Good evening, everyone…
I’ve totally lost my mind. I don’t think I can heal from this pain. I can’t comprehend why I should be feeling it in the first place. I feel betrayed, broken and lost. I don’t know who I am or where to begin my life from.
The question that keeps hounding me is who is Nididiamaka Onuora? Who am I?
I haven’t eaten since that dumb Oba broke the news to me yesterday. I haven’t come out of my room either. He left the house after I kicked him out of the room the moment he told me he was crazy about me. I was hoping he wouldn’t return but the stupid boy came back and has been bugging me ever since. He thinks he can switch from being my younger brother to my boyfriend. Such an idiot. No wonder his friends call him Nasty. His mind is always foul.
“Didi, Jide is on his way,” he says to me above the sound of music coming from the living room. He is denied access to my bedroom and so he has decided to be a nuisance in the living room, playing loud music just to get on nerves. In-between, he comes to the door to beg for forgiveness or express more of his juvenile love to me, just to worsen my state of mind.
“Since you’ve refused to listen to me, I know you’ll listen to Jide. Popsi has been calling my phone and I’ve refused to answer because I know I’m dead already. But that meeting, I must go for it and defend what I did. Lying to you was fucked up. We shouldn’t have done that.”
I want to tell him that the only reason he told me the truth was because he was selfish but my tongue still feels too heavy to say anything. I am so mad at my mom. I wish she would wake up from her grave and tell me why she lied to me. I want to also know who my real dad is. Where is he? Why did he abandon me?
The tears are tired of flowing. I’m tired too. The bath I just had hasn’t done anything to make me feel better. The last thing on my mind is that family meeting. I don’t want to be lied to some more.
But God! I’m hungry! Food is not something I can do without. Usually, I keep a stash of chocolates and biscuits on my nightstand but it seems either Ehi or my other colleague in the next room finished what was left. Now I have to leave my safe zone to go out to the kitchen and find something to eat. And that silly Nasty is there.
How do I say this? He is the last person I want to see. But hunger drives me to the door. So I walk to it, open it and step out.
But Nasty is in my face, standing too close for comfort. And before I can say anything or move, he wraps his arms around me. I try to push away but he holds me tighter.
“You need this, Di,” he says. “Don’t fight me, baby. You need this. Just let it go.”
I want to slap him. I really, really want to slap him but Oba and his stress have passed my power, so I just let him hug on.
“Damn! You’re so soft, Chubby Di.”
I push him off and begin towards the kitchen. He follows me, dancing to Kiss Daniel’s Raba behind me, trying to force my feet into rhythm. Truth is he and I have mad chemistry on the dance floor. I can’t count the number of parties and clubs he’s taken me to and how, as a duo, we entertained party audiences. Oba totally gets my wild side but beyond that, he’s just a fool. And quite mad to think that I’ll ever date him. I’m two years older than he is. The fact that we’re not blood doesn’t change the way I see him. He’s still my baby brother.
I enter the kitchen and find that there’s food waiting in takeaway packs.
“Who bought all this?” I ask, my first sentence in twenty-four hours. Yes, food can do that to me.
In answer to my question, Oba takes a theatrical bow. “For you, milady. I knew hunger would drive you out soon, so I splurged. I’ve got greens, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, lamb, rams, hotdogs, chicken, turkeys, rabbit. You name it!”
I don’t know when I let out laughter at his perfect rendition of the Shirley Caesar thanksgiving chant that is taking over the internet. With Oba, there is never a dull moment but my laughter is short-lived as the heaviness returns without consent. I watch as he serves a meal of jollof rice, plantain, chicken and coleslaw on a plate for me. He takes out water from the fridge and tells me to follow him. He leads me outside to his car, ignoring my protest. His reason is that I’ve been indoors for too long. I quite agree with him when we step out. The cool evening air hits my face and I quit protesting.
We sit in the car, he turns on the radio and while I eat, he gives me a foot massage. Soon, my mood begins to lift. I don’t know if it’s the food or the massage or the relaxing evening breeze.
“Feel better?” Oba asks. He looks sincerely concerned.
“I guess so.”
“I’m really sorry for telling you the truth…”
“No, you’re not.”
“Okay, I’m not but I maybe shouldn’t have said it that way.”
“So are you ready for the family meeting? It’s almost time…”
“I’m not going.”
“Okay.” He shrugs. “Me too, I’ll stay here because if I go home without you, popsi will kill me.”
“Do I look like I care?”
He stares at me with this affectionate expression and smiles.
“What?” I ask.
“Even with your swollen eyes and no makeup, you’re beautiful, Di.”
“You know it’s never going to happen, right?”
“What’s never going to happen?”
“Me and you. So you better erase that puppy look from your face right now. It’s like you don’t have respect.”
He throws his head back and laughs loudly like a donkey. It’s his habit to be loud without warning.
“But seriously, you know you love me, Di, and you know that I’ll be your first.”
“Oh my God! What is wrong with you?”
I kick him and make an attempt to pull my legs away but he holds me back.
“I’ll become like a drug to you after that first time. You will be hooked. Watch and see.”
I open my bottle of water and empty what is left of it over his body before leaving the car to the house. I’m almost at the door when I hear a car drive in. I turn and see Jide’s car heading towards the driveway. I wait for him. He steps out and comes towards me.
“Good evening,” I say.
“Hi Didi.” He looks at his brother. “Is there something wrong with your head?” he asks in Igbo. Oba doesn’t reply.
“Your case will be settled later.” Jide turns to me. “Ndidi, wear your slippers or something, let’s go. We’re late for the meeting.”
“But I don’t want to go,” I complain. He moves closer.
“Didi, it’s going to be fine, okay? Whatever the old man tells you or reveals about your history, it’s going to be fine. You’re a strong girl.”
“I don’t think I am.”
He pats my cheek. “Get your slippers, let’s go.”
As I return to the house, I hear him telling Oba that he suspects daddy ran out of quality sperm before he was conceived. Oba let out his loud donkey laughter.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
Daddy has not been this angry in a while. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen him this angry. Mex and Oba are the objects of his wrath but since Mex is the only one present, he gets all the heat. I sincerely feel for him. I was mad at him when Yazmin left but right now, he’s all messed up. No one has heard from her and we’re not even sure that she left the country. It’s been more than twenty-four hours; she is yet to get in touch with anyone. Her family in Mexico has confirmed that she is not with them as well. We sincerely hope she is fine wherever she is.
“You will go to the police station and file a missing person’s report,” daddy instructs. There is still anger in his tone but it is now contained. “Are you hearing me, Chukwuemeka?”
Mex’s head is bowed. I’ve never seen him so morose.
“After you have done that, you will hire a private investigator to look for her. While that one is doing his job, you will report yourself to Father Michael for special prayers. Your case has gone out of human power. You need God. He has to step in and fix your marriage situation. You and your wives cannot go on like this. Let God guide you on what to do.”
I look at Nne. She seems little disturbed over what’s happening but I know she is worried. Jiney is good distraction for her. They both seem lost in their world of baby warbles and smiles. Everyone else in the room is helping themselves with the bananas and groundnut Elsie came along with. They are all positive that Yazmin is fine. Jide, Oba and Didi are absent. So is Tola; she is unavoidably at work.
“Erhinyuse,” daddy calls.
“Where is your husband?”
“He’s on his way. He’s with Oba and Didi.”
At the mention of Oba’s name, daddy’s face turns stony. He gets into a bluster in Igbo that seems to go on forever but nobody responds to it. I have been told that this has been his mood since yesterday. Luckily for us, we get a short break from his anger when Jide walks in with Didi. Daddy softens as he spots her. He calls her over to the special space kept for her, in-between him and Nne. Jide lifts Jiney from Nne’s laps. As I had predicted, he falls for her Versace outfit.
“Who did this beautiful thing to you?” he asks, kissing her.
He goes on with his kisses as he takes the space next to me.
“Obasi!” daddy calls, his eyes fixed on the entrance door. “Don’t let me go outside and meet you there!”
“Will you come in?!” Nne shouts. “Why are you hiding like a thief outside the door?!”
Obasi enters the house but remains at the door.
“He’s not even wearing a shirt,” daddy mutters after blessing him with hostile eyes.
“Obasi, is this how you drove around today?” Nne asks.
“Ndidi poured water on me, so I had to take off my t-shirt.”
“My friend, find space and sit down!” Nne orders. “Look at how you’re disfiguring your body with tattoos. Which one is this new one on your chest now?”
Obasi ignores her. He slumps down beside Mex who barely acknowledges his presence. His eyes are glued to the floor. The room goes into silence as we all wait for daddy to get on with what he has to say. He wastes no time in getting into business.
“Ndidiamaka,” he speaks.
“Your phone call yesterday evening was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to listen to. I was broken to hear you cry like that. It was indeed painful. All because of that loose mouth over there.”
No one looks at Oba.
“You didn’t have to find out about your paternity the way you did. If there was anyone who owed you the truth, it was I…”
“You lied to me.”
Didi is not known for her good manners. A few eyebrows are raised at the manner in which she just interrupted the old man.
“I did lie, and I apologize for it. But it was all for your good that the truth was held from you…”
“How? You and my mom sat down together and conspired to lie to me. How was that good?”
“It was for best, Ndidiamaka.”
“I believed you. I trusted you…”
“You can still trust me.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t. You lied!”
“Ndidi!” I scold. “Have some respect!”
“Let her be,” daddy replies. “She’s understandably hurt. She needs to express it.”
“She should calm down, abeg.”
“Ndidi,” daddy continues, “your mother, as you know, singlehandedly raised you. Your father disappeared from her life the moment she told him she was pregnant, and she never heard from him again. When she met me, she wanted me to adopt you. Because of the ungodly relationship we had at the time, I told her I didn’t think it was right. I had no idea she had gone and changed your surname to Onuora a year after our affair. I only found out about this when she contacted me earlier this year. My dear, her intention was from a loving heart. She wanted you to bear a good name and have a better life than she or your grandmother had. She loved you wholeheartedly, Ndidiamaka, and that was why she did what she did.”
I look at Didi and see her eyes glistening with moisture.
“And all of you, you knew and held the truth from me?” she questions. “Why?”
“Because we are a family with a big heart,” Nne replies. This is the first time she is speaking on anything related to Didi. “It was difficult to accept that you were my husband’s ex-mistress’ daughter. Difficult for all of us here to take it in. But we did and opened our hearts to you. If anything, Ndidiamaka, you should be grateful. Not anyone can do what we did. You already have a share in this family’s wealth. You have homes you can sleep in and nobody will maltreat you. You have brothers and sisters. You have a father and you have a mother. Why then are you sad? Why are you angry? Why are you not thanking God for this blessing?”
Didi covers her face with her hands and starts sobbing.
“I lost the only daughter I had and God never replaced her. But God brought you my way. I will admit that it has been difficult to let you in but since my husband has said you are his, you are now mine, Ndidi. So, can you stop fighting us for opening our hearts to you?”
“I’m sorry,” Didi cries. “I just didn’t want to accept that you are not my family. I don’t want to be anyone else but an Onuora. This is the best family in the world.”
Awww. I absolutely agree with her. I have no regrets cutting off from my siblings and becoming part of this clan. Didi couldn’t have said it better.
“It’s okay.” Nne lays her hand on Didi’s back. “Stop crying.”
Her touch does quite the opposite of what it is intended to do. Ndidi’s tears go full throttle and Nne finds herself soothing her while we watch. The scene makes me emotional. I have a couple of moments like this with Nne, times when Jide acts like a complete arse and I run to her to seek comfort. Her touch is like a balm that goes in deep to evoke memories of a mother you will never see again but at the same time promises you devotion and warmth. Nne is gold. She is the glue that holds us together.
Didi is calm now, her tears wiped by Nne’s wrapper. They are conversing in Igbo and I pick out a few words. The language is growing on me by the day. I have learned the world’s popular languages quite easily but Igbo is one toughie. I don’t know why.
“Obasi,” daddy calls. He doesn’t sound as angry anymore. I guess it’s because of the way things have turned out. I pray he lets this pass.
“I had a very perfect plan to deal with you. Very perfect one. But God just told me to cancel those plans.”
“We thank God o,” Oba replies.
“However, you will still be punished.”
“Dad, let’s not go against God’s will.”
“Of all your brothers, you are the only one who knows nothing about the family business. I spared you because of your mother. But that’s going to change. Every Saturday, you will go to the shop.”
“Yes. You will learn about what has brought money into this family. I cannot have sons who cannot take over from me when I’m gone. So, you will be there every Saturday. 8am sharp! And not the shop here. The other one at Lekki.”
“Kuku kill me.”
Didi sticks out her tongue at Oba.
“And you’re not going there as a boss. There’s already someone in charge. You will be there as an apprentice. A boy.”
“Haba popsi! I’m your lastborn o.”
“If you like be my only born, I have said what I have said.”
“I’m sorry nau. I only told Didi the truth out of the love I have for her.”
“Your apology is coming too late. Starting this Saturday, you’ll get involved in the family trade.”
Oba is clearly pissed. He stands up, murmuring under his breath. He disappears into the kitchen bringing an end to the meeting. Jide announces that he has to rush off to work. I frown. He’s going to be on the night shift for a while. I hate spending my nights alone.
“Let me take you ladies home,” he tells me.
“Have you spoken to Mex?” I ask.
“He’s not talking to me. He thinks I somehow convinced Yaz to leave.”
“Well, whatever it is he feels about you, please don’t walk away from him now. He needs you.”
“He has Kalu. I have a patient who has been in labor for two days. Can we just go?”
I don’t argue with him. In fact, I have learned not to come between him and Mex. They always sort themselves out. It won’t be unusual to wake up one of these mornings and see two of them playing a computer game in my living room.
I stand up as Jide passes a sleeping Jiney to me.
“You look tired.” He rubs my shoulder. “Please, go to bed the moment you get home.”
I nod. He leans forward and kisses me.
“Ehen! I have an announcement to make!” Oba barges back in. We all face him. “I have feelings for Ndidi.”
“Good Lord!” Elsie exclaims.
“Now that she knows that we’re not related, I am fully into toasting her. Just thought you should all know.”
He barely finishes speaking when Nne rises up, picks one of her slippers and goes after him. This leaves everyone in laughter except Mex. He remains in his comatose state.
Jide stares at his watch and hurries me out of the house. As we leave, I think about Yazmin. I do hope she’s okay.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I am blushing. I can’t believe I am. At my age, a man’s words shouldn’t be getting me like this but Seyi puts the S in suave and I’m falling hard. Okay, maybe not hard but I’m falling still. He’s funny, gentlemanly and refined. We have been chatting since Sunday and it’s been worth my time. He hasn’t asked me out on a date yet but I don’t mind. Somehow, after all my disappointments in life, I’m not in a rush to get swept off my feet by a man. Yet, I’m enjoying the banter Seyi offers. It’s safe for me being behind my phone, I guess.
-For how long are you going to be away?
He has just told me that he’s on his way to the airport. He’s leaving on a business trip to Singapore.
-I don’t know. It depends on how things go. Two weeks, three weeks tops
-Do you always travel?
-Yeah. I don’t have a wife to keep me back home
-Why aren’t you married yet, Seyi? Been meaning to ask you
-Been meaning to ask you the same
-I haven’t met the one yet
-For me, it’s more like a case of priority. Marriage is not a huge thing on my list
That’s a letdown.
-And all my friends are married
-Don’t you get lonely?
-All the time
-So how do you handle it?
-I cope somehow, with distractions
-Before I answer that, I need to ask
-Please don’t get upset by the question but do you have an issue with bras?
I cringe. I had hoped this would never come up in our conversation.
–Lol. Would you believe it if I told you that I actually forgot to wear a bra?
He sends a picture of me which he had obviously taken without my knowledge. And I’m thinking, shame on you, Hauwa. You forgot to wear a bra. Again!
It turned out that Sunday was not the only day we met. I had lost an earring in his car that night and he brought it over the next day, on his way to the office. Honestly, I didn’t know I had been indecent that morning. I had just thrown over a top, slipped into a pair of shorts and ran out. I thought tripping over a stone and almost falling into his arms as I stepped out of my gate was the most embarrassing thing. Now, I have this to worry about too. He’s probably thinking I’m loose.
-You always go without bras?
-I naturally don’t like them
-In all fairness, you have a great pair
I don’t know what to make of the compliment. Is it a sexual come-on?
-And hey, I’m all for you going natural
I smile at his words, positioning myself on my bed to be more comfortable. I had a long night at work and I ought to be sleeping it off but some things are better than sleep.
He goes offline for a while and returns.
-Sorry, I had to take a call
-I’d like to spoil you a little. Have you been to Sing before?
-Would you like to come? Just for three days…or more if you don’t mind
Wow. Just like that? My boobs must have done a number on him.
-How easy is it to obtain a visa?
-Say yes and I’ll send someone your way to facilitate it
-Um…can I think about it? Give me a few minutes
I get off Whatsapp and dial Honey’s number. It rings for a long time and then Jide answers it.
“She’s in the bathroom. You can leave a message.”
He yawns. He sounds sleepy. I remember seeing him doing rounds at the hospital. He probably just got home.
“Jide, I need some advice.”
“This morning? Geez, Hauwa. You’re always doing things at odd hours.”
“Shut up jor and help a friend out.”
“What is it?”
“Seyi just asked if I could join him in Singapore for a few days. You think I should go?”
Jide doesn’t give it a thought. “Yes, go. I’ll cover for you at work.”
“You didn’t even think about it.”
“Seyi is good people. I have had the privilege of being with him on a few occasions. He’s a cool guy and a close friend to the Ditorusins who are godparents to Jiney. I endorse him. Please, go and have fun. You haven’t done that in a long time.”
“What if he asks for sex in return?”
“Grown ass men don’t ask for sex and your body is not something you give a man. If sex happens, it happens. If you don’t want it to, it won’t happen. Stop acting like a teenager.”
“You think it’ll be fun?”
“It will be fun, Huawei.”
“Stop calling me that.”
“Stop asking too many questions and be the spontaneous Hauwa I used to know. Now, get off my wife’s phone.”
I hang up and return to Seyi.
-So your answer is…
-She said yes!
-Expect a call this morning. So, tell me how your night went
I prop my legs on the wall and type away.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
“This was how it happened with me and Gen. I fell hard and fast just like that.”
Seyi is on his way to the airport. Dominic is his driver. Dressed in shorts and a shirt, Dominic left the house quite early to chauffer his friend to the airport. Having been forced to stay away from business trips, he finds ways to remain relevant.
“Nobody’s falling for anybody,” Seyi replies to Dominic’s comment.
“You just asked her over to Sing. You don’t even know this girl.”
“Not girl. Woman. She’s thirty-eight.”
“I like her, okay? But it’s not like how you fell for your wife. Gen used charm on you. There’s no other explanation.”
“She did, actually.” Dominic smiles at the memory of watching Genesis dancing naked in the club at the early hours of a certain morning two over years ago. He remembers not caring for the weirdness of what she was doing but getting carried away by the perfection that was her body. That night, he knew he would have her no matter what it cost him.
“Hauwa doesn’t seem like your type, though,” he tells Seyi.
“And what’s my type?” Seyi asks, eyes on his phone.
“Gen’s type. Cultured, classy, sophisticated…”
“And Hauwa is…?” Seyi asks.
“A little rough on the edges.”
“You’re referring to the boob thing?”
“Ah.” Dominic holds back a chuckle.
“Nick, you were staring.”
“We were all staring. And she was oblivious. She lacks the deportment your women usually have.”
“And that’s a breath of fresh air. I want something different.”
“Well, apart from the fact that she’s good-looking, she’s real and unapologetic. I find that attractive.”
“Don’t let Gen hear that.”
Dominic gives a smirk. Seyi goes on with his chat. It doesn’t take long for them to arrive at the airport. Seyi alights from the car and Dominic steers it away to head back home. On his way down the strip that takes him to Ikeja, he receives a call from Iya Idaya.
