Tag Archives: betrayal

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #4

Read episodes 1-3 of It’s Another Novocaine Saturday

I walk blindly into the living room, my eyes smarting from the effects of being dragged out of sleep rudely. I’m totally done with all the visitors coming to see Jiney. I don’t think I can entertain one more person abeg.

I unlock the door and pull it open. Smiling into my face, together with a bright morning, is the last person I want to see.

But she smiles on, unmindful of how I feel about her. And then she does something stupid as her legs leave their present position and she comes for me. I feel her hug me, pressing her huge breasts into me and squeezing me like I asked for it.

I don’t hug her back. She pulls away – smiling, still.

“Good morning, Uncle Jide. I’m finally here. Yayy! I’m so sorry I’m coming in this morning. I flew in yesterday but there was this old classmate from secondary school I bumped into at the airport. She carted me off to her house. So I stayed there and this morning I told her I had to run. So here I am! So, so happy to be here. Where is Aunty Honey?”

Aunty Honey? This person is planning on ruining my wife’s beautiful name. I will not let her.

Guys, allow me do a proper introduction. Meet Ndidiamaka, my younger half-sister.

another novocaine saturday

She came into our lives as a result of the affair my dad had years ago. Remember the woman I saw him with at the hotel? Yeah, she was Ndidi’s mom.

Let me start from the beginning. Or rather, somewhere close to the beginning.

Three weeks ago, we were invited by the old man for dinner. All of us, including Honey who was heavily pregnant then. But it turned out that it was no dinner. My dad had called us to introduce the newest member of the Onuora family who was seated beside him while my mom was in another chair nursing a blank look. She always goes blank when she’s angry.

“Sons, I’d like you to meet Ndidiamaka, your half-sister. She is here to stay and it would make me happy if you welcomed her warmly and treated her kindly.”

*insert long silence, frowning faces and tense atmosphere.

I was on my seat thinking my dad was a joke. Welcome who kindly? We should all just wake up one morning and be at ease with a woman who claims to be his daughter? Were we the ones that told him to go and sleep with her mother? What sort of irresponsibility was that?

“And that’s Jideofor,” I heard him tell her. “Director of Midwifery at the prestigious New Eden Hospital which is partly owned by Omotola, Chukwuemeka’s wife.”

“Wow,” Ndidi smiled at me. The frown that met her made her turn her attention on Emeka who was then being introduced.

“Stop making faces,” Honey whispered to me. “You look like a pouty, little baby.”

I studied the features of this ‘half-sister’ of mine. Chubby, restless and wild in the eyes. Of course, beautiful but paling in gorgeousness when matched with the Onuora wives.

“So, welcome to the family, Ndidi. We are all glad to have you with us.”

Only the wives and Kalu smiled. Nne upheld her blankness. She had had sleepless nights over the girl, and if I wasn’t a grown ass man, I would have been hating my dad for the sudden intrusion into our lives.

Okay, let’s not say sudden. We were informed a week before that night about Ndidi, in a similar meeting. The man had called us together and broken the news that his ex-mistress who had just passed away left behind an only child in his care. Ndidiamaka does not biologically belong to my dad and thus, is in no way related to us. But she had been bearing the Onuora name since she was six years old, just a year after my dad had an affair with her mother. The woman had fallen in love with and chosen him as a preferred father figure over Ndidiamaka’s deadbeat biological father. She changed her daughter’s surname after the affair ended but maintained the lie she had told her through the years that her father was dead.

Her reasons were obvious: to give Ndidiamaka a better name and future if anything ever happened to her, as is the case now.

But here’s the twist to this whole thing. The babe doesn’t know that she’s not family. She believes that twenty-seven years ago, popsi slept with her mother and nine months later, she was born. Her mother upheld that lie until she day she died, making the old man promise to accept Ndidiamaka as his daughter and never tell her the truth about her paternity. Also she ‘came clean’ with Ndidiamaka, telling her that her father was alive, after all, and she was to move to Lagos to be with him. And well, if you guessed that my dad is keeping his promise to his now late ex-mistress, you guessed right.

Nne was mad when he explained the details, as were the rest of us, with the exception of Kalu, who simply said “well, we now have the sister we always wanted. God works in mysterious ways.”

“God does not factor in this,” I told him.

