It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #11

She comes to him in the morning. He is barely opening his eyes from a three-hour sleep when he hears a knock on the door. As he drags his feet to the living room, he imagines it is Chichi knocking. It’s something that has played out in his head several times—Chichi standing before him, begging to be let back into his life and him slamming the door in her face. Or it could be Kira coming back to pick a thing or two she left in the house. Last night he dumped her after she admitted, without flinching, that she couldn’t care for Trinity.

“I didn’t ask you to fuck her mother without a condom. She’s your problem, not mine. Isolate her from our relationship.”

That last line had been the cause for the fight that pushed Kasiobi to isolate Kira from his life entirely. She had cried a little but took the breakup rather maturely. He is hoping she is not the one returning to say she is sorry.

A surprise, however, awaits him as he opens the door to find Lexus standing outside with a tear-stained face and hair that looks like she has just tumbled out of a washing machine.

“Lex, what’s wrong?” he asks.

Lexus shakes her head and throws her arms around him. Her sobs are intense, shaking both of them with each heave. Kasiobi manages to shut the door but that’s all he can do. She doesn’t let go of his body. So, he stands there, rubbing her back, rocking her gently and assuring her that things would be fine even though he has no idea why she is crying.

Eventually, she comes to calm and explains to him that Dominic collapsed some hours earlier and is presently on a surgeon’s table having a procedure done to keep his heart in better shape.

“They said his coronary artery was blocked by a blood clot and they need to place something they call a stent in to keep it open.” She wipes her nose. Kasiobi is weak from what he has just heard.

“Wow.”

“He’s been suffering from coronary artery disease.”

“Your dad?”

“Yeah.”

“How come no one ever knew?”

“It’s not something we talk about. He manages it with drugs, diet and exercise but he’s been getting easily tired lately.”

Kasiobi guides her to a couch and sits beside her. “He’s going to be fine, Lex.”

“That’s what the doctors said but I just couldn’t wait there. I just couldn’t. Kas, I’m so scared. What if I lose him like I lost Eva?”

“You won’t.”

Kasiobi’s words don’t hold water. She begins to sob again. He holds her. The familiar scent of pineapples coming from her hair, blending with her perfume puts him in a place of memories. He recalls nights when they snuggled together on the only couch they had in their apartment in New York, covered by a blanket to keep warm, watching something boring on TV. Sometimes they ended up making love. Other nights, she would sleep off while he stayed awake, playing a computer game.

“Genesis is strong,” she murmurs. “I don’t know how she sits in that waiting room without losing her mind. I just can’t.”

“Your dad is going to be fine, Tonbra. Just believe that.”

Lexus nods but bites fingernails that peek out from the sleeve of an oversized sweater. Kasiobi drowns down the urge to kiss her hair, to bury his fingers in, push back her head and take her lips. These are thoughts that always occupy his mind in idle moments when all the things they had done and been comes rushing back to him. Just the other day when she came over to pick Trinity, he had longed to hold her hand when he handed over a feeding bottle to her. He could have told her then how much he missed her right before kissing her.

But his pride didn’t let him. Not even when he saw that she wanted it. Her eyes had taken on that look he knew so well that revealed how much she wanted to be kissed. That look always made her vulnerable, like a little girl, open to the wiles of a grown man.

“I’m sorry for bugging you like this, Kas.”

“It’s fine,” he replies. “You’re fam.”

Lexus pulls away. She sets herself in a comfortable position to face him. They stare at each other without words for a long stretch until her eyes moisten up again. He doesn’t touch her this time. He simply watches as the tears slowly course down her cheeks. He thinks it’s a beautiful sight, sad as it is.

“I was pregnant for you in New York,” she confesses.

For a second or two, he doesn’t understand her words.

“And I didn’t want the baby. But I couldn’t tell you because you were serious about us at that time. You wanted us to get married and have a family and it wasn’t what I wanted. I always tried to tell you but you just assumed we were on the same page. That was why I had mood swings and shut you out so many times. And then I went and got pregnant. I felt stupid and irresponsible. I hated myself…”

“What happened to the baby?”

“I had an abortion.”

Kasiobi shows no reaction, and this is not because he can’t. He keeps it in because he doesn’t want to upset her more than she already is.

“That was why we broke up. It wasn’t that I stopped loving you. No, Kas. I was…and I’m still crazy about you.”

At this, Kasiobi rises up. “Thanks for explaining everything but let’s not bring this topic up again.”

“Kas, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t face you after what I did.”

“You had an abortion, Woyintonbra,” Kasiobi responds with much calm. He is neither angry nor bitter but he feels the need to express himself.

“You aborted my child. You made that stupid, senseless decision all on your own without telling me and now you’re saying you still love me? What am I supposed to do with that? Dance? Let you back in?”

“I’m sorry.”

The sincerity in her tone makes it hard to keep a grudge; that and the fact that he is tired of the distance between them. She has been a mother to Trinity, helping him out without asking anything in return. This more than makes up for everything she did to hurt him. He wants her back but is scared to take the leap again. A friends with benefits arrangement would be better. That way, he eats his cake and keeps it.

Trinity wakes up with a scream.

“This talk is not over,” Kasiobi makes clear. “We won’t do this today. After your dad gets better, we’ll talk about it.”

As Lexus makes towards Trinity’s bedroom, Kasiobi pulls her back and enacts his fantasy of kissing her.

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It’s a long and deep one, the type that is gentle and fierce all at once. He has longed for this, dreamed that it would come in a finer setting and with a romantic ambience, but this is just as good and he would leave it hanging right here.

He marches away from her. She follows him to Trinity’s bedroom. The first sight of the little girl puts a smile on her face.

“Can I carry her?”

“Sure.”

Lexus walks to Trinity’s crib and lifts her out of it. The screams die down immediately.

“She’s hungry. Make food for her. I’ll heat up her bath water.”

Less than an hour later, the three of them are in Kasiobi’s SUV, on the way to the hospital. Genesis had called to let Lexus know that Dominic was out of surgery and asking to see her.

“Why do you think he’s asking after me?” Lexus had looked into Kasiobi’s face after Genesis hung up. “You think he wants to say goodbye? Give me some sort of last words?”

If Lexus hadn’t been dead serious with moisture dancing in her eyes, Kasiobi would have laughed. And even now as he parks in some empty spot in the car park of the most expensive hospital in Lagos, he sees that her apprehension hasn’t let down as she keeps chewing her nails.

They walk into the hospital, to the ward Dominic is recuperating, but they don’t let them in. Genesis comes out a while later.

“He’s sleeping,” she informs them. “Sedated.”

“Did it go well?” Lexus asks.

“Yeah, it went well. Your dad is fine, Tonbra.”

“He’s not going to die?”

Emotionally drained, Genesis can only shake her head. “Come here.”

Lexus steps forward and into a waiting hug. “Your dad is not going to die, Tonbra. Far from it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Very sure. Just believe that, darling. I’ll take good care of him. I promised you this on the day we got married, didn’t I? He’s not dying on my watch.”

Yet, Lexus is inconsolable. Genesis doesn’t let go of her until she pulls herself together. Only then does she step away.

“I’m such a cry baby.”

“It’s okay. I don’t think you can handle any more loss. Me neither.”

They both smile.

“That being said, you’re a mess, Tonbra. Let’s go and have our nails and hair done and we’ll be back here when he’s awake.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Lexus sniffles.

Genesis links arms with her. “Kasbi, thank you for bringing her. She literally bolted out of here earlier.”

Lexus turns to talk to Kasiobi but he nods her away. “Go and glam up, B. We’ll see later.”

She gives Trinity a kiss and leaves with Genesis.

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

Today, I had to say goodbye to Saratu. Her ex-husband is back in her life and she answers to his call without a second thought. She is off again to the UK to wastefully give her body to the man, not caring how it affects business. Dele’s wife thinks we don’t need her anyway. This is painfully said over a table where we are all seated. We’re in a noisy restaurant that has families with loud kids, all of whom have come to have their Sunday lunches. Eating out is quite a big deal in Lagos these days. I stare at some of the families and wonder if Jide, Jiney and I are going to be them someday.

“I’ll come back, baby.” Saratu takes Dele’s wife’s hand.

“Please, don’t. Just remain there even after he breaks your heart again and treats you like trash.”

“Oh, he will misbehave but before then, I’ll suck his account dry.”

Dele’s wife withdraws her hand. My eyes fall on Yazmin who is awfully quiet.

“Yaz?”

She doesn’t hear me. Her concentration is on her phone.

“Yaz!”

Saratu snatches the phone off her hands. “They’re calling you.”

Yaz looks up and her eyes dash to her phone.

“You’re consulting your ovulation app?” Saratu asks nosily. “Na wa o. Tobe is just over a year and you want another one?”

Yazmin mutters some insult in Spanish. Dele’s wife and I burst out laughing. Saratu frowns and hands Yazmin back her phone.

“One person I will not miss is you sha,” Saratu says to Yazmin. “I hate your racist ass.”

“Cabrona,” Yazmin cusses.

“Screw you right back, baby.”

“Yaz, be nice,” I scold.

“She started it.”

I am ready to roll my eyes right now. This is a typical day at work. I have no desire to see them play it out over this farewell dinner which is already going moodily.

“Can you two just get along? Just once?”

I know I’m speaking to the wind. How they have managed to work with each other for almost a year beats me. I love them both, though, and I tell them this. Saratu hugs me and we both tear up. I am going to miss her. She is the one friend I love and hate in equal measure.

Somehow we all manage through lunch and after we’re done, we walk out to the parking lot. Saratu hurries to one of the security guards and takes her pet dog from him. After shoving little pieces of chicken through the dog’s willing mouth, she brings it to me. I don’t cringe or move back. The animal has become a friend over the past month and has taught me to face my fears. These days I can stomach the sounds of barking and howling dogs.

“It’s for Jide.” Saratu hands me the leash. “All the times he stopped over at the office he came with something for him. I think they’ll bond well.”

I smile.

“Jide will be glad,” I tell her. “Thank you, Sara.”

The dog, Barry, sits beside me and looks up at Saratu, expecting more chicken but she stares at her phone and announces that she is set to leave. An Uber is already waiting to take her to the airport.

She embraces Dele’s wife first and comes to me next. I leave a few words of love with her and give her a parting gift. Finally, she stands before Yazmin.

“Don’t come back,” Yazmin says. We laugh. They hug and we afterwards, we watch Saratu leave. When the Uber has driven out of sight, I say goodbye to Yazmin and Dele’s wife and get into my car. Barry obediently sits in the backseat. I drive home.

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When I get in, I catch Jide having an afternoon nap. For a moment I am distracted by the man’s half-dressed sexiness which lies invitingly on the couch. I want to do things to him while he sleeps but Barry whines and I behave myself. I quietly lead Barry to him. The dog sits beside the couch and on his own puts his nose to Jide’s sides and sniffs. Jide scratches the spot but Barry repeats his actions that get him a smack right before Jide springs up.

He glares at the dog for a few seconds and then at me.

“Sugams, what’s going on?”

Barry yelps. Jide stares at him again and then recognizes him.

“Barry?”

I don’t know if dogs can smile but I think Barry just did.

“How are you, boy?” Jide ruffles his fur. Barry responds by wagging his tail in excitement.

“He’s all yours. A parting gift from Saratu.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah.”

I watch his face light up. He is a dog person but he has kept the house free of them because of me. I am happy to see him this way. Momentarily, he forgets I am there as he bonds with Barry.

“I just hope Fumi doesn’t get allergic to him.”

“He’s hypoallergenic. Have no worries.”

Fumi is the short version of Fumnanya, Jiney’s Igbo name. Jide is the one who starts calling her that and it’s beginning to stick.

“So, we’re going to have a visitor anytime soon,” he informs me.

“Visitor? From where?”

“It’s Hauwa.”

My face changes.

“She is stopping by to say hello and formally ask your forgiveness over the Facebook pictures stuff.”

“I’ve forgiven her. She doesn’t have to come here.”

And at the instant, we hear a knock on the door.

“That should be her.” Jide stands up and goes to the front door. I take the seat he was sitting on, putting on an unwelcoming expression on my face. Soon, I hear her voice and seconds later she is in my house.

“Hi, Honey.” She stands by the door, waving at me with a smile. As usual, I find her distractingly beautiful. She is wearing a fitted gown and heels that are to die for. Gold bangs fall to one side of her face and join a fluff of alluring curly hair that bounces each time she moves.

Jide offers her a seat and walks to the kitchen to get her a drink. When he is gone, she pulls up to the edge of the seat. I know an apology is about to come, yet I act oblivious.

She starts out slowly, picking choice words she feels will get to my psyche. But bit by bit, she breaks through my tough exterior and locates a soft spot in my heart. It’s a very small spot, though.

“It’s alright, Hauwa,” I find myself saying. “As long as you’re not stealing my man, we’re good.”

“I will never hit on someone I consider my brother.”

“That’s good to know.”

Jide returns with something alcoholic for her and a glass of orange juice for me. After she is served her drink, we all sit and converse. Before long, Hauwa and I are laughing like old friends. All the resistance I put up against her falls away as she charms me with her openness. It doesn’t take long for her to express how desperately she is to get married.

“Why desperate, though?”

“I’m thirty-eight, Honey. Everyone I know is married, even my younger ones. My mom cries all the time because she believes she has done something wrong in her past and that’s why I’m in this situation. My dad and I now have this strained relationship. Home is no longer home. I’m the one everyone looks at with pity and when I’m not there, I become their gossip topic.”

“Aww.”

“I just need to take the shame away. At this point, I’ll marry whoever is ready to settle down…”

“Please, don’t.”

“But the problem is that I am still too picky. Am I not supposed to have sense and do away with some of my deal breakers?”

“You shouldn’t,” Jide replies. “I’ve told you over and over again, Hauwa, you will find a good man. Just hang in there.”

“You know I have offers to be a second wife. Many of them, in fact. Some of the men are my dad’s friends, but I just can’t. I want what two of you have or at least, something close to it. Even if I don’t find love, let me find a man who respects and treats me like a princess. Am I asking too much?”

Jide and I shake our heads in the same manner without meaning to. Hauwa finds it funny.

“You guys are sooo cute together.”

“We know,” Jide says.

“What if I fix a few blind dates for you?” I ask.

“I’m game. I never stop believing, though, and that’s why I moved to Lagos. The land of dreams.”

“And heartbreakers,” Jide adds. “Be warned.”

“This heart has been broken so many times that it is now numb to whatever.”

“Okay o.”

We talk for longer, keeping to the topic of marriage and all things relationship. When she announces that she is going home, I have a good mind to ask her to stay a little longer but I don’t. We walk her to the door and the moment she is gone, Jide turns to me.

“So, what do you think of her?”

“I like her. She’s nice.”

“Told ya.”

“And I feel for her. I’d be desperate too at her age. Frustrated even. There are just very few women in Nigeria these days who are comfortable being single after they clock thirty.”

“I respect such women.”

“You respect every woman,” I tell him with a certain look in my eye. He catches it.

“Can I respect you now?” he asks, taking me by the waist. I fall into his arms as my body presses into the muscles of his chest and the tightness of his abdomen. Jide, to me, is like some Greek god twenty-something hours of each day. It’s not about sexiness; he’s just incredibly male, and that always turns me on. Now that I have had Jiney and done away with that weird phase of sex-hating, I am always on heat. Jide can so get it any day, at any time.

Forgetting that Barry is present, we start to make out – first, standing, and then we fall onto the nearest couch. We are so into it that we don’t hear Didi’s door open and close until we hear a sound and we turn to see her standing near the front door with some guy I do not recognize.

Neither Jide nor I move. Thankfully, no private parts are out in the open.

“I’m sorry,” she apologizes. “We had wanted to sneak out quietly.”

“Go ahead then,” Jide tells her.

The guy with her wants to say something but she takes his hand and drags him out. I sit up.

“Who is that boy?”

Jide shrugs. “Some guy she said was her friend.”

“Hotstuff, that’s the second guy she’s bringing here. I am uncomfortable with it.”

“She’s allowed to have visitors.”

“No. Not anyhow. What if she brings an armed robber or pedophile?”

Jide screws up his face in thought. “You’re making a point…”

“Talk to her or I will. The only guy permitted to enter this house is her boyfriend. If she doesn’t have one, she should entertain her men outside.”

“I’ll talk to her. Now, can we continue?”

Like I said, I’m on heat. He scarcely finishes speaking when I grab him again and we fall back on the couch. Barry barks. We both turn and catch him staring.

“Let’s take it to the room.”

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

I watch the sunset from the kitchen window as I wait for the pasta I put over the stove to cook. I ate less than three hours ago and here I am, hungry again. My pregnancy cravings will soon do me in.

Emeka is in the living room watching a football match on TV. It’s a chill evening, the weather is fine, the baby is not kicking much, all is good. What can possibly go wrong?

The doorbell dings. I pay it no mind. The sunset still has my attention. However, Emeka soon walks in and announces to me that Yazmin is around and wants to have a word with both of us. I frown. Yazmin and I are still not cool, although we are never at each other’s throats. She will always be the other woman that snatched my husband from me, an act I have not forgiven Emeka for, either.

I follow him out to the living room to find her waiting.

“Good evening, Tola,” she greets. I like when she greets me. Nne has instructed that she pays me respect always. So far, she is acting like the nice, little iyawo she is.

Emeka picks a sofa that is away from both of us. He rests his feet on the center table and glances at her.

“Oya, talk.”

We wait for her mouth to open but instead of words we hear a whimper as she covers her face. Emeka and I both stare at each other in puzzlement.

“Yaz?” he calls. “What’s wrong, bae?”

She shakes her head and sobs. We keep our eyes on her for a while until Emeka, loving husband that he is, goes to her and holds her. I won’t lie to you, I feel jealous. I don’t think I can ever get over the fact that he holds me the same way he holds her and that she gets the same type of loving I do.

“You don’t love me anymore, papi,” she cries. “You spend your whole time with her and hardly even pick my calls. And then when you’re with me, you’re always on the phone with her. Don’t you love me anymore?”

“Hian!” Emeka exclaims. “Yaz, is that why you came here?”

“Yeah.”

The audacity!

“But why would you think I don’t love you anymore, mi vida?”

“It’s the truth. You spend all your time with her.”

“And so?” I bite back. “He’s my husband.”

“You know she’s pregnant, baby,” Emeka explains. I roll my eyes. Is it something someone needs to tell her? She cannot endure until I give birth? See me see wahala.

“She needs all my attention,” Emeka continues with his unnecessary explanation. Me, I just feel like walking over to her and slapping her so that that pretty, white face will turn red. But all I can do is sit still and take in the scene. Emeka is speaking to her in Igbo, a language I’m finding difficult to learn. Yazmin already knows how to speak bits of it but understands it well. Honey, too; and even Mary. I am the only woman married to an Igbo man that is carrying last.

Emeka manages to calm Yazmin down. I don’t say a word about what I feel about her right now. We are both not allowed to insult each other or she wouldn’t have heard the last of it. This is the same babe that is playing games with Emeka, using that Omoh human being just to get him all jealous. Two nights ago, he disgraced himself by going to Omoh’s house to pick a fight but the security guards wouldn’t even let him in. He is treated like trash, all because of her. Tell me why I should like her?

“Are you better now?” he inquires.

“There’s more,” she answers. My frown deepens. I cross my arms.

“I’m listening, mi vida.”

“I’m pregnant.”

My crossed arms unfold. Emeka gives her a nasty up and down glare.

“What did you just say?”

“I’m pregnant, papi.”

“Don’t ‘papi’ me! Which one is that you’re pregnant? Pregnant for who, biko?!”

“You.”

“Yazmin Ivan, you are on the fucking pill!”

“You know I hate pills, so I stopped taking them. They were getting me fat.”

Emeka cannot believe what he has just heard. I can feel the coldness that has just settled on him.

“You did not take your pills at all.”

“No,” she answers in her usual I-don’t-give-two manner. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for yourself and your whole family back in Mexico! They didn’t give you proper home training at all!” He charges up. “And fuck you!”

She starts to cry. I hiss and give her a piece of my mind.

“Your crocodile tears are useless, Yazmin. What you did is wrong. You intentionally got pregnant just for attention. What type of nonsense is that? Do you think marriage is some game you play with your husband and that babies are things you use for your own selfish ends? Tobe is not even up to eighteen months and you’re carrying another one. Why, Yazmin?”

“I didn’t mean to.”

“Same way you didn’t mean to take my husband and have a son for him abi? Same way you didn’t mean to come between us! Why can’t three of us just stay in peace without you cropping up something from somewhere. The other time it was chlamydia and now, this!”

“I seriously didn’t mean to.”

“Abeg, keep quiet!” I yell back as I stand up. “I don’t sha blame you. I blame Mex and his community penis.”

My anger is now directed at Emeka.

“If you kept it in your pants, we won’t be here. This is your mess, handle it, and leave me out of it!”

I march to the kitchen. I warn myself against crying. I will not shed a tear because of those two. I must not. My baby needs me to be happy at all times and that’s the way I will remain.

I take down the spaghetti from the stove, serve it into a dish for one, add peppered stew that has lots of meat and head to my room to enjoy my meal.

Emeka comes in. I pretend I don’t see him.

“Doc, I am so sorry.”

I don’t reply. He sits beside me. “If you want me to divorce her, just give the word.”

“So that a Mexican warlord abi drug lord will come and kill all of us here? Abeg o! Take responsibility for all your actions. It’s your fault. You went to marry an omo daddy. Now, see where you have landed yourself.”

“I won’t lie to you, Tols, I’m regretting everything.”

“That one concern you. All I know is that once I finish this food, I’ll need you on this bed with me, to cuddle me while I sleep, right after you give me head. Only head. That your dick must not touch me.”

“I’m very sorry.”

“Meanwhile, are you sure she’s even pregnant?”

“Well…”

“She may be trying to play a fast one.” I drop my fork. “Where is she sef?”

Before Emeka replies, I leave my room. Fortunately, Yazmin is still in the house. I call her over. She gives me attitude.

“Come jor. Abi you think I’m Emeka that you’ll be doing anyhow ni?”

She walks to me. I point her in the direction of my bedroom.

“Why?” she asks, pouting those her red lips that make my husband lose his mind.

“Don’t question me, onyibo. Just be going.”

She walks ahead of me. When we enter the room, I tell her to take off her panty and lie on the bed.

“No.”

“S’onsiere ni? You think we’ll believe anything you say? I need to check if you’re really pregnant. My friend, off your pant and lie on that bed! I don’t have time for shit!”

Emeka tells her something in Spanish and she obeys while I get some gloves from my First Aid box. When I return and part her legs, I am shocked to see my husband’s name tattooed on her cleanly-shaved pubis. I eye him.

“Relax, Yazmin,” I instruct, although I’d rather shove my fingers in there and injure her.

“Don’t kill my baby.”

“That’s if there’s anything inside.”

“I’m not you.”

I push my fingers in and press down on her lower tummy without further warning. It doesn’t take me long to find out that she’s truly pregnant. I shake my head with a sigh as I pull out my fingers.

“Satisfied?” She gets off the bed. I remove the gloves, wash my hands and continue eating. I ignore them until she goes away. I can’t kill myself because of them – so I say to myself. But after my meal is completed and I’m cuddling the life size teddy on my bed, I put a call through to Mary and tell her what is happening. I say this while crying like a little baby. I tell her that I think it’s time to give Emeka an ultimatum. He either divorces Yazmin or I leave. I can’t take this again. But until then, I want to move into Mary’s. Does she have a spare room?

“Yes, Tola. Come over.”

©Sally@moskedapages

Translations:

Cabrona – fuck you

Iyawo – wife

S’onsiere ni – are you crazy?

omo daddy – daddy’s baby

 

Images: Pinterest,  Dariuswilliams

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #10

As promised…although it’s coming very late. Goodnight, ye nightcrawlers

Evening falls and I am chill. I have turned off the air conditioners and parted the curtains to let the air in. I have switched off the lights too. Jiney is asleep and I have the house all to myself. A glass of wine, a bowl of chicken, a collection of my favorite songs and I’m fighting depression like a pro.

Okay, not really like a pro. I feel far from ace but I will pretend that everything is fine. My doctor won’t write me a prescription for the sake of Jiney, although he admits that the pills wouldn’t have any effects on her.

“Talk it out with your husband, Honey,” he advises me. “If you settle your fight with him, I’m certain you’ll feel better. If you don’t, then come back to me.”

So, here I am, listening to I Fall to Pieces, but holding it together, hoping Nne has gotten through to her son’s blockhead and he’ll come home to me.

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The baby monitor makes a sound and Jiney’s scream comes next. I break away from my ‘me time’ and hurry to She who must be fed. I bring her back to the living room and we activate nursing mode. As usual, she sucks me dry until I almost fall asleep. When she is satisfied, she goes back to bed without even as much as giving me a smile. After I put her away, I slip into my nightshirt. It’s 8pm already and I doubt that Jide will come home tonight. Suddenly the chicken and wine lose their appeal. I am on my way to dumping them in the kitchen when I hear Jide’s car making it into the compound. It’s a sound I have missed. However, I hold back from my usual running to the door to welcome him. Instead, I take a leisurely walk to it, unlock it and wait…

But he does not come in. He takes the backdoor, and I do not realize this until he calls me.

I turn around to see my husband in scrubs with a contrite smile and hands bearing gifts.

“I’m so sorry, sugams.”

“Me too.” I give off something between a laugh and a muffled sob as I rush to him. When I throw my arms around him, the gifts hit the floor. He is about to speak but I hush him with my lips over his. I rape the man’s mouth which is by the way, the sweetest thing ever. I can see he still wants to apologize but really who apology epp when hormones are on a high?

Soon my hotstuff responds to my urgency with the same fire and we’re flinging clothes to the floor. I push him to one of the couches. I go after him. I use my mouth on him, tasting, nibbling, licking, sucking. I get him speaking in strange languages. I handle that tool like a boss. By the time I’m done with it, it will nod only to me.

But Jide cannot wait. He stops me, pulls me to him and takes my waist. I am lifted by strong arms and I sink down on him. We stop for a second and I smile for no reason as his fingers dig into my bum.

