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02 Apr Written by  Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Famzing Cobhams

Bez was performing. Cobhams, his producer, was a footnote. The venue was the Amber Lounge at the Silverbird Entertainment Centre in Abuja. Bez’s debut ‘Super Sun’ would be on sale, the poster said, and the singer woild be present to sign copies before his performance.

I arrived in time for the signing and found the singer and a considerable queue on the ground floor. In the air were posh accents and expensive perfumes.

“I will do a review of your album,” I whispered in his ear as he scrawled his autograph.

“Well, I hope you like it,” he said with a toothy grin.

For a thousand bucks, roughly ten times the average price of a CD, I better like it, I thought.

In the club before the performance, where a bartender was tending and vending expensive drinks, a few colourfully clad young women sat nursing drinks and making inaudible conversations—the kind that appears more interesting because although you cannot hear the words, the facial expressions and gesticulations of the talking party speaks of something profusely mundane yet irresistible.

The actress Empress Njamah entered the room, leading the young women to murmur under their breaths. And then abruptly, one of them shouted ‘Timaya!’ and the others laughed. Din and distance ensured their subject was out of earshot. I turned smiling, amused, to look at them.

“I think he heard us,” one said.

They laughed again, this time subdued.

Cobhams walked in, led by a tall man who seemed too skinny to be a bodyguard. His entry provoked an applause from the audience. Now behind the piano, he played a few songs, including ‘Ordinary People’ which he would release as a single much later.

At this point I recalled I knew the song, having heard it played by a friend. In the manner of memories, this recollection brought another and in time I realised there was just one degree of separation between Cobhams and me. If the stories boys traded as undergrads could be believed, Cobhams and I had a mutual friend.

The hindrance to a prosperous relationship between me and the talented and brilliant and famous and wealthy and right-in-front-of-me producer was time. Cobhams was pals with Omoze back at King’s College; and Omoze was friends with me back in UniBen.

Now the problem was how to reconcile both these relationships so that I too may have a celebrity friend in my life. A time machine would do the job, and we could chum together in our secondary school uniforms, working on assignments and attending assembly where Cobhams was allegedly king of the choir. Or we could be in university, spending time between classes cracking jokes and composing one-liners.

He would teach me how to play the piano to the eternal adoration of female classmates; and I would explain to him the importance of Ernest Hemingway to American literature to the eternal consternation of girls. He’d improve my tenor and this will propel me to serenade Hall I and II, UniBen’s girls’ hostels; and I’d explain to him why he must never mix metaphors or split infinitives or allow anyone to leading him down the path of pedantry and ruin his chances of companionship.

Yes, it would not be an equally beneficial relationship.

As I didn’t have access to a time machine, I messaged Omoze, telling him his friend from before-before was before me. Would he like to send a message? Of course, I wasn’t so altruistic as to merely want to be conduit for a reconnection of a sorry loss of a great friendship.

My friend bit the bait, telling me what to tell the producer to rejig his memory. Apparently, Omoze went by a different name in secondary school, and that name unsaid will ruin any plan of familiarity. His name and other stories will be my password to celebrity. I only had to wait for Cobhams’ and then Bez’s performance to end.

In the meantime, I relaxed and listened to Bez sing. Cobhams moved to the drums and at some point had to improvise to fit a song Bez claimed his producer had not heard. With what I knew and the possibility of a grand friendship looming, Cobhams’ versatile showcase to me seemed an audition for my attention.

I enjoyed Bez’s performance. And his CD received a positive review, comparing it as I did to Wizkid’s debut ‘Super Star.’ Many queried the comparison, but it was justified, if not for anything else at least for the serendipitous constellational connection between albums named ‘Super Star’ and ‘Super Sun.’

Back at Amber Lounge, Bez finished his performance to stirring applause. Female fans flocked towards the man for pictures, praise, and who knows, propositions.

I remember that in an interview on TV, Bez made a distinction between the musician and the man. People are in love with the musician and it is better that way, he said, because the man may be a disappointment. So he withdraws so fans may not be chagrined to discover the man.

Well, the fans around him didn’t quite see the distinction, man or musician, the image in the picture is the same and recognisable and all of the friends absent can see that image and reflect on their loss. Thus Bez’s great, deep thoughts on the creation of an artistic mystic were just quality sound bites; in reality the girls didn’t mind. And he wasn’t particularly withdrawing either.

Last, last it was symbiosis.

I applauded the man. And then went on to Cobhams, whose tall companion had materialised again. I spoke to him, telling him I wanted to say something to Cobhams. He looked sympathetic when I mentioned Kings’ College—clearly he too had attended the school. There is something about school, especially secondary school, which holds onto its students and never lets go.

Perhaps it is the shared experience, perhaps it is a realisation that someone from the same school may know a youthful secret, and this forces a kind of friendship based on mutual silence. As neither party is keen on finding out what the other remembers, this leads to a politeness indifferent in symptom to amity.

In the middle of my speech to Cobhams, he smiled as if a particularly warm memory came to him.

“Victory!” I thought.

I finished my monologue. Yes, how is he? Cobhams implored.

“He’s OK,” I answered, “can I give you his number?”

“Yes give it to him,” he said, pointing at the tall companion.

The tall companion took the dictated numbers on his phone. I cannot recall exactly; he may have said, “we will call.”

Omoze and I are waiting for that call—it has been three years.

Dog