Nne didn’t wait to hear what else anyone had to say; she rose up and left us all in the living room.

“Ndidi will be visiting in a week. Please, she should never know we are not related.”

“But why?” I asked.

“The poor girl has no one. Her mother was considered one of those ogbanje children. She was the fifth after four children who all died really young. Her mother also passed away when giving birth to her. She was then left in her father’s care but he remarried and had other kids, leaving her at the mercy of a stepmother who maltreated her. Ultimately, she ran from home and lived her entire life having no one. She met Ndidi’s father and got pregnant by him. But he disappeared from the scene the day the child was born and has not been seen since then. Ndidiamaka has borne my name for twenty years and she will continue to do so for as long as she desires.”

“Just tell her the truth,” Emeka said.

“I made a promise, son, and I cannot break it.”

“Well, I don’t see a problem here,” I stated. “You made the promise. Not us. We will help you break the news to her.”

“What if I made the promise because I’m comfortable with the status quo?”

“Oh?”

“I always wanted a daughter, after we lost ours. Ndidiamaka is a very lovely girl, well-mannered and god-fearing. You all will love her when you get to know her.”

“Pops, are you sure this chick is not your child?” Emeka questioned.

“I co-ask,” Oba commented.

“She is not. I met her mother in 1995. Do the math.”

At that point, I felt it was useless talking to him. He had made up his mind to keep the chick and there was nothing we could do, although I had my own plans not to let her into my personal space. To me, she was as much a gold-digger as was her mother who felt it was alright to sleep with someone else’s husband and dump the paternity of her child on him. I didn’t buy into the sob story then and not even when Ndidi sent a warm smile Honey’s way and the latter smiled back.

“So when’s your baby due?” Ndidi asked.

“In two weeks,” Honey replied.

Ndidi crosses her legs comfortably in her seat. “Boy or girl?”

“We’re not telling. You all have to wait until he or she comes.”

“So, Jide will birth the baby himself?”

I was uninspired by her audacity. What next would she want to know? How the baby was conceived?

“Well…” Honey looked at me. “We’ll see.”

The living room went quiet. It seemed everyone was waiting for the man of the house to end the meeting but he didn’t give the impression that he wanted to.

“So, Ndidi?” Honey called.

“Yes?”

“I was thinking that if you wouldn’t mind, you could come stay with us when you get bored of staying here.”

I turned my head and gave Honey a sharp glower.

“Really?” Ndidi responded in excitement. Evidently, Honey was her most favorite person in the room. None of the other wives had been openhearted. Tola, resting her head on Emeka’s shoulder was exhausted from working two night shifts. Yazmin was more interested in her nails which she had been staring at for quite some time. Elsie was going to support Nne all the way, and since the old lady was not smiling, Elsie stayed loyal.

“We just moved into a new house,” naughty Honey continued, “and we have a spare bedroom. I’m sure Jide wouldn’t mind. Right, hotstuff?”

I felt her hand rubbing my knee. It was her way of placating me. I lifted my eyes up to find everyone else focusing on me. I concentrated on my mom’s eyes, particularly. She was literally begging me to take the intruder off her hands.

“Jide?” Honey pressed on.

“Well, it’s not like it’s a permanent thing, is it?” I probed.

“I’m searching for a job right now,” Ndidi answered. “Once I get one, I’ll find my own place.”

“What type of job?” Tola enquired.

“Something that has to do with event planning. I love weddings. I planned two of my friends’ weddings, from start to finish.”

“That’s great!” Honey exclaimed. “My friend owns Novocaine Knights. We’ll see if they have an opening.”

I gave up on Honey.

“You know Mrs. Ditorusin?” Ndidi asked with disbelief in her eyes.

“Yeah,” Honey answered.

“Oh my God! For real? I love that woman to death!”

“I will talk to her on your behalf.”

“Please do,” my dad implored and I suddenly felt it was time to leave. I stood up.

“We have to leave,” I announced. Honey took my hand and I helped her up.

“Thank you, Uncle Jide,” Ndidi said. “I’ll be leaving for Onitsha first thing tomorrow morning but I’ll be back in a week.”

I didn’t give a reply. I prayed that something would stop her from returning.