“Do your thing, Hon.”

And I do my thing. I do my man. In a way I had never done before. I am savage. Blame it on Hauwa and the wild imaginings in my head. Nne has told me to trust my husband but this mind of mine will not stop thinking the worst. Anyways, I have decided to channel my insecurity into better use and Jide will be happier for it.

“You’re crazy, you know that?” he says to me in-between inaudible sounds of pleasure. I laugh, stop and lower myself to kiss him. He pushes my hair which has fallen over his face backwards and buries his fingers in to deepen the kiss.

“I love you, Hon.”

“Me too, baby.”

I go back to my former position. The ride is wilder this time and Jide cannot just keep quiet. You know when a man gets it so good he starts to call you all the sweet and nasty names you ever heard. He even promises you heaven on earth.

“iPhone 7,” I request.

“Yes! iPhone 7 with the EarPods. Chai! This woman, you’ll kill me.”

And kill him I do – when I stop just as he is at the brink, and finish it off with some mouth love, giving him a full brain drain. He dies for some minutes, unable to speak or move. I microwave the chicken and serve it with chilled wine. Both naked, we lie under the coziness of a blanket in our bedroom. He then takes his time to explain to me who Hauwa is to him. Although I feel better now that I know there’s absolutely nothing between them, I am jealous of their relationship. I want that with him – the friendship part. We don’t have it yet. We’re still lovers. I want to be his best friend. No other woman should take that spot.

“But why did you get angry and walk away like that, hotstuff?” I ask, circling my finger around a mole on his thigh.

“I was angry, that’s all.”

“That’s not all, Jide. Something pushed you. You don’t get angry like that. It builds up. What pushed you?”

He lets out a long sigh. “Can I sit up for this?”

“Sure.”

He pulls down the blanket and rests his back on a pillow as he sits straight.

“This is going to be brutally honest, Hon. You’re sure you want to hear it?”

My heart misses a beat. “You cheated again?”

“No, no, no. Haba, Erhinyuse. Trust me nau. Trust your husband. I promised that I’ll never touch another woman. I even just told you that I never cheated on you with Hauwa. Why can’t you just trust me?”

The sadness in his tone gets me sad as well. “I’m sorry.”

It takes him some time to recover from my accusation and go back to what he wants to say.

“Remember when you put me through one week of hell after I confessed to you that I cheated on you in Zanzibar?”

“Yeah?”

“And how a wedding date was fixed and all?”

“Yeah?”

“Honey… the truth is… I wasn’t ready to get married. I felt kind of forced into it. Marriage was not what I wanted at the time.”

I shift away from him a little. This is not consciously; my body just shifts away.

“I understood that you were pregnant and didn’t want to be showing at the wedding and that also, you needed to stamp yourself in my life, following what I had done… I understood, but I wasn’t ready. My own plan was for us to have the baby and then fix a date. So much had happened to me in a short while—the accident, my neurological issues, my infidelity… I didn’t want any of that carried into our marriage. I wanted a clean slate, to heal properly, to go to therapy with you, to help you with your depression, to enjoy being pregnant with you. I wanted to know you better, Erhinyuse, to become your best friend through our struggles. There was so much we could have done without the pressure of marriage.

“But you wanted the fairytale so badly you took all the issues between us and slathered them over with a magical wedding. I was hurting inside. I felt hamstrung. But I didn’t want you to know because I was scared to kick off your bipolar. I just wanted you to be happy. You needed to know that I was not like every other man out there, and so even when you bugged my phone again and the spy detection app I installed informed me, I was silent. When you said you didn’t feel like sex because of the pregnancy, I didn’t complain. And when you became a pregzilla and constantly demanded for an arm and a foot, I gave you all you wanted, denying my own pleasures. For me, the marriage came too early. The wedding spoiled a good thing. Resentment built up in me and I didn’t even know. When Hauwa came into the scene, I didn’t decide to hang out with her just to spite you. No, it was just a window to get away, to be reminded of who I was before I bore the husband title.

“It was wrong to seek that in her. I should have come to you, spoken to you and together we’ll trace our way back but no, I enjoyed the escape. And so when we had our fight on Sunday, I snapped. I am sorry I held all of that for so long, Hon.”

He looks at my face and sees it covered with tears. He slips back into the blanket.

“Please, don’t cry.”

“I’m so sorry, Jide. I didn’t know you didn’t want to get married.”

“I didn’t say that, Use. I said I was not ready at the time. Are you crazy? How can I not want to marry the most beautiful woman in the world? Who will I now leave you with? You’re my best friend.”

“I am?”

He wipes my tears. “You are.”

“Not Hauwa or Tomiwa?”

“Have you seen me near Mary of late? Abeg o! She’s somebody else’s property. Just like you’re mine.” He kisses my nose. “You and I will love like there’s no tomorrow but please, learn to trust me. I’ll never cheat on you.”

“But can Hauwa just disappear already?”

“You feel threatened by her?”

“Nope,” I lie.

“Hauwa wants to settle down. Badly. So, if you can give her one of your male friends, she will forever be loyal.”

I have no intention of doing that so I keep my mouth shut.

“Do you want to eat microwaved popcorn and watch Power or just make love?” Jide asks.

“Power, popcorn and your fine ass,” I reply, my hand stroking his junk, which is already hard, by the way.

“You’re looking for trouble, sugar lips.” He throws off the blanket, climbs over me and soon he’s filling every inch of me. Power and popcorn come much later, after I have been made love to like a princess, pounded like a whore and eaten out like a honey pot.

It’s almost midnight now and Jiney has had another feed. Jide changes her diapers while I make popcorn and then we both cuddle up to watch Power. We haven’t quite gone into it when my phone rings.

“It’s Yazmin,” I tell Jide.

“Again? What has Mex done this time?”

I take the call.

“Honey, I sent you some messages on Whatsapp. Please check them.”

“Is everything okay?”

“No… erm…I don’t know. I Just… please, check them and tell me what to do.”

“Okay.”

She goes off the line. I get on Whatsapp and see two messages from her, telling me that Emeka has just left the house to Omoh’s place.

-Why?

-I dunno

-Who gave him Omoh’s address?

-He got it from me

-How did you know the way to Omoh’s house??

-He sent it to me. He invited me over

-And you went?

-NO!

-Wait, you mean you didn’t block him as I advised???

-I did but he went on Twitter and sent me a DM and then Papi saw it and now he’s on his way there. Please, help. Do I go after him

-Are you alright? It’s 12 midnight. Stay back.

-Ok

-But you sef you light a fire and sit back to watch it burn. I have a feeling you’re enjoying this

-I am not, I swear

I roll my eyes. Yazmin is quite dumb for not completely blocking Omoh from all her social media accounts. You don’t deal with creepy men using kids gloves, unless you like the attention. I have a feeling she enjoys getting a rise out of Emeka.

And the Omoh person, he clearly needs to be buried alive for a few minutes. He had promised me when we met earlier today in his office that he would back off Yazmin, although he insisted that she didn’t deserve to be anyone’s second wife. What’s with sending his house address to her?

And finally, Mex cum Papi cum hothead brother-in-law, what is he thinking he’s up to?

-Yaz, if things get hairy, call me or Jide

-Sure. Thanks

I dump my phone on the nightstand and relate to Jide details of the chat.

“Should we step in?” I ask.

“Nope. They’re adults. Ignore them jare.”

He drags me close and nestles me between his legs. Soon his fingers begin to work on my nipples.

“Really?” I ask as I feel him grow hard again.

“You starved me for seven months, ma’am.”

“So you want to catch up in one night?”

“Just the tip. I promise.”

“Jide…” I whine but weakly. I still need more of him even though my body is exhausted. Well, one more orgasm won’t hurt.

He moves me into a spooning position and gently slides into me. When he starts moving, my body falls into a relaxed state. This is his famous sleep potion. It’s pleasurable, at the same time soothing.

I don’t know when I fall asleep.

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

Party Celia is back, and it takes me less than twenty-four hours to put together a Saturday shindig, inviting all our friends. I had not bothered with the little details of preparing the small chops. I simply called a catering service and made orders. This was after I had a set of furniture and curtains brought into the new house. It seems I am beginning to enjoy the effects of being able to afford stuff. Things happen at the click of your fingers when you have the means.

I love our new home. The rent is on debt, though. A certain sum will be taken out of Shady’s salary until it is all paid off; this fundamentally means that he is stuck with Ibro for a while. But it’s a good deal since Shady is a massive hit to the business in the short time he has been there.

“I went there, knowing nothing about selling cars,” he tells me as we both fix the new curtains.

“But you’ve always been a fantastic salesman, Shade.”

He bends to give me a kiss on my nose. He loves when I call him Shade. No one else does that.

“At that your stupid, old job, they overused and underpaid you,” I reminded him, passing him a pole and a pair of curtains.

“Well, I kept all the details of their clientele and sent them newsletters. Ibro didn’t want to do a slash on the prices at first. But after a one-week test run, he was singing a different tune. Now, he wants us to extend it to a month. I told him it would be too much of a good thing. We need to maintain our standard.”

Dara strolls in with her sippy cup in her hand. “Mommy, tea.” She points it at me. I follow her to the kitchen, make some hot chocolate for her and we return to Shady.

“How about Nollywood? Don’t you want to act anymore?”

He looks at me. “Babe, do you want us to go down that road again or do you want to make money?”

“Just asking.” I pass over the last set of curtains to him. Dara and I watch him fix them and three of us stand back to enjoy the beautiful mix of rainbow colors on all four windows.

“It’s beautiful,” he mentions and then rests his chin on my head. “You color my world, Cee. Don’t ever leave me again.”

I smile.

“Daddy?” Dara lifts both hands in the air at him.

“Yes, babe?”

“Tea.”

“Didn’t you just drink some now?” I question her.

“Tea,” she repeats, her face coming to a sob. Shady lifts her up and takes her to the kitchen.

“You are spoiling that girl, Shadrach.” I go around picking little bits of gold threads and discarded décor pieces from the floor. When I’m almost through, I remember I have a phone call to make. I take a break from cleaning and call Naomi.

“Hi sweetheart,” she answers.

“Morning, Naomi.”

“How was your night?”

“Good. Yours?”

“Awesome. The husband came home last night. He was smelling of roses. You know I hate roses. No lipstick stain, this time. Thank God. But I found a red strand of hair on his shoulder. Red, synthetic hair. How can he stoop so low?”

This is not why I called. I am not interested in what happens in her marriage but she never gets the memo.

“I’m sorry to hear that, Nay.”

“Thanks. I should get me my own little sidechick, you know?”

“Hopefully she’s not me.”

“Hopefully, she is.”

“Anyways, I’m calling to remind you of my little get-together this evening. Are you coming?”

“Yes. but just briefly. The husband and I are having sex tonight. I’m ovulating. He wants this baby badly.”

Naomi is not interested in having a kid. Her husband believes that she has infertility issues but nothing is wrong with her. She is on the pill and he has no idea.

“Nay, soon he’ll find out the truth. You can’t pay off every hospital to keep lying to him.”

“Until he finds out, my womb stays untouched.”

“So you’re coming?”

“Yeah, dear.”

“Okay. See you by seven.”

After I drop the call, Shady and I put everything together to ensure that the party turns out well. Daylight breezes by speedily and darkness skulks in. Bobby and Kate are the first to arrive, owing to Bobby’s punctual nature. I hear that these days he is busy with a small tech hub he opened on the island. It is particularly set up for students and for people like him who have other things taking up their time but are crazy about IT. I hear Kate manages the hub well.

We hug as they walk in. Kate hands me a bottle of wine while fighting off their chubby son who feels the wine should not belong to me. We have a laugh over it and I point her to a couch.

Mary and Ekene are next. My former best friend embraces me like I have just returned from the dead. She asks me a lot of questions in a short stretch of one minute. She wants to catch up before the other wives come. I don’t have time for that as I hear the doorbell ringing again.

I dash for it and we have Peace smiling at me like the freaking sun. Behind her is her German boyfriend. I wonder if he finally got circumcised.

Next are Jide and Honey. They are wearing matching traditional attires, having just left a wedding. I tell them they look adorable. Honey hands me the fourth bottle of wine for the evening, and as they walk in to join the others, Jide holds her from behind, whispering into her ear. I smile at them. They give all of us relationship goals.

Lastly, her highness, Noka, steps in with Ibro.

“And she finally comes home,” she mutters after giving me an up and down look. “Nice wedges, sha. Prada?”

I nod. You can’t fault Noka’s eye for fashion. She always hits it on the head, although I feel like when it comes to wearing the chicest outfits, Honey is queen.

“Hi, Ibro.”

Ibro gives me an unexpected hug and whispers into my ear, “you did us all a solid by disappearing. It would be nice if it keeps happening.”

I laugh and he lets me go.

“How are you, though?”

“I’m good and I’m indebted to you, Ibrahim.”

“Ba yawa. We were just upset that you guys hid what was going on for so long. Why?”

I look down in embarrassment.

“Well, we thank God that all is good now. If you need anything…”

“Just call me,” Noka chips in with a smile that says ‘don’t you dare go near my husband.’

“Thank you, Ibro,” I answer.

They walk in and the others hail them with cheerful shouts. I grin. I have missed this. All of it—friends, laughter, naughtiness and a good time. I have the whole package for them tonight.

drinks

It starts with light conversation. Over drinks and small chops, we catch up on what has been going on in each other’s lives. I notice I haven’t missed anything much, save for the pictures a certain Hauwa lady shared of Jide and herself in Canada. Jide gets the heat from all of us and we demand he issues a dramatic apology to Honey even though he keeps explaining that they are past the issue.

“Apologize, oga.” Noka passes around her phone where she has saved the photos.

“You people should leave my hubs alone, biko,” Honey protests. We all shut her down. Jide must apologize.

He leaves his space beside her and stands in front of her. We are all expecting him to swing out some magical words but Jide lowers and gives her a long French kiss that leaves all of us embarrassed.

“You guys shouldn’t have insisted,” Bobby comments, breaking the intense silence.

“E don do o!” Noka claps, stopping them.

“Leave them alone,” Peace hushes her and stares longingly. I doubt that she is still seeing Reno. The German is becoming a fixture in her life.

Finally, the lovebirds part lips.

“Two of you are so shameless,” Mary says.

“Look who is talking,” Honey throws back.

Ekene politely asks for a drink of water. I dash into the kitchen to bring another round of drinks. Mary comes along and I hand her a tray containing small glasses of cocktail.

“What are they for?”

“You’ll see.”

When we return to the living room, we meet the others arguing over something political. It’s not the way I want the evening to go, so I take over the mood and announce that I have a game for them.

“This is why I’m actually here,” Bobby exclaims in a dance.

“We’ve actually missed your silly games, Cee,” Mary mentions.

“Thank you, fam.” I curtesy. “So, down to business. This game is called Never Have I Ever. I’m sure you guys know it…”

“I don’t,” Ibro states.

“Well, it’s simple,” I say, pulling out a piece of paper from my jean pocket. “On this paper, I have over a hundred statements that describe acts starting with the line Never Have I Ever. When I read out anyone and you have ever done it, you will indicate by having a drink of what’s on that second tray. I know we have two breastfeeding mommies here, so we’ll have them drop five hundred bucks each time they have ever been guilty of anything I read out. If you know you’re going to be driving. please, drop five hundred bucks. Don’t worry. I have change, a whole bundle of hundreds.”

“What will you do with the money, madam?” Noka asks.

“It’s for charity, dear. So, are we ready?”

Enthusiastic nods meet my question. I smile evilly. They have no idea what awaits them. I take my seat.

“Never have I ever watched porn with someone else.”

A general gasp spreads across the room as they all stare at each other. Jide breaks the silence by reaching for a drink. Laughter follows and other hands go for cocktails. Honey drops five hundred naira. Only Kate and Mary do neither.

“Tomiwa, you’ve never watched porn with someone else before?” I probe.

“I have never watched porn before. Period.”

“That’s a lie!” Bobby counters. “In school, you walked in on me and my ex…”

“Abeg o!”

“…watching porn. You remember?”

“I walked in and walked out. Remember I freaked out? Since then, I have never ever watched it again.”

“Holiness aunty,” Noka murmurs. “Dey carry Bible for your head.”

“Worefa. Continue jare.”

I read out the next statement. “Never have I ever taken someone’s virginity.”

“Jisos!” Bobby exclaims. We all laugh. But Jide, again, takes the lead. We glare at him. He downs his drink before he answers.

“We were teenagers. She wasn’t my first, though.”

Ekene goes next and everyone holds back stares, avoiding Honey’s eyes. We all know the love story they once shared. Bobby is third to pick a drink.

“But of course,” Jide says. Kate hides her face in a hanky.

“Anyone else?”

There are no more candidates, so I reach forward and take a drink. Shady’s mouth drops open as do the others.

“You guys don’t want to know. Moving on!” I read out the third statement. “Never have I ever lied to protect a cheating friend.”

All the wives give their husbands accusatory glances as fresh laughter erupts. But I surprise them and go first. Gasps replace the laughter; they fix their eyes on me downing the cocktail. When I put the glass back on the tray, I catch Noka’s glare. I hold it but she looks away.

The men follow my lead. Kate drops a thousand naira note and I give her five hundred.

I read on. “Never have I ever woken up next to a complete stranger.”

“Everybody, abeg pick a glass and drink!” Ibro yells as Shady refills empty glasses.

“Y’all hoes,” Honey says, going first. “I’ll own my shame.”

I watch them all down their drinks. Kate and I are the only ones who have never woken up to total strangers.

“Behold, my wife in whom I am well pleased.” Shady blows me a kiss. I catch it and place it on my chest.

“Not like you met her a virgin,” Noka sneers.

“Moving on!” I cut her off, and continue with the game. My questions get more interesting and downright nasty. More drinks, more mirth and things wind up in the course of an hour. No one is colossally tipsy because I had ensured, while making the cocktail, that the alcohol percentage doesn’t cause any drunkenness.

“Celia, it’s good to have you back,” Jide tells me.

“Thanks.”

“We missed this.”

“Me too,” I reply. I begin to clear the table. Mary and Peace offer to help me. Honey joins them and we all walk to the kitchen.

“So, where did you go, aunty?” Mary probes. “You look so fresh and fluffy.”

“You should travel more often,” Honey adds. “It suits you.”

“Thanks, girls.”

“Where exactly did you go?” Noka comes in.

I face her. “Fiji.”

“Your girlfriend took you there?”

“She’s not my girlfriend, Noks.”

“What girlfriend?” Honey and Peace ask simultaneously.

I place wine glasses in the sink. I have anticipated this moment and prepared a response.

“I just wanted to get away and Naomi was going on a short vacation and she took me along.”

“She didn’t kiss you again or anything like that?” Peace is genuinely worried.

“No, she didn’t.”

“You’re sure?”

I chuckle. “I’m sure, P. By the way, she offered me a job which involves me traveling the world with her.”

“What type of job is that?” Mary queries.

“Personal consultant.”

Peace takes on a ‘mommy countenance’. “And you said no, right?”

“Actually, I said yes.”

Everyone stops what they’re doing to focus on me.

“Why, Cee?” Peace’s voice is broken. “You’ll leave Dara and Shady and follow a woman who forced her lips on you and told you she wanted an affair with you?”

“Na wa o!” Noka claps her hands. “Nothing we no go hear.”

“That’s not a sound decision coming from you, Cee,” Mary asserts.

“Can I explain myself?”

They give permission. I tell Kate who has just stepped in to shut the door. As she does, I take a pose with crossed arms.

“I really need this job. Not for the money, not for the long haul. I need it for now.”

“Why?” Honey asks.

“Girls, that slap Shady gave me woke me up. It made me think about my life and where I am headed as a person, as a woman. Money has always been an issue for us as a couple. I had had dreams. Huge dreams for us, but none of them came true; and for a moment it seemed like life was passing me by. In fact, life passed me by for a while. And then I went to Fiji and saw that there was a world out there that I wanted to be part of.

“I am not leaving my marriage or my kid. I am just…trying to live. When you get married, you leave a lot of yourself behind. Your goals become about you and your husband – and then the kids, when they start popping out. And so, you abandon yourself and years go by and you realize that you’re now old and you can’t find the person you used to be or the dreams you used to have.

“I don’t want to be a statistic. I want to have a story to tell my kids one day, of how I traveled the world and of all the places I’ve been and people I met. I don’t want to be some plain, old Jane who wakes up one day and regrets what she could have been, or if she could have had it better.”

“Awww, this is inspiring,” Noka utters blandly. “I actually have tears in my eyes.”

Honey flashes her a nasty glare.

“But you’ve forgotten to add that the person who is flying you up and down to fulfil this your dream of discovering yourself actually wants to fuck you.”

“I know that, Noka.”

“And I have no squabbles with that, Celia. In short, go ahead and have an affair with her if that makes you happy. It’s all part of your midlife crisis, your…self-discovery… But please, make arrangements to get Dara a nanny so that your husband would stop taking her to work.”

“Ojonoka!” Honey spins to face her.

“What?”

“I have had enough of your spitefulness! Enough! This is your last warning! If you do or say anything unkind to any of us from today…”

“You’ll do what?” Noka moves towards her.

“Oh, please, try me.” Honey also takes a step forward.

“Ladies, abeg,” Kate pleads. Noka laughs and claps her hands in a taunt but I can see on her face that she is scared of Honey’s unspoken threat.

“Okay o. I’ll play nice before someone with mental issues claws out my eyes.”

Mary dives in-between them. “Noka, get out.”

“What did I do?”

“Get out!” Mary repeats.

Noka turns around, picks a samosa from a paper plate and leaves.

“Honey, ignore her words,” Mary begs.

“It’s fine. It’s okay. She can joke about my issues as much as she likes but I’ll get her. Oh, I’ll so get her. She doesn’t know me.”

Angry, Honey also leaves the kitchen. I exhale sadly. This is not how I wanted the evening to turn out.

“It’s not your fault, Cee.” Mary rubs my back. “They’ll both cool off. Honey will be back to say she’s sorry.”

“She doesn’t need to apologize,” Peace mutters. I see anger in her eyes too. “Noka has gotten out of hand. We need to do something about her.”

“Can we not make this beautiful evening about that dumb bitch?” Mary voices out in frustration. She holds my face. “Celia, I may not understand what you’re feeling or how badly you want to fulfil your itchy feet but I’m solidly behind you. Just talk to Shady about it and make adequate plans for Dara. It would be nice if you even took her along on some of your trips. She is part of you. Just…make sure you are not hurting her and Shady in the end. Okay?”

I nod. She hugs me. Peace joins in the hug.

“But the moment that Naomi touches you inappropriately, please get on the next flight back to Nigeria after you give her a dirty slap.”

“Trust me nau.”

We break away and find Kate washing wine and cocktail glasses. We help her out and in minutes the kitchen is clean. On our way out, Honey comes back in. She pulls me aside.

“I’m sorry for what just happened here. Noka gets on my nerves with her attitude.”

“Honey, it’s fine. No need to apologize. You handled her fuckup…”

“Not quite. I’m planning for her. She feels she’s better than all of us but I’ll show her that she isn’t. When I dig up dirt about her and expose her shit…”

I shake my head. “No need to, Hon.”

“I will o. Everyone has skeletons in their closet and I’ll find hers…”

“Trust me, you don’t want to dig out Noka’s. Just let it be.”

Jide pokes his head in. “I’m ready if you are, Hon.”

“Give me a second,” she responds. Jide thanks me for a wonderful night and leaves.

“Travel to anywhere you want to, Cee. Follow your heart but don’t forget those who need you.”

“I won’t.”

Honey squeezes me, pecks my cheek and dashes out. One after the other, they leave, but Ibro stays back to tidy up business deals with Shady. While they sit at the dining table and pore over some papers, Noka follows me into Dara’s bedroom.

“Nice place.” She looks around. Flowers, lush green lawn and butterflies are painted on the wall – all of Shady’s doing. The bed, wardrobe and floor are all in different hues of pink that match the decor. I am proud of him for this. It seems I am not the only one who found myself after that slap. He has changed quite a lot. My going away also did him some good. Having learned to care for his child all alone and to clean the house too, he is now hands-on with domestic responsibilities. Who knew he had this shade to him?

“Celia?” Noka calls.

“Yeah?” I reply. My hands are busy with Dara’s onesies.

“I know I come off as bitchy and insensitive but you know I’m not like that, Cee. You know I love you. All I was trying to say in the kitchen before Honey went all savage on me is that having Dara being in the showroom with Shady is unprofessional…”

“Did you know that Dara is starting school on Monday?”

“She is?”

“But what do you care? Your mind is occupied with the next blowjob you’re going to give the father of your illegitimate son just because you can’t pay up the blackmail money he keeps increasing every year.”

Noka’s shoulders slump down. “Why are you bringing this up?”

“Because your life is so perfect and one day Ibro will find out that the boy you call your little cousin is actually your son and you guys will live happily ever after.”

“Please, don’t tell Honey this or she’ll use it against me.”

“I’m not going to tell on you but I will if you don’t stop being a bitch.”

“I’ll try.”

“You’d better.”

She watches me tuck Dara in and then she puts her arms around me for a hug. “Goodnight.”

“Night.”

She walks out of the bedroom and stops.

“He’s asking for more than blowjobs now. The last time, he wanted me to go all the way. I told him I couldn’t. I gave him some money. That was why I couldn’t contribute when the girls suggested that we should give you something.”

“Noka, don’t sleep with him. And stop giving him head. Tell the truth.”

“How?”

“Just do. Your son needs to know who he is and Ibro needs to know the truth.”

“I can’t…”

“Then let us help you. We’ll tell our husbands and they’ll talk to him. Just stop lying and cheating on him.”

Her eyes glisten. “I can’t.”

Shady appears and she wipes her eyes subtly. “Ibro is ready to leave. Are you ladies done?”

“Yeah.”

I step out of Dara’s bedroom and together we walk to the sitting room. Shady and I escort them to their car. When they leave, we go back into the house and I find that my phone is ringing.

I put it to my ear.

“Hi Naomi.”

A sobbing voice at the other end comes on. “Cece?”

“Nay, what’s wrong?”

