Thursday, December 11, 2014

Seafood Mélange

Bon Appetit
Photo: Shayera
Nonyem shuts the back door of the car, “Hey ladies.”

“Hey,” Chidera and Nkem reply simultaneously.

“Your perfume – is that Ange ou Démon?”  Chidera asks.

“Yes, it is. It’s my mom’s Christmas gift to me,” replies Nonyem.

“Nice. I love the fragrance. It’s one of my favorite.”

“Thanks.”

“I like it, too. So have we decided on where we should go for dinner?” asks Nkem as she reverses out of the gated compound.

“I’m craving some seafood. Should we do Ocean Basket?” suggests Nonyem.

“OK,” Chidera accedes.

“I hope there won’t be a crowd there,” says Nkem.

“Well, if there is a crowd we could try Yellow Chili or ---,” Chidera volunteers.

Nkem abruptly slams on her brakes in a bid to avoid ramming into the SUV ahead of her.

Shit! Stupid idiot didn’t even trafficate!” hollers Nkem. “If I had hit him now, he would have acted like it wasn’t his fault.”

“Don’t mind all these drivers who buy their licenses,” Chidera says. “I was at a round-about the other day when some guy almost hit my car trying to force his way in. And when I gestured my annoyance, he yelled ‘stranger’ at me. I don’t know if he meant it as an insult or if he was saying I should know as a Nigerian that basic traffic rules don’t apply here.”

Nonyem and Nkem burst out laughing.

“I think he meant it as an insult,” Nonyem says. “It’s only in Nigeria that turning on your hazard lights at an intersection means you’re driving straight on.”

“I know, right? It’s so silly. Some of these drivers aren’t cognizant of traffic rules and delude themselves into thinking they’re driving, when all they’re really doing is moving the car from point A to B,” Nkem says drily to the amusement of her friends.

Nkem changes the radio station and starts humming to John Legend’s All of Me. “Which reminds me, Dera, you didn’t finish that story about the wedding you attended last weekend.”

“Oh, the wedding was nothing to write home about. It was rowdy and full of politicians, considering it was the governor’s daughter that was getting hitched. There were a lot of protocols observed, and an unending stream of speeches made from anyone who deemed himself important. Let’s just say I’ll never attend such a high-profile wedding again – not even if the groom is my brother.”

“Isn’t it funny that all of the governor’s kids got married during his tenure?” It’s like they planned it so ‘daddy’ could throw them big weddings on the State’s account,” mocks Nonyem.

“I think what’s funny is that they all got married to the offsprings of politicians. If I’m not mistaken, his first two daughters married the sons of the governors of Enugu and Bayelsa state. His son and the last girl are married to senators’ children. This is what I call modern-day-arranged-marriages,” says Chidera.

“It amuses me that the political class thinks they’re building a political dynasty or solidifying their grip on power with these marriages, but they’re not - just ask the European monarchies how far they went with their political schemes. Sooner or later, the public is going to wake up from their slumber and demand their rights, then all these politicians ---,” Nonyem says.

“Easy,” Nonyem interjects gently as Nkem drives into a pothole.

Mtchew. I didn’t see that one. When will we be free of these potholes?” Nkem laments darkly.

“Hmm, you guys have it good in Lag o. You should see Port-Harcourt. It’s a mess, yet they keep saying the governor is trying. I say, how is he trying?” Chidera protests in a tone of displeasure. “He started his tenure by putting up pillars for a monorail, yet the roads are riddled with potholes every 0.5 meters. Now the monorail pillars stand tall and proud as a reminder of the wastefulness and ridiculousity of his administration.”

“Misplaced priorities,” concludes Nkem.

“Sounds like a vanity project,” Nonyem says.

“Yes, it would have been a vanity project if he’d completed it, but he didn’t. This is just sheer profligacy,” hisses Chidera. “And how was he even planning to run it without constant power supply?”

“Well, you know this country is in dire need of people who can put the horse before the cart,” quips Nkem before winding down her window to speak to a security man.

“Is there space there?”

“Yes, Ma,” replies the security man, who then proceeds to guide Nkem into a parking space.

“Should we sit upstairs?” Nonyem asks.

Chidera and Nkem nod in agreement.

Now seated, a toothy waiter appears and swiftly takes their order.

“What do you guys think of the protests in New York over the death of Eric Garner?” Chidera asks.

“I hope they can sustain it peacefully because justice wasn’t served. Did you see the video of the cop choking him to death? It looked like a snuff film,” Nonyem says, shaking her head. “Even talking about it sends a chill down my spine. People say cops should wear cameras and whatnot, but here’s an instance where there’s video evidence, and yet the grand jury decided it wasn’t enough to bring the case to trial.”

“I haven’t seen the video yet, but I hear the guy said, ‘I can’t breathe, 11 times, so why didn’t the cop release his grip? I understand the man had an imposing figure, however there could have been other ways to immobilize without asphyxiating him,” argues Nkem.

“And to think that he was just selling loose cigarettes,” Chidera ponders aloud. “In my opinion, the policeman should have simply given him a warning without any physical confrontation.”

“Yes,” agrees Nonyem. “It’s a pity it ended the way it did. I read homicide cases involving the police rarely go to trial, because prosecutors work closely with the police department and so are reluctant to try cops. In other words, prosecutors are on the horns of a dilemma - they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.”

“Then maybe such cases should be tried outside the area where they occurred. That way, the prosecutor isn’t beholden to the police department since its area of operation would be outside the prosecutor’s district,” suggests Nkem.

“Yeah, critics have suggested that as well as making the grand jury process transparent,” says Chidera, looking up at the waiter who was now setting a large platter on the table.

“Yummy!” Nonyem exclaims excitedly, rubbing her palms with glee.

“Bon appétit.”

“Thank you,” the trio choruses in reply before digging into their Christmas meal.