“Daddy Tonbra,” her voice shakes. “Is Iya Idaya.”
“I know,” Dominic answers, wondering why she does that every time she calls him.
“Something is wrong with Zach o. I wan carry him to the hospital.”
“Zach? What’s wrong with him?”
“Since yesterday, he is purging. Today he start to vomit. His temperature go up. I give him paracetomol so that it will come down, e no work. I say let me go and pour him cold water on his body, that’s how he start to shake. He enter convulsion.”
Being an experienced father, Dominic knows that convulsions can be a normal part of children’s lives in the early stages. Hence, the news is met with little shock. However, he isn’t so sure about Iya Idaya’s ability to handle the situation, giving her panicky reaction which he senses over the phone.
“Get the driver to take you to the family hospital immediately. Is he still seizing?”
“Is he still convulsing?”
“Lie him on his side and don’t put a spoon in his mouth…”
“Ah! I have put it o.”
“Remove it immediately. Lie him on his side. Put a wet towel at the back of his head to lower his temperature. Do this before you enter the car.”
“Put me on speakerphone.”
Dominic hears the sound of shuffling for a couple of seconds. “I have put it.”
“Oya, attend to Zach.”
There’s long silence and some muffled sounds and then Iya Idaya returns.
“He has stop.”
“Good. Now, take him to the hospital. I’ll call the doctor and tell them to expect you.”
“Where is my wife?”
“She have go to work. I’m calling her, she’s not answering.”
“Be on your way. I’ll be there in a bit.”
Dominic hangs up and tries Genesis’ number. He gets across.
“Iya Idaya has been calling you.”
“Sorry, I was in a meeting with a client who is rushing out of the country. What’s going on?”
“Zach is having a suspected case of food poisoning and Iya Idaya is taking him to the hospital. Since you’re closer, can you hurry there to make sure things are fine?”
“Wow. I’m on the mainland and I’m not sure I can make it there fast but I’m already dashing out now.”
She adds that she noticed Zach had mild diarrhea the day before but concluded it was the milk he was taking. She didn’t know it would get serious. After the phone call, Dominic connects the family doctor and informs him about Iya Idaya’s arrival. Done with that, he connects with her to keep up with Zach’s progress.
“He is sleeping, sir.”
“Where is his sister?”
Dominic gets off the line and dials Lexus.
“Tonbra, are you on the island?”
A sleepy voice mutters in reply.
“Wake up, child.”
“Are you on the island?”
“Good. Hurry to the family hospital. Zach is sick and neither Gen nor I are on the mainland. He’s in the care of Iya Idaya. Go there to make sure everything is good.”
Dominic ends the call and relaxes back in his seat. He gives no attention to the ominous feeling trying to dampen his mood. To drown it out, he turns on the radio. The drive to the island is a long one and more than an hour later with some little traffic, he is at the hospital. Genesis has also just arrived but Lexus has been there for a while. Zach is attended to and then cleared to go back home. The doctor calls Dominic and Genesis aside and explains to them that he suspects Zach ingested a chemical. He claims he speaks from experience.
They thank him, pay the bills and find their way home. In the kitchen, they throw serious questions at Iya Idaya over the possibility that Zach came in contact with a chemical.
“It’s not possible,” the troubled woman shakes her head in innocence. “No detergent, no soap, no cream, no bleach…nothing. I swear.”
“You don’t have to swear.” Genesis places a hand on her. “We just wanted to be sure.”
“I take care of them well-well like my own children. If I do them wickedness, make God punish me.”
“It’s okay,” Dominic says.
“Maybe e fit be that time that we go to mama house on Sunday…”
“What mama?” Dominic frowns.
“Mamisi,” Genesis answers. Dominic’s reaction is a sharp glower at her.
“My children went to Mamisi’s house on Sunday?”
“And nobody told me?”
“I thought you knew…”
“Nick you were home…”
“With my friends! I was entertaining them and you bundled up my kids to that witch’s house!”
Iya Idaya quietly withdraws.
“Nick, why are you talking like this?”
“You took my kids to that woman’s house without my permission, Genesis!”
“Our kids, Dominic. And I didn’t think I needed your permission.”
“She did something to Zach! You know that!”
“No, I don’t know that. God! Nick, Zach is a toddler. He’s at a stage where he sees stuff, picks it and shoves it down his throat–”
“She poisoned him!”
“She would never do such a thing, Nick.”
“She would never do such a thing?! The same woman who arranged five men to rape you?! And did the same to Nancy?! Both of you, her daughters! The same woman who killed your family! Burnt them to death while they slept!”
His words cut Genesis deep, invoking memories she would rather not recall.
“This is the same woman you’re defending, Genesis?! Is it until she kills you before you realize that she is evil?!”
Genesis walks away from him to the fridge.
“I’m going to her house right away…”
“No, Nick… Let me talk to her. Please.”
Dominic stops, considers her words.
“Whatever comes out of that discussion, I want you and her to know that she is no longer welcome here. And my kids are not allowed near her. You too are not allowed to visit her…”
“Dominic, what is wrong with you?”
“You are not allowed near her! Simple! You want me to bring back the security service we used to have around here and get you bodyguards before you know that I mean business?”
“You won’t try that.”
“I’ll do it if you don’t stop seeing her.”
He storms out, leaving Genesis shaken. Iya Ida returns to the kitchen.
Genesis looks at her.
“I want to tell you something.”
“Daddy Tonbra did not allow me finish what I want to say before…”
“Go ahead,” Genesis answers tiredly.
Iya Idaya tearfully recounts what she thinks might have happened to Zach on Sunday. According to her, she was having a case of diarrhea that day and upon getting to Mamisi’s home, she asked to use the toilet. As the story went, Mamisi had been applying hair relaxer to her hair when they arrived. Iya Idaya had expressed her fear over the kids touching the chemical but Mamisi scolded her, telling her she was a mother who had raised kids herself. When Iya Idaya returned from the toilet, she came upon Mamisi rinsing Zach’s mouth with some water. Mamisi claimed Zach had picked something off the floor and shoved it into his mouth. When asked what it was, she said it was a bread crumb from what she had for breakfast. The hair relaxer was nowhere in sight, hence Iya Idaya had no reason to fear. Zach seemed fine and she let the matter slide.
“Now, I dey seriously suspect her,” the elderly woman concludes. “Madam Genesis, no be say I dey look your mama with one kind eye o.”
“I understand, Iya Idaya. Thank you. This helps.”
Genesis leaves the kitchen and goes upstairs to the children’s bedroom. Dominic is there, watching the kids sleep, both of them in the same crib.
“I’m going to see Mamisi,” Genesis speaks softly. “And after that, I’ll see her again. And again – as I wish. Don’t ever speak to me that way in front of anyone.”
Dominic gives her a glance and goes back to watching the kids as she leaves.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
It’s the worst thing to wake up unhappy. And very hungry.
That’s my mood right now. I have heaped a plate with everything my mind desires to eat; and in a bowl, I have cereal, just in case I am not satisfied. There’s also a glass of freezing orange juice to wash it down.
I chow in anger, pushing strips of bread into my mouth like a hog. Dara is standing close by. She’s watching me with those round eyes of hers in a questioning manner. When I hand her some of what I’m eating, she shakes her head. She keeps staring at me. I continue with my food. I don’t have time for anyone this morning.
Soon the object of my anger makes an appearance. He nears the table, stops and looks at me and shakes his head before turning to the kitchen.
“Dara’s diapers have finished o!” I yell. “We’ve also run out of water for the dispenser! And tissue paper too!”
He returns to me. “I’ll buy the water on my way home. You can get the rest.”
“I’m not getting anything. Shebi it’s you that wants to do everything. Go ahead and handle it all. Me, I’m just going to sit here, eat, watch TV all day and not call Joey.”
“Celia, haba! You’re still pissed over last night?”
I push a whole sausage into my mouth, ignoring his question.
Last night, I came home, hot with anger over what had transpired in Naomi’s house. I spilled everything to Shady and told him about my plans to call Joey to deal with Charles. And what did my sweet husband do? He scolded me for going to somebody’s house to look for trouble. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he told me Joey has no business with the case. If there was anybody that was supposed to handle Charles, it was him.
“How?!” I cried. “You don’t have the means to!”
And my husband looked at me as if I had just told him that his dick was small.
“You’re saying I can’t handle him? Is that what you’re saying?”
“Shady, Joey is a soldier. You’re not. You’re not even a policemen or a civil defense officer. You’re a car showroom manager. Are you going to use one of the cars to run Charles down? It would be nice if you did but…”
“You just insulted me.”
“So your brother is better than me? You have an issue and you run to Joey and not to me?”
“But I just came to you and you told me that I went to look for trouble. Joey will never tell me that. He would go there, beat somebody’s father up and come and ask me questions later.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t handle shit like that.”
“Then leave it for those who can.”
Shady, at that point, lost his cool and gave me some nice tongue-lashing. I wasn’t surprised. He had never supported my troublesome side. But if he had stopped at the scolding, it would have been fine. He went a step further and insisted Joey was not to be brought into it.
“Because, Celia, it makes me feel less than the man I am.”
“This is not about your manhood, Shadrach.”
“It is! It has everything to do with my manhood! Some idiot out there manhandled you and you want to call your brother to deal with him?!”
Shady gave up on me. “You know what?! Do it your way! I give up!”
He picked a pillow and left the room. I slept alone after attending to the injury on my forehead. I woke up two hours ago, still nursing the anger which was made worse by hunger. Hunger that has refused to be satisfied. I am now on my cereal bowl but it seems to me that I’m craving for something else. I don’t know what.
“Daddy!” Dara cries, stretching out her arms to Shady. I have ignored his questions and attempts at conversation. I pretend not to see the contrite look on his face. He can be waving ten white flags before me and I will not budge.
“We’re going out to get the things you asked for,” he announces. “You want me to buy anything else? Maybe more food?”
“We’ll be back.”
He leaves the house with Dara and I stop eating for a few minutes. I start to cry. Shady is frustrating. His laidback manner gets on my nerves. I hate the way he handles things. Naomi is in danger. Charles can kill her any minute and all Shady cares about is his pride.
“You’re having an unhealthy attachment to that woman,” Peace tells me when I call her to explain. “Maybe you should chill a little.”
Peace’s words make me weep more. But I do so silently so as not to validate her assertion. I endure the advice she renders, hang up and call Mary.
“Have you ever thought about opening a shelter for abused women, Cee? You’re so passionate about situations like this.”
“Shey me?” I sniff silently, already feeling better talking to Mary.
“Yes. You should give it some thought.”
“Oya, stop crying…”
“How do you know I’m crying?”
“Na wa for you o. What type of question is that? I know you nau.”
“But concerning the Naomi’s husband’s issue, please let Shady handle it.”
I sigh. “Okay.”
“You remember he hit you and he was sorry about it. He might feel this is his chance to redeem himself.”
“Hmmm. I never thought of it that way.”
“Please let your husband protect you. Joey will be someone else’s husband soon and he can go and be doing Kung Fu for anyone that touches his wife.”
“You that boned his side and went for Omo Igbo.”
“Omo Igbo that rocked my world last night.”
“Without a condom,” she adds in a whisper which comes in a giggle.
“Please, gist me.” I temporarily forget my issues and press my phone to my ear.
“Well, I did as Honey advised. I had a bath, changed into a short dress and waited until I heard his car drive in. I then ran to him, got in and well… you know…”
Mary is a prude. She will never give details of her sex life. Unlike Noka who would weave a tale so juicy you’ll be wondering why she isn’t writing erotica.
“You guys did it in the car?”
“No. I…went down on him. And then we went in and did it in the kitchen.”
“Ooooh. I’m happy for you. Don’t stop surprising him like that.”
“I’ll sha come to you for more ideas.”
“Me keh. Go to Honey. I think she’s the sexpert amongst us.”
“Em…I have to go. We’ll talk later?”
She rings off before I can say goodbye. I wipe away dry tears and stare at my half-consumed cereal dish. I’m still hungry for something else. I gulp down the juice, clear the dishes and head to my bedroom. Shady comes in with Dara.
“Everything’s bought and I’m off to the office.”
I consider maintaining my anger but it’s all out of intensity now. “Won’t you have breakfast?”
“No. I’ll eat at work.”
He comes towards me and kisses the scratch on my forehead which is covered with a band aid.
“I’ll be a little late today. Don’t wait up for me.”
I say nothing. He walks out, taking Dara with him. On his own, he had woken her up, bathed her, fed her, dressed her for daycare and packed her a bag. It all started when I was away at Fiji and he hasn’t been able to break the routine. Plus, he says it helps him bond with his daughter.
I stand at the door and wave at her. She doesn’t respond. It makes me a little sad. Maybe I should have another baby.
I turn back in. My phone is ringing. I feel uneasy when I see that it’s Naomi calling. I fear that something has gone wrong.
She doesn’t speak. All I hear is her sobbing voice.
“Cece?” she calls and continues sobbing. This goes on for almost a minute. I try to get her to stay calm but every time she opens her mouth to speak, she breaks down. So, I wait until she is collected enough to say a word.
“Talk to me, Nay.”
“I k-k-killed him, Cece.”
“What?” My voice is scarcely audible.
“I killed Charles, Celia. I killed my husband… I don’t know what to do. I killed him… There’s blood everywhere.”
“You’re joking, right?”
“Nooooo,” she bawls. “Please come, call the police, call a lawyer… I killed my husband.”
I feel a strong shiver spread across my body, bringing with it quick nausea.
“Are you there, Cece?”
“Yes, Nay. I’m here.”
The nausea persists and I feel an urge to throw up. I aim for the toilet.
“Nay, let me call you back.”
“Please, don’t go.”
“I’ll call you back.”
I hang up and retch over the toilet. In a heap, my breakfast finds its way out of my system.
Naomi is calling again. I don’t answer. I’m still throwing up. I stay in that position until I’m done. And then I flush the toilet, let the seat down and sit there for a while, trying to comprehend what she just told me.
“Nay?” I finally answer her call. “I’m coming over with a lawyer. We’ll be on our way soon.”
“Okay. Please hurry.”
I terminate the call and dial Bobby’s number. As it rings, the enormity of what Naomi did hits me. I didn’t see this twist coming. I didn’t see it at all.
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My mom, the religious nut she is, will always tell me, “Nothing is ever hidden under the sun. One day God will expose you.” It makes me always wonder what type of mother she is. Normal mothers support and protect their kids but my mom will gladly throw me under the bus to please Jesus. And today, she has reared up her ugly head to remind me that nemesis is at my door.
“Mommy, I have heard you,” I say to her on the phone. I don’t even know why I answered her call. I am in the middle of something here.
“Ojonoka, pray o! Pray well-well! Devil wants to use you.”
Devil is already using me. He’s six foot tall, rugged, the exact opposite of my husband and he is presently screwing his fine tool into my lady parts. So, nothing new, mommy. I am potty in the hands of the devil because you refused to help me cover my sins.
“Can I go now?” I tell her gruffly, biting down my lower lip to contain the pleasure the father of my illegitimate son is giving me. I can’t tell you his name, so let’s call him B.
I dump my phone on the floor and clasp my arms around B as he digs in deeper in a manner that would make you think he wants to drill a hole all the way to my mouth. But it’s pleasure to me. It comes with pain that I’m used to. Pain that I like. This is a lot better than waiting and begging to be loved by Ibro. Forget that I shed tears before Celia just the other day. It’s tears of regret, not of guilt. I regret that I didn’t listen to my mom when she told me to be straight with Ibro on the issue of my first son. The money was all I saw and I was going to have it even if it meant denying my own blood. That was what I did, and now, I am paying for it. B has refused to stay in the shadows but it’s all good. This is a blessing in disguise. He gives me the attention Ibro denies me. Yes, I have to pay for it but body no be firewood. This is me loving myself. So, please don’t judge. You have no idea what it means to be neglected and to spend many nights alone until you have walked in my shoes. I started collecting B’s tool a long time ago but for people like Celia and Bimpe who like to poke their noses into people’s affairs, I had to play the victim card.
The two annoying creatures caught me leaving a hotel with B a year ago. It was after dark and we had the shadows to our advantage but that hawk-eyed Bimpe sighted us from afar as B was shoving his tongue down my throat while begging me to go back with him to the hotel for another round.
“Is that not Noks?” I heard her say. I froze and spun around. Guilt filled my face but I played a quick one, when I turned around, slapped B and hurried towards my friends.
“Noka, what is going on here?” Celia asked. I began to cry. She faced B. “Excuse me, what were you just doing to my friend?”
B laughed. “Ask her.”
And then he walked away. I held Bimpe tightly and bawled my eyes out. When they were finally able to get me to stop, I opened up to them and revealed everything. The only part I doctored was the part about how I enjoyed my moments with B.
“Please, don’t tell anybody,” I cried. “If Ibro hears it, he will divorce me. What will now be left of me and the boys?”
Celia who was also in tears with me, promised that she would keep her mouth shut. Bimpe also gave her word. All has been good so far. My mom’s prophecies can hit a brick wall and shatter to nothingness for all I care. The universe is on my side. Ibro does not love me. B is my recompense.
“Is he as good as this?” B asks me, his hand grasping my hair as he grinds me senseless.
“No,” I reply breathlessly.
“You’re the best,” I moan.
“You’re the best!”
He is not the best, though. Ibro is. My husband can make love like humanity depends on his dick for survival. But dick that can form for Africa, is that one dick?
I hold on to B, clutching his hairy butt for more of what he’s giving but I know dude is spent. So I brace myself for the end of my short-lived pleasure and start making plans for dinner. My boys are spoilt; they won’t eat yesterday’s leftovers or the nanny’s meals. I have to go home and prepare something fresh.
“Please, don’t cum,” I beg B. If only he listens and lasts as long as Ibro does.
“I’m sorry, baby but…”
He cums. Hard and noisily. I wish I have another fifteen or more minutes to spare to get the full measure of the type of pleasure I want.
B withdraws from me. I pull my legs up. He can see that I’m not happy but he doesn’t care. Shey he has taken all my money and gotten his satisfaction.
“Same time, next week?” he asks. “Or rather, come earlier. These days you just want to pop in and dash out. What’s up with that?”
I shrug. These days I’m being careful. Celia is insisting I tell Ibro the truth and my mother keeps preaching to me. Somehow it’s all getting to me.
“Nothing. I’m just busy.”
“Don’t be too busy for me.” He taps my ass, and when I try to walk away, he pulls me back. “Watch this.”
He shows me a video on his phone. It’s the latest recording of our son. Tears fill my eyes as I watch the boy playing football with a friend. B might be greedy and lacking of morals but he’s a good dad. He actually uses some of the money I send to him on our son. I am grateful for that.
“I’m tired of him asking for his mother.” B stops the video midway. “When are we going to tell him the truth?”
My tummy knots. “B…” I sigh. “You want me to lose my marriage? Where will the money come from if I do?”
“Your son thinks you’re his aunt and that we’re brother and sister. How does that sound right in your ears?”
“As right as you eating my monthly income!” I yell. “I don’t hear you complaining about that! But if you want it to stop coming, go ahead and tell him who I am! In fact, go and tell the whole world! Or better still, invest the money so that when my husband eventually kicks me out of his life, we’ll have something to fall back on!”
I hiss and pick my clothes off the floor. He watches me without saying a word as I dress up.
“See you next week.”
I pick my handbag and phone and head out. The moment I shut the door, I bump into Eno.
I gasp. Loudly. She gasps as well. She is also leaving a hotel room, and I can hear the voice of a man. Well, well… This should be interesting.
“Noka.” She recovers faster than I do. “What are you doing here?”
I am about to throw the same question at her when the door behind me opens and B sticks out his brainless head.
“Baby, you forgot your watch.”
I grab it from him and he retreats, totally oblivious of what he has just done. I turn around to find Eno’s arms crossed and a malicious look on her face.
