It was a beautiful day to get married. Maybe a good day to die too, Uyi thought. If he lay flat on his back on the lush green lawn of the Enenches’ and stared into clear blue sky above, heaven would seem much nearer to him. But no one was speaking of death, not even Peter. It was just a beautiful day and all sadness had to be done away with. Temi’s glow was returning with each passing minute as the female in her got carried away with the excitement of being at a wedding.
“I like that woman’s gown, Uyi. What do you think about the design at the back?”
“Nice,” Uyi muttered, not seeing what she alluding to but letting his eyes appreciate something else on the woman’s back.
“Oh my God! Are those real?”
“The diamonds on her neck.”
“I guess so.” Uyi smiled. Again, it wasn’t the lady’s jewelry that caught his eyes. He looked away. His phone was his distraction. He kept glued to it as Temi continued with her excitement, turning her attention to Peter.
The Enenches’ compound was packed full as a traditional wedding conducted mostly in Idoma was well under way. The groom was a young guy, probably younger than his pregnant bride, but there was a constant smile on his face each time he looked at her, as if he had just won a lottery.
Uyi turned to the little girl that had just run to him and was tugging at his arm. She had a companion with her, both of them dressed in the wedding color of blue with gold sashes in their hair. Uyi wasn’t sure how they got to know his name; he didn’t recognize them.
“Hello. How are you, girls?” he asked and the girl who tugged him let out a large toothless grin before she said:
“I love you because you can do maths in your head.”
Uyi raised his brows and gave a short, surprised laugh. “What?”
“And I love you because you leave love bites on my BCs,” the second girl said.
“Ok. Wow. Thanks, girls,” Uyi replied as they hopped away excitedly.
“What are BCs? Broadcasts?” Temi asked.
“Butt cheeks.” Uyi laughed silently.
“Hmmm. So the twenty-eight reasons have begun,” Temi said in a whisper, making sure Peter, Ovie and Murphy who were deep into conversation didn’t hear her. “Twenty-six more to go. This is going to be fun.”
Uyi scanned the wedding area, searching for Dami but she was nowhere in sight. He kept his phone on the table before him and decided to take a walk round the massive compound. If he could get her alone, he would prefer to have her say the other twenty-six reasons while he kissed her entire body. He missed her deeply and was aching to have her in his arms again. Walking through the crowd of people that came for the wedding, he identified a good number of them from his office and others from Geek Elysium. Just as he was about to stroll towards a couple of his former colleagues, the lady with the diamond necklace that had caught Temi’s attention earlier walked up to him.
She cleared her throat and almost laughed before she spoke. “I love you because you always make sure I go to church every Sunday.”
Uyi smiled and the lady began explaining she was just a messenger.
“I know, ma’am. Thanks.”
“And please keep making her go to church. She’s a naughty girl.”
Uyi nodded and the lady walked away. At that point, he began to take things seriously. He did a 360 and wondered which of the beautifully dressed ladies in blue was going to approach him next. There were so many and none of them seemed to be aware of his presence. He waited awhile and continued his search for Dami. At the entrance of the main house, he moved away for a group of five teenage girls coming out, speaking excitedly in Idoma. Suddenly they stopped as one of them said something he knew was aimed at him. He waited but they walked off.
Ene, who was also coming out of the house with her baby in her arms, stopped in front of him.
“I hope I got the name correctly?”
“You did, ma.”
Uyi studied her dressing and was relieved to find she had chosen the gold instead of the blue but she had a blue headgear and another shining blue piece around her waist.
“I must commend you for the work you’re doing on our Damaris. She’s changed a lot. God bless you jare. And this is your house anytime. Don’t mind Felix and his antics. You’re free to come here; you’re always welcome.”
“Thank you, ma.”
“And lest I forget, she wants you to know that she loves you because of your gizzard-eating skills.”
Uyi’s jaw dropped opened and Ene looked at him in suspicion.
“What is gizzard-eating, young man?”
“Nothing.” Uyi shrugged and tried a plain face.
“Just normal chicken gizzard.”
“Okay.” Ene didn’t look like she believed him. Uyi let out a deep breath and knew he had to find Dami fast. She was getting x-rated with her twenty-eight reasons.
Uyi turned around to the voice of Binta and was knocked over by how stunning she looked. Also dressed in blue, she was in a native attire with a veil over her hair. He had never seen her in anything out of office clothes. He couldn’t help but compliment her looks.
“Thank you sir,” she replied with an exceptional smile – another thing he had never seen her with. But what shocked him most was when his boss, Faisal, appeared behind her and protectively put his arm around her waist.
“Good afternoon, Faisal,” Uyi greeted, plain-faced.
“Uyi, my man. How you dey?” Faisal shook his hand. “I watched your girlfriend’s video today. Has the girl in the blue dress arrived yet? Me sef, I wan win Q10.”
Uyi laughed. It was a relief to have Faisal speak to him in easy tones. Their work relationship suffered.
It was clear Faisal was trying to prove Uyi was incompetent but Uyi always seemed to meet up with deadlines and dispensed his duties as he was supposed to. He was glad the light atmosphere and feeling of love in the air that was infecting everybody had gotten into Faisal too.
“Oh, just in case I forget,” Binta said to Uyi, “I love you because of the way you’re a spontaneous kisser.”
Uyi looked at Faisal’s shocked face and bolted out of the area before a fist landed on his face. He was in the house now and it was filled with people as he expected. Everyone he asked about Dami’s whereabouts had no idea where she was and in that short period, he got four more reasons why Dami loved him. He was impressed by the way she had ingeniously gotten women of all ages to find and tell him those words as if they were coming directly from her. He was tempted to let it all play out but he desperately needed to see her.
He stood at the foot of the stairs. It was against his character to venture into people’s privacies without their permission but he knew Dami was up there. He saw two little boys running down and squealing in hyper tones. He made way for them; they disappeared into the crowd of people.
“Travis! George! Come back here now!” A familiar face peeked out from the second flight of stairs and spotted Uyi.
“Omoruyi?” the owner of the face frowned a little and smiled. It was the woman who had come to plead on behalf of her husband. Uyi had forgotten what she told him her name was; it was better to refer to her as Mrs. Dike.
“Good afternoon, ma.”
“Evening. It’s almost evening. Is the wedding over?”
“No. I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
“Those boys are supposed to change for the white wedding. Both of them are page boys. Can you please help me get them?”
She disappeared up the stairs and Uyi blew out an exasperated breath. How was he to find two hyperactive boys in the endless throng of people?
“Would you like to take a stroll with me?”
Temi looked at Peter and accepted the hand he stretched out before her. They stood from their table and found their way out of the compound. Cars parked tightly flanked the exclusive street outside the Enenches’ until there was hardly any space left for any two cars to drive by at the same time. Temi and Peter said nothing to each other until they got to another street in the neighborhood that was quieter.
“I heard everything you told me earlier in the house,” Peter began as he put an arm around her.
“Why do you want me around? I’m of no use to you. I can’t make love to you, I’m scared to kiss you, we can’t get married or have kids…there’s just no future for us.”
Temi stopped walking and looked at him. “Peter, I’m as damaged as you. I think between the two of us, we’ve had more sex that we can ever need for the rest of our lives. Are you saying that there isn’t another way we can be around each other unless we’re doing it? And you know you can still totally do it if you want to, right?”
“Ha-ha. No. No, Temi. You deserve more. Let’s just break things off now while we’re still sane and everything is not blurry. I’ve come to learn in this short period that eye dey clear sharply when kasala burst.”
“We don’t want anymore kasala.” He shook his head. “As I said, you deserve more.”
“So you’re really going?”
“It’s still an option but you made a lot of sense today.”
“Your parents don’t have to know what you’re going through. Nobody should.”
“You know, in some countries, it’s against the law to be HIV positive and not declare your status. You know that?”
Temi nodded and the continued walking.
“Peter, how about Lolade?”
“Lo-la-de.” Peter grinned. “That babe hates me. I called her to apologize and she swore for me with the worst curses I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Can’t blame a guy for trying. I’ll carry the guilt all my life knowing what I did to her.”
“But everything will be fine, Peter. I promise you. Just don’t go.”
Peter smiled. “Okay, I’ll stay but give me a little time away from everything. I need to normalize. And I’m officially dumping your beautiful ass. You’re free to date any guy out there, just let him pass through my radar first, okay?”
“Right after passing through Uyi’s and Ovie’s. You guys really surprised me today. Thank you for defending me, you and your whole ‘my babe’ speech.” Temi laughed. Peter pulled her cheek and locked her head in his hold, messing up her hair.
“What is wrong with you? My hair! Peter, stop!”
He let her go. “That’s what I do to my younger sister. From now on, that’s how I’ll see you.”
“How nice.” Temi straightened her hair. “Let’s go back to the party.”
Uyi held Travis and George in both hands, all three of them soaking wet. The two urchins had gone to the backyard where the swimming pool was located and had taken a dive into the deep end. George being a better swimmer was able to get to the surface but Travis had begun to drown as Uyi approached the pool area. There were hardly any adults there, except a couple relaxing on the only pool lounger by the pool, oblivious of what was happening around them. Uyi was only able to get his shoes off before he plunged in to save Travis. He wasn’t a good swimmer himself and he came to the surface coughing as badly as the little boy in his arms. But he was rewarded for his stress when Travis said, “Uncle, see big catarrh coming out of your nose.”
Uyi burst out laughing and wiped his nose before grabbing both boys and heading back to the house. By now, the traditional wedding was over and the compound was being rearranged for the white wedding which was to take place in less than an hour. With people now dispersed, there was a swarming sea of partiers and Uyi knew it was only smart to take a different route. Led by the boys, he found his way in via the backdoor, wading through the women in the kitchen. As he neared the stairs, the five teenage girls he had come across earlier approached him with their matching attires.
“Uncle Omoruyi, we have been looking for you o,” the shortest amongst them said. Uyi knew what they were up to but he played along.
“Okay. How may I help you?”
“I love you because you have two left feet…” the girl began. Travis looked down at Uyi’s feet and at Uyi’s face and back at his feet again as the girl retrieved her phone to complete her message.
“…but you do well when you try,” she put the phone behind her and smiled, pinching the girl on her right as a cue to say her lines.
“When I don’t want to be nice to anyone, and I get bee… bee…”
“When I don’t want to be nice to anyone and I get all bitchy, you don’t judge me. You actually think it’s cute.” The short one corrected with a roll of her eyes. Clearly, she was the brain amongst them.
“Uncle, what is bitchy?” Travis asked and Uyi ignored him.
The third girl spoke. “Erm…I love you because you don’t get em… embraazed…
Miss Short and Brains butt in to save the day again, taking out her phone to read the lines. “I love you because you don’t get embarrassed even in the most uncomfortable of situations.”
Uyi smiled uneasily. He was gathering a small crowd around him even though the main doors of the house had been shut to curtail the people thronging in. The girl continued.
“I love you because you dance for me with those two left feet when I’m sad.”
Travis looked at Uyi’s feet again; George did the same.
“And I love you because you debunked the myth about the first time hurting like hell. It felt like a prick. LOL! It was.”
“Okay, thank you, girls,” Uyi said hastily when he caught sight of Anyebe walking towards him. He rushed up the stairs.
“Uncle, what is bitchy na?” Travis repeated his question.
“It’s that Bar Beach in Lagos o! Tra, it’s Bar Beach!” George answered.
“Yes, it’s Bar Beach in Lagos.” Uyi affirmed and stopped when he came to the second floor of the house. “Which one of you want to tell me where Damaris is?”
Travis broke away from Uyi and ran to a door a few feet from them. With a smile, Uyi edged forward but a familiar voice calling his name stopped him.
“You’re not allowed to see her yet,” Ene said coming to him. “And you’re wet. What happened?”
“Uhm…” Uyi looked around and saw that the boys had disappeared. “Long story.”
“Follow me, please.” Ene led him to the nearest room where someone who was sleeping on the bed stirred but kept his back to them. “Na wa for you o, oga.” Ene commented. “You said you came for wedding and you came here to sleep.”
“It’s not my fault,” the person replied. “I hardly had a wink last night.”
Ene laughed and pointed Uyi in the direction of the bathroom. “Take off your clothes, let me have one of the boys tumble it in the dryer for you. It won’t take long.”
Uyi walked into the bathroom and handed her his wet clothes with a word of gratitude. After she was gone, he came out to the bedroom and perched on a stool by the bed.
“Try not to make any sound while you wait. My head hurts.”
Uyi said nothing to the person who had spoken. His silence seemed to cause the man to turn and Uyi was at last, face to face with the infamous Dike character.
For a few seconds they observed each other closely until Uyi, out of respect for Dike’s age, looked away.
“Looks like we’ll be seeing more of each other. We better break this awkwardness between us now.” Dike sat up and let out his hand for a shake.
“Elvis Ogbudike. Just call me Dike.”
“Omoruyi.” Uyi gave him a firm handshake and they went into another bout of silence.
“So, she’s really serious about you? Dami?”
“Wish you guys the best.”
Uyi nodded, not masking the suspicion in his eyes. Dike went back to sleep and a short while later, the door opened and a boy walked in with Uyi’s clothes all dried and ironed. Uyi got dressed, mumbled to Dike he was leaving and walked out.