“Can you come over, please?”

“Right now?”

“Yes. Please, come over. Please…”

I don’t ask her what is wrong. I quickly explain to Shady that she needs me. We already talked about her last night and in his opinion, she is no threat to our relationship. However, I am not sure he will feel the same way if I tell him of my travel plans.

“You want me to drive you there?” he asks.

“No, I’m good.”

He passes me his car key and I hurry out of the house. I find that I am genuinely worried about Naomi. We had become quite close during the trip but solely as friends. I worry that something bad has happened to her.

When I arrive at her house and a maid leads me up to her bedroom, my breath is held.

I open the door. “Naomi?”

“I’m here,” she answers from the bathroom. I stroll through a messy room, not made untidy by habit but by what seems like a scuffle. I step over broken glass and cosmetics flung from the dressing table as I aim for the bathroom.

“Come in.”

I push the door open and find Naomi on the floor. I can hardly recognize her as her face is red and black and swollen into twice its size in certain places.

“Nay?”

“He found out, Cece. He found out I’ve been lying to him and he beat me. He almost killed me. He was choking me…”

Her voice is barely a whisper and fear rests on her face. I rush to her.

“Let’s get you to the hospital.”

I help her up and discover that the blood I see on the floor is from between her legs. The entire floor on which she sits is covered in a pool.

“He wanted to kill me,” she repeats. “He stomped on my tummy, telling me he’ll destroy my womb since I won’t carry his baby.”

I fume, mad at her a husband, a man I have neither seen nor spoken to. I help her out of her clothes and put her under the shower to wash away the mess. I need to clean her up before taking her to the hospital. I hope she hasn’t lost too much of blood.

“Don’t leave me,” she clutches my hands as the water hits her body.

“I won’t.”

 

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

Genesis is startled out of her sleep. She had gone to bed quite early after organizing some seminar for financial moguls. The day hadn’t been exactly fun for her, as Zach had gotten into a crying spell that threw her into an unpleasant mood. When she couldn’t handle his tantrum, she left him in the care of Iya Idaya.

Mamisi had also been contributory to her grumpiness. The old woman showed up unannounced and dumped a heap of clothes in the laundry room. Genesis scolded her and they got into a fight. Iya Idaya stepped in with an offer to launder the clothes but Genesis would have none of it. She asked Mamisi to leave, then stomped up the stairs and went straight to bed.

Now she is awake, not sure why she is. She turns off the air conditioners and opens the windows. The night is cold and the sky clear with a full moon.

Genesis walks back to her bed. She clutches her rosary and soon falls asleep.

She dreams…

On the bed, lying beside her is Dominic. Motionless. Stiff. Cold. Pale.

She wakes up with a scream, her heart pounding painfully in her chest. Her rosary is still clutched in her hand but she holds it tighter. She begins to pray. She is incoherent, her words disjointed. But she prays on, until she finds some peace.

She lies back again and falls asleep once more. There are no more bad dreams waiting. She makes it to the morning.

When she stirs up at daylight, her nose picks the strong scent of Dominic’s perfume but she doesn’t give it much thought. Having had nothing to eat last night, hunger drives her downstairs. She bursts into the kitchen and is surprised to find Dominic with the twins.

“Nick?”

“Look who’s finally awake!” he stretches a hand and she ambles to it.

“Why are you here?”

“I missed you guys so much that I decided to come back.”

She bends for a kiss from him, and then delivers several pecks on her children’s cheeks.

“Seriously, why are you back?”

“I missed you guys nau. I can’t miss my family again?”

“I’m thinking that maybe I’m still sleeping, so I’ll go back upstairs, crawl back into bed and wake up when morning comes.”

Dominic laughs heartily. “I’ll come and show you that I’m real.”

He calls for Iya Idaya and instructs her to continue feeding the kids. He drags Genesis upstairs. In their bedroom, he kisses her until she is breathless.

“Was that real enough or you need to wake up?”

He doesn’t let her answer. He kisses her again, lifting her nightshirt and kneading her backside.

“This feels real,” she moans.

“Not quite yet.”

He tosses her to the bed. Her mouth salivates at the sight of his blatant erection. She has always been able to get completely turned on by just seeing him aroused, whether nude or clothed. The man is impressively endowed. She waits in anticipation as he undresses. He makes it clear that he isn’t in the mood for foreplay. She isn’t either. A week ago she had found him too clingy. Now, she doesn’t mind if he is stuck in her all day.

He falls on the bed and goes straight to business. He is wild and nasty, reminiscent of that first night they made love when he went into her apartment and demanded her body like he owned it. Time and work took that edge away. Their sex life remains awesome but nothing can be compared to that night…

Except this.

dominic8

Soon, Genesis is screaming out his name. She has never been one to hold in her pleasure. She arches into his every possessive, powerful thrust. She gives back as she gets it but soon finds that she can’t match his energy. Not this morning, at least. This morning, it’s all about him and how much he can give.

So, she takes and takes until she runs out of staying power.

He stops, panting hard, body soaked in sweat.

“What on earth did you eat in Singapore, Ditorusin?”

He laughs and leaves for the bathroom. She falls back on the bed. Sheets wet. Genitals quivering.

When she finally catches her breath, a smile fills her face. As she begins to wonder what has come over her husband, her phone beeps.

She picks it up and there’s a message from a foreign number.

Hi Genny. How are you doing? I’m guessing Nick is at home now. Please, rush him to the hospital. He is not in top shape. He had a heart attack during our first meeting here. After a doctor cleared him, I put his ass back on a plane home. Please, have his doctor give him a check. Love, Seyi.

Genesis jumps out of bed and hurries to the bathroom in annoyance. She flings the door open.

“Domi, you had a heart attack and didn’t tell me?!”

Her movement halts. Her hand freezes in the air. Dominic is lying on the floor, eyes looking up at the celling.

“Call the ambulance,” he rasps.

©Sally@moskedapages

 

 

 

Images: welscua.blogspot.com, eroticnoire, blackmomsblog

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #9

God bless you all for your prayers, encouraging words and messages.

I can’t thank you enough.

I love you guys!blow kiss So to make up for lost time, there will be double episodes this weekend. One today, and the other tomorrow.

Enjoy!

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She has never heard her heart beat so loudly and so fast. She is certain everyone in the room can hear it. That and the nonstop flapping of butterflies in her tummy. She is a nervous wreck and not even Mahmud’s hand on hers can calm her.

Her eyes are fixed on the floor. They stare hard at Mahmud’s dad’s well-manicured toes. She dares not look up at the man, with his full, white beards and rheumy eyes that enjoy seeing into her soul and ripping out her self-assurance. His wife has a more agreeable face but even the calm on it is not enough to dispel her fears today.

Wura, Mahmud and Bilal had flown into Sokoto two days ago on the old man’s request. It is not Wura’s first visit but it is her first, true welcome. She is received warmly and given one of the best rooms to stay in. Mahmud’s mother lets her into her kitchen to help out with the meals and cleaning, even though there are other girls in the house – relatives of the family. All of Mahmud’s older siblings are absent, although the first two live with them here in Sokoto. Wura is rather glad that the house is quite empty. The last time she visited, the whole family, excluding Asma had put her in the same spot she is presently seated, and told her without flinching to cut off ties from their lastborn. That night had been frightening. She remembers staying awake until morning and disappearing at the first break of daylight. Echoes of that night still haunt her and this is why she has imagined the worst this morning.

“Wuraola,” Mahmud’s father calls. It is the second time he is saying her name. She keeps her head down even though she answers him.

“Look at me.”

His quiet, commanding tone forces her head up. She swallows as his soul-ripping eyes go straight into hers.

“Everyone knows that I do not speak many words,” he says. Her stare breaks away from his to the sparkling white jalabia he has on. “So, I’ll go straight to the point. Look at me.”

Wura takes her eyes back to his again.

“For reasons that are best known to us in the Suleiman family, we approve of your marriage to our son.”

Wura’s stare widens. She shoots a sharp look of disbelief at Mahmud and back at the old man.

“We also do not compel you to convert to Islam. Mahmud has always been an extremely liberal Muslim and we are not quite surprised that he has chosen a Christian girl to marry…”

“For the second time,” Mahmud’s mother adds.

“But he is our son and we want the best for him. If he is convinced that you are that best, despite everything we have done to separate both of you, then alhamdulillah. All we ask is that you stay faithful to him. May it not be found in you that you went back to your old ways, Wuraola. Be a good, humble and submissive wife to him. Do not follow the ways of today’s women who feel they are equal to their men. I know Mahmud does not mind but please, respect him in all areas.”

Wura nods as a force of unnecessary tears distorts her view.

“Should he ever have the desire to get married to another wife, preferably a Muslim—even though it’s not our way in the Suleiman family—please, don’t stop him.”

Mahmud tightens his hold. She knows he is assuring her that she’ll be his only wife.

“Stay close to your God. Take care of our grandson. He must be raised a Muslim.”

Wura neither nods nor shows any sign of agreement. Bilal already has a foundation of both religions. He always follows her to church but has his little prayer mat on which he imitates her cousin each time he prays. Sometimes Wura lets the boy take him to the juma’at mosque near the house for the evening asr prayers.

“We pray that God will bless your marriage and your home,” Mahmud’s father concludes.

The unnecessary tears now make a full residence on Wura’s face as she leaves the comfort of Mahmud’s hand and goes to her future parents-in-law to show her appreciation. She falls on her knees before them. The hands that touch her are not the same cold hands that had reluctantly approved of her marriage to their son two years ago. She can feel the warmth. Something has changed. She wonders what.

On the flight back to Lagos, she and Mahmud talk about it.

“He thinks he’s dying,” Mahmud explains. “Prostate cancer.”

“Aww.”

“It’s a silent killer. He’s had it for years and didn’t know but it has been treated. He’s in remission.”

“That’s good, right?”

“Yeah. But he believes it will come back again and has made up his mind not to treat it if it does.”

Wura looks at Mahmud. His face holds no expression. He has never been the type to wear his emotions outwardly. You can only read him by a rise or drop in energy. For the past couple of days, he has been quiet.

“He’ll be fine, Mymood. Just have faith.”

Mahmud smiles at her, adjusting a sleeping Bilal to lie properly on his chest. Wura slips on a pair of earphones to listen to her collection of Christian soft rock and she goes into silent prayer.

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

“Okay, madam, give me one last push.”

A tired mother, just about to have her first baby, gives me a drained look. I smile back.

“I know. But your baby is here.” I take her hand which her husband is holding and guide it down to the tub of water she’s seated in so she can feel her son’s head between her legs.

“You feel that? He’s here. That’s why it hurts so much. But one push will take away all the pain. Can you do that for me?”

She nods.

“Okay, ma’am. Push!”

“Oya, PUSH!” her husband shouts and gets me laughing. The man has been a relief for sour mood. I don’t particularly like water births because of the extra mess they come with – I have done it only once, owing to its unpopular nature in Nigeria – but this man has made my time with him and his wife in their home bearable today. He is the coolest Caucasian I ever met and his pidgin is high grade stuff. Warri approved.

His wife lets out a scream and she births her baby with just that one push. I slowly bring the baby up for air, letting him have a feel of the water first. He lets out a cry, I pass him unto his mom and my work is done. A junior midwife takes over while I capture the moment. I am not allowed to upload this one on Instagram yet until the couple first shares it with the world.

water-birth

I walk away from them to give them their moment while I get set to leave.

Nne once told me that he who fights and runs away may live to fight another day.

In many ways, that proverb is true. But not in my case, not when I don’t feel like fighting with Honey anymore. I have acted irrationally and insensitively towards her. This is me admitting it, but not to her who deserves to hear it.

It’s been four days too long and I miss everything about her. Even her insecurity and misgivings. I miss Jiney too.

The only cure to the emptiness is to swallow my ego and go back home to them.

But there’s a lot I want to say. I want to be honest with her about myself, tell her things I was supposed to have told her before we got married. I had thought they would burn up under the fiery flame of what we shared but some other things came in and turned that fire down too fast.

Now, we are here, me hiding secrets, Honey hurting from my misbehavior. But I hope she knows that I didn’t set out to hurt her. I hope she recognizes how much I love her.

“Thank you, DOM,” the grateful mother tells me. I smile back at her, watching the familiar scene before me as her husband gives me a thumbs up. I leave their home and drive back to the hospital. Somehow, I have lost track of my activities and I need to be reminded. I stop in front of the roster board at the midwifery wing to see if I have any more patients today. I rub my eyes that have been longing for sleep over the past couple of days as I inhale the spicy scent of Hauwa’s perfume. She comes up behind me to stare at the board as well.

“Hi handsome.”

I give her an eye.

“You and I need a talk,” I tell her.

“Talk?”

“Yeah, the long-winded type that would leave you in tears and make us stop speaking to each other in a while.”

“Somebody is pissed this morning,” she says in a singsong tone. I face her with a glower.

“We need time apart, Hauwa.”

“You’re…breaking up with me?” she clutches the stethoscope around her neck with both hands.

“Can you be serious for once and just try not to get on everyone’s nerves?”

“I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.”

I grunt silently. Hauwa is an annoying person, and I’m saying this in the nicest possible way. She enjoys getting a rise out of people for fun. She has always been like this. But she is actually kindhearted beneath. Six years ago, her generosity had overlooked the fact that I was a strange man in a strange city, and offered me the spare bedroom in her house just because she had heard me ask a mutual colleague for the number of a house agent.

That generosity helped me get settled into my new job and was there for me on nights when the pain of losing Ezinne was too much to bear. She hadn’t been inappropriate towards me; rather it was I that read the signals wrongly on a rainy afternoon when I went for her lips.

Hauwa had laughed and pushed me away that day, giving me the ‘you’re like a brother to me,’ look. A few days after, my new apartment was ready and she helped me move into it. Contrary to what Honey imagines in her silly, little head, Hauwa and I have never been physical or romantic. She helped me score many chicks back then and always came to me whenever she had man problems. She took Mary’s place in my life for the time I spent with her. I felt no need to share this with Honey. Not that I was hiding anything but Honey had acted coldly on their first meeting and I didn’t see it as a good sign. Hence, I kept details of my relationship with Hauwa away from her.

The time spent in Canada had been fun for Hauwa, mostly because she was getting out of a two-year relationship that had been hell, and secondly, because the other midwives and nurses at the hospital were pissed that I picked her as part of my travel team. The beef was that she was a newbie in the hospital and didn’t deserve the spot. But I had not cared what they thought. I was repaying a favor to a friend who had been there for me in the past. She needed the vacation.

Nobody saw her whenever she withdrew to a corner to break down in tears and mull about her failed relationships. Being two years older than I am, she believes she is way past the marriage age and may never find the man of her dreams. This is made even more difficult with her standards. Hauwa is saving her body for marriage and will not date a man who is struggling, abusive and a cheat. These are realistic deal breakers I think all women should have. Unfortunately, women like Hauwa always find themselves being left out of the marriage circle. I feel bad that all my reasonable guy friends are married. All the same, I’ll find someone for her.

“So do you want to have this talk over lunch or in your office…?” she holds on to her stethoscope.

“Let’s do it here,” I reply, taking my eyes away from the nurses watching us but pretending to be going through a file.

“Okay, I’m putting on my serious face.” Hauwa pushes her lips to a pout.

“Can you be more professional with me when we’re working?”

“I thought I’ve always been.”

“You haven’t, and I’m tired of the gossip behind our backs. I’m your boss, you’re under me. Keep it strictly professional. Asides that, I’m a married man. That Facebook stunt you did put me in a lot of trouble.”

“I apologized nau, Jide.”

“You did but I have to draw the line. So, please keep you distance. Can you do that?”

“Sure.” She giggles. Her eyes, however, read something different. My words have hurt her. “Can I go now, DOM?”

“Yeah.”

“Have a nice day, sir.”

She walks away, as do the eavesdropping nurses. I head towards my office, feeling like an ass, tired and craving for Honey’s afang soup. I’m craving for her lips too. All four of them.

We haven’t spoken to each other since Sunday, but she has uploaded a video of Jiney on Facebook in which she tagged me. I have watched the video over ten times.

I stretch out on the examination table in my office and as I am about to shut my eyes, I receive a call from my mom. I stare at the phone, having no desire to answer, but somehow, I do.

“Jideofor, kedu?”

“I’m fine, mom. Good morning.”

She doesn’t reply in English as she straightaway goes into the reason why she is calling. Honey has told on me and the old woman summons me for questioning.

“I’ll be there shortly,” I reply, leaving the bed. Still wearing my scrubs, I walk out of my office and down a long pass that leads to the parking lot. I get into the car and start the engine. The car hums for a while before I force myself to move it out of its spot, towards the gates.

I still am not in the mood to be doing a lot of driving. I love to be chauffeured around but the idea of having a driver does not just appeal to me yet. Maybe when I get older and look like RMD, I may fit into the narrative.

I drive to the family house. I am ready for whatever Nne has to say, as long as she lets me have a proper home-cooked meal which I haven’t had in a while.

“Is it not you that wants to live like a bachelor?” she tells me, serving me a dish of oha soup, filled with all sorts of meats and fish. Beside the dish is a plate of akpu. For the first few minutes when I start to eat, I can’t even hear anything she is saying. Her words begin to settle in after the fifth swallow and second piece of fish.

“Erhinyuse must be treated like gold, Jidenna. I don’t want to ever see her cry the way she did when she came here. Do you think it’s easy to see your husband with another woman?”

I stop chewing for a second and gaze at my mom. Her question is from a place of pain.

“Don’t treat her less than she deserves, and let it be the last time I’ll hear that you slept outside your house.”

“But Honey has trust issues and I can’t deal, abeg.”

“It is for better and for worse, Jide. Besides, whose fault is it that she has trust issues?”

I give no answer.

“You no fit talk abi?”

I almost laugh. In one short conversation, my mom has gone from English to Igbo and now to pidgin.

“No be like that,” I answer her.

“Then, how is it?”

I exhale. I want to tell her my own side of the story but this is a bad idea already, having a third party in my marriage. I never planned to do this. Honey and I had agreed that we would not let family or friends in but I guess I pushed her to this point. I’ll take responsibility and fix things.

“Mom, I’m sorry that you have to be called in to put me straight. I messed up and I’ll do the right thing from now on.”

Nne melts.

“Marriage is not easy, I must tell you. Sometimes…” She looks away and comes back to me. “Sometimes, a lot is lost in translation even when you’re face to face. The end of a discussion can become the start of a squabble and then little issues become major ones. But you have to keep the fire burning.”

“I’ll try.”

“Please, don’t hurt her again,” she advises me in Igbo. “She’s your wife. Your baby. Hold her like an egg. I know she wrongfully accused you and I know how she gets irrational but be gentle with her. Follow her like a child. Small-small. Hot soup is eaten little by little.”

I look down at my plate of soup which has not been eaten little by little. All that is left is the large chunks of beef in it.

“Can I have more, please?”

Nne points to the kitchen. I walk in there, top the soup and return.

“I’ve spoken to a friend of mine to get you people a maid since that silly Ndidiamaka cannot have sense to know that all the housework rests on her.”

“Nne!” I laugh. “Didi is actually a nice girl.”

“Didi? Is that what you call her?”

“Yes.”

“Hmmm. Okay o. Let her just hurry up and find her own place so that two of you can have peace.”

I say nothing further. The woman has refused to let Didi into her heart no matter what we try.

“Nne, this soup na die!” I lick my fingers. “I really miss your cooking.”

She smacks my head. “You don’t have sense. It’s your wife that prepared it.”

I glare at the soup as if just seeing it for the first time. “Eziokwu!”

“I’m telling you. She did it all on her own,” Nne replies with a proud smile. “No supervision whatsoever. Go home and thank her.”

I say a silent ‘wow’ as I keep on eating; the soup suddenly becomes a hundred times more delicious. Honey amazes me every day with the things she does. She deserves more than I give. I’m going home straightaway to make things right with her.

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

My feet touch down in Lagos. I step on familiarity – and wait for some form of elation to hit me but I feel nothing.

I thought I would miss this place but I haven’t. I just want to turn around, hop back on the plane and find myself in Fiji again.

“I understand exactly how you feel.” Naomi touches my hand and guides me towards the airport shuttle. When we sit in, alongside other passengers, Naomi is facing me, staring at me in that eerie manner she had stared at me throughout our three-week vacation in Fiji. The look basically spells her desire for me, of which I have no business with. I tell her this on the morning I leave the house after Shady hits me. I think of the million places to be other than hers but all those other places belong to my friends whose marriages are perfect. I could visit Peace but she is sleeping over at Honey’s. And so I choose the least person my commonsense wants me to go to. Naomi welcomes me, arms open, my face pressed to her chest. I don’t care. I just want to let the tears out. Nobody told me boobs can be this comforting.

“Can I stay here for a while?” I request.

“Of course, darling,” she replies, stroking my hair. At this point, I am not thinking. I just want to be far away from Shady.

“You know what?” She takes my face and brings it to hers. “Let’s travel out. Have you ever left the shores of Nigeria before?”

I lift my shoulder and drop it in embarrassment.

“No need to be ashamed. But you do have a passport?”

Yes, I have a passport. My pastor once told everyone who had hopes of flying out of Nigeria to make a move of faith. Many dropped seed faith offerings. I decided to get a passport because I was too broke to afford a seed faith and a passport at the same time. I had figured that if the opportunity came knocking, I’d be ready. I had figured right. And as Naomi holds my face I tell myself that God is answering my prayers.

“Pick anywhere you want to travel to. At least, somewhere that doesn’t require a visa.”

My eyes dash left and right in thought, and then I remember reading an article about places one can travel to outside the shores of Nigeria that wouldn’t require a visa.

“Let’s check online,” I suggest. Both of us hunch over her phone for almost an hour and then we pick Fiji Island. Immediately, she calls a luxury travel service and makes arrangements to request a travel concierge to Fiji.

“I’ll give you a good time,” she says to me with such thirst in her voice that I see a horny man’s face on her. It is at this juncture I explain to her that I’m not going to open my legs for her.

“I just need to go away and clear my head, Naomi.”

“I don’t care. Being with you on a holiday is way better than sitting here, playing dutiful wife to a man who is hardly around.”

Still, I make her promise not to jump on my lips again.

“Brownie honor,” she swears. Two days later, we’re flying first class to Fiji. There, I have the time of my life but I find myself falling into quiet moments where I rather wish to be enjoying the holiday with Shady and Dara. It is on one of those occasions I succumb to my heart and call Shady. He tells me he’s sorry for the zillionth time. He says he misses me. He puts Dara on the phone. I listen to my baby with tears in my eyes as I gaze ahead at the ocean. Over me, the shadow of a palm leaves dance. Sometimes, it’s Naomi’s fingers making forms in my view.

cee

Shady tells me he’ll save the number. I don’t want him to, knowing he will call at every chance he has.

“How are you coping?” I ask. But what I really mean is, ‘have you gotten your lazy ass a job?’

“Well, we’re managing,” he replies. “Still scouting around for something. God will provide.”

I sigh inwardly. I’m no longer upset. I have given up. Naomi offered me the job of being her personal consultant cum assistant, and that involves traveling everywhere with her on business trips and basically helping her make most of her decisions. It’s a great offer, considering the financial benefits that come with it. I accepted the proposal but I asked her if it comes with groping my breasts. To that, she laughed.

“I’m not that horny,” she replied.

“Than what do you want from me?”

She smiled that manly smile and that was all I got. I guess it’s some sort of mating thing lesbians do.

“Cee, are you there?” Shady calls my attention away from a Caucasian couple that are snorkeling in the body of water not far from me.

“Just be praying for me,” Shady adds in a depressing manner. It is this same mood that meets me when I return to Lagos. Naomi’s chauffeur who has driven us into town from the airport, parks the car outside the compound Shady and I share with three other families.

Naomi moves closer to me and links her hand in mine.

“Thank you for the fun I had back in Fiji.”

“Thank you for the vacation. I really needed it.”

She dips her other hand into her handbag and takes out another envelope, much like the one she gave me almost two months ago, only fatter. I had returned the other one on the morning I went to her.

“I added two thousand dollars, Cece. You need it. Take it.”

Am I to be a hypocrite and say no after I have enjoyed an entire trip on her tab? No, not when Shady and I both need it.

I take the envelope and on my own accord, hug her. Despite the attraction thing she has going on in her head, she has been a good friend. Not tested, not trusted, just good.

I come down and head into the compound as her car drives away. At the entrance of the compound I see my neighbors, all three of them, seated on a bench. Two are married while the other lives with her fiancée. They are all housewives, the types that sit and gossip about working women like me. I know that I’m always the main topic of all their discussions.

Walking past them, I throw in a greeting that is tersely answered. I walk to my door, and just as I insert the key, I hear, “Iya Dara, your husband and pikin no dey here again o!”

I pretend not to have heard. I turn the key, push in a rather dusty door and walk into an empty living room.

I stop, not sure if I am in the right house. Everything is gone. From the furniture, to curtains, and even our wedding photos on the walls.

I hear a voice behind me. It’s the neighbor who had spoken earlier.

“I been dey tell you say your husband don pack but you no answer.”

“My husband packed?” I turn. “To where nau?”

She hits the back of one hand over the palm of the other with her lips pressed together and sloped down in a gossip manner.

“Last week, hin carry one big lorry wey come pack everything commot. You sef, where you go? Una been dey fight abi na wetin?”

I don’t answer her. I walk to my bedroom and find it in a similar state as the living room. Same with Dara’s bedroom.

“Your husband sha don change. Hin get one fine jeep like this.”

I look at her.

“Chasis ride! Whether dem dey call am Pathfinder abi na Range Rover, I know no. The car sha fine die! Even the cloth hin dey wear these days…correct, correct corporate. I no know say the man handsome like that.” She laughs. “If na vex you vex am, biko, go beg am before all these Lagos girls help you manage am.”

All she is saying is strange in my ear but I intend to get to the bottom of it. I give my empty house one last look and step out. Outside the compound, I restore my Nigerian SIM card and the first thing I do is dial Shady. He picks my call.

“Hey, bae.”

“Shady? What is going on? I’m at the house and there’s nothing there. What happened? Where are you? Where is Dara?”

