Saving Dapo #8 by @seunodukoya

“He does not kiss me,” Yemisi grumbled.

“Have you talked to him about it?” Her sister Toke asked.

“Talked to me about what?”

The sisters turned to see Dapo striding into the house, looking as comfortable as the landlord.

“How do you know this place?” Yemisi avoided his open arms. “I never brought you here.”

Dapo tapped her forehead. “You have me on the brain – which means you drag me along wherever you go.”

Yemisi looked confused. “No, I don’t have you on the brain o. I don’t. What kind of talk is that…” Dapo interrupted her as he spread himself over the sofa. “Your phone’s ringing,” he smirked.

She looked around. “I cannot see it. Where is it?” Yemisi asked, feeling defensive.

“You’re lying on it, silly!”

Yemisi indeed began to feel the phone’s vibrating against her tummy and she looked down, aghast.

Her eyes opened.

“Not that dream again,” she moaned as she took the ringing phone and was about to hurl it away when the name on the screen caught her eye. Dapo.

“He…hello?”

“Good morning babe. Slept well I trust?”

“Yeah…I did… How are you?”

“I’m fine.” There was a pause, and then “No church today abi?”

Yemisi scratched her head. “There is o. I’m just going to a later service – I overslept.”

“Okay. See, someone is going to call you sometime during the day. Yeah, I gave him your number.”

“What’s the call about?”

Dapo chuckled. “You’ll find out soon enough. One clue though – Blue Flame Catering is in effect.”

“Blu…blue what?”

“Later, dear.” His bubbling laughter was the last thing she heard before the phone disconnected.

What was that all about? Blue Flame what?

Yemisi pushed her feet in white and blue slippers before standing up, adjusted the t-shirt that clearly wasn’t hers, and then walked to her wardrobe. She opened the doors and admired herself in the full-length mirror on the inside of the left door.

Turning this way and that, she cocked her head to one side and eyed herself up and down critically. She liked what she was seeing; her skin looked flushed and healthy, there were lights dancing in her eyes and she wanted to dance.

“I should dance. I’m not single anymore,” she laughed at her own silliness and then pondered the truth of that. She did have a boyfriend. A boyfriend who had been with several women, yet thought her legs were the hottest he’d ever seen.

That counted for something. Dapo wasn’t known for bullshitting.

“Keep it coming; D honey and I may just ask you to marry me. Let’s see what you’ll do then!”

She rummaged through her wardrobe. She was going to do something she hadn’t done in a long while.
Wear a dress.

******************************************************************************************************

Yemisi was waiting for the traffic guy to pass her out of the parking lot so she could head on home when Celine Dion’s ‘We Don’t Say Goodbye’ started humming from her bag.

“Okay, that’s just somehow,” she said aloud.

“Good afternoon,” she said as she silenced the phone’s ringing.

“Is this Blue Flame Catering?” A male baritone responded.

“Blue…what?” came automatically out of her mouth – and then she remembered Dapo’s call. “Yes, yes it is. So sorry.”

A chuckled wafted down the line. “Oh okay. I was afraid I got the wrong number. I got your contact from one Dapo – he says you handle cooking engagements.”

“I do…yes, I do,” Yemisi answered, wondering why she could feel her heartbeat in her fingertips. “What do you need?”

“Okay. I’m getting married in a month, and I want your quote for three hundred guests – feeding, serving, wines…the whole works.”

“That’s…that’s not a problem but I’m going to need more specific information. Why don’t I just talk with your wife?”

“She’s not here right now. I’ll give her your number and have her call you. How’s that sound?”

The sudden blare of a horn alerted Yemisi that she was holding traffic. She quickly put her car in gear and continued talking.

“Yes sure. That’s fine. Thank you.”
The man chuckled. “Thank you. I’m Chidi by the way.”

“Sorry. I’m –“

Chidi cut her off. “Yemisi. I know. Later. Thanks!” and hung up.

******************************************************************************************************

Thoughts chasing themselves in her head, Yemisi waited till she cleared the church compound and traffic before she stopped the car. Her heart was booming loudly – she was shaking in excitement.

“Oh Lord,” she said, “thank you for giving me a crazy boyfriend!”

And then she called Dapo.

“You didn’t die did you?” he said as soon as he picked. “I didn’t think you would either.”

“You could…you could have warned me! Blue Flame Catering? What is that?”

“You don’t approve?”

Yemisi’s insides went soft. He was only trying to help – and besides, she knew fully well it wouldn’t have happened any other way.

Blue Flame Catering. It sounded…professional.

“I like it actually,” she gushed. “I was just taken by…what inspired it anyway?”

“I sat down with Ayo – that my advertising friend and ran some thoughts by him. We came up with about twenty names – and then whittled down to three, the best of which is Blue. I would have just sent you everything but there wasn’t time, and Chidi has been pestering me.”

“I do like how it sounds.” She couldn’t help wondering what the other names were.

As though reading her thoughts he said, “I’ll send the other names to you shortly – via text.” And hung up.

Easing back into traffic, the thought that her mum was still at home brought a smile to her face. Some supervisory role would be great. Meanwhile, she had to wrap her head around whether she had hurt her boyfriend or not, and if she wasn’t even being overly sensitive.

Yeah. Mothers are so necessary.

******************************************************************************************************

“When was the last time you spoke to daddy?” She asked her mother, rolling eba back and forth playfully, molding it into a ball. She hefted it before dipping it in the vegetable stew – only then did she look at the older woman.

“He called just after you left for church.” Mrs. Adeoba sighed. “He says it’s really cold this time of year. I miss my baby jare.” She paused and looked at her daughter.

“This…friend of yours sounds like a gem. And you say you’ve been friends?”

Yemisi’s throat moved spasmodically as she swallowed the eba, rejoiced as cold water followed – and then she spoke.

“Yes, maami. We met in 300 level back in school and we’ve been friends ever since.”

“And how do you feel about him?”

“I…I like him na. I mean, I’m really fond of him and everything. He makes me smile – he’s so dependable and stuff.”

“So why aren’t you dating him yet? Abo de ni e?”

Yemisi nearly spilled her stew as she started, looking at her mum in amazement.

“Mummy! Kilode?!”

“Yes ke! If this boy is as good as you say he is – listening to you talk about him is embarrassing sef, why is he not your boyfriend?”

Yemisi grumbled, straightening her eba and taking a huge handful. “Be patient, mummy. I’ll bring a man home when it’s time!”

“Okay o! Iwo lomo.” Mrs. Adeoba’s bangles clinked as she threw the newspaper down. “Let’s talk about this wedding. What did the wife ask for concerning the menu?”

“She hasn’t called – “ The Celine Dion song cut through whatever she was about to say. “Excuse me ma,” she said to her mum who nodded. And then she picked the call.

“Hello, Blue Flame Catering Services. How may I help you?”

“This is Rita – I’m Chidi’s fiancé. “

“Oh! Hi Rita,” Yemisi began. “My name is –“

“Yemisi. I know,” Rita laughingly replied.

Yemisi sighed. “Okay! So you were supposed to talk me through your feeding requirements…”

******************************************************************************************************

“Three million, nine hundred and sixty-seven thousand naira and some kobo,” Yemisi breathed, putting down the calculator and looking at her mother with a mixture of fear and surprise. “I had no idea weddings cost this much o,” she finished.

“You haven’t done one yet have you?” her mother eyed her in disdain. “Don’t worry – it’s even good you have this business now. You would have saved enough money for your own!”

“Mother, I love you but sometimes…” Yemisi shook her head and rose as a knock came from the door. “Who’s there?”

The words were mumbled and indistinct but she had a feeling she knew who was standing there. Sure enough, she opened the door to find a grinning Dapo, arms loaded with several Shoprite bags.

“Hey there girlfriend,” he said.

Yemisi arrested her forward movement that was supposed to end in a kiss; remembering her mother was somewhere behind her, and turned it into a hug. Then she leaned back, hands on hips to regard her boyfriend quizzically.

