as strong nor bright as Evo. So, he would accept encouragement from members of the most prestigious university campus fraternity to join them. Many of his friends and work colleagues are members. Joining the fraternity entails his writing a letter of interest. When accepted, he attends an ‘intellectual’ interview. Later, he endures physical endurance tests. Some brutality added in. When successful at this roughening up stage, he would undergo a short induction to learn the basics of membership. The final stage is initiation; seeing the bonfire.
The initiations hold only at midnight. The fraternity Evo joined believes holding ceremonies at midnight in remote, desolate places increases their mystique with the public. Midnight activities also give members a sense of authentic rebellion against the undue demands and excesses of society. Your midnight is our midday, they say. Moreover, members of the fraternity love and revel in the midnight ceremonies. The merriment, songs, liquor, displays of power, and pronouncements can be irresistible.
On the night of his initiation, mentors drive Evo and fourteen other newbies in a bus to a desolate, secluded, out-of-town location called an Island. In the warm air of the starless night, mentors instruct them to change into their fraternal clothing; white socks, black trousers, a white long-sleeved shirt, a claret beret, and a claret mock-monkey jacket with a version of Jolly Roger emblazoned on the back. Evo could hear singing in the distance and indirect light from a fire, but could only guess what was happening.
“Seeing the bonfire” explains away the new name he takes, the oath he repeats, and the downing of a very strong red alcoholic cocktail, Bloody Brew, that tastes of alcohol, herbs, and Ribena. Two mentors then drag him from the dark place to an open sandy space well-lit by a massive bonfire. Surrounding the bonfire are hundreds of men dressed like he is. Evo’s welcomed by the older members is tender and asked to introduce himself. “I am not Muy Erroneous Ledger” he says, and the members shout “Ahaze!!!” He then must sing his unique initiation song he has been rehearsing for two weeks. The song is well-liked and repeated a few times before the next new member can introduce himself. He had seen the bonfire. He is now a member.
The welcome hugs he receives from fellow members are many, and he is tipsy. However, he notices a dazing that almost makes him collapse and feels strong, strange body discomfort. He tries to vomit, but he cannot. He tries to cough but no show. Evo shivers without control for half a minute, then feels normal. For a while, he feels as if he has two competing minds, but the plethora of distractions around him makes him unsure. He joins the merriment with half consciousness.
Confused and desperate, Evo was keen to find links between adopting fraternal names and future behaviour. His career was at stake – he was sure Aria could sack him. It was a frequent theme he raised in his discussions with fellow members. The feedback he got came from believers, doubters, and mockers of the idea fraternal names could affect behaviour. Muy Fact Check was dismissive, claiming all superstitions thrive on confirmation bias. You see what you want to see. Fact Check said Muy Restless Rod is very popular with women and may not sleep with them, but his name can make him lie he does. Muy Time Saver gave elaborate spiritual explanations of numerology and impacts of name changes using Old Testament examples and recent ones like Malcolm X and Mahatma Gandhi. Muy Timeless quoted a line from an Okpan Arhibo song, “People give a person born mute a name not because he could hear it, but to give him an identity.”
Some disliked or hated their fraternal names, opting to change them. Muys Menses Pad, Leprosy, or Ugly Wizard are not likeable names. Others sit in their names like it is a self-owned private jet. Muy Ọgbofovwi [Military Commander] became the name everyone knew him by, everyone. Muy Dividends Of Democracy’s brothers never addressed him by that name. They ever knew him within the fraternity as T.J. an abbreviation of his real name, Tejiri.
Evo was more interested in verifiable stories of names and their effects. There was a member rechristened Muy Ceaseless Prayer. This was a guy from a prominent home of atheist medical doctors in the 1980s Nigeria and reputed on campus for telling irreverent jokes about God, Jesus Christ, Mary, and David. Many of these jokes were so offensive few dared to repeat them. If you wanted to hear them, you sought some audience with him, increasing his notoriety.
Soon after his christening as Ceaseless Prayer, he stopped mocking the Father and the Son. Within weeks, he had become an agnostic and by the end of the semester; he had become a born again Christian and prayer warrior. The strong Christian communities on campus were not sure how to handle his conversion and fervour. The rumour was they would not even shout Hallelujah! It is doubtful his fraternity would ever give a member such a serious religious name again.