At the hallway, he spied the door Travis had shown him earlier and began heading to it but Ene appeared again from another room and handed her baby to him.
“She has a message for you,” Ene said hurrying off. “Check her hand!”
Uyi looked at the baby’s left hand that was stuck to her mouth and pried away a note clasped in it. The baby started to cry and he bounced her up and down as he read the note written in Dami’s writing.
“I love you because you introduced me to Naruto. Now I can’t seem to have enough.”
Uyi tapped the baby’s back to placate her but she barfed a mouthful of breastmilk on his shirt.
“Oh God,” he muttered and doggedly headed to the bedroom Dami was in. He knocked once and when he got an answer, he walked in. Dami, who was before the mirror, shrieked when she saw him, and threw a powder puff at him.
“You’re not supposed to see me now! I’m a mess!” she exclaimed as she got up, showing him the t-shirt she was wearing and her hair that stood in spikes over a makeup free face.
She melted at his tone briefly and went back into her frenzy.
“You have to go back downstairs! And what are you carrying?”
“I know it’s a baby. Look what it’s done on your shirt.” She burst into the bathroom and came out with a towel to wipe the baby vomit.
“Uyi, please, go back downstairs.” She took agitated swipes on the shirt.
“No, I’m here now and I’m not going anywhere.”
“Has the bride given you her reason yet? She’s number twenty-seven.”
“How about my aunt from my mom’s side. Have you met her?”
“And the girls from my village? The four teenage girls with one other short one I put in charge of them? Have they met you?”
“Yes, they have. And so far, I have gotten eighteen reasons why you love me, during which period I have walked the length and breadth of this house looking for you, almost drowning to save a naughty boy from the swimming pool, meeting your ex and abandoning my friends. I am hungry, I have missed you and I just want us to bury all this madness between us and move on.”
The door opened and Ene poked in her head. “My baby!” she announced and Uyi passed the baby to her. “And you two, no hanky-panky here, okay?”
Dami and Uyi nodded. Ene shut the door and Uyi locked it altogether.
“I have been planning this for weeks, Uyi. Every one of the people that came to you today is from my family apart from your PA. I put her in last minute. Why did you come in here and spoil everything na? I was supposed to meet you outside with the one final reason and kiss you after saying it.”
Uyi sat on the bed and pushed aside a heap of clothes. “I’m here, now. You know I don’t like the public thing. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I don’t want to share you with the world or have them poking their noses into our affairs. I know you don’t mind but Dami, you have to draw the line somewhere, luv.”
Dami moved back to the dressing table and leaned on it. “So, we should forget the other ten reasons why I love you more?”
“No. I’m listening. Please, tell me.”
“Oh-oh-oh! You spoilt everything, Uyi. It was so perfect.”
“Nothing’s perfect, Damaris. Not me, not you, not life. And I’ve decided to take things and people as they are. When I look at you, I don’t see perfection; I just see Dami. And I think that’s why I love you.”
Dami’s lips spread out wide and a familiar sparkle lit up her eyes. “You said you love me.”
“Let’s not get into that romantic movie rubbish. I love you. I don’t even know what that means but if I can get to the point where I can say it and I say it comfortably, I think it means I’m in love.”
He got off the bed and made his way to her. putting his hands to rest on the table by her sides, he looked into her eyes.
“Number nineteen,” he cleared his throat. “I love you because you’re crazy and you make no apologies for who you are.” He looked at her feet and his adoring gaze moved all the way up to her lips. “Number twenty: because you have the sexiest body on earth even beneath ugly clothes and a mad woman’s hair.”
He lifted her off the table and she wrapped her legs around him. “Twenty-one: because you’re skinny and I can carry you any way I want.”
He landed her hard on the bed and she screamed, erupting in laughter afterwards. He watched her in her amusement and smiled.
“Twenty-two: cos you are my therapy and you don’t charge me for it.”
“Awww.” She pulled him to the bed. A kiss waited for him on her lips but he refused it and chose to keep his eyes locked in hers while his hand tickled her sides.
“Stop it,” she giggled.
“Twenty-three,” he went on, “cos you smell like heaven no matter what time of the day.”
“Uyi, stop it!” she smacked his butt and wiggled away from him but he drew her back and kissed her without warning. She held the kiss and her eyes went misty.
“Twenty-four,” he spoke through her lips, his hand snaking up her things. “Because of the way you know what I’m about to do before I do it.”
“That’s because your hands are always there first, silly.”
“Keep quiet and enjoy it. Twenty-five: cos I don’t know much about you but I know it’s going to be an exciting adventured, explorrrrrring…”
“Uyi…” Dami called weakly as she squirmed under his touch.
“Damaris! Omoruyi!” Ene banged at the door and Dami rolled her eyes.
“I can shoot her right now.” Dami clenched her teeth but left her legs wrapped around Uyi.
“Dami, you’re the maid of honor. The bride is ready! Come out now!”
They heard the sound of Ene’s stilettos leaving the door before they faced each other.
“Come on, get dressed and go and do your bridesmaid things.”
“How about twenty-six to twenty-eight?” Dami asked as she got off the bed.
Uyi smiled. “I’ll leave those ones for you.” He winked and walked out.
The wedding dragged on for four more hours but Uyi enjoyed every bit of it; at least, the bit where his eyes never left Dami. He wasn’t going to admit it to anyone but it was his first time falling in love, ever in his life. Weirdly, he wasn’t feeling like he was floating in the skies, nor did he have any funny butterflies in his stomach. For the first time, he was very in control of every faculty in him; his mind and heart were finally united. Gone was the clueless look in his eyes. He had a sure stare as he fixed his heart on the one person he wanted with him.
He smiled, she was running to him. She could just walk but she was running, Dami style – the girl in the sky-blue dress . She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed him really tight and spoke into his ears her last three reasons why she loved him more. At that moment, he didn’t care who was watching. He accepted her kiss and enjoyed the hooting from his friends. After they broke apart, Uyi bade them a good night and took her home.
Seated beside Peter in the backseat of Ovie’s car as they drove home, Temi logged on to Twitter.
She waited while her Uber app loaded fully and listened to the lighthearted comments Murphy was making about the wedding.
She began a new tweet:
I thought I was infatuated until I had to let go today. Turned out it was love and I didn’t know it.
My heart is broken. I’ll miss him. But the look in his eyes is priceless. I hope that makes me happy
Temi blinked away the tears that were forming in her eyes.
“Are you okay?” Peter asked. She nodded and he held her hand. “Don’t worry; he’s in good hands and you’ll be fine too.”
Temi looked at Peter and smiled, withdrawing her hand for her final tweet. It was funny how when she listened to Dami tell Uyi her last three reasons why she loved him, they echoed exactly what she felt for him deep in her heart.
She set her fingers to her keypad and almost changed her mind. She swallowed the aching in her throat, pushed down her pain and typed:
#Dami’s28 U luv him cos he’s helped u grow. cos he loves u just the way u are. cos u can’t help but love such an amazing person.
Finally, we come to the end of To Tame a Virgin. For all of you who started this and are here now, thank you. Your comments and retweets and facebook updates made me feel appreciated.
Special thanks to Oye and the 360nobs team.
This is dedicated to my husband…my muse. I almost threw away this story but he fell in love with the character, Dami, and introduced me to her.
HUGE DISCLAIMER: No character in this story is real. All my imagination. If they remind you of someone you know, I categorically state that I know no such person.
There was an SMS going round. Which simply read:
Click on the link to go to totameavirgin.com @rhodiumvee has a new post waiting for you.
Uyi got the SMS at exactly 7am; same time with Dike and every other subscriber to the totameavirgin website. Dike was still asleep when the alert came in. Kachi handed his phone to him as she got off the bed and went about her day. With sleepy eyes, he clicked on the link and was directed to the site. He could hardly recognize it as everything had Dami written all over it. There was a Youtube video. Dike clicked on it…
Uyi put his breakfast of noodles and eggs on his bed and set his laptop to click on the video link. With his other hand, he put a bottle of coke to his lips and waited with held breath.
Peter had watched the video a million times. It was he who edited it and others and got paid handsomely for it even though he clearly told Dami that he didn’t need the money. Nonetheless, the money had come in handy. With it he paid for two nights in a squalid hotel in the neighborhood. He was buying time before he went home to tell his folks about his HIV status. Strangely, he couldn’t stop thinking about Temi. He clicked on the link.
Temi was just two doors away from Peter in the same squalid hotel. Having accomplished what her mind set to do with the guy she met at the bar the night before, she saw no need to leave the hotel. Her eyes were grainy from crying all night. She had hit her lowest and was at the point where her life hung in an uncertain place; it was either going to make or break her. A can of beer found its way to her mouth and she clicked on Dami’s video.
Kachi peeped down the corridor to be sure Dike was not coming in the direction of the kitchen. She got the alert the same time he got his. He had no idea she was subscribed to the site. She did so when he first told her about it, just a day before it was put down. They hadn’t spoken about Damaris since then. It was a relief to hear from Ene that Damaris dropped the lawsuit against Dike. She had called Uyi to thank him for speaking on her behalf to her; but she was not too pleased with Dike’s tell-all on 360nobs about his affair with her even though he didn’t reveal his identity and marital status. Turning on the electric kettle, she waited for her browser to direct her to Youtube.
Thousands of other people online were watching Dami’s video at that moment. It was a two-minute montage of her sitting on her bed in crossed legs wearing nothing but a t-shirt over a pair of black pantyhose. With no makeup on and an early morning look to her hair, she began.
“So, it’s not news that a video of me going half-naked was spread by some mean girls that I called my friends. They succeeded in destroying my career, getting my dad to stop speaking to me and my boyfriend to break up with me. Nice one, girls. Secondly, I know you’ve all read the confessions of some guy who went on 360nobs to talk about my relationship with him and how it ended badly and how he got back at me by opening the totameavirgin site. Well, we’re friends now and he was kind enough to let me have the site and I intend to use it to rant, not giving a damn about those of you who are going to be coming here and leaving your player-hating comments. Sha, you’re all welcome. But know that this is not about you and your perceptions of me. Somehow you guys think by seeing my breasts you now know me. You don’t. I am not my breasts. I am Damaris Alechenu, a recovering drug addict, a model, a dancer, an ex-virgin and I don’t give a shit what you think.
“And now to the business of the day…”
Dami fished around the bed for something and came up with a card. “So ever since my boyfriend dumped me, I’ve been in a mess; crying, starving, playing Avril Lavigne, eating and adding weight, watching romance movies, drinking like a fish and doing a whole lot of other pathetic things. I don’t intend to share them with you but I’m using this medium to beg him nicely, since he won’t pick his calls, to allow me tell him how much he means to me. I was in rehab for twenty-eight days. Not your normal rehab but the Rihanna type. I was trying to do away with the addiction of loving you, Mr. Smith but I couldn’t. Instead I found twenty-eight more reasons why I love you and I am going to tell you today. But not here.”
She moved forward to the camera and placed the card in her hand before the lens. It was a wedding invitation with gold and blue writings. The bottom part that held the address was crossed out by a marker.
“My cousin’s wife’s younger sister is getting married and Mr. Smith, I am inviting you for it. You know the venue; it’s the place where we first kissed. When you come, look for the girl in the blue dress and she’ll tell you the twenty-eight reasons why I love you.”
Dami withdrew the card from the screen.
“And for the rest of you who are not invited, I have a brand new BB Q10 to give out.”
She went back to the bed and flashed Blackberry phone with its pack.
“If anyone can guess correctly, just three out of the twenty-eight reasons why I love my boo, they can claim the phone. But remember to follow me, then use the hashtag #Dami’s28 as you tweet. Be creative.”
She walked back to the camera and switched it off.
Word spread. Tweets and retweets flew across Twitter. People were talking. #Dami’s28 was trending in no time.
Temi got home sometime after nine in the morning. Ovie was not back from his sister’s where he had spent the night. Temi didn’t like the silence. The power was out. With a long hiss, she walked to where the fuse box was located to have a look at it. Something was wrong with some of the switches and she had complained severally to Ovie and Peter to find an electrician to fix it but they always did it themselves. She stood staring at the fuse box, lost. She didn’t hear when Edet walked in until he put a gentle hand on her arm. She jumped and turned to him.
“Edet! You scared me.”
“Thank God you’re here sha. Abeg, help me do this thing. I don’t know what they touch there.”
“Get me a stool or chair to climb.”
Temi walked into her bedroom and came out with a plastic chair. Edet got on it.
“So, you and Peter have broken up?” he asked. Temi was surprised at his question but she replied him even so.
“And he left?”
“Doesn’t he know that HIV is not automatic death? There are so many people living with it in Nigeria.”
“I pray he comes back. He has a good job and he’s intelligent. He can still live a full life.”
Temi was somewhat surprised at the way Edet spoke. To her, he had always been that jobless neighbor that sat around while everyone went to work and smoked himself silly.
“Edet, what do you do?”
“Your work? Where do you work?”
“Online. I’m a third party merchant. I help people buy and sell stuff in naira on the web.”
“And it pays?”
“Yeah.” He shut the fuse box and pulled at the main switch, bringing power back into the house.
“Yay!” Temi beamed. Edet got down but missed his landing and tumbled into her. He had his face in her breasts and she backed away immediately as he straightened up.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“It’s okay. It’s not as if you planned to fall on me.”