Honey and I left the house. Roughly an hour later, while we were at home preparing dinner, she apologized for her stupid decision to bring a total stranger into our house.

“Nne and I spoke last night,” she explained, rubbing the back of my neck this time. “She begged me to offer to accommodate Ndidi. I’m sorry, I didn’t tell you. I knew you’d be against it.”

My anger instantly vacated me like a demon exorcised from a soul. The look in Honey’s eyes melted me. I still haven’t found the secret to staying mad at her for long periods.

“I’m more worried about you. Will you be fine with her around?” I asked.

“Of course. She’s going to help with the cleaning and the baby and all of that. She’s not here for osho free o. By the time I’m through with her she’ll turn to lepa and run away by herself.”

We laughed, and that unfortunate night was forgotten. Ndidi never crossed my mind until this moment. She stands before me with nothing less than four travel cases behind her. I give her a good look, observing her physical features in the daylight. I still find her fat. And short. And with a nose ring I didn’t notice the other night.

“How did you locate this place?”

“Aunty Honey sent me the address.”

This Aunty Honey needs to be caned.

“Come in.”

She bends and picks two of the suitcases while I help with the other two.

“Wow. Your house is so yellow and so beautiful,” she exclaims when she steps in.

I don’t respond.

“And your wedding pics are so beautiful.”

She is referring to a series of framed photos hanging off one of the walls. Honey and I hadn’t had any theme in mind when we were putting them up but somehow they worked well with the entire décor.

I lead her into an empty bedroom right beside Jiney’s.

“Kitchen is that way,” I inform Ndidi. “The backyard door must be closed at all times to prevent flies from entering. The baby and my mom are next door, so no noise, no loud music. And erm…as for house rules and chores, Honey will brief you when she wakes up.”

“Thanks, Uncle Jide.”

“Just Jide will be fine.”

“Okay. So, can I see Jiney? I’m following you on Instagram and I see all her pictures. She’s so cute. Don’t mind all those bad belles that were bashing Aunty Honey for that breastfeeding picture. We Africans and our hypocrisy.” She hisses. “Don’t our old mothers in the village carry around their sagging breasts without clothes? Who is telling them to cover up? But they won’t let young mothers be. The same people will attack any woman who feels ashamed to breastfeed her baby in public. I just don’t understand Nigerians sometimes. So, can I see Jiney?”

Have I told you that Ndidi talks like her mouth is suffering from dysentery?

“Jiney is sleeping.”

“Oh,” she lowers her tone. “Later then.”

I turn.

“Uncle Jide?”

I turn back.

“Please can you follow me back on IG? I know you have like almost two hundred thousand followers and I have only one thousand and you don’t follow people like me but please follow back. Please!”

“Sure.”

I turn again.

“Wait!”

She comes to me and lifts her phone in the air above us for a selfie.

“Duck face, Uncle. Erm…I mean, Jide.”

I frown. The shutter goes off.

“Thank you.” She giggles and dashes into her room, banging the door in my face. I stare after her quizzically. What a strange being.

Before I get to my room, I hear the sound of a notification. I pick my phone. Ndidi has tagged me in a photo.

Me and my big brother, @husbandmidwife. Love him to bits. We woke up like this #TheOnuoras #Family #grateful

For some reason, I smile.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

It’s morning in the Ditorusin mansion. Genesis and Dominic are whipping up breakfast in the kitchen. The twins are with them. Just learning to stand on their own, Zach and Zoe find it a good pastime to flex their legs while playing with a yapping toy dog they soon would destroy. Vhasti, the cat, sits beside one of the fridges, watching the scene. She’s not a fan of the twins. She does all she can to stay away from them and this is quite hard, being that Zach always enjoys going after her.

He spots her now and yells some gibberish, stretching out his hands in her direction.

“Zach, no.” Genesis points a finger at him as he begins to crawl towards her. Vhasti looks at Genesis and meows for help. Genesis walks to her, picks her up and dumps her outside the kitchen, closing the door. Somehow, this upsets Zach and he begins to cry.

“Shut up,” Dominic mutters. The toddler bawls louder. Iya Idaya, the housekeeper, comes in and lifts him up. Zoe crawls to her, demanding to be carried as well.