He laughs. Heartily. “Calm down, madam. Your blood too dey hot. Where are you?”

“At home.”

“Stay there. I’ll come get you. Welcome back.”

He hangs up and I contemplate on whether I should go back into the compound or wait outside. I choose the latter, settling on a bench with my travel case beside me. I wait for a long time and Shady eventually comes – driving an SUV I don’t recognize. Like my neighbor noted, it’s a Pathfinder, sleek and black. When Shady steps out of it dressed like he owns the stolen billions the president has been trying to recover, I blink several times.

He walks to me, sweeps me up and kisses lips that are parted in surprise.

“Shadrach, what is going on?”

He doesn’t reply. He ushers me into the SUV, taking my luggage along. Later on, after long kisses, him gushing over me and refusing to let go of my hand, he tells me how Ibro changed our fortune.

I sit beside him, quiet, staring. I can hardly recognize him. He is happy, talking rapidly, telling me how many more doors have opened since then but he is wiser now to hold on to what is working well for him. He thanks me for walking out on him to shake out the lazy man he used to be.

“You did the right thing, leaving me, Cee.”

But it hadn’t felt that way that night when I was sitting on the floor, wondering what I was supposed to do. I always used to have a quick answer to situations like that.

“Walk away from the marriage,” I would say. “Once he hits you, he’ll never stop.”

But there I was, the woman who was hit by her husband, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave Shady. He was on his knees. He was begging, having just called my brother, Joey, and reported himself. I would have warned him against doing that if I had known he would. Joey will thrash him like a child when next he sees him. One, two, ten years from now, Joey will enact his revenge. Shady was never Joey’s choice for me.

“Too broke,” Joey had told me after their first meeting. “Find someone with the means to take care of you.”

But I had never been that woman who puts money before love. I loved Shady with that deep kind of love that was rare. And I still do. I still love the man who has abused me.

I didn’t stop weeping. My mind was plagued with many things.

Shady was not an abusive man…but what if he really was? What if that was the beginning of an abusive marriage?

Was I to walk away? Or give him another chance? If I give him another chance will things go back to how they used to be? Could I trust him not to hurt me? And then there was that little issue of my pride that had been bruised. Where was the Celia who would not take nonsense from any man? Why did I feel so weak? What the hell was I to do?

He didn’t stop begging, and the hardest part was that he gave no excuses over what he had done. The devil, jealousy, a bad childhood, my sharp mouth, his financial situation – none of them were to blame. It was all on him. He didn’t even say it was a mistake, nor was he asking me to forgive him. He was simply begging me not to see him as a monster. In-between were moments when he stopped and thought back to the time when he hit me, shocked at himself for what he had done.

I was shocked as he was but hours passed and some kind of numbness took over, bringing dark silence as we both lay in bed. I did not let him touch me. I cringed at the feel of his hand over my skin, and so he withdrew.

Neither of us slept. The morning came as quietly as the night left. I rose from the bed, packed my clothes into a bag and told him I was leaving.

“Take the car.” He jumped out of bed and went for the car key. I shook my head. “Please… you need it.”

“I don’t.”

“Celia…”

“Shady, stop… I’m just going away to clear my head and know what to do with us. I don’t need the car.”

I couldn’t look into his face—at expressive eyes that always drew me in like quicksand, or at generous lips that had kissed me a million different ways—and lose my will to leave. This marriage thing, nobody tells you, is iron mixed with miry clay. It gets you stuck and you cannot leave without breaking your legs. But it wasn’t entirely about leaving. It was about knowing I had the choice whenever it became too difficult to clutch. It was about power.

Yes, I had it all figured out, feminist me. I knew all my options and I’d been through scenes like that in my head but nothing trumps reality, when you have to tear away from the person that has become your breath.

“Are you going with Dara?” Shady had asked.

“No.”

I didn’t give him an explanation, and that was because I didn’t have any. I just wanted to stay far from everybody.

I hurried out before he said something that could break me further. I didn’t check on Dara. I just breezed past her bedroom and through the living room to find the cold, moist air that was outside my warm home. I had no plan when I went away that morning but somehow I found my purpose out there. Fiji gave me freedom. Fiji showed me I can do and be whatever I want to do and be. It awakened my wanderlust.

I love my husband, I have forgiven him, I am ecstatic for what Ibro has done in our lives but this is not who I want to be right now.

Shady’s warm, wet lips rest on mine in a loving kiss. I almost tear up at the happiness I see in his eyes. Finally, he is here. He can hold his head high without pretense. I am happy but I am sad my own dreams will take me away from him.

“Let’s go home,” I say. “Wherever home is…”

He chuckles. “We’ll pick Dara from the office, first.” He starts the car. His left hand is on the wheel and the right one holds mine.

This is a perfect scene, one we have always fantasized about but how do I tell him that in a short while I’ll be jetting off to some other part of the world and I’ll abandon him and Dara again? How do I tell him that I’ve found my dreams but they have nothing to do with him?

©Sally@moskedapages

Translations:

Juma’at – Friday

Asr – The late part of the afternoon when Muslims pray

Eziokwu – Is that so? Oh yeah?

 

Images: favim.com, birthwithoutfear

 

 

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #8

Morning!

At last, I am here. I’m glad to be back.

So today, I’ll be giving away five free copies of The Fourth Finger. I was thinking of how to do this giveaway, whether to do it on Twitter and Facebook alone, or to throw out questions about my stories to reward faithful readers or to just randomly give the books away. Well, I chose the last option.

To be eligible to win, you have to drop a comment below. Now, do not comment about winning the book. Read this episode, drop your thoughts on it. That simple. After that, add #TheFourthFinger to be eligible. If I pick you, I will send you and email, so make sure you’re using a working email when you drop the comment. Please, do not add your email address to the text. I won’t pick you. Just use your email in the section that requires you to add your email and if I pick you, I will send you an email.

Now, in the email, I will ask for a screenshot of you liking my page Moskeda Pages on Facebook or following me on Twitter @moskedapages or on Instagram @moskedapages. Simple as ABC.

The shots will look like these if you’re using your mobile. You can see that there’s proof of ‘liking’ and ‘following’. I need just one screenshot but if you can send three, awesome!

Once you send me proof, I’ll forward the book to you.

The giveaway ends at 12 midnight.

Thank you.

Now, enjoy the episode!

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lexus5

“Come and pick your father, Lex. He needs someone to take him to the airport.”

“Really?” a groggy Lexus rasps into her phone. Beside her, Trinity stirs, but her eyes remain shut. Both of them have been asleep for the best of two hours, sprawled on Lexus’ bed after playing dress-up and taking selfies.

“I have an event,” Genesis continues, “and in keeping with tradition, I’m not taking him to the airport.”

Lexus makes to roll her eyes but a yawn stops her. “It’s easy, Gen. Drive him to the airport, kiss him silly and watch him leave. You won’t die. That’s what wives do.”

“You know I can’t handle it.”

“You’re such a baby. Geez! Dominic spoils you.”

“He doesn’t.”

“How about Prince? Is it his day off?”

“He’s at the repair shop with the Rover. Besides, your father doesn’t want him to drive him to the airport.”

“Why?”

“Erm…how do I put this? Your old man is being quite clingy today. He’s seeking for attention and I’m not in the mood for it. Please, come and carry him.”

Lexus stares at Trinity. “I’ll be there.”

Another yawn comes. She lets it out loudly before she hangs up. Minutes later, she’s on her way to pick Dominic. Trinity is still fitfully asleep in her child seat at the back of Lexus’ brand new Lexus LS 460. Without traffic she arrives at the house in about half an hour. Genesis is out and Dominic is sitting at the front steps with the guard dogs, his travel bag on the ground beside him. He lifts his head as Lexus drives in, peering through blue sunglasses to have a good look at her car.

When she steps out, the dogs charge towards her but Dominic calls them back to stand down.

“These your useless dogs always pretend they don’t know me. I’ll kill one to teach the others a lesson.”

“We’re sorry,” Dominic responds. Lexus stops and observes her father’s appearance. She finds streaks of grey in his hair and beard but it does nothing to reduce the spruce in his looks. As usual, he looked impeccable – even with casual clothes.

“Did you shave your beards?”

“I trimmed it a little. Genesis was complaining.”

“You actually look better.”

“Thanks. Nice wheels,” he comments. Lexus stares at her car.

“Thanks. Thought you’d like it.”

“I do.”

“It cost a lot.”

“You’re a big girl nau.”

“Actually, it’s a gift from Genesis.”

“She must really love you.”

Lexus smiles. “I know you gave her the money to buy it, dad.”

“I don’t like being accused for stuff I didn’t do, young lady.” He stands and picks his bag.

“Let’s get out of here.”

Lexus starts back to her car. He follows. “Where are you off to this time?” she asks.

“Singapore.”

“How many hours’ flight is that?”

“Seventeen.”

She whistles.

“But I have a few hours before the plane takes off, so I get to spend some time with my favorite girl.”

With her hand on the door handle, Lexus turns. “We’re not going to the airport now?”

“No. We’re going to yours. I’ve missed you.”

“How sweet.”

She opens her door while he walks around to the passenger side. When he opens the backdoor to toss in his bag, his eyes fall on Trinity.

“Kasi’s baby,” Lexus explains in a whisper. “Don’t make any noise.”

They both slip into the vehicle.

“Chichi disappeared this morning,” Lexus informs Dominic. “But I’m guessing you already know that since you’re behind the whole thing.”

He shuts his door. “I’m behind what?”

“Chichi’s disappearance. You probably paid her a lot of money to go away for good.”

Dominic laughs. “You give me too much credit.”

“Dad, I know what you can do. Chichi going away makes no sense to me. She badly wanted to have this baby for Kas so she can tie him down. Then out of the blue, she vanishes into thin air like that? Come on, dad, this strongly stinks of Dominic Ditorusin.”

“I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Your upper lip is twitching. That happens when you lie.”

“But Chichi’s disappearance is a good thing for you and Kas, no?” He throws a glance at the backseat. “I mean, it’s not up to twenty-four hours and you’re already doing mommy duty.”

“I love Trini. It has nothing to do with Kas. In fact, I don’t want to get back with him until he stops being mad at me. If we continue where we left off, he’ll make it all about the payback. I don’t need that shit in my life, especially revenge sex, which Kas knows how to do well.”

“Too much info there, Woyintonbra. Just drive.”

“Yes, sir.”

She kicks off the wheels and they leave the Ditorusin compound. Out on the road, Dominic leans back on his seat under shut eyes until they arrive at her apartment.

“Dad, we’re here.” She taps him awake. He takes off his sunglasses. She finds tired eyes on him that hold little wrinkles at the edges.

“You’re getting old, Dominic,” she tells him in a concerned tone.

“Old keh. Me that want to have two more kids?”

“Please, don’t. Zach and Zoe are already too much to handle.”

“But this one behind is not? You’re smack in love with her father, Lex.”

“I am only helping out a friend.”

He smiles. “I understand.”

“But seriously, though, your eyes look tired.”

“I’m fine. Just a little beat these days. And that happens a lot, even when I do little.”

“Is it your heart again?”

“No. I’m good.”

“Maybe you should finally listen to your wife and slow the fuck down.”

“Everything will be done by Christmas, sweetie, and I’ll have time for everybody.”

“You’re sure.”

“Yup.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

“Forehead kiss. You used to do that when I was little. You’ll make a promise and give me a forehead kiss.”

He leans over and drops a peck on her forehead.

“You never used to keep the promises, though.”

Trinity wakes up with a whimper. They both turn and look at her. She releases a smile and then gurgles as she stretches a hand when Dominic makes a funny face at her.

“Dominic Ditorusin, killing women since the beginning of time.”

He slips his sunglasses back on and steps down from the car. When they get into Lexus’ two-bedroom apartment, he takes a moment to admire the artsy beauty of the living room. The walls are covered in paintings done by her, matching the basic color theme of black and grey. The entire décor shows little femininity. Clearly, the girlishness she acquired in New York is not enough to do away with the tomboy.

“Order some food.” Dominic stretches out on a couch. “I’ll pay.”

Lexus calls a nearby eatery and makes orders for both of them. When the food arrives they eat on the living room floor, discussing details of Lexus’ art center which is kicking off to a good start so far. Dominic gives advice, and then offers financial help which she refuses.

“You know I’m always here for you, though.”

“Yes, dad,” she replies, clearing the empty packs of food littering the floor. When she stands up, Trinity lets out a cry. She stops.

“Go and do what you want to do. I’m here.”

“I actually want to shower. It’s dark already and Wura’s love concert is in three hours.”

“I can’t believe that after all my planning I’ll miss it,” Dominic says, lifting Trinity off the floor. “Just go and have your bath. Me and this one will be fine here.”

Lexus enters her bedroom and spends less than half an hour there. When she emerges she is showered and wearing a dress.

dominic5She walks in on Dominic singing along to The Temptations’ classic My Girl to Trinity which is playing on his phone. He is in a slow dance. Lexus is immediately tossed into nostalgia. The scene brings to mind a younger Dominic and her late sister. She recalls how she used to watch him do the same thing to Nimide as a baby. Every night he sang her to sleep while Lexus sat by observing in mild jealousy, wondering if he ever was that way with her as a baby.

“Is she asleep?” she whispers as she moves towards Dominic when the song comes to an end.

“No,” he replies. Trinity raises her head, peers at Lexus and rests her head back on his chest. Lexus picks a couch. She sets to apply makeup on her face as another song begins to play. Dominic also sings along to this one. It lasts four minutes long. When it ends and the opening notes of the next song starts, he faces Lexus.

“This is your song.”

She looks up, a powder brush on her cheek.

“I have a song?”

“I used to sing it to you as a baby.”

Lexus lowers her hand. “You were never there.”

“I was. A few times. And you were the coolest little girl. You hardly cried but I just enjoyed singing and dancing you to sleep.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Trinity protests with a whine and Dominic goes back to his dance. Lexus leaves her eyes on them until the song draws to an end.

Dominic stops dancing and fixes a stare on Lexus. “Are you crying?”

“Crying?” She wipes her eyes furiously. “No, it’s the fucking eye pencil.”

He chuckles. “Come and change this kid. She just pooped. We should be on our way to the airport.”

Lexus takes Trinity from him but receives a second peck on her forehead. This time Dominic puts his arm around her in a hug.

“I’m proud of you, daddy’s big head. I may not say it often but I am. I can’t believe how you’ve grown up from the little girl you were. Eva would be smiling down from…wherever she is. You turned out good, weed and all.”

“Thanks, dad.”

He releases her.

“That being said, hurry and get married to Kasiobi so this little angel can grow up in a home. I don’t want her raised out of wedlock.”

“Really, dad? That’s your reason for pressuring me to marry?”

“I’m pressuring you?”

“Just say you don’t want me to end up like Eva and I’ll understand.”

“Okay, you got me there. The thing is…I’m old school, and I’m not feeling this independent woman thing you girls are doing these days. Every woman needs a man. You need the father of this child.”

“He needs me.”

“I know but please don’t front for too long. Girls are all over him like flies to shit.”

Lexus rolls her eyes as she heads to her bedroom. “I don’t give a fuck, dad,” she replies, wondering if Kasiobi would love the dress she has on or if she should try something else with a little color to it.

∞∞∞∞               ∞∞∞∞               ∞∞∞∞

The first time I heard Wura sing was at my wedding. She gave me goosebumps through her entire performance. It was hard to comprehend how someone could sing like that. And it wasn’t just the dexterity or texture of her voice. The woman had soul. She was deep, and could sing you into or out of any emotion. I just knew I had to hear her sing again, and luckily for me, my wish was granted with the love concert.

I had what they call a good ass night, even though I spent it alone. The concert was out of this world. I have never heard music in Nigeria done so tastefully and beautifully. It was tear-jerking. People literally cried because of the emotions the songs brought. If any couple experiencing problems in their relationship attended that concert and left the same, then they needed some higher power to help them. For me, it was all about being open and honest with Jide, bringing out the little foxes I have been battling with. The first of which is trust. I still can’t trust him. I forgave him a long time ago over his indiscretions in Zanzibar but I never forgot them. I still randomly snoop through his phone without him knowing. He has no idea I have hacked him again. Well, what he doesn’t know won’t kill him. But it is killing me.

Some new girl at the hospital has the hots for him. It’s not supposed to be a new thing to him, as girls always literally throw themselves at him. Every now and then one new one pops out from nowhere.

But this girl is different. Not only does she work under him as a midwife, she lives down our street as well. This means they sometimes go to and come back from work together. I had not liked her from the day he introduced her to me but I have never shown it. The one time I made a passing comment about how clingy she was to him, he told me she was like that with everyone. Hence, I chose to ignore what my insecure mind was telling me.

But hanging out with Tola a few days ago, she brings the girl’s issue up.

“Hauwa is seriously crushing on Dede o! You better put an eye on that one.”

Pushing a piece of meat I had gotten from Tola into my mouth, I break and look at her.

“Explain, please.”

“Rumor has it.”

I put my hand down. “Tola, Jide is in a nursing conference in Canada right now and Hauwa is with him but you are here in Lagos. So, please tell me where this rumor is coming from and how you’re aware of it.”

“Nothing specific jor. Just that everybody is noticing how she won’t leave him alone.”

“She works under him.”

“Exactly. She’s using that to express her crush, which is now so glaring that people are beginning to gossip. And our darling Dede is oblivious. Or rather acting oblivious.”

“Typical Jideofor,” Mary, who is with us, says. “But have no fears, Honey. He’ll never cheat on you.”

“But isn’t that what I said when he traveled to Zanzibar? I didn’t listen to my intuition and look what happened.”

“He will not cheat on you,” Mary restates.

“And you know that, how?” Tola asks.

“Because I know him, and I have tested him before and he didn’t even budge.”

“You are not his type, so maybe he wasn’t turned on at all.”

“What does that mean?”

“Sorry, I’m not fat-shaming you.”

Mary frowns. Tola has not changed and we don’t expect her too. She is like Noka in some ways but with a darling heart beneath. Besides, she means no harm to Mary. They have gotten quite close over the past months, and sometimes even hang out without me.

“My point is,” Tola states, “and I’m speaking from my own experience… Jide loves you Honey but it won’t stop him from cheating, especially with someone he has known before. Be vigilant…”

I stop her with a raised hand. “Can you rewind to the part where you said he had known her before?”

“W-wait… You didn’t know?”

I feel tears of anger coming to my eyes. Jide lied to me? I can’t believe this! He lied to me about Hauwa? How could he have missed telling me that they used to know each other?

“Well, me I didn’t know until one day when I was stylishly trying to tell her to stop misbehaving around him. She now laughed in my face and said that her conscience is clean and she and Jide have been friends for almost seven years; that, in fact, he had bunked in her place when he first started working in the hospital they both trained in before he was given his own place.”

I almost block my ears. I don’t want to hear more.

“Me I thought you knew. But if he’s hidden it from you, then maybe it’s for your own good. We all know how you can get when you are angry. Just sha go easy on him. All that matters is that he loves you…”

I raise my hand again to stop her. I don’t subscribe to bullshit. I’m either married to a faithful man or I’m out of that marriage. Jide knows this. If he has made the mistake of straying, I’m leaving his sorry ass and I’m taking my child with me.

“Tola that your mindset is just somehow, abeg,” Mary expresses. “I know you’re talking based on your present situation but men can be faithful. Please, don’t let us get into this age old, cliché argument.”

Tola snorts and sticks out her tongue. She is having amala with some soup that hardly has any leaves in it but is filled with an assortment of meat and fish. Trust a Yoruba girl to keep it real. We’re at a swanky beauty salon and she goes about her thing like no man’s business. There’s a fat, posturing woman that has been staring at her all morning and always shows surprise each time Tola’s American accent slips through her Yoruba tongue.

“This my baby will sha like pepper,” Tola comments and sucks her pinkie. “The amount of pepper I have had this week alone…sigh. Only Jesus can save me.”

Mary gives me her attention. “Ignore everything this victim of polygamy just told you. Trust your man. I know it’s hard after what he did but I know you can, babe. Just try.”

I nod at her but my mind is all the way with Jide in Canada. Hauwa is beautiful and has my body type. The difference between both of us is that she is lighter, almost Caucasian-looking. She turns heads anywhere she goes but she’d rather have my man. Lord knows I will kill her. But it will not be worth it. I can never fight over a man.

“So, as I was asking you,” Mary tries to bring my mind back to the salon, “you think the purple pantsuit works for church on Sunday?”

We had been speaking about church outfits before Tola brought up the issue of Hauwa.

“You wear pantsuits to church?” Tola questions. “Na wa o. How will the brothers concentrate on God nau?”

“Is it not better than wearing a uniform that everyone else is wearing?” Mary throws back.

“The white garment is a sign of holiness, purity and reverence to God…”

And so they go on while my thoughts meander back to Jide and Hauwa. I imagine them in all sorts of compromising situations, ruining my mood and my day. The madness continues the day after and the one following that and even yesterday. But at the concert, God drops in and speaks peace to my heart. I am reminded of why I had fallen in love with and married Jide. I go home banishing Hauwa away. I sleep fitfully without Jiney making my whole night miserable as she has done over the past week.

Since Jide traveled, I have been struggling with exhaustion. Jiney caught this cold from nowhere that has worn me down and makes me feel inadequate as a mother. It is my first time being separated from Jide since we got married and I had thought I could handle the absence until Jiney fell ill and tossed my world upside-down.

Common cold, the pediatrician told me, but to me it was much more. It was me caving under the weight of being too bushed to care for her and too proud to ask for help. Apart from Saratu, Dele’s wife and Yazmin who worked with me at the office every day, no one else knew she was ill. I particularly kept it away from family and Jide. This is because they were all not happy that I resumed work so hastily after Jiney’s birth. According to them, I needed more rest. Jide was the most upset at me. We had a fight over it but I stuck to my decision. What nobody knew was that following Jiney’s birth, I had begun to struggle with pangs of depression. If you ask me what the trigger was, I can’t tell you. Sometimes, it needs no trigger. It just switches on like a light bulb and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself falling, unable to grapple anything to help you out until you hit rock bottom.

I didn’t want that. Hence, I threw myself back into career mode, a weight loss program and an active lifestyle. It was exhausting but I couldn’t slow down and let my mind get taken by the old demons. I fought them hard and fought them alone. And although I felt Jide would always be understanding when it comes to my mental illness, I was still embarrassed over it and loved him too much to bother him.

This week alone has been insane. I am done in every day, working late hours, nursing a sick baby and battling depression. My weight has dropped and it has become difficult to breastfeed Jiney. I’m just not producing enough milk for her, and thus three nights ago, after a crying fit from her that pushed me to my breaking point, I got into the car and went to buy baby formula at the nearest supermarket. She fed well and slept off. The following day and the day after, I looked to the formula for help and it did its magic. It isn’t something I’m planning to do for long or even when Jide comes back today. Hopefully, his return will help normalize things. I need a break from my life for a bit and he’ll be just the distraction my body requires.

I am ditching church today just to catch my breath. I have shopping and laundry to do. Didi just got back from Mass and she’s already occupied with cleaning the house but I ask her to help out with Jiney while I visit the shopping complex on the next street.

Before I drive out, I go on Facebook to reply a message from a client who claims she hasn’t been able to reach my line all weekend. The moment I go on my timeline, I see a series of photos Jide is tagged in. They come in an album titled ‘Canada, midwifery and lasting friendships’. Anger crawls up my spine like an icky spider as I scroll through the pictures. They are about Jide’s nursing conference in Canada and contain mostly shots of the activities and tours he has been involved with for one week. However, the ones that get the rise out of me are of him and Hauwa. In one, he is napping in a tour bus and she is seated next to him, pinching his nose. In another, she has her arm around his shoulder and is smiling to the camera while he looks elsewhere. In a third (and this is the one that gets me mad) he is in his hotel room, wearing nothing but his shorts and holding a mug.

jide4

What the hell was she doing in there with him? Why did he let her in? What really was going on with them? And to splash it all over Facebook?!

I drop my phone for a moment to catch my breath but Tola rings me. I answer.

“You’ve seen the pics of Dede on Facebook?”

“Tols, I’m weak. I don’t even know what to think.”

“That girl is the devil. You better deal with her before people start believing that something is actually going on between them.”

“But why did Jide allow her go that far?” I ask in despair.

“Don’t blame him. Blame her. She’s the one after him. And please deal with her fast before she becomes another Yazmin. These Onuora men and their love for women sha!”

I don’t want to hear anymore. I tell Tola I’m hurrying out and I end the call. I go back to Facebook and type in this long, nasty comment on the last photo but faces of Nne, Mary, Ekene and Dele’s wife pop into view and they are all not in support.

“Talk to your husband first,” I hear Nne say in my head.

“Don’t air your laundry on Facebook,” Dele’s wife adds.

“The pictures mean nothing, Hon. Trust Jide,” Mary insists.

“I didn’t disvirgin a market woman. Behave yourself and handle it like the Honey I know,” Ekene instructs.

I log out of Facebook by literally hitting the ‘sign out’ button just for my peace of mind.

As I drive out to the store, I try Jide’s number to find out if he’s already on his way back but the call doesn’t connect. I toss my phone aside just as I arrive at the complex. After parking, I rush in and do the fastest supermarket run I’ve ever done. Nothing asides what I’m here for, catches my fancy. Not even the cute, dark guy in a kaftan who has been standing by the cashier, keeps staring at me.

Stepping out, I see a familiar car drive into the parking lot but I don’t give it much thought. I hold my long skirt in one hand as the other hand pushes the shopping cart to the car. I begin to offload the stuff I have bought and dump them at the backseat when I see a form that doesn’t fall fully in my view. I make a sharp turn and there is Hauwa. Tall, shapely, fair, skin shining like a mix of melted butter and caramel, makeup on point – she is basically me before I got pregnant and had Jiney.

Even her fashion sense seems on a mission to make me feel like an old, tired wife. She is dressed in the manner of those girls who spend all day on Instagram, showing off flat abs and a toned butt. This was me not long ago.