“Why didn’t you call first?!” She whispered harshly. “MTN and GLO are quite fine today sef o, and my mum…”

Dapo laughed heartily. “Are you going to help me with these things or…?”

Yemisi stuck her tongue out at him as they entered the house, Dapo shutting the door with his elbow below following his gliding girlfriend into the kitchen.

“Yemisi, who is that o?”

“It’s…it’s…” Yemisi looked at Dapo who shrugged. “It’s the boy I was just telling you about – Dapo…”

The words were barely out of her mouth before Mrs. Adeoba appeared at the door like some apparition. “So why is he in the kitchen?” She asked, glowering. “You could at least have brought him to the sitting room first.”

“Good afternoon ma,” Dapo greeted, back creaking loudly as he prostrated, something he had not done in a while.
“E ka san.” He finished, repeating the greeting in Yoruba.

“Thank you jare, omo dada. Pele! How are your parents?” She smiled at Dapo and took his arm, literally dragging him after her as she went back the way she came. Yemisi mouthed ‘cross-examination’ at Dapo when he looked over his shoulder at her, and she smiled as he winced and shook his head.

“Tell me about yourself. Where are your parents from…”

Yemisi’s smile grew wider as her mother’s voice faded into the background.

Follow Seun on Twitter @Seunodukoya
He blogs at http://www.seunodukoya.wordpress.com

Saving Dapo #7 by @seunodukoya

“Why hello there,” Dapo said as Yemisi stepped into his apartment.

“Uh…there’s nothing wrong with MTN or Etisalat today o,” he added.

Yemisi’s smile was bright. “I wasn’t sure you’d pick,” she answered. “I wasn’t sure you won’t be in one of those your alcohol-induced hazes.” She dumped her bags and hugged Dapo tightly. “Thank you for Monday again,” she finished.

“Ah. Em…don’t mention it – again.” Dapo said as he eased away, face averted slightly. “You’re my babe, abi?”

Standing hands on hips, Yemisi looked picturesque image in a pink blouse and azure jeans. Her hair was done in a ponytail and soft-soled shoes completed her ensemble. Standing next to her t-shirt and boxers while resisting the urge to scratch his armpit and yawn, Dapo felt filthy.

She looked around. “You’re the first guy I’ve dated who I don’t need to clean up after. I’m not sure how that makes me feel.”

Picking up the bigger of the two bags she winked at Dapo as she walked past.

He waited till she had disappeared in the kitchen and moved quickly towards the larger of two sofas in the sitting room. He disappeared behind it for a few seconds – and then reappeared carrying a bottle of McDowell’s. Throwing furtive glances towards Yemisi’s back, he tiptoed till he was past the kitchen door – and then ran full speed into the room at the end of the short corridor.

“I hope you’re still in ‘banga-eating’ mode,” his girlfriend remarked when he emerged behind her seconds later. “I’m making you enough for two days.”

“Have you seen Ini Edo lately?” she asked Dapo, snuggling against his chest. “She’s so hot.”

Dapo looked down at the top of her head. “Yeah, I noticed she’s shed all the baby fat and stuff. I assume that happened because she started having babies, yes?”

“Who cares? She’s hot!” Yemisi snuggled deeper against Dapo who quickly put down the glass he was carrying to avoid spilling the juice in it.
He nuzzled the back of her neck and whispered, “Maybe, but you’re hotter.”

“You’re just saying that,” she mumbled sleepily, shy smile caressing her lips. “You don’t really think so.”

“You know I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it,” Dapo answered, heat from his mouth raising goose pimples on her neck. “You have the nicest legs I have ever seen on a human being – male, female or the third kind.”

Yemisi sat up, her eyes searching Dapo’s, “Do you mean that?” she breathed.

He sighed.

“Why do girls like to deflect compliments? Why do you think every guy who pays you a compliment has an agenda? Well, you’re mine already – what kind of agenda could I have?”

Yemisi lowered her eyes. “Sometimes its insecurity,” she said slowly. “And sometimes – it’s really because you’ve heard so much of it from the wrong sources it’s lost all meaning.”

Dapo kissed her forehead. “Truth is truth, honey. No matter the source or how many times it’s repeated.” He pushed away from her gently. “You wanna watch some more AfroNolly stuff while we wait for the meat – or I should just kick your delightful ass in Scrabble?”

Interestingly, Dapo’s delightful ass was being kicked.

A few minutes into the game, they were neck to neck. After a bit Dapo got in the lead and then Yemisi caught up and sped past – back and forth like that. Then Yemisi hit premium by spelling D-A-R-L-I-N-G-S; springing off an ‘S’ Dapo had left carelessly unattended.

That was the end.

Imagine playing Scrabble with someone who had the entire Webster’s dictionary – that hardbound, nineteen thousand one hundred and eighty-six-word unabridged volume in her head.

It was worse than that.

After a while, Dapo simply stopped playing and sat back; watching Yemisi effortlessly massacre him. And she, having the most fun she’d had in a long while, kept dishing it out.

What saved Dapo was they ran out of tiles – else it would have ended something similar to that mythical Nigeria vs. India football game; 100 – 2.

As it were, the final score was too shameful to write down.

“You could have at least allowed me win, seeing how I’m the man and all that,” Dapo said, sounding like he was across the table from a client. Yemisi laughed, covered her eyes and stuck out her tongue at him.

“Score one for all the –“ She stopped talking with the abruptness of a loudly-playing sound system suddenly switched off.

“All the hearts I’ve broken abi? Always tagged you for the vindictive type,” Dapo finished as he rose to his feet.

“Drink? I’ve developed a thirst.”

Yemisi stood up and blocked his exit.

“I’m sorry. That was careless of me – I meant nothing by it.”

“I know, no offense taken,” Dapo smiled and kissed her perfunctorily. “I do need a drink.” He stepped around her and disappeared into the kitchen.
“The meat is burning o!” he yelled some seconds later.

Yemisi shrieked.

******************************************************************************************************

“So how did Toke’s party go?” Dapo asked, mouth full of banga-flavored Semo.

“Oh, it was great,” Yemisi answered.

“They liked – her friends actually liked the food. They kept coming for more helpings and her husband asked why I wasn’t married.”

Dapo sucked noisily on stockfish bone.
“You should…” suck “…take this…” suck “…cooking of a thing seriously though…” suck “I mean….seriously….” suck

Yemisi chuckled. “I wouldn’t know what to do – and who would trust me with cooking for a party sef? I couldn’t handle that volume!”

“Toke did, and have you tried to cook that volume before?”

“No, but…”

“Don’t knock it till you try it.” Dapo picked up a toothpick and looked at Yemisi, punctuating each word with a stab in her direction. “I trust you, and I know you’ll make a go of it. “

“Maybe it’s what I need sef, after plenty years of the same thing. I don’t know how it would look sha, me professional spinster cooking for marrying couples and naming ceremonies.”

Pausing dramatically, raised toothpick a few inches from his open mouth, Dapo looked at her as though she was overpriced boxers in a boutique.

“That’s encouraging – and me being your boyfriend and all,” he finished.

Yemisi punched him in the shoulder.

“Oh you – you know what I meant jo!”

He nodded. “Yeah, you’re my friend and that’s why you feel so comfortable being so pessimistic about our week-long relationship. I mean, what was I thinking?”

“Actually, that is your fault. You’ve been reminding me of it all day.”

He pulled the toothpick from his mouth. “And how have I been doing that?”

She ticked the points off her right-hand fingers as she talked. “Kissing me like a sister, not looking me in the eye – and hugging you is like hugging a teddy bear; even the bear puts its arms where you want them to be!”
Dapo’s sigh coincided with Yemisi’s release of pent-up breath, and they both laughed self-consciously.

“Okay, I admit. I have been feeling a bit awkward since…I was just wondering how to make the transition from ‘friend’ to ‘lover’. You can’t blame me for that,” Dapo finished.