Another guy, a love child, was the only one his mother had. His father, a diplomat, never acknowledged him, but his mother was one of the top ten females in the Nigerian Civil Service and years later became a Federal Permanent Secretary. He was one of the countless guys admitted because of his prominent family status, otherwise, he would not have made it even into the Boys Scouts. At his christening, he became Muy Smelling Penis. Months later, he smelled. The smell emanated from zakwa or scratch-it-with-three-hands, a stubborn and annoying complex of rashes and ringworm afflicting his private parts and buttocks. Smelling Penis stopped attending lectures. Other students would not sit near him in class.
His older cousin on campus took him home to his mother, where he got treatment for the known skin diseases, plus gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, and parasites. He had burns on his testicles when attempting to use hot water to wash and ease the uncontrollable scratching when it started, which could be anytime. Two hands to scratch it were not enough for sure. His older cousin later learned some of his fellow members had introduced him to the cheapest brothel in town.
Smelling Penis returned to campus healthy, but his fellow members redistributed his big box of five hundred condoms in the spirit of brotherhood and sharing. He soon got zakwa again. His truancy forced his captain to expel him from his fraternity for a year, if ever he returned. In that year, his freedom from zakwa and cheap prostitutes was complete. In his final year, he re-joined his brotherhood at the prompting of his erstwhile brothers and obliged. The zakwa made a hasty return once again with his smelly privates and bum. Deep reflection made him tender a letter to his captain that he no longer wanted to be a member. He claims in the letter, “I have advised myself well.”
Muy Magic Menu was another interesting case. If he gave an immersive description of any food to you and you could not find it to eat that day, you would at least develop a mild mental disturbance.
Muy Innocent Copy, standing at six foot six inches, weighing eighteen stones, and built like Mike Tyson, was an irony. He was by choice a boisterous and shameless fellow. Many years after he had left campus, as an Assistant Superintendent of Police and captain of his fraternal chapter, he had in public addressed his wife. “Behave yourself! Last night when I gave you two hot rounds, did you not say ‘Sweetheart, if I die for your sake, I died well?’ It’s not yet 24 hours, you know? Okay, we will do your favourite tonight, Accordion!”
Evo’s fraternity claims it is anti-anything bad, fighting corruption being its public centrepiece. It was the thing that made them ‘nobler than thou.’ Behind the façade, its members are just as corrupt as any other Nigerian public official. For fear of blackmail and victimisation, members hide their corruption from each other. It is easier for outsiders to secure corrupt favours from fraternity members than for the brothers they swear by oaths to defend and support. Muy Innocent Copy is one member who never hides his willingness to take bribes and extortions from his brothers and they love him for it. He is notorious for being a dirty ranking police officer, but it never bothers him. All naïve attempts to punish him on fraternal principle have met with extreme resistance. If punished, he could reveal the names of brothers who offered him bribes and their crimes he covered up.
Sometimes, names of members come from their personalities and past deeds. Muy Mister Collateral came to campus as an economics student and ruthless money lender. He would only give loans for collateral he could flog at least four times the value of the cash he lent out. Interest and forfeitures made him lots of money. Years after he graduated from school, some unknown gunmen assassinated him for confiscating and selling real estate for defaults on trifling loans. Was his fraternity to blame for his loan-sharking and death?
What’s in a name, many would ask. The arguments and anecdotes only confused Evo further.
It was Thursday, the first weekend of August. Suez Canal, the code name for the Delta North Chapter of Evo’s fraternity in Asaba, was hosting its Annual International Convention. Suez Canal was expecting at least two thousand fellow members from around the world to arrive in Asaba for the event.
The motor parks, coach stations, hotels, restaurants, beer parlours, and airport in Asaba were witnessing early signs of a tourist boon only experienced at Christmas, election time, and major political gatherings. Many members arrived in vehicles, singing gyration songs, and yelling loud greetings. Many wore wearing black trousers and white shirts and made no secret of their secret handshakes. Too many people knew who they were and would either say “Them don come again,” or “Na them be this.”
Evo’s captain, Muy One Significant Figure a.k.a. Hilary Bassey walked with the slight bow in his legs past a beer-selling canteen at dashing speed that seemed normal and effortless. He was the captain hosting the Convention. Evo, who was in the canteen with seven fellow members and nine unseen tags, saw him pass. He halted and looked around on hearing shouts of his name. “Hilary! Hilary!” Evo knew he would become very sweaty if he had to catch up with Hilary Bassey walking or jogging. A remarkable observation about the people walking on the short but busy road Evo and Hilary stood was almost every adult was holding a white handkerchief. It was not a pre-planned thing, just a standard way of managing profuse sweat that accrues on the face, neck, and sometimes lower arms.
“O Erroneous Ledger, what are you doing here?” said Hilary.
