Right, so I couldn’t sleep beyond 2AM today. I need something for this my Insomnia. To pass the time, I wrote this. Should post the Write Right top 5 in a few hours, when I get to the more reliable internet in the office. Enjoy a day at Baba Risi’s Court.
NB (The series I was thinking of when I wrote this is the image I used. I bet some people have memories. Let’s see who guesses the name of that series 1st)
Court! Order! The clerk shouted, banging his hand on the well worn exercise book on the table. Only, this clerk was not wearing a suit, he was wearing a colorful Ankara outfit with a sideways matching cap. The room was a medium sized one, with plastic chairs arranged neatly in two sets of four columns, leaving an aisle in the middle. The clerk sat on small wooden chair behind the desk he was banging in the space in front of the room. In the center of the front, an elevated, padded chair was behind a desk not unlike the clerk’s own, but much bigger. This was Baba Risi’s courtroom.
See, in this area, we don’t take our disputes to the police or the courts. That’s too long and clumsy, and we really don’t understand all the grammars those people speak. Baba Risi is the chairman of the boys in the area and his court is where we settle everything. Matters are decided promptly, we understand what is being said and God help you if you disobey the judgments. Awon boys will deal with you ruthlessly. So we trust Baba Risi to deliver and he has been doing that for twenty years in our community now.
Back to the present. A sizeable crowd had shifted into the courtroom and they quietened as the clerk’s voice rang above their din. Baba Risi entered from the back of the room. He was a big, stoutly built man, with a belly that pushed anything he wore inches forward. He wore a flowing white kaftan everytime and he seemed to have an endless supply of those. Presently, he took his seat at the head of the room and signaled the clerk to begin. When all were seated and quiet, he read the first case for the day “Today, na Papa Caro and him landlord. Matter we wan start with” Papa Caro was an ex railway worker who lived in Mr. Atkin’s face me I face you apartment. The government had just paid some of their outstanding pension arrears and he had gone ahead to launch a new small generator and a motor cycle. The clerk continued “Papa Caro don buy ‘I better pass my neighbor’. He wan dey on am from night till morning, but him Mr. Atkins say make him dey off am for 11 O’ clock.” Baba Risi spoke to a skinny man in front row “Oya, Mr. Atkins, come and say your own inside this matter.”
Mr. Atkins stood up and cleared his throat and spoke in a voice that was so loud that it seemed to come from outside his body “Papa Caro has been in my house for ten years now and many times, he will owe rent, plenty, but as I am a good person, I understood with him. Now small money entered his hand and we will not hear word again. The rest of us won’t sleep again because of this. Maybe God has seen that he will misbehave if he has money, that’s why he has not blessed him with anything like he has blessed some of us.” “See jealousy oooo”, someone from the crowd shouted. “Order!” the clerk banged his hand on his book. Baba Risi pointed at Mr. Atkins “Oga, wetin you get wey you dey talk blessing. See this fowl wey wan dey do like eagle o. Na face me I face you house you build wey you dey make noise”? Laughter rang out from the crowd. “Oya, finish your story, we don’t have all day”. Mr. Atkins shot him a look and continued “Now he disturbs us with his I better pass my neighbor all night and we cannot sleep. I didn’t say he shouldn’t use his generator, but not all night for God’s sake”. There were murmurs in the crowd. He took his seat. Baba Risi turned slightly in his chair and signaled the clerk. The clerk announced “Make we hear Papa Caro”. Shouts of “warrior! Warrior!” rent the air as Papa Caro stood up. He waved his hand like some politician for his supporters to calm down and they obliged him. “We all know what the real wahala here is,” he started. “As levels don change now, and I am the I am God has started blessing me, landlord is jealous of the progress. Abi, how I go get Gen and I no go fit use am for night for inside this Lagos heat?” Mr. Atkins interrupted “Don’t worry, that your pension will soon finish and you won’t be able to buy petrol for that your generator again.” Shouts of “bad belle”, rent the air. “Take two thousand naira from Mr. Atkins for disorderly behavior” Baba Risi ordered. Immediately, two hefty rough looking men went to Mr. Atkin’s side to enforce the order. When that business was done, Papa Caro took a bow and continued “thank you my lord.” Laughter reeled out of the audience. “As a generous man, I have even offered to connect my gen to the landlord’s room so that they can use fan at night too. But he didn’t agree o.” The crowd murmured again and “o ga o” could be heard here and there. “Order!” the clerk hollered again.
Baba Risi geared up to give his judgment. “This is a clear case of bad belle. Abi how will somebody say a man not enjoy the fruit of his labor?” He paused to let the crowd respond. “I wonder o” rent the air. He continued “This is my judgment. In the case of Mr. Atkins against Papa Caro over the use of I better pass my neighbor at night, Papa Caro can use his generator at night as long as he likes. If Mr. Atkins cannot sleep, it must be bad belle plus the mosquitoes and heat. He should look for small money out of those his blessings and buy his own and see if using gen is disturbance.”
Shouts of warrior, warrior rented the air as the victorious Papa Caro left the front to give room for the next case.