“Maybe if you stopped worrying about hurting me and just enjoyed the fact that you’re no longer alone, you might actually start to live like a lover. Ever think about that?”

Dapo looked her in the eye. “No, but I’m starting to.”

******************************************************************************************************

“Is there some sort of juju you have?” Yemisi asked, arms around Dapo’s neck.

Dapo rubbed his hands up and down her waist and smiled. “Why do you ask?”

“I like…like kissing you. I think I like it too much sef.” She self-consciously brushed her hair as an okada sped past, and then smiled at him. “If this is why you’ve been holding out on me, it was well worth it o.”

“Is your mum still around?”

Yemisi untangled her arms from around his neck, pulled her keys from her back pocket and opened her car door before answering. “Yes o, the woman no wan gree go. I tire sef.”

Dapo dropped his arm. “Give me a minute,” he threw over his shoulder.

“And where are you going?” Yemisi said, confusion on her face.

“To freshen up. We’re going to say hello to your mum.”

“Oh. Wait.” Yemisi ran up to him. He’d turned and was waiting for her, looking expectant.

“Yes?” he said.

“She’s not home at the moment – she’s visiting friends or something like that.”

Dapo looked at his girlfriend patiently, nodding as he realized; I’m obviously not the only one who’s scared about all this.

She touched his left arm. “You’ll meet her soon enough, baby.”

He nodded. “Whatever makes you happy.”

Suddenly he scooped her, laughing at her screaming and gently deposited her on the boot of her Corolla. The shriek became laughter as she put her hands against his chest. “You crazy boy, we’re outside o!” she said. “What are you doing?”

“Being crazy,” he answered, and kissed her slowly, savoring the banga aftertaste that flavored her lips. Yemisi gasped in surprise, hands freezing around Dapo’s shoulders as she tried to meet him passion for passion. He stopped and looked into her glazed eyes.

“Tell me that felt like a brotherly kiss,” he said, grinning impishly and supporting her with his hands around her waist.

“Hmm…uh…” Yemisi looked like she was trying to gather her scattered wits. “Why did you stop na?”

“Do you want to finish everything in one day? Cool down jo,” Dapo said.

His girlfriend burst out laughing. It’s funny how everything is different.

“I swear, what possessed me to ask you out I’ll never know,” she said when she was calmer. “If I knew this is what I was asking for…”

“We can make it work,” he said, interrupting her. “I know you see something in me – something worth you risking your heart. Do you think I’m going to play around with that?”

He eased away and helped her down from the rear of the vehicle. “You know me better than that,” he finished.

Yemisi nodded. “I do, don’t I?”

Dapo nodded humbly as he opened the car door for her. He waited till she was seated comfortably before shutting the door and putting his head through the window.

“Tell your mum I said hi. And think seriously about the…you know; the catering thing.”

His fingers lightly brushed her forehead and she touched his cheek with her palm. Holding it against his mouth, he closed his eyes and pressed his lips to the centre of her hand. He felt Yemisi shudder and he smiled, tasting the different parts of her hand. There was a haunting scent around her wrist and he nuzzled it, trying to remember where he had smelt it before.

The memory eluded him and he deepened his kissing of her wrist – and the next moment he was kissing air.

Her hand was gone.

“What are you doing?” Yemisi asked, bosom heaving as she dragged in air.

“You don’t want me to go home again abi?”

“Mi casa, esu casa,” Dapo replied as he leaned back out of the car window.
“Oya fasten your seatbelt –“

“Stop. Just stop, you hear? I’m your baby, not a baby o.” She strapped the seatbelt and took hold of the steering wheel. “I’ll call you as soon as I’m home,” she said. “Thank you for not drinking anymore.”

Dapo shrugged. “I’m not a alcoholic – and I don’t drink because it solves problems or makes me forget. It helps me sleep nights it’s hard to.”

Yemisi dipped her head. “I don’t care why. Thank you for stopping.”

“You’re welcome. I want to –“

Dapo broke off as Yemisi sped off, waving goodbye to him.

As he turned to head back into his compound, a voice across the street stopped him.

“Uncle Dapo! Wassup?!”

He waved at a grinning thirteen year-old. “Just chilling, my guy. Just chilling.”

The boy gave the thumbs-up signal. “I want to be like you when I grow up!” he yelled.

Dapo smiled. “Grow up first, you hear?”

The boy ran off as Dapo waved again and walked into his compound.

Follow @seunodukoya on Twitter

Osa and Rose #3 by @Kelechixyz

And here guys, is the concluding part of the story.

Read the previous episode HERE

Osa believed he would make a success of his life, even if he regretted his lack of connections. He thought too, that he was drifting away from the direction of his plans. However hard he seemed to try, it seemed he was never able to bring about a turnaround. He accused himself of not working hard at his goals. He blamed it on a lack of Godliness and not enough determination.

Rose asked him to change the music because she wanted to dance. He put music that he liked, a tune that he could dance to, and which if he was alone and feeling like it, would have made him get to his feet and begin to dance. He went back to sit on the mattress, resting his back on the wall, and in front of his eyes was her ripe body dancing under the swirling ceiling fan. He noticed that her body was a little less enticing now she was naked. She did not quickly match the beat of the song, she moved her arms and legs awkwardly, wiggled her waist without rhythm, and looked into his eyes with laughter in her own. She soon began to dance well, and if she was not skilled she had passion, and he soon had to stand up to join her because she insisted, and they threw themselves this way and that, two naked people, and with the doors and windows locked they did not fear any intruder, they boomed with their voices after the song, and they sweated, and in everything around them, their movement and the air they breathed, there was vitality and the tang of youth and even when he fell back to the bed in tiredness, she did not stop dancing until her legs began to ache.

If his early wish was to enjoy her body, he had now enjoyed it many times over. But now he could not wean himself from her. He would not even let a week pass without seeing her. He did not always think of her in an endearing light now that time had stripped her of much of her mystery. He thought he knew and understood her like a man might think he knows and understands his sister or wife, and he sometimes said to himself that she was empty-headed, was too pliable, was a burden his heart was dragging along, but still he would not get rid of her, and instead followed her about.

With time his way of life changed for the sake of Rose. He was ashamed for people to think he was going about with a married woman, his friends especially-because he had made them understand it had been only a brief, if enjoyable thing, and that he regretted it, and that he would not see her again. When his friends visited and met her inside his room, they often felt awkward and uncomfortable and could not talk with him freely. Some of them took him aside and condemned him for his behaviour. He agreed with them that he was guilty and told them that he would soon break with her. But instead he began to avoid some of his friends and with one or two their friendship was ended.

Rose and Osa were not senseless. They tried to keep their affair secret and avoided raising suspicion. They were not so young anymore, the years of their innocence were far behind them, and now and then it came to one or the other, the doubts, which sort of doubt that, is solid and irrefutable because it is not new, like a feeling of déjà vu confirmed by actual recall. And the doubt was this – that whatever they felt for each other might at any time fade away, that something would rise up and tear them apart, just as affairs in the past had been ended. But their affair dragged on, and whenever they were in the mood for lovey-dovey talk, they expressed their feelings to each other in a tone and with words that sounded new, as if they had never felt such strong and pure emotion for any other people in the past. They sometimes doubted the sincerity of each other’s words of affection, and even too, the words from their own mouths, for the very words suggesting self-sacrifice they sometimes said to each other became themselves like a shield against the penetration into the heart of one or the other, but this is not to say they were not true to each other, or were insincere, because if they spoke sincerely this hour and insincerely in the next hour, it was human nature, and in any case, their actions towards each other appeared to justify their words, words which in fact are not exact and are only approximations of feeling.