“O Captain, I came to brunch, but an old brother from Curacao Chapter is already manifesting limitless rum,” Said Evo
“It’s 11.10 a.m. That’s too early to drink,” said Hilary.
“We don’t want those rums to waste, so we must curate them without prejudice, Muy Captain!” Evo said with a chuckle.
“Okay, use away and be merry,” Said Hilary.
Hilary made a quick turn to walk away, but heard his name again.
“I have something important to ask of you,” said Evo.
“I want to change my fraternal nominal.”
“You have complained much about it. Let’s go to a restaurant around the corner and get out of this heat.”
It was a two-minute walk, during which Evo informed his bottle-producing friend by phone he would be away with his captain for up to half an hour. The restaurant they entered was new, trendy, and spacious, ensuring some table-to-table conversation privacy. The menu was expensive compared to where Evo had brunch and beers. Hilary and Evo sat at a secluded table and a waitress came to them.
“Hello, young girl. I want a plate of garri, egusi soup and goat meat with bottled water and a beer for my friend,” said Hilary.
“Okay, Sir,” said the waitress.
“I did not expect a beer, O Captain, but I accept am make e no for loss. I am thankless,” said Evo.
“You are never welcome,” said Hilary.
The waitress returned to their table with a large tray of hot food, cold drinks, and a wash-hand bowl so fast, as if she had taken them off a shelf. Hilary began eating and Evo raised his glass of beer in gratitude.
“I want to change your nominal to Muy Beer Curator?” said Hilary.
“Ah! Captain! Not at all. Not at all. I have a new nominal in mind,” said Evo.
“It is not Cato the Flawless.”
Hilary stopped eating and talking, looking through Evo as if he were transparent, a deadpan stare.
“Anything wrong, O Captain.”
“Just a surprise memory.”
“You say you are worried that ‘My name follows me’?”
“That is why we are sitting here.”
“Good. You have chosen an ominous name.”
“No. Cato was the name of a negro slave who…”
“Who, during slavery, helped the Yankees win battles and saved George Washington’s life a few times.”
“So, you know of him?”
“What do you think?” Hilary said with a disconcerting glare in his eyes.
A captain always must be a captain and most of them show their power when their subordinates are least guarded. Evo was now blinking and taking slow, deep breaths. He did not want to upset his captain.
“My father was working with Shell when the Ken Saro-Wiwa ordeal happened. He often talked with his work colleagues about two memos circulated within their ranks the day after Gen Abacha would inject Ken Saro-Wiwa into the ground with crude oily justice. Those who were unhappy about the heinous crime circulated a note titled ‘Tiberius [Gracchus] Lives [On].’ Those who thought it was an inescapable event of natural law circulated their own note in response, ‘Cato [the Younger] Chose Death.’ The greatest Cato committed suicide after a protracted feud with Julius Caesar and Cato the Slave was a Revolutionary War agent who risked every minute of his life for half a decade to get his freedom. ‘Is that what you want, Muy Erroneous?’”
“I get your point.”
“Do you have another name in mind?”
“You mean sea storm and fire storm?”
“Here we go once more. You complain your name is giving you serious hassles and again, you want to name yourself after two natural disasters?” Hilary said, raising his voice.
Hilary looked around the restaurant and only a few had their eyes fixed on him, but he was sure other customers were interested and looked away before he could catch them. Evo had his lower lip pulled in as far as it could go, yet smiling, and the pupils of his twinkling eyes pointed upwards.
“Feeling embarrassed is the easy way out. Ay?”
“As the bonfire rages tomorrow night at the Welcome Sally, I shall rename you Muy Flawless Protector. Would you like another bottle?”
A year and four months after, Evo became Muy Flawless Protector. It was to him a triumphant change of identity. At home, his frequent accusations of missing money stopped. Waiters had become less cordial to him as his erroneous overpayments interpreted as tips never happened again. At work, those tasked to proof-check his reports could no longer find flaws where hitherto there were many and easy to spot. Perhaps his new name was protecting him from making flawless for good.
The Permeant Secretary looked more cheerful this time as Evo entered his office and sat opposite him. A landline telephone sat on his desk.
“You have a phone on your desk. Sir?”
“Yes, I am leaving office in a month’s time,”
“No one knows you are leaving.”
“I will contest the next elections as a Representative, that is why.”
“This Ministry may not be the best place for you after I have gone. So, I have arranged for you to have you transfer to the Ministry of Works and Transport with a promotion. You kept the promise you made to me in that chair over a year ago, and I am impressed.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“Have you ever been told you have Tourette’s syndrome? A couple of people have said you have developed a new habit of saying or echoing things that seem inappropriate.” Aria said.