“Noka, what did I just use my two eyes to see?”
“I should also ask you the same question,” I throw back at her as the man she is with steps out of the hotel room. Unfortunately for me, even before she says a word, I can see a clear resemblance between her and the guy. They possess the same complexion, same eyes, same lips and same color of brown hair.
“You mean, this guy?” She laughs. “This is my baby brother who just completed his NYSC and is here for some seminar being organized by this hotel. Should I assume that the guy that just handed you your wristwatch is your brother too?”
“Erm…yes. I’m his sister.”
“So brothers call sisters ‘baby’?”
I laugh drily. “That’s what everyone calls me at home.”
“I see. So, Ibro knows him?”
“I… No. Ibro hasn’t met him yet. He doesn’t live in Nigeria. He just came in from…Kuwait. He’s a…basket baller. See how tall he is? Hehehe.” I scratch my neck uneasily. I’m a rusty liar.
“I see. Why don’t you take him home? Why is he here?”
She walks past me and knocks on the door. Stupid B opens it.
“Hey, Noka’s tall brother.”
B frowns at her and then turns his eyes on me.
“I’m Eno, Noka’s mate.”
“We’re married to the same man.”
“Yeah, nice to meet you. I was just scolding her about letting you stay here when she has this really fancy house.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m…”
“Nonsense. You should come to hers. My husband would be glad to meet you. Seems you guys haven’t met before, which is quite strange. He knows every member of my family. I don’t see why he shouldn’t know Noka’s.”
Right now, I am praying for a bomb to drop or rapture to happen so that I can escape this mess. How do I get out of this one?
“Really, I’m fine here.”
“Okay. If you say so but Ibrahim won’t like it. Welcome to Nigeria.”
B looks at me. I smile.
He goes back into the room. Eno turns to her brother.
“Get your things, let’s go home.”
I see a complaint on his face but the frown she flashes him makes him disappear back into his room. The moment he leaves, she faces me.
“You smell of sex, you know that? Your hair is a mess, your lipstick is gone and there is guilt all over your face.”
“Sex? What are you talking about?”
“I have nothing more to say to you. Ibro will hear about this…”
“Eno, no.” I grab her hand. She looks at me and I withdraw. “Let me explain…”
She opens the door to her brother’s hotel room. “Explain it to your husband.”
And that is how my mom’s has used her mouth to jinx my good fortune. I clutch my fearful heart and handbag and leave the hotel to my car where I mull over what awaits me. It doesn’t matter what I would cook up to tell Ibro, Eno will paint a terrible picture and that would be the end of me. The only person that can save me is my mom but she would rather be burnt at a stake for Jesus than lie to save her daughter’s ass.
I am done for. Nobody can tell me anything. My own is finished. I better call the girls and start finding a way to twist this tale my way.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I haven’t seen Naomi since the incident. I had taken her to the hospital that night, following what her husband did to her, and stayed until the morning when she begged me to leave. She expressly told me I was never to visit her again. I knew it was the abused woman in her talking and so I ignored her pleas, went home and checked in on her later that day. I wasn’t allowed in to see her, however. I left and made plans to visit the following day. When I returned, I was told that she had been transferred to another hospital. According to the nurse at the front desk, the doctor who had handled a few other similar cases from Naomi was tired of her shielding her husband and lying about her injuries. She had claimed the latest one was from a car crash and he wasn’t buying it. Hence, he asked her to leave, stating that he was scared of being implicated if she eventually ended up dead. No one knew what hospital she was taken to. I called her number several times but she ignored my calls. I am scared for her.
It’s a Tuesday, a tiring one, but not too tiring for me to respond to a call from a friend. I don’t do it alone. I take Peace and Honey along to see Mary. I don’t really suggest the visit. I just drive up to see Peace, pick her up and then do the same to a whining Honey.
“I’m tired,” she complains. “This is 3pm. We’ll jam traffic on the way. Can’t we do this during the weekend?”
“No. Lasting friendships do not run on convenience. Mary needs us…”
“No, she needs you. She called you alone.”
“Honey, stop being such an annoying person this afternoon.”
“I’m tired!” she almost cries.
“Enter the car, jare.”
“You’re lucky I used a cab today. I wouldn’t have followed you,” she says, taking the backseat. Once she gets in, she sets to nurse Jiney. “I hate you, Celia.”
I get in behind the wheel.
“What’s with Mary, though?”
“I don’t know. She called me, says she needs to talk.”
“Then it’s serious. Mary’s the one we all go to when we need to vent. Now she needs to talk to someone. That’s new. I hope Kene’s not being an ass.”
“I hope so too.”
I put the car in gear and we drive away. For the first part of the journey, we are quiet. Well, Honey and I are. Peace is on a phone call with one of the girls manning her boutique. After trying her hands at different businesses and small-time jobs, Peace decides to settle for running a boutique. Reno finances the project single-handedly and now her stylish shop stands in one of the lavish spots at the Lekki mall, the one owned by the BSD Group.
“I didn’t want to go expensive,” she explains to us after the phone call, “but Reno insisted. And now, the shop is draining me.”
I rub her thigh. “Things will be fine.”
“But I think the whole thing is Reno’s way of letting you guys know that, despite the fact that everyone’s giving him the silent treatment, he has not crawled up into one hole and died. He is doing very well.”
“He’s a rapist,” I remind her even though I know it would hurt her.
“Ex-rapist,” she corrects.
“Celia, be nice,” Honey scolds.
“But he’s your current friend with benefits?” I look at Peace.
“Cee, don’t start.”
“Swear that you’re not having sex with him.”
She stares away from me.
“Once in a blue moon.”
“That’s why you dumped the German guy? Eyha.” I make a weepy face. “And I was hoping for cute kids.”
“Oyibos are overrated if you ask me,” Honey states. “Besides, he couldn’t fit into our circle.”
“Hon, he got circumcised for her and she didn’t even let him taste the goods.”
“I was not in love with him, Celia,” Peace responds. “Apart from that, at my age, I shouldn’t be looking for love. I shouldn’t even be looking for a man. I can do well by myself.”
“That’s the spirit.” I give her a high five. She doesn’t slap it.
“Awww, you’re hanging my hand. What’s wrong, darling?”
She seems annoyed. I really have to stop bringing up these discussions. They always leave her uncomfortable. It’s not an easy decision when you choose to walk on the path of solitude. The new Peace is done with giving her heart to men and to getting involved in any kind of relationship.
“There’s something empowering about being alone but it can also get lonely,” she whispers. “That’s why I still spend some nights with Reno.”
“We’re not judging you, P,” Honey responds. “Ignore the rapist statement Celia made.”
Peace smiles. I smile too. Peace is all grownup. Just the other day she was crying over how much she needed Reno. Today, she is doing fine by herself. Even her sense of fashion has improved. She has evolved into her own style. She’s doing the whole Naturalista thing; replete with the Ankara head-wraps, earthy sandals, African inspired jewelry and long Boho skirts. In fact, this is the precise description of what she is wearing now. A batik tee gives her appearance a modern edge that leaves her looking younger than her current age.
“I hope Mary has food.” Honey takes a long yawn that pushes me into yawning as well. “This child is killing me with all her sucking.”
“I’ve not even had lunch.”
“Mary always has food.”
We all go silent as I navigate a busy street. My thoughts are on Naomi, and on the threatening text I received from her husband last night. It came in one short line: leave my wife alone, Celia.
I have read it so many times that I now feel I wrote it myself. I didn’t show the text to Shady and my reason is simply that I want to handle the situation alone. I need to get Naomi out of the abusive situation she is in right now. As for her husband who thinks he can send me texts, he doesn’t know what his problem is yet. Dude is soon going to suck on his own balls for making that mistake with me.
“I’ve not seen Noks in a while,” Peace murmurs. She is rummaging through her handbag as she says this. I wonder what she’s looking for.
“I haven’t seen her too. Have you called her?”
“No.” Peace stops her rummaging. “Have you?”
“Honey, have you?”
“I don’t care. Meanwhile, I have found out her dirty, little secret…”
Peace makes a sharp turn. “What secret?”
I look at Honey through the rearview mirror, trying to see if she’s kidding.
“I’m not telling anyone, Peace. But Noka should never insult me or any of you or I swear, I’ll expose her.”
“What’s the secret nau?”
Honey shakes her head.
“No. Face your front.”
“Whatever it is,” I say, “if it will ruin her marriage, Honey, please don’t expose her. I know she’s been mean to you but it’s not enough reason to share whatever you saw with anyone.”
Honey holds my eyes in the mirror. I look away.
“You know the secret, Celia.”
Chai. This Honey sef. Why is she always this smart? And how on earth did she find out about Noka?
“I don’t know anything,” I reply.
“So two of you know this secret and you’re not telling me?” Peace whines. “Tell me how that is fair.”
We both ignore her and she goes on and on until we arrive at Mary’s.
“We’re all not good friends, Cee,” she concludes. “We’re losing our little circle. I blame Bimpe. She was the glue that kept us together.”
“We’re fine, madam,” Honey snaps. “Nobody is losing anything.”
My car stops outside Mary’s compound. I honk and seconds later a guard comes out. When he sees us, he smiles and returns to the compound. Soon, the gate slides to let us in. I drive through. Mary is waiting at the front door, dressed in white leggings and a matching top. She blends with the whiteness of the house, except for the pitch blackness of her new hairdo.
We walk up to her. She has hugs waiting. We haven’t seen each other in a few days but it isn’t us she’s really interested in. The moment she sights Jiney, she gets all mushy. She takes her off Honey’s arms.
She leads us into her beautiful home that still manages to take my breath away even after my many visits. The décor makes no attempt at being modest. Our dear Ekene is ostentatious; the house reflects his person. Mary, on the other hand, is the opposite. As long as she is comfortable and the house is clean, she can live in any condition. It’s interesting how both of them find a balance.
“First of all, food!” Honey cries. Mary laughs.
“Help yourselves. Jiney and I will be right back.”
“You kukuma have big breasts. Give her some while you’re at it.”
Mary disappears while three of us help ourselves with meals of our choice. There’s so much to pick from and we knock ourselves out. We settle in the living room. Mary joins us shortly with Jiney, now dressed in a complete Versace baby ensemble.
“Whoa!” Honey exclaims. “What have you done to my baby?”
“The same thing she did to Dara and Sammy,” Peace answers.
“I got some things from my last visit to Paris with Kene.”
“Awww, this is so sweet. Jide will fawn over her.” Honey coos at Jiney and gets out her phone to take a photo. “Jiji, did you say thank you to Aunty Mary?”
Jiney lets out a grin and Honey takes a photo. I also take a few shots.
“Mary?” I call, after we go back to our meals. “Are you fighting with Kene? Is that why you called me over?”
Mary smiles sadly.
“You cook a lot when you’re upset. You know that? What’s going on?”
“Yeah… Kene and I are fighting.”
Peace passes her a glass of orange juice. She declines. A minute later we are listening to her talk to us about her desperate need to have a child and how it has become a problem between her and Ekene.
“Now, he’s avoiding sex, and even when we do it, he uses condoms. All he wants is for us to keep going out on dates, traveling to exotic places, doing romantic stuff and all that.”
“Isn’t that a good thing, May?” Honey asks.
“Hon, we have all the time in the world to do that but my uterus can’t wait another year. It’s not him whose biological clock is ticking.”
“May,” I put my hand on hers, “do you love this man?”
She withdraws her hand in quick anger. “What type of nonsense question is that?”
“Exactly,” Peace mutters.
“I’m sorry. Let me rephrase. Do you love him as much as he loves you?”
Mary’s angry bearing disappears. “I love Kene but you know me…I can’t express it the way he does. Apart from that, I’m still growing into loving him.”
“No, you’re guarding your heart, May. And you have to stop it. Your days of spinsterhood where men hurt you are over. You don’t own your emotions alone now. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I’ll advise that you give Kene the key to your heart, please.”
“That’s scary. And I don’t think it’s okay for me to do that just because I’m married to him. He will hurt me. I have seen it happen to all of you. P, look what Reno did to you. And you too, Celia. Men do these things. They hurt us. I have to stay guarded.”
“Kene and I had an agreement. We are to play our roles as husband and wife. But he’s turning the script by demanding too much from me. I just can’t let down my guard like that.”
Honey and I sigh at the same time without meaning to. Mary has always been this tough with men. Jide was the only man she loved wholeheartedly and then he went and broke her heart. In addition, what Reno did to her left her with deep trust issues. Our dear Ekene has his work cut out for him. But I think we can lessen his load a little.
We advise her on ways she can let her guard down and allow Ekene in. We teach her how to express her love through numerous means without losing herself.
“You’re sure it’ll work?”
Honey raises a finger. “And please, make love, not babies. Then watch the babies drop in unannounced. That’s how more than half of the world gets pregnant, my dear. So, get with the script. If you do it right, Kene won’t have time for condoms. Imagine you hearing his car driving in at night and you rush out to meet him and take him right there, while the engine is still running. Will he have time for a condom?”
“Abi o!” I exclaim.
“Hmmm…” Mary gives our words some thought as she rests her chin on her cupped palm.
“And remember this…” Peace takes the last sip of her juice. “You don’t have a great marriage. You make a great marriage. You fight the odds to make it work.”
I nod in hundred percent agreement. Told you my darling Peace is all grown.
“Well, I feel better now,” Mary comments. “Tonight, I’ll swing into action.”
Loud laughter takes all of us. I stand up to have a second serving of my meal. When I return, Peace asks about Naomi. I set my meal on my lap quietly. I don’t want to talk about it but when I’m with the girls, there’s really nothing I can keep a secret. So, I take my seat and let out everything.
“What sort of monster is he?” Honey is most appalled. “So because she won’t get pregnant for him he decides to destroy her womb?”
“How did they even meet in the first place?” Mary asks. “Most times, the foundation of a relationship can tell you a lot about why that relationship is the way it is.”
“Well, they’re both from rich families but Charles’ family is richer and Naomi’s family basically sold her to him. He is almost nine years older than she is.”
“Thought as much,” Mary comments.
“They never loved each other but Nay wanted it to work in the beginning. Charles wasn’t just there. He would go away for long periods and when he returns he looks for reasons to abuse her.”
“Would you believe it if I told you that they have been married for six years and have had sex only twelve times.”
“What?!” Honey yells. “Twice every year or what?”
“I don’t know but that’s what she told me. And twelve times, it was terrible. He would give her everything – his money, cars, access to his bank accounts but not himself.”
Mary frowns. “Is he gay?”
“No. He has a mistress.”
“So why can’t he love his wife?”
“Naomi is beautiful, educated and from a wealthy family. She also runs his business well. She is the perfect wife and he can’t do without her. She knows this, and that is why she has refused to get pregnant for him.”
“And why she chose to be a lesbian?”
“She said she found love in the arms of her aerobics instructor four years ago and hasn’t looked at any man after that. Asides that, the abuse makes her hate men.”
“I’m happy for her,” Honey says snidely. “She should just carry her lips away from yours. And I think it’s time you too should leave her and her marital problems alone as her husband warned.”
“Honey, he has involved me and I will give him what he’s looking for.”
“Meaning, I want to know what he means by that his threat. The fool must be mad to send me that type of text. And that nonsense he did to Nay, he will pay for it.”
My friends are shocked at my stance on the issue.
“Cee, this is just a harmless question o,” Peace utters quietly. “Don’t be annoyed that I’m asking but are you in love with Naomi?”
“So I have to be in love with her before I help her out of an abusive situation abi? You girls think that if it happened to any of you I would just walk away?”
“No. I was merely asking…”
“Naomi is my friend. I have grown to like her and I will not sit down and let anyone touch her again.”
“But Celia,” Honey faces me, “what if you know only half of the story? What if there’s more to this?”
“Honey, I will not sit and let a friend get hurt.”
“But when did you even meet her that you now call her your friend? It’s not the same type of friendship we have.”
“You and Genesis nko? If her husband abuses her, will you sit down and watch it happen?”
“You’re not getting me, Cee. The basis of this your friendship is not on leveled grounds. Your feelings are genuine but Naomi wants to have something deeper…”
“She is an abused woman! She only fell in love with me because she was looking for an escape!”
“Please, let’s leave this talk. I’m getting annoyed here.”
I see Mary pass Honey a look.
“Fine. I’ll let it be,” Honey tells me in a resigned tone. “Just be careful.”
No one says a word for a while. I feel somehow about the way I just spoke to Honey. To lighten the mood, I leave my seat and hug her, kissing her cheek.
“Seems like your Naomi has infected you with a kissing bug, Cee. Step away. I like dick too much.”
I don’t step away. I hug her again. I can’t help it. She smells like a baby. I think I might be having baby blues.
Just then my phone rings. I’m surprised to see that it’s Naomi calling. I leave the girls to take the call.
I smile. I am genuinely happy to hear her voice.
“Nay, how are you?”
“I’m good. You?”
“Gosh! I miss you, sweetie,” the lesbian in her says. I ignore the emotions I hear in her tone as I walk into Mary’s all-marble kitchen. I find a chair and lower myself on it.
“How are you feeling, Nay?”
“A lot better. I am so sorry about the way things went these past days. Whenever Charles gets into his monster mode, my world turns upside-down.”
“Charles did not get into his monster mode, Nay. Charles is a monster, and you have to get out of that marriage before he kills you.”
“He’s not going to kill me, Cece…”
“He almost killed you. Where is he right now?”
“He went to his girlfriend’s place. I don’t think he’s coming back until tomorrow. He forgot to take my phone along. He confiscated it and that’s why I haven’t been able to call you.”
“Did you know that he texted me last night?”
“I was with him when he did it. He questioned me about you. Apparently, he found out about our trip to Fiji. He’s convinced something is going on between us. I told him that we were just friends and that I offered you the job to be my PA and personal consultant but he doesn’t believe me. He doesn’t want me to see you again.”
“He has no right to tell you who you shouldn’t see. You’re a person of your own, Nay. You don’t have to take shit from him.”
“He’ll calm down, Cece. He’s just angry because he found out that I had been lying to him about not being able to get pregnant. All he wants is a baby. Once I get pregnant, he’ll get off my ass.”
I am speechless. My friend really needs help. She has no idea how oppressed she sounds right now.
“Nay, the worst thing you can do to yourself is to get pregnant for that man. Don’t even think about it. All that should be on your mind at this moment is how you will divorce him.”
“But I can’t.”
“Why not?” I almost cry.
“My money is tied to his. Both of us built our company from scratch but he put in more money than me. If I walk away, I’ll lose a lot.”
“But your life will be safe. You’ll be free. Don’t you want to be your own woman, date whoever you want to date, do whatever you want to do?”
“Celia, you don’t understand.”
I stare at a clock on the wall facing me. It’s just a few minutes past six. “Nay, I’m coming over so we can talk better.”
I hang up and hurry back to the living room.
“I want to dash somewhere and come back real quick.”
“Where are you going?” Mary questions.
“It’s not far from here.”
Honey stares at her watch. “Let me kuku follow you and find my way to the family house. We have a meeting.”
Peace shakes her head. “The Onuoras and their meetings.”
Honey stands and takes Jiney in her arms.
“She’s so adorable,” Mary comments, kissing the child’s forehead.
“Don’t worry, you’ll soon have yours,” Honey tells her. “Thanks for the sweet rice.”
I impatiently wait for Honey by the door as she hugs Mary and Peace.
“Cee, you can go home from there,” Peace says to me.
“Yeah. I’ll find my way. Don’t worry about me.”
I rush back and hug my friends and dash out with Honey.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I park outside Naomi’s compound and walk to the gate. The gateman lets me in after informing me that Naomi is expecting me. I take a long walk to the main house and I am let in by the maid. I see Naomi walking towards me just as I step in.
“You can leave,” she tells the maid as she spreads out her arms to hug me. I notice, just before our bodies touch, that she has lost so much weight.