Once they skipped work and went to the beach. They took off in the morning, at around nine or ten. They were in expectation for it, because they had made plans to go a few times in the past but something or the other had always ruined the plans. Rose cooked some food and packed in her handbag, and Osa brought a bottle of wine. There were only a few people at the beach, and they were happy to observe that. As soon as they saw the water they began to run towards it, competing with each other as if it was a race, the sands slowed them down, and when they drew close to the water they crumpled to the sands as though they had no drop of energy left. Spreading a wrapper, they sat or lay beside each other, entwined their hands, wrestled a bit. Now and then they went to the edge of the water and let the waves wash over their feet. They looked out at the ocean often, there was in the distance a speckle that was surely a ship, and despite the motion of the waves and its accompanying roar, the ocean gave Osa the impression of a great stillness. He was particularly affected by it, and it made him to think about many things.

All through the day as they ate, drank and idled in the sand, He tried to express some of his ideas that he could never say out loud to people. He would have liked to say them briefly and concisely, but instead he found himself saying them in so many words, grandly. For instance he began to say that upon his death, he would wish his relatives to place his corpse on a boat and push it out to sail upon the seas, in place of a customary burial. They would have to put a box of his clothes and a store of food in the boat, just in case. He went on to say that at some point the boat would get in the way of a whirlpool and in this way his body would be borne honorably to the bottom of the sea. When she said that a burial at the bottom of the sea was a strange and irregular thing, he reminded her of that verse in the bible which said that the seas would cough up all their dead at the end of time. ‘The bible has foreseen it all’ he said. He had gotten this idea from a cartoon that was popular at the time, but she listened to him patiently and in admiration, and showered him with a lot of praise that he knew so many things. She also felt free to speak of her secret worries too, and she began to talk.

Often in the past they asked themselves what would happen if her husband found out their affair, or if she became pregnant with his child, or what would become of her when he had to get married, but they had never worried themselves about an answer. Now today, when it seemed that they had plenty of time, they tried to think these things through, and although nothing came out of their thinking, they became sober, and the carefree mood of the day was lost.

When the afternoon was fading they set off for home, they got a bus only after a long wait, and sat beside each other. It was a long journey back because the traffic was heavy. At the bus-stop at Oshodi they parted happily, and went their separate ways.

It had now been more than three years since that morning when Osa had seen her for the first time, a remembrance which he had shared with her so often that it was now woven into the fabric of her own experience, a mental picture of a young man who, one morning, stood rooted to a spot staring at her with love and desire in his heart, and was in turn rewarded with a bulge in his trousers. It was flattering to her, and the telling of it often made her smile. Of course the story had changed a bit in the remembering, and even changed again in the telling, but then, everything changes.

Three years is a long time or a short time. It depends on the yardstick we use to measure it. Osa and Rose were still factory workers, and her husband still taught in the government school. But she had given birth to a child in the interval, a pretty, ever-smiling girl who was now over a year old and she had presented the child to her husband as his, even if she knew the child had been fathered by Osa.

At first, when she found she was pregnant, she panicked and became remorseful, but the passage of time and the consolations of Osa had smoothed everything out, so that by the time the baby came to term she felt quite free and unburdened, and did not worry more than any other expectant mother might worry. Her husband was very happy for a daughter- he fussed over her and was very attentive to her. Often on Sunday afternoons when it did not rain and the weather was hot, he would spread out a mat in the sitting-room and lying down, would place her on his chest to sleep and if the girl did not wish to sleep he would play with her and throw her in the air. Often, Rose secretly laughed at his gullibility. But in that inscrutable way of the human heart, now and then the sight of them struck her painfully, and on one Sunday afternoon no different from any other ones, her two sons had gone to church for catechism, she sat on a sofa and, watching them together, she felt a deep remorse, wept silently and openly, and if her husband had looked at her at that moment, she would not have been able to stop herself from going on her knees and confessing her guilt. But again this too, was a passing feeling, and in any case she showed few outward signs.

For all exterior appearances she was a devout catholic. When she had started out with Osa she knew that she should not receive Communion. This was very clear from her days of catechism classes. When she prepared for the rare confession, she remembered but did not confess the sin, and there was often with her the residual feeling that it had caused a chasm between her and God. Anyway, overwhelmed by the need to keep up appearances to her husband and fellow parishioners, she had long resumed receiving Communion.

She recognized Osa on the face of her daughter as she grew and took form, and sometimes she felt bitter and envied him his freedom, his being so light-hearted and relaxed, his having to bear nothing like the burden which she bore. Now and then they spoke of settling the matter once and for all, and both heroic and cowardly ideas came into their heads. They outlined the possibility of her making a confession of everything to her husband and moving in with him, there was also the idea of their snatching away the daughter and moving to another State to begin a new life, yet again there was the mad idea of her abandoning the children and moving in with him.

At any time over the past few months, Rose might have carried out any of these plans to the end if he had begged, urged her on, but he had not, for he was always vacillating, urging her now and discouraging her next. She did not grudge him. She loved him. If at first he had brought her the excitement which her heart had longed for, if he had been the tinder that lit up her humdrum life, he also had tangled her life beyond her understanding and there seemed to be no conclusion to the matter, so that she realized that she must surrender herself to whatever possibilities and complications might arise. And these thoughts were as a poison to her love for him, diluting it slowly and steadily, so that she occasionally wished it were possible to exchange all that had happened between them all these years for a life without incident.

News came to Rose of the death of her brother-in-law, the youngest brother of her husband, who for a dozen years had been living in Suleja. He had been hit by a car while on the way to his shop. This news had come through a haulage driver who came one morning to the school where her husband taught. When the news got to them, the brother-in-law, a man not yet forty- had been dead for a week. It fell to Joshua to travel to Suleja to retrieve the corpse and take stock of his brother’s possessions. The knowledge that he had a shop lent new ideas to their opinion of his brother because the family had not thought much of him. As it turned out, the young man was at the cusp of prosperity. He had two shops in which he sold bags of rice and beans and other edibles in wholesale. He had lived alone in a large flat and had a car. Joshua took his brother’s corpse and delivered it up to the family compound in Ika for burial. And ten days after he had been informed of his brother’s death, he was back in the classroom with his students.

Joshua had visited a new town, he had inspected two shops brimming with goods and a flat furnished to the tastes of a young and exuberant man and as the days went by he realized that a new possibility of life had been opened to him – the life of a merchant. He had inherited a pair of shoes, better than his present pair and all he had to do was slot his feet into them. He was happy to think of this. His salary was not much, it was only by a strict economy that the family kept afloat and he, who all his life had never taken an interest in commerce, now began to query his wife about prices of commodities.

One evening, he sat on a sofa in his parlor after he had returned from the school and awakened from a short sleep. He was thinking that time was running out on him to act. There were two possibilities open to him: to sell off his brother’s assets or take them over. He was nearing fifty, and already well fixed in his habits. He was not, at first, for transplanting of his roots and so had always inclined towards the former. But with each passing day, he began to think more and more of the viability of the second option.

That evening he thought left and right, trying to think which way was best, such thinking that is quite impossible because there is only so little that one really knows, and thus he supplemented facts with spawns of imagination and hope. He was frightened for himself, years of living at the ease of a salary, even if it was not much, and a hard experience of life that taught him to mistrust people with his money, he was beginning to welcome more and more the idea of retaining the shop, keeping it filled with goods and turning a profit.

In the parlor there was the little girl and her brothers, they involved themselves in variations of play, making faces at each other and, between the two boys, making war with rubber soldiers. His eyes and thoughts went to them. It seemed that in one moment, he saw their past, present and future lives within either choice. It might only have been his imagination, but he interrupted his children and called them to him. Their faces looked up to his in expectation.
“We will be travelling to a new town.”

They did not leave for Suleja immediately. Joshua applied for and was given an extended leave. He went ahead of his family by a month. Rose, whose superiors gave her to understand there would be no chance of getting an extended leave, had to give up her job. She had laughed when he first brought up the idea, thinking it a ridiculous and passing whim, for she thought him a man of safety, who was afraid of risk. And she grew downhearted as his enthusiasm grew and he began to make concrete plans. She tried to persuade him to sell off his brother’s assets and start a business in Lagos, but her husband would not have that. Willing enough to tread the path of another, he appeared unwilling to chart his own way.