“Abeg, just take them upstairs,” Genesis orders, carrying a tray of two plates of boiled yam and scrambled eggs out to a small sitting room she and Dominic prefer to use. Dominic joins her with water and juice and they both sit to breakfast on a couch. For Genesis, this is her first meal with him in days. She had been busy planning a birthday party for the governor’s wife, a three-day event that ended the night before. She is happy to finally have quality time with Dominic who has largely been occupied with the mall.

As it is with them, they fall into hearty conversation with Dominic having Genesis in fits over some experience he had on his last trip. She leaves her meal half-consumed eventually, dabbing away moisture from her eyes as her laughter dies down.

“I can’t… I can’t, anymore. Please, stop,” she begs.

Dominic puts away his plate and hers and relaxes on the couch. She rests her head on his laps

“Come with me on my next trip,” he proposes.

“It’s going to be all work for me but then I get to spend my nights with you.”

“Are you serious? What happened to your never-mix-work-with-pleasure policy?”

“You’re the exception, sweetheart. You have no idea how crazy I am over you.”

She blushes, turning her attention to the wall behind them.

“You think I enjoy my trips away from you? No. I’m thinking of you half the time, worried about you, knowing you’re lonely as I am.”

“I’m almost touched.”

gendon

“So, let’s go away for a while. A whole week. I know you’re tired of traveling but I’ll make this trip worth your while. A second honeymoon of sorts, before your Mamisi comes into our lives and uses her witchcraft to separate us.”

Genesis gives him a harmless frown that holds a smile underneath before going back to her meal. He keeps his stare on her for a while. It’s nothing new to her. In the earlier stages of their relationship, his stares had been longer, like he was trying to read her. It had made her uncomfortable. These days, she pretends she doesn’t know when he does it, understanding that it is his way of expressing feelings he finds hard to let out.

“Nick, this is the fourth day and Lexus is still locked in her room. She says she’s fine but I’m worried.”

“Ignore her. She’s going through some sort of heartbreak, or should I say breakdown.”

Genesis raises her head a little. “What did you do to her?”

“Nothing. We just had a talk about her life and where it was headed. In my opinion, the talk ended well. She got my message.”

“Did you go hard on her?”

Dominic doesn’t reply.

“Dominic?”

“Yep, I did.”

Genesis sits up. “Why nau?”

“She’s not a kid, Gen. She just turned twenty-eight. She should know what she wants in life by now.”

“Nick, I did not know what I wanted in life until I met you.”

“You had a half-woman, half-fish as a mother.”

Genesis rolls her eyes.

“Lexus had and still has everything, yet her life holds no direction,” he continues.

“You and Eva were hardly there for her. The foundation was very faulty. You have to give her time to understand life, to understand herself.”

“At twenty-eight?”

“Nick, I don’t like this at all. At all.”

“Well, it gets worse. I told her to move out.”

“What!”

Dominic spreads out his hands and shrugs.

“Where do you want her to go?”

“Anywhere but home. I’m done cosseting her. Her mates are married with kids…”

“I hope you didn’t tell her that.”

He shrugs again.

Genesis shakes her head in disappointment. “You are impossible. Sometimes I wonder why I married you.”

She stands up.

“If Lexus leaves this house and goes out there and anything happens to her, I will not forgive you.”

“Yes, step-mommy.”

She flings a napkin at him and starts out. She climbs up the stairs, the sound of music drawing her towards Lexus’ bedroom. She finds the door slightly open and walks in. Lexus, who is in the middle of folding a pair of jeans, looks at her, and turns back to her activity.

“Hey, Lex.”

“Hi, Gen.”

Genesis takes in the bedroom which is a mess of clothes and boxes. Lexus seems ready to leave the house; most of her things are folded neatly in the boxes. Genesis tries to imagine the room without her and it doesn’t feel right.

“Can I turn down the music?” she asks. Lexus walks over to her electronic stand, picks a remote control and soon the music is off.

“So your dad told me that you guys had a talk.”

Lexus doesn’t respond. She is now folding a pair of leggings.

“Lex, I’m sorry for anything he said that hurt you, but I want you to know that he has good intentions…”

“Gen, please stop. You don’t have to waste your energy explaining anything. He’s right. I need my own place. It’s about time.”