She hugs me and clings to me like I am a long lost lover.
“You have no idea how I’ve missed you, Cece.”
I want to tell her I’ve missed her too but I don’t want to give her the wrong impression.
“How are you?” She breaks the hug but caresses my cheek. If she is Shady and we are in this position, we would be kissing now. The awkwardness makes me pull away. She takes my hand.
“Come this way.”
She leads me to her main living room. This is quite different from the one I was taken to the first time I was here. It is more spacious and carries that look that marks living rooms of people who collect expensive art and décor items from all over the world. Everything in it is either gold-plated or nearly so. If one sells the room and the items in it, the money made would be enough to rent another house for years. It’s a shame that Naomi has all of this and can go anywhere she wants to in the world at a whim and yet she has no freedom.
“Let me get you something to drink.” She walks through another door, leaving it slightly open, and I see that it’s the room I was led to the first time I was here. The place is cozier and has a modern feel to it.
Naomi soon returns with two glasses of God-knows-what. It’s amazing how her skin heals. I had expected to see her still marked by bruises but nothing on her shows that she has faced any type of violence, except for a fresh scar on her chin.
“It’ll go,” she tells me as she notices me staring at it. “I heal nicely.”
I take what she offers, smell it and decide I don’t want it.
“You don’t like it?”
I shake my head. She downs it at a go, clutches her glass and sits beside me.
“I really missed you.”
“Cut it, Naomi. That’s not why I’m here.”
“I know.” She lifts a leg up on the sofa and leans towards me.
“Nay, you have to get out of this marriage fast. And while you’re planning to do so, don’t make the mistake of getting pregnant.”
“Cece, I understand why you want me to do this. I really do but it’s not so easy to get up and just leave…”
“Are you waiting till you’re six feet under?”
“God has nothing to do with it, Naomi. He will not force you out of here. Only you can do it.”
“Charles is…” She clasps her fingers around her glass of liquor. “He’s not always like this. It comes and goes. Sometimes he hits me just twice a year and it’s always my fault. Maybe I was disrespectful to him at work or he gives me instructions and I ignore them or I am rude to his mom… He’s generally nice. You understand it, don’t you? It’s like what happened to you with your husband. He’s a nice man but you pushed him to the wall and he reacted. We women are like that and men, they don’t know how to hold themselves.”
I rub my eyes in utter frustration. I can’t believe this side of Naomi. I’ve always seen her as a strong, independent, successful woman. Who is this person with me?
I am about to respond to her when she suddenly springs up, runs to the nearest window and peeps out.
“Shit! He’s back!”
“Who is back?”
“Charles! He’s back! He’s not supposed to come back this night. Cece, you have to go. Get up.” She stretches her arm to me as she returns to the sofa.
“I’m not going anywhere…”
“Celia, please! He’ll kill me if he sees you here. Please!”
I stand up. “I’ll stay right here. I’m not going to run out like a rat hiding from a cat. I’m not afraid of him. And I think it’s time someone faced him. I want to see if he’s man enough when his shit is thrown back at his face.”
“Celia, please.” She clutches her dress, eyes darting to the entrance. “Please, don’t do this to me.”
Unfortunately, my ears are blocked. I am enraged and have gone into that mode that Shady says only God and peppered chicken can get me out of.
Too late. The door opens and soon we hear Charles’ footsteps. I brace myself for what is to come, and it comes at us as I expect it would. Tall, huge and quite ugly. A beast in human skin. It looks at its wife and back at me with four o’clock eyes. Even I will abort any offspring it deposits in me. Charles Ogbeiwi is an appalling man.
“Hi darling,” Naomi greets as she sweeps towards him. I note that he doesn’t respond.
“You have a visitor,” he says after she hugs him. He gives me the look that demands that I acknowledge his presence. I don’t.
“Yes, this is my friend…”
“Celia,” I say defiantly.
“Celia,” he repeats. And then laughs. I smile, lifting just one corner of my lips to spell out a smirk. I wait for him to say something about the text he sent to me but he doesn’t. Rather he speaks into Naomi’s ear and they both walk to the other room.
Things are silent for a while and even when I pick out their voices, they’re very low. Something tells me to leave but I don’t listen, not with the way my heart is pounding. I want to see how this ends. The problem with us barrack kids is that we love trouble. I remember Joey taking me around Kaduna town in his small Volkswagen beetle in those days, just looking for who would cross our path. We both enjoyed the thrill of seeing stupid bastards get beat. It is the same way I feel right now.
I hear a sound and I pay close attention to the door leading to the next room. It is left open but I can see only Naomi. She is speaking, shaking her head, gesticulating in a defensive manner. As I try to make out what is happening, I see her head fling to the side as if she has just been slapped. It happens so fast that I am not sure I witnessed it. I hold my breath to see what will happen next. Several seconds go by and when I begin to conclude that I imagined what I saw, it happens again. And this time, I actually see the hand that hits her. I can’t believe my eyes.
But he does it yet again and she moves backwards, begging, whimpering.
“Didn’t I say I didn’t want to see her near you?!” The monster emerges in a bawl as his hand strikes one more time. It’s more forceful than the rest and it sends Naomi to her knees. I am in utter shock that he would do this in my presence. My feet itch to move and the boiling rage in me longs to rush towards her but curiosity keeps me back. I want to witness this. I want to know what my friend goes through. I need a story, a reason to react.
I watch as she lifts her hands to shield her face when he towers over her. She is crying and begging but he doesn’t listen. He throws yet another fist and she falls flat to the floor. My feet move fast and I rush into the room.
“What type of devil are you?!” I scream as I jump in-between them. He advances towards me. I face him squarely. “You’ll hit me too?! Please, go ahead and make my evening!”
He looks down on me in condescension but at the same time I can see that he is taken aback by my brazenness. It fuels my trouble.
“Hit me, coward! Or I’ll give you reason to.”
“Celia, no.” Naomi stands and puts her arms around me from behind.
“You’re a small man!”
The veins on his neck bulge out as his breathing reaches a crescendo. I expect him to burst anytime soon but he remains there, a man whose ego has been deflated by a woman. I wait, still, for him to do his worst. Instead he points at the door.
“Get out of my house!” Spittle hits my face as he growls.
“Let’s go, Nay.” I can feel her holding tightly to me.
“Naomi, if you step out of this room, never come back here! I’ll divorce you and leave you with nothing!”
“Fuck you and your threats! She’ll see you in court–!”
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
I make to move towards the door with Naomi but he grabs my shoulder with his paw, grabs Naomi’s hand with the other and tears us apart. When he lets go of me, the force of his strength flings me to a bookshelf. A vase resting on it shaken by the impact, leaves its position and crashes down on my head.
Perfect! This is what I have been aiming for. All I need is just a scratch and Joey will have his boys burn this house down.
Naomi tries to come for me but Charles stops her by pushing her behind him. He then comes for me, hooks those ugly hands on my upper arms and drags me out of the house. I know I should stay calm but I struggle and make it difficult for him. I want his fingers to leave marks on my body. I want to stir my brother’s bloodlust. Charles must pay for everything he has done to Naomi through the years. He must bleed for every drop of blood of hers that stained my clothes that night when she passed out in my arms.
As he takes me towards the gate of the house, I hear Naomi calling and crying. The sound of her voice breaks my heart. I fear for what he would do to her when I’m gone. I pray she stays strong. I hope I have not made things worse for her.
Here’s an announcement to new readers!
It’s Another Novociane Saturday is a combination of two separate stories. One of them voted as the best series on Moskedapages by my fans. You would enjoy this sequel better if you start the stories from the beginning.
Catch up with It’s Another Saturday here
God bless you!
Honey’s call meets me in the middle of a birth. My colleague holds my phone to my ear while I’m severing an umbilical cord. Honey wants to know if I can do dinner at theirs. I reply that I’m up to it. She tells me to wear a nice dress. There would be guests. Okay, I reply, thinking about the little red dress I bought off a colleague last week just to butter up to her and her gang of bitchy nurses. They still hate me for being close to Jide.
Honey hangs up, I go back to my patient. Hours pass, darkness comes and I am still at work. I have totally forgotten that I have to do dinner at the Onuoras. Honey calls again. This time my hand holds the phone. The first thing I say to her is “shit!”
“You totally forgot.”
“I am so sorry.”
“Please hurry over. Our guests just arrived.”
After she’s off the line, I dash out of the hospital like the mad woman I am. I don’t even have time to change from my scrubs. Thank God it’s a Sunday or I would have encountered some bad traffic on the way.
I smell my armpits. Not so fresh. I have been at the hospital since last night and haven’t had time for a shower today. I wonder if I can dash home, do a quick one, change and meet up on time.
I hiss, suddenly annoyed for agreeing to the dinner. Knowing how tired I am, I should have declined Honey’s invitation. But you see the thing about Honey is that she is so sweet that you can’t say no to her. I can understand why Jide is constantly smitten. She has charm, even over the phone.
“Olodo!” My head is sticking out of a window to insult a keke driver who thinks this is a good time to try to scratch my car. “You wan die, abi?!”
The guy rains abuses on me in Yoruba as he squeezes between my car and a trailer, barely missing my side mirror. I shake my head and ask myself for the zillionth time why I made this bold move to relocate to Lagos.
I blame my mom.
“Go to Lagos,” she said. “Plenty of men there. You’ll find a husband.”
As if there is a large sea of husbands here just waiting to be fished out and married. To her – and everybody else in my family who is married, finding a life partner is as easy as breathing and yet when I ask them to give me a husband they keep bringing me trash.
My dad believes my standards are too high, and that one day I will come down to earth. But I am already at that point where I don’t need love again. Let me just marry and get everyone off my back. I know the danger in this. My friend did it and she is now stuck in an impossible situation in the name of marriage. But I know there are men out there who are mature enough to stay civil in a marriage that is not built on emotions and unnecessary romance. The problem is that such men are an endangered species. Everyone else is a dick these days.
I hiss again. To drown disturbing thoughts, I turn on the radio to Cool FM. I don’t know what is playing but it sounds nice and makes me start to bump my head. I love music. I can’t sing. I can’t dance. I don’t know who sings half of the songs on my playlist but I just love music. In fact, if I hear a song I like for the first time, I will sing along to it, chopping my mouth and shouting when I get the lyrics right – just like I’m doing right now and drawing the attention of people in a yellow, rickety bus.
Whatever. They can stare on. Who gives a rat’s ass? My house is just around the corner, anyways. I keep singing and thumping on my steering wheel until I make the turn to my street. I drive past the Onuoras’ residence on my way home. When I arrive at mine, I rush into the shower and step out five minutes later. And this is not because I am in a hurry. I have never understood why people spend forever in the bathroom. Once my body parts are thoroughly washed and rinsed, what else is there to do?
After drying my body, I slip into a thong. No time to rub any type of cream. I brush my hair up in a bun, put on minimal makeup, a pair of diamond studded earrings and matching necklace…and oh, before I forget, I douse my armpits with some deodorant.
I stare in the mirror. I look good to go. A pair of flats compliments the look and finally some spurts of my favorite Victoria’s Secret perfume.
By now Honey is calling. I choose to ignore the call. When I leave the house, I hop on a commercial bike that takes me to theirs. A feeling of relief washes over me the moment I knock on the front door. Honey is there in a flash. When she opens the door, her face lights up in an approving smile.
“Hauwa, you look dashing. Where on earth do you get your dresses from?”
We hug and I walk in.
“Well, I shop here and there,” I answer, my ears picking voices coming from the dining area. “How many people?” I whisper in her ear.
“Just three,” she answers. “Come.”
As I follow her, it occurs to me that I have no idea what this dinner is about. I shrug. I’m hungry, so whatever.
“Look who the cat dragged in,” Honey announces the moment we get to the dining area. I quickly pick out the faces of Jide, Genesis and her husband. There’s a third guy there and I have no idea who he is, although I think I recall seeing him at the appreciation party Honey dragged me to on Friday.
“Huawei,” Jide greets, calling me a name that sounds nothing like mine. I forgive him for it like the million other times I forgave him.
“Good evening,” I greet. Genesis and her husband respond but the guy doesn’t. He simply keeps his stare on me and it is rather uncomfortable. Honey makes things bumpier by placing me directly opposite him.
“Everyone, I want to introduce you to one of my closest friends,” Jide says. “She took care of me like a sister would her brother at a point in my life when I was kind of discovering myself.”
I snort. I don’t mean to but Jide is quite an idiot. Discovering himself? Who is he kidding? He was a dog on heat, and he could have easily smashed me if I gave him as much as a wayward wink. Discovering himself, my ass.
I notice everyone is watching me. Am I supposed to be saying something?
“Nice to meet you all,” I mutter.
Genesis smiles and that beautiful dimple of hers gets my eye. A fancy plate is put before me flanked by impressive stainless steel cutlery and I am asked to feel free to serve myself. There are three dishes and all of them look mouthwatering. I am at a loss on what to choose.
“Try the pasta,” the strange man facing me says. Jide had mentioned his name but I hadn’t caught it. “Everything is awesome but the pasta is a hit.”
Only I hear him speak. Jide is saying something which they are all laughing to.
“Or you could do a buffet of everything,” the guy goes on. I am forced to look at him now. On his face I find a thin, pointed nose that is just like his thin frame. His eyes are like black seeds – dark and cryptic, like the well-groomed beard that stands out from the beards of the other men at the table. These days, men are going full on their stubbles but this particular man keeps it simple, giving him a much younger look. I easily conclude that he is in his forties. There’s a certain poise and calm that come with men his age, just like Genesis’ husband who is seated beside me.
“You want me to help?” he asks.
“Sure.” I smile and watch him begin to bless my plate with pasta, a potato meal that is unfamiliar to me and some rice that is rich with vegetables and bits of beef.
“Thank you,” I smile at him.
He smiles back. My eyes settle on his lips. They seem to belong to someone else and not him. Someone more rascally.
“So Hauwa, Jide tells us you’re a midwife as well,” Genesis’ husband, whose name I just remember as Dominic, speaks. His voice is raspy.
“Yeah, we work in the same hospital,” I reply.
“So where are you from?” Genesis asks as she rests her hand on her chin.
“I’m from Gombe state.”
“You’re a Muslim?”
“Forgive my ignorance but I just automatically assumed you were a Muslim because of the name.”
I tell her that I understand. People from the south naturally conclude that everyone who comes from the north is a Muslim especially when they bear the same type of names the Muslims bear.
“So you’re Hausa?”
I excuse her ignorance again with a patient smile. “No, I’m not.”
“Oh. Seyi’s half-Fulani, half- Yoruba,” she informs me. I store the name in my head. Seyi. He doesn’t look like a Seyi to me. He looks more like someone who would fit in nicely at my hometown.
“You’re from Kwara state?” I ask him.
“Yeah.” I see a little surprise on his face. “How did you guess?”
“I think you should eat. You haven’t touched your food.”
I lower my eyes to my meal and begin eating. Everything is delicious, I say to Honey. She grins in appreciation.
“I can’t believe you only started cooking recently,” Genesis comments. “I might soon come to you for lessons.”
“Me too,” I add.
Honey is blushing. Jide is proud. Dinner goes on. There’s small talk and big talk and small talk again as we move on to dessert. Honey doesn’t let me leave the table to clear the dishes. She and Jide gladly do the job and return with chocolate cake and ice-cream.
By its name and appearance, the taste is orgasmic. When it comes to food, especially sweet things, I am quite expressive. And it is no wonder I let out a moan at the first taste of the ice-cream. There is silence and then laughter follows. I open my eyes which have been shut and stare at everyone shyly.
“I’m so sorry but I can’t help it. This is good,” I compliment.
“Thank you,” Honey responds. Dominic mentions something about ice-creams and they fall back into conversation once more. Seyi joins them this time. For the rest of the dinner, I am ignored by him. Maybe the way I moaned over that ice-cream turned him off. I know his type – the proper gentleman who likes well-behaved women that are about decorum and comportment and all those dainty things stuck-up rich people do.
But why should I even care what he thinks about me? I don’t know anything about him, not even his surname. So, I pretend he is not there as I direct remarks to everyone else but him. Anytime Honey tries to lump us together in a comment or question, I subtly remove him from it. And in that manner the night wears on until they announce that they are ready to leave. I also make known that it’s way past my bedtime.
“You’re leaving too?” Honey links her arm in mine. I am seated in-between her and Jide.
“It’s past ten, Honey.”
“It is, isn’t it? Well, you guys, thank you for coming over,” she says, rising up, after her guests stand to their feet. Hugs and handshakes are shared. I insist that I have to leave as we all walk outside.
“Genesis, do me a favor and take Hauwa home,” Honey requests. “You do remember her house, don’t you?”
“I do. But Seyi came with his car. Maybe she can join him and she’ll give him directions?”
My stare passes from Honey to Genesis and my dumb brain finally registers that the whole dinner has been about getting Seyi and I together. Why didn’t anyone pre-inform me?
“It’ll be my pleasure to take you home, Hauwa,” Seyi states. “If it’s okay with you?”
“It’s fine.” I smile.
He leads the way to his car, and as I predict, it’s a luxurious beast of metal, manly and fitting for his person. His perfume is stimulating but not in an intrusive manner. The way it blends with the leather smell of the car’s interior reminds me of a warm night in a deluxe hotel suite in some European country during winter, where one is lost in the arms of a lover, binging on kisses and sparkling red wine.
“So, which way?”
He has just driven out of the Onuora compound. The direction to my house is on our right but I have every intention of derailing him just to soak up the posh scent of him. The man already has my weakness.
“Turn left,” I direct. The car swerves to the left and goes on a slow cruise. No intruding vehicles or unnecessary pedestrians in our way. I breathe in and get in more of Seyi who remains quiet all through the ride. This time, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. In fact, if he speaks, it will ruin the perfectness of the moment. And it’s as if he knows this. He turns on some music that sounds like a mix of soul and jazz. I don’t ask him who is singing; I just let the moment take me.
“Which way?” he asks again. We are at a junction. To connect back to my house, we can either take left or right but neither of them seem like an option I want to consider.
Just take me away already, Seyi.
He doesn’t say a word. The only time he speaks is when a call comes in and he has to respond to it. After that, he continues on until we get to yet another junction.
“Are you sure we’re not going off your route? I thought you lived near Honey.”
“Um…you can make a U-turn now.”
He gives me a questioning frown that doesn’t last on his face. But again, he is silent. On, we drive, all the way back to my street. We finally come to my house and I ask him to stop.
“You live here?” His head is angled to have a good look at my house which bears a large, black gate and high fence. I live with just one other tenant, who is residing in the apartment upstairs.
“Yes. This is where I live.”
“Cool. So, can I walk you in, just to be sure you get in safely?”
I think of the mess that is my living room and the junk I have in my verandah which I haven’t had time to stash away in its proper place. I will not disgrace my ancestors this night.
“No, it’s fine. Thank you for the ride.”
“Do you mind if I get your number, call you tomorrow or next or maybe when I get home?”
Oh, wow. Call me tonight? Dude wants to get laid badly.
“If you wouldn’t mind, of course.”
I mind. I actually do. In fact, when a guy I meet for the first time asks for my number on that same day, I never pick his calls. They only want one thing from me and I stopped giving it a long time ago, hoping to find the one right man that truly deserves it. So far, no man has been worthy. I am not surprised that Seyi is no different. But curiously, I give him every single digit of my cell phone number. I get a call from him immediately while we both sit there, listening to who I don’t know is singing.
“Have a lovely night, Hauwa.”
The way he pronounces my name is beautiful. Not the way they all do it here, ignoring that it has a ‘U’.
I step down from the car and walk home, forcing myself not to look back. But when I make it through the gate, I find a crack between the wall and peep out to see him driving away. I continue to my front door, insert my key in and only then do I realize that I had actually forgotten to wear a bra.
Who the hell forgets to wear a bra?!
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“I can’t believe she left her house without a bra.”