Eventually she too began to consider the idea of prosperity that he said would come to them in a new town. And a part of her longed in expectation of the possibilities that awaited them even if she still grieved the end of an old life.

As a parting gift, Osa gave her a watch. She wore it proudly and he was happy. He assumed it to be of good quality, as it had taken a good chunk of his salary. But he had been cheated by the Mallam – the watch was mere imitation and before two months had passed it fell to pieces.

******
A few months after her departure Osa got what he considered a lucky break and took up a new career as a sales executive. The hours and the pay were better than the factory and he was overjoyed at first, but after a while he felt no happier than at his previous job. All the same it was clear that his life took an upward turn. He moved to an apartment and scaled up his pleasures. He did not think of Rose to a great degree, but he did not forget her. He had thought much of her in the first few months of her departure, but afterwards not so much. The present overlays the past, and in turn is overlaid by the future, there is no helping that.

******
A woman wearing an Iro and buba was riding a taxi. The traffic was bad and she killed the time by staring out of the windows. It was Rose. For ten years she had been away from this city, and all through her short and pleasant stay here was the feeling of a triumphant return. She had grown up here, and much of the events of her life had occurred here. She cast her observant eye at this familiar city, said to the driver that much had changed, and for the better too.

She had come to Lagos to buy some merchandise, and now the interior and booth of the taxi were full of her purchases. She planned to spend the rest of that day and night with a relative and the next day return to her family.

Osa had not looked for her in all the years. While she planned for the trip the idea came to her that she should search him out. Of course she had nothing in mind, she told herself, he most probably would be married, and with children too, it might be difficult but not impossible to find him, all it would take was a little time. She wished to see him, say a few words to him, but now she was in Lagos she did nothing of that sort but instead went about her business. In saner moments, she thought it would be better to let things as they were, with no one the wiser.

The traffic began to clear up. Their middle lane was slow-moving relative to the others- they were constantly being overtaken by other vehicles. By the window through which Rose was looking, three yellow, black-striped buses went past slowly in succession. In the second of the buses, sitting by the window of the last seat, was Osa. He was returning from Lagos-Island where he had gone to see about a matter with a client. He felt a little sleepy and was staring out of the window absent-mindedly. All the same, he picked up an image, which startled him and caused him to put his head out of the window in order to make certain of what he saw. But the distance between the two vehicles was widening and he found it impossible to confirm his surmise. Rose too, felt certain that she had seen him, and she sat up on the seat and screamed so that the taxi driver shook at the wheel and asked her what the matter was. But she looked at the driver for a time without saying anything in reply, and then she slowly fell back to her seat.
The end.

Follow Kelechi @Kelechixyz on Twitter

Thank you K for sharing this with us.

Osa and Rose #2 by @Kelechixyz

Read the first part HERE

Osa and Rose often met at the bus-stop. If there was time to spare they talked and talked and laughed with each other, and if there was no time to spare, a feeling glance or wink was enough.

When she was ready he took her to a cheap hotel that was not far from her factory. It was very cold that morning and breeze was blowing and people felt that rain was going to fall. Rose had worked the night shift and as soon as she came out of the factory gates and walked a little to the left had seen Osa, who was standing by the gates of an abandoned building. There was nothing good to say for the hotel. It was a small bungalow in the middle of a dead-end street. As soon as they entered the room Osa took off his clothes and flopped on the bed. He lay straight and looked at the cheap furnishings of the room. Rose, who was still wearing her clothes, sat on the edge of the bed. He looked at her and bit his lips.

Osa felt talkative. He felt very free to say whatever he liked, and so he asked about her husband.

At first she did not reply, but he kept looking at her.

‘My husband is a good man.’ She did not want to talk about him but Osa wanted her to continue.

‘He is a teacher, mathematics teacher. He taught in my secondary school. That is how we met.’

‘How long now?’

‘Ten years. We have been married for ten years’

‘He must be quite old.’

She would not say anymore about her husband. She looked up at the clock on the wall and saw that it was almost six o‘clock. Shaking her head, she turned to him and began to take off her clothes.

When she was naked and lying beside him, he remembered old fantasies. He stood up from the bed and now looked down at her, enjoying the sight of her body. She was smiling at him at first, but when she understood what he was thinking she covered her face with her hands and laughed. He came back to the bed and with his hands he touched her eagerly as if he was a child who had been given a toy that was new and strange and long hungered for.

They lay quietly afterwards. Osa was very happy with his performance and he was tired too. Because he had had his fill of Rose his eyes and mind could now be occupied by other things.

There was an old chart hanging on the wall at the side of the bed where Rose lay. It was of the signs of the zodiac, with all the twelve symbols and names in a circular arrangement. The chart was old and the printing had become faint. He strained his eyes but could not make anything of it. Osa was curious about horoscopes and had often wondered if their predictions were true. He read them always in the newspapers. They could seem very true today and the next day they could be so clearly false. He had never been able to make up his mind. He turned to Rose – she was curled up and was looking at him.

‘You were born in March?’ he asked.

‘Yes, March’ she said.

Again he turned to look at the chart, even though he had understood nothing the first time and could understand nothing now. Rose even became curious and turned to look at the chart.

‘We are meant for each other’.
He said this in a tone of conclusion, as if he was a judge who had just finished studying a case very carefully.

******
They went at it again and afterwards he was so tired that he slept off without his knowing. The rain that had been showing signs since the early morning began to fall. It came with flashes of lightning and rolls of thunder. Rain came in through the open windows of the room and the curtains billowed. Rose did not wish to stand up but when the cold became too much she dragged herself to the window. She was naked. Before she shut the louvers she looked outside. Everywhere looked bleak. She saw the unplastered walls of the fence, the cemented floor on which puddles were already forming. The skies were dark grey and everything and everywhere, including the room they were in, now had a tinge of grey. She thought of her two children who were probably at school, bending over their books. She thought of her husband who might now be standing before a class. She thought of their flat too, it would be empty and quiet now. Was the rain falling there? Were any windows left open? She shut the louvers gently and turned around. She was no longer happy. Osa was asleep. She called his name once, twice, thrice. He did not stir. She began to dress.

For a month they did not meet. Osa spent a week visiting his parents in the village. The rest of the time he did not try hard to meet her. In the early days, Rose felt very unhappy, not so much that she could not sleep, but now and then she would be thinking about all that happened. Sometimes she felt a great wish to be with him, to enjoy him and to have him enjoy her and sometimes she felt shame and guilt and even fear, and she would say that from that moment and forever she would be a good and loving mother and a devoted and faithful wife.

She did not hear from him and felt wounded because she thought he had abandoned her. She wished to see him again and she wished not to see him again, and both wishes sat beside each other in her heart. Yet as the month passed, he began to fade slowly from her mind, her desires were waning.

On his part, Osa remembered her with pleasure and savored the feeling of that morning with her. He told his friends about her, colouring the story and making himself appear like a sex machine. But he soon realized that the reason he would not stop talking about her was because he missed her and could not remove her from his head. He did not try hard to see her because of a sixteen year old girl in his compound who had fallen for him. She was very loyal and allowed him to do whatever he liked to her and she asked for nothing in return except that he should spend his free time with her and tell her nice words. Osa was attracted to her because she was young and simple and ignorant.

And sometimes he thought of Rose with his practical and calculating mind. It was clear that she had no money, and that she did not have any connections that could help him and to worsen matters she was married. He thought he must forget about her and continue with his life, but as the days were going, as he went to work and returned and rested in his room and visited his joints and cuddled that girl and slept at night, Rose came more and more to his thoughts until it began to seem as if he was going about everyday carrying a stone in the pocket of his trousers.

He decided that he must see her. He left his factory an hour early and went to hers and he waited near the gate. He picked her out from the group of workers coming out at the end of the shift and he was very happy and asked himself how he had done without her. She was surprised to see him and for a moment she smiled but she quickly removed it and frowned as he began walking beside her.