She slams the door of her car, laughing at someone I can’t see. But soon I see him – my dear husband – as his face pops into view. I am not surprised that he is in town and he is with her. On the day they flew out, they had used her car to the airport and she had it parked there. It was only normal that they returned together. He had already phoned ahead of time to tell me not to pick him up.

I hear Hauwa say something to him before walking to the complex. When she disappears, he makes a turn and spots me.

I hold my breath. I want to see his reaction, if it will be of guilt or not.

I get nothing. Just a simple, yet affectionate smile that makes me realize I have missed him so much.

I don’t return the smile but I keep my eyes on him. Soon he is walking towards me and I’m feeling my heart begin to pace. I am upset but the sight of him breaks me.

When he gets to the car, he takes my waist with one hand, tugs me close and kisses me.

“I’ve missed you.”

He squeezes me into his scent which I have missed incredibly. I can feel his open palm resting on my butt.

“I hope you’re done with shopping because I can’t wait to go home and do bad things to you.”

I feel heat on my cheek. He now has my head held in his hand as he whispers in my ear. The familiarity of his breath causes me temporary amnesia and Hauwa and the photos are forgotten. After one more kiss, he gets his bag from Hauwa’s car, dumps it in mine and we drive home. We are hardly inside our bedroom when we start kissing again. This will be our first time making love since the birth of Jiney. I have hankered for too long; I almost feel like a virgin again.

On soft cotton sheets and in a cold room we make love. We don’t need foreplay. He is crouched over me, nude and wholly mine, lips on my mouth. I am spread open for him. He strokes me with his tongue, seeking love on my neck, my throat, my not-so-heavy breasts that are now too full for his hands. I am overpowered with endless kisses as he does the ‘bad things’ to me. It’s fast and slow all at once, gentle and rough, soft and hard, Jide and Honey. Just us and all the months we have not done this. Neither of us wants to be stopped by that pesky thing called an orgasm. We want to go on all day and night like they do in romance stories. But our bodies want that release, and so he turns me over, places a finger on my panic button which is now swollen and deliciously sensitive. A couple of strokes and I’m off like a firework, exploding in strong squirts. I tighten him so strongly, he lets go and releases his weight on me. My pleasure takes longer and he holds me while it lasts. I notice he is not quite done, but Jiney decided he is as her piercing cry ends our amorous bliss.

Soon we hear a knock on the door and Jide goes for it, a towel around his waist. Didi passes Jiney to him. He smothers her with kisses but they don’t abate her screams. Only my breast suffices. As she nurses, Jide goes for a shower. I log into Facebook, cringing as I browse through Hauwa’s pictures a second time. The anger resumes, rising in my throat like bile. Some of her Facebook friends are not happy as I am, and they are quite expressive with it in the comment section. Someone goes as far as telling her to stop parading another person’s husband as hers. But Hauwa has a reply for everyone. It’s either an ‘LOL’, a dancing emoji or one of those laughing ones with tears on the sides of their eyes.

It is clear she doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. And this can only happen if she feels she has a claim over Jide. I shiver. I shouldn’t be thinking this way. I should let him explain first.

He walks in from the bathroom, soaking wet.

“Is your phone off?” I ask him.

“Yea…thanks for reminding me sef.” He goes for his discarded jeans on the floor and takes out his phone. I hold my calm as he turns it on and notifications start pouring in. I watch his face go from normal to a frown and then to laughter.

The laughter irks me. Does he find Hauwa’s antics hilarious? There’s nothing funny about what she’s doing.

I mentally clear my throat, readying myself for a talk. Again the faces of Nne, Mary, Dele’s wife and Ekene come to view but I deport them to the back and throw in a question.

“Hotstuff, is there anything going on between you and Hauwa?”

And there, I win the Wife of the Year award. For foolishness.

“What sort of question is that, Honey?”

I should tread carefully. I know, I know, but for heaven’s sakes! She was in his hotel room! Did she spend the night with him?

“Why the fuck would I want to do that?”

Oops! Did I think out loud again?

“No, I didn’t mean to ask you that…”

“But you did, Honey.”

“I just need to know what went on in Canada. She was all over you and you didn’t stop her – obviously. How can you let her put her hand around you like that and take a picture of you half-dressed in your hotel room? And it’s on social media, Jide! Do you have any idea what people are saying right now?”

“Hauwa and I are friends.”

“For how long?”

He sighs.

“How long, Jideofor?”

“For almost seven years now. I squatted with her when I first started my midwifery training.”

“So why did you lie to me about her?”

“I didn’t lie to you.”

“You just forgot to add that you lived in the same house and had sex—”

“We never had sex, Honey! My God! Who told you these lies?!”

“It doesn’t matter! I should have heard it from your mouth first but you lied to me…”

“I never lied to you.”

“You did!”

“Can you just SHUT THE FUCK UP?!”

I recoil at his tone. Jiney starts crying.

“Great! See what you’re making me do. You’re turning me into a monster.”

“I’m not. I’m just…”

My phone interrupts with a ring. I gawp at it. Yazmin is on the line. I ignore the call. This is not a good time to have any work-related talk.

Jide’s phone starts to ring as well. Unlike me, he picks the call.

“Mex, how far?” he answers, leaving the bedroom. Yazmin calls back. This time, I pick her call, trying to placate Jiney at the same time. A quick switch to my other breast does the magic.

“Yaz, this is not a good time,” I say to her in a tense tone before she utters a word.

“I’m sorry for bugging you, Honey.”

Her voice is shaky. She sounds like she’s crying.

“Are you…crying?”

She sniffles.

“Yaz?”

“Emeka has asked me to leave. He says he’s divorcing me.”

The news hits me with a headache.

“Ha-ahn. Why? What happened?”

“He’s accusing me of cheating on him with that Omoh guy.”

I get lost for a few seconds wondering who Omoh is, and then his face and details rush into my head.

Omoh is a mega rich guy in his late thirties who owns a luxury brand business that caters to a select clientele of wealthy business men and families who have the means to indulge in deluxe transportation and concierge services. They deal in a whole lot from luxury cars and yacht rentals, concierge and protection services, aircraft sales and private jet travels. Saratu had mentioned him to me because we had the type of clientele he was looking for. She felt we could get into some sort of deal with his company. Therefore, I sent Yazmin to him. She is the face of the company and has reeled in quite a huge catch of international business our way. She and Omoh had a good start at the first meeting but because he was so busy on that day, he set another appointment to finalize the business plan. It was a lunch date that went well and promised good things. Why would Emeka want to end their marriage because of it?

“Can you imagine?” Yazmin cries. “I know Tola did this. She saw me the day I had lunch with Omoh. She told on me.”

“Now, calm down. We’re not sure…”

“She did it! She just wants me gone so she can have Mex all to herself.” Her Spanish accent comes out heavy. “This is not fair. I love him. I could never cheat on him.”

I plead with her to take things easy.

“Can you please come and explain to him that I’m not cheating on him?” she requests.

I stare at Jiney tiredly. I don’t feel like leaving this bed.

“Please, Honey…”

“Yaz, I can’t…”

She breaks down again. I feel sad for her.

“Give me an hour.”

“Thank you.”

She sniffles a few times. I abort the call and I immediately regret my decision to go to theirs. I am yet to deal with my own drama. Why add more?

Jide returns.

“Is Yazmin seeing some Omoh guy?” he probes.

I shake my head. He walks to the closet and comes back with fresh clothes.

“Emeka and Yaz are having a fight. I want to go there and calm things before Mex throws her out.”

“I’ll like to go with you. Yaz invited me.”

Jide shrugs. But he waits for me to feed Jiney and change clothes. We take her along for the journey. I am behind the wheel; Jide is seated beside me. We don’t speak to each other. I have never seen him this silent before.

We arrive at Yazmin’s house. From the gate we can hear her and Emeka at each other’s throats. The maid lets us in and we walk into a warzone. The instant we make our presence known, Yazmin rushes to me sobbing. I pass Jiney to the maid and instruct her to give us some privacy. The girl seems displeased. It is obvious she is enjoying the show. I wonder how many fights she has witnessed.

We wait for her to leave before we face the warring couple. The details roll in.

Emeka had been informed by a reliable source that Yazmin went on a date with Omoh. When Emeka confronted her about it, she held that it was a business lunch date and nothing more. But Emeka snatched her phone from her, forced the password out of her and swept through her different social media platforms for incriminating messages. It didn’t take long to fish out a chat thread with Omoh from her Whatsapp. Omoh had been inappropriate, expressing feelings, detailing how he was planning to steal her away from her husband.

Jide and I are shown the messages.

-A second wife is no wife. I’ll make you’re my first and only

-Your husband can’t give you the luxury you deserve. I’ll spoil you senseless

-And sex? I have dick for days. You won’t even know where I hit you from

That is where I stop. I ask Yazmin why she kept this secret from me. Her reply is that she was doing everything to secure the deal, hence she didn’t even reply his messages.

“But you should have told her, Yazmin!” Emeka shouted. “Or me! And you didn’t!”

The fight resumes. Words are thrown in every direction and all Jide and I can do is watch until it mellows down. When they both lose steam, I speak.

“Mex, Yaz is faithful to you. Don’t ever doubt that. Please, trust her.”

“I can’t.”

“Please, do.”

“This person gave me claudia. It’s funny how no one is mentioning that.”

I smile at the name he calls chlamydia. “That’s all in her past. Please, let it all go, Mex.”

I proceed to give this emotive speech about love and marriage and plead with them to reconcile. Jide doesn’t add to what I have said. The maid brings Jiney who is now asleep, back to us, and we make our exit.

The tension in the car now hangs heavier than before.

“Take me to the hospital,” Jide requests. I steer the car in a different direction from the route we come through. Once the road is free, I glance at Jide.

“Jide…”

“Please, don’t say anything. Please.”

“I…”

“Please, shut up.”

I obey. The journey continues in the silence he has built. When we get to the hospital, he asks me to park the car. I do.

“Erhinyuse,” he calls, facing me.

“Yeah?”

“I love you. You are my wife, the woman I chose to be with forever. The one I vowed to be faithful to. I would never cheat on you, Honey. Never. I love you that much.”

Tears sting my eyes.

“Hauwa is a good friend. I didn’t mention that I had known her because I didn’t want you to feel insecure about the relationship I had with her in the past. She means no harm. The things she was doing in the pictures were just to piss the other nurses off. They have never liked her for reasons known to them, and have treated her unkindly. I’m the only friend she has at work. So, those pictures were not for you but for them, but I’ve already ordered her to take them down. Just for you, Honey. Just to make you happy.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s funny how you have the right words for Emeka but you can’t advise yourself. Why is it so hard to trust me?”

Zanzibar comes to mind. “Jide, you cheated on me with three different women. How am I supposed to trust you?”

His head hangs down. “I’m not asking you to. In fact, don’t. Every text, every chat, every phone call, keep on monitoring as you are already doing.”

I gasp silently, surprised that he knows I hacked into his phone.

“Please, don’t stop if that makes you feel good. Go on being insecure and untrusting since it makes you happy.”

“Jide, you’re trying to make this about me but it’s clearly about you not giving yourself boundaries with women. Imagine if I went on a business trip and pictures of me being inappropriate with another man shows up on social media…”

“So I was inappropriate?”

“Yes! And it doesn’t matter what you guys used to have, you gave her the room to feel you still have something. Why do you flirt like that?”

He looks at me. His eyes are cold. He opens his door.

“Jide…”

He gets down from the car, opens the backdoor and retrieves the bag he had used on his trip. We both had forgotten to take it into the house earlier.

“Jide, where are you going?”

“I need to clear my head to think and also to concentrate on work.”

“Jide…” My voice breaks. The door slams. I watch him walk into the hospital building with his bag. The pain I begin to feel comes on me forcefully. I sit in the car for a long time, until Jiney wakes up and reminds me that I need to go home.

I ease the car out and leave the premises. I feel the old demons return. They don’t even give me a moment to absorb what has just happened. They go in for the kill as a dark cloak falls on me. This is going to hurt like hell and I don’t think I can handle it on my own.

I think it’s time I called my doctor in South Africa to recommence treatment. I am terrified of falling. No one has ever witnessed me on a low before. It is one side of me I don’t even wish for my enemy.

Lord, help me.

©Sally@moskedapages

Images: Dariuswilliams, blackfathers, blackmomsblog

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #7

Hi lovelies!

Just wanted to surprise you with this episode this evening but before you read, here’s a short announcement

elsie

Please tune in this Friday. I’ll be here to remind you again on Friday and to bring you a new series from @Ibukunwrites

Have a cool evening.

This episode is dedicated to Seye who recently walked down the aisle with his sweetheart. I wish you a happy married life, Seye.

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He looks into his bag. He has packed light. Nothing more than the basics. A few shirts, a few pants, a pair of shoes, underwear and toiletries. He knows he is missing important items but his head cannot just figure out what needs to be added. Genesis usually does his packing for him. She would include all he needs and extra things that never cross his mind. Sometimes she tosses in little surprises like handwritten notes, her thong or one of the children’s stuffed animals. He always looks forward to discovering what new item she leaves in his bags.

Today, however, she’s in a mood. She blames it on the housekeeper’s illness which has left her handling the bulk of the house chores. But Dominic knows she’s upset because of his trip. She tries to be a big girl about it, having just told him a few days ago that she is done getting upset over his trips.

“Fly to Jupiter, I don’t care. I don’t need you to make me happy.”

Since then her moods have fluctuated a great deal. He hates that she hurts over his absences. He lives for the moments when he makes her happy but she has always been an outrageously-difficult woman to please. Gifts and elaborate romantic gestures have no effects on her. She simply wants the little things – love, family, and waking up beside him every morning.

“Just a little longer,” he would tell her, but her response would be a brushing away of his words. She stopped believing him when he had started to sound like a chant. He however, means to keep his promise. Soon she wouldn’t have to worry about him being away. Business is good, despite the recession. Four years ago, the BSD Group invested in foreign currency, partnering with European financiers to spread the BSD chain of malls across Africa and in some parts of Asia. The returns have been unprecedented, pushing all partners involved into unimaginable wealth. It has been four years of sleepless nights and dedication. Soon, he would go on the much needed break and give Genesis all she desires.

Dominic takes another peep into his bag and decides he would abandon the idea of packing and have breakfast with Genesis instead. She had slipped out of bed as early as 5am and is yet to return to their bedroom.

He grabs his phone and a t-shirt on his way out. The sound of the twins playing draws him to their bedroom where he finds them in the company of Iya Idaya who is seated, watching them. Just recovering from a brief illness, she looks worse for wear but upon sighting Dominic, she manages a smile and a greeting.

“How are you feeling?” he enquires. She tells him that she is doing better. He wants to know if she is taking her drugs. She replies that she is.

He stops for some playtime with the twins but they barely acknowledge his presence. They are already so attached to each other that they do fine entertaining themselves. After a few minutes of being ignored, Dominic rises up and asks Iya Idaya if she knows where Genesis is. The old woman shakes her head.

He exits the room and makes his way out of the house to the next building. The apartment upstairs, once belonging to Genesis, is still very much hers. When she wants to get away from the stress of work or if they get into one of their intense fights, she would leave the main house and hide out there. The fact that Eva passed away on her bed does little to bother her.

Dominic comes to the building and takes a door that leads to stairs going up to the second floor. But just as the top of the first flight of stairs he spots Genesis engaged in her fitness routine, which to him is a collection of sexual poses that turn him on. She doesn’t have a regular schedule for them but does them quite often to keep in shape. Dominic’s best pose is when she splits, either with her legs up in the air or flat on the floor. It always amazes him how someone who is plus size can have so much control of her body and make it do impossible things. He is most impressed by her discipline and dedication to her fitness goals. It is this same manner of mind she employs in Novocaine Knights that has kept them at the top.

Dominic stops for a moment to watch her. She has her entire weight on her hands alone and her feet up on the wall.

gen4

“Hey, gorgeous.”

She turns her head in his direction and turns it back. He is ignored for the next couple of minutes in which he sits and waits. She eventually lets down her legs and straightens up.

“Packed yet?” she asks, wiping perspiration off her forehead.

“More or less.”

“I’ve always told you never to bother doing it. I’ll come help.”

She picks a towel hanging off the bannister, slings it around her neck and comes down the stairs to meet him. When he rises up, his hand takes her waist and pulls her close for a kiss but she pushes him away.

“You know we don’t do this, Nick.”

“I’m sorry,” he apologizes, grabbing her again. “But I need you. I feel so drained and I’m not looking forward to this trip at all. You’ll give me the strength I need.”

“Domi, no. You’ll make love to me and leave me in an emotional mess for days. Don’t ask for what I can’t give. Just do your usual disappearing so that I can adjust to being single for two months.”

“Two months? Who says I’ll be gone two months?”

“Seyi.”

Dominic laughs. “You shouldn’t be listening to him.”

“Aren’t you guys traveling together?”

“We are but I’m not staying two months.”

She looks at him with something of an expectant expression. “So when will you be back then?”

“I don’t know.”

The expression vanishes. She starts out. He goes after her and forces his arms around her. In that manner they walk into the main house through the backdoor and end up in their favorite sitting room where she had left her phone charging.

“You want coffee?” he asks as she stretches out. The day has just begun for her. Her phone starts to buzz and she lazily stretches to the extension cord it is plugged in to take the call. An angry voice meets her ear and for a minute or so she has to endure whatever it is the person on the line is saying, throwing in apologies every now and then. Someone in the décor department has just messed up a bridezilla’s wedding decoration, substituting a shade of red for a deeper one.

“Maroon! Not burgundy!” The bride screams on. “Now my wedding is ruined!”

Genesis rubs an eye with the heel of her palm, feeling sore in the ear from all the shouting. Somehow she manages to bring the bride to calm and assures her that she’ll fix the situation in good time.

“Email a photo sample of the original color you asked for and a picture of what was done. I’ll look at it and if your complaints are legit, I’ll have it fixed in record time.”

“You’re sure?”

“Isn’t your reception six hours away? Have no worries. I’ll make you happy. All I want is for you to relax and smile. It’s your day. Don’t let anything spoil it for you. Your husband and the cameras need that beautiful smile.”

Genesis knows nothing about her, if she has a beautiful smile or not. Like many of the weddings and events that are handled by her staff, she is hardly aware. She takes on the big jobs for the big names and leaves the minor ones for her capable staff to attend to. She hates to be called in to repair someone else’s screw-ups.

Genesis rambles out her email to the woman and dumps the phone just as Dominic walks in with a pair of mugs containing coffee. She hadn’t known for how long she had been on the phone.

“Angry bride,” she explains, taking an offered mug. “I don’t even know how she got my number.”

“I hope you didn’t tell her you’ll fix whatever she’s calling you to fix.”

Genesis stretches out her legs on Dominic’s laps after he sits. “I did.”

“Remind me again why you hired people?”

“Don’t start.”

“If they’re not doing their jobs, fire them.”

“That’s why people call you heartless.”

Dominic slips his hand underneath her top and leaves it resting on her tummy.

“But I’m sure it’s nothing. Just a normal bridezilla fit. I’ll handle it.”

They sip their coffees in silence until her phone rings again. Dominic passes it to her. It’s the same bride calling. She wants to know if Genesis got her email.

“I haven’t.”

“Ah. I sent it almost ten minutes ago.”

“I’ll check my spam folder to see if it’s there. Please don’t call again as I’m busy right now and will not take your calls. I’ll call you if I need you to resend the email. Besides that, relax. I’ll fix everything that needs fixing.”

“Thank you, ma.”

The woman hangs up and Genesis consults her phone to get the said email but discovers she is out of internet service.

“Can I use your phone, Nick?”

Dominic dips his hand into his pocket, pulls out his phone and hands it to her. She types in the password. The screen brightens up as a text message pops into view.

“You have a text,” she informs him.

“Read it. I’m expecting some money.”

“You’re always expecting some money.”

“Abeg read it.”

Genesis taps on the SMS icon and it opens up to a short message from an unknown number which she reads out loud.

I’ve done all you asked for. I hope you’re happy. I’m on my way out of the country now. I’ll be expecting the rest of the money in 24 hours.

“Shit,” Dominic mutters. “Let me have that.”

Genesis passes the phone over to him and he returns it to her shortly.

“Something you care to share with me?” she asks.

“Nope.”

“Nope?”

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing, obviously, and I don’t want to pester but I’m curious and a little worried. My guts feel uncomfortable with that text.”

“Gen, let it go. Just do whatever it is you want to do with the phone.”

Genesis taps on the message icon and discovers that the message is no longer there.

“You deleted it.”

“Genesis Raymond, can you please let that text go?”

“No, Nick. You tell me everything. Why are you hiding this one?”

Dominic throws his head back and rests it on the couch. “Fine…” He sighs. “I paid Chichi off to leave Kasiobi and disappear for good.”

“Chichi? Chisom?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t understand, Nick.”

“I’m giving her ten million bucks to get the hell out of Kasiobi’s life so he can go back to Tonbra. She left the baby behind.”

“Nick?” Genesis sits up. “Why would you do that?”

He straightens his posture. “Because Tonbra deserves to have the man she loves but with Chichi in the picture there’s no way in hell that’s going to happen.”

Genesis gives a dazed wobble of her head. “You scare me all the time, Dominic.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m simply nudging the lovebirds towards each other.”

“They are eventually going to end up together. Nothing can tear love apart.”

Dominic laughs. “Sometimes you’re so naïve. Nothing can tear love apart?”

“If they’re meant to be…”

“Genesis, please. You’re sounding like a cheesy romance novel. Love has never been enough to keep two people together. You have to give it a little nudge sometimes and that’s exactly what I did. I don’t want my daughter spending her youth being lonely and seeking for love in the wrong places. Soon, she’ll get over Kasiobi and start settling for less. As a father, I can’t watch that happen. She will not become Eva and end up being murdered by some man who can’t control her. So I’m doing everything to see her happy, and no one will give me the third degree over it. I’ll do it for Zach and Zoe if they fall into the same situation. This is who I am, Gen. I have the money and I’ll use it to fulfill selfish needs. Get used to it.”

Genesis lays a hand on his lap. “I understand, Nick. Relax.”

“I made Chichi sign a non-disclosure. If she ever comes back for her child, I’ll expose the documents to Kasiobi so he’ll know she gave up her child for money.”

“But what if Kasiobi has his sights on someone else?” Genesis asks, recalling the couple of times she had watched him flirt with Didi at the office.

“As long as the girl is not carrying his child, there’s no reason to worry. Chichi was the biggest threat.”

“I pray she never returns.”

Dominic pushes his hand into Genesis’ top once more as the mood mellows. “I pray you let me touch you before I go.”

Genesis ignores him as she signs into her email account and handles her client’s issues. The case takes her over fifteen minutes to sort out, during which Dominic graduates from just touching her to fondling her breasts. After she is through, he takes the phone off her hand, pins her down on the couch and starts to kiss her. She feels weak to stop him. His stunt with Chichi is a huge turn on. She has always had a weakness for his darker side.

“I’ll miss you,” he says into her ear, tickling it with his breath, and at the same time, pushing his hand into her pants to find the lushness of her bum.

She encloses her arms around him. “I never get used to you being away, Nick. It always hurts. Please, don’t stay too long.”

Her last word is caught in his lips. He kisses her lavishly but stops to look into her eyes.

“Just a little longer, Ms. Raymond.”

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

didi9

So I’m lying on this blue couch, doing my décor thing in my head and trying to take a selfie at the same time when my roomie steps into my sunlight and goes, “Is my ass big in this dress?”

Annoyed for losing a perfect shot that captures my eyes, I retort, “What ass?”

A pair of bespectacled eyes lands me an unpleasant stare. I return a smile. The person who has just spoken to me is a cute, petite Edo girl we call Ehizogie or Ehi for short. She is my housemate and also my colleague. We don’t particularly like each other but somehow we manage. Work and accommodation lumps us together. It’s only wise that we get along. Good thing I get to spend only weekends with her; during the week, I stay with my elder brother and his wife.

“If you want to see what they call ass, check this out.”

I get up, turn around and give Ehi a good view of my heavily-endowed behind. It is African in every sense, the type that gets fellow females jealous and males drooling.

Ehi hisses.

“You’re just fat,” she claps back. “Nothing sexy about it. Go and lose weight.”

To infuriate her further, I lower myself and give a twerk. There’s music coming from my bedroom, something that sounds like what Patoranking will sing. And I don’t only twerk to the beats, I give my booty a slow grind as though I am doing it for the viewing pleasure of a dude. And well, what do you know! A dude walks in unannounced, catching me in my moment.

He stops and focuses on me with a frown. I don’t stop. I’m not specifically doing it for him but if he chooses to be entertained, then he should by all means knock himself out.

By the way, while he watches, let me introduce myself. My name is Ndidi but people call me Didi or Chubby Di. I don’t mind, though. I’m fat, curvy, thick, voluptuous, plus sized and full of myself. You’ll never find me feeling sorry over how I look. Naa. I love my body and I am comfortable in my skin. There’s a huge market for my type, especially on this side of Nigeria. God bless the day I packed my belongings and moved from the east to the land flowing with men that appreciate booty. I have a long list of thirsters and blessers, already and I’m not even a ho. Just wild, sexy and more entertaining than your average girlfriend.

“Hello Kasi.” I stop tormenting my male spectator with my behind and face him.

“Hi Didi.”

Gosh! Kasiobi’s voice is to die for! It’s deep but not in a baritone way. Just deep and smooth like he should be whispering sweet nothings in your ear all night. And don’t even start me on his looks. He’s fine, with Will Smith kind of ears and pink, kissable lips. He is tall and (the best part) thin. Just the way I love my men. I can’t be plus size and go after fatsos like me. How do we enjoy sex? By bumping into each other’s cellulites? No, thank you. Skinny boys are best. They know how to love a big woman.

So, I’m thinking Kasi has a thing for me but he hides it well. Same way I hide mine. Dude’s got me feeling some kind of way but he’s never going to know I’m crushing on him. We’ve met on four different occasions but it has all been work-related. I’ve heard gist of his pathetic love life with the boss lady’s stepdaughter, Lexus, and how she dumped him. It’s not clear if he has recovered from the heartbreak but he’s yet to replace her. I’d have offered myself as a rebound girlfriend but not yet. I am watching the tides. I am barely three weeks old in these environs. It’s best to keep my head in what brought me here – and that is to work as an events planner at Novocaine Knights and to build a relationship with the family I never had.