Evo’s joy at a lucrative promotion and ultimate proof of his talent was too short for happiness. Making errors and gaining Tourette’s syndrome or even a split personality. Which is worse for Evo? Evo knew his boss was right, but knew not what to do about it. He could not blame his name for his inexplicable and self-destructive actions any longer. Or could he?
This time, there were two unseen entities in the office. The new one stood one metre behind and one metre to the right of Evo and the initial entity remained one metre to the left, but was now two metres behind. The new entity was wearing an EFCC apron and pinned near his chest was a name tag which read ‘T.K. Abu, Deputy Head, Forensics Unit, Economic and Financial Crimes commission.’ It had a bullet hole in the back of his head. Evo just sat there. His Tourette’s was the effect of his two entities contradicting each other with tenacious aggression. The entity of flawlessness always had the upper hand over the entity of errors, but not without a good fight. Poor Evo.
His name no longer follows him, but Evo is not free. He remained a member of his fraternity, but neither of his tags followed him any longer. The method behind Evo’s release from his unseen tags one must guess, explanations or descriptions are unavailable. It happened because of a solution that had nothing to do with the names that followed him, but for a boon of coincidence. Yet, the unseen tags of his fellow members could now occupy the positions vacated by his own unseen tags. These temporary occupations could last for up to fifteen minutes in an hour. That works out as twenty-four occupation opportunities daily for each position.
It was now exactly two years since the name change and Evo was hosting and chairing his fraternity’s Committee on Public Advocacy to decide on what material to present at the Annual Convention holding in Abuja. Only five of the eight committee members were in attendance, but there were seven unseen tags present. Among them was the committee member Muy Martini In Excess, a very close friend of Evo’s; he was formerly Muy Evil Smoke. He had a reputation for mixing his beer, stout, or fresh palm wine with goscolene (kaikai), a local gin distilled from aged palm wine and for tobacco-assisted drunkenness. Evo’s and other members close to Martini In Excess soon became regular binge drinkers. Another member present was Muy Magnificent Potion, formerly known as Muy Unanswered Prayer, whose belief in voodoo and superstitions bordered on the extreme. Those close to him, including Evo, had visited native doctors of recent. Well, Evo had only been with him twice.
The only person who had suffered as much as Evo for the actions of his unseen tags was his ever-loving wife, Onia. She had known him long before he became a member. It surprised her after the time of his initiation; he drank lots of alcohol, cheated on her with women he once considered trash, spent Friday nights with his fellow members doing God-knows-what and spent Saturday with a long debilitating hangover. She complained for a long time about a ghost in their bedroom. Much later, he began his frequent complaints of missing money. Onia had to console him and share in his insecurities for weeks on the two occasions he almost lost his job, but for Dr Aria’s and his father’s intervention, for thoughtless accounting errors.
Of recent, she observed Evo develop a tic which would, unknown to her, begin when he was processing a calculation or counting money. He seemed helpless in talking to himself. His utterances began with large numbers 16641, 2209, 225000 and 93636, which he would repeat several times a day for at least a week. Evo would stop repeating the number, only to pick up another one soon after. Utterances of self-doubt followed. Evo’s inbred confidence dwindled and its replacement was constant unsureness about facts he knew well. If you asked him what 12 times 9 was, he would respond 108 without thought, then check the calculator on his phone to confirm his answer with frantic desire. Seeing him embody many unfamiliar traits had made her decide enough is enough.
Finding a goat’s horn tied with red cloth in two places in Evo’s waistcoat pocket had exhausted whatever tolerance Onia had left in her. Her decision to pack out of Evo’s place was conclusive but given a stay of execution when she went to the counselling session at her church that Saturday morning.
Onia arrived at her church to perform ushering duties. By chance, she met her pastor, Bishop Ichabod Eke, in the hallway. He was a short, charismatic personality in his late fifties dressed in sportswear and wore a trim afro and beard.
“Good morning, Father,” Onia said.
“Good morning, my daughter. How is the family?” Eke replied.
She burst into tears. She could not control her emotion.
“What is the problem?” asked Eke.
“Father, I can no longer stay in my marriage. My husband’s life is now all about his fraternity and nothing else. I am leaving.”
The pastor said nothing to her but ushered her into a room and introduced her to a visiting deliverance pastor.
“Meet Pastor Adia and meet Mrs. Onia Agore,” Eke said, using his hands as an identifier.