My laughter is loud at Jide’s statement. I have seen all sorts of crazy but Hauwa tonight, with her affronting nipples, takes the cake.
“Is she always that crazy?” I ask him as I walk around our bedroom with Jiney resting on my shoulder. She is having a restless night.
“Huawa has always been like that. She’s stylish and gorgeous from afar but when you get to know her, she’s a walking disaster. She sometimes reminds me of that Susan character in Desperate Housewives.”
“You used to watch Desperate Housewives?”
“And Telemundo. When you’re with a woman for hours who is in labor, you have to do everything to entertain her.”
“And Zee World?”
“Nah! I drew the line there.”
I laugh again. Marriage is sometimes beautiful. You discover new things about your partner every day. Last week I found out that Jide eats only the hard core of pineapples and never the juicier parts. Before then, I had never noticed it. Two days ago, he discovered that I have a birthmark behind my right ear.
“So about Didi…” he says, walking towards me. My light mood dies and I exhale heavily. A short while ago, after our guests left, Jide shared with me details of the conversation he had with Oba about Didi and the auctioning of her virginity.
And disheartening. I had high hopes for her. And I still do. I don’t intend to leave this matter as is.
“Let’s talk to her,” I suggest.
“Same thought here.”
We put Jiney to sleep.
Didi is in the living room, watching E! and having a bowl of my chocolate ice-cream.
“I took what’s left. It was little,” she tells me.
“It’s fine. I’ve had too much. My boobs will leak if I take more. Enjoy.”
We watch TV with her for a while and then I tell her we want to have a talk. She doesn’t object. Jide speaks, asking her is she registered online to have her virginity auctioned. She darts her eyes around before admitting that she had plans to give herself to the highest bidder. But only for fun.
“I was curious. I just wanted to know if it was for real. I promise you, nothing to it.” She says this, giggling and bouncing her chubby body on the sofa.
“You’re sure it was just for the kicks?” Jide probes.
“Ha-ahn, Uncle Jide, I’m not that stupid.”
“But what if one day, this gets exposed online?” I ask. “What will you do? It’s the same thing as prostitution. You are selling your body.”
“I was only kidding, Aunty Honey. I didn’t mean anything by it. If I did, I wouldn’t have done it with Oba’s knowledge. Think about it.”
I do. I think about it and maybe, she is telling the truth. The set jawline of my husband’s face, however, believes differently.
“Well, it’s a good thing you were just goofing around,” he states. “We can’t imagine you doing something so utterly stupid. Popsi would be highly disappointed if he hears about this.”
“I know, and I’m sorry. I didn’t think it through.”
“Please ask them to delete your account from their database.”
“I will. Thank you.”
Jide walks back to our bedroom while I decide to stop at Yazmin’s. But when I get to her door, I change my mind. I should let her sleep. It’s late, anyway. I join Jide in bed, ready to make love, but he is as tired as I am. We spoon, say a prayer and fall asleep.
When morning comes, I am awoken by the sensation of being filled. I open my eyes and see him on top of me. I respond with an agreeable sigh as my walls slowly stretch to accommodate him. He goes in hard and deep. My body quivers as he begins to grind his body into mine. His movements are fluid and measured, and it’s sweetly torturous. But it’s the sweetest things that don’t last long. Jide soon lets go, just at the moment when I feel like I’m about to have an orgasm.
“Noooo!” I cry, slapping his arms for being a sloppy one-minute man this morning.
“I’m sorry,” he splutters in laughter.
“So not fair.”
He lowers and gives me kisses all over my face until I forgive him. He then tells me the sweetest things every wife should hear each morning.
“I’ll make it up to you, sugams. I promise. Right now, I have to rush to work.”
“Me too. But just one more…” I beg. I can feel him already growing hard again.
He shakes his head. “Not now.”
Wicked man. I push him away. When he leaves to the bathroom, I throw a bathrobe on and go to Yazmin’s bedroom. I knock on the door. She doesn’t respond. I knock again and wait. Still no response. I turn the key and walk in.
The room is empty. The bed is made, blanket folded, floor spotless. But Yazmin is gone.
“Yaz?” I push the bathroom door in. She is not there. I leave the room back to mine and pick up my phone to call her. The line rings on the other end. She answers.
“Yaz, where are you?” I ask like a worried mother.
“Honey…” She sighs. “I’m on my way to Abuja.”
“Abuja? To do what there?”
“I have a plane to catch to Texas. I’m going home, Honey.”
My eyes fill with tears. I slowly sit on the bed and listen to her cry on the phone. It’s depressing.
“Are you coming back?”
“I don’t know. He doesn’t love me, Hon. He never did.”
My face is soaking wet now. “And the baby? What will you do?”
“I’m keeping it.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“Honey, I gotta go. I have to check in.”
“Okay. Will you call me when you get to Abuja?”
“I love you, Yaz.”
She is mute. I know she’s still crying.
“Give a big kiss to Tobe for me.”
She hangs up. I rub my palms over my cheeks to dry my tears. What a sad way to start the day. I so hate Emeka right now and I have to let him know how much. I scroll through my contact list and tap on his name. The line begins to ring.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I am happy today. After one week of being miserable and talking to a therapist, I wake up on the sunny side this morning. Maybe it’s because my husband is lying beside me and we’re back to our old selves, all fight gone, and a resolution reached on how to handle our marital situation with Yazmin.
Last night, Emeka and I had a talk we had both been avoiding for over a year. After he showed up at Mary’s place drunk and calling me Nicole, I gave him a nasty slap, a cold shower and some time to cool off. Afterwards, we spoke and he was open about his feelings for Yazmin.
“I love her, Tola. Maybe not the same way I love you. You’re my best friend but I have deep feelings for Yaz.”
“I’m finding it hard to let her go. She means that much to me.”
My heart broke a million times hearing him say that but since he was only being honest, I took the revelation in bravely.
“But I will let her go if you just say the word, Tols. I can’t lose you for anything.”
“I don’t want you to let her go. Yazmin loves you, Mex, and she’s human and has a heart that you keep on breaking. Asides that, what will you do with Tobe if you ask her to leave?”
He was quiet. We were sitting out in the dark, just outside Mary’s kitchen. There was a table before us with dinner we both hadn’t touched.
“But this triangle isn’t working, Omotola.”
“It isn’t working because you keep treating Yazmin less than she deserves. Mex, I’m not in competition with her. I’m holding my place in your life. She should feel secure in hers. If she doesn’t, it’s your fault.”
“Can I love you both equally?”
“No one is asking you to. But neither of us should know how you feel about the other. Just make her happy. Is it that hard?”
“No. I’ve just been intentionally indifferent.”
“Please, go and make up with her because we’re all in this together. If one side hurts, the whole body hurts.”
“You’re okay with me spending quality time with her?”
“Haven’t we been doing this already, Mex? And it was going smoothly until you screwed it up. Me, I have a hospital to run and very little time to perform any wifely duties. You and Yaz have all the time in the world. Just make sure you’re not exhausted when I want you.”
I could see relief on his face. Dude was actually scared to have this talk. I had avoided it too but my therapist suggested it and I’m glad I listened to her.
He left his chair and came over to mine. Leaning over from behind, he rubbed my belly and was lucky enough to feel the baby kick.
“Please, eat. I made the food just for you,” I told him. He kissed me. It was a beautiful night that stretched into this beautiful morning.
And now, while he still sleeps, I leave the bed for my daily exercise. I’m a fit mama. I work out every dawn and dusk. Add that to eating the right meals and staying off anything fatty. I intend to have a healthy baby so that the pain of losing Majekodunmi is totally forgotten. Sometimes I remember him and cry. I wish I hadn’t held his underdeveloped body after I birthed him. The image still haunts me. To know that he was part of me and lived in me and yet died in me is not something I can put in words. I used to be an advocate for abortion until Jide handed me his lifeless, little form, wrapped in a blanket on which friends and family wrote out heartfelt messages. It had been hard for me to lay him to rest. I mourned him for a long time without anyone knowing. It was at that time I sought God and begged him to bring him back to me if he still loved me despite all my sins. God answered my prayers, and today I’m carrying another boy. His name is Akintunde, meaning the warrior has come again. It’s also my late father’s name who was born under similar circumstances.
Nobody knows how much this baby means to me and that is why I won’t let anyone, not even Emeka, give me negative aura during this pregnancy.
I pick out the sound of Emeka’s phone ringing. He is still asleep and doesn’t hear it. I go for it and see that it’s Honey calling. I pick the call; before I can say a word, she goes into a tirade, calling Emeka out for being unfeeling towards Yazmin. I tap Emeka awake. He opens an eye and I put Honey on speakerphone.
“You better not let her leave the shores of Nigeria or you’ll lose her!” Honey warns. “Just go and bring her back, abeg!”
“Honey?” Emeka is confused. Still sleepy. “What’s going on?”
“Yazmin is on her way to Abuja. She’s leaving you. Go and bring her back. She’s at the airport. She’s hurting deeply, Mex. Please, go and bring her.”
“Shit.” Emeka springs up. “Honey, let me call you back.”
He ends the call and immediately dials Yazmin’s number. It rings and stops without her answering. Emeka doesn’t wait. He picks his t-shirt, my car key and his phone. I get a kiss before he leaves. I go back to my exercise, mulling over the whole thing. My youngest sister who is in the States is a hardcore feminist and is not talking to me right now because she feels I am being oppressed over my decision to stay married to a man who has another wife. I told her, during our last conversation, that I was okay with the status quo.
“Polygamy is patriarchal and it is all about oppressing women!” she had shouted. “Will your husband allow you have another husband if the tables were turned?!”
“I have no intention of having another husband.”
“What if you fall in love with another man? Will Emeka let you marry him or have sex with him?”
Her question hit me hard. But the truth was that I was capable of being physical without putting my emotions to it. That was why it was easy to sleep with Jide. Emeka, however, is not that type of person. That is how I know that he loves Yazmin. And it is something I have come to accept. As for how he is able to love two people at the same time, I discovered human beings are capable of doing so, when as a teenager, I found out that my mom was having an emotional affair with our pastor.
My parting word to my sister was that human relationships were complex and Emeka and I were doing fine with our arrangement. Her response to me was, “You’re oppressed, and I am ashamed that you’re my elder sister. Don’t ever call me unless you divorce his ass!”
We haven’t spoken to each other since. I don’t care.
I leave the room to the kitchen for breakfast and to also tell Mary that I have long overstayed my welcome and I’m ready to leave.
I find her and Ekene in the kitchen. They are having a huge fight. I give them some privacy but stay within eye and earshot. Their fight has to do with Ekene’s insistence on not wanting to have a child at this time and Mary doing everything to get pregnant. Unkind words are thrown from both sides. Mary can’t stand the heat and so she leaves the kitchen. Ekene takes a chair. He fiddles with his phone for a while, thumbing over the screen, putting it down, lifting it up and repeating the process a few times. When he stops, he slants his head in my direction.
“Mrs. Onuora, you can come out now.”
Embarrassed, I step away from the darkness and stroll towards him.
“Guess you heard everything.”
“Just a little.”
He stands up. He is all dressed to leave the house. His light blue on dark blue attire, complemented by a dark brown tie and matching shoes remind me of how much of the outside world I have missed. I can’t wait to go back to work.
“Breakfast?” he offers.
“No, I’m good. I’ll do it myself.”
“You’re my guest. Please, sit.” He rolls up his sleeves. “Oats? Pap? Rice pudding? Madam made moi-moi.”
Ekene puts a pot on fire and pours some oat into it, according to my specifications. He adds water and returns to me.
“Can you help me talk to your friend?”
“What’s going on?”
He takes his seat. “Before we got married, I had badly wanted a baby, just to make my mom happy. But she died and Tomiwa and I sat down and decided we would wait two years before we start planning for one. However, three months in, she begins to tell me that she wants to take out her IUD. She wants a baby. I get angry because this is not what we agreed. I scold her, she apologizes and doesn’t bring up the topic for a while but just last month, I stumble across a pregnancy kit she had discarded outside. I ask her about it and she confesses that she had the IUD taken out. I am mad at her. We have a fight and don’t talk to each other for days. Later on, she comes to me and apologizes and tells me how badly she wants a child. But I still don’t want one. Tola, a child changes everything. It changes us, and I’m in this amazing stage with her right now where I’m deeply falling for her.
“You know how our marriage went. It wasn’t really about love. We were both ready and desperate to be married and we did it. Soon after, I really started to fall in love. But all Tomiwa wants from me is a baby. Do you know how that hurts, Tola?”
“I feel like your friend may never really fall for me.”
“Don’t say that. These things take time for some people.”
“I’m crazy about Mary. You guys have no idea.”
“So if you love her that much, give her what she wants.”
“So that she’ll push me away? No, thanks. I know how fathers are quickly replaced by their babies. Especially with first time moms. But that’s not what bothers me. I’m afraid that Tomiwa is simply living out a blueprint of how she feels her life ought to go. Find a man, get married and have kids. I don’t think I fit into her grand plan.”
I tell him I think otherwise. Mary doesn’t always talk about him but her feelings are strong. She doesn’t seem like the expressive type.
“She needs time, Kene. And maybe…just maybe a baby will bring you guys together.”
“I doubt that it would.”
He stands up to check my oatmeal. Like Tomiwa, Ekene is stubborn.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
My activities for the day:
>Fight with a bus conductor over fifty naira.
>Insult a man’s entire generation on an ATM line when he tries to jump in front of me from nowhere.
>Get to work and generally ignore everybody. When they try to talk to me, snap at them.
>Get scolded by Wura for my nastiness.
>Enter the bathroom to have a good cry.
>Come back to the office go on Facebook to troll and give all my haters a piece of my mind.
>Return to the bathroom to have another weepy moment when one of them calls me a fat pig and adds a meme to it.
>Sit outside the office in rebellion and decide to do nothing until closing hours.
>Pick up my phone and finally dial the person who is responsible for my anger.
“Can you come over to see me at home?”
“Jide’s place or…?”
“No, the Ditorusin mansion.”
“Okay. I’ll be there in a bit.”
I hear him saying something else but I cut the line. I walk back into the office, pick my handbag and close for the day. I avoid the irritating buses I find outside the building for the sake of world peace. I have decided to use an Uber instead. As I wait for one, I rehearse the words I would tell my dumbass younger brother who feels like he has a say in my life and what happens to my vagina. He is so dead today.
My phone rings. I look up and see my Uber waiting. I hurry towards it. When I get in, I go back on Facebook to finish what I started. I can’t overemphasize how angry I am.
The Uber driver, like the million others out there, doesn’t even as much as blink an eye. I keep cussing and hissing until I arrive home. I enter my room and find stupid Oba waiting.
I’ve always considered him the cutest amongst my brothers. It’s about the swag. He reminds me of DJ Kasbi who for reasons known to him abandoned me when the chemistry between us was peaking. I’ll still take him with open arms if he finds his way back to me. He can gladly pop my cherry for no fee at all.
And why on earth do my moralistic brothers find the idea of me auctioning my virginity such a disgusting thing? The average dumb girl will give it freely to a lost soul who would break her heart. If she can make a lot of cash from it, why not?
“Hey, Di,” Oba greets. I ignore him as I loosen the knot that holds my hair and take off my jacket.
“You won’t talk to me?”
I flash angry eyes at him. He stares back like an innocent child.
“Get off my bed!” I hit him with my jacket.
He stands. My hand knocks off his cap.
“I told you something in confidence, Obasi. Only you! I even remember telling you not to tell anybody! But you go and run your mouth to Jide and his wife because you feel you have a say over my sex life!”
“I have not finished talking! Shut up!”
“Please, don’t shout.”
“I can shout as much as I want, Obasi because you’re a Judas! I trusted you with my secret but you betrayed me!”
“Didi, calm down.” He comes towards me. I move back, repulsed by him. “Please, listen to me…”
I don’t know how it happens but I respond to an instant, thoughtless urge to slap him. My palm meets his face and I feel the sting, even more than he does. There is a fleeting moment of silence between us and then he charges at me, grabs the hand that has hit him, swivel me around like I’m some doll and slams me to the wall.
“If you ever try the nonsense you just did, Ndidi, I will beat you without giving a fuck that you’re a girl.”
“Obasi! Have you gone mad?! Let me go!”
“I’ve endured enough of your nonsense – you ordering me around, using me as a driver, spending my money anyhow and on top of that, having the guts to slap me. If you try it again, you’ll regret what I’ll do to you.”
I am shocked. Oba again? My own baby brother manhandling me? Is this spoilt brat out of his mind or what?
I push back. “Leave me alone, Obasi!”
“Apologize? Oba, what has gotten into you?”
“Apologize or I’ll not let you go.”
I can’t believe this. Somebody tell me this boy is joking.
“Oba, let me go!”
“Apologize. It’s simple,” he says into my ear. “Say, ‘I am sorry for how I’ve been treating you.”
I feel hot, painful tears baking my eyes. This boy has gone loco.
I hesitate for a long time but when I see that he is not budging, I give in.
“I’m sorry,” I murmur, just to get him off my back – literally.
He releases me. I turn around and slap him again. This assault packs more punch than the first. Oba takes the same hand, pins it above my head on the wall and pushes my back to it. I open my mouth to speak and he covers it with his.
Revulsion hits me as I use all my strength to push him away.
“You did not just kiss me, Oba!” I scream. “What is wrong with you?!”
We are both heaving as we glare at each other. I’m reeling over what just happened.
“I am your sister, Obasi!”
“You’re not my sister,” he replies before I can finish speaking.
“What is wrong with you?!”
“You are not my sister, Didi! Your mother is not my mother! Your father is not my father! They both lied to you! We, all of us, lied to you!”
I keep breathing like an ox that has just been chased around by a pride of lion. I refuse to believe what I just heard.
“My dad had an affair with your mom in 1995. You were already born then. There was no way he could have been your father.”
“They lied to you, Didi. Your real father is probably alive somewhere.”
“No,” I croak.
“No. I’m going to call Jide and ask.”
Oba doesn’t stop me, and the fact that he doesn’t, scares me. I reach for my phone and call Jide. He answers immediately.
I bite my lips before I speak. A sniffle escapes.
“Didi, are you okay?”
“No, Uncle Jide.”
“What’s going on? Talk to me.”
I pause. Jide is the sweetest brother on earth. How can he not be related to me?
“Oba… Oba just told me that daddy is not my biological father. Is it true?”
Jide is silent.
“Uncle Jide?” my voice breaks.
“Where is that Oba that told you that nonsense?”
“Is it true, Uncle Jide? Please, tell me.”
“Didi, when you come home, we’ll talk about it. Please, pass the phone to Oba if he’s there.”
I give Oba my phone. He taps the speaker button.
“Obasi,” Jide calls. “Leave where you are to a quiet place so I can insult you right now.”
Oba doesn’t leave. Jide goes ahead with the promised insult but he serves it in Yoruba. I don’t catch a thing he says; however, his reaction to what I told him only confirms what Oba revealed to me. I fall on my bed, my back hitting it hard. As I look up at the ceiling, I begin to cry. My mom, the only person I loved and trusted, lied to me. The man whom I thought was my dad lied to me. My real father must be some scum of the earth, living a terrible life somewhere. What did I do to deserve this, Lord Jesus?
I cover my face with a pillow, praying it chokes me to death. Oba lets me cry for some time but soon I feel him climbing the bed. He kneels astride me and forces the pillow off my face.
“Please, stop crying, Di.”
His voice is gentle, nothing like the Oba who was just rough with me. But his gentleness can’t take away my pain. When his palm tenderly wipes my tears, he finds it a waste of time as his efforts only make me cry more. He keeps begging me to stop but I can’t. The pain is overwhelming. He gives up and lies beside me.
“There’s a silver lining in all of this, though,” he says.
“What silver lining?” I snivel.
“I can make moves on you now that you know we’re not related. We can actually have a thing.”
I lose what little sanity I have left as I let out a miserable wail. This is so not happening to me.