She had no idea.
“See, I have soup in the fridge. I’ll warm it and make eba for us.”
“That sounds nice. Eba in the morning.”
“Okay, I’ll make semo. It’s lighter.”
“Eba is fine,” Edet said and pulled out something from beside her lips. He showed her.
“Tissue paper. Wonder where I got that.”
“And there’s one more here.” He picked out another tiny piece of tissue beside her right eye.
“You’re welcome. Fine girls should not be crying.”
Temi smiled. She needed the compliment and the relief it brought. Edet was going to be nice company if he didn’t fall into her breasts again. She didn’t want to be alone. There were condemnatory thoughts waiting for her in her mind, a flood she kept at bay that was pulsing at the seams of her emotions. The littlest moment alone with herself would send her crumbling.
When Edet left the house, she went into loud music mode, playing a collection of party songs as she waited for the water she put over the cooker to come to a boil. She sang out loud too; she didn’t want to hear her inner voice.
Finally, the water began to bubble out and pour on the cooker. She took down the pot, poured the water into a bowl and got out the Ijebu garri she had set aside earlier. She kept her feet busy in a light dance as she set garri to the steaming water. But tears came to her eyes. They was no stopping them. She sang really loud now, louder than the thoughts condemning her, still they forced her into a choking sob. She stopped for a second and sniffed to pull herself together. Afterwards, the loud singing continued as she danced more.
Then out of nowhere, she felt it. The hot breath on the nape of her neck, the hands on her sides and the unmistakable feel of a boner on her bum.
Temi swiveled round in instant anger and landed the wooden stirrer in her hand on the head of her assaulter. Edet backed away with his hand on the spot he had been hit and hot water splashed into his face. It scalded him at first but cooled immediately.
“Are you mad?!” Temi screamed. The stirrer in her hand went up in the air again and was aiming at him when Edet stopped her hand and gave her a slap.
“Look at this useless human being! You poured me hot water!”
Temi recovered from the slap and lunged at him but he held her hands and pushed her towards the counter. She aimed a knee at his groin. He ducked with a lascivious laugh and pressed his body into hers. Temi squirmed helplessly. The more she moved, the more he forced himself on her.
“Stay one place and stop fighting me! I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Leave me alone, Edet!” Temi was livid but it came with no power. She was afraid; Edet’s firm grip gave her no means of escape. She screamed out and he stopped her mouth with a hand. She shivered. Instant fever tremors shook her as his other hand grabbed her breast. For the first time in her life, she wished she had long nails. Her fingers on his face were not giving her the result she wanted. Therefore, she used the only weapon she knew. She dug her teeth into his upper arm and bit down as hard as she could but he raised his hand and rammed his elbow into her face. She went weak, her knees buckled. The floor seemed to shake underneath her as gravity forced her down.
Is this how you’re going to be all your life?
The voice from within her was loud. It came to her ears above the sound of Kcee’s Limpopo coming from the sitting room.
They pull you down, you fall. They abuse you, you hide in a hole. They hit you, you’re down to the floor.
Edet had her in his arms again, not letting her fall.
“Edet, please let me go,” Temi stopped fighting and lowered her tone.
Don’t let him get away.
“Please, stop,” Temi begged. Edet wasn’t sure at first.
“Please. I promise I won’t tell anyone. Just let me go.”
“I didn’t want to hurt you.” He was breathing hard. “I just wanted to… I thought you and I could, you know… Your body, it does things to me.”
“Maybe we can but not now. Anyone can walk in.”
Edet nodded and moved away from her. Temi let out a relieving breath.
But Temi’s anger had been refueled by her inner person and she surged at him with renewed energy, picking the stirrer from the floor. This time she had him right on his forehead with three vicious blows. Next, she went for his nose, breaking it in one hit. She drew back with a heaving chest and watched him struggling with the stunning pain as blood flooded his face. She saw his eyes coming to rest on her in anger and she dashed out of the kitchen through the backdoor and ran all the way to the front gate.
“Aunty Temi, wetin dey happen?” the gateman asked but Temi stood, the stirrer still in her hand which was shaking non-stop.
The pedestrian gate opened and Ovie walked in. He stopped and gave Temi a once-over.
Temi, amidst her tears, narrated her encounter with Edet to Ovie who listened with a face that got incensed by the second.
“Is that all? Apart from slapping and touching you improperly, did he go any further?”
Ovie turned to the gateman. “Mallam, lock the gate. No allow Edet commot.”
The gatemen obeyed the instructions with no questions as Ovie drew Temi to sit on a bench by the fence. He got out his phone and dialed a number.
“Peter, show… Just come house abeg… Just come.”
He dialed the next.
“Uyi, abeg try come crib… Now… Ehn, me sef dey go for the wedding… Just come.”
He dialed the third.
“Murphy, abeg person need that your Buran Tashi… Carry am come for me now-now-now… Guy chill, I go pay you… Just carry am come.”
“OV, what are you doing?” Temi asked when he was through with the calls. “Why did you call all of them?”
Ovie handed his phone to her and walked towards the front door as soon as he saw Edet emerging from it. Edet spotted him, took a step backwards and dashed back inside. Ovie set his own feet into a spring and went for him. Seconds after, Edet appeared from the backyard and ran straight to the gate but he was met with a huge padlock. Knowing there was no way out for him, he turned around with his apartment in mind but Ovie caught up with him and threw him flat on his back through a punch. A second fist in his face thumped him out cold.
Temi watched from the window of her bedroom. Peter, Uyi and Murphy had arrived and they listened as Ovie recounted what she had told him. She didn’t really see why they were having a conference over the issue. It wasn’t after she listened in that she understood what was really going on.
Apparently, Edet had slept with Uyi’s ex. But that wasn’t all. Odun, Doctor Ahmed’s younger sister once reported that Edet had tried to sexually molest her at the backyard where they hung clothes. Edet got a slap on the wrist but the girl was sent back to her hometown. Finally, Ovie added that a few weeks before, a girl who had slept over after one of their Friday parties told him how Edet had been inappropriate with her at the party. Edet denied and said the girl was drunk and came on to him. There was nothing Ovie could do about the incidence.
While he was still recounting the story to them, Peter left where he stood and went to Edet who was now awake and was seated on the bench occupied by Temi earlier.
“You know say na my babe you touch?”
Edet gave him a demeaning stare.
“Forget everything wey happen for these past few weeks, forget say we be neighbors and you know my shit and I sabi your own, forget all the gbana wey we dey smoke steady. Forget everything. Guy,” he tapped Edet’s chest and had his hand pushed away, “Temi na my babe. Me, I no be Uyi. You no fit touch my babe go free.” Edet got off the bench and faced Temi’s window.
“Temi, you said I touched you inappropriately? How? I just tapped you and you turned around and poured hot water on me and broke my nose!”
Temi pulled the curtain shut. She looked around the mess that was her room. She needed to pack her things quickly. With what had happened to her, she didn’t need anyone to tell her that her time in that house was over.
“Temi, come out and tell the truth! Did I touch you?!”
Edet’s voice caused her to cringe. It now had a creepy effect on her. She commenced on packing her clothes and shoving them into her biggest box which was sprawled open on her bed. She shut her ears to the sound of blows coming from outside. Schooling in one of the roughest universities in the country gave her a firsthand experience of what the male specie could do to their kind when it came to thrashing. She packed hurriedly but was compelled to stop when she heard Edet screaming and begging in a terrified tone.
Temi turned to the window and pulled the curtain aside to peep. Edet was on his kness, his head sandwich between Peter’s long legs as Ovie poured the first drops of a liquid in a brown bottle down his throat. He struggled but Uyi held his head firmly as the liquid went down. They let him go afterwards and he got to his feet. He staggered a little in bloodstained clothes and eventually sat on the bench. Murphy poured a bucket of water over him and they gave him a short time to put himself together.
“Oya!” Peter tapped him and pulled him to his feet. “Commot your clothes.”
“Ah-ahn,” Temi butt in. “It’s enough na. Please, stop.”
“Commot you shirt and short knicker! You think say I dey play?!”
“Peter, please na. Forgive him.”
“Temi, close that curtain!” Uyi ordered.
“Uyi, please. Please, you guys stop.”
“Temi, close the curtain.”
“Okay Uyi, come. Please, come.”
Uyi frowned at her but she pleaded with her eyes. He left his friends and went to meet her in the house.
“See, let nothing happen to him because of me. Buran Tashi can kill him. Please, Uyi… Please, stop.”
“He’ll be fine. We didn’t give him much. Just two capfuls or so. He needs to learn a lesson. We want to teach him what it really means not to control a hard-on.”
“So you people will just leave him like that?”
“After we tie him to his bed.”
“Forget him. Are you okay?”
“Yes.” She listened to the sound of Edet being carried away and didn’t hear Uyi’s question.
She came back to him. “Ehn?”
“Where are you going? You’re packing.”
“I want to go and stay with my friend, Hafsa, until I can come up with enough money to help me get a new place. But I can’t stay here again, not with Edet in this same compound.”
Uyi remained by the door, staring at her. She wasn’t the same girl he had known. She was no longer the Temi he still couldn’t stop worrying about. It looked like someone had come and sapped the beauty and life out of her in one night. Her skin was lacking its fresh glow and rashes had broken out on her face. The hunch of her shoulder was back.
“You’re looking at me and you’re still judging me,” Temi said.
“I am not.”
“I slept with someone last night,” she confessed. Her hands squeezed a t-shirt in her hand. “A stranger. A married man. I don’t even remember his name. After everything, he paid me like I was some prostitute.”
She sat down and proceeded to pick invisible things from the smothered t-shirt in her hands.
“As a teenager, I could give anything for attention. Anything to have somebody have my time. There was a time I used to steal dollars and jewelry from my aunt’s room to give my friends in school just so that they’d accept me into their click. Other times, I took them foodstuff because I was a day student and they were boarders. When boys came into my life, I realized I didn’t need girls anymore; male company was more fun and free. The only problem was all the boys wanted me and I didn’t know how to handle it. Eventually I ended up dating the headboy and almost every afternoon after school before I went home, I had sex with him in the storeroom of our class. Sometimes he took me back to his room in the hostel. Sex gave me the love and attention I didn’t get from my family. My aunt was always away, so I really had no one in my life. In the university it was worse. I had a boyfriend who made me have threesomes with his friend and so many times I wanted to break out of the relationship but he was the only one who had my time. When I eventually left him, my life became worse…
“Uyi, I don’t want to be like this. I am not a ho. Please, believe me.” Temi’s body shuddered in tears. “I wish you could look inside me and see my heart. I am not what people think I am.”
“I don’t want you to go away again. Please, Uyi. I promise I won’t kiss you; I won’t be a threat to your relationship and I won’t see you if you don’t want to see me but please, tell me you’ll still be in my life. You’re the only one who never took advantage of me.”
“Temi, stop crying, abeg,” Uyi muttered but it seemed he opened a dam. Temi cried for a long time and he watched from the door. He longed to comfort her but he needed her to understand her anguish and source of her sorrow.
“Would you like to go for a wedding?” he asked. “Just to get your mind off your pain?”
Temi shook her head.
“I promised I was always going to be around for you. You’re my friend and there’s still good in you. That’s what I want to believe…”
Uyi paused as he heard Edet screaming somewhere in the compound.
“You need tough love. A different kind of love. You need to see yourself differently and I think I can help you. I’m not intimidated by your body and gone are the days I wanted to sleep with you. I’m in love with my girlfriend and I’m committed to sticking with her. But I will not let you go, Temi. My conscience will kill me if I do. So, will you follow me for the wedding and quit this mad nonsense about you going to disturb your friend in her matrimonial home?”
Temi looked at him.
“Edet is the one packing out tomorrow. This is your house; you’re not going anywhere. You can’t keep running. Now, get up, have a shower, fix yourself up and look good and confident like the Temi I know. Then you can choose who will be your plus one at the wedding. We’re all going.”
“I thought you alone got the invitation.”
“Ovie and Murphy want to win that Q10 but I can help you get it.”
Temi smiled and Uyi saw a hint of life in her cheeks.
Uyi peeped out. “Your boyfriend is coming.” His tone flattened to almost a whisper. “He’s going through hell. He’s about to leave to his village to spend the rest of his life there. Please stop him. HIV is not a death sentence. Talk to him.”
To be Continued…
The conclusion comes tomorrow. Don’t miss it!
For Kef Richardson… HBD!
Temi received her query letter with an uncomplaining smile and put it beneath her keyboard. She made plans to reply it later in the day. She was relieved that she worked in an office where everyone minded their business. No one asked her why she had been away from work or why she had lost so much weight. No one bothered about her and for that she was happy. That was why she found it weird when one of the senior partners’ secretaries appeared before her table and said ‘oga’ wanted to see her immediately. Temi automatically assumed it was either Felix Enenche or one other man whose name she always forgot. She had no idea she was going to see Dike. She followed the secretary up the stairs to the management floor and they stopped at Dike’s office. Temi didn’t bother to read the name on the door before she walked in. It was his perfume that first gave him away before her eyes saw him standing by his window, looking out.
The secretary exited, leaving them alone. Dike turned to Temi and her insides churned just looking in his eyes. She bit her lower lip nervously and pushed her glasses to rest properly on her nose.