‘My uncle died’ he said.

She was silent.

‘I had to travel to the village and I only came back last week.’

She sighed.

He made excuses left and right. Words were flowing from his mouth like a flowing stream. He did not want to lie to her, but he wanted her to be happy and besides he did not even know how he could explain the truth. Anyway, because he looked sincere and because she wanted to believe him the lies he was saying became like the truth. They were walking towards her bus-stop where she was to board a bus home, but they passed it and entered a side street. They realized that they were walking without direction and so they stopped and rested their backs against a parked bus. The street was busy and no one took notice of them.

Rose remembered that she wanted to cook and needed to go to the market. They went back along the road they came, crossed to the other side and took a bus to Oshodi, where there was a market. Osa walked behind her and carried her bag. When she was finished they took a bus to her part of town. It was dark as they climbed into the last seat and sat beside each other. They played all the way home like children or like adults who did not care. He tickled her sides and licked and nibbled her ear discreetly and she pinched him hard in retaliation. He tried with his will to swallow his pain and not to scream so as not to frighten their fellow passengers. She said to him in the midst of their play.

‘What have you done to me?’

The tone of her voice shook him.

‘Does she actually love me?’ he thought.

When they arrived, he followed her to that electric pole like on the first day. They did not waste time. She had to go and cook. She squeezed his fingers tightly as they separated. As Osa was going to his home, he was thinking that everything was now fine between them, and that it was even as if they had never separated.

******
The next Sunday, with the excuse of going to another parish to attend a Charismatic Renewal meeting, Rose met Osa again and they came to his room. They were dressed in Sunday clothes and they both looked very fashionable. Once they entered his room they were in a hurry to remove each other’s clothes. That morning Osa felt very tender towards her and if she had asked him for anything, no matter how difficult or impossible, he would have said ‘Yes, yes. I will’.

His state of mind made him alternate between talkativeness and silence. He wished in a moment to harm himself for her sake, maybe tear his heart out of his chest and hand it to her on a plate, and in the next moment just to lie down beside her quietly, forever. These were contrasting feelings, but Rose was at the root of everything. She too was thinking about him, and she looked at him with devotion. She realized that he had taken over her heart. What was she to do? Electricity returned and the ceiling fan began to turn. Osa rose with excitement and put on some music.

‘I am going to be a newspaper editor someday’ he told her, and from a folder under his mattress he eagerly brought out a few musty-smelling sheets of paper. They had been written over the space of three years, his observations about life and politics, articles on good governance and the need for a people’s revolution, a sketch of his dream for his own kind of newspaper. There were quotations too by famous people which he had written down for self-guidance. Except for the quotations, only a few of the things he had written had been completed. Some he had abandoned in the middle of a sentence and others were so muddy that he himself would not have been able to understand the original idea which had made him write them.

Her education was limited. It is true that she had had thirteen years of schooling, but the schools were not good ones, and so it was not easy for her to understand what Osa had written. But she was still sure that Osa was a smart and intelligent man.

‘You are great’ she said, as she gathered the papers and put them aside.

‘No, no. I am really an ordinary man without money.’ he replied.

But in fact he was flattered and believed her.

She shook her head and said, “I had hoped to go to university, you know, any school would have been okay. I wanted to be a doctor, or an accountant, anything at all, anything would have been better than being a factory worker. One of my neighbors when I was younger went to a university, I don’t know what she studied, but she’s abroad now. Maybe my life would have been different if I had gone to university.”

“And what makes you think you cannot go back to the university. I have a diploma, but I know I will go back to school. I only work in the factory for the meantime, until things begin to work out for me, and all the time, every day, I prepare for my future, because I know where I’m going to. And God will help me. And you, you’re still young, your children are still young, you can become an accountant, it’s just four years, that’s all and you’re out, and you could even become a manager in the factory. Think of it, there are part time programs, evenings, weekends, it would not take too much of your time. You just have to be determined.”

Rose sighed and if Osa had looked at her at that moment, he would have seen a woman looking into herself. She was thinking about what he had just said, and then she had thought about this same thing many times in the past. The conclusion of her thoughts was always the idea that it was now quite impossible, that it was too late. But he was not looking at her. He was thinking about himself.

The primary advantage of the big Nigerian city over its villages is the illusion of hope it gives to its newcomers. The sense that they can find within it the success they desire, if only they might, just like a boy might pluck fruits from a tree, stretch out with effort and reach for it. It was such a hope that brought Osa to Lagos. It is not without basis, and this illusion incites those who believe in it into thinking that their effort will count for something. They drive themselves hard in the pursuit of material things, in order to fulfill the hope they carry in their hearts. There is really success in the city, but it will belong to only a few, and the rest of the city-people whose hopes will never be realized exhaust themselves nonetheless, but are often consoled by the blunting effect time has upon everything, and so life goes on without turmoil.
to be continued…

Follow @kelechixyz on Twitter

Osa and Rose

This story is written by my friend Kelechi Nwaike, who is working on a collection of stories soon to be released. He is one of my favorite Nigerian writers. I’m crazy about his writing style. It’s different and really deep. It took me a lot to get K to feature here and I’m glad to have his work finally grace this blog.

The story is supposed to come in one part but I’ll be splitting it in 3. He wants your honest opinion. Please do drop a line and share.

Erm…I did not find an appropriate image for this story. Apologies.

One morning just after Osajuyigbe got down from a bus at the Iyana-Isolo junction and began walking quickly to his work place at the industrial complex, he saw a woman in a red dress. He was struck by her looks and desired her so much that he shook his head and sighed.

He stopped walking and began to watch her. The woman was near him, haggling with a trader who had spread out vegetables and fruits by the road. Osajuyigbe observed the woman stoop to pick oranges. He listened to her conversation with the trader because he wanted to hear her voice. He enjoyed her with his eyes, and he imagined being with her in his room, drinking his fill of her.

He felt sad because he knew that his desires had no chance of being satisfied, as he had to hurry on to work. He pressed down the bulge in his trousers. He turned away from her unwillingly and continued on his way, her image still in his head. He remembered this ordinary incident for a long time.

Osajuyigbe was twenty-eight years old. He was muscular and of the average height. His face was attractive and he barbed his hair very low because he was gradually going bald and did not want people to notice. He had picked up a habit in his teenage years of walking with a bounce, and he gave the impression of an enjoyment man. He worked as a packer in a battery factory where he earned little, but he spent much of it on his enjoyments and often owed people. As the day passed, he was distracted by the factory atmosphere of humming machines and brown cartons, and also by the orders and reprimands of his supervisors, and he thought less and less about the woman in the red dress.

******
He saw her again the next week because by chance he had left work early. The woman was waiting at the bus-stop. As soon as he saw her he was overcome with desire and forgot everything else. He made up his mind that he must say something to her and he went close to her, but when he was near he did not know what to say and was uneasy and angry with himself.

A bus stopped. The conductor jumped down and began to shout for passengers to Mile Two. The woman and the other people at the bus-stop pushed towards the bus and Osa let himself get carried by the current of their collective motion. He did not leave her side and inside the bus he made sure to sit beside her. Because the seating of the bus was cramped their forearms touched. He was unsettled because of this, and also because of the fragrant mix of her sweat and perfume.

Osa looked at her without trying to hide what he had in mind, but she was looking through the window and did not notice him. He wished to say something funny or startling or flattering to her but no words came to him.

He kept looking at her thoughtfully. He wanted to know more about her. He looked at the handbag on her lap- it was black. He thought it was made of imitation leather because most of the skin had peeled off. She wore an old watch with leather straps tight on her fleshy wrist. A worn ring that formerly had a golden colour was on her ring finger. Her black hair was permed. Seeing only one side of her face, he saw her blinking eye under the thick lashes and her lipstick-coated lips which were parted a bit and showed him a small part of her teeth. He saw a black birthmark near her fine-shaped nose. Her head was round and her neck was fleshy. Her breasts were full. He became courageous.