“I hate you, Oba!”
Missed previous episodes of It’s Another Novocaine Saturday? Catch up here
“I don’t want to do this,” Genesis says out loud. She is talking to no one, although she is in the company of Zach and Zoe whom she has just dressed up for an outing. Her expression of frustration gets their attention and they both fix their stares on her.
“You guys want to go see grandma?”
The gurgle turns into a smile. Genesis sighs, regretting her decision to have the twins visit Mamisi. But the woman had begged to the point of embarrassment and left Genesis with no choice. Now, she wishes she can take back her consent.
“Ma, I’m ready.” Iya Idaya emerges from Genesis’ closet where she went to keep a few clothes. She is set to take the twins to Mamisi’s. She would stay there with them before bringing them back home by six.
“Please, always have your eyes on them.”
Iya Idaya lifts Zach from the bed. Genesis takes Zoe and together they leave the bedroom. The sound of Dominic’s robust laughter rings through the house as they walk down the stairs. He has a few friends over. Having just had lunch, they are now seated in the living room, drinking over hearty conversation.
“I want you back here with them at 6pm sharp, Iya Idaya. Not later.”
Genesis and Iya Idaya step outside to a waiting car. They strap the twins in their seats at the back and after giving them each a kiss, Genesis stands and watches as the car drives out of the compound. She goes back into the house only when the gate slides back into place.
Loud laughter from Dominic and his friends greet her when she walks in. She takes a peek to see how things are going, having no desire to join them. But Seyi who is among the group, calls her in. The conversation stops as she enters the room. Seyi makes space for her to sit beside him and as soon as she does, the banter continues.
“I think I’ve fallen in love,” Seyi reveals to her in a low tone.
“Fallen in love? That’s new.”
Seyi leaves the sofa and goes for a glass of wine for her.
“And who is the lucky girl?” Genesis takes the glass offered.
“Someone I’d like to meet today.” Seyi sits and crosses his legs, straightening creases on the navy blue kaftan he’s wearing. A pair of lace-up leather boots completes the attire which Genesis approves of. She has always argued with herself over whom she feels is more stylish between Seyi and Dominic. Although Seyi’s fashion sense is more expressive, it lacks the attention to detail Dominic has. But both men always impress with their looks, pampering themselves with the same attention they give their women. Not that Seyi has had a woman in a while. His last relationship with a much younger girl ended quite dramatically after a pregnancy scare. Since then he has stayed off females completely, concentrating on work as much as Dominic does.
“Remember your friend on Friday night at the party?” He straightens out his moustache.
“What friend?” Genesis asks.
“The fair one who was in the company of her husband, whom you called Sugar or something like that.”
“Yes, that one. Honey.”
“You’re in love with Honey?”
“No. But maybe if I had met her before her husband did, yeah, probably I’d have fallen for her. She’s got it. And that dress she wore…” Seyi gives a thumbs up.
“You even noticed her dress.”
“I’m sorry, my eyes pick out and appreciate sophistication by default… which reminds me to compliment the way you looked on that night. You killed it as usual.”
Genesis fights off a grin but her dimple betrays her. And for some reason, Dominic’s eye falls on her from across the room, adding to her blush.
“Thank you,” she says to Seyi.
“So, back to my crush.”
“She came with your friend.”
“Okay?” Genesis tries to recall the events on Friday night. So much had happened that she gave little attention to the people around her. She can hardly remember all that transpired that night.
“She was wearing a teal dress that had stones on it.”
Genesis had spent the entire Friday with Honey glamming up for what she thought was a charity ball. On their way to the party, Honey had made a quick stop at the junction of their street and picked Hauwa whose dress left a mark on Genesis.
“I loved that dress she had on,” Seyi comments.
“So her name is Hauwa?”
“She’s a Muslim?”
“I don’t know anything about her, Seyi. She’s Honey’s friend.”
“Is there a way I can see her today?”
Seyi leans in closer. “I thought about her all night on Friday, and the most of yesterday. So, yeah…I think maybe it’s something deep I feel. I need to see her to be certain.”
“I hope you’re not planning to just sleep with her, Shay. She seems to me like a responsible type.”
“I just want to see her before I travel back for business.”
“I think that can be arranged. Give me a minute.”
Genesis leaves the living room and returns some minutes later, talking to someone on her phone. When she sits, she concludes with the call.
“Honey will have us over for dinner tonight,” she informs Seyi.
“I hope we won’t be intruding?”
“She insists. I was going to have us do the ‘we’re in the neighborhood and so we decided to drop by’ type of visit while she had Hauwa over but she insists on dinner. She’s happy to entertain us for the night.”
“Okay. With Nick?”
Genesis glances at her husband. “Your friend is very anti-social. What’s the deal with that?”
Genesis bursts out laughing. Dominic stares at them with a frown.
“You know he’s an arrogant prick.”
“Hey, he’s not. And to prove to you that he isn’t, we’ll take him along.” Genesis adjusts her sitting to a more comfortable pose. “So tell me what you like about Hauwa?”
“I have no idea, Gen. You guys walked in together and trust me, you were smashing and your friend…”
“Honey was gorgeous as well, but Hauwa…” He shakes his head. “She got me like damn!”
“You think she could be the one?”
“The one?” He chuckles. “Take it easy. I don’t even know her. She could have a man on the side.”
“Whatever she has, please, Shay, no hit and run with her.”
He taps his chest. “Scout’s honor.”
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I had planned to have a quiet Sunday. Just stay in bed and sleep until I hit the gym in the evening. But family drama will not let me be. First it’s Mex and Yazmin. After ignoring her for a whole week, Mex stomps into my house, barges into Yazmin’s bedroom and demands that she returns home or the marriage is over.
I have never been a fan of Yazmin but I just can’t stand and watch a woman being treated like shit, so I step in and order my brother out of my house. He is tipsy, of course. I don’t give a shit. Instead, I call Oba over and ask him to drive him to Kalu’s. After they are gone, I have a moment with Yazmin which basically ends in me being a shoulder she weeps on for a whole hour. She tells me she desperately wants to leave but is torn not because of the pregnancy but because she still loves Emeka. Even more now, with all their issues. She explains how they fall deeper into each other after every fight.
Crazy. But then the whole love triangle is.
Before I let her be, I notice that she is running a temperature. I get my thermometer and stethoscope. I check her vitals. Things don’t look good.
“Have you started attending antenatal?”
She shakes her head and breaks down again. “I don’t want this baby!”
Good Lord. What am I to do with this mess? Where is Honey when I need her?
“I want to have an abortion.”
I sigh and balance my butt properly on her bed. This is going to take long.
She explains to me her reasons, which are quite logical. Emeka doesn’t want the baby, they never planned for it and she feels guilty over the whole thing. She feels getting rid of it will give her some peace of mind and heal her marriage.
I let her speak until she falls silent. Only then do I make her see reasons in keeping the pregnancy. Unlike many of my colleagues, I am pro-choice and strongly believe that a woman should be allowed to make her own decisions as pertaining to her body. But I’m never going to go outright and tell anyone that comes to me for advise to terminate a living, breathing fetus.
“We will take care of your baby, Yazmin. You have brothers and sisters and parents who will be here for you even if Mex isn’t. We will never break your heart. You are family and so is that baby you’re carrying. So, please, think about it before you make your decision. Okay?”
She nods with a smile so faint. I smile back. I think I have taken to her finally.
I get off the bed and walk to the door. She stops me.
“I want to keep the baby.” She sniffles. I look at her. “Yeah, I want to. I didn’t plan for it but I think it’s innocent and shouldn’t have to die because Mex and I were careless. Yeah, I want to keep it. But will you be my midwife? Please? Because if you’re not, I don’t think I can stay strong.”
I mull over it for some seconds.
“I need to check you. I don’t feel comfortable with that fever you have. Is it okay if I have a quick look?”
I go to my room and return with a few items. I take Yazmin’s vital signs again and calculate her due date. I find that she is already thirteen weeks pregnant. I question her about her gynecological and reproductive history as well as any medical conditions in her family that I need to know of. After that, I examine her for gum disease which can be an indicative factor for preterm labor. Done with that, I check her breasts, abdomen, and listen to her heart once more. Finally, I do a thorough but delicate pelvic exam. This is one of the reasons the gynecologists at the hospital where I work don’t really like me. I have been accused of trying to take over their jobs. But that’s far from it. I am just thorough with my methods, having trained specifically as a gynecological nurse before moving on to midwifery. This is all part of my process. The doctors usually run the first tests and once the pregnancy clocks twelve weeks, I take over, but sometimes, I am stubborn and break the rules with patients who have little trust in their doctors.
“Tomorrow, I’ll take you to the hospital to have some tests run.”
“Are they going to do another pelvic exam?”
“Yes. I’ll refer you to an OBGYN who will run further tests.”
“I always freak out with pelvic exams but you were gentle and I hardly felt a thing.”
I hold my tongue. I am not to say thank you to that. I have just literally shoved my fingers into her vagina. I doubt that Emeka will find it funny.
“I’ll be there with you,” I promise. She seems relieved.
“I’ll get you something for the fever and a full bottle of water. Please stay hydrated, draw the shades close, turn off your phone, use earplugs and go straight to sleep. Didi will watch Tobe.”
I stroll out and find my wife’s beautiful face smiling at me as she steps out of the kitchen. She has just returned from the market where she went to get foodstuff for tonight’s dinner with the Ditorusins.
“Is Yaz okay?” she questions.
“She’s fine. Nothing a little rest and Tylenol won’t fix. How are you?”
The scent of her perfume is like a pheromone and I follow it until my lips are tasting the sweetness of her mouth.
“Can I help out with something?”
“No, I got it all covered, hotstuff. Just sit down and put your ear out for Jiney when she wakes up.”
I’m not in the mood for Jiney or anything else. Having just had a taste of Honey’s lips, I want the rest of her. However, I take a couch in the living room and visit my blog to do some technical work in the backend. Barry makes it hard for me to concentrate. Chewing my jeans and yapping for no reason is his idea of male bonding. I ignore him and when he gets tired, he sits quietly beside me. By now I’m done with my blog and I’m trying everything I can to get laid but nothing is working. Not even when I use Barry whom Honey now considers the cutest thing asides Jiney. Amused at my antics, she takes a picture of both of us and quickly uploads it on Instagram, tagging me.
I tap on the little heart icon to like the picture, agreeing with her about my cuteness. I seem to have gotten sexier as a married man. I tell her that and give her kudos, all in a bid to get tail but Honey is not falling for my sweet mouth.
“Later in the night when I’m tired, you’ll be molesting me anyhow,” I tell her as I follow her into the kitchen.
“I’ll touch you anyhow I want, hotstuff,” she responds, stroking my junk as her other hand stirs something in a pot on fire. I drag her away and pin her to the wall for a steamy kiss but my phone lodging in my back pocket starts to ring. Honey pulls it out and hands it to me.
“Nne,” she utters.
I answer the old woman’s call.
“Nne’m oma, how are you, darling?”
“Tired,” my mother answers. “Please come and speak sense to your younger brother before I pour pepper in his eyes.”
“Nne, I have washed my hands off Emeka…”
“Which Emeka? I’m talking about Obasi.”
“Oba is at home? I sent him to Kalu’s a short while ago.”
“He’s here with me. He just got in and it seems he has lost his mind with the nonsense he’s telling me. I will soon slap him and pour that pepper in his eyes.”
She then goes off in Igbo in one long ass lamentation.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes.” I groan silently as she rings off. Honey gives me a comforting peck. To show appreciation, I squeeze her boob and correctly aim for the nipple. She shrieks, pulls back and smacks me. Barry, who has been watching us, begins to bark at me. The beast is quite protective of her.
“Shattap.” I playfully kick it and it goes for my Nike slipper. We struggle for a while before I fling it off and hurry out of the house.
A sunny sky meets me outside. No, scratch that. Burning hell meets me outside. My car offers little comfort. The AC is bad. I let down the windows and hit the streets.
I yawn. I am tired, hungry and horny. The last thing on my mind is Oba and Nne’s drama. I pray it doesn’t take my time.
I arrive at the family house and from the gate I hear Nne’s raised voice. When I get in, I expect to see Oba in the same state but I find him seated on a couch in the living room, thumbing over his phone screen.
“What’s going on?”
“Ask her,” he replies. I look at my mother and I don’t need to be told that she has gotten into her bitch mode. This happens once a year. Woe betides the person that is responsible for bringing out this side of her. What is her grouse this year? Oba wants to leave the house and move in with a colleague. That is all! Nothing else. To her, Oba is still her little baby boy and going to live on his own means he has joined bad gang. The old woman is not having it. And yes, she has fresh pepper, pounded and waiting to pour into his eyes.
I put my arms around her and lead her to the kitchen where I sit her down, placate her and explain to her that Oba is now a grown man and should be allowed to do as he pleases.
“Nne, one day he will get married and leave you and your husband. Will you follow him and his wife to his house?”
At this, she keeps quiet.
“He is an adult now, mom. Please, it’s time you let him be.”
“Abeg, help me tell her.” Oba is standing by the door, hands in his pockets. “She doesn’t want me to go, yet she won’t let me have any girl over.”
“So that you will be romancing them in my parlor, in broad daylight!”
“Will you let me carry them to my room?”
“You see it? You hear your brother, Jideofor? All he wants to do is fornicate, and that is why he will not leave my sight! I can’t have a useless son, going around with a wayward penis!”
“Jide did it and nobody said anything.”
I turn to him. “Hey!”
“Jide did it and that’s why you too you want to do it, okwa ya? I will not only rub pepper in your eyes! I will hold that your thing and bathe it with the pepper! Open that your nonsense mouth again and see what will happen to you!”
“Mommy, free me nau! Let me go! It’s just out of respect that I’m still here o! You know I can walk out and there’s nothing anybody will do to me!”
I see hurt in my mother’s eyes. I gesture to Oba to leave. He goes away, grumbling. I take her hands in mine.
“Nne, you know you’re fighting against the wind. You know that, right?”
Tears fill her eyes.
“This is not a crying matter nau.”
“No. You don’t understand. It’s your father’s late mistress that is responsible for all of this!”
“How did she enter this talk now?”
“The only reason I am holding on to Obasi is because of that her useless daughter.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I suspect something is going on between two of them.”
“Oba and Ndidi?”
“Yes. I don’t want to ask him because it will be like I’m accusing him. I have not seen anything directly that connects them but I sense it, Jideofor. I sense it. And I don’t want that girl in our lives in any way. She has the same strange, evil spirit her mother had. She will ruin my baby. Please, help me talk to him. If he can stay away from her, then I’m fine with him living anywhere he desires to but as it stands, I want him under my nose all the time before she will destroy him. Please, talk to him.”
Wow. What a lot to take in. Oba and Didi? It’s unlikely. Nne must be imagining things. Nonetheless, I assure her that I’ll have a word with him.
“Let’s go for drinks,” I tell him as I come out to the living room. He picks his phone and follows me out. I allow him drive my car. I sit back and turn the radio on.
“So, what’s going on between you and Didi?”
Oba looks at me for some seconds and then throws his head back in laughter.
“Nne suspects there’s something between us?”
“Ignore her jare. There’s nothing going on between me and Didi.”
And so I rest the matter. We stop at a sports bar, play a game of pool over drinks and after two bottles, Oba begins to sing a different tune.
“I have a crush on Didi,” he confesses. “Basically she’s been using me as her driver since she came to Lagos. And hey, I’m not complaining. She’s hot. I’m her baby brother, so it’s all good. We get to hang out a lot…”
“And you drop her for dates with other guys and spend money on her, abi?”
He gives an uneasy laugh. “I really, really like her, Jide, but it’s not just the brother and sister issue. I mean, I could just tell her that we’re not related.”
“And watch yourself burn in popsi’s hell.”
“I can handle that. But here’s my issue with Didi – and I’m not supposed to tell anyone this. Can you keep it to yourself?”
He breathes out loudly. Whatever he is about to say is difficult to let out.
“Didi is auctioning her virginity online to the highest bidder.”
I put my beer bottle aside.
“The URL of the website is sellyourvirginity.org and Didi is registered there.”
I quickly pick my phone up and type in the site’s URL in my Google Chrome.
“You can’t find her there. It’s a very private site that protects its members. It’s run by Bunny Ranch in the US.”
“And what’s that?”
“A brothel. Once Didi’s auction ends, they’ll fly her to the ranch to meet her bidder and basically, she’ll be stuck there as a ho’.”
My tummy churns. “Oba, are you sure of all you just told me?”
“Can you please help her before she fucks her life up?”
I am dumbfounded. Unable to say anything, I down my beer as I ignore my ringing phone. Honey is calling. I guess the Ditorusins have arrived. I call one of the bar girls to come over with our bill. As I wait for her, I take a good look at my brother’s face and feel sorry for him. Dude is really in love.
“Not Ndidi,” I tell him as I rest a hand on his shoulder. “Find someone else, Oba. Not her. She’ll break your heart.”
He is never this quiet. Not even on days when he goes on a hyper mode and has to medicate himself to calmness. Wura worries about his state of mind. He is seated on the steps that lead out to the backyard from the backdoor of his kitchen, smoking cigarettes. He has had one too many for the day and it bothers her. Watching him as a mother would her newborn, she is just coming to realize that the responsibility of protecting him is now all on her.
His mother passed away on Sunday night and was buried not long after. Mahmud had received the shocking news without showing any form of reaction. He traveled home to Sokoto the next day and returned on Wednesday and since then he hasn’t been the same. Wura has been unable to reach him and she doubts that she can understand his pain. As the lastborn, Mahmud had been his mother’s pet. Wura is not sure she can take the woman’s place.
“Tokunboh, there’s dinner.” Wura moves towards him. “You’re going to eat today, right?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“But you’re going to have a shower, at least?”
“Is the stink that bad?”
“No. It’s just that you haven’t showered in three days.”
He lights a fresh cigarette and turns his head away from her and she immediately knows he is going to be unreachable for the entire night.
“I’ll be in the room if you need me.”
She walks back into the kitchen, picks her dinner and goes to his bedroom. Tomorrow promises to be a busy one for her but for this night she will have a good rest. She takes her dinner at a relaxed pace as she keeps up with her social media accounts which haven’t been attended to in a long while. These days she is a celebrity, thanks to the Love Concert. But she is yet to find a way to respond to the growing popularity as it comes with both the good and bad. There are people who are yet to forgive her for her past, and would, at every occasion remind her of it.
Her eyes cloud over they fall on a photo comment on her Facebook fan page. Someone posted a munched photo from one of her sex videos and added the caption: A leopard cannot change its spots.
Wura deletes the comment and puts her phone away. She forces down a sob but she fails. Her mood plummets and she buries her head in a pillow for a good cry. She has come to accept that her past will always keep up with her but she is yet to find a way to handle it whenever it shows up. Every bad comment from a hater always gets her down in the dumps. Without Mahmud, she would have fallen apart.
Finding a short moment of respite after her tears, Wura goes for a long, cold shower and steps out to find Mahmud in the bedroom, popping a couple of pills. She notices he has switched on the nightlight, bringing in dimness to the room.
“Should I get dinner for you?” she asks.
“I’m not hungry. Thanks.”
He takes off his t-shirt and shorts and tosses them in a corner. He now walks towards her, stops and holds her eyes for a while.
“Thank you for being here with me, mami. I’ve been trying to get my thoughts together, to understand why it all happened. I thought it’d be the old man to go, I was even ready for it but life throws in this curve and I’m yet to understand it.”
“God knows best, Mahmud.”
“Thank you for being here…”
She touches his face. “Please, don’t thank me. Your loss is my loss, Tokunboh.”
He pulls her in for a hug that expresses his distress. Minutes later, following a shower, Wura sets his dinner before him and persuades him to eat. Being his first meal in three days, he takes his time. She sits beside him, distracting his mind with tales of how her week has been.