“Hi Temi. Please, sit.”
“No, I’m fine standing. This won’t take long, will it?”
“No.” Dike also remained on his feet. Temi was mighty uncomfortable. She had never imagined she would be with Dike in the same room again, let alone get flushed by his presence. She was beginning to see what Uyi had spent two full hours trying to make her understand. The problem was not with the men in her life; it was with her. And she knew that if Dike crossed the table separating them and touched her, she wasn’t going to resist. She cursed herself and felt tears burning her eyes. Dike wasn’t saying anything; he was merely staring at her and it was doing things to her body.
“Temi, what is wrong with you? Are you okay? You look emaciated.”
“I’m fine. If that is all you called me here to ask, I can tell you that I’m okay. Can I go?”
“Hope we’re good. You don’t hate me or anything like that?”
“I just needed to clear it all up and apologize again. I was an idiot and I used you. I can’t forgive myself for what I did. I’m terribly sorry.”
“Okay, I heard you. Can I go now? Please?”
Dike nodded. Temi kept her face down and with legs pressed together, she shuffled out of his office in a hurry. She dashed to the nearest restroom to let it all out. She couldn’t look into the mirror; each time she did, a whore was staring back at her.
“Something is wrong with you, Temi,” Uyi had said in a tone she never heard him use on her before. “You have to get help. Maybe from a doctor or a pastor or an older woman who can mentor you or something.”
“I’m okay. I just need to get over the shock that I almost got AIDS.”
“No, it’s not that. And it’s also not that sex is your comfort food. It’s more. I think you enjoy it a little too much.”
“You’re calling me a nympho?”
“No. And please be honest with me here. I’ll know if you’re lying. If I kissed you right now, would you stop me?”
Temi held her tongue but the look in her eyes and the instant change of color on her face told Uyi all he needed to know.
“Go and get help. And it’s time you quit the nice girl act. It’s getting irritating.”
That conversation didn’t end well. It left her in tears especially after Uyi made it clear that he wasn’t going to be seeing her again. How she survived that night was a miracle. The next day, she went for a HIV test and to her relief she was negative, though she was told she would have to return in six weeks for a confirmatory test. Like most people do, who find themselves in the dump, Temi sought God, beginning a self-imposed one week prayer and fasting and an everyday visit to a neighborhood church to spend her evenings. After the week ended, she believed she had successfully expunged the demons of lust in her. So why did just one look from Dike get her all flustered and wet?
She dared to look into the mirror and her image judged her. She commenced crying hysterically, not caring about the lady that walked into the restroom, staring at her through the mirror as she rinsed her hands.
“My dear,” the lady finally asked, “are you okay?”
“It’s obvious you’re not but whatever it is, know that God is control,” she said with a gentle hand on Temi and Temi’s eyes caught a hand rosary dangling from the lady’s wrist. She was once Catholic herself but had changed churches after dating a Pentecostal pastor. From then she never went back. Now seeing someone from her former church brought some form of peace within and authentication that she needed God completely to change her lifestyle. After work, she paid a visit to an old friend from her former church. The woman had been like a mother to her when Temi first came to Abuja. She had not seen her in three years. Temi hoped she was going to be received well.
Dressed in her most conservative of clothes and every Catholic paraphernalia she could use to piously adorn her body, she was ushered into the office of the Mother Superior at the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy. Temi stood by the door, unsure of how to greet the comely nun who was sitting behind her desk with a bland face; but a smile erupted from the woman’s lips and hands stretched out to Temi.
“Come here, Temidire.”
Temi rushed to her with a hug. After the greetings and small talk to catch up on lost time, Temi stated the reason for her visit in the most prudish face and voice she could muster.
“Mommy, I want to become a nun.”
The woman’s eyebrows went up and she crossed her fingers together. “A nun?”
“Yes ma. I have always wanted to be one.”
Which was not a lie. But Temi always found herself falling into the arms of a guy each time she made the resolution to get herself married to Jesus.
“My dear, dedicating your life to God like that is no easy feat and it is not for everyone. You must have a call from God.”
Then the lies began.
“I am sure of my calling, mommy. I have prayed and fasted for months and I keep seeing signs everywhere.” She got off her chair and walked to the woman. “This is where I want to be. Please, don’t say no. There’s no life greater than this.”
“It is a long process, Temidire.”
“I know but I have been living my life like a sister already. My friends at work call me Mary Amaka and men have given up on me completely. I don’t have any desire for the things of this world, especially not in these wicked days.” She held the woman’s hands and went on her knees. “Please, don’t turn me away.”
“My dear,” the woman touched her head, “I am happy to hear you say this but will you give me time to seek the face of God? And I think you should use the time also to pray some more and speak to your parents about it.”
Temi nodded. Not quite the answer she was expecting but it was good enough. She knew she would be accepted into the community. She thanked the kind nun and left her office a lot happier than she went in. The rest of the evening was good for her; it felt like angels walked with her all through. Even when she went back home and found that Peter had packed his things and left the house without as much as a note or text, it didn’t rain on her parade. To her, it was even better he left. He was one of the reasons she was in the damper; he had ignored her completely and often looked at her like she was the one that infected him with the disease.
She treated herself to a hot shower as if expunging her past, got into a simple dress, adorned her face with light makeup and took herself out for a treat in a bar somewhere in the neighborhood. When she drank beyond her limits, she told herself it was going to be her last. When she flirted with a group of guys on a table next to hers, she told herself it would be her last flirting. And even when one of them came to sit with her and his hand found its way up her dress, she told herself, he was going to be her last fling.
The guy took her to a hotel nearby and spent a good hour on her. After which, he wore his clothes and dumped some naira notes beside her on the bed. It was at that moment the alcohol spinning her senses receded and Temi shot up from the bed.
“What’s this? I’m not a prostitute.”
“I know. But you need the money, don’t you?”
“No.” Temi’s sight was getting clearer too. The guy was not as hot as she had believed.
“So why would a beautiful girl like you come out alone to drink and allow a strange man have sex with you just like that?”
The answer waiting on Temi’s lips bordered on something about it being the modern world and a girl not being made to feel like a slut just because she wanted to sleep with a stranger; but Temi kept quiet and concentrated on forcing her pooling tears of shame away.
“I’m a nice person. My friends wouldn’t have offered anything, so stop forming and take the money,” the guy insisted.
“I am not a prostitute!” Temi restated, took the notes, squeezed them into a ball and flung them away. Then she went to him and began unzipping his fly.
“My friends are waiting for me,” he stopped her.
“Let them wait,” she replied and continued what she began. Her heart burned within her. She hated herself for what she was doing but she wasn’t going to allow the last thing he remembered about her be centered around the money he gave her. She was going to prove to him that she wasn’t a slut by giving him the screw of his life free of charge.
Dike knew Kachi was a witch. A good witch. Who was doing bad bad things to him. She had some form of magic, a manner in which she wove her spell over him. She was a mistress of the art of knowing his heart, and boy did she work her charm like no man’s business.
Who knew she could smile so much? Or could even sing while cooking? Or endure watching National Geographic with him? Each day he observed her unfolding before his eyes like the pages of a fantasy novel. He was just getting to know her and it was beautiful to watch her reveal herself under his eyes.
Her enchantment was potent in him. Some would call it love but Kachi had found the secret to controlling his center of gravity. She kept him distracted and he forsook all other diversions. They were now chasings after the wind. In his own jungle, a wild lioness had been tamed and it was not by his control or even his knowledge. What had happened to Kachi was nothing he could take credit for. Maybe something really good came out of her newly found Christian faith in the end.
She believed in the power of her God. Dike’s God too. But Dike was skeptical about the whole spiritual issue. Mortals and immortals had little business with each other. What did a generic God care about a man’s love life with his wife? Such things were too high for Dike to comprehend. Thus he was okay with his little ‘mustard seed’ religion, even as enticing as the new Kachi made him hunger for more.
He had a more powerful craving though. Kachi was responsible for it. Why put cheese where a mouse can easily reach? But he had known what he was getting himself into when he brought her back in. Now she was binding him in another spell too strong to break; the trap was set and he was circling the cheese. To the casual observer, he barely noticed her but his phone followed her everywhere she went; and when she looked at him all she saw was him being absorbed in something off the web. But Kachi had also acquired the power of patience and perseverance through seduction. She kept displaying the shorts and tights and see-throughs diligently with a never-fading glimmer in her eye.
Dike knew he was going to fall soon… One of these nights…
He had no idea it was coming sooner than expected. Ten days after she came back into his life, Kachi finally trapped him in a bottle. Only he didn’t know. Just arriving from work, he walked in to nostalgic sounds of love songs from 1998, the year they met. It was Shania Twain first and Dike laughed at the cheesiness of the song, asking himself how he could have ever been carried away with such music. Then came LeAnn Rimes, Janet Jackson, K-ci and Jojo, Usher, Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, Aerosmith, Mariah Carey, Monica and of course, Celine Dion. It was while he was listening to Dreaming of You that it finally hit him that Kachi was playing a collection from a mixtape he had given her on her birthday that year. He remembered vividly waiting outside her family house with the guard dogs going wild at his presence. Kachi had kept him waiting twenty minutes before she showed up with an unwelcoming frown.
She ignored his smile and greeting and crossed her arms rudely beneath her breasts. He would never forget how heavenly he thought she looked.
“Happy birthday.” He handed her a manila envelope.
“Thank you,” she said with no smile. “But you know I have a boyfriend, right? And he’ll be here soon. So you better go.”
Dike was deflated but he walked away with a sure grin. He knew she would love the presents in the envelope. One of them in particular had cost him a fortune. Others included a mixtape, a birthday card and hair care products he had gotten from his sister’s shop on credit.
The next time he met her, Kachi was wearing a tolerant smile but it was a smile nevertheless. She thanked him appropriately for the presents and accepted to have him buy her suya but she reminded him that she kept her heart for her boyfriend. Dike noted that she didn’t wear the one gift he had spent all his cash on, not then and not even after they got married…
Too Close by Next was playing at the time Dike walked by Kachi’s bedroom. He just had a shower and was dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, ready for his dinner and TV time. He stopped by her door to stare at her clad in her towel alone, holding a blouse in the air. She put the blouse aside and changed the music to something native; another very familiar sound from their traditional wedding.
“Will you stare at me all day or will you walk by and pretend you didn’t see me as you always do?”
“Where’s Travis?” Dike asked, ignoring her opening line.
“Hmmm.” Dike smelled a conspiracy in the works. “Have you seen my Mastercard?” he inquired and Kachi smiled in guilt. She walked to her dressing table and picked the card in question.
“That was not part of the deal, Kach.”
“I’m sorry but Ene’s sister’s wedding is tomorrow and I needed to shop.”
“So you went on a spree,” Dike said, eyeing the heap of native attires on her bed.
“Yes.” The guilty smile again. “I will reimburse you when my new boss pays me.”
“I see. Feeling smart with yourself, abi?”
He walked in and took the card from her. As he was turning away, she stopped him.
“Please, tell me which one you think fits me best.”
“Kachi, I just came back nau. Lemme rest.”
“It won’t take long.”
Dike looked at the heap of clothes and shook his head, pitying himself. He sat on the bed and without warning she dropped her towel.
“What is wrong with you?” he asked.
“What?” she looked at him innocently and picked a yellow, embroidered blouse to wear. She got into it, struggling. When it settled on her body finally, she couldn’t zip it together. She tried two more blouses and the results were the same.
“Didn’t it occur to you when you were buying them that you’re pregnant?”
“I should have just gone to my tailor to sew me something.”
“Well, that’s your business.” Dike stood up. “Pick something old.”
“One more! One more!” She picked a red, ankara gown from the bed and got into it, legs first; but there was a long zipper that ran from her upper back to her bum and she called Dike to help her with it. He walked to her and ran the zipper down with as much control and as fast as he could. In the end, he handed her the pull-tab.
“Dike, you spoilt my zip!”
“Sorry, the thing just followed my fingers and came off. You’re using my money to buy fake things.”
She turned around with an endearing smile at him and the sight of a glittering gold necklace on her neck caught his attention. He didn’t notice it earlier because his mind had been on ‘other’ distractions. He pulled the necklace and held out a D-shaped pendant with yellow stones on the surface.
“You still have it.” His voice carried silent surprise. “I thought you hated it.”
“I did. It was conceited of you to give me a gold necklace with a D on it on my birthday.”
Dike grinned naughtily and put the necklace down. “So, madam, are you done seducing me?”
“I’ve not even started.” Kachi turned around. “Undo the zip please.”
“What made you change your mind?” he asked and began parting the zipper.
“About the necklace?”
“You know what I’m talking about.”
Kachi didn’t answer immediately; she allowed herself feel the goosebumps his fingertips were deliberately creating on her skin.
“Travis.” She answered. “Travis changed my mind. What type of mother watches her son each night pray to Jesus to bring his mommy and daddy back together and walks away from that with an untouched heart? Every morning it was ‘mommy, is daddy coming today?’ ‘when are we going back home?’ ‘are you still angry with him?’ I was falling apart and I was angry that I couldn’t go against the prayers of a little boy who knew nothing of the pain I was going through. And then one day, it occurred to me that my pain was a lot bigger than my motherhood and my happiness and even my sensibilities. I was scared that it would swallow my life entirely. It was at that point I started fighting you hard because I was at my weakest then. Nnai, I had to stop and do a turnaround, to let it all go. And it’s not been easy. I still look at you sometimes and feel you don’t deserve to be forgiven but seventy times seven doesn’t come all in a flush, does it?”