He looked out of the window and did not notice anything interesting that could be taking her attention, and so he nudged her arm. He prepared a nice smile on his face so that she would think well of him when she turned to look at who had nudged her. And when she turned to him he did not even delay for one moment but began to speak to her.

Rose was the woman’s name. She worked as a supervisor in a textile factory near his own factory. She had a headache because work had been stressful that day. She was going home to her family. He looked at her face with admiration and he thought of sweet and flattering things to say to her. He was no more timid. His confidence grew with each passing moment and he did not care if other passengers were listening to what he and Rose were talking.

She was real now- that woman who had turned his thoughts. She had come down to earth and was now human. He listened as she spoke and at every chance he put in a nice word. It went on like that until they got down at her stop.

‘Do you live around here’ she asked as the bus drove away.

‘No’

It was now quite dark. Some people were walking slowly and some were walking quickly. Cars too, were going past. The road was noisy and lively. Osa and Rose stood on one side, facing each other.

‘Where is your house?’

Raising a finger, she pointed in the direction of her home.

‘The street after that electric pole, that concrete one, yes-that is where I live’

Her fingers showed him the pole, but she refused to give him any more details.

‘Let me escort you’ he said.

‘Only a little, you must stop before the pole.

It was a short distance and they walked slowly. Words came from his lips like spit. He told her that he had followed her into the bus and all the way as if he was guided by a Spirit, and that her beauty had arrested him and also that he would not know how to survive if they did not meet again. He felt he must keep saying sweet things, and he said them, and he wished his style to become like someone that love had swept away and his style became like that.

When they reached the electric pole he held her hands gently but she took her hands away. He thought that she was afraid that someone might be watching them and he wanted to show her that he was very caring and did not want to put her into trouble and so he straightened himself, put his hands into his pocket and took a step away from her. She smiled at him.

‘I have to go now’, she said

Rose climbed the stairs to the flat where she lived with her husband and two sons. She did not knock at the door but instead leaned on the metal bannisters. She closed her eyes. She was tired and wanted to slow her breathing before she went inside. She heard the noises her children were making and she suspected they were playing along the corridor. She was not happy at this idea because it was late and there was no electricity. They could hurt themselves she thought. Why had her husband not stopped them and sent them to bed? Had they eaten? She was very anxious now and so she went to the door and knocked very hard. The door was opened by her six year old son, the younger by three years. He clung to her and she dragged his weight along as she went on to the sitting room where, by a candle burning on a stand in the centre of the room, she saw her husband Joshua, draped in his wrapper and asleep on the sofa. He did not wake up and after Rose looked over the parlour for some moments, she continued into the bedroom.

Rose was the sort of person who, if let into a room for the first time, would go to the window as soon as she could simply to stare out of it, for the sake of the view. She would not even plan it beforehand. Her curious mind had a longing for new experiences and welcomed unfamiliar things. She was brought up by proud parents who had no money. As she grew they filled her head with religion and a horror of sin. She had married three years after she finished secondary school. She wed a teacher many years older. From the start the teacher had told her parents that he wished to marry her, and their courtship was honest and proper. In the midst of the courtship business, a friendship was carried on feverishly and secretly with a boy who had been her classmate at school, but it had ended when the boy suddenly moved with his parents to another part of the country.

Maybe because of the way the affair ended, Rose gave new ideas to what had happened between herself and the boy and often thought that it had been a special and heroic love. Likely it was not and with time would have become like most other affairs- vulgar, selfish and mostly concerned with pleasure.

All the same, Rose liked her husband. She was fascinated by his habitual slowness of movement and speech and his almost paternal concern for her. It was a different feeling to that boy who, because he was afraid of her parents had to creep up to her window to peep in search of her and who, when he found her, whistled in the manner they had agreed. That lanky boy who wrote her love letters in bad English, yet which caused so much feeling in her that she would be kept awake at night painting dreams of a happy and blissful life with him. Anyway, her memories of the boy did not last very long. His stamp upon her faded away and after three years of her marriage she remembered him without particularly fond or special feeling.

She still carried in her heart however, that capacity for feeling he had shown up in her- different from that which her husband now evoked. That lanky boy had shown her another glimpse of herself, so that there was never far from her a sense of dissatisfaction. If outwardly she seemed calm and sated, she was turbulent inside. She did not rebel, and if she reacted now and then, it was not to any great degree, and mostly in a subliminal way, appearing as moodiness, or a wish to be left alone or in any of those minor ailments that only women are believed to suffer.

******
Osa could not have explained how he reached his room that night. He thought about Rose all the way home. He thought of her with happiness and expectation because he believed that she liked him and that it was only a matter of time before he would have sex with her. He had his room in Mushin area, and it was one of ten other rooms in a crowded compound. When he entered his room, he became concerned with filling his belly, but as soon as he went to his bed, he brought her up again. He pictured her as he had seen her that evening in the white blouse and brown skirt and he pictured her naked too. Her full body was very bright in his head, her breasts and surging hips and he strained his mind’s eye so that he could see her clearer and clearer. He imagined her in new postures and arranged her in couplings with himself so as to fire his lust, and as he was thinking all these things, he stretched himself and rolled across the bed, and he kept his hands inside his shorts.

Osa and Rose met a few days later at the same junction early in the afternoon. They were both on the night shift, but had left their homes earlier than usual because they wanted to meet. As soon as Osa saw her, his face became joyous, and Rose saw this and was happy too, and the doubts which had been rising slowly in her mind since the day they had first met went away. They greeted each other by touching hands and together they walked into a narrow street that branched out from the main road.

They ended up at one of Osa’s joints, where he sometimes went to drink shepe, and they sat on benches across from each other. He got his glass of drink and he looked into her eyes and smiled as he took the first gulp, then he asked if she would have a small glass too. He told her that it was very medicinal. She took a sip from his glass, shook her head at the bitter taste and refused to drink anymore. They did not talk very much because three patrons of the joint, who had drank very much and looked haggard and wasted were arguing and they were joined by the owner of the joint, a woman who was very fat and was wearing a wrapper over her dress.

Soon Rose brought a container of food from her bag. The food smelled nice and after she had taken some, Osa took her spoon and finished the food. Rose was hungry and was a little annoyed that he had finished her food, but Osa praised her that she was a wonderful cook and that he had never eaten sweeter yam porridge before. Her heart became soft and her anger went away.

They passed time inside the kiosk, listening and talking softly. Osa played with her hands and looked into her eyes. When they became bored with listening to all the talk and were tired of sitting down, they got up and strolled for some time along the inner streets until they were near the gates of her factory. Here, Osa said goodbye to her and went on to his own factory.

to be continued…

follow Kelechi on Twitter @Kelechixyz

Saving Dapo #6 by @seunodukoya

It was Monday.

Five days after she’d asked Dapo out.

Yemisi looked down on Allen Avenue from the office window. It was busy as usual, midday with the sun shining down harshly on tops, human or otherwise.

She wasn’t there though.

What she was actually seeing was a face, a face with sad eyes and lines etched into it. She thought about her best friend and wondered for the billionth time if she had done the right thing. They had spoken over the weekend, but there was some sudden awareness between them, some sort of restraint obvious in both their voices. Their usual banter was gone, in its place some kind of probing, some kind of careful as though their words had more consequences now than ever before.

She was worried. And scared.

‘Have I lost him?’ she asked aloud. Of course, she wasn’t expecting an answer.

A smile tugged the corners of her lips hesitantly; as though it wasn’t sure it belonged there. She thought about her mother’s look when she had stumbled on her daughter smiling brightly after a call with Dapo. The older woman had said nothing, only smiling knowingly as the younger one tried to hide her blushes. Maybe I shouldn’t introduce him till I’m sure…

I need a drink.

The Chi Exotic pack was freezing. Yemisi smiled at the girl behind the Tantalizers counter as she collected the package. “Thank you.”