Lexus pulls up the jeans shorts she is wearing which can’t quite stay on her waist. Genesis notes that she has lost some weight, going back to her original body size before she left Nigeria. It upsets Genesis. The girl has only been around for a total of two weeks and she is already showing signs of stress.

Genesis closes the door. “Can we talk about it?”

“No.” Lexus slams a face cap over a pile of folded clothes in one of the boxes and moves to the next which is half-filled.

“Please, don’t shut me out, Lex. Something is going on with you and I want to know what it is.”

For a stepmother and stepdaughter, their relationship is enviable. Genesis over the past year became Lexus’ go-to person whenever she felt the need to vent out. Genesis held a lot of Lexus’ secrets, ones she could never tell anyone, including an abortion she had in New York that almost messed her up psychologically. Genesis had played the role of a shrink, holding long phone and Skype sessions with her until she pulled through.

“Talk to me, Lex.”

Lexus lowers her weight over the box for a while and then turns around to sit on the floor. She heaves a sigh and her eyes throng with tears. She starts to sob. Genesis slips in beside her.

“Chichi is moving into Kasi’s today.”

“Are you for real? She’s in the country already?”

“She came about a week ago and they went for a DNA test and it was positive. Trinity is his baby.” Lexus’ voice thins out through trembling lips.

Genesis takes her hand.

“I mean, I knew she was his kid but I was kind’a hoping she wasn’t, you know?”

“Me too.”

“But she is, and it fucking hurts. I’m looking at Trini and I’m thinking she should be mine. I should be the one having his baby. I shouldn’t have aborted mine. I should have told him I was pregnant and stayed with him. But I didn’t. I ran off because I was scared of commitment and responsibility. And now, there’s Chichi with his baby and I have to live with that every day. Every fucking day, Gen.

“To worsen it, Chichi’s mom made a phone call to Kasi’s mom and told her everything. Two days later, Kasi’s mom was in Lagos to see her granddaughter. She then made Kasi promise to marry Chichi but first she said he had to give her accommodation in his crib so he can have a relationship with his daughter.”

“What nonsense. And Kasi agreed to this?”

“You have no idea how he is with his mom. She’s gold to him. He had refused to her demands at first but after she went into a hysterical crying fit that made her ill, he agreed to all she said.”

“No, that’s wrong. That’s just plain wrong. I’ll have a talk with him. Bringing Chichi to his home is going to be a disaster. That girl is so manipulative.”

“I thought she had changed and I honestly forgave her and let her in. I should have listened to you. I’m so stupid sometimes.”

“Lex, you did the right thing, hon. You made Kasiobi responsible and I am proud of you. How he handles that responsibility now is the issue. I have to make him see that the route he’s taking might ruin him.”

“Please, just let him be. I’m moving on.”

“Tonbra you love Kasiobi.”

Lexus shakes her head, not in denial to the statement but as a way to stop another crying spell.

It doesn’t work. Genesis stretches an arm over her shoulder and pulls her in for a side-hug which soon turns into a full embrace.

She had warned her about getting into Chichi’s life but all Lexus had wanted at that time, after hearing Chichi’s story, was to redeem herself. The abortion had left her in pieces. The instant she had done it she fell into some kind of rut. The pain never left, no matter how much Genesis had tried. She only succeeded in lessening it. Lexus’ relationship with Russell had been nothing more than a distraction until Chichi sent a direct message to her on Twitter. Lexus then told Genesis in an elated voice over the phone that fate was giving her a second chance to redeem herself. From then on, she lived vicariously through Chichi’s pregnancy. The moment Trinity was born, she made plans to see her. When she eventually did, she called Genesis and told her it had been an amazing moment but it was not powerful enough to drive the guilt. Rather it came with its own sting in the tail, and now she is forced to watch the man she loves commit to a relationship that should not be.

“Chichi is suddenly acting distant after getting what she wants,” Lexus reveals, pulling away from Genesis.

“But what did you expect, Lex?”

“Bitch used me.”

“She uses everyone.”

“Well, she should enjoy. Like I said, I’m moving on. Dad’s talk helped. He was harsh and I hate him for the things he said and I’m probably not going to talk to him in a long time but dude was right. At twenty-eight Eva already bought her first car from cash she got off acting. But me, all I can show is the money she left me and what my dad gives me. I’ve not made a single cent of my own. That’s crap.”

