Mazi Ibe was at it again. Everyone could hear his loud voice as he shouted and railed hard.
“What is all this noise, this morning,” Akpabio complained, turning on the bed towards his wife. To his surprise, she wasn’t there. He figured she was probably outside, feasting her eyes on the ongoing ruckus.
Akpabio groaned and got down from the bed. He reached out and picked a wrapper by the foot of the bed. Wrapping the cloth around his stocky frame, he walked to the balcony where his wife stood, watching the altercation between Mazi Ibe and some of the street goons.
“What are you doing with these small girls following you up and down,” Mazi Ibe was saying to the boys heatedly. Then he turned to the girls who were standing beside the boys and glaring at him contemptuously. There were three of them, and they didn’t look older than fifteen. He wondered why on earth they were walking about the streets, with the boys in question, when they should be in school with their mates. “Shouldn’t you girls be in school at this time? Who are the idiotic parents that left you to this foolishness?”
“Old man, you had better watch yourself. Warn and watch yourself. What’s your problem? Why are you always interfering in our affairs?” One of the boys stepped forward, threateningly, but the others held him back.
“Do you want to beat me or what?” Mazi Ibe barked, also taking some steps forward. “Your mates are out there adding value to their lives, and making themselves useful to society, but you are here, constituting a nuisance in the streets, drinking, smoking and whatnots.”
“Mazi Ibe wahala and all these Danki boys,” Akpabio’s wife said, as he arrived beside her. “One of these days they will beat him so hard he won’t be able to talk against them ever again.”
Akpabio frowned, looking at the developing situation concomitantly. Mazi Ibe should just let these boys be, it is their life, he thought. Like every other family in the village, he knew and had watched some of these boys grow up. But suddenly, the boys had turned rogue, living however they wished; some of them had even been disowned by their parents and chased out of the house.
“Mazi Ibe should leave these boys and mind his own business,” Akpabio said, turning to his wife
“Abi o. He will not hear word,” his wife retorted.
Another boy stepped out from their group, facing Mazi Ibe. “That’s how he went to the landlord’s association meeting and told them to chase us out of the village or report us to the police,” the boy said angrily. “Old man, we are as much a member of this village as you. We were born here, and therefore have equal rights as you!”
“The way you children are going, ruin is just by the door for you,” Mazi Ibe fired back.
“It’s you and your family that will face ruin,” the boys retorted, and then they began hurling abusive words at Mazi Ibe before walking away, leaving him standing there.
Mazi Ibe watched them go, heaving a sigh after a moment. Then, as he turned around, his eyes caught Akpabio and his wife looking down at him from the balcony of their three-storey building. Without word, he shook his head and went back to his house.
“Mommy, we are ready for school,” the voices of their children sounded as they came into their parent’s room, prompting Akpabio and his wife to turn in the direction of their two sons and daughter, all prepared for school.
“Great,” his wife went towards them, smiling. “Mark should already be in the car, waiting to take you kids to school.
Akpabio drove slowly along the uneven streets, heading home. It was evening, and the Danki boys filled the streets, claiming to repair the roads and extorting money from car drivers as they drove by.
“Chief! Chief! Eze One of the whole kingdom!” the boys hailed, as Akpabio pulled to a stop.
Akapbio sighed, looking at their hands, which held various alcoholic drinks in small green plastics and cigarettes. He sighted some girls with the boys at the other end and shook his head. Well, it was none of his business if they all chose to live their lives like this. He reached into his pocket and passed a thousand naira note to one of the boys, as they continued hailing him and shouting his praises.
He drove off, still shaking his head at the wrong life path they had chosen to take.
Akpabio knew there was trouble as soon as he arrived at the gate to his house and it took a while for Steve, the gateman, to let him in. Steve was never tardy with his duty, and he always knew when Akpabio arrived home, opening the gate as soon as he honked once.
He drove in after Steve finally opened the gate, parked the vehicle, and got down quickly.
“Oga, welcome sir,” Steve greeted. His face was sober and cast in what looked like worry.
“Steve, what is the problem?” Akpabio asked.
“Yes…what is it?”
Steve couldn’t find the right words.
Scoffing, Akpabio hurried into the house, leaving Steve by the car. The sitting room was filled with people when he walked in. Every one turned and looked at him sharply. His wife was in a corner, crying, and other neighbours stood around her, offering words of consolation.
“What is going on here?” Akpabio demanded, his words striking like thunder and jolting everyone.
“Akpabio.” It was Mazi Ibe. He stood to his feet and came to his side. “There is fire on the mountain.” he stated.
“What exactly is the problem?”
Mazi Ibe sighed. “Your daughter is pregnant.”
What?” Akpabio remarked, utterly taken aback, staggering backwards momentarily before collapsing in the chair behind him. “Evelyn is pregnant? How? She’s just twelve!” He turned his eyes around, searching for her, but she wasn’t there.
Mazi Ibe gave another sigh. “Your first son, Ikenna, had been sneaking around with the Danki boys, drinking and smoking with them without your knowledge–”
“What?” Akpabio said, his eyes wide open in astonishment. As he looked round at everybody, in wild disbelief, he wondered what exactly was going on.
Mazi Ibe pressed on. “Several nights ago, he and his sister snuck out to a party with the Danki boys. According to the both of them, they got high on drugs…and it happened there. Obviously, that wasn’t their first time, as they had repeatedly snuck out of the house on other occasions.”
Akpabio looked subdued and pained, like someone who had been struck with a heavy stone. He couldn’t believe his kids were using drugs and living recklessly
His wife burst into fresh tears, hearing Mazi Ibe speak about it again.
“So, where are they now?” Akpabio asked.
“Inside,” Mazi Ibe replied, nodding towards the stairs. “The girl tried to abort the pregnancy, but the nurse refused to help her and instead brought her straight home to report the issue to her parents.”
Akpabio’s heart sank as he saw the look in Mazi Ibe’s eyes. This was what he had been fighting for when he strived against the influence of the Danki boys in the streets. If the community had joined as one, when the boys started out, and put an end to their reckless lifestyle, maybe a lot of problems would have been solved.
“I always said that those boys were trouble,” Mazi Ibe said, somehow sensing Akpabio’s thoughts. “It all started with two of them who began drinking and abusing drugs openly in the streets, and then they gradually drew others into their fold, until it became the cult-like setting it is now. If we had cut their wings, at the very beginning, all this wouldn’t have happened. But if everyone chooses to turn a blind eye to the ills around them and do not contribute their quota to putting an end to them , one day they will come back to bite at them.”
Tears slowly streamed down Akpabio’s cheeks as he heard those words. With his connections, he could have brought an end to all these mischiefs, and even ensured that the boys went to rehabilitation, but he chose not to care since it didn’t affect him. But now it had come to bite him in the back.
Akpabio stood to his feet and headed for the children’s room, his heart ablaze with anger and heavy with sorrow.