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Amen Junction – Funke Egbemode

Yes, Amen Junction. The last bus stop. The day of judgement. The evening of life, what Yoruba call ‘ojo ale’. The point of no return. The season of harvest. Whatever you call it, however you see it, every relationship is headed in the direction of the end game, where we all reap what we have sown in our youthful years, when our barns will be waiting for us, full or empty.

Let me quickly confess that the phrase or term is not original to me. I got it from Your View, the lively morning show on TVC with Morayo and the ‘gang’ I don’t know if you are like me but I find all that talk about politics, polity and policies depressing sometimes. So, on some days, I just wait for all the morning shows to be done with newspaper reviews, discussions about fuel subsidy and electricity tariff and I look for something less high-blood-pressure inducing. Morayo and her team help me with a morning smile to go with my second mug of tea. Am I advertising them? No, maybe, but you should try them sometime, on weekdays. It’s not every time you want to start your day with the same news you went to bed with. You’ll just be permanently pregnant with sadness.

Anyway, that morning, Morayo and the ‘girls’ (and that includes elegant Yeni Kuti, sisi for life) were expressing their views on celebrities who are littering the world with evidence of their reckless promiscuity. Of course, a particular musician was the peg of the discussion. They said Amen Junction is that place where judgement will be waiting for men who squander their goodwill with their wives and children in their youth. Wow, it gave me pause. Indeed, I paused the programme, shook my head, set my mug down and wrote the new-found term and concept in my memory notebook.

No matter how long a prayer lasts, it must end in Amen. Whether it is a gentle supplication or a fall-and-die decree, amen is the last bus stop. And in every life, every relationship, marriage, there is an amen junction waiting for all of us, where the fruits of our ‘labour’ would be handed to us in baskets and barrels.

So, my people, let’s be careful what we do today because of tomorrow because there is a day called tomorrow.

Today’s fine boys and men-about-town will soon become legends, ageing stars, retired by new stars and age. Just take a look around you and down memory lane. The yuppies of the movie and music scene of the 90s, where are they today? I won’t mention names but we know that parties, concerts, movies were not listed in the A-grade unless some of those stars were there. And then slowly, steadily, the new stars arrived and outshone them. Even the celebrities at the beginning of this century are not so celebrated now. Think of the football stars that ruled the world, especially the Nigerian sports space 30 years ago. Go and check the millionaires of the 60s and 70s who mismanaged their homes, marriages just because they had money and their words were law. How much of their legacies are left? What did they find at their amen junctions?

When you acquire women like signet rings.

When you impregnate women as if you are in a race to put your stamp on more women and make more babies than King Solomon in the bible.

When you dip your pen in every available ink pot.

When your horse eats the grass under it.

When you eat both the chicken and the pigeon.

You are liable to end up badly, alone at your amen junction.

Chief Phillip is known as ‘Daddy Landlord’ by everybody in the neighbourhood. He’s in his 70s now. His wife, or the woman who lives with him is in his early 40s but we’ll come to her shortly. According to those who knew, Daddy Landlord came into money and success early in life. By the time he was 35, he had built his first house, and was living in a palatial residence as a General Manager of a subsidiary of a well-known conglomerate that has since left Nigeria. He had cooks, drivers, gardeners. He travelled a lot but never with his wife who must have thought her husband’s success was for her too and so had five children in quick succession. Poor woman, she soon found out that her husband had other plans. Madam must stay home and care for the children while he played the field. And he played, very roughly too. He had a retinue of girlfriends. A few of them even attempted to unseat Madam but Daddy Landlord kept them in their apartments outside. Three of his side-chicks had children for him. Of course, they all soon realised that once ‘your breasts fell’, Daddy moved on to firmer, fuller things. Though he paid all his children’s school fees, loneliness was the theme of the lives of the women who had children for him. When the ones who were outside found out they were neither wives nor concubines, they counted their teeth with their tongues and found men who would marry them.

The years passed. The children grew and made their own way. Madam, after decades of suffering and smiling moved abroad and at 69, retired and tired, Daddy Landlord found that he was alone, lonely, eating fast food and playing draught and ludo with his gateman. That was when he married the younger woman in his house. But that one partied every weekend, came home late  every day. She actually wasn’t the companion Daddy Landlord had hoped for. The shit hit the fan the day the old man found out that his beautiful wife had a side guy who was filling in for Baba’s inadequacies behind closed doors. Do you see the irony? Uncle Phillip who made side-chicks of many men’s girlfriends is now married to a woman who is a side-chick to a younger man. Don’t laugh. Just shake your head.

Lesson of the story: Daddy Landlord frittered away the goodwill he should have invested and frontloaded for an easier old age. He spent his time, energy and money on women who had alternatives. He thought his children would remain children. He thought his wife had no choice, no alternative. He thought his word would always be law. Yes he gained many children but he could also have gained HIV, syphilis or even ‘magun’. I guess he was still thinking he’s a sex champion, hence the young wife whose needs he could not meet. Now, former champion, ex-G.M, ex-big boy is now at Amen Junction where he he’s answering for all his sins, misspent youth. It is time for him to study and understand what the word loneliness truly means.

Guys, have you learnt anything because you have a penchant for not learning. You always think your own will be different, that you have a handle on your life and nothing can get out of hands. Keep telling yourself that lie if it’s what gets you to sleep at night but the truth is you can’t escape the fruits of your labour. Once they are ripe, you will eat them, by fire by force. You are allowed to squeeze your face as hard as I squeeze mine each year as I try to convince myself I can enjoy ‘agbalumo’ like other people. Then, don’t forget that you may not be as lucky as Daddy Landlord. Imagine a 75-year-old man in a wheel chair, hypertensive and diabetic with an absent wife at Amen Junction. Imagine a former fine-boy-no-pimples half blind with glaucoma with children who blame him, their father, for their mother’s untimely death at Amen Junction.

There are also women who mismanage their youth and opportunities but there is no space today.

The lesson for all of us? There is a day called tomorrow.

Intimate Affairs is a weekly column by Funke Egbemode published by sunnewsonline.com


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