I am an only child of a mother who was branded an ogbanje and rejected by her people. My grandmother died giving birth to her after losing four babies. My grandfather alone was left with the burden of caring for her but he remarried and had children by his new wife who maltreated my mom endlessly. Eventually, she ran away from the village and moved to Aba where she survived by selling food during the day and attending school at night.

According to her, one day, this rich man in his luxurious car drove up to her food stall to buy lunch and she fell in love with him. He was a married man with three sons but she didn’t care. A short affair culminated and I came to be. Sadly, the only thing mommy knew about my dad was his name – Lawrence Onuora. It took her five years before she bumped into him again. At that time, her hard work had paid off and she was able to secure an admission into University of Lagos, her dream school. And while I was left in the care of my maternal great-grandmother, mommy got herself educated, paying her fees with money she got from selling food in a canteen on campus.

She met daddy again at the school gates and they resumed their affair, meeting in hotels, until one unfortunate incident when his second son ran into them. The affair ended and left mommy heartbroken. She had told daddy about me but he made it clear that I was to remain in the shadows for the sake of his family. This didn’t stop him from being responsible for me. I was taken away from the village to Onitsha for a better life. Mommy eventually graduated but dropped all prospects of getting a decent job and returned to the east. She opened a beer parlor, faced her life and forgot all about my dad. Each time I asked, I was told he was dead. I only discovered he was alive when she was on her deathbed. She told me the entire story of how I came to be and gave me his phone number. Right in her presence, I called him. They spoke in Yoruba, a language I didn’t understand. When they were done, she asked me to put the phone on speaker. Her last words to us were, “Lawrence, your daughter, Ndidiamaka. Take care of her as your own. Ndi, your father. Go and be with him. God bless two of you.”

And then she breathed her last. It is barely three months since she passed. Daddy gave her a grand burial in the same village where she was treated as an outcaste. He took her shame away. He gave her a royal farewell and left tongues wagging for a long time. After my mourning period, he put me on a flight to Lagos. I was introduced to his wife, my brothers and their wives on a quiet night. Not all of them welcomed me with open arms. Nne, especially, doesn’t like me but I don’t take it personally. She lost her only daughter a short while after her birth. I understand her angst.

Wait, did I just deviate to talk about my family and forget about Kasi who is still standing in front of me in all his male hotness?

“Please, Ehi, I need your help desperately,” he says to Ehi.

“Anything, Kas,” she replies with a smile I never saw on her before.

“Please, come.”

I watch two of them leave the house and return shortly with a baby that looks every inch like Kasiobi. I take two, slump back into my seat and gape at the scene. He has a child?! How on earth did I not know this whole time?! And who the hell is her mother?!

“I’ll just change into something real quick and we’ll be out of here,” Ehi says and disappears into her room, leaving Kasiobi and I. And of course the baby whose cheek is enjoying the touch of his lips.

“Is she yours?” I ask.

“Yeah. Her name is Trinity.”

“Cool. So you’re married?”

He laughs. “No. Single dad.”

“Where’s her mom?”

“Oh, she’s out of town for a bit.”

“And left her all alone with you?”

“I’m capable.” He looks at his daughter. “Am I not, Trini? Is daddy not capable?”

Awww, how cute. But why would a mother leave a baby so little and travel? And why on earth did Kasiobi go and get a girl pregnant? Well, the whole thing now has K-leg. Who wants to be loving up a guy that has a baby under his care? I can’t be doing nanny abeg.

Ehi returns. “Let’s go.”

“Bye, Didi,” Kasiobi tells me. “See you later this evening at the concert.”

“Sure.”

They walk to the door and then Ehi turns back. “I forgot my phone.”

She runs to her bedroom while Kasiobi makes his exit. I become moody over the latest development as I sit staring after him. Ehi comes back again but stops and blocks my sunlight once more.

“Stop wasting your time fantasizing about him, Ndi,” the silly thing speaks without permission. “His soul is tied to Lexus.”

“Plizz! Fantasizing is for teenagers like you,” I snap. “Speak for yourself.”

I flip my braids backwards, barge into my bedroom and begin fixing my scattered bed. My phone rings while I’m in the middle of it. The boss lady is calling. I pick the call in excitement. It’s not always she needs me for something outside office hours. I’m still a rookie in the business and apart from doing my job, I always aim to please her. Today of all days is a good opportunity to prove myself with the love concert. I had been assigned to do only a few things but I want more responsibility.

“Hello ma’am?”

I don’t get an answer.

“Hello? Good morning.”

I meet more silence.

“Hello?”

I bring the phone to my face and put it back on my ear.

“Ma’am? Hello?”

I hear some sounds but not a word. I conclude that the network is bad and go offline. My thumb is about to tap on a button to return the call but a better idea pops into mind. I hurry out of my bedroom and find my way out of the apartment. There’s a small fence separating the bosses’ house from ours. In-between both houses stands a tree and beneath it a swing bench I enjoy spending spare time on.

I follow a small gate and come out to the massive mansion that is probably the most beautiful house I have seen in Lagos so far. At my entrance, guard dogs begin to bark fiercely. I ignore them because I know they have been caged. I follow a path that takes me straight to the kitchen via a backdoor. Upon entry I expect to see Iya Idaya, the housekeeper but I find no one present.

I leave the kitchen, finally having my opportunity to take a good look at the house. I have only been here once and it was on a brief visit. Now, I get the chance to absorb the elegance and beauty all at once, which blows me away at second glance.

Now, mind you, I’m standing in what seems like an anteroom which opens up to a stairway that leads up. If I guess correctly, the sitting room is to my left. It is where I plan to end up after I call the boss lady and tell her I am waiting for her. Before then, I decide to take a small tour.

Facing me, some feet away, is a door. My curiosity tells me to find out what is behind it. Since the door is ajar, it won’t be bad to take a peep.

I walk towards it and when I get there, I push the door open and come upon a beautiful sight of the boss and boss lady making out. The room is a mini-parlor with diffuse lighting and bright colors. It is not meant for any type of entertainment but somehow this beautiful couple has found it worthy enough to make out in.

The boss, lying between his wife’s legs which are spread apart, kisses her like he is born to kiss women. He stops and lowers his head to kiss her breast which is in full glare of my eyes. He does this as his hand goes between her legs. When he touches her ‘there’. She moans.

And I think I moan alongside her or something, because they stop abruptly and turn in my direction. My chest tightens, I step back, and find to my relief that they had not seen me. They have been startled by the stupid family cat that has just slipped past my leg and into the room. I had been too engrossed to feel its fur over my skin.

I withdraw and end up in the living room, trying not to keep the image of what I had just witnessed. It doesn’t help me. Who will quench the fires when I’m all alone? My bae-lessness, which has carried on for a long time is becoming something of a headache. I have dated just two boys in my life and both relationships didn’t have happy endings. Every other guy I met after them just wanted to be there for the nacks, something I wasn’t giving. It’s not like I’m looking for love, either. I simply want a reasonable guy that I can grow into loving, someone who is not all about sex. I might ooze it and talk so much about it but the fact is that I’m a novice. Literally, a virgin. Never known a man before, although, I have known men enough to understand the workings of their third legs. When people see me they automatically assume I have a PhD in men and sex. But I’m just a neophyte. A wild one, though.

Ehi has this theory that I’m wild because I’ve not been popped.

“When you have your first, you’ll calm down. I was like you – wild and wanting – and then I got disvirgined and became sane.”

I had rolled my eyes and almost snored to her unsolicited speech.

“In my opinion, the penis is overrated, and I’ll advice that you keep your body for marriage and use sex just for babies. That is what God would want of you.”

I had smiled. She wasn’t aware that I knew about her failed marriage to an old man her father’s age, which barely lasted four months after the man caught her engaged in lesbian sex with an unnamed chick. Now, she was using the religious angle on me. Bitch, please.

I pick my phone and plug in my earphones to listen to music. Boss Lady is moaning very quietly but I can pick out the sound. Well, they need it as a couple, with the boss always out of the country and his wife swamped with work– as I’ve heard.

I wait much longer than I thought I would and finally, I hear words and not moans. I also hear a door close. Only then do I choose to make my presence known. When I step out, the boss lady shows some surprise.

“You’ve been in there?” she asks.

“Yes, ma. Good morning, ma.”

“What happened to you calling me Genesis? How many times will I correct you?”

“I’m sorry Ms. Genesis.”

She smiles. A dimple shows on her cheek.

“Hello.” Her husband steps out of the mini-parlor. He shows no signs of what had just occurred between them, unlike her whose hair is in disarray.

“Good morning, sir,” I reply to his greeting.

He grabs his wife by the bum for a kiss and whispers into her ear. I look elsewhere.

“Oh, please, go away,” she tells him as he walks off. She turns to me. “So, Didi, why are you here?”

“You called me, actually. I answered the call and you weren’t saying anything, so I thought you needed me. Here I am.”

She gives me a guarded look. “How long have you been here?”

“I just got in.”

She suddenly becomes conscious of her hair. She shakes the expensive locks and they fall back into place. I wonder how much they cost.

“I think my phone dialed you on its own. It has a mind these days.”

I giggle. Not like what she said was funny but because she’s Genesis, the most beautiful woman I have ever come across that has a huge heart, and is an inspiration not to plus size women alone but to all women. I think I can fittingly call her a goddess. Let me digress a little and tell you how I almost ran mad on the day my elder brother’s wife, Honey, brought me to this house to meet her for the first time.

My dream had always been to work for Novocaine Knights. They were and still are that much of a big deal. Apart from the fact that they organized the best parties, weddings and events, they were rumored to pay their staff well. So on that Saturday when Aunty Honey brought me to the house and the door opened and I saw Ms. Genesis standing before me, I went blank for some seconds. I told myself she wasn’t the one. I said, ‘Didi, you have only seen her pictures online and videos of her. This can’t be her. Naa! This is a prank.’

But Aunty Honey hugged and greeted her, calling her name, and that was when I knew that it was her for real.

I fainted. Not literally. Just fainted out of my old life and into my new one with Genesis Ditorusin. So now you understand why I giggle when she says certain things even though there is nothing to giggle about. She is quite used to me doing that, though.

“Anyways, it’s good you’re here. Iya Idaya is not feeling so well, so I’d be glad if you step in and help me babysit the twins today. I have another event I’ve been planning which I have to attend briefly.”

Oh?

She touches my arm. “I know this is last minute and I hate to do this to you but I need them out of my hair today. Can you handle them?”

This is not what I have planned. I want to be part of the décor team putting things together for the concert. I have dreamed about this. Why is Ms. Genesis doing this to me?

“Iya Idaya will put you through. Can you help out?”

“Sure,” I answer. I feel sad but anything for Ms. Genesis.

“Thank you, Didi. I owe you one.”

It better be an Hermes Birkin. You have four of them you aren’t using or so they say.

“But does that mean I’ll miss the love concert?” I ask.

“No, dear. You’ll be there with them. I’m sure by then your colleagues would have some free time on their hands to help you out.”

Great. I’ll be the fat one carrying babies around while my mates are fishing for men. I see Ehi laughing at me right now.

“You’re such an angel.”

Ms. Genesis pats my cheek and leaves me standing alone.

Permit me to swear…..

Fuck!

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

“That’s the last of her friends I know. If she’s not here, she can’t be anywhere else.”

Kasiobi fixes his eyes on the glass door of a beauty salon that has designs of beauty and fashion accessories etched on it. Ehi has just emerged from the place, having gone to ask a onetime mutual friend of Chichi if she has any knowledge of her whereabouts.

“None of them have seen her since she left for South Africa last year.” Ehi pushes her glasses upwards to scratch her nose. “They didn’t even know she came into town.”

“Ehi, we’ve been to four different places. Definitely somebody is lying. One of them must know where Chichi is.”

Ehi shrugs. Kasibi rubs his eyes in frustration. “Three hours of nothing.”

Ehi throws her head back to stare at Trinity who is fast asleep in her seat. “At least, someone’s not stressed out or stressing you right now.”

“Are you hungry?” Kasiobi enquires.

“Yeah.”

“Let’s stop at the mall to eat and buy some baby formula.” He starts the car. “I swear, I’m so frustrated right now.”

“Everything’ll be fine.”

He puts the SUV into gear and connects with a busy street.

“I could offer my services for free.” Ehi faces him, playing with her braids. “I’ll gladly take care of Trini and in return you get to be my boyfriend.”

Kasiobi laughs despite his exhaustion. “Who spoilt you like this for me, Ehi? You used to be such a good girl.”

“Life showed me pepper jare.”

“I so badly wanted you at some point but your forming put me off and then you went and allowed Chisom to disvirgin you.”

“Can we not talk about that phase of my life right now?”

“The lesbian phase?”

“Chichi is bad influence and that’s why I don’t understand why you want her back. Trinity doesn’t need a mother like her.”

“And who’ll be the best mother?”

“Lexus.”

“Not you?”

“I’m not crazy about you like that, Kas. Besides, I’m smart not to come between you and Lex.”

“We’re not together. I have a babe.”

“Shakira is a ho. Everyone knows that.”

“Ouch.”

“So you’re not getting back with Lex?”

Kasibi’s hand stiffens around the steering. “No.”

“But Kasi, I’m very sure you guys are meant to be together and no matter how hard you try to fight it, you’ll end up with her.”

“You’re making it sound like there’s some power out there that controls these things.”

“God, maybe.”

“He doesn’t have time for our love lives.”

“Cupid then?”

“Are you serious?”

“I believe in love, and I think you guys have it but if it never works out, I’m right here waiting.” She waves her hand. Kasiobi takes it and kisses it.

“You’re such a lowkey flirt, Kas.”

“I’m just trying to be nice in case I’ll ever need you to babysit Trini. But on a good side, though, that baby behind is going to score me enough booty. Watch what happens at the mall, but then you’ll have to give me some distance so that they don’t think we’re together.”

“You’re not well.”

Kasibio tries to smile but a yawn stops him. The drive to the mall is an uphill task and when they get there, he leaves Ehi with the chore of sourcing for food while he embarks on finding the best formula for Trinity. As he browses the stacks of different brands of baby foods in the kids section the last thing on his mind is the attention he is getting from female shoppers.

“Don’t go for that one,” a familiar voice stops him as his hand stretches to pick a can of milk amongst many off the shelf.

He turns around and Lexus’ smiling face meets his.

“Hey.”

“Hi Kas. Hey, Trini.”

The naturally-unsmiling tot gives Lexus a grin.

“Weird,” Kasi mutters.

“We have a thing. Can I…?” She stretches her hands out and Trinity inclines towards her.

“She remembers you?”

“Not really. She fell in love with me from the first day. I think I have something she loves. Must be my piercings.” She kisses Trinity’s forehead. “How are you, bae? Did you miss me?”

Kasiobi watches both of them bond with Trinity trying to go for one of Lexus’ earrings. He notices other things too – like Lexus’ body con top tucked into a ripped jean that shows off her petite butt. He picks out faint signs of makeup on her face but the best part of her look is the pair of ankle strap heels she has on. He had never imagined she could comfortably go about in any footwear other than sneakers. He had hated Russell for a long time but at the moment, he is grateful he came into Lexus’ life and changed her style.

“So where’s Chichi?”

“Um…she’s out of town for a couple of days,” Kasiobi replies. “She’ll be back on Monday.”

“Okay.” Lexus faces the shelf. “Pick the SMA. That’s what she takes.”

Kasiobi glares at his daughter. “She takes formula?”

“Yep.”

“But Chichi told me she has been exclusively breastfed from day one.”

“No offence but Chichi is a liar.” Lexus looks at Kasiobi. “And you too.”

“I’m a liar?”

“You’re lying about where Chichi is.”

“She traveled.”

“Still lying. It’s in your eyes. Something’s wrong. You look fucked, rings around your eyes, you smell of sweat and metallic stuff and you’re here buying baby food. Where the hell is Chichi? You guys fight or something?”

Kasibio shuts his eyes. “I hate you.”

“Or you caught her with your girlfriend on your couch?”

“God, no.”

“Then where the fuck is she? Why is Trini having soiled diapers?”

“She is?”

“Yes, she is, daddy. And she’s about to start crying over it.”

Kasiobi rolls his eyes in exasperation. “Chichi left, okay? I came home this morning and saw a note. Says she’s tired of the arrangement and she’s not coming back… She left.”

“Awww, poor Trini.”

“She took all her stuff…and…left. I’m still traumatized.”

“I don’t particularly give a fuck about you. I’m worried about this angel here. Has she eaten?”

“Thrice already.”

“What did you give her?”

“Refrigerated breast milk and then custard twice.”

Lexus frowns at him. “Grab a ready to eat formula, a bottle, and a bib while I get diapers and go and change her.”

“Thanks, Lex.”

“I’m not doing it for you.”

“I know.”

She begins to walk away from him.

“I’ll be at the food court,” he announces. “Jollof and peppered chicken?”

“With ice-cream.”

“Yeah. Always with ice-cream.”

She disappears to the next isle while Kasiobi remains standing until someone passing by nudges him. He begins to toss baby food into his shopping cart, going back to Ehi’s words about a force out there that wants him and Lexus back together. Thirty minutes ago, he would have fought against it but here he is, already coming up with a million ways on how to play nice with Lexus. Getting back with her doesn’t seem like a bad idea right now.

Anything for Trinity, he tells himself.

©Sally@moskedapages

 

Images: Tabria Majors, Paulateles

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #6

I love you guys. I don’t even know how to start expressing how much. When I said show me love on Bellanaija, I didn’t know y’all will take it that seriously. I was dumbfounded when I saw the comments. Good Lord! Na so una love me?

How do I say thank you? How do I show my gratitude? The love you expressed in the comment section doubled the sales of the book, beating Fish Brain Madhouse records which has been there since January. Hmmmm…

Thanks a lot.

And here’s that my famous kiss.

blow kiss

So in retaliation, I will give the book freely to three lucky peeps next week. Today, enjoy IANS.

I’ll see you in the comment section..

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“Awwww.”

“Isn’t this the cutest sight?”

I groan loudly. I don’t know for how much longer I can sit in this car with indecisive females and take one more ‘awww’. Or even stomach the sight before us. Yes, it’s supposed to be cute as Mary just said but I have to remind these girls that we’re here on a mission.

“Can the three of you just focus?” I snap my fingers. But they don’t hear me. Their eyes remain on Shady having a daddy moment with Dara as they both dance to music we can’t hear. The duo is in my husband’s biggest and classiest car showroom, surrounded by expensive luxury cars. And somehow Shady thinks this is the best place to perform his daddy duties.

I groan again. This is just wrong. Shady is going to ruin this business with his lack of class. How can you be dancing with a toddler when you have business to attend to? Look at the caliber of people around him and he’s stuck on parenting goals. I knew this was going to be such a bad idea. I had warned Ibro about it. Shady is an actor, not a car salesman, but Ibro had told me that he had been a hit realtor.

“It’s all about the numbers. If he can get people buying cars, then what is your problem?”

My problem then (and even now) was that my younger brother had waited for that spot for two years and when finally the manager is fired, Ibro tosses the job to his friend. Just like that! I have been pissed for three weeks and my anger isn’t going away anytime soon.

“Hasn’t he proven his worth?” Ibro had asked me just last week, showing me a printout of the sales Shady has made already. “In this harsh economy the guy is selling cars like no man’s business. I’m thinking that maybe Celia leaving him is a good thing. Abeg, she shouldn’t come back.”

“She should. At least, for the sake of Dara. The child needs her mother.”

“And Shady needs to learn responsibility. His present situation is perfect for him.”

I didn’t speak further. If I did, Ibro would call me unfeeling, a term he generously uses on me. Coldhearted bitch and ruthless too. I get those ones when we’re fighting. But his darling Eno – she’s all sweet and loving, tenderhearted and kind. Even after she cheated on him with her ex, Ibro finds no flaw in her.

Forgive me for rambling. I just had to get that off my chest after seeing the two necking in her car outside my house this morning. The effrontery! Would I do that to her? Would I blatantly shove my love for Ibro in her face?

Again, I wander off tangent. I apologize.

Back to Shady. Dude has stopped dancing, and is presently attending to a buyer, some pretty, little thing that has Dara in her arms and is flashing her thirty-two at him. I understand that he has a certain appeal with his tall, thin appearance. He carries his lankiness well and has an impeccable sense of style that I sometimes want Ibro to own. But that’s all there is to him. He’s broke and classless. Forget that he’s now earning huge for this present job; it does nothing to save him from his basicness which would soon bring my husband’s business to ruin. Of course it’s not something I want, and like my friends here, I’m supposed to do my bit to ensure that he keeps his head above water but really I don’t care if he falls flat on his face. It works well with my aim if he does but I’m not going to be the bitch that does not show compassion for a father holding a nine to five and caring for a two-year-old at the same time.

It was for this reason that when Peace threw in the suggestion that we take Dara off his hands so he can concentrate on selling cars, I didn’t object. However, they are all getting cold feet and I’m the only one still on the objective.

“Can we go in already?” I raise my voice, bringing them back to curve.

“Maybe this works for him,” Honey tells me. “Dara is his selling point.”

“Yeah, people just look at her and buy cars,” I answer sarcastically. Honey lends me a bad stare. I’d love to pluck out her eyes one of these days. She likes to oppose everything I say or do. She thinks her beauty, her handsome husband and trips around the world are good enough reason to compare herself with me.

I give her an unreadable stare as I secretly admire her outfit of a green fitted dress that shows no sign of her having just had a baby five weeks ago. I’m so tired of her and her perfectness and the way she flaunts it. She has the perfect body, the perfect husband and the perfect in-laws, and that’s why she feels so superior to all of us.

“Noka, I know you don’t like Shady for obvious reasons but can you please tuck that in and be nice to him? Don’t go there acting all ‘I’m your boss’ wife’. He’s your husband’s friend.”

“I should tuck what in exactly? The fact that he hit my friend?”

“He apologized,” Peace reminds me. “Did Celia tell any of us what he did? No. She just upped and left but Shady reported himself to every one of us and begged, including her brother.”

I take my hands off the steering for a second and turn around to face Miss Goody-Two Shoes. “And what is your point, madam?”

“Be nice. Forgive.”

“He is a wife-beater.”

“He is not,” Mary counters. “It was a moment of not thinking right, a bad decision, and he deeply regrets it. You should let it go and be reminded that we’re going in there to take Dara off his hands to ease his stress and not to punish him. He’s been a wonderful father for three weeks.”

Whatever. I don’t care. My brother deserves the job and I won’t rest until I see him get it. Ibro owes me that much.

“Let’s go in, abeg.” Honey steps down and the others follow suit. I’m the last to leave the car, stretching out my short Nautica skirt which I bought just a week ago at a ridiculous price. Eno has been sporting some new clothes; I don’t see why I shouldn’t indulge as well. I bought a whole wardrobe. I am yet to decide where to put the old ones, some of which I’ve not even worn. Bimpe used to say I have enough clothes to start a boutique with but I don’t think I do. Until I have the type of closet space Eno has, I’ve not even begun.

I follow my friends into the exquisite showroom that is proof of my husband’s wealth and refinement. It’s also proof of my hard work and unending support. The idea from the onset was not just to make it a showroom (like the other ones he owns, scattered about lagos) but a hub for car freaks. In addition, there’s a classy restaurant running from lunch hour till evening, just to help us make money on the side to keep the utilities running since they’re always paid for. Whenever I look at the place and think about how far Ibro and I have come, (of course I married him already swimming in money) I pat myself on the back by indulging in something nice. This is why it angers me much that Shady has brought his ghetto lifestyle into my family business.

showroom2

The thin rake of a man sees the girls and I entering the showroom and lets out that killer smile he uses on Celia. Weirdly, I smile back. There’s actually something nice about it.

“Hi ladies. This is a pleasant surprise,” he says, walking towards us. I notice that he has abandoned the customer with his child. Such business ethic.

We exchange pleasantries and he leads us to his office where he offers us a leather couch to settle in.

“Give me some minutes, ladies, and I’ll be right back.”

He leaves and Peace engages us in a chat about some German guy in her church that likes her. We had first met him at Jiney’s christening and subsequently at a barbecue that Bobby invited us for. The guy’s accent is thick and sometimes he exchanges his V’s for W’s. He always smells of soap or aftershave. Never of cologne. His fashion sense is a total miss. He dresses too European for my liking. But the best part of him is that he’s really crazy about Peace, ready to propose at any moment.

“We’ve kissed and done the irregular ‘touching’,” she reveals with a look of embarrassment.

I cross my legs, ears itching to hear more.

“Which one is irregular touching again?” Mary asks. Peace laughs. Such a prude.

“How big is he?” I question. Peace covers her mouth in embarrassment again.

“It’s not all about sex, Noka,” she replies in a small voice. “I’m not planning to sleep with him. Not now and not in the future.”

“Is he circumcised?”

“Noka!” she gasps.

“Simple question.”

“He’s not.”

The mutual look of disgust that rests on all our faces pushes us into laughter.

“Urgh!” I make a face. “Those white guys and their uncut peens.”

“Are you speaking out of experience?” Honey turns in my direction.

“No. I’m just… you know…”

“Mm-hmm?”

I notice all the girls watching me intently. I flash a wide smile. “I’m not telling anything.”

Shady returns with Dara who immediately runs into Peace’s embrace. She takes the little girl in her arms and hands her a chocolate bar she had bought along the way.

“What would you ladies want?” Shady asks. “Coffee? Breakfast?”

“Nothing,” I answer for all of us. “We’re actually here on a serious matter.”

“Not that serious,” Honey puts in with a smile.

“It’s about Dara.” I take control of the conversation again.

“Okay?” He crosses his arms warily, resting his flat bum over the edge of a glass table behind him that reflects the posh leather brownness of the office.

“We feel, and this is out of concern, that Dara is too much distraction for you, and we would like to help out with caring for her by taking turns. That way you get to concentrate on your job. It’s not easy for a man who has a lot on his hands to care for a child at the same time. Besides that, having her here at work might not be a good image for the company.”

