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Shallow Water


By Adewale Fasipe


Friday, December 25, 2020.



CHAPTER ONE

Two goblets clinked sharply before they separated and went with different hands. A bespectacled man brought one of them to his mouth and took a tot of the purple liquid it contained. His friend did the same almost simultaneously. They both smiled, smacking their lips before setting the glasses down beside a ceramic plate filled with peppered fried meat garnished with onions. A rectangular table stood between the two of them. They were not alone; there were many of such tables surrounded by men that wielded so much influence in the society. The tables were wrapped in colourful decorations and carried wine bottles of different brands, all beyond the reach of financial ground dwellers. Party waves rented the air with a ferocity that drove some to the dance floor. More invitees poured in from the gate and fanned out to occupy the seats spread across the expansive lawn gracing the front yard of the celebrant. The whole set up was a reflection of majestic splendour, even the peacocks kept at the back of the house saw a different sun in the sky.

 There were so many dignitaries in attendance except the baale of the town. There had been a discord between him and one of his chiefs over a land issue. Since then the two men refused to sheath their swords, not even the glorious birthday of the chief's daughter could calm the underlying hostility. A sudden burst of activity spurred attention towards the entrance door of the house. From there the celebrant emerged dressed in an elegant outfit. The man behind the microphone shattered into bits and pieces of rumbling introduction. A hat hung over a white gown with blue flower design stretched on a lengthwise stripe. The hat had a veil and beneath it her face was powered by brilliant scarlet streak lips. She wore a diamond necklace and carried a Louis Vuitton bag to match. Her husband walked alongside her graceful steps, their combined smiles packed in a million volts of electricity. Cameramen from television stations and magazines flooded them in synchronized flashes. Cheers sparked from friends and well-wishers. They waved in appreciation, weaving through tables and chairs to receive affectionate hugs and kisses. The two men seated by a corner were unmoved by the changing mood around them. They ate in silence and kept a face too serious for the occasion. No one noticed, the moving couple did not spare them any such regard. 

Another surge of bodies erupted. This time it was from the gate. A man in a breathtaking regalia arrived in the company of other men. Camera shutters clicked to catch irresistible shots. The tone coming from the live band changed. The couple had to surrender their shine temporarily. The bespectacled man by the table tapped his friend and with some kind of swift motion he pressed his phone against his ear.

"You may put the bread in the fridge," he said coolly, and without another word, paused before ending the call.

The celebrant sidestepped her husband to meet with the coming entourage. She went down on her knees before her obviously excited father. He held out his hands and assisted her to her feet.

"Ma binu Kanyinsola , I had some issues to attend to."

"Ah, ko to yen daddy, o ye mi."

"Alowo nle gori esin lo ja ewe elemimi, a ni o duro ko ja ewe elemimi, ani o bere ko pon omi owo rele onile obi."

"Daddy, e seun."

"Happy birthday. Emi a se opo e. O ni feyi se asemo."

"Ase," Kanyinsola , her husband and the visitors now blanketing them responded.

"Yiye ni ye eyele, riro ni ro adaba lorun. A ye e kale. Totun tosi ni eyele fi nkore wale, ayo o ni tan ile yin."

"Ase."

"Ota aye o ni bori e, odo aye o ni gbe e lo. Ina aye o ni jo e."

"Ase, daddy."

"Erin lomode rin koto je iyan ale, Erin labata n rin ko to ba odo lona. Rere loju owo ri. Aye a ma ye e si."

"Ase."

"Dede ni ro koko lagbala. Ayun lo ayun bo, ni owo nyun enu, atepe lese nte ona. Iwo ati oko e, e lo arayin gbo, e fi erigi je obi, e fi opa tele. Ogede ki gbe odo ko yagan,omo weere nle aladi. Omo rere ni olorun a fi ji nke yin."

"Ase."

“Wa bi okunrin abiro, obirin abiye.”

“Ase.”

Ile yin o nii tu, ona yin o ni daru, apa aye o ni ka yin. Once again, happy birthday."

"Thanks a whole lot daddy."

 An intense camaraderie exploded from all around. Camera lights flashed in quick succession. Father and daughter made their way through the teeming guests, shepherded by heavy guards. Attendants then started shuttling around with trays of food. Jollof rice, semo, eba, pounded yam, fufu, amala, porridge, moin moin, beans, wheat meal with goat meat, beef, chicken, fish were all available. The people were spoilt for choice. Anyone willing to push beyond his bound would likely end up in a wheelbarrow.

While men were gathered around a table eating and drinking, a guard walked briskly to the celebrant father's chair. Bending to waist level, he spoke into his ear. He rose up in the full compliment of jangling beads and fluffy agbada and with the guard in tow, left his friends amidst the loud noise of vibrating speakers. The place chief Gbadegesin Onagoruwa was taken was some distance from the house gate. Four men stood by a brown Sienna when the chief and his bodyguard arrived. After some brief exchanges, the guard gave them the sense of privacy needed in such a situation. It was a gentle talk, the type required of gentlemen. Though the guard was not within earshot, he was in the ken of what was being discussed. Not too long ago, chief Onagoruwa put out a mansion for sale. The arrangement and setting fitted the expectation of a business of such a magnitude yet he did not lower his guard. He never took his eyes off the group even as he watched proceedings with complete alertness. After a while, the men began to shift their positions. It happened slowly yet with some kind of calculated precision. 

The chief had two men by his sides while the one in front continued to engage him. Suddenly, he flashed what looked like a picture. The chief began to tremble. His reaction triggered an expected movement from his guard. That was when the fourth man broke into the guard's view. He reached into his tweed jacket and raised his hand with blinding speed. The guard saw the outstretched arm before he felt a sharp pain in his chest. He held unto it with bloodied hands even as he collapsed onto the ground. Then he heard a gunshot. 

Then another, rather faintly.

And the whole place went dark and silent.

Adewale Fasipe is a biology teacher. His passion for writing began about fourteen years ago during a build up to elections in Nigeria that led to the assassination of a prominent Lagos politician, Funsho Williams. That incident saw him write letters on political issues to Tell, a weekly magazine, which over time culminated in the publication of his first poem. And many other articles followed in different tabloids.

He co-authored “Knot Undone” with other writers with Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative, on mental illness in Nigeria. He has published a short story titled “Adetoun” with Okada Books. Shallow Water is his first novella.

Shallow Water is available on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Shallow-Water-Adewale-Fasipe-ebook/dp/B085GF8CP9


Shallow Water: An Excerpt from the novella by Adewale Fasipe

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