Fine Boys (Part 1) (Preview)
A Novel by
A Novel by
January 1993 – March 1994
I remember something my father told me after I went with him on a visit to one oyibo oil executive. I was thirteen, in class three; I wore my Federal Government College Warri white-and-white and had been impressed by the white man’s office. He was Canadian, I think, and he had a pot-belly that jiggled every time he laughed. The office had that smell of air- conditioned Big Men, like chocolate and tobacco, like cheap cigars. Not cigarettes, cheap big cigars that go out on their own if you do not puff on them. I told my father when we had left that the oyibo man’s office smelled of money. Daddy had already put the 505 in reverse. He stopped the car, shifted to neutral and looked at me.
“Ewaen. Money doesn’t smell like that. Money fucking smells like smelly fucking armpits, balls and shit. You understand? Armpits, balls and shit. The rest is all fucking show.” My father said ‘fuck’ a lot. He could use the f-word five times in a fifteen-word sentence—the twins and I had counted. “You have to understand, Ewaen. You do not make money by standing around in clean suits making yanga. You must get dirty, and smelly. And on Friday, when your fucking payslip is ready, you can fucking have a bath, splash on some Old Spice and then smell good. But be under no illusions, Sonny. Money doesn’t smell good when it’s being made, when it’s really being made.”
He had a point. I had smelled crude oil, and it was like shit, like armpits, balls and shit. I do not know why I remember this, here at the start of this story of youth and lost innocence. What did I learn that day? That beneath façades was always the smell of dirt? That real life was not clean, not antiseptic? My father always had funny things to say; funny, rude things.