Pastor Adia was Dr Fergus Adia, a clinical psychologist and research associate at Stanford University, USA. He was working in Nigeria on a one-year research grant to investigate the impact of superstitions and cult beliefs on mental health. He was seeking hard data. Pastor Adia was seven months into his research program, spending a month each at a responding church for ten months. He had already built a tidy reputation as a pastor who could integrate deliverance experiences with clinical methods. His results were impressive.
Onia narrated her problem to Pastor Adia, and his only response was a smile.
“The problem is not as big as you think. Can you bring your husband here at two O’clock?” Adia asked.
“Sure, Sir. I will try,” Onia said.
“Till then,” Adia said.
“Okay Sir. Thank you so much.”
She left the room with her pastor, who still said nothing. When she got back home, Evo was about to leave. She did not greet him.
“Evo, I want you to come with me to church,” she said.
“I can’t do that; I have promised to meet my brothers. They are waiting for me,” Evo responded.
“If you do not come with me, it will be the very last you will see of me,” she yelled.
Her statement hit Evo like a knockdown punch that spared him enough time to recover before the count ended.
“What is going on here? Come to church for what?” Evo asked.
“Ha ha ha! The most rugged brothers in your fraternity are those who choose it over their wives. Not so? I should have known better than to ask you for anything,” Onia mocked.
“You are not making sense. Let’s reason out this thing together.”
“The goat’s horn juju you brought into our marital home makes sense. Not so?”
“I can explain that. It was…”
“I am not asking for a negotiation. If you do not come with me, I’m gone.”
“Okay, I will go with you. When?”
Evo had little choice. This was the most aggressive Onia had been towards him in seventeen years of love and marriage. He knew her well enough to know she was rock serious. The drive to church was the frostiest moment ever between them. She entered the church with her husband and knocked on the door of Adia’s temporary office. It surprised the pastor to see her.
“It is 10.55 a.m. I thought we agreed on 2.00 p.m.,” Adia said.
“Sorry Sir, but I could not wait. I could not help it,” said Onia.
“That can be acceptable. Please, you can have a seat each,” Adia said.
“Thank you, Sir,” Onia said.
“Good morning, gentleman,” said Adia.
“Good morning, Sir,” Evo replied.
“Thanks for coming. I am Pastor Adia, a clinical psychologist and prayer minister. I work with ex-members of cults, hate groups, gangs, and the military. People persuaded to do things beyond their conscience and those unaware of their indoctrination traumas.”
“I have no indoctrination traumas and nothing has forced me to do anything against my conscience,” said Evo.
“Can you say you do not look down on non-members or members of rival groups? Have you not endured serious floggings and other dehumanising punishments and accept it? Would you hesitate to kill the member of another fraternity if you were at war?”
“These questions you are asking me are leading questions?”
“Look here, I am not leading or misleading you. You have no obligation to take part in this consultation. You can leave any time, including now. I am here to help you and you are not to pay a dime for my services. Rather, I will give you materials that are sure to help you if you like. The choice is yours,” Adia said.
“How do you know I belong to a fraternity? My wife told you?” Evo asked.
“Yes, but your wife did not give me these,” Adia replied.
Pastor Adia handed Evo a nice palm size open box filled with cards and said, “Look at them.”
Evo took out the scores of cards and looked at all of them. One card had the logo of Evo’s fraternity in the right colours on one-side and a description/history on the other side. The box held cards on all known fraternities in Nigeria, including the ones grown on university campuses and elsewhere. Evo replaced the cards and handed them back to Pastor Adia.
“You are a Corsair?” the pastor asked.
“Yes, I am,” replied Evo.
“Corsairs once knew me as Muy Ceaseless Prayer. I am here to help you,” Adia said.
Evo’s eyes bulged with amazement and lower jaw dropped, keeping his mouth ajar. He was both stunned and delighted at last to meet the legendary Muy Ceaseless Prayer. In a fit of excitement, he stood up and offered a tiger claw handshake to Pastor Adia, who avoided it by only touching the junction of Evo’s thumb and palm with the tip of his forefinger.
“I said I am here to help you,” the pastor said with a take it or leave it firmness.
Evo looked at his wife, then sat back in his chair, shoulders sagging and his mouth tightened. Onia, who was undemonstrative throughout the exchange, now smiled as if it was refreshment. She knew her husband long and well enough to know when he was surrendering. Bianimikaley!
“Pastor, does the name Muy Ceaseless Prayer still affect you?”
Be good, Not Lucky