“No,” Dike said but he was not interested in a conversation. Kachi understood and she turned around to face him.
“I’m going to kiss you, Onyekachi. And touch you everywhere. Then make love to you. But I don’t want to do it if you have an investigator lurking around or if I wake up tomorrow and hear you’re off to London or something like that. I need to be assured that you’re here to stay and your heart is here as well.” He made no show of hiding his defenselessness as he spoke to her.
“Onyekachi Chibuzor, I beg of you, biko, emekatakwala hapu’m.”
“I’m never leaving you again, Dike.”
“I ma na I ji obi’m.”
“And you hold my heart too.”
He moved away from her and sat on the bed. “Then dance for me.”
“What?” she laughed.
“Give me your best Igbo dance. Shake what I paid for. That’s the only way you’re getting back into my house.”
He got out his wallet from the pocket of his shorts and brought out a healthy collection of a thousand naira notes. She laughed. “I’m shy.”
“I’ll put my money back and go and sleep o! Ngwanu!”
Kachi laughed again and gave a little shake of her body.
“Ehen! Na now you come!” he moved further into the bed and rested his back on a pillow. “I have all night. Let’s make the moment count. If you want this money on you, you better give me reason.”
Kachi knew this was Dike’s last fight to reinstate his ego. She wished he understood that there was no need for it; she was totally surrendering to him. Yet she felt the need to let him know where she stood, so she began to dance for him. It was one of the few things he liked about her; she was completely sold to her culture and was not ashamed of it. He was liberal on such things and would not bother to speak his language or visit his hometown if she did not make him.
She moved closer to the bed and gave him her best dance yet, twerking and mixing in a little Yoruba booty moves in her performance.
“Oriaku! Odoziaku!” he praised her, sitting up. “You no go finish me! Enenebe-eje-olu! Utommanuanu! Igodo obi’m! Mmazuruahu! Dance for your husband Obi’m! Ugochinyere’m”
The naira notes flew into the air and landed all around her.
“Yes O! shake am! Na only me get am! Nke’m! Lolo’m! Uto’m! Adaugo! Omalicha! Anyanwu! Ugegbe mma!”
Kachi stopped to catch her breath and fan herself.
“Oya rest. You’re carrying a baby, abeg. But you’ve not danced enough oh. Some money’s still in my hand.”
Kachi smiled, and then turned sad face as tears gathered in her eyes.
“What’s the problem now?”
She lowered herself and sat on him, accepting the embrace his arms offered.
“The last time you called me those names was on our traditional wedding. Sadly, I was not interested in hearing them then. I was not even there; it was all an act.”
“But you’re here now and this is not an act, sweetheart. Isn’t the end of a matter better than the beginning?”
“So why the tears na? See how far we’ve come after everything. I am not with some girl and you’re not with some guy. We’re here together. We fought and worked things out even with all the childish conduct from two of us. We’ve really come a long way, Kach. So why cry for the past that is being erased at the moment?”
“I wonder o,” Kachi mumbled as his fingers stopped her tears.
“All these tears spoil breastmilk oh. It will become sour now.”
Kachi laughed. “You listen to Mama too much and she’s taught you one of her old wives’ tales.”
Dike pulled a serious face. “This is not about old wives, biko. It’s about a man who is getting the breastmilk first before the baby comes. Please, don’t use tears to sour my pleasure.”
“Speaking of which…how about that kiss and touch and lovemaking you were talking about earlier?”
Dike rose up from the bed, carrying her with him, but he placed her on the bed again.
“I’m hungry jor.” He began walking out.
“I knew you’d be difficult. Your too form!”
“I learnt from the best!” Dike stated in a raised voice, heading towards the kitchen.
Kachi hurried out of her gown and dug under the pile of clothes for the attire she had kept for the night and wore it. Next, she changed the music to a collection of songs from Kenny G, one of Dike’s favorite musicians, and dabbed her perfume on his pleasure spots on her body. On her way out, she bumped into Dike. He had a contrived frown on his face.
“If your plan was to starve me and seduce me with that hot lingerie on your body, it’s working… oh, it’s so working I want you to feel it.” He pulled her close. “My mom was so right. You’re a witch, Onyekachi.”
To Doctor Val and his Uzoamaka…the beauty that graces his life.
biko, emekatakwala hapu’m – please don’t ever leave me.
I ma na I ji obi’m – you know you hold my heart
The names Dike called Kachi while she danced are just terms of endearment men use for their women in Igbo land.
- To Tame A Virgin #13 (moskedalounge.wordpress.com)
- To Tame A Virgin #15 (moskedalounge.wordpress.com)
- To Tame A Virgin #16 (moskedalounge.wordpress.com)
- To Tame A Virgin #15 (Reblogged) (moskedalounge.wordpress.com)
- To Tame A Virgin #17 (moskedalounge.wordpress.com)
- To Tame A Virgin #18 (moskedalounge.wordpress.com)
- To Tame A Virgin #14 (moskedalounge.wordpress.com)
to @kidmanmorello HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
Read previous HERE
The sun was doing its usual thing, being unpleasant outside. Dami wasn’t envious of anyone caught under its burning rays. A spotless glass window pressed to her side as she got a full view of the street where her car was parked. A pair of little boys had chosen the car as a shield for which they protected themselves from each other while trying out their new, sophisticated squirt guns just bought for them by their mother. Dami turned to look at their mother who was in the same fast food joint as she was, trying to gather the bags of food she paid for in one hand while doing a balancing act with a restless baby on her waist with the other.
Dami’s eyes were drawn back to her car and she saw that the back windshield had been blessed with colored liquid from the boys’ squirt guns. The older boy was now taking aim from the driver’s side and he popped out his gun to squeeze out a good dose of yellow squirt on his brother. Angry that he was caught unawares, the younger boy opened his mouth in a heated scream and charged out from the other side of car. Dami let out her first real giggle in days as she watched a chase between the boys ensue. Still laughing, she turned back to her table and heard her phone beeping. She opened her Twitter account and checked her mentions. As usual, they piled high but she was looking for one in particular; she found it and tapped on it.
@RhodiumVee I sent you an email.
Dami went straight to her email account while her other hand picked a potato chip from a plate on her table. She found the email she was looking for and tapped over her screen.
Re: Are you done?
Just finished editing. Will send the video later tonight. Still don’t wanna get paid for dis. Just a little ad when you kick off and a good working relationship between us.
Dami tilted her head backwards and dipped the potato chip she picked into her mouth.
“My God, you have the neck of a giraffe.”
Dami let down her head and looked at her date who was standing before her, holding his car key and a freezing glass of orange juice.
“You’re late,” she said to him and pulled up the hood of her sweater to cover her face.
“A hoody and sunglasses? Are we hiding from the paparazzi?” her date teased.
“No. I’m just feeling gangster.”
He laughed and sat across the table.
“You’re still too fresh for an old man,” she said, looking at him fully.
“I am not old,” he retorted.
She adjusted her sunshades. “Dike, you’re forty-what? four? If you had gotten a girl pregnant at eighteen, she would be my age today.”
“How are you, Damaris? I see you’re still killing guys out there with your hotness.”
“Not really. I’m dying of a broken heart.”
“That never happens to you.”
Dami took off her sunshades and exposed sore eyes. “I’ve been crying like an idiot for more than a week and he still won’t pick my calls.”
“Who? The new boyfriend?
“Does it have anything to do with the video where you exposed your breasts?”
“By the way, it was…nice.”
“You 70s perv. You finally saw my boobs,” she muttered, dusting something off her sandal. “You and the rest of the world.”
“But you’re crazy. What were you thinking?”
Dami sat up. “Nothing. The bride was my friend and she’s female. It’s not like she hasn’t seen breasts and a vagina before. Now everyone’s calling me a lesbo and for the first time, stuff like that is getting to me. Maybe it’s because everything else is crumbling. My dad is also not talking to me, my agent dumped me, Felix fired me, I’m supposed to be at a fashion show in London by this time but…” she rubbed her eyes and her phone beeped once more. It was an SMS from Uyi. Dami sat up and with a fluttering tummy, opened the SMS.
Stop callin and texting. U shd be getting ur act 2geda and not running my ba3 down
Dami shut her eyes but tears escaped the lids and slid down her cheeks.
“Damaris?” Dike took her phone from her and read Uyi’s SMS. She buried her head on the table and cried a little.
“I’ve called him like a million times today,” she said, raising her head. Dike handed her a serviette and she blew her nose into it. “I heard he’s not feeling fine. I just wanted to check up on him. Dike… you’ve pissed your wife off so many times. How do you say you’re sorry and have her forgive you?”
“You really love this your guy? What’s his name?” Dike drew his juice toward him.
“Answer my question na,” Dami rubbed her eyes. “I’ve done everything to tell him how sorry I am but he doesn’t even care.”
“On a serious note, what did he say or do that had you sold like this? Look at your eyes when you talk about him. They sparkle even in your tears.”
“Forget the sparkle, Dike. What should I do? I miss him like mad and I hate the silence. Why won’t he pick even one call?”
“Give him time. He’ll come back to you.”
“How do you know?”
“As long as he loves you, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done. He’ll come back… Okay!” Dike slapped his hands together. “Putting sad issues aside, what’s this meeting about? Have you finally decided to let me go free?”
“Free keh.” Dami blew her nose a second time. “You opened a website to make fun of me.”
“True but I have apologized.”
“It’s not enough.”
“Then what do you want?”
Dami exhaled, smiled mischievously and crossed her legs. “A public apology.”
Dike rubbed his beard and grinned cynically.
“Pay for an online interview on one of those gossip blogs and make a public apology. Tell them why you opened the website and then, say you’re sorry.”
“Wow!” Dike laughed. “You’re really gangster, Damaris.”
“I’m trying to repackage myself and you’re going to be my first online PR guy.”
“I’m not doing it.” Dike picked his juice and took a first sip.
“See, Dike… don’t start being difficult. I’m not asking you to expose your identity or anything like that. Be anonymous, don’t even say you’re married; just apologize for the website and tell the whole world I am a very nice girl. Blame my fuck-ups on daddy issues or lack of a mommy in my life but paint me as a really nice girl deep inside – with amazingly strong virtues.”
“And this does what? It makes people like you?”
“No. It makes me trend. And when I trend, I rise from the ashes like the Khaleesi!”
Dike muttered something to himself and when Dami asked him what he said, he began to laugh. Dami drew his juice to herself and dipped a straw into it.
“Okay, Khaleesi,” Dike tried to keep a straight face. “I’ll do it. What else do you want?”
“I want the website.”
“I closed it.”
“Get it back and give it to me.”
“Because I want it.”
“All part of rising from the ashes?”
“Okay, that’s doable. Anymore?”
“Don’t divorce your wife.”
Dike’s smile went missing.
“You know I went to rehab, right?”
“More than once but that doesn’t matter. It turned out that I learnt something all the times I went there. We have this twelve-step recovery program and the number nine step is forgiveness. So last week I went to Felix’s to tell him and Aunty Ene I’m sorry for my behavior and blah-blah-blah… and I saw Travis. Mind you, he thinks I’m the coolest aunty ever, even though your wife keeps giving him the eye when he’s around me. He’s always calling me his tree while he’s a monkey.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know but he’s soooo cute.”
“He has a crush on you.”
“Like father like son.”
“Admit it, Ogudike, you fell.”
“It’s Ogbudike. And I didn’t fall.”
“As I was saying, after climbing my whole body in the name of monkey climbing tree, Travis stops midway and goes, ‘Aunty Dami, what is a divorce?’ And I’m staring at him, confused. And that, is why I don’t want children. They can’t ask what ten times ten is or why Barney is a big fool. They want to know what a divorce is?”
“What was your answer to him?”
“I told him to Google it.”
“What da?!” Dike spread out his hands. “You could have told him it’s the name of a movie or a word for adults!”
“When it’s not me that gave birth to him. Totally not my problem. So, in conclusion, for the sake of that cute boy who is going to break a lot of hearts in the future, go back to your wife.”
“Wow. Dami’s giving advice. Thank you but totally not your problem.”
“So that’s that? You’re dropping the whole lawsuit?”
“But my dad cannot know about it. I’ll tell him by myself.”
“I’m cool with that.”
Dami’s smile was for Dike but it turned sad when she stared at Uyi’s SMS again. She blinked rapidly to ward off tears and glanced outside. One of the little boys was scratching the butt-end of his squirt gun on her car and she stood up.
“Hey!” She pointed. “See why I hate children?!”
She dashed outside.
When Dike left Dami, he drove straight to Felix’s. It was the beginning of August and schools were closed, which meant Kachi and Travis were home. He wasn’t yet prepared to see Kachi but with what Dami told him about Travis, he felt it was time he had a one-on-one with the boy.
Kachi was at the door when he got to the house. She was still wearing her night coat and her hair was in a mess. She wasn’t expecting him, so she straightened her hair and covered herself properly when he walked in.
“Good afternoon,” she greeted.
“How are you doing?” he asked. He was looking up the staircase.
“I am doing well. The baby is fine too.”