A silent sigh from Mary tells me she doesn’t support my last statement.

“So, if you wouldn’t mind, we would like to offer our babysitting services to you. For free.”

Shady chuckles. It’s a silent chuckle that shows he’s only being polite.

“So you want to take Dara off my hands?”

“Yeah.”

“Because you think I’d hit her like I hit Celia.”

“No!” the others chorus. I simply take two and ponder on his insinuation. Why didn’t I think along that line?

“Shady, actually…” Honey speaks up. “It’s fine if you think this is ridiculous. We’re just concerned…”

“Dara and I are fine. And really, I appreciate it but you shouldn’t worry yourselves. We miss Celia and we desperately want her back but we’re coping. I need to bond with my daughter. Daycare was tearing us apart but her being here every day reminds me of Celia and keeps me focused.”

The others throw on pathetic faces and I roll my eyes in my head. I knew they’d sell out. Honey, especially. She thought it was a bad idea from the start. Well, whatever. It’s Shady’s loss. When customers start complaining, I’ll be quick to suggest to Ibro to have him changed to someone who is more competent.

I sit up. “But Shady, we haven’t heard from Celia since she sent us a message to our Whatsapp group that she was fine. Her phone rings unanswered and she’s never on Facebook. Please, are you sure she’s okay?”

Shady has the polite face on again. I know my insinuation comes off like I’m accusing him of getting rid of Celia but I don’t give five farts. We need to know what happened to our friend.

“Give me a second.”

He pulls out his phone from his pocket and soon we hear a line ringing as he puts it on speakerphone. After a long ring, Celia’s voice comes on.

“Shady, you’ve called me four times already this morning. Shey Dara is fine? What do you want?”

“Just checking up on you, baby.”

“I’m good.” There’s a pause. “You?”

“Missing you,” he answers with his eyes darting away. I spot an emotion in there and I suddenly feel bad for what I hold against him.

But the feelings lasts a second.

“When are you coming back?”

“I don’t know, Shady, and you calling me doesn’t help things. I need to clear that night out of my head. So please, respect my space and stop calling. Thank you.”

The line goes off. He looks at me. “That’s your friend. She’s fine – in some ways. She’s not stuffed in some cupboard, rotting away.”

“Noka didn’t mean that,” Peace comes to my defense.

“I know she didn’t. She’s a wonderful friend and I appreciate all she has done to see me out of my financial situation.”

I give a fake grin.

“You got me this job, got me a brand new car…And I’m utterly grateful.”

“Well, as Ibro will say, ‘ba yawa’.”

“Ba yawa,” Shady adds, smiling. I can’t believe he’s smiling after what he did to Celia. I do hope she’s getting proper loving from that Naomi chick. It would be the best blow to his face.

“I also want to thank you ladies again for being generous with that huge help you sent Celia’s way.”

“Well, what are friends for?” Mary quotes. I’m suddenly bored.

“We should be leaving.” I draw my legs together. I’m glad he has declined letting go of Dara. The idea of caring for another person’s child in the first place doesn’t appeal to me. The plan was to pass the tot to my housemaid if ever it was my turn to care for her. I already have too many children on my shoulders to worry about.

Shady escorts us out to the showroom and gets into some struggle trying to take Dara off Peace’s hands.

“Can I keep her for just tonight?” Peace begs. He shakes his head. The child breaks into a cry that irritates me. I slip on my sunglasses and hurry out to my car. I have to be somewhere urgently. My phone has been vibrating in my purse, riddled by phone calls from one person.

I sigh, feeling exhausted, thinking of the trips I have to take before I finally go to see the caller. I turn around and face the girls who are now walking towards me.

“I’ll pay everyone’s cab fares and that’s because I can’t drop you all at your destinations. I have a business appointment.”

“Housewives now have business appointments?” Mary teases. I yank her hair. She whines.

“Honey, you’re going back to your office?”

“Yep. Jiney’s there and I have loads of work to do before I close. Oh, and there’s that love concert this evening.” She sticks out her hand. “My transport.”

I take out some money from my purse and dump on her palm. She blows me a kiss, says goodbye to the girls and crosses the street. Mary and Peace also get some cash but I don’t wait for them to hail a cab before I dash into my SUV and drive off in haste. Patience is not a virtue the person I’m going to meet has.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

Wura is sprawled on the floor of her living room, eyes up at the ceiling. She is a mix of different emotions. The day of her love concert with Pastor Ralph is finally here, and although she is physically ready, she is a mess mentally. This would be her first public appearance since her lewd videos hit the net. Even though everyone assures her that her past is forgotten, she still carries it on her shoulders.

The program coordinator for the concert had come up with a brilliant idea to help quash her fears. He had suggested that once she took the stage after her opening song with Pastor Ralph, they were both to share their stories to the audience and talk about how they found God’s forgiveness which became the push for the concert. The idea had sounded awesome to Wura and Ralph. The program coordinator got someone from the media team to help with writing the stories, and in the end, they came out with deep emotional pieces that were bound to score empathy from the audience. It had seemed all good with Wura over the past months but today she wakes up not feeling ready for what the evening holds.

Alone on the living room floor while Bilal lies sleeping with half his body on a couch and the other on the floor, Wura tries her best to calm her nerves. The scarily-efficient Novocaine Knights event team handling the concert has assured her that everything is under control. All she needs to do is to show up at the venue and sing. Still, she fusses, and not even the blueness of her space or the mild scent of incense in the air gives her calm.

She shuts her eyes and prays for a bit but she can’t put her thoughts together, so she remains motionless, listening to music coming from her bedroom, a jazz album by Dario Chiazzolino. She forces herself to be carried away by the complicated but mellow guitar arrangements that are distinctive to Dario’s sounds. Soon she finds herself falling into calm, but the serene moment is interrupted by a knock on the door.

She is not pleased by the disturbance, as she is observing total solitude and silence to keep her vocal chords in shape until the moment she climbs the stage to sing. Having someone dropping in unannounced is not what she needs at the moment.

She goes for the door and unlocks it. When she opens it, she finds no one outside. However, she is greeted by the presence of a brand new steel string acoustic guitar resting on a stand, gleaming in metallic brown under the light of the morning.

“Oh my God,” she whispers, leaving the door and stepping outside. She touches the instrument like someone touching the face of a lover for the first time, caressing its edges, stroking its strings – just to be sure it’s all real and she’s not imagining it.

A little card hanging off one of the tuning machines, held by a fancy string, is blown by the wind and it falls to the floor. She picks it to find a note in Mahmud’s writing.

Mami,

You always wanted this, and I think on this big day, you deserve it. Sing like the wind, doll face.

I never stopped loving you.

Your-mood.

“Mymood…” Tears attack her eyes as a feeling of lonesomeness which has now become part of her, surges in, mixing with her joy. But she doesn’t let it stay. She lifts the guitar off the ground, and expertly holding it in her arms, strums the strings. She considers herself a rookie with the instrument but Pastor Ralph who has been her tutor for under a year thinks otherwise.

“Music is just you, Wuraola. I bet if I gave you a pair of drumsticks you’d find your way around the percussions.”

To that, she had remained quiet. She already knew the basics of drumming, learned on her own. But it had never been her favorite instrument. She loved melody, strings and chords. Maybe next year she would buy a cello and start learning that as well.

“Thanks, Mahmud,” she voices out, her first loudly-uttered words for the day.

“You’re welcome.”

Wura swivels at the sound of Mahmud’s voice coming from behind her, almost dropping the guitar. She finds him standing right beside the front door. She had been so carried away with the guitar at first sight that she hadn’t noticed he was there the whole time.

“Mymood?” she whispers. He doesn’t reply. He simply remains standing, staring at her intensely, his hands in his pockets. For a second, Wura thinks she is imagining his presence. She gently places the guitar back on its stand and faces him again. They haven’t seen in over a year. Having him in the same space with her after endless months of tears and longing can best be described as being in the presence of a celestial being. She is not sure what to do. But he makes it easy for her as he walks over and wraps his arms around her, one taking her neck and the other resting on her waist.

She meets his hug with tears. The distinct scent of him that comes with cologne and cigarette finds her memories and brings them all to her head.

“You don’t know how happy I am,” Mahmud expresses. “This is like a dream, mami. I’m holding you again.”

The broken tenderness in his voice and his face buried in her neck pushes her emotions to the peak. She lets loose in his hold. He doesn’t stop her. He knows the tears are not just of joy. He understands everything her snivels and shudders mean. He holds her until it goes away.

“Do you know how much I’ve missed you, you silly Yoruba girl?”

She giggles as he steps back and feeds his eyes with her body.

“Wuraola Adegbite! God will not sha let you kill me. See as you fine like kilode!”

He takes one more step backwards and shakes his head. She suddenly becomes aware that she is wearing only a boyfriend tee and bum shorts.

“Stop looking at me like that.”

He grabs her waist again and goes for her mouth fiercely. She sighs at the taste of him and the familiarity of his kiss that is made more pleasurable by months of want. The kiss is long and sweet like a mouthful of sugarcane juice on a hot day. Even when Mahmud stops, Wura goes for more. But he stops again her and leads her back into the house.

Bilal gets his attention as they walk in. He breaks in his steps and a warm smile brings his lips together.

“He’s sleeping?”

Wura nods. Mahmud walks over to his son and stoops to study him. “He’s now beginning to look like you, Wu.”

“Everybody says that.”

“But he has my nose, thank goodness.”

“Please!”

“And my hair.” Mahmud pats the toddler’s thick, dark locks.

“It grows too fast. I have to take him for a haircut every three weeks.”

Mahmud smiles in pride, lifting the boy off the floor and onto the couch.

“But you sef, why did you leave him like this?”

“Don’t worry. By the time you stay with him for just one day, the way he falls asleep will be the least of your problems.”

Mahmud rises up.

“So, what should I cook for you?” she asks. And before he can answer, adds, “I like what you’re wearing.”

Mahmud stares down at his outfit of a pair of jeans, a checkered shirt and a sweater. “The clothes look a lot better off my body than on it.”

Wura gives him a playful frown but at the same time, forcing away memories of the feel of his hairy body against hers.

“Stop trying to make me sin here, oga. I’m ministering to thousands today.”

“Then marry me and let me make love to you before you climb that stage this evening.”

“Mymood!”

“I’m serious.” He comes closer. “We already met all the requirements last year and fixed the date for the wedding before you changed your mind. I still have my friend who works there and all I need is a phone call, a couple of friends and we’re husband and wife. And then I can smash you legally.”

“Good lord! Your mouth!”

He goes for her lips again, but taking it slowly and teasingly this time.

“I love you, mami,” he asserts between kisses. She buries her fingers in his full beard, stroking it down until she touches his neck. Her self-control begins to wane. She stops herself by pulling away. But Mahmud won’t let her go. He holds her bound for one more kiss which leads to caresses that has them both falling over a couch. It takes both her will and his for them to control themselves.

Head resting on his chest afterwards, she requests, “go away for the rest of the day so I can concentrate on my concert.”

He nips her nose as she raises her head. “That’s not fair.”

“After the concert, we’ll resume talks about us getting married.”

“Don’t pull my legs.”

“Just go away, you distracting man. Come with something nice at the end of the concert.”

“I bought so many things for you, mami. And for Billy.”

She straightens up. “Tokunboh, please go.”

He stands to his feet and drags her to the front door where they kiss one more time. “My applause will be the loudest at the concert.”

She grins.

“Kiss Bilal for me.”

She stands by the door and watches him leave. Her eyes drop down to the guitar. She fixes a long, unbroken stare that gives her a cloudy vision. And then she blinks it away as she lowers herself to sit on the double steps that lead into the house. The last time she kissed Mahmud was over a year ago; they were standing in the airport, his plane set to leave for Dubai. He was to spend a week there before proceeding to Jeddah. He had asked her to pass that week with him but she had declined, stating that she knew they would end up being inappropriate with each other. Now, as she recalls the moment, she wishes she had gone along, and done everything to save their relationship, including following him all the way to Jeddah.

Distance has left a gaping hole between them, one which gives her doubts about wanting to spend her future with him. He has no idea what his family did to her in his absence, how they summoned her and begged her to sever all ties with him. His elder sister, Asma, and her husband Usman were the only ones who stood by her side. But that had not been enough. At that time in her life, she felt she had nothing left to cling to. Even her siblings abandoned her. She didn’t blame them or anyone for how they treated her. She also hated the Wura that was in those videos. She had pulled through relying on her music, the quiet, dark days when she was alone and all she had was her voice and the black and white notes on her Yamaha keyboard. Ralph was there for her as well, upholding her ragged honor even to the disrepute of his name. He became a constant in her life, lending her his voice, his shoulders and cheering words. It was upon his back she learned to stand again. He always had enough strength for her.

But last week he had caved and brought the weight down on them both. A rather strange thing had happened during her rehearsals at a friend’s house where he was staying at the moment, having finally parted ways with his wife. The house was a large, quiet place somewhere in Badagry, and had tall, bare palm trees and a yard that looked out to a small, dirty beach. Ralph had chosen to live that faraway to heal from his broken heart. It was Wura’s first time in the place and Ralph treated her to a glass of orange and ginger juice before they set about their rehearsals.

But things didn’t go well that morning, as Ralph ran through a song in a manner so depressing and dark that Wura saved them both by placing a gentle hand over his to stop him. Music notes from the glistening black piano he was playing died down and he lifted miserable eyes at her.

“She’s taking the children to the UK, and I can’t do anything about it.”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s the best for them. I’m paying school fees, accommodation and all but…”

He ran his hand over his forehead.

“She’s taking everything from me. Everything. Nine years of marriage, my children and the bulk of my money. And I did nothing wrong. I never cheated on her. She just got tired of me…”

He sighed and dropped his hand, fingers landing on the black notes of the piano, causing an unpleasant sound.

“I’m so sorry, sir.” Wura drew closer and sat beside him. They had never spoken about his divorce, not to this extent, at least. She was unsure of how to respond to his heartbreak which was alien to her, being that he had done everything to hide his pain. The emotional side of him was new and utterly distressing. She wanted to just reach out and hug the broken man in him.

“But she accused me of many things,” Ralph continued. “Of loving God’s work more than her, of never being there when she needed me, of sacrificing for my music more than I sacrificed for the family… And maybe she was right. Maybe every other thing came before her and the kids but it wasn’t intentional. I thought I was doing everything right, Wura.”

“Maybe the problem is not with you and you should stop punishing yourself.”

But it seemed Wura had just spoken to the air. Ralph went back and in time and brought up occasions that he felt he might have missed being a good husband and father, times when the church came first and his family second. Wura stopped him again, her hand on his as before.

“It’s not your fault. She stopped loving you. These things happen.”

Ralph sought Wura’s eyes from the darkness of his.

“I’m not supposed to tell you this but I have to let it out of my chest. She also accused me of loving you.”

Wura’s hand dropped.

“Of being in love with you.”

An uneasy smile, barely noticeable took one side of Wura’s lips. It was her turn to search his face. She didn’t know what she was looking for but she held his eyes.

“But you’re not in love with me. You love me as a sister.”

Ralph was silent.

“Pastor Ralph?”

He looked elsewhere.

“Pastor Ralph.”

His eyes returned to her. “What she thinks I feel or don’t feel for you doesn’t matter. What matters is the work God has used me to do in your life. The work we’re both doing.”

Wura stood up, her pulse hastening.

“You shouldn’t bother about what she said. She was just looking for reasons to leave. Even if hypothetically, I was in love with you, and it’d been so from the first day I met you, you think I’d throw my family and ministry away for that? Come on, Woo. You should know I’m not that type of man. I’d keep it all bottled up. Put the lid on it. Treat you as I would my sister, because God knows what I feel for you is pure and wholesome. So, let’s forget that talk and concentrate on our ministry of healing broken souls.”

Wura didn’t feel better by his explanation. He had, in uncertain terms, confirmed his ex-wife’s assertions and it scared the hell out of her.

“I’m still Pastor Ralph,” he insisted. “Nothing has changed between us, Woo.”

But it didn’t feel that way to Wura. On her way home that day, her mind went back to all the moments she felt he had expressed his feelings. Nothing inappropriate in his manner towards her was recalled; Ralph had been a mentor at all times, even when he found out that she was pregnant with Bilal. He had been supportive and gracious to Mahmud then and never wavered in his character.

However, the awareness of those facts did nothing to soften the blow of what he had told Wura. She wished he had never said a word on the matter even though she understood his need to unburden himself. Looking into the history of their relationship over the period of Mahmud’s absence she came to the awful realization that they had gotten quite close; so close that Bilal now called him ‘daddy’ and he sometimes knew when she was on her period because on more than one occasion, he had helped her purchase sanitary towels when menstrual cramps left her incapacitated. They were that chummy. Hence, through her entire week, even until this moment, she had carried the feeling that she was and still is in a sort of unhealthy relationship with him. And to her, Mahmud’s surprise return is God’s way of telling her to leave the life she shares with Ralph.

She counts the hours to the concert in feverish anticipation, her unease returning.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

His SUV enters the compound with the same weariness that claims his body. It feels to him like he has been driving for years without stop. He makes mental plans to sleep for five hours at least, and then wake up to map out more time to sleep for another twelve hours. Very little jobs like this claim his time and energy. He would usually delegate duties to the Novocaine Knights technical crew and hang about to see them done. But this is different. Wura, as sweet and soft-spoken as she is known to be, gets bumpy when it comes to her music and the sounds that accompany it.

Kasiobi had used most of the night and the dark hours of the morning to ensure that everything was technically perfect for the love concert. Mechanical glitches had prolonged his efforts but somehow he managed through, setting everything ready in good time.

He now longs for a warm bath and a cup of steaming hot chocolate or something of the likes. He recalls how Lexus always made the best cups of hot chocolate, adding twists with each fresh brew. He reminisces on moments when she got out of herself and treated him like he was the best thing since ice-cream. It felt good to be in love then, with nothing to worry about but whose turn it was to do the dishes or make dinner. Lexus had been the Lexus he’d always known – wild, open and bearing the mindedness and sometimes melancholy of a talented artist. In their small apartment in New York her talent blossomed, in oil paintings, charcoal and graffiti. The highlight of his nights after long hours in class and studio sessions was to come home and watch her, dressed in nothing but a single piece of clothing, throwing herself into her art. Sometimes, two or three days would go by before she acknowledged his presence. And when she did, she brought fierce affection with her. Their love was always on a high, sometimes too good to be true. But he had never nursed any worries. Lexus was not just his girlfriend; she was his best friend too. If love failed, friendship was bound to survive…

Kasiobi brusquely blocks thoughts of her out of his mind. Recalling their history together is always a torturous pastime, certainly not something he presently needs.

He steps down from his vehicle and walks towards his apartment, the sounds of reggae loudening as he nears the door.

Chichi…

He sighs.

She is becoming a problem. As he had predicted, her sole aim since she got back into his life had been to remind him that she once used to stoke his fires. He couldn’t count how many times he had wandered into the living room and found her naked or nearly so. He was now quite used to the show, something Kira constantly complains about. He foresees a fight between both girls soon, with Chichi being the instigator as is in her nature. They barely stomach each other, and it’s not that he really cares. He feels nothing particularly deep for either of them.

His present distraction is Didi whom he had had the pleasure of being with a few times at the Novocaine Knights head office. He finds her bubbly and quite naïve, but at the same knowledgeable in some areas about life for someone her age. She comes across as a spoilt child, much like Lexus, wild and willing to try anything. And maybe that’s why he finds himself drawn to her. Lexus still remains a constant crush in his life but he has no desire to get them back to where they used to be.

But Didi…

One of these days he’ll ask her out on a date, see what she’s all about.

He comes to his front foyer, the reggae music unbearable now. He opens the door and enters the living room, picking out a different, more disturbing sound than the music. He can hear Trinity screaming loudly from Chichi’s bedroom. He marches to the electronic stand and yanks off the main connection from the wall, stopping the music. He barges into Chichi’s bedroom and finds his daughter alone in her cot, kicking into the air with her screams. He takes her in his arms but the screams intensify.

“Chichi?” He peeps into the bathroom. It is empty. When he turns back to the room, he spots a piece of paper on one of the pillows on Chichi’s neatly-arranged bed. His tummy whips as he goes for the paper. On a second thought, he leaves it where it is, and stands to read its contents, written in Chichi’s hand.

Kas,

This is the worst thing I’m ever going to do in my life and everyone will hate for it but I have to go and find my happiness. I never planned to be a mother or a baby mama. I’m not good at doing both. It’s best I leave Trinity in your hands. I can’t raise her out of wedlock and God knows I tried getting you to love me but your heart is with Lex. When we got back together last year I thought it was for good but you dumped me again. You have no idea how much it hurts to keep loving one person and the person keeps dumping you. Well I wish you and Lex the best when you get back together. As for me, don’t look for me. You’ll never find me.

Chisom.

Weirdly, Kasiobi is not shocked. With Chichi one should expect anything. Heck, he even expects her to walk back in and tell him the note is all a joke.

Thus, his reaction to what he has just read is laughter. A shake of his head and more laughter. Trinity who continues to shriek at the top of her lungs is now clawing at his neck.

“Let’s go get you something to eat, Trini. Your mom has gone mad.”

He leaves the bedroom to the kitchen, opens the fridge and finds a feeding bottle containing breast milk, the only one left. After he tosses it into the microwave, he picks a chair and sits, doing his best to placate Trinity.

“She’ll come back,” he says to the tot. “Your mom will miss you so much she’ll come back.”

But his words sound alien in his ear as he looks around. Usually, Chichi would be standing in front of the cooker or the sink, dressed in a panty or nothing at all, doing everything to seduce him. Her absence rings as loudly as Trinity’s screams.

“Trini, sorry o. Biko, calm down. Your food is warming up.”

Luckily for both father and daughter, the microwave dings to a stop. Kasiobi takes out the milk, hurries to the living room and proceeds to feed Trinity. This is his first attempt and it goes badly. The milk is too hot and it burns Trinity on first taste and she goes into a fit worse than before. Kasiobi then dashes for freezing water from the fridge and spends an extra two or three minutes having the milk come to manageable temperature. By now, Trinity has given up wailing. She goes into silent whimpers, setting the most miserable expression on her face that has Kasiobi feeling inadequate. When he eventually feeds her and all seems well with the world, he stretches out to have a short playtime with her but fails at it as he discovers he is too exhausted. He yawns more than a few times and soon his eyes begin to shut without his consent.

kasi4

“She’ll come back,” he mumbles, yawning. But something in his head, sounding much like Lexus’ voice tells him, “Nigga, you know she’ gone.”

©Sally@moskedapages

 

 

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #5

Read episodes 1-4 of It’s Another Novocaine Saturday

For those who asked for a bonus… 



Jide says he has a gift for me. He has just passed me this black box that has the brand name ‘Self Pleasures’ written on it.

“Open it,” he says, hiding a smile.

I take the lid off the box and pull out a string of heavy Ben Wa balls.

“Really?” I look at him. He winks.

“Recommended for pelvic exercises,” he explains, adjusting Jiney’s cap that has shifted off her forehead.

“So I’m supposed to shove this in where?”

He points at my crotch. “You were complaining of feeling loose…”

“Jideofor, my normal pelvic exercises and the hot water Nne has been making me sit in are working, thank you. I don’t need these funny looking things to tighten my walls which by the way, are still tight.”

“Stop. You’re turning me on.”

I smack him.

“I’ll teach you how to use them,” he offers.

“I know how to, thank you.”

“Baddest babe!”

I put the Ben Wa balls away. I don’t tell him that I have used all sorts of them in the past, from the ones without strings to the vibrating ones. It’s good to maintain the mystery. Genesis has taught me to hide certain aspects of my femininity from him.

“Men like to be oblivious, so keep him wondering.”

For me, I’m all too happy that I’ve married a bad boy and he’s beginning to show me his naughty side…and I like it. He is doing this countdown to the day we have sex. He wakes up every morning and goes, ‘Day so and so.’ But this doesn’t stop him from being naughty. There’s a lot of kissing and petting. I never knew one could feel pleasure on certain odd places in the body. Jide showed me all my erogenous zones. Now I am left with the challenge of finding his. I plan to ask Genesis for pointers.

Speaking of which, I have to pay her a visit this morning, on my way to pick a few things from the mall. Nne is not going to be happy about me leaving the house. Jide is cool with it. He even thinks I need a bit of the outside air.

“Don’t just starve my daughter.”

He is particular about Jiney being exclusively breastfed until she is six months. I don’t even have a say in the matter. It’s his baby and his breasts.

I rise up from bed and go for a shower. A short while later I’m out. Jide and Jiney are not in the room. I can hear his voice coming from the kitchen. He is with Nne. I take my time, dressing into a pair of jeans and a tee. When I step out, Nne straightaway asks me where I’m headed.

“She’s going out,” my husband answers. Nne is about to say something but he stops her. I smile at both of them and walk to the room where Ndidi is lodged.

I knock. She opens the door. A bright smile hits her face and she hugs me.

“Aunty Honey!”

“Hi Didi. How are you?”

“I’m good.”

She lets go. “Wow! You don’t look like you just had a baby.”

“Thank you.”

“How did you lose all the fat?”

“I didn’t have much of it, to begin with.”

She pouts cutely. “I wish I was like you. I’m here struggling with my weight. I’m so fat.”

“No, you’re not. You’re chubby.”

She shrugs. She doesn’t believe me.

“So, I want to hit the town for a little shopping. Care to join me?”

She throws her fists up into the air.

“You may want to change into something decent, though.”

“Sure.”

She runs back in and the door bangs in my face. I turn. I’m not sure I can handle her energy. I wait for her in the living room while trying to keep up with the latest events online. Actually, I’m more interested in what’s happening on Jide’s instagram. A photo of me breastfeeding Jiney, which he shared, attracted some trolls who felt they had a say over my body. Some blog even took the photo and did a piece about mothers sharing their breastfeeding pictures online. It was a terrible article aimed at body-shaming mothers. But neither Jide nor I bother about these things. We just live our lives.

“I’m ready.” Didi steps out in a short dress and pair of flats. She looks charming. She has no idea she is about to meet Genesis. I can’t wait to see how she will freak out.