“How does someone sleep and never wake up?” he asks from nowhere, cutting her off midway. “She was fine. You saw her. Wasn’t she looking okay to you?”
“She was, Mahmud.”
“Then how can she just go to sleep and refuse to wake up?”
Wura doesn’t have an answer for him. She lifts his dinner tray off his laps and takes it to the kitchen. When she returns, she finds a cigarette between his lips and moisture in his eyes. She fears that he is withdrawing from her again, so she picks her handbag and car key and stands before him. She is about to tell him she is set to leave but he takes her hand.
“I’ll come back tomorrow evening, TK. I have to go to bed early…”
“Stay for a bit, please.”
She drops her car key and handbag and sits beside him as before. She watches as tears leave his eyes and disappear in the thick stubble of beard he hasn’t groomed for a while. The long drags of cigarette smoke and the manner in which his fingers keep combing through his this hair in a back and forth manner show his pain. There’s a silent heave, a sniffle and he throws his weight backwards on the bed, his head hitting a pillow.
Wura follows him and finds that the tears are more now, gushing down the sides of his face. In a tender manner, she wipes them; and while doing so, speaks comforting words to him. But he stops her hand, kisses it and turns to face her. She doesn’t object when he moves closer and places his lips on hers. She is also silent when his hand leaves hers to rest on her waist. His mouth tastes salty, smoky and delicious at the same time, and his kiss comes to her with intensity. He leaves her lips to bury his face in her neck. His hot breath and the graze of his stubble give rise to goosebumps on her skin. When his lips trace their way back to her mouth again, leaving wet patches in their path, Wura allows herself feel the familiar tremors of desire. And because she hasn’t been in this place in a long time, the spark is instantaneous. Every nerve in her is awake and she responds to Mahmud’s ministrations, shutting down the cautioning voice in her head.
What follows is a series of lovemaking sessions that last for most of the night, bringing to Wura the kind of pleasure she has fantasized over for months on end. When she finally shuts her eyes in sleep, the morning after is the last thing on her mind. All that has happened feels right, and her emotional state of mind being the neediest, finds gratification in Mahmud’s arms.
But the morning comes faster than she wants it to, and it brings with it censure. She opens her eyes in a slow and lazy manner and shuts them again to feel a quick rush of tears burn them. She then buries her face in shame. After a while, she quietly slips into her clothes, picks her handbag and begins out when Mahmud calls her back for a kiss.
“Let me take you home,” he says, getting off the bed. Her head shakes. She can’t stare at him in the eye.
“Just take care of yourself,” she tells him.
He pulls her in for a hug that ends with another kiss. She tries to leave but his hand resting on the nape of her neck keeps her back as his lips tastes hers once more.
“Mahmud…” she groans. He breaks away but stays so close she can feel his breath on her cheeks.
“I’m sorry yesterday happened,” he whispers. “Knowing you, you’re going to beat yourself over it and I feel terrible… Just…don’t sink under.”
“Please, let’s not have this talk. You lost your mom and you’re still grieving.”
“I don’t want you to feel bad over what happened…”
“I already feel bad, Tokunboh. I feel like shit.” Wura turns around, giving him her back. “I’m not so sure about me, if I’ll be the wife you think I’ll be.”
Mahmud’s full brows come together in a scowl. “Why?”
“See how easy it was for me to have sex with you? I couldn’t hold myself. What if after you marry me and my inner slut comes out and I cheat on you?”
“Inner slut? What manner of rubbish talk is this, Woo?”
Wura gives no answer.
“So because you make love to the man you love, the father of your child, you’re now a slut?”
“Last night was not supposed to happen.”
“You’re right. It was not supposed to happen but I needed you and you were there for me. You took away the pain. Call it pity sex or whatever but I needed you.”
He walks around to face her.
“We were never supposed to happen, Belinda. Not with our different religious backgrounds and our pasts. But we’re here, fighting the odds, and I know we’ll make it work. You just need to believe it and never let anything from outside or within tear us apart.”
“I can’t think straight right now, Tokunboh. I have to go home and get my mind off everything.”
He covers her hands in his.
“Okay, I’m sorry about last night. I should have stopped us but I was as carried away as you were. At the same time, I’m not really sorry because being with you is what I always want to do. Don’t give up on us after what happened. I see you want to. I see it in your eyes. Please, hang on. We’ll get through this.”
Wura puts his hand to her cheek as tears let down.
“I so want to believe you, Mymood,” she says to him. “But can’t you see? There’s always something ready to tear us apart. First it was my past, then your family and now, this… Maybe we should just let go.”
Mahmud drops his hands. “We won’t.”
“It’s going to hurt now but we’ll both get over each other in the end.”
“You’re being ridiculous, Wuraola. It’s just sex!”
“It’s not just sex, Mahmud! What we did was wrong!”
“I am not going to lose you over what happened last night! Period!”
He gives the conversation an abrupt end by marching to the door.
“Since you’re irritated, you should go.”
She picks her handbag and walks to the door. Mahmud stops her and delivers one last kiss that sends her back to her emotions. After that, he holds her in a squeeze.
“Please, hang in there.”
He holds on to her a little longer and then lets go. His ringing phone takes him to his bed and while he attends to it, Wura quietly makes her exit. It is still dark outside when she leaves the house. A layer of moisture has settled over her car. She sits in and painful tears fill her eyes. She does not want to be taken by her emotions but the guilt cannot be helped. She remains in the car until the first light of the morning breaks. Only then does she drive home.
She enters a house that is dead quiet save for the hum of the deep freezer. Out of it she picks a bowl of chocolate ice-cream and retires to her bedroom where she consumes the entire thing without break. Afterwards, she hides beneath the blanket as the tears return.
Today is Sunday. She should be getting set for church but not in this state her heart is in. She is convinced God is disgusted at her.
Crying wears her out until her eyes shut. She doesn’t know for how long she sleeps but a long while after, she is awoken by Lexus’ voice in her ear.
“Move jare, let me lie down with you.”
Wura opens her eyes.
She moves a little and allows Lexus in. They both leave their heads peeking out of the blanket.
“I need to talk to you about something,” Lexus says.
“You woke me up from sleep, so you better shoot.”
“It’s about Kasi.” There’s elation in Lexus’ tone. “I think I’m in love with him.”
Wura hisses. “I thought you had something new to tell me. Be going, let me go back to sleep jare.”
“No, no, this is deep, Woo. This is really deep, like massive. Like, I’m all in. Like, head over heels kind of shit!”
In spite of her mood, Wura smiles.
“So we’ve spent the entire week together – with Trini of course. And I think we make the cutest, little family.”
“I can imagine.”
“The arrangement is that we take Trini to daycare and then stay in and fuck all day and bring her back home, feed her, put her to bed and fuck all night.”
“Can you warn me next time before you use the F-word so lavishly?”
“Yes, stop saying it.”
“It’s just a word, Woo-woo.”
“Aunty, just go on with why you’re here.”
“Woo, have you had so much sex you get sore at first? But it’s the good sore that makes you want more; and then you get more until you become unsore and all you can feel is pleasure. Can you relate?”
Wura simply smiles.
“That’s where I am right now. But that asides, I think I really love Kasi.”
“You’ve said that already.”
“No, I mean, I love him enough to want to wear a ring and do the whole forever thing with him.”
Wura gives her a proper stare. “That’s serious, Lexi.”
“I know and it scares me because in New York, he was all about settling down and I freaked out and left him because I wasn’t ready. And now, I think I might’ve scared him off completely. As beautiful as our one week of smashing was, he hasn’t mentioned anything about us getting really exclusive.”
She sits up abruptly. “Woo, how do I propose to him?”
Wura’s brows shoot up.
“Yeah. How do I say ‘Kasiobi, let’s get married?’ Of course, I don’t want to get married immediately because the entire concept still freaks me out but I want to own him exclusively.”
“You’re not joking.”
“Do I look like I’m joking, Woo? Kasi’s ass is mine and no Chichi or Shakira or any of them smelly ass thirsty bitches will touch his dick again.
Wura can’t help but laugh.
“Yes, I want to be his wife. Maybe next year or the year after. No, not the year after. That would be too far. Next year is fine. Trini has to start walking so she can be our perfect, little flower girl.”
“I can’t believe you’re going all girly on me this morning, Lexi. Your father’s prayers are finally being answered.”
“But seriously, how do I pop the question?”
“I hope you’re not planning to go on a knee with a ring.”
“Naa. That’s mainstream.”
“No. Actually, Lexus, that’s masculine.”
“Okay. So, any feminine ideas?”
“For starters, don’t buy a ring. Like I said, masculine.”
“You can just talk to him. You could say, ‘remember we used to talk about settling down a lot?’”
“Naa. I don’t think I want to dredge up that past. It’s painful for both of us.”
“Then just leave hints.”
“Hints are going to fucking take forever! Urghh! Can’t I just say, ‘Kasiobi, marry me!’?”
“Because girls don’t propose. The guy has to do it with a ring and on one knee and it has to be a huge surprise.”
“Who makes these rules?!” Lexus cries out in frustration.
“I don’t know. Just don’t propose.”
“Oh, before I forget, awesome surprise party on Friday. I had fun.”
“Thanks. All your dad’s idea. He just wanted to appreciate you and the boss lady.”
“I can’t believe I actually cried when he asked her to dance Unchained Melody with him. All I saw was that scene in Ghost with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. It was so beautiful, and I think it’s what inspired me to want to make this bold move with Kasi.”
“I’m proud of you sha. You’re all grown up now.”
Lexus sticks out her feet and rests them on the footboard. “So can you be a darling and throw in a good word to Kasi for me?”
“Just let him know I’m ready to take the plunge. He can propose any time, from now till the end of the year. I am so ready. Hair, nails and makeup will be on point every day for the perfect moment.”
Wura falls apart in laughter. “Tonbra, you will not kill me o! Come and be going, let me go back to sleep, abeg. I no get your time this afternoon.”
“You’ll talk to him for me? Maybe pick out the ring? It should be a blue or black stone. Nothing feminine.”
“I’ll talk to him.”
“Thank you!” She hugs her. “I love you, Woo-woo.”
“Me too, baby.”
“Meanwhile, I’m hungry. What did you cook?”
“Let me call Genesis to know if she has food.”
“She always has food. Go and raid her kitchen.”
“You want to come along?”
“Nope. I want to sleep. Now, go.”
Lexus stumbles down. She pushes her legs into a pair of crocs.
“Wait, though. You didn’t go to church, Woo?”
“What’s wrong? Your eyes are swollen.”
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
Lexus abandons plans of leaving and takes the bed again.
Wura lowers her eyes. “Mahmud and I had sex yesterday.”
“Ooooh.” Lexus moves closer. “How was it? Give me deets!”
“It was great, Lex,” Wura replies. “But you know it was wrong.”
“Nope. I don’t know that.”
“I was waiting until we got married…”
“But then you got horny and did it. So what? You’re going to kill yourself now?”
“You won’t understand.”
“No, I don’t. I’ve never understood your religiosity. But hey, it’s your life. Keep on killing yourself over something you enjoy doing. But seriously, how was it? I want details.”
“Go home, Lex.”
Lexus springs up. “Stop regretting what you did, Woo. It was just sex.”
“Breathe in and out. And tell yourself ‘I love sex and it’s okay to do it with Mahmud’.”
Wura flings a pillow at her. “Be going.”
Lexus steps out and Wura dives back under the blanket but that only lasts a matter of seconds as she hears Lexus calling out Ralph’s name. Knowing her alone time is over, Wura walks out to the living room where she finds Ralph and Lexus conversing.
“You’re the worst niece ever, Tonbra,” Ralph states. “You don’t even care about your cousins.”
“Uncle, me and your offspring are not age mates. What am I going to be discussing with them? How to wrap weed or have safe sex?”
Pastor Ralph cringes. Wura laughs.
“It’s fine. You don’t have to connect with them.”
“I thought so too.”
“We should have a family dinner or something one of these days…”
“Yeah…before Aunty Maggie disappears with all your money to London. You know I never liked her, right? Just putting it out there.”
Wura’s jaw drops.
“Eva didn’t like her too,” Lexus continues. “Thought she was too stuck-up. But it was weird that Eva thought Wura would have been better for you.”
Ralph looks at Wura who merely frowns at Lexus.
“I’d have been calling you ‘Aunty Woo-woo.”
“Lexus, just go nau,” Wura begs with a giggle. “Be going.”
“Yeah, Uncle Ralph, let me split and go and see Zach and Zoe before they start looking at me weirdly like your kids do.”
They hug and Lexus makes her exit. Ralph turns to Wura.
“You look tired.”
“Just sleepy.” She yawns.
“Why weren’t you in church today?”
“I had a little fever,” she lies, “but I’m better now.”
“Well, hopefully the good news I have for you will change your mood.”
Wura sits up and Ralph takes a seat as well, resting his feet on the center table. He is wearing a pair of loafers that match well-ironed grey pants and a black shirt. She notices he has lost some weight.
“Should I get you something to eat?” she asks.
“No, I’m fine. Just brace yourself for this massive gist.”
“I’m all braced up.”
“You remember the record company that contacted you two years ago to have you sign a recording contract?”
Wura nods but with a drop in enthusiasm. The record company in question had come to her for a three-year recording contract with an offer of a few million bucks and a tour around Africa but they had a single clause that put an end to the deal. They wanted her to break up with Mahmud, on the reason that she couldn’t be a renowned gospel artiste and have a relationship with a Muslim. This had happened shortly before her videos became viral and being so invested in her relationship with Mahmud then, she had walked away from the deal.
“But Pastor Ralph, you know I want nothing to do with those people.”
“I know but they have come with something different this time. Something you can’t resist.”
“Fo Yo Soul Recordings is signing three musicians in Africa. One from SA, another from Ghana and then, wait for it… You and I, as a duo. As a team.”
Wura gasps, head pulled back, mind taking in the news. “You’re joking.”
“For real, Pastor Ralph? As in, for real?”
“Oh my God!” Wura springs up and screams as she hops around like a little girl. She stops and asks Pastor Ralph if he’s pulling her legs.
She screams out again and stops once more. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
“Fo Yo Soul?”
“As in Kirk Franklin’s record label?”
“Oh my God! Oh my God! I can’t breathe.” She fans herself.
“You need water?”
“Yes.” She doubles over, hands on her knees. “No, I’m fine,” she says when she sees him rise up. She straightens up too. There are tears of joy dancing in her eyes.
“Finally.” The words come out in a whisper.
“Oh God.” She slumps back into her chair and starts sobbing. Ralph watches her for a bit but when she doesn’t stop, he takes the space beside her and places his hand on her back.
“I never thought this day would come,” she cries. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
“You better believe it.”
“But I’m not worthy, Pastor Ralph. I don’t deserve it.”
“Stop saying that…”
“No.” She sniffles. “You don’t understand. Last night…”
She sniffles again.
“I slept with Mahmud.”
Ralph’s hand leaves her back. She covers her face.
“Slept with him, as in, on the same bed…and nothing happened?”
Ralph shuts his eyes in disappointment.
“I am so sorry. So, so sorry.”
He doesn’t say a word. His silence stretches as her sobs intensify. But somehow he pulls her close for a hug.
“Oh, my darling Wuraola, you’re always a mess.”
“But God loves you like that, you know? In your weakness, he’s strong. Strong for you. Don’t give up on yourself. He’s still molding you.”
“But I keep falling.”
“He will restore you, baby girl. Just hold on, and please, stop crying.”
His words only pull her deeper into her emotions. He is patient with her; he lets her unburden and it takes quite a while. When the last tear is gone, wiped by his hanky, he releases her.
“You want to hear me play something? It’s a new song.”
Wura nods. Somewhere outside the house Bilal is screaming at the top of his lungs in excitement. She guesses he is playing football with her cousin. She is glad he is off her hands today. Her mood wouldn’t have been able to contain him.
Pastor Ralph leads the way to her studio. When they get in, she finds some corner on the floor to sit on while his fingers caress the black and white notes of her piano.
Wura is swamped at work. Genesis, having explained that she won’t be at the office for whole week, has dumped all her duties on her. By 11am Wura is already feeling the heat of having so much to do and yet so little time. She is irritable and everyone knows better than to get on her nerves; everyone except Didi who waltzes in, chatting away on her phone.
“Where are you coming from?” Wura asks. She has just stepped out of her office for a break to put her thoughts together. Didi’s appearance disrupts the moment of bliss.
She stops at her cubicle and stares at Wura with a clueless expression.
“In my office,” Wura says, standing up from where she is sitting. Didi follows her back into her office.
“So, where were you coming from?” Wura goes around her table.
“I had a visitor. I was outside with him.”
Wura takes her seat. “You do realize this is a job, right? Not some socializing spot where the men in your life drop by anytime they want and you go out to entertain them. It’s becoming quite irritating the way they keep coming here. I know you’re in your prime and you’re beautiful and you’re getting all of this attention but my dear, this is a job. I will not have you entertain any more men during work hours. Understood?”
Wura stretches her hand and picks up a fancy, black folder from her desk and pushes it to Didi. “Client is a five-year-old boy named Samuel. His birthday is on Saturday. You’re in charge.”
Didi’s eyes widen. “Me? I’m in charge?”
“Yes. Don’t disappoint me. And there’s better news. His parents have given consent to us to record the entire planning process. So, congratulations, you get to have your face on TV as an event planner when the reality series drops on DSTV.”
Didi is stunned. “Me?”
“Yes, you, Ndidiamaka. Production crew will be here by twelve to prep you up. Hand them over the folder so they can plan their shoot.”
“Thank you very much, Wura.” Didi beams. “I will not disappoint you.”
“You better not.”
Excited, Didi leaves the office.
Wura yawns, pushes back her chair and tries not to recall how the previous evening had gone for her. She had been in the company of Mahmud, Asma, Asma’s husband and one of Mahmud’s childhood friend from the north who had come visiting with his wife. They were at the mall to see a movie. Having just gotten their tickets, they stopped for popcorn and drinks. But from nowhere, a pair of girls, dressed rather lewdly, came towards them and screamed out Wura’s name so loudly everyone in the area turned. Wura merely smiled back as embarrassment filled her face. The girls were colleagues from her stripper days in Port Harcourt and clearly, nothing seemed to have changed about them. Calling her “Belinda”, they went into classic vulgar mode as their type are known for. Wura could only stand there and do nothing as they dredged up her past without apology.
“But you don clean up now oo!” one of them said, touching her face. “You don fat up sef. See as your boobs don full,” she added and squeezed Wura’s breasts with both hands. It was then Wura felt she had had enough. Only Mahmud was standing beside her now. The other couples had shifted away and stood by to watch the spectacle.
“Girls,” Wura moved closer to Mahmud, “this is my fiancé and we’re here to see a movie with friends. If you don’t mind, we’ll be excused.”
Cringing as she turned, Wura hoped they would just get the message and disappear. Luckily for her, they did. She faced Mahmud to apologize.
“It’s okay, mami.”
“I’m so embarrassed right now.”
“Totally understandable but don’t let it ruin our evening. Let’s get popcorn.”
They walked back to the others and no one made a comment about what had happened. The movie compensated for the awkwardness but not for Wura. As the outing drew to an end, she concluded that her past was never going to let her go.
Fighting hard not to recall the incidence as she sits before her desk this morning turns out to be a waste of time, so Wura thinks up another way to redeem her image. Does she make plans for dinner tomorrow and invite Asma, her husband and Mahmud’s friends? They need to see her as a responsible mother and not the person those girls had painted her out to be. She picks up her phone and calls Mahmud to ask his opinion. He thinks it’s unnecessary for her to do anything to save face.
“Asma and her husband already love you, Woo. As for my friend and his wife, I don’t care what they think. Do I go forming opinions about his wife whose sense of makeup screams cheap Hausa ho’? No. So, let them think whatever. You’re my wife and I love you, past and all. In fact, I can’t wait for you to pole-dance for me. In our new house, I will install a pole in our bedroom and you’re going to slide up and down the thing for my pleasure.”