“He’s upstairs.”She looked in the direction of the stairs. “Travis!”
Dike could hear the sound of play and laughter from within the house.
“Travis?!” Kachi yelled again and Travis came running down with his friend, Felix’s son, chasing after him.
Dike smiled. The reaction towards him was always the same. It was priceless to hear the sheer joy in the boy’s voice every time he saw him.
“Uncle Dike!” George, Felix’s son also ran to him and he lifted both boys in his arms and twirled them around.
“Daddy you promised to take us out,” Travis said after the excitement mellowed down.
Travis and George nodded.
“Well, I have to go to the office.”
“No!” Travis protested.
“You promised, Dike,” Kachi said with a low voice.
“Okay, let’s see… Why don’t you guys go and get dressed and come back?”
“Yay!” Both boys shouted simultaneously and Dike let them down.
“Have your shower first o!” Kachi added and they grumbled as they ran up. When they were gone, Dike bent over a little, holding his waist.
“I must be getting old.”
Kachi turned around and walked to the foot of the stairs and stopped. Dike didn’t notice; he was glued to his phone. She walked back to him and stood by awkwardly until he noticed her presence.
“My visa has been approved and school starts in September.”
“Good. Then we have to hurry things up. I believe they can grant a Decree Absolute in your absence. All we need to thrash out is where Travis will be living. I don’t want him staying abroad; I will not raise my son on foreign soil. I can allow the new baby live with you but you cannot take my son away from me.” Dike heard his voice get edgier with each word.
“I don’t intend to, nnai.”
Her tone struck something in him and so did the name she called him but he pushed his emotions aside.
“So what’s the plan?” he asked her.
“Travis stays. That means you will look for someone to take care of him.”
“I will do what is best for my son, even if it means finding someone else to take your place. Yes, I will not hesitate to do that.”
“There’s a nanny agency…”
“Nanny what? Who told you I would want a nanny for Travis?”
“Please lower your voice, Dike, and listen to me.”
“He needs someone who will cook for him and wash his clothes and pick him from school and all that. We can’t dump him here or take him to our families. He can always visit but it would be wrong to put the load on them. We’ve not even told him what is happening yet and I don’t think it’s advisable to bring in someone else into his life other than a nanny.”
“You’re expressly telling me that I can’t see another woman when you’re taking yourself and my child in your womb to go and be with another man?!”
“No. I’m not going to Leke. He is in Nigeria. He’s married now.”
“Oh, so you’re running away from him without a care of what it could do to your son?”
Kachi paused a little before she continued in a leveled voice.
“We need to get Travis someone. I know a very good agency. They’re expensive but worth it. The women are capable and paid well and every one of them has some form of background education in child psychology. Travis will be in good hands.”
“My answer is no. I will take care of my son by myself.”
“Nnai,” Kachi broke the barrier between them and held his hand. Her cool touch calmed him and he listened to her without interruptions. “Please, trust me on this. If it doesn’t work, then you can take him to be with Mama or bring him back here. I don’t want him to be tossed around anyhow. I see the pain in his eyes when George plays with Felix and I don’t want it to be a constant. I need him to always be with you. Please, biko.”
“I will think about it.” He pulled away from her and walked to the front door. She tried for a satisfied smile but nothing came out. She had more to tell him. She wanted to say she didn’t want to go away. If there was one little window he left ajar for her, she was willing to climb in through it. After days of prayers and counseling with her pastor, she had finally let go of all the pain and bitterness left in her and she was willing to start again. But Dike had made it clear that he was done. He had stopped wearing his wedding ring and had taken every last property of hers left in their house to her mother’s place. All that was remaining for them was the final decree from the court and a traditional divorce settlement at Kachi’s hometown which was fixed for the following week. Kachi was ready for neither. She wanted her husband back. She tried asking Ene for help but Ene, for the first time, somehow conveniently had no ideas up her sleeve. Kachi suspected that she had taken orders from Felix who in turn had taken orders from Dike.
Kachi was to be left alone to find her way back. If only Dike would open the door.
Dike and Kachi spent the following week at the nanny agency. They went through an interview and filled forms. Subsequently, they went through a list of résumés and handwritten applications by the nannies, each of them stating why they were good for the job. Finally, on the last day, just two days before Kachi’s and Dike’s trip to the village, they were introduced to the nannies. None of them were up to Kachi’s taste.
The first was too old; the second had eyes for Dike; the third wore a fake smile; the fourth was too young; the fifth didn’t sound convincing; the sixth was too religious; the seventh looked lazy and the last one which Dike approved of entirely, Kachi just didn’t like. When asked why, she replied, “I don’t know. I just don’t like her.”
Dike was livid. He held his anger until they got out of the agency.
“You’re setting out deliberately to piss me off, Onyekachi! You’re doing it again! Must you be in control all the time?! This was your idea! You convinced me and now, no one is good enough! We’ve been coming here for a whole week and I have been missing work and…”
“Calm down. Calm down, Dike,” Kachi pleaded. “We’re going to my village next tomorrow. I will get a girl for you there. I’m sure there’ll be someone. She’ll be cheaper and she will have the added advantage of cooking your favorite meals…”
Dike left her talking and walked towards his car. She went after him.
“But in case you don’t like that idea…”
“Okay, I have one more letter.” Kachi took out an envelope from her handbag. “I’ve gone through it. She’s not done nanny work before but she’s a mother and that should count for something.”
Dike snatched the envelope, got into his car and drove away.
Temi was crying in the dark. Discretely. Peter was asleep beside her. She loathed herself for her weakness. Her mind scolded her for being broken over Uyi but her heart was too shattered to do otherwise. She was now officially Peter’s girlfriend and he did everything to make her happy but she wasn’t connecting with him on an emotional plane. She had tried to stop the sex since Uyi caught them almost three weeks ago but she found that she couldn’t. The more she bled for Uyi, the more she wanted Peter. She would wake up each morning soaking in guilt from the previous night but she would go back again, longing for more.
She sat up and got down from the bed. Her hands felt around the floor for her nightgown and she found it. As she began slipping into it, the door flung wide open with a loud bang and she saw the silhouette of a female at the doorway.
“Peter!” The silhouette screamed. There was anger and pain in her voice and it jolted Peter from his sleep. He rubbed his eyes and sat up while his hand went for the light switch behind his bed. He turned it on and the silhouette turned into a girl with wild hair and a body like Temi’s. She had tear-stained cheeks and snot running from her nose. But in her hand was a machete and it was posed to strike. Temi quickly backed away towards the bathroom as Peter sat up straight.
“You and me will die today!” the girl shouted.
“Come here and meet your fate or if you allow me meet you there, it will be bloody, I swear to God!” She raised the machete into the air and Peter’s eyes followed it.
“Peter, go to her nau,” Temi begged.
“Lola, calm down. Let’s talk. Whatever is wrong, we can handle it but not with that cutlass, abeg.”
Lolade laughed and her voice brought chills to Temi. “Peter go, abeg. Just go.” She looked at Lolade. “Please, don’t kill him or me, abeg. I don’t want to die.”
Lolade looked at Temi and laughed again. “Oh no, my dear. I won’t kill you but you will soon die. Piro!” She turned sideways and left a space between herself and the door post. “Oya, in the parlor! NOW!”
Peter hesitated and she hammered the machete into the door post. Temi screamed and ran into the bathroom.
“If I do as the tin dey take do me now, Piro, I swear me and you go die for here today!”
“Hah-ahn. What is it? Kilode?” Ovie had come out of his room. “Lolade, wetin?”
She ignored him. “PETER!”
Peter got to his feet and walked to her slowly and as he walked past her, she hit his head with the blunt end of the machete. Temi ran to Ovie and held him.
“Who is she?”
“Ex? So what is she doing here with cutlass na? Is she crazy or what?”
“Lolade, crazy? No. She caught Peter cheating and they ended it and next we heard she found some other guy to marry. I don’t know what she’s doing here. I’m as shocked as you.”
Temi walked to the sitting room but hung by the entrance. Lolade had put Peter on a couch opposite her but the weapon was still in her hand.
“Peter, me and you knew ourselves tay-tay! We grew up in Gwags and even the fact that you schooled in Port did not stop our relationship! I kept it real. Even when I knew that you were cheating on me, I still remained faithful. The day I decided to end everything was when I felt I had had enough! It was too much for me! Even a million dogs on heat are better than you! And let me not lie, it pained me! It pained me well-well when I left you but I was happy that I was done with your cheating ass! And as God will have it the guy that had been toasting me for years still wanted to me!” She smiled bitterly.
“The wedding plans were done sharp-sharp, everything was set! I felt like the luckiest girl in the world! My bobo is nothing like you! He is stinking rich! Nothing like you at all!” She flashed her left hand at Peter. “Look at the ring! Four solid carats! He was not taking me to play! Everything was set! All that was left was blood tests! Simple blood tests!” Lolade stopped at this point, stared into the air and tears flooded her face. She took out a paper from her back pocket and flung it at Peter. “You did that to me! You useless dog gave me HIV!”
“Jesus!” Temi gasped.
“What did I do to deserve this type of punishment, ehn?! Didn’t I love you? Didn’t I stick with only you even with all the loaded Abuja guys toasting me? Didn’t I give you everything you wanted, Piro?! Why will you destroy my life like this?! WHY?!”
“What are you talking about, Lola?” Peter frowned at the paper in his hand. “This is not true. It’s a mistake.”
“SHARRAP!” Lolade shot up from her chair and the machete followed her. “Are you deaf?! I have AIDS, you wicked bastard! And today, me and you will die because I cannot watch myself turn to nothing! Ha-ha! NO! I will not watch myself die! We will end it today! Together! Here!”
She lunged towards Peter but he got up and dashed out of the house, stumbling on his way. She ran after him but Ovie caught her in time and wrestled the machete out of her hand. He held her afterwards as she cried.
Temi watched the whole scene in shock. As she stood there immobile, she didn’t realize that she wasn’t breathing. The moment she felt a tightening in her chest and she let out a breath, her head began to swirl. Her vision deemed, her body went lax and she blacked out.
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I sat crouched at a corner of the room… With my arms circled around my folded knees.
Another stream of tears rolled effortlessly down my cheeks as I relived the experience.
I could still feel his fingers like the gentle slithery movements of a snake as he caressed my body.
I closed my eyes….If only I could shut out the images…
But No…. They were there… Refusing to leave…They came with such vivid clarity!
Images of flailing arms … Fighting to keep away the evil that loomed above me.
I remembered trying to scream… But I couldn’t hear the sound of my own voice.
Randomly the images came, in no defined order. I recalled a struggle to retain my underwear as groping hands determined to take them off…
The sound of a dress being torn…
Then I remembered the slap! Like a thunderbolt, the impact had gone through my whole body shutting down every remaining resistance I had.
I had lain there passive… Like one in a daze… And watched in horror as my young and innocent body was brutally ravaged!
I could still hear the wicked but ecstatic grunts of pleasure as he forcefully entered me again and again. Beads of sweat dropped from his forehead as saliva flowed in tiny streaks from the corner of his mouth. The stench of alcohol literally exuded from the pores on his skin.
For a moment my eyes had locked with his and I cringed in disgust!
“Who is this animal?!” I remembered thinking. There was a deadness in his eyes which were filled with fiery desire and burning lust! As I looked into those eyes, I realised I was staring at a beast… For I couldn’t bring myself to call him a man.
A surge of bitter tasting bile rose in my throat as I retched under a strong wave of nausea.
But nothing came out! My stomach was probably empty… But I did not care!
There was only one word that could explain how I felt…….
That was thirteen years ago, when I was just twelve years old… and now it is happening again!
Still crouched in one corner of the room, my hands still folded around my knees, I know what is about to come as he nears me. I feel like screaming, like getting up and charging at him but I know it would be useless. He would pick me up as if I am a piece of paper and throw me hard on the bed and I would not be able to escape his grip. So I sit there, shivering, tears stinging my eyes, my heart beating wildly. I know what to expect. After all, it has happened a million times before. From that first encounter thirteen years ago, I had somehow become a vessel for him to express his depravity. It isn’t something new, yet I am still terrified as hell.
I close my eyes as he grabs my hand and yanks me off the floor and throws me to the bed.
“So you think you can leave me and follow another man abi?!” he growls, landing me a resounding slap on my arm, careful not to touch my face. I scream and try to kick him away but I know it only ignites him. He is blaming me for following another man but I am guiltless. I only visited my aunt who just came into town and she kept me fifteen minutes longer than my curfew time. Now I am being punished and called a whore in my husband’s house. The other people in the house are listening but they will do nothing, they will say nothing. I will walk out with a limp and bruises and they will greet me with a smile as if nothing happened. They will ignore the cry for help in my eyes as my own family has ignored them for thirteen years. My life will continue with no hope because the world around me has no place for me to run.
“How many times will I tell you that you belong to me?! No man will ever have you as long as I’m alive! You are mine, forever!”
“Please, don’t…” I cry but he slaps me again. He puts his hand around my neck and holds me in a choke. There is darkness in his eyes as a cackle erupts from his throat.
“Open your legs!”