“So what are you planning to do with yourself?”

Lexus let out something akin to a smile, wiping her tears.

“I have this idea. It’s huge.” She sniffled.

“I’m listening.”

“I want to open an art center.”

“Okay.”

“Not like your average art center but a hub for artists to do their thing and get paid doing it. All sorts of artists, from the one who does makeup, to the painter, to even the graphic artist. Everything will be there, including art classes.”

“That sounds like a great idea, Lex.”

“Yeah. It’s huge too. I’m so afraid to start doing it.”

“You don’t have to be. I’ll help you by getting someone who can see through the details and get things started. All you have to do is supervise. He will get a good spot for you, fix it up the way you want, register the company and do everything else.”

“That sounds expensive.”

“Yeah, guys like him help build businesses from scratch for a price but we can negotiate. Just leave it all to me.”

“No, I want to be involved.”

“That’s fine. Once you’ve moved to your apartment and you’re settled, we’ll start.” Genesis smiles. “So proud of you, Lex.”

“Can we not tell Dominic?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks, Gen.”

“You’re welcome. Now, for that makeup you have been promising me.”

“Yes, o.” Lexus rises up and after flinging off a few clothes over a pile on her bed, she takes out a state-of-the-art makeup box and opens it, stunning Genesis.

“You of all people bought this?” she says, getting up.

“This is not anyhow shit. Cost me thousands of dollars. I got it after my three-day crash course in makeup. Didn’t even see such a big deal in the whole thing.”

“Oshey Van Gogh.”

Lexus laughs. Someone knocks on the door and she invites the person in. Iya Idaya peeks in and announces to Genesis that Mamisi is waiting downstairs.

“Tell her I’ll be right down.”

“Okay, ma.”

In Iya Idaya’s absence, Lexus makes a comment about not being a fan of Mamisi.

“She’s creepy. Her eyes…”

“I know, right? When I was little I used to feel like she could see into my soul.”

“But you know you kind’a look like her, right?”

“How?”

“Apart from the eyes and your dimple, you guys look alike. Same shape of face, lips and even nose.”

“Very funny. What weed did you smoke this morning, girl?”

“I’m not kidding. You look like her.”

Genesis walks to the door. “I’d rather look like Lucifer.”

She left Lexus’ room and trudged downstairs. Mamisi is waiting in the living room, feet crossed together, legs neatly put side by side and back held up straight. As usual, she looks nothing like her age. Today, Genesis notices that she goes for a simple look, wearing a modest gown of animal print. But her feet are a different matter. They are clad in a pair of stilettos that leave Genesis wondering what their use is for if all she had done was gotten into her car and driven over from her house which is just a walking distance.

“I thought I wouldn’t meet you at home,” Mamisi comments. “You’re always busy.”

“Good morning, Mamisi.”

“Come and sit.” She invites Genesis to the three-sitter couch she is seated on. Genesis sits, leaving a full space between them.

“Are you enjoying your new house?” she inquires.

“Yes, I am. But how are you? How are my babies?”

“They’re fine.”

“When will you bring them over to spend time with me? That house is lonely.”

“I’ll come and visit, Mamisi.”

“Please do. And come with them.”

She gives Genesis a sweep of her eyes. “You’re looking so basic this morning, Gen. Or is your husband not home?”

“He is.”

“Then why are you dressed this way?”

“What way?” Genesis takes in her appearance. She feels her casual attire of leggings and a shirt is satisfactory. In fact, Dominic hadn’t given rest to her nipples pushing through the soft cotton material of the shirt all morning.

“You’ve not even showered.”

“Mamisi.”

“You’re not acting like the girl I raised. Your man has to see you fresh and perky at all times. Give him the image of eternal beauty, of perfection.”

Genesis chuckles while her eyes roll. “Mamisi, I’m so done with that your perfection thing abeg. There’s nothing like that. Dominic has seen me at my worst.”

“And that is why you still smell of breastmilk?’

Genesis takes a sniffle of the shirt she has on.

“You’re still breastfeeding?”

“Zoe has refused to be weaned.”

“That is such a disgrace. How do you handle her in public?”

“I give her what she wants.”

Mamisi claps her hand. “Breastfeeding in public is classless, Gen. Please, stop it. Wean the child. She will not die. I weaned you early too.”

