What I saw at the mechanic workshop by Peju Akande

What I saw at the mechanic workshop by Peju Akande

 A mechanic workshop is not the best place for a lady; it stinks, it’s full of grime and dirt that will never leave your clothing and worse of all, it’s full of very crass men with names like Waidi, Mukaila, Isiaka, Monsuru and so on.

But if you own a car in Lagos or anywhere for that matter, you will have to go see a mechanic or have one come meet you at some point.


So the day finally came, when I had to visit my mechanic’s workshop for the first time. Ah, his name is Gafar. That’s one other name I didn’t include in the list of mechanic names.

Now, Gafar has been my mechanic for some 4 years now. I belong to a circle of 5 friends that use him regularly. He calls us, ‘hunkle’ and ‘hanty’.  He is in his late twenties, I think. Well built, probably from pumping iron; sports a goatee, stands at 5’’9-or 10 and as is typical of kids his age, likes to show his lean torso. I’ve had to send him out of my office twice for appearing half-naked.

As is common to many mechanics, Gafar lies unashamedly and he loves to swear by yasin, or aje, gods that mechanics fear, I supposeGafar would boldly touch the tip of his tongue with his index finger and point heaven wards as proof of his innocence whenever we catch him in a lie.

These days, Gafar is on Whatsapps and has become a nuisance. I get messages like:

Gafar: Helo ma

Me: Gafar, how’s work?

Gafar: Fine….ma. How far ma

Me: What do you mean? As per the car? Oh, yes, we are good.

Garfar: **smiley*(I’ve confused him and he would rather use a smiley than find words to reply)

Our conversations are jerky except I decide to call or communicate in Yoruba, if I’m in a chatty mood, then he begins to flow. He told me the other day he would soon join Facebook. How would you chat, I asked him. He laughed and replied, “Hanty, e fi yen le

At Gafar’s shop, I met a number of greasy, coarse, stinking-from-sweat-and-grime men of similar trade. The mechanic workshop isn’t exactly a place for a lady, I thought as my suede heels sank into the oil soaked ground . But I was in no mood to be choosy, so I gladly perched on the bench provided for me while urging the AC guy to hurry up as I had a client to catch.

My presence made the men uneasy; one got up from the bench and kicked awake his snoring colleague, telling him a lady has come into the workshop. He woke up with unusually red eyes and drool at the side of his mouth. I nodded at him as he hurriedly brushed it off and cursed his colleagues for not waking him up much earlier.

Words like; back axle, bonnet, spanner, steeringboris, number 13, compressor and many of such that I have heard Gafar mention over the years were flying around as the men busied themselves over several cars with open bonnets.

The men didn’t work for long. They were soon interrupted when the gate swung open and a female voice called out: ‘Ati de, o’– (We are here)

As if on cue, the men abandoned the vehicles they were tinkering with. I looked up just in time to catch the object of their excitement. Even Gafar took a break from my car causing me to crane my neck to see what was causing all the excitement. When I saw the girls that made these men abandon their daily bread, even if briefly, me sef bow.

Young and nubile were words that popped up.  They were both dressed in matching leopard print leggings that hugged their wide hips and ample backsides in a tight grip. Every step they took reported on their coastee clad breasts. It was clear that they had come to sell more than the wares perched delicately on their heads.

One sold adoyo as I was informed. Her adoyo is sold from a transparent bucket

The bucket had a number of items- sliced pineapple, whole sized grape fruits, oranges and some leaves that had turned brown from over cooking and some sticks I felt were herbal.

The thick yellow liquid brewed after hours of boiling is now measured in a cup and poured in a nylon for sale.

‘What’s this?’ I had to ask.

‘It’s good medicine, agbo gidi, for the body,” Gafar informed me as he pounded on his chest to signify how strong the concoction made him.

I watched as the others got their shots of adoyo in a small nylon bag then sucked hard at it while looking at the girl selling it with knowing eyes.

The other girl sold agege bread; her bread was displayed in a circle on a wooden tray and covered with a see through nylon wrap with what an assortment of empty plastic containers of blue band margarine.

The Bible is on point when it says “There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand… the way of a man with a maid.…”

I smiled at the sight of the happy men as they milled around both girls like puppies wagging furious tails as if about to be fed. None of them touched the girls, at least not while I watched with my amebo eyes. No, instead they gawked. They adjusted their trousers when the girls bent down to lower their trays. They shifted their gazes when adoyo girl lifted her transparent tee-shirt to put money in the pouch around her waist.  One or two of them asked her why she didn’t pick their calls the previous night. She mumbled something about the network.

Agege bread girl was clearly the bolder of the two. I saw her engage Mukaila or was it Waidi abi na Isiaka in a short race to the back of the building.

He appeared to have snatched something from her and she chased after him, calling in a trilling voice: ‘Give me my thing, o.”

‘Come and take it,’ he answered and as they both disappeared behind the building, I smiled the smile of the elder who knows the secret of ”dividing meat with teeth.”

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About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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  1. Folabi

    Very interesting piece. Reminds me of my days with my first car. I almost became a “permanent staff” at my mechanic’s place.


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