“Don’t do this. Please…” I beg. Maybe today is the day he will look at me with those eyes and have mercy. Maybe, just maybe he will not force himself in today and will love me the way a man should love a woman. But why should I hope for such things? It is not my place to enjoy them. I am only a woman and have no soul, as I was told. And it seemed like just yesterday, when I was but a little girl and was told my body belonged to a man old enough to be my father. Sadly, I don’t think I have grown from that time. As a girl I have come into this pain and it has lived my life for me.
So, I lie there, unresponsive to his touch, dead at every thrust he makes, numb to my own self. I keep my eyes up at the ceiling and look at the light bulb until it fades into memories of a wonderful past I have kept secure in my heart.
I see my brother teaching me to throw stones at lizards on the fence of our house. I see my sisters and I playing suwe and fighting over whose turn it is to wash the plates. I hear my father’s hearty laughter from the parlor as he watches something on TV. I listen to the cries of my baby brother while my mother bathes him in the backyard. The air is breezy and smells of rain but the sun shines brightly, refusing to go away though the clouds enshroud it. I look up and try to take in all its brilliance but grandma says I could get blind from doing that. So I lift my hand and shield my eyes while I hear my mother calling me. But the sun breaks through stubbornly, aiming to blind me…
I blink and I am back to hell, the light bulb stinging my eyes while his sweat pours over me. How many times have I been in that position, looking at that same bulb, at the ceiling it is hanging from? How many times have I taken the pain and yet emerged and kept a happy smile when I am outside with my children?
He gives one final grunt and pulls out of me. “Go and get ready for our in-laws,” he says with an evil grin and walks into the bathroom. I pull my legs together and try to cry but I can’t. There are no more tears here. I have to do as he says.
I secure my wrapper tight and hurry out, carrying around my familiar limp, trying to hide the pain in my arms. The compound is already buzzing with activities as the maids prepare for my husband’s new wife. I have never met her but I pray she is someone I can relate with, a friend that can finally keep me company. I go about preparing the meal and making sure the maids clean her room properly. It is my former room and now that I am a senior wife, I have been moved to a different room.
I finish what I am supposed to do and ensure that everything and everyone is set. Then I retreat to my side of the house and sit silently as the wedding ceremony progresses. There is music and dancing and food and drinks. Everyone is happy and cheerful and for a while, from my prison, I forget my pain and smile. Hours pass and finally the last drum is beat and there is a cold hush in the large compound. The generator goes off and I light a candle in my new room. My bladder alerts me that I must use the toilet and I grumble. How many times must I go in an hour? The maids call me ‘Aunty Piss’ behind my back but they do not know my weak bladder is a souvenir from my battle with VVF. I am glad to be alive even though my bladder embarrasses me every so often.
I stop in my tracks as I hear the sound of someone crying in the dark. I look around me, flashing my candle in the shadowy corridor but I see nothing. The crying continues and takes me only a few more steps for me to know it is coming from my old room. I go cold. But I strain my ear to listen some more if I can hear my husband’s voice. I hear nothing.
I move forward, each step with a churning stomach and I finally come to the door. I clasped the handle tight and slowly push the door in. The crying doesn’t stop; instead it is turned up a notch as I walk in. I put the candle before me and I freeze. Lying on my bed, hugging my old pillow with eyes sketched in fear is someone’s little girl. I feel a shiver in my bones as I look at her. She can’t be older than eleven and yet her future is going to be destroyed in one night.
I cannot move. I can hardly breathe. I feel like I am looking at myself. It is happening all over again. The girl sees something in my face that beckons to her. She leaves the pillow and runs to me, falls at my feet and hugs me. She is crying, pleading, begging me to take her home.
Home? I don’t know where home is right now. Maybe it never existed; it could be all in my head, for I do not understand how a parent can give their child away to be raped and abused. They call it marriage but it is no marriage. It is rape, it is abuse, it is evil, it is death.
I look at the girl and pull her up to me, holding her tight in my embrace, telling her it will be alright as the candle burns away. But nothing will be alright. Nothing will be fine from the moment he touches her. In one night he will take her from childhood, past her youth, past her womanhood and dump her right in a dark grave. And every night after that, he will pummel her to death.
Is this what I want for her? Should she suffer as I still do?
I pull away from her but she holds me tight. She won’t let go. Together we walk to one of the windows and I peep out. I can see him emerging from his side of the compound. How many times have I looked out this window and watched with dread as he approaches me.
Something sparks in me. I look at the candle. It is just a flame but I know what power it holds.
I set the flame to the thin curtain at the window and watch as the cloth fights the heat. But it is no rival for the fire. It whorls backwards and gives in to the flame, embracing it. I do the same to the second curtain and both of us watch as they both burn. I lift the bed sheet and set the mattress ablaze also.
The girl’s eyes are wide and she moves back from the rising inferno. I see the question in her eyes. I have an answer in mine.
I will buy you another night, maybe a second night but that is all I can do.
I have wilder ideas of running away but I have children. Where will we all go? I look at the flames leaking up everything and though I know this is temporary, it gives me pleasure. It also gives me strength and courage. And I feel a tingling, a tiny tingling in me to fight for my freedom, for her freedom.
Maybe I will fight…someday soon. Maybe today.
Written by yours truly and Valentine Oje Ikenna who blogs at Valentineoje.wordpress.com. He is a doctor, a pastor and a passionate writer.
Both of us SAY NO to #childmarriage. The Nigerian Literati say no to #childmarriage
Please stand up against these sick senators who are pushing for child marriage. It is not enough to sit and say it is never going to happen. We should raise up our voices against it and insist that strict measures be taken to have it completely abolished in places where it is being practiced. How can a lawmaker marry a thirteen year old and we think it’s his prerogative? How many more girls will go through pain and horror in the hands of sick men who abandon them in shacks to die and still roam around the community with no one punishing them? How can we all sit and have this injustice being done to innocent children and yet expect God to come down and save us? If we keep quiet, what then is the hope for our children? Don’t think because you’re a Southerner, it has nothing to do with you. What affects one, affects all.
The Nigerian community is speaking up against this. It’s just a flame but you can help the fire spread by sharing this message, irrespective of your religion and beliefs. It may not be enough to stop these men who are comfortably playing god with the bodies and souls of little girls. But it is enough to stir something in you. We should not be known as a nation that sits down and does nothing. Stop saying our efforts can’t go anywhere. These girls have to know there is another way to live. They have to know that marriage is a contract between two consenting adults and they have nothing to do with it. They have to know that there are people who hear their cries and are fighting for them.
If you are in Abuja, the venue is: Unity Fountain, by Transcorp Hilton. Also the Park. Time is: 9am-12noon.
For those in Lagos, the venues are:
1. Ojeez Restaurant, National Stadium Surulere.
2. Alausa Park, Opposite Lagos State Governor’s Office, Ikeja.
3. The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki
4. New African Shrine, Agidingbi, Ikeja.
5. Arrangements are still on-going for those in Festac Town and it’s environs.
Time is 9am-12noon.
And in your little corner, let your candle burn.
Read previous episodes HERE
Hi guys, I’m reblogging this and I hope you get it this time. The other one had issues and here’s how you can get past the issues next time.
1. Just go straight to the blog and you will see the post.
2. Use a different browser
3. Google it
4. Subscribe so you get it straight to your phones
I’m sorry for the problems. It’s Nigeria and almost all networks are screwed up. I’m reblogging this from a cyber. It’s not my fault. I’m sorry again.
“So you’re just answering my calls abi?” The familiar voice on the other end accused Uyi and he frowned. His car parked outside the gate of his former house and he killed the engine.
“Madam, what’s your problem? Don’t you know when someone doesn’t want to have anything to do with you at all?”
“Hi Uyi…” Vivian’s voice was very low. He could hardly hear her. “How are you doing?”
“Come, what’s your problem? Why are you calling?”
“We need to talk.”
“First, where are you?”
“I’m in Abraka.”
Uyi was relieved at the news. “So what do you want?”
She went silent and Uyi thought the line had gone bad.
“Uyi…first, I’m sorry about the Edet incidence.”
“And I’m sorry for the other times too.”
“There were other times?”
“Yes. In the past.”
But Uyi already knew about the other times. Vivian, in school, had been his girlfriend in his third and fourth year but she had been on and off. She claimed she had a marine husband that usually got jealous whenever she got too close to him, so she would break up and disappear for weeks and return with new clothes and lots of money. Uyi knew she was sleeping with rich, married men for her upkeep but he never complained because he had his own affairs on the side. There were a couple of girls who slept with him for the academic assistance he offered them. Hence, he never complained about Vivian’s runs; he never even mentioned it.
“I’m sorry. I cheated on you a lot. I’m so sorry,” Vivian’s low, depressing voice continued on the other end.
“Is that why you’re calling? Okay. I forgive you. Now, can you hang up?”
“Uyi, there’s more.”
“I think I’m HIV positive.”
The words, initially, were slow in coming but with Vivian’s silence on other end playing like an ill-omened soundtrack, they fell upon Uyi loud and clear.
“What HIV are we talking about here? The real one or…?”
“I’ve been really sick and I’ve treated myself and treated myself and nothing!” she whined.
“Did you go for test?”
There was a break before she answered.
Uyi hissed. “And you’re disturbing me?”
“I remember we went bare twice and I don’t know if that’s enough for any of us to catch it but please go and test yourself – for us.”
“Are you high? I should test myself for you. It’s as if your marine spirit has started disturbing you. Look, don’t call me again.”
He rung off and refused to give second thought to the conversation they just had. He got out of his car, greeted the gateman and walked in. There was loud music coming from the house and Uyi prayed he was not walking into a party. Gratefully, he wasn’t. There was no one in the sitting room when he entered, just Rihanna’s voice coming from the home theater system. Uyi let down the volume and was following the whiff of fresh baking when Temi appeared from the kitchen with a spatula and a scowl.
“Who is reducing my Rihanna! You guys will not leave my music…”
She drifted off when she saw Uyi, and a grin drove away her scowl. With a shriek she ran to Uyi and hugged him tight.
“Of course I did.”
“I’ve missed you.” She pecked his lips and for the first time, he felt himself move back when her lips touched his.
“Guess what!” she said excitedly.
“I baked my first cup cakes ever! And they’re to die for!” She took his hand and led him into the kitchen. “Come taste!”
Spread out on the counter was a tray of cupcakes and Uyi’s mouth watered as he saw them. He reached out his hand for one but Temi slapped it with the spatula, picked a cupcake and fed it to him and he took a big bite.
“Mmmm…lovely. Really nice,” Uyi said with a mouthful.
“Yay!” Temi danced a little and began putting away some of the cupcakes in a bowl padded with newspaper. “This is yours. And I have to hide it from Peter and Ovie.”
“Where are they sef?”
“In Peter’s room.”
“So you guys are getting along?”
“Yeah. But they’re bad boys, Ovie especially. He’s always bringing different girls. Peter brought only one but he keeps trying to hit on me.”
“Hey, I made soup and stew for you that you can use for the whole week.”
Uyi smiled. “You shouldn’t have, Temi.”
“It’s the only way I can say thanks for letting me stay here. At first, I was mad at you for boning my side but I’m cool with it now and I want to say thank you and also ask for a favor.”
Temi bit her lip and straightened her t-shirt. “My birthday is next week and I’d like to hold it at yours.”
“Yes. Your house is big and though I haven’t been inside, I know it would be perfect for my birthday party. Please say yes.”
“Temi. How do you know my house?”
“Ovie took me there once after work. So please, may I?” Temi put her arm around him.
“You know I have a mad, jealous girlfriend, right?”
“Well…she tweeted that she would be out of the country for a whole month…”
Uyi laughed. “Ah, Taymee! You’re one dangerous babe. You’re following Damaris on Twitter?”
Temi blinked her eyes rapidly as a yes and Uyi laughed again.
“I’d love to say yes, Tems but Dami will still find out.”
“Okay, what if I convince Peter whose birthday is the upper week to do his party with mine?”
“Come on, Uyi.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “Say yes.”
“Yay!” she hopped up and down excitedly and squeezed Uyi tight and left a peck on his neck. “So where did madam travel to?”
“Uhm…she just needs to be alone for a while,” Uyi replied, walking towards Peter’s room.
“Trouble in love zone already?”
“No, no. She’s just…taking a short holiday.”
Dike sat in his car and breathed in the evening air. There was something good in the way the gentle breeze blew over him but he couldn’t tell what it was. He was tempted to believe that it was because he was going to be sitting in the same space with Kachi in the next hour to work at their marriage; but they had been in such meetings and nothing came out of them. Their families, friends and even church leaders had tried to help them patch things up but they had given up due to Kachi’s cavalier behavior over the whole issue. Now it was their friends, the Enenches’ who were trying to pull the strings together one last time. Dike wasn’t hoping for anything good to come out of it but it was the Enenches’ wedding anniversary and he was honored that they would sacrifice their evening for them. But more than that, he just wanted to see Kachi’s face. The mere thought of her brought affectionate memories he thought he had left behind. He still constantly heard her voice in his head. She haunted him like a ghost in his home, his head and his heart, but he was past the tears and the unbearable loss and all that was left was just a numb pain that dulled his days.
He peered into his wristwatch. It read that he was a full hour early. It was enough time to tuck Travis in bed before Ene’s dinner was served.
He picked his phone, lifted the anniversary gift he bought for the Enenches’ and got out of his car.