Minutes later, we’re on the road. I quickly take control of the conversation. Didi is talkative. I learned about this the hard way over the course of last week when she and I literally spoke every day on the phone, she doing most of the calling.

“So, Didi, are you ready for the Lagos life?”

“Yep.”

“You’re sure? It can be quite draining.”

“I am ready. I’m sooo excited.”

“Okay. Wish you the best with your hustle. So, I’ve been meaning to ask you. Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Nope.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I don’t have time for boys.”

“That’s new.”

“I had a boyfriend before coming here. I broke things off with him because I can’t do the long distance relationship thing.”

“Why?”

“I don’t trust him. He’s so particular about sex and I’m very sure he was cheating on me while we were dating.”

“You never caught him?”

“No. I didn’t bother, really. We weren’t having sex so I expected him to cheat.”

“Oh, okay.”

She is silent for a few seconds and even I have run out of what to ask her but she comes back on again.

“You didn’t ask me why we were not having sex.”

“No, I didn’t. Why?”

“I’m a virgin.”

Okay, I didn’t need to know that but seriously? I look at her. Outwardly, she’s wild, but I’ve come to know that appearances can be deceiving and that also, some virgins have this manner of overdoing things.

“So what type of virgin are you?”

“I don’t understand.”

“There are virgins who have never done anything sexual before. They are called pure virgins. And then there are those that virginity for them is just about the hymen. So they would do every other things except penetrative sex. So which are you?”

She laughs. “I’m In-between.”

“Well, whichever it is, I’m proud of you that you kept it this long. Are you going to keep it until you get married?”

“No. I’m just looking for the right guy. I’m so scared to give it to an asshole.”

“Then you better be wary of the boys in this town. I must warn. Your average Onitsha guy has his life planned. It’s basically make money, find wife and get married. But here, it’s different. It’s more like make money, find girls to spend it on, sleep with them, break their hearts and repeat the vicious cycle again.”

“That’s cold.”

“And don’t be carried away by the one who tells you he is willing to wait until marriage either. He may just be one of those ones who wants a good girl whose cherry he can pop so that he can control her while he sleeps around outside. Choose your men wisely. Your friends as well. Don’t party or club every weekend. Make yourself scarce. Avoid alcohol and drugs at all cost. Stay away from boys’ houses as much as you can. Focus on your career. Work hard. Make daddy and your late mother proud.”

“Thank you, Aunty Honey.”

“Just call me Honey.”

“Okay.”

I realize she is subdued by the counsel I have just given her. I hope I haven’t scared her.

“Can I buy coconut chips, please?”

We’re in traffic and hawkers are busy with their wares, running in-between cars and flashing them at windows.

I let Didi’s window down. She calls some guy selling coconut chips and picks two. “You want?” she asks me.

“No, thank you.”

“It’s sweet o.”

I know it’s sweet. In fact, I used to like it but I’m not feeling it right now. Didi pays for the chips and begins to munch on them. She talks as she eats, telling me about Onitsha and her second cousins whom she is not friendly with. She talks all the way to the Ditorusin home, finishing the entire two packs of coconut chips. Now she’s complaining about not having bought water.

“You’ll drink some when we get in,” I say to her as we wait for security at the gate to confirm our access in.

“Whose house is this?”

“A friend’s.”

“They seem rich.”

“But you haven’t seen the house yet.”

“From the outside I can tell.”

I hear a beep and the gate slides open.

“Wooooow!” Didi exclaims, eyes popping out. I smile as I drive in. “Is this house for real?”

I laugh. I totally feel her. The house is grand and sturdy with architecture that is different from most. But it is not the structure that arrests attention. It’s the greenery. It takes you from modern day Lagos to a dream of colorful flowers, hanging bougainvillea, awning Jacaranda trees with purple leaves and a stone path that leads to the front door.

We are standing at the door now, waiting to be invited in.

“This house is really fine,” Didi says for the third time since we drove in.

The door opens and we’re blessed with Genesis’ smiling face.

“Hi Honey.”

“Morning, Gen.”

We hug and when we break apart, she gazes at Didi.

“Hello.”

Didi is struck. She can’t move. Her eyes are fixed on Genesis in utter disbelief. I laugh.

“She’s a fan.”

“Oh.”

“And she’s the one I told you about.”

“Oh. Your sister-in-law, Ndidiamaka, right?”

“Yeah. Didi, stop staring and say hi.”

Didi tries to speak but a stammer comes out. Genesis and I laugh.

“Come in, ladies.”

She invites us in, leading us to the main living room. By the time we make ourselves comfortable, Didi has returned to her old self. She now falls into this long speech about how she is so crazy about Genesis and how she follows her online like fly to shit.

Yes, she actually uses those exact words.

She is excited to meet her and can’t wait to start working for her.

“Great then.” Genesis chuckles. “We’ll have fun. But hope you aren’t lazy?”

“No.”

“Good. Work begins on Monday.”

Did claps her hands silently.

“So what can I get for you guys?”

“Nothing. We’ve had breakfast.”

I see a protest in Didi’s eyes. I’m beginning to think she likes food too much.

“I’d like some water, please,” she requests.

“Follow me, then. If you’re going to be working for Novo Knights, you must know your way around this house.”

Didi excitedly hops on her feet and tails Genesis. I take out my phone and go back online. I am in the middle of reading about a holiday bonanza Qatar Airways is offering when someone walks into the room. I look up and see that it is DJ Kasbi. He and I met only once, a couple of days before my wedding. It was a brief meeting in which Mary and I told him the type of songs we would love him to play at our reception.

I look at him now. I don’t think he remembers me.

“Mrs. Onuora?” he calls, unsure.

“Yeah. You remember.”

“I can never forget.”

His words are with meaning. I can pick out the discreet way in which his eyes take in my features.

“How are you?” I ask.

“I’m good.”

I notice that he is taller than I remember. He seems quiet too. His sense of style fits his age. Hanging on his neck is a pair of headphones. I have a feeling it’s his signature look.

He doesn’t sit, he moseys around a little. I suspect he is familiar with the house, maybe even more than I am.

Genesis walks in and coming right behind her is Didi.

“Kasiobi, you’re here,” Genesis utters.

“Morning, ma,” he greets. Didi looks at him, he looks at her, and their eyes lock for some seconds.

“Hi,” he says to her.

“Hi,” she responds and walks over to where she was seated before. DJ Kasbi throws a quick glance at her backside.

“Boss Lady,” he calls Genesis, “I’ll be waiting in the other parlor.”

“Sure.”

Didi’s eyes follow him as he leaves.

“You know DJ Kasbi?” Genesis asks. Didi shakes her head. “He’s a celeb in Lagos alone, I guess.”

“So, Gen…” I face her. “About the souvenirs…”

“Yes. They are ready. Unfortunately, I don’t have them here. They’re all in the gift shop. Do you want them delivered as we planned or you want to pick them yourself?”

“Please, let them be delivered. I want to go to the mall to buy some things.”

“Fine. I’ll call them and tell them to take it to yours immediately. So, is there any other thing I can do for you today?”

“No,” I reply, getting up. “Just show up with your beautiful self and your equally beautiful family tomorrow.”

“Okay, darling.”

She puts her arm around my waist as we leave. DJ Kasbi is standing outside the door to a smaller sitting room. He nods a farewell in our direction. Didi pretends not to see him.

We step outside.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

It has begun to drizzle a little. There are no dark clouds to show that the weather will get worse. But one can’t predict the elements these days. They seem to have a mind of their own.

Genesis hurries into her house, away from the drizzle, and shuts the front door. Kasiobi is still waiting outside the sitting room. She ushers him in and closes the door.

“I know I’m in trouble, Ms. Genesis,” he states as he takes a seat.

“Oh, you so are.”

She sits beside him and places her elbow on the back rest as she faces him fully.

“Start talking, young man.”

Kasiobi gives a quiet chuckle.

“Is it a laughing matter?”

“Chill nau.”

“Kasi, Chichi being in your house is a bad idea. You know that, don’t you?”

“She has changed, ma. She really has.”

“Don’t be so naïve, Kasi. She is digging her fangs deep into you and by the time you realize it, it may be too late.”

Kasiobi scratches his head. “There’s nothing I can do about it. If I ask her to leave, I’ll have to rent a house for her and start paying child support. But this present arrangement is cheaper for me.”

“Cheaper but not better. Chichi will enjoy milking you dry. And let’s not forget that you’re going to be constantly seeing her – all of her – and you’ll fall into old habits again. Are you sure it’s what you want for yourself?”

“I won’t sleep with her, if that’s what you mean. I’m still seeing Shakira.”

Genesis sighs. “Even worse. But what did she say about the whole Chichi thing?”

“She doesn’t know. She’s out of town, presently.”

“Well, good luck with your impending drama. You caused it for yourself.”

Kasiobi smiles. “You’re really mad at me.”

“I am, Kas. You have Lexus who will do anything for you and you go and choose two useless girls who are only after their own selfish gains.”

“Lexus dumped me.”

“She had her reasons, Kasiobi.”

“She always has reasons to be selfish. Always.” His voice comes with a rough tone. “We were doing well as a couple and then from nowhere, she leaves. Then she comes back a year later, after I have moved on, to say she wants me back? No, I’m not playing such silly games with her. I’m too old for that.”

“Kasi, calm down. Please, listen to me. Do me a favor and talk to Tonbra. Ask her why she really left you.”

“She already told me.”

“Not everything. Ask her to be honest with you. Talk to her. And please, just please, give her another chance.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t. And with all due respect, Ms. Genesis, you’re coddling her and it’s bad. Lexus needs to hear the truth from you that she’s full of shit. She needs to get up and become something for herself. I think when she works hard at something for a while, she will understand and appreciate human relationships. For now, she’s just a fourteen-year-old trapped in a woman’s body. She needs to grow up.”

He is angry. Genesis understands. Lexus is quite the expert at pushing people to the wall. But Genesis also recognizes that Kasiobi’s anger is from a place of passion. His feelings for Lexus are so strong that he is mad at himself that she has that much power over him.

“Just try, you hear? Try and talk to her.”

“I will.”

“Thank you.”

“Can I see the twins?”

“Sure. They’re upstairs. How is fatherhood coming on?”

Kasiobi grins. Light brightens his eyes. “The best thing ever.”

“I know.”

He continues to smile. “When Chichi came with her to the house today and I went towards her, she smiled at me. It was classic. Chichi says she hardly smiles, but she smiled at me today. I think it’s a good sign.”

Genesis shakes her head with a laugh, telling him he would soon learn that babies are not always so adorable.

“But you understand that I’m doing this strictly for Trinity, right? Not for Chichi. Not even for my mom.”

Genesis nods.

“I’m sorry you’re disappointed.”

“I’ll get over it. All I want is for you to do what’s right.”

“I will,” he promises as they both head out. “Erm…about that girl that left here just now…”

Genesis frowns at him. “You don’t have enough woman trouble already?”

Kasiobi pushes his hands into his pocket and forces away laughter.

“Behave yourself, boy. You have three girls on your case already.”

“I didn’t say anything nau, Boss Lady. I just dey ask ni. Babe is cute. Chubby cute. I haven’t seen her type in a while, that’s why I asked. And the nose ring…”

“You and girls with piercings and tattoos.”

“They are freaks. I love freaks.”

“Then go back to the number one freak in your life.”

Kasiobi’s hearty expression vanishes. Genesis withdraws from the topic entirely. She walks him to the door and bids him a lovely day.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞


Tomorrow is Jiney’s christening and baptism. My baby will be two weeks old but I feel I have known her my whole life. I can’t count how many times I stare fixedly at her in the course of a day, even though she doesn’t notice. All she does is sleep. And then she feeds. A lot. Everyone marvels at how much she can take in during a feeding session. She’s so chubby and so big that people say she looks two months old. I’m at the stage where my nipples hurt like hell. Nne has this ointment she gave me to rub on them to ease the soreness but it still doesn’t help. No one warned me of this part, of the pain that comes with it. Or of my feet getting bigger and my tummy looking like a tired old lady, or of leaking breasts and skin discolorations.

But it is not all complaints. The pains can’t dumb away the joy. I live for little, simple moments as these, when I can be alone with my baby even when I’m surrounded by a crowd. It’s priceless.

Right now I am with my friends who have come to help with the catering aspect of Jiney’s christening party. As always, we are discussing a myriad of things, but I particularly notice that Celia is quiet. She seems worn out as well, like she hasn’t slept well in a while. And the brown top she’s wearing over black jeans does not flatter her one bit. Neither does her frazzled hair.

“Cee?” I call. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

She replies that she is, and the reply itself is an indication that all is not well. The normal Celia would have given a sarcastic answer to my question.

“No, you’re not alright, Cee,” Mary comments.

I’m glad someone else notices.

“I’m fine.”

“I’m fine,” Mary mimics. “That’s not how you talk. Something is wrong with you. Oya, start telling.”

“I said I’m fine nau. Please, leave me.”

“No, I’m not leaving you. Talk.”

“I don’t want to talk!” she snaps. “Leave me alone!”

She throws back the plastic chair she’s sitting on as she makes for the door. Mary goes after her and stops her. She spins her around to face us. We see that she is crying.

“This is the person that is saying she’s fine. Abeg, Kate, bring that chair.”

Quiet Kate, madam of Bobby’s life (as he calls her), mother of his son, drags Celia’s chair to her and Mary pushes her into it.

“Oya, aunty, talk.”

“Please, get me my bag.”

Noka passes over Celia’s handbag to me and I fling it towards Mary. She catches it. Celia drops the bag on her laps and pulls out a white envelope from it.

“What I’m about to tell you girls must not leave this kitchen. Please don’t tell your husbands because I don’t want Shady to hear about it.”

We all promise her that we’ll keep her secret.

“What would you do if you’re dead broke – dead, dead broke – that you don’t even have money for your next salon appointment, and then someone comes into your life and offers you three thousand dollars just like that?”

All of us are silent. We don’t know what she means. And so, she starts to speak, taking us smack into the middle of this distressing tale of financial crisis, a marriage facing hard times and a temptation too sweet to turn away from.

She has just laid bare the envelope in her hands and we see three thousand dollars of crisp notes. The sight makes Noka’s greedy eyes bulge out.

“Wonders shall never end!” Peace exclaims.

“I don’t get it,” Mary says, abandoning the carrots she is grating. “You mean a fellow woman gave this to you? To sleep with her?”

“Yes,” Celia answers.

“Na wa o! This world is going to burn for all its evil.”

“Oh, please,” Noka murmurs.

“Let me understand this well. She promised to give you more money just so that you and her can be sleeping with each other?”

“Why are you making her repeat herself?” I step in. “Can’t you see how uncomfortable she is? Do you know what it took for her to let this out?”

“I can’t do it.” A rush of tears fills Celia’s eyes. “I can’t but I desperately need this money.”

“Well, me I see no big deal in it,” Noka states. We all fix our eyes on her. “They’re both women…”

“So it makes it alright?” I ask. Noka shrugs. “It’s called cheating, Noka.”

“And lesbianism,” Peace adds. I look at Noka who is ready to fire back. I predict a spicy argument coming on.

“And being a lesbian is so wrong?”

“It’s a sin. A very disgusting one. How can you put your mouth on another woman’s whatever?”

“And putting it on a dick is less disgusting?”

“It is the way God wants us to do it.”

Noka laughs. “Please what chapter and verse?”

“Don’t misquote me.”

“I’m not misquoting you. You said putting your mouth on a dick is the way God wants us to do it. That means, according to you, God encourages oral sex. So, madam, book, chapter and verse.”

I raise my hand. “Let’s not get distracted, please. Celia needs our help. What do you advise?”

“Abeg, give her back her money,” Peace answers.

“Sharply,” Mary adds.

“Keep the money, Cee,” Noka advises as we expect she would. “She has already told you that it is for your family, so go ahead and use it jare. The fact that you kept it with you for almost two weeks shows that you don’t have any plans to return it.”

“Yes, I just told you I’m tempted, Noks,” Celia replies. “I desperately need it.”

“The person that is pissing me off here is Shady,” I say, “let me just be honest. You don’t have to be in this position, Cee. Shady is doing this to you.”

The other ladies concur with nods.

“I still feel sad that you allowed him convince you to hide what is going on from us. Where did you think it was going to end?”

Celia rubs her eyes.

“Now look at the predicament you’re in.”

Celia begins to sob. Peace deserts her bowl of green beans and walks to her to put her arms around her. I watch in sadness. Celia has lost a lot of weight and her skin holds signs of stress. How were we so consumed with ourselves that we missed the part where our friend needed us?

I pass Jiney to Kate and hold Celia as well. With soothing words, Peace and I both placate her until she stops crying.

“Everything will be fine, Cee,” I assure her. “And that’s because we’re going to help. This money has to be returned.”

Celia nods, dabbing her eyes with her apron.

“Ladies, I suggest that we all contribute to have Celia’s rent covered and also put some extra money in her pocket.”

“And this one just goes like that?” Noka points at the dollars.

“Yes.”

“Ah! O ga oo!”

I ignore her. “Any objections?” I question. None of them oppose my proposal, except Noka, of course.

“First of all,” she chips in “donating to help her is not going to change the fact that her lazy husband is sitting about doing nothing.”

“Don’t call my husband lazy.”

“But he is lazy. His show was cancelled and he couldn’t get up and do something for himself? Even if it’s bricklayer job?”

Celia breaks down again.

“You see what your sharp mouth has caused?!” I yell at Noka. “What is wrong with you?!”

“Noka, take it easy nau,” Kate pleads.

“I’m sorry you’re hurting, Cee. Forgive my brutal honesty. But let me be even more honest here. I don’t have money to spare,” she discloses. The response she gets is four different types of nasty stares. “I am investing my monthly upkeep in something important that I can’t talk about. So, the best I’ll do is to speak to Ibro on your behalf, Cece, and he’ll give you guys a brand new car. This ultimately means I’ll be breaking my promise to you not to tell my husband. But in the end, it’s for your own good.”

I am pissed. I face her. “Noka, first of all, we know Ibro gives you nothing less than five hundred thousand monthly. Are you saying you can’t spare something out of it or even the whole thing for your friend?”

“I didn’t say that. I said my money is tied up somewhere.”

“Celia needs your help, Ojonoka.”

“I know and that is why I said I’ll speak to Ibro. Then they can sell their present car and get some cash from it. That is the most I can do, please.”

I’m about to give a biting response but Mary shakes her head to stop me.

“We’ll do without you, Noks,” she tells her.

I am so angry I want to ask Noka to leave my house. I don’t think I can stand her anymore. The chick is insufferable.

“Thank you.” Celia passes a grateful stare around that almost looks like a smile. I notice a worry line forming at the side of her nose. It drives me further into sadness. For a while none of us speaks. We are all occupied by our individual chores until evening comes. Celia, Noka and Kate leave, and it’s just Peace and Mary left. Both of them are sleeping over. We discuss on how much each person is to contribute to help Celia. Peace suggests that anyone can give any sum they wish to but it shouldn’t be less than a certain stipulated number.

“We just have to make sure it covers the rent and changes her wardrobe,” I emphasize. They agree with me. We are still in the middle of discussion when Ekene walks in from the backdoor. Just like Mary, he is no stranger to our home. He can come in and leave at any time, having developed this chummy relationship with Jide. It had taken quite some time for him to bond with the other guys, owing to his pride and reclusive nature but he eventually came to. Sometimes the bond he has with Jide worries me. Two men who have both had the privilege of knowing me intimately. It rings somehow. I now understand why keeping one’s body until marriage is not such a bad thing. Your ex and your husband might just become close friends. I know they don’t swap stories about me but sometimes I wonder if they do.

“Mama Jiney,” he greets. “And the only Peaceful Peace. How una dey?”

We respond to him. He turns to his wife. She smiles – in a shy kind of way like they are just meeting for the first time.

“I brought your overnight things. Mind escorting me to the car?”

I give them the eye. He is probably going to kiss her silly until she begs him to stop. That is Ekene’s life. He can kiss from sunup to sundown. But wetin concern me? Tomiwa is not complaining.

The backdoor bangs shut when they leave and Peace comes close.

“I think she’s pregnant.”

“She’s not. They’re waiting two whole years.”

“Two? What for?”

“Honeymoon sturvs,” I answer.

“Ekene is a strange Igbo man.”

“You can say that again.”

Sammy, Peace’s little boy appears at the door. He has just woken up from a long nap. He rubs his eyes, yawning at the same time.

The boy looks nothing like Peace. She says he takes after his father, a man who gives all of us reason to worry. He moved into town after his family relocated abroad. Just the other day, he asked to see Sammy but Peace turned down his request. Her refusal had nothing to do with him breaking the confidentiality agreement they signed but with the fact that she still has feelings for him. Because of this, she has started considering seeing Reno again. Reno, by the way, has cleaned up his act, even though he is yet to be welcomed back into the circle of friends.

“Oriaku!” Nne calls. That’s the name she has given me. It roughly means the one who eats her husband’s wealth. I like the name. But Jide prefers to call me Odoziaku which means the one who takes care of the wealth. I’m fine with both because I literally have the lock and key to Jide’s bank accounts.

“Oriaku o! Come and give my baby breast!”

Wtf! Didn’t that girl just suck? My nipples go sore at the thought and I consider begging Jide to let me start giving her formula.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞
Drained and upset at Noka, I arrive home at about a quarter past eight. Dara has had dinner and is already asleep. I slip on a diaper for her and place her in her bed. Noka’s behavior towards me has left me shaken and given me perspective on who is important in life. You think you know people until they betray you. I alone, alongside Bimpe, know Noka’s terrible secret. If Ibro ever finds out, she will be done for. But I have said nothing to no one. I have protected whom I thought was a friend and the reward I get is cold-heartedness.

As we say, God dey.

Tomorrow, first thing, I’ll call Naomi and ask her to send her driver over. When he comes, I’ll give the envelope to him and end my short chapter with her.

I hear a sound and I turn. Shady is standing behind me – really close. His chin rests on my shoulder and he kisses my neck.

“I can’t imagine losing you, Cee. I just can’t.”

An arm wraps around my waist and he turns me to face him.

“I’ve been an ass these past months. Can you forgive me?”

I nod. He encloses me in a hug, my head resting on his heart, listening to the strong, steady rhythm. I’m thinking about how we take for granted simple things like a beating heart, ignoring that we have no power to keep it going when it stops.

I’m thinking of Noka’s betrayal and everything else. And then the tears come. Shady places his hand on my head and holds it steady as I cry. I hold tightly to his waist, arms clasped around him. I don’t want to let go. I have missed being in this position. The holding, it used to mean so much to me. Just losing myself in his clutch. I hope this lasts longer than today.

“Let’s go to the room,” he tells me as he lets go. We enter our bedroom and in the dark, with just moonlight streaming in from the windows, Shady continues to hold me. But his lips are between mine now. In a flash, things heat up. The hunger is real. This has not been us for months.

We kiss like we’re doing something abominable and would soon be caught. The wildness of the kiss soon spreads through us like a contagion and we’re knocking things about as we move from the door to the bed. We make love savagely with our clothes on, throwing ourselves into gloomy pleasure with abandon. All the emotion and stress are converted into raw energy and we spend it on each other until Shady climaxes.

I want more but for now this fills that deep hole he has left in me. For now, I’m fine. He holds me still, not wanting to let go but I tell him I have to pee. I wriggle away and turn on the lights on my way to the bathroom. After I pee, I take extra time cleaning myself and washing makeup off my face. When I return to the bedroom, I find Shady seated, and in his hands, the stack of dollars.

I gasp.

“What’s this?” he demands.

“You went through my bag?”

He doesn’t answer. I spot my handbag on the floor. The flap has been thrown open and a few items are sticking out. It is clear that the handbag was one of the things we knocked down during our amazon session.

“Celia, where did you get this type of money from?”

I can’t speak. How do I begin to tell my story? Will he even believe that a woman gave this to me?

“Celia?”

“Somebody gave me.”

“Somebody gave you three thousand dollars. For what?”

“Shadrach, calm down.”

“Answer my question.”

“Calm down first.”

“There is no calming down! A man gave you three thousand dollars for what?! What did you give him in return?!”

“Stop shouting, Shady. Just stop and listen to me.”

“So this is what you’re doing in the name of work?!”

“Shady, don’t go there. Please calm–”

He flings the notes at me. “I’m down on my luck for a short time, Celia, a short time, and you start sleeping around?!”

He charges up.

“You’re disgusting! Oh my God! I can’t even look at you! Take your dirty money and leave my house!”

He aims for the door but I rush towards it and block his path. I am mad and he is about to have a taste of the bull crap I have had to put up with.

“I’m not going anywhere, Shadrach! Nowhere! That money was given to me by someone who wants my body. And you know what? I was considering the offer because you have abandoned your duties as a man! I have been the one feeding your lazy ass, stroking that stupid ego you carry around, lying to everyone about our condition and working my ass off to the bone! So what is so wrong if someone out there wants to take the load off my shoulders and give me a better life?! With that money I can pay the rent and take care of myself and feel like a woman again! Because, Shady, you have stripped away my womanhood! You have robbed me of happiness! Look at me well! See how I’m aging! Just because of you! And don’t deceive yourself that one night of jungle sex can whip me back to shape! I’m still the one who will get up on Monday morning and go to work while you sit your lazy ass here and do NOTHING!”

The slap that meets my face hits me so hard that I fall to the floor.

Silence drops but my ear rings from the assault of my husband’s hand. I literally see stars that blind me for a moment. But it’s neither the stars nor my ringing ear that keeps me on the floor. It’s the shock. The absolute stupefaction. I don’t want to believe this is me. I have probably been switched along the way home to inhabit the body of a lesser version of me. I am not the woman whose husband hits her. Not the woman who is silenced by domestic violence. It is not Celia. It is not even my nightmare.

But I touch my face and it becomes real. I feel the sting my touch brings.

“Shady, you slapped me,” is all I can say but I don’t even say it because the only thing my mouth wants to do is weep.

I clasp my palm over it to stop it from acting foolishly but it wants to let out and so I let it.

I weep.

©Sally@moskedapages

 

Images: bwdbf, eBay

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