For those who have been eagerly anticipating it, Eghosa Imasuen’s new, groundbreaking novel, Fine Boys, is now out in print and available in stores near you. Fine Boys tells the story of Ewaen and his friends as they navigate the treacherous waters of the Nigerian university system, even as the country spirals into political unrest. A honest, heartfelt book, Fine Boys is a must-read.
Fine Boys is available in stores near you, so please grab a copy for yourself, and another for a loved one. Meanwhile, enjoy this excerpt from the book.
Tambo appeared at my side and said, unnecessarily loudly, “Ewaen, abeg come give me cigar.”
I was about to reply him in an equally loud voice that I had just given him a cigarette when I felt him pinch me. I looked at his eyes.
“Escort me outside. Pretend like say we dey go buy cigar. Quick, follow me, follow me.”
Tambo walked ahead. The music had changed again; now it was blues time, “Walk On By,” the Sinead O’Connor version, played. As I walked out the door, I looked at Willy. My friend shouted a tipsy greeting to me. The three guys that stood in the circle with Wilhelm all turned. I remember that scene like a polaroid. Willy, with his fair face and light hair changing colours with the stream from the wrapped-up light bulbs, his glasses a shade of pink, then blue, then purple; friend-from-quarters standing there filmy-eyed, his arm around the last girl in the party; Tommy, still looking like a thief, only his eyes had a hungrier look in them that night; and Lorenchi, still play-play, his seeming harmlessness now scary.
Tambo hurried along the driveway. I struggled to keep up, asking, “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?”
He stopped when we reached the street, the one that led to Ekosodin gate. We stood in an island of darkness under an unlit streetlight, away from the glow of the other too-far-apart dull streetlights.
“Ewaen, na injun’s groove be that.”
“Confra party. Ewaen, that was a mafia recruitment party.”
He had started moving again but stopped when he saw that I wasn’t following him. I turned back. Tambo dragged my arm. He spoke, “Where you dey go? Ewaen, I put myself on the line to get you out of that place. Where you dey go?”
“Wilhelm. Wilhelm dey inside. We have to go and get him.”
“No we do not. About you, I am sure. But Willy. You said Willy invited you. He might know what the party is about.”
“No, he doesn’t,” I said. “Na my friend. I no fit leave am, Tambo.”
“Ewaen, if you go back you no go fit leave.”
“Why?” My chest ached. My throat felt as if a heavy chunk of yam was stuck in it. Everything was happening too fast. Everything was becoming too clear, too quickly. A confra party. A fucking confra party? Oh God. Fucking Willy. Stupid fucking Willy.
“Did you notice the fence between the BQ and Ekosodin?” Tambo asked me, his grip on my right arm strong, vice-like. “It’s wire mesh; it is broken. They go soon close the party, and everybody go pass there enter bush for the initiation. If you are there when that happens, it means you want to blend.”
“But time still dey, Tambo. Let me go and call Willy. Willy doesn’t know it is a confra groove. Let me go and call him.”
“Ewaen, what can I say to make you understand? See, I owe you; you give me room sleep when we first enter school. I know say you no wan join injuns. That na why I dey do this thing wey fit put me for trouble.”
“I hear you, Tambo,” I said. “But Willy. Let me just go and call him. Let me go and ask him for cigar, just like you did with me.”
Tambo shook his head, not briskly, not sadly, somewhere in between.
“You believe I didn’t think of that? Did you see the guy that Tommy and Lorenchi were gisting with? The guy that Willy was standing with? The one with the fine girl?”
“That is the neighbour who invited Willy.”
“See, it is worse than I thought. That na Frank, TJ’s second in command, our capo-regime. Guy, you get to go now. I promise I go try take Willy comot for that place.”
Oh God, oh God, oh God.
Oliver Tambo led me along. I stumbled on a loose piece of gravel by the roadside. He told me that he had come to Ekosodin after seeing me at the party, before calling me out with his ruse that he wanted to buy cigarettes, that he had a bike waiting for me, that he had already paid the fare to hostel, that he would see me later. And yes, that he would try to get Willy out, but, but, but he couldn’t promise anything.
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