There was an insane silence brought by weighty tension in Uyi’s car. The car was parked outside a private clinic somewhere in Wuse 2 and all the five individuals in it stared at the entry doors with some form of apprehension.
Ovie spoke first.
“Uyi, you know say you fit just turn this car round make we dey go house.”
“No, OV. We’re doing this,” Temi, seated beside Uyi, replied.
Peter agreed with her. “We’re here already. No harm in trying.”
The silence came on again and was dragging for two extended minutes when Murphy blurted out.
“My guys, dis na serious matter. Na AIDS oh! No be gonorrhea or syphilis. If anybody for dis car come dey positive, dat person life don finish be dat oh. Make una tink am well before una enter dat clinic.”
“Come on, it’s just a simple test,” Temi countered. “I don’t think any of us is positive but it’s better to be sure.”
Ovie responded to her statement and a mild argument broke out among them; Temi and Peter on one side and Ovie and Murphy on the other, but Uyi was silent. Vivian’s call had rattled him and out of sheer restlessness he had been compelled to share with his friends what she told him. It was Temi who popped the idea of all of them going for the test.
“Okay, I’ll do the test first and once you guys see that there’s nothing to it, you can go ahead,” Temi suggested in a tone aimed at ending the argument but Ovie held his stance.
“I no do! I no go lie; I dey fear!”
“Gbam!” Murphy concurred.
“Alright, let’s deal, OV. You do the test and I cook for you for the whole of next week.”
“Breakfast and dinner?” Ovie smiled roguishly.
“No. Dinner only.”
“So, Tems, you won’t offer me a deal?” Peter teased. “What do I get if I do the test?”
“You’re not serious,” Temi replied and stepped out of the car.
“Uyi, mehn… the cake on this your friend toh bad gaan!” Peter exclaimed, his eyes on Temi’s backside. Uyi smiled absently as he also left the car.
Dinner at the Enenches’ was one meal Dike was going to remember for a long time because Kachi made it. From his first taste, he knew it was her touch. When Ene confirmed it at the end of the meal, he paid Kachi a generous compliment and thought it weird that she replied in a mild tone. The dinner ended, Felix invited them to the poolside and they sat around a table where he poured them each a glass of wine and some fruit juice for Kachi. He lifted his own glass in a toast.
“Fifteen years ago, I married this amazing woman here and she has brought joy and life into my world. I’m a man of few words…”
“No, you’re just shy,” Ene teased and everyone laughed.
“Okay… So, happy anniversary, Enekole, my heart-stopper.” Felix kissed Ene, and Kachi and Dike toasted to them.
Felix continued, “fifteen years ago, on that same day, another man like me met the woman of his dreams too and they fell in love. Though it would take eight more years for them to say their own ‘I Dos’, they were a match made from God and no devil will ever separate them. To Ogbudike and Onyekachi! Please don’t let the love die.”
Ene lifted her glass but Dike and Kachi were unresponsive. The air suddenly became uneasy. Felix pushed himself forward on his chair and was prepared to say something but Ene stopped him with a gentle hand on his.
“I have something to say. Actually, it’s something I must confess. It’s been eating me inside and Felix, I’m sorry; Dike, I’m sorry and Kach, forgive me as well.”
“What are you sorry for?” Felix asked.
“It’s nothing… Oh, how can I say it’s nothing? I’m so sorry, Dike. What I’m about to tell you is a secret I’ve been hiding from you for years. I promised Kach I would never tell you but…”
“Ene, don’t say anything, please,” Kachi whispered.
“Do speak, Ene,” Dike said with his eyes on Kachi.
“Ene, don’t!” Kachi raised her voice.
“I am listening, Ene.”
“I’m very sorry. And I don’t know if Kach and I will still be friends after this but let me just say it out because me I can’t hold it in…”
“Ene!” Felix scolded.
“Okay, okay. So this is the truth.” Ene sighed loudly and turned to Dike. “Kachi never loved you when she married you. She was a hundred percent in love with her ex right up until last year.”
There was a killing silence after she spoke. Felix was wide-eyed, Kachi buried her face in her hands and Dike held a passive look but his right leg had begun to shake as it lay crossed over the other.
“What did you just tell me, Ene?” he asked.
“Did she ever tell you about Leke?”
“You should stop now,” Kachi warned Ene.
“Leke, her ex? The Yoruba guy she said broke her heart?”
“Enekole, you’re disrespecting me. It is not in your place–”
“Let me talk!” Ene faced Kachi. “I cannot stand and watch the two of you separate because of lies! Let the truth be told today! You can hate me tomorrow!”
“Go on, my dear,” Dike begged.
Ene turned to him. “Kachi met Leke when she was in secondary school and they were seeing each other until she met you in 1998, and they continued seeing each other for seven years after that.”
Dike calculated rapidly. “That was until 2005, the year before we got married. You’re saying she was cheating on me?”
“No. It’s not like that. Leke had disappeared before she started with you. Her parents loved you because you were Igbo but they did not want Leke in her life at all. Leke’s parents also didn’t want her because she was Igbo. Well, before you fully came into the picture, she and Leke had plans to elope to the UK and they had even gotten their visas and everything prepared but Leke just got up one day and disappeared with her passport and all the money she saved up. All she got was an email from him telling her to move on and marry you. Of course, she was devastated and didn’t want you but she was twenty-nine and was pressured by her parents, so she accepted your proposal and you guys got married.”
Dike stood up and walked about in slow, aimless steps before he stopped. “You said she was still in love with him until last year?”
“Ene, you call yourself my friend, my friend’s wife, and you never told me?”
“I wonder!” Felix exclaimed.
“Dike, Kachi made me promise.”
“I have known you since secondary school days, Enekole! You should have protected me first!”
“So all this her talk of going to the UK is to go and be with the bastard?!”
“No,” both women responded simultaneously.
“I did not ask you!” Dike cut Kachi an angry tone and walked off, taking to himself. “You’re a fool, Ogbudike! A big fool!”
“Was this the right time to say this?” Felix asked his wife and she pleaded her contrition with worried eyes. Kachi’s face was buried in her hands again and she didn’t respond to Ene’s hand that was laid on her lap.
Dike returned. “So I have been a joke for seven years?!”
“Dike, it is not how you’re seeing it,” Ene sat up. “Let me explain.”
“I’m listening. What’s the worst you can tell me after this?”
“Kachi was distraught when she married you but she hid it well. She tried to make you, her parents, everyone happy but she was dying inside. Leke was the only guy she ever knew, he was her first, so you can imagine what she was going through. I begged her to forget him but she needed an explanation from him and all attempts to reach him failed. At some point, his mother contacted her and they believed he was dead and that even worsened things. But finally, two Christmases ago, she got a call from him and he apologized and told her to move on. It was then she finally let go and began to learn to love you.”
“To learn to love me. Are you hearing yourself, Ene? Did you know what I went through with this selfish, wicked, ogbanje woman you call your friend? Do you have any idea? Nagging was the least of the things she did to me! Kachi didn’t let me touch her from the moment she found out she was pregnant until Travis was a year old!”
“Oh, she didn’t tell you that, abi? Madam, you didn’t tell your friend, did you?”
Kachi stood up and began to walk away but Dike grabbed her hand and forced her back into her chair. “I am talking! Sit down and listen!”
“Dike, easy,” Felix solicited.
“When she finally allowed me sleep with her, the sex was hell. I felt like I was raping her each time! And after a while, I gave up completely! What a fool I was! So she was there wanting her ex the entire time and that was why she couldn’t connect with me?!”
Ene came to tears. “Please, don’t talk like that. She was struggling.”
“And how about me?! How wicked can one woman be to a man, Ene? How wicked?” Dike pulled his chair and sat before Ene. “I didn’t cheat on her because I wanted to. No. When I met Damaris, she was like a breath of fresh air. It didn’t start off as an affair but somehow, I fell in love with her easy spirit and her fun ways and she made me forget and gave me youth. And I fell hard. Then with Temi, it was purely sexual. Living with Kachi at that point was hell and I wanted comfort and I’m a man na, with urges and Temi was there to satisfy them. She also made me forget.”
“How about the woman you took to the hotel? Didn’t you sleep with her?” Kachi fired bitterly.
“Nothing happened, Onyekachi. I was trying to explain but you never let me! She’s a client who is going through a rough patch in her marriage like me and we just wanted to talk. She took me to the restaurant in that particular hotel because her sister is the chef there. We ate, talked and I ended up wiping her tears and patting her back and nothing happened.” Dike looked at Ene. “But with all you told me now, am I not justified for all I did?”
“I’d like to say no but Dike, you’ve gone through a lot and you’ve tried.”
Dike got off his chair again. “I wish you hadn’t told me. The divorce will be over soon and we’ll go our separate ways. She can go back to her Leke and I’ll start a new life but now, knowing this, you’ve just wounded me.”
“I am sorry, Dike. But I wouldn’t invite you guys over if I wasn’t sure that there was a chance for you people.”
“Are you hearing yourself, Ene?!” Dike bellowed. “There is no way in hell I am taking this woman back!”
“Dike, I no like dat kain talk,” Felix stated.
“Dat one concern you. I don talk my own!”
“Dike, Kachi loves you,” Ene emphasized. “Believe me, she does but she is hurt and cannot trust you. When she sees you, she sees Leke all over again.”
Dike laughed in disbelief. “Ene, I am the victim here!”
“No, you both are.”
“Stop defending your friend!”
“She loves you. In fact, it’s because she loves you she’s running away.”
“That’s rubbish! Kachi came to me for almost a month, every single day and allowed me make love to her! For what? To prove that she can give me what I want and then take it all away like that because she has the power?! Or was it to learn skills to share with her boyfriend? Which one?! Then she was giving me crap about separating her heart from her head! What nonsense talk was that?!”
“She was trying to show you how much she loved you; it was a selfless act on her side and she was excited, ready to work things out but then the investigator gave her news of you and the woman at the hotel and everything crumbled.”
“How can she love me and be investigating me?! Utter nonsense, Ene! I’m so glad I’m done with her. I can’t wait for the final order from the court!”
“Thank you for telling me but it is over!” Dike picked his phone from the table and stood over Kachi. “I can’t forgive her even if she comes and grovels! And I am going to court after the divorce to get full custody of the kids! Good night!”
Dike walked away from them, going deaf to Felix’s and Ene’s voices calling him back as he left the house. Kachi tried to keep a dry eye but she fell to pieces and Ene held her.
“I told you not to tell him. Now he hates me.” She sobbed.
“Now he knows the truth and you don’t have to run away again. Give him time to let it sink in and he’ll come round.”
Kachi shook her head. “You don’t know Dike. His pride won’t let him.”
“Have I ever given you bad advice, Kach? Trust me. It will work. Just put away those crazy thoughts of leaving from your head permanently, abeg.”
Felix was still dumbfounded watching the two women. He had never seen Kachi so subdued in all his time of knowing her but it was Ene that scared him most.
“Honey, are there any more secrets you’re hiding?” he asked and Ene smirked.
They had been waiting for more than thirty minutes. The clinic was unkempt and reeked badly of antiseptics. The lab technicians had complained that they were closed for the day but with a little, extra pay from Temi, they agreed to carry out the tests.
“Maybe they’re not doing any test in those labs,” Ovie said. “Dem fit just sit down there dey watch Africa Magic and after, come write say all of us get AIDS.”
Temi laughed hard.
“Temidire and Omoruyi?” A chirpy lab attendant sauntered into the waiting area of the clinic.
“Yes?” Temi stood.
“Follow me. The rest of you, wait. Your tests aren’t ready.”
Uyi and Temi followed the girl into a tight lab where another girl was making a loud phone call. She handed the test results to her chirpy colleague who in turn, handed them to Temi and Uyi.
“Congratulations. You’re both negative.”
Uyi blew out his breath in relief.
“I wish you guys a happy married life. Invite me for the wedding oh!”
“We will.” Temi beamed and locked her hand in Uyi’s.
“How about our friends’ results?” Uyi asked.
“They’ll be ready soon.” The lab attendant walked them out and they headed back to the waiting room, and to their surprise, they found empty seats where Peter, Ovie and Murphy had been sitting.
“Ah-ahn. Where are them Peter?” Temi asked. She strolled to the entrance door and peeped out and saw nothing. She turned to a nurse standing by the front desk, zapping a zit on her face as she peered into a pocket mirror. “Aunty, please where did those guys go?”
“They left,” the nurse replied and Uyi laughed.
“After the extra money I paid. Let me just meet them at home,” Temi grumbled as she and Uyi left the clinic. The moment Uyi’s car was leaving the premises, the chirpy lab attendant returned and ran out, trying to stop them, but she was unsuccessful. She turned to the nurse by the desk.
“Why didn’t those boys wait to get their results?” she asked, spreading out the three papers in her hands. The nurse shrugged and turned to her mirror.
“It’s so sad. And they didn’t leave their numbers.”
“Ehn, it’s their wahala na.”
“No, one of them tested positive oh.”
The nurse abandoned her mirror and grabbed the papers from her. “Which one?” she looked through the results. “Brother Lovehandles?” she hissed. “It’s a fake name na. Who answers Brother Lovehandles? Even the other names are fake. Useless human beings.”
The lab attendant shook her head sadly. “Na wa oh! He will go and spread it to one poor girl now. Hian. May God forgive him.”
Please, play safe!!!
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