The girl nodded. “Anything else?”

A subtle tugging; real or imagined reminded Yemisi she hadn’t had anything that morning. “A Scotch egg, a sausage roll and two doughnuts.”

The serving girl’s smile was pretty. “Okay.”

As the girl turned away to start putting the order together, a voice at Yemisi’s elbow announced itself abruptly.

“God knows I love an eating woman – amen!” as a figure plunked itself on the counter beside her. Her brows came together as she tried to look serious before turning to her right.

“Oh really?” she said.

The only reason she was able to finish her statement was because she had told her mouth what to say and it just followed through. Her brain actually froze when her eyes met those of her target.

“Yes, really.” He answered but she wasn’t exactly listening. He looked like an interesting cross between Idris Elba and Denzel Washington with a bit of Nas thrown in.

His looks were arresting.

“Um…yeah…good for you,” she mumbled and turned away from the counter.

“But you haven’t taken your order yet,” the girl behind the counter said. Yemisi mumbled an apology and carried the bags, legs tangling with each other.

“Oh crap! Sorry, give me a moment,” she said as she realized she hadn’t paid yet. She gently set down her purchases on the counter, pulled out her wallet and burst out laughing.

“You must be having fun – are you not?”

The source of her discomfort smiled. “I’m just happy I got your attention,” he grinned. “I’m Remi.”

She took her time, sorting through the bills in her wallet before selecting a one-thousand naira note and placing it flat on the counter before taking the hand he proffered. “Yemisi,” she said.

Five steps away from the counter and it seemed as though he’d just woken up.

“Hey – where are you going?”

She smiled to herself. “Work. Desk, table, computer – you know, that kind of stuff.” She didn’t stop walking as he came up running behind her.

“Where’s that?”

“If you really want to know you’ll find out somehow,” Yemisi threw over her shoulder as he stopped, hands in the air. She smiled at him and then at the guard who was holding the door open.

The heat wave on Allen made her skin shrink – and she hoped he wasn’t following her.

******************************************************************************************************

He’s so handsome jare.

She took another bite of her roll as she looked down on Allen from the window – and started guiltily as she remembered what she had been doing the last time she was standing at that window.

She had forgotten about her worries. About Dapo.

He’s the one I’m with – he’s the only one I should be concerned with even if it’s just for three months.

And so, almost wistfully she discarded the image that reminded her of both her favorite actors.

A flash of color pulled her back to what she had been looking at but not seeing – Allen Avenue. It was a jumble at first, and then what attracted her became clear.

A girl wearing a bright red dress was crossing the road. She had her left hand to her left ear and her right hand was waving excitedly. Suddenly a black Sedan came hurtling out of the street beside Alade market, brakes screeching as the driver turned into Allen, not slowing down a bit. The car’s bumper caught the hem of the crossing girl’s dress and with a loud ‘RIP!’ tore a large chunk of it away.

The car did not slow down.

To Yemisi the whole picture was happening in high definition. She saw the girl’s dress get caught, stretch and then tear. She watched as the girl became frozen solid in the middle of Allen Avenue. She heard clearly the curses hurled after the vehicle – watched as a man ran to the girl and hurried her off the road. It all felt like a movie; or an advert – her ears were unconsciously straining; waiting for a yell of ‘CUT!’ or to at least see someone carrying a camera.

No such luck.

She did not know when she moved, but when Yemisi came to herself she was sitting in front of her computer typing something she could not make any sense of – half eaten roll on the table beside her system.

She stopped and looked at her hands. They were shaking.

The jarring buzz of the intercom was like the breaking of a million plates to overwrought nerves, and she quickly stuffed her fingers into her mouth to stop from screaming. She stood up and walked to the reception, leaving the phone ringing.

“Yes?” she said to Felicia who looked like a child caught stealing meat from the cooking pot. Felicia hastily put the intercom down and faced her. “Yes…yes! This man has a package for you,” she finished, pointing to a man wearing a dispatch rider’s costume.

Yemisi looked at the ugly man and sighed. Probably from one of the clients.

The man was carrying an average-sized box and from the way he was handling it, the box wasn’t too heavy. At her approach he balanced the box on his left hip and pulled a pad from his right chest pocket.

“Why don’t you just set it down?” Yemisi said, taking the pad from him. “Or is it a bomb?”

He smiled and she wondered how she’d ever thought he was ugly. His face had this open, defenseless look that could make a lot of women start feeling like mothers.

It was working on her at least.

“No it’s not o,” the man replied. He set the box down and took the pad Yemisi stretched towards him. Her back creaked as she straightened, lighter-than-expected box in her arms.
“Thank you,” she said to the man’s back. He waved and went out of the office.

The office quieted as she came in carrying the box, but nobody said anything. Her colleagues looked on as she set it on her table and examined the box for clues as to who sent it.

But it only bore her name and office address. Nothing more.

“What is it?” Adura asked, walking over.

“We’re all about to find out,” she answered, picking up a box cutter. “Hope you’ve all repented of your sins,” Yemisi continued. “We might be about to meet our Father in heaven.”

The box surrendered easily to the razor-sharpness of the box cutter, and two smaller tightly-packed boxes showed up. She sighed in exasperation.

Is somebody playing a game?

“See anything?” Fred, her nemesis asked.

“Why don’t you come and look yourself?” she retorted. The other guys laughed, but from the silence behind her, she knew nobody was moving. She opened the larger of the two boxes and a frosty cake stared back at her. The lettering on it said ‘for my guy girl’.

She smothered happy laughter and opened the second one, a slim box that had a ribbon and another envelope attached to it. It was a bottle of fruit wine. Footsteps that seemed to be walking on eggs approached as she straightened with the card in her hands, and she waited till the steps were almost immediately behind her and then yelled; ‘RAT!!”

Adura screamed and ran back to the cover of her desk, stumbling on her own legs as she scrambled. The other guys ducked under desks and chairs to avoid the ‘rat’. Yemisi quickly slipped the card in her desk drawer and burst into laughter.

“Oh you,” Adura sulked as she carefully lifted out the larger one and sniffed it, a calculating look in her eyes. “Cake?” she asked Yemisi who nodded. “Hmm hmm.”

Fred tapped Adura on the shoulder. “Don’t you know its impolite to sniff food – especially food meant for a lot of people?”

The cake was on the largest table in the office before Adura replied. “And the ‘a lot of people’ would be who?”

Ignoring the indignant Fred, Adura folded her arms and smiled at Yemisi. “I’m so jealous right now. Can I meet your boyfriend?”

“Boyfriend?!” Fred ejaculated in mock-horror. “This manly woman has a…boyfriend?! The guy must be a hermaphrodite!”

“Soon enough,” Yemisi smiled at Adura, slight tremor in her voice betraying the sting of Fred’s thoughtless remark. She quickly shooed the admirers away from her table and cut a huge chunk of the cake. And then she called Felicia to share whatever was left before retreating to the rest room where she washed her face of tears.

She took her time, delicately opening the card.

I just want to say thank you. For being my friend. For being my girl.

I’ll make you the happiest woman ever.

D.

She had stained the poor card with lip-gloss before she realized she was kissing it. Embarrassed, she hid it behind her back – and then caught herself at the silliness of the act.

There was a huge smile on her face – and not even the thought of Fred’s hurtful comments could dim it.

To be continued…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Seun Odukoya is the winner of the 2011 Chistell International Short Story
competition. He fell in love
with words at a very tender age, thanks to parents who fed him novels and poetry books, which led to his discovery of the use of writing to best
express himself.

He is currently working on a full-length
romance novel alongside other short
stories. He released his first book, a short story collection titled For Days and A Night (ebook) in December
2012 and his free comic Songs About AIDS a year later. Some of his greatest writing influences are Stephen King and Louis L’amour amongst a host of others.

When he is not writing, he enjoys reading, watching movies and listening to music.

You can catch up with Seun and his
On seunodukoya.wordpress.com
Follow him on twitter @seunodukoya.