Wura breaks out in laughter. Mahmud has a way to always make her happy no matter the mood.
“Just enjoy your day, mami. Asma is on the other line. I have to go.”
The line goes dead. Wura, feeling lighter, faces her work.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
Dominic walks into the house with Genesis coming behind. The moment he steps in, he finds the trio of Lexus, Zoe and Zach, waiting to give him a hero’s welcome. There’s a welcome banner of balloons hanging above them. The twins are wearing party hats and fighting over a blow horn.
Dominic finds the scene adorable. Lexus runs to him and slows down when she’s just a step away.
“Can I hug you? Will it hurt if I do?”
She moves forward and rests her head on his chest as she encloses her arms around him. “Don’t scare me like that again, dad.”
He kisses her forehead and she moves away to let him lift Zoe who has crawled to his feet. Zach remains where he is, trying to rip the blow horn he bullied out of his sister in pieces. On his way upstairs, Dominic picks him up as well.
“You have started abi?” Genesis scolds from the bottom of the stairs. Dominic turns. “The doctors said you should take it easy and you’re already carrying load.”
Dominic chortles. “My children are now load.”
He continues up. When he enters his room he finds it brighter than he had left it. The drapes have been changed to a perkier shade and a lot of sunshine let in. Fresh flowers in a vase by the dressing table give the room an airy fragrance. Fruits have also been placed on the nightstand.
Dominic sits on the bed, placing Zoe beside him. Zach pushes his way down in search of the next thing to lay his hands on. Lexus perches at the foot of the bed.
“I thought I was going to lose you, dad. I’m sorry I couldn’t stay in the hospital. I freaked out. I went to Kasiobi.”
Dominic smiles and it is filled with mischief.
“It’s not what you think, dad.”
“I’m not thinking anything but I’m just curious. Are you guys getting back together at all?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. He kissed me yesterday, though.”
“How was it?”
“Dad, am I supposed to describe that to you?”
“Did you like it? Were there strings attached?”
“There were. Lots of strings. It was intense.”
“But that was all.”
Dominic studies his daughter’s eyes and sees that she wants to say more but he doesn’t bug her about it.
“So the procedure is permanent?” she asks. “The stent stays in?”
“Yes. It’s for life. I have to take aspirin every day. So, Genesis will give you an aspirin container, she holds one, Seyi holds one and I also keep one. Whenever you guys see me, you have to ask if I have taken my pill for the day. If I haven’t, you have to make sure I do.”
Lexus gives a sad smile. “You were always my hero, dad. Right from when I was little. Whenever you flew in from the States and came to grandma’s, you made me very happy. Every time you left, I fell sick. Every single time. To me, you were strong and powerful and there was nothing you couldn’t do. So, yesterday that image was shattered, and I just couldn’t bear it. I wanted my strong daddy back. I…”
She pauses. Tears plug up her eyes. Dominic struggles with his emotions as well.
Yesterday, he had returned home after his long flight from across the world just to prove to himself and the doctor in Singapore who had told him to take things easy, that he was in control. The sex with Genesis had been awesome and ego-boosting but the pain in his chest that followed brought his machismo to nothing. Lying on the bathroom floor after his fall hadn’t scared him; it was the dread on Genesis’ face, the tears she cried in the ambulance and the unspoken gratitude she bore on her features when they wheeled him out of the Cath Theater. She had cried again after that, asking him many times as he drifted off into sleep, what she was supposed to do with her life if he was not there. Those moments had brought on the reality check. Not the near-death encounter.
What was his family to do without him? How would Genesis start again? Who would love her the way he does? Would Lexus ever recover from losing him?
“Don’t leave me, Dominic,” Lexus pleads.
“I won’t. God will keep me alive to see Zach and Zoe’s kids and your grandkids.”
Lexus vacates her spot and walks over for a hug. This time, it is he who gets a peck on the forehead.
“I love you, dad.”
“Me too, Lex.”
After she is gone, Dominic lies on his side and places Zoe beside him. Her littleness reminds him of Nimi, of how one moment he was cradling her newborn frame in his arms and the next he was holding her limp body in a hospital reception crying for a doctor to attend to her. The pain of that loss never left him. Same way he still vividly recalls the night his mother’s head was blown off in front of him and also the time he had stared at Eva’s lifeless body and wished that he had given her a better life than she had lived.
He knows the pain of loss all too well and how one does not recover from it. His family must not go through it, and so he shuts his eyes and begs God for long life and happier days.
Minutes later, Genesis walks in with Iya Idaya who takes the twins away. Genesis, concluding he is asleep, tiptoes about as she has a shower and changes into clean clothes. Afterwards, she leaves the room. He then opens his eyes, picks his phone and makes a call to Wura.
“Good morning, sir.”
“How are you doing?”
“I need you to do me a huge one.”
“I need you to organize an appreciation party for Genesis and Lexus. I want to thank them specially for being in my life.”
“Aww.” Wura makes a mock sniffle. “I think I’m going to cry.”
Dominic smiles. “I’ll leave the details to you, just make it for either Friday or Saturday. Genesis has a new trusted friend. Her name is Honey Onuora.”
“I know her. She’s been here a couple of times.”
“Good. Get her involved.”
“Get Kasiobi involved too.”
“Thank you, Wura. Have a nice day.”
When he hangs up, he dials Seyi’s number. He needs a friend to talk to.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
“Fumi, what is your problem nau? Ah-ah. Kilode! Stop shouting on me.”
This is how I wake up today, to Jiney screaming at the top of her lungs and her father giving her a dose of her medicine. He is not angry though; it’s just the normal daddy and daughter conversation they have on the regular.
It’s going to be a lazy day for me. No office work; although I’ll drop by later to see how things are progressing. The place is under some construction and the front desk girl would be present to ensure that the work is done well.
I dive deeper beneath the blanket as Jiney’s cries intensify. There’s a full bottle of refrigerated breast milk I have kept. Jide will feed her while I go back to sleep.
I close my eyes. Sleep comes swiftly but I am awoken when Jide barges in and announces that Yazmin is here to see me.
I step out, surprised to see that she has not come alone. Tobe is with her and a Gucci box rests at her feet.
“Yaz, is everything okay?”
She shakes her head. Tobe toddles over to me and I lift him up. As I pick a couch to sit on, Jide enters the living room with Jiney. He is here for whatever gist Yazmin has come with.
“I messed up, Hon,” Yazmin reveals. “I’m pregnant again.”
The news does not shock me. Dele’s wife and I have suspected that she is with child.
“And Emeka is mad at me.”
“Why did you stop taking your pills, Yazmin?” Jide interrogates. His tone is not friendly. He has never really liked Yazmin for Emeka.
“You stopped taking your pills?” I look at her.
I turn my eyes on Jide. “Hotstuff, how did you know this?”
“Emeka called me this morning and told me everything. He is this close to leaving you, Yaz. And that’s not because he doesn’t love you. He’s just tired of your constant drama.”
Yazmin’s face is sad but surprisingly, she doesn’t cry. I suspect she has cried her eyes out already.
“He said he won’t be around for the period of my pregnancy. He’s choosing to be with Tola.”
“And that’s why you’ve come here?” Jide asks.
“Just for a few days. I want to go back home to Mexico.”
“No nau,” I tell her. “It has not reached like that.”
“It’s okay. I’ve thought about it a lot and I don’t think he loves me the way he loves her. And it’s fine. I’ll go home, have this baby and come back so that we can work child custody issues. I want to live in Nigeria. I love this country. Staying here is the best for my kids.”
I am devastated by all I’ve just heard. Yazmin is like a younger sister to me. She’s a beautiful soul and I love her dearly. Yes, she has the propensity to be selfish but that’s because of the way she was brought up. It’s no fault of hers and clearly, she alone isn’t to blame for how things have turned out in her love triangle. Emeka caused it. The moment Tola announced that she was pregnant, he abandoned Yazmin. A few times I caught her crying in her office. On one occasion, she opened up to me, telling me how lonely she was. When I told her I was going to speak to Emeka about it, she begged me not to.
“Yaz, we will have a word with Emeka on this. You’re not going anywhere. He is the father of your kids and he will treat you as you deserve to be treated.”
I glance at Jide who is feeding Jiney. He doesn’t look at me.
“Don’t go booking that flight, Yaz. Stay with us and trust me, Emeka will come looking for you soon and he’ll beg you to come back to him.”
I stand up and ask her to follow me. The room opposite Didi’s is unoccupied and that is where I lead her too.
“All yours for as long as you want to stay.”
“Thank you, Honey.”
“Do me a favor. Don’t pick his calls. Don’t text or chat with him. Put some respect on yourself and trust me, he’ll come here, begging.”
Yazmin nods. I ask her if she has had breakfast, she tells me she has. I return to the living room where a frowning Jide is waiting.
“You’re the one encouraging her to misbehave,” he accuses.
“I didn’t ask her to get pregnant, Jide. But I’m not going to support Emeka treating her like shit. That baby is his and she is his wife. He has to treat her better.”
“She needs to go. Emeka can’t do this. He can’t love them equally. Tola has his heart.”
“Then he shouldn’t have fooled around with Yazmin. What he’s facing now is the consequence of his actions. He can love her and treat her better if he decides to. Why should she be crying always because of him? Haba! I am so disappointed in Mex, and in you for supporting him.”
Well, if you guess that the argument goes downhill from here, you guess right. But the good thing is that Jide and I can get quite civil in a fight, which is also a bad thing because the words are more lethal since all the shout has been stripped from them.
Still frowning at me an hour later, Jide leaves for work. I am not bothered. We will make up before the day runs out, and of course, awesome sex will follow.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
Kasiobi asks her out on a date. His message on Whatsapp is short and straight.
Ice cream at Coldstone, Admiralty Way. Pizza at mine’s. Game?
She stares at the chat for a long time. Her answer is yes but she doesn’t want to sound too eager.
-We need to talk, remember?
-And Trini? Who’ll watch her?
-Let me worry about that.
She puts her phone down. From the window of her art room she sees that the sun is setting. Her body is covered in oil paint. The canvas that towers above her has a half-completed painting of Dominic. She doesn’t think it looks good. She has the urge to rip it apart. Wiping her forehead, she abandons the project for the day. A warm cup of yogurt sits on the floor next to her foot. She picks it and downs what is left in it.
Her house is quiet today. These days she finds that she doesn’t do too well with loud music when she’s working. Picking a half-smoked blunt she had picked from a glass stool in the living room, she enters her bedroom. The place is in shipshape. She sits on the bed, lights the blunt and smokes till she can hardly hold it. She dumps what is left in an ashtray, annoyed that she is scarcely high.
“So much for 10k weed,” she mutters, taking off her clothes. She goes for a quick, cold shower. When she returns to her bedroom, she takes her time with a body lotion and her makeup which comes out looking like she has not made any effort. Next, she embarks on picking out what to wear.
This is where the problem comes.
Nearly an hour later on, she is still searching for what to wear. Her tidy room now looks a mess and she is on the verge of losing her mind. Frustrated, she takes a picture of the mess and posts it on Instagram.
She captions the photo: Date in an hour with an old flame. My room is practically upside down and no outfit yet. Outfit ideas anyone???!!
#messyroom #datenight #frustrated
She plops down on her bed and before she can blink, she begins to get notifications on her phone. Most of them from guys suggesting all manner of outfits. She stays on the phone longer, laughing at the comments pouring in. A few girls give her some ideas, and just when she is about to dump her phone and slip into a dress, she sees a comment from Kasiobi.
I’m sure said ex-flame doesn’t mind if you show up nude. It’d be kind’a nice tho
“Horny toad.” Lexus laughs to herself. The edge has suddenly been taken off and out of the corner of her eyes, she spots the perfect girly combo – a pleated bowknot mini skirt, an off-the-shoulder top, a mini satchel detail bag, open heart earrings and a pair of heeled sandals. When she takes in her appearance in the mirror, she approves of what she sees. After posing for a few photos for Instagram, she leaves the house. A surprise awaits her outside, however. Kasiobi is standing beside a cab, hands in his pockets, earphones in his ears.
Butterflies flutter in her tummy for no reason when he looks up at her.
“You didn’t tell me you were coming to get me.”
“Thought I’d surprise you.”
“What happened to your car?”
“I’m tired of driving.”
He opens the backdoor as she walks towards him.
“You’re beautiful,” he compliments. “Cool outfit.”
She expects a kiss on her cheek but she gets nothing. He holds the door open until she sits in. He shuts it and walks over to the other side.
“So, ice-cream?” he asks, sitting beside her.
“John Bellion? Dappy? Or Brymo?”
“Dappy, it is,” he says to the cab driver. The man nods. Shortly, music begins to stream from the car’s speakers. They say nothing to each other on the drive to Coldstone. When they arrive there, he reaches over and picks something from her nose.
“Piece of thread.”
His breath over her lips brings back the last kiss they shared. She desires more of it even if it is all he will give her.
He clasps his hand around hers and together they walk into the ice-cream joint. After making orders for pizza, they climb to the second floor of the building where their date takes place. They don’t talk about Lexus’ pregnancy or the abortion she had or why they break up. That comes a lot later, after they fill in the details of the missing period they didn’t get to spend with each other. They also share their favorite Trinity moments and talk about her future.
“Would you let Chichi back into Trini’s life if she returns?” Lexus rests her chin on her hand and apprehends his eyes as she awaits his answer.
“No,” he replies. “I don’t care where she’s gone to or what the story is. You do not just get up and abandon your child.”
“Which brings me to say this. Lex,” he takes her hand, “thank you for being an amazing mom to Trinity, for being there and helping me take the load off. It’s not been easy but you’ve been dope.”
“I’m crazy about her. My entire ‘gram is full of her pictures.”
“I know.” Kasiobi stares down at their clasped hands. His thumb is beginning to rub over hers in a familiar manner.
“I’m hungry. We should get our pizza and take this party to my place.”
“I’ve got a better idea, though.”
“Let’s just get out of here and I’ll show you.”
She rises up first and drags him. Downstairs, they pick up their pizza and head out. They cross over to the other side of the street to stop a cab. A red one readily pulls over and Lexus gives the driver directions. The drive takes them away from the island but not so far away from it. The cab comes to a stop at a street that looks busy only during work hours.
“Where is this place?” Kasiobi raises his head to stare up at a building that boasts of four floors.
Lexus walks ahead, taking him through heavy glass doors that open in when she pushes them. They find themselves in a large room that is almost empty and has a front desk and waiting benches.
“This is my art center!” Lexus spreads out her hands in pride. “Still under construction but almost there.”
“Wow. You didn’t tell me about this.”
“Well, now I am. Come.”
She hurries ahead, towards a flight of stairs. They come to the second floor which opens up to a few small offices a gallery and an art shop.
“This is where we make the money. For customers only.”
“B, this is really cool.”
Lexus stops and looks at him. He had just called her the pet name he gave her in New York. She doubts that he even realizes that he did it.
“Who is financing this?” he inquires.
“Lex, this must cost you a lot.”
“Mommy left me plenty money, so…” she shrugs.
“I’d like to help.”
“That’s sweet but no, thanks. I must do this all on my own. And if it flops, it flops. Heard that’s part of being grownup and shit. Fall, bitch about it, get up, dust yourself up and say fuck the world while you try again.”
Kasiobi stretches out his fist and she bumps it with hers.
“Next floor,” she says, strolling out. “First to get there.”
She barely finishes speaking when Kasiobi breaks into a sprint that takes him up the stairs. He stops halfway, looks down at her stunned face and they both laugh.
She trudges up at a slow pace and together they arrive at the third floor.
“For students and their teachers. All sorts of art courses and trainings will happen here. You like?”
Lexus bends over abruptly and her bum positions itself perfectly on his crotch.
“These heels are getting tight.”
“Let me help.”
He stoops down, puts aside the pizza box and unbuckles her sandals. When he makes to rise up, his head gets caught in her skirt. Lexus swallows down a giggle which blows out the moment he frees himself and gives her a curious stare.
“You’re not wearing underwear.”
“Oops.” Lexus covers her mouth. Her amusement has a hard time staying away from the surface. Nothing is actually funny; it is more of an expression of pleasure and the anticipation of more of it.
Leaving her sandals behind, she leads him to the last floor which turns out to be the only furnished place in the building.
“Typical of you to work in a backwards manner,” Kasiobi comments. “Why start fixing here first?” he asks, walking into a small lobby that welcomes him with warmth and Picasso-like paintings on the wall.
“Well, I have my tattoo parlor and makeup studio here,” she responds, pointing at doors that stand at opposite ends. “But that’s not all.”
She moves a few paces ahead of her and pushes in a door which opens to a large room that is an exact replica of their studio apartment back in New York. Everything Kasiobi left behind is found here, including their favorite couch and his plasma TV that has a small crack on the top right edge. The compact space with its small-sized bed to a kitchenette and even a shower cubicle and toilet takes Kasiobi and dumps him back in a place of beautiful and depressing memories.
“I was waiting to bring you here on your birthday but…”
“You shipped everything down?”
“I just couldn’t let go, Kas. Those days and nights were the best of my life. I threw away a good thing and I am sorry.” She bites her lips. “Can we go back and start again?”
Kasiobi doesn’t give an answer. She holds her breath as she watches him. He seems to have become suspended in time, frozen on his spot. Unsure if she has done the right thing, she picks a remote control from a Moroccan pouf on the floor and turns on the home theater system to rub out some of the awkwardness. Dappy comes on and continues from where he left off in the cab. His music seems to do its magic as Kasiobi comes to and places the pizza box on a craft table he and Lexus had both bought after watching an episode of Friends and getting inspired to visit the famous Pottery Barn. His fingers then caress the edge of the table and find their way to the couch where he takes the weight off his feet. He invites Lexus over. She wobbles to him, feeling the weight of her emotions slow her. When she drops down beside him, he shifts to the edge, takes her hand and pulls her towards him in a manner that ensures she is lying on the couch. He also stretches out until they are in a spooning position. With his hand holding her beneath her breasts, he buries his face in her hair and breathes in.
“I’ll do anything for this, B.”
And they fall into silence, listening to Dappy, the lyrics of the present song meaning a lot to both of them.
I thought that you’d give up
When all we had was us
I can’t even lie, even lie to ya
I’m sorry it ain’t my fault
I run out of all my trust
I went through hell and back
To get it back
That’s why every day I thank the lord
You ain’t just with me for money
Cos you keep on giving without taking nothing from me
I remember all the times when I was low
And you never let go
I’m just being honest with you oh
You could be down and out
But it won’t matter
Just call for back up
And I will always come through oh-oh
You don’t need nobody else
It’s me and you against the world
Cos I was built for this
So forget about my previous
When I say I’m being serious
I’m too real for this
I feel to run and tell everyone
As if I’ll find anyone as good as this
As good as this
You know I’m built for, for you
I keep it
So the only thing that matters
Is you can always count on me
Cos you know I keep it one hundred
And I have done right from the start
This time round I won’t let you down
Cos you and I were a part of me
That’s hand on heart
So tell me if there’s anything I could do to make it better
Let me know a way I could take away any of the pressure
Now if ever you feel low
Just know that I’ll never let go
Now tell me who do you love?
Even though I haven’t made it easy
You think I’ve come this far just to give up?
Cos what it is
Cos I was built for this
So forget about my previous
When I say I’m being serious
I’m too real for this
I feel to run and tell everyone
As if I’ll find anyone as good as this
As good as this
You know I’m built for, for you
I keep it 100
Lexus turns. She rests on her back and receives Kasiobi’s waiting lips as his hand travels up her skirt to familiar territory.
Outside, it’s Lagos on a typical Monday night but to two of them, it’s New York in winter and warm bodies moving against each other with sighs and moans as hearts reconnect.
To Lexus, they were both built for moments like this.
Image credit: Blackfathers