Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nigerian Jesuit Fr.Uwem Akpan's New Story "Baptizing The Gun"

“Please, where can I get a mechanic?” I ask when he gives up on pushing.

“Lagos mechanics? Don’t trust any Lagosian. I’m a Lagosian. Once they see you’re a stranger, they’ll cheat you or dismember and sell your car piecemeal, no matter how old. Just listen to me.” He pushes the Beetle again. “O.K., let’s see your engine,” he says when we come to a junction. Fearfully, I open the hood. He bends down and disconnects a tube and hands it to me. “Suck this, man. The problem must be the fuel filter.”

Suck? I’ve never fixed anything in a car before. Back at my parish, I have a driver. “I think we should get a mechanic.”

“Damn it, man, you don’t need a fucking mechanic!”

He takes off his sunglasses to reveal small, angry eyes. I grab the tube. Petrol gushes into my throat, and I let go of the tube, coughing. I puke on the front of my blue-and-white buba shirt. The petrol soaks into my clothes, its cold sting reaching the zipper of my jeans. Ignoring my state, he bends down again to study the engine.

I see a pistol bulging in the right pocket of his trousers.

Why didn’t I wear my priestly habit? Why didn’t I borrow one of those church vehicles with “Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos” emblazoned on its sides?

I begin to plead with the Lagosian. “Please, I’m a Roman Catholic priest and . . .”

“So? You Nigerian clerics just want everything free! You flash your status at every chance.” When he talks, the two gold teeth burn in the night, as if he were chewing flames.

Link (here) to read the full story at The New Yorker

Photo of a Lagos street scene.


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