My name is Anwuruoku (The Smoke) but my friends call me Smokey. No, I don’t smoke, but I do beer. 

It’s nice to meet you, too.

Anyways, I recently changed apartments. I did quietly—well, because I was broke and owned only a mini fridge and generator. Beer tastes best when it’s below four degrees Celsius. You understand. Fortunately, my new neighbours are lovers of beer, too. Initially, they had feared to relate with me because of my appearance—I’m short and stout, with a demeanour that seems to say “I enjoy hurting people”. But when I introduced myself as a nurse in a private hospital and told them my hobby was simply drinking cold beer, they laughed and nicknamed me Small Stout.

“Small Stout, how the operation go be na?” 

What would follow this salutation of ours was beers changing hands like Nigerian politicians changing people’s destiny with brown envelopes. My ex hated that I drink, because the receipts of my obsession are easily visible in my potbelly even when I complain to her that I’m broke. I swear, I had resolved one time to quit drinking. But when I let my neighbours in on my new resolution, one of them simply swiped his phone and showed me a throwback picture of Ngozi, the fine, robust and happy girl that supplies us beer along the street. Amadioha!—the girl in the picture smiling wryly, inside a shabby, scantily-stocked makeover shop, looked like a resurrected ancestral creature that didn’t rest in peace. 

“I advised her to sell beer alongside those sweet things she sells that do not make a man rise to the occasion in the other room. At first she was reluctant out of fear of persecution from her church. But I admonished her to fear only our Master, who turned water to wine, that He can work her own miracle too if only she believed. See now, Ngozi’s faith has made her whole. My friend, we are doing God’s work here!” my neighbour retorted. Brethren, I still brush with toothpaste and cold beer every day.

Maybe it was demons that spoke through my neighbour that day, but I’m grateful to have these people as my co-tenants. The happy sounds of our laughter take away my sorrows and pain. Nwanne, our operation dey give me joy! Like, when my ex dumped me, they threw me a party. Everywhere, beer! The noise jarring from our DJ’s equipment prompted a neighbour in the next compound into ours to ask whose wife had put to bed. My neighbours replied I wasn’t due yet, pointing to my potbelly, that we were just having a baby shower. Such good memories… Unlike my former compound with no joy. Even Mama Joy no get joy; she emptied a sachet of salt inside my smoking generator’s tank while the engine was running. My crime was I simply wanted my beer stock below 4 degree Celsius throughout the night. 

They think they’re doing me…

This article was written by Obinna Ejide; connect with him on Instagram via here  

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