Jesus’ Yard is the name of the compound where my favourite aunty, Nkiru, lived with her family in Jos. During my last visit, I had a most memorable experience. This was my best part.
I was in the sitting room that afternoon, distributing to our neighbours the goodies I bought for them. Suddenly, we heard the most depressing ululation coming from the courtyard. I was startled, but someone casually asked,
“Have they started again?”
“Let’s go and watch the film.”
We all filed into the courtyard and gathered on the cemented passageway. Other people in the yard had come out as well. A man was beating his girlfriend in the courtyard. The residents merely stared and, sometimes, even cheered. I wanted to go and help, but Aunty Nkiru held my hand tight and dragged me back.
I protested aloud, “Aunty, he will kill her.”
“Let him kill her.”
Someone shouted, “Isimbe! Isimbe! Drag his penis and he will surrender!”
I drew nearer to my aunty. “Who is Isimbe?”
“The girl they are beating. Didn’t I tell you her name yesterday? Don’t distract me oh.”
I would have remembered such a name if she had told me. Isimbe. It must be a nickname for no parent would call their child ‘tortoise head’. Isimbe’s scream made me pay attention again. Her boyfriend had given her another thunderous slap.
“He will kill her! Please, someone, help!”
“Are you not someone?” someone snapped at me. “Go and help now!”
I took her challenge and went to help. I was a black belt holder in taekwondo; there’s no way that guy would defeat me. I ran to the courtyard, before Aunty Nkiru could hold me back, and slapped the man on his shoulders. He turned, charging like an angry lion.
“Only weak men beat women,” I said, arms and body readied for a fight, pendulum-stepping like a boxer. I beckoned to him with one finger. “Come and get your ass kicked.”
The compound fell as silent as a mortuary.
“Mama A-boy, they will kill that girl oh,” the woman beside Aunty Nkiru whispered to her. My aunty did not shake. After all, she warned me, didn’t she? The man turned back to Isimbe and gave her another deafening slap which sent her crumbling to the ground. He faced me. He threw the first punch at me but missed. He also missed two other punches. I punched him twice on his cheeks, four times on his stomach, and then I span and landed a kick on his neck. He dropped on the ground like a felled tree. Everyone held their mouths as if they were afraid to even exhale. I stepped back from the cretin. A befitting name for him would have been “bastard” or “whoreson”, but I needed to use an insult that these local denizens could grasp. So I settled for the name of the dictator who was much disliked in Jesus’ Yard. I said, audibly, “Abacha!”
The quiet compound erupted in cheers. “Bruce Lee!” they clapped.
“He is not even a man,” they mocked. “It is only a tortoise that he can beat!”
I was still basking in my victory when I felt pounding on my back. I turned and beheld Isimbe hitting me.
“Did I beg you? You want to kill him?”
She had the temerity to even touch me and talk. I felt disgusted. I aimed for her neck and landed her a dirty slap. My five fingers impressed upon her neck like they would on a foggy mirror. She fell on Cretin. “Ụvụrụazụ,” I spat.
Everyone cheered even louder. Some went to Aunty Nkiru, who could no longer maintain an uninterested look, hugging and shaking her in congratulations.
I gave the man a hand, frowning, daring him to try anything funny. But he did not.
“Peace, bro. I come in peace,” I raised my hands in surrender and dusted them. “But you see this girl,” I pointed at Isimbe on the ground, “knock the living daylight out of her. Keep knocking her until her empty head enters her neck!”
The compound denizens hailed me. “Lee-Lee! Leeleeian! Chan!”
The man helped Isimbe up. They limped to their room, and bolted the door. Everyone tiptoed to their door to listen. I wondered what was happening. Deep lines appeared on Aunty Nkiru’s forehead. Soon, I heard Isimbe screaming! “Harder! Harder, Emeka! Aaaah! Aaaah! I dey cum! Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Akwa orgazim lee!”
I suddenly understood the anger on Aunty Nkiru’s face. How could Isimbe be screaming like that in a compound where children lived for goodness sake!
I left Jesus’ Yard after a most memorable one week. I knew that I would visit them again. I waved goodbye to my new friends including those who had renamed me from “Americana” to “Chinana” and the one I had renamed from “Tortoise head” to “Fish brain”. That became her new nickname: Ụvụrụazụ, fish brain.
Kasịmma is based in Abuja. She was one of the participants of the 2019 Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop organized by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; the 2019 Lines and Spaces Tour Creative Writing Workshop organized by the University of Iowa; and the 2018 Short Stories Day Africa Flow Workshop. She has been a writer-in-residence at Faber Residency, Olot, (Spain); Thread Residency, Sinthian (Senegal), Ebedi Residency, Iseyin (Nigeria); Wole Soyinka Foundation Residency, Abeokuta (Nigeria). She was also an attendee of Study Abroad in Lebanon exchange program (Lebanon). She is currently a freelancer while seeking traditional publishing.
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