Genesis pulls a frown. “Me or Nancy?”

“Sorry. I meant, Nancy. And thank God I did because despite all my efforts to housetrain that your sister’s voracious appetite, she still turned into a warthog.”

Genesis shakes her head. “So not nice.”

“But please, stop nursing Zoe. Wear strong, supportive bras and express all the milk before having sex with your husband or funny accidents might happen.”

Genesis looks away, embarrassed. Funny accidents had happened already.

“Mamisi, is there a particular reason why you’re here? I see it in your eyes. You want something.”

“I’m glad you asked. I want a few things, actually.”

“I’m all ears.”

“Or rather a few people.”

“People?”

“I’m short of household staff.”

“Okay?”

“I need a cook, for one. I find culinary activities rather boring these days. I also need a housekeeper. If she can cook, perfect. I need my gateman changed to a security guard just like the ones you have here.”

Genesis lifts her brows.

“And lastly, I need a driver.”

Genesis swallows for lack of what to say.

“Wow, Mamisi. That is a lot to ask. What do you need a security guard for?”

“Gen, I have nightmares from what happened to me. I wish I had altogether not gotten my memory back but I have and I’m having nightmares that someone will break into the house and snatch me away to kill me. Only God knows if the person that tried to kill me before is still out there.”

“Mamisi…” Genesis complains.

“And also, I wouldn’t mind if my driver is a bodyguard too.”

“How do you want me to find all these people? And who will be paying them?”

“My accounts are frozen because of that case I have with the crimes commission. The goddess will punish those bastards that tried to ruin my name.”

“Mamisi, you were recording videos of highly placed men having orgies. What did you expect?”

“Let’s leave the past where it is, my darling. Let’s talk about now. When will I be able to get the new staff?”

Genesis feels frustration coming up.

“You’ll have to let me think about it.”

“And how long will this thinking take?”

“I don’t know. Just…give me a few days.”

“Thank you, anyway. You’re always a sweetheart.”

She leans forward and kisses her on the cheeks.

“Oh, before I forget, I brought some clothes that need to be laundered. Can you have your maid come get them from the car?”

Genesis feels sudden weakness in the bones. “Her name is Iya Idaya.”

“Is she not a maid?”

“No, she is family.”

Mamisi shows a confused stare. “I hope she doesn’t boss you around?”

“No.”

“You better put a tight rein on her. Maids can never be part of family. They are what they are.”

She stands up.

“Walk me to my car.”

Genesis accompanies her outside. When they get to her car, Genesis takes out a bag of dirty clothes from the backseat, hugs her and watches until she leaves the compound. She then looks up and sees Dominic staring down from his office window.

©Sally@moskedapages

 

images: paulateles8blacklovestories

Fish Brain Games (2) Kyenpia

KYENPIA

I was sick. Throbbing headache, burning forehead, funny taste in my mouth, prickly joints, plus an overwhelming urge to puke. The hotel suite Amaka, Fiyin and I had lodged in was grand and beautiful and swanked of cool shades of butter yellow, cream and baby blue but it wasn’t enough to cheer me. I was looking forward to turning off the lights and having an early night’s rest.

I perched on the dressing table before Amaka and applied her makeup with shaky hands. Her thoughts were too preoccupied for her to notice I was not myself. She was preparing for her 9pm date but it was already 9:45 and she was the least bit moved by her tardiness.

“I still am shocked that Doyin gave me a Panamera with a fake engine,” she grumped.

“Wait o, Kyen,” Fiyin said with a mouth full of amala. “What did Butter Babe say again? I really didn’t understand all he was explaining.”

“He said,” Amaka clarified, “that the real Porsche engine was replaced with a Chevy and the Chevy was not new and he said something about cylinder and rings being bad or tampered with.”

“That Doyin’s a devil o. So he wanted you to die while driving the car.”

“Don’t worry.” Amaka smiled wickedly. “I’ll get him. Shey it’s Doyin. Relax. When I’m through with him ehn…”

“My friend, stay still,” I pushed her to face me as another feverish tremor shook my body. I did my best to still it, hoping they did not notice.

Touchdown in Abuja had been smooth but the journey hadn’t. Three of us were accompanied by the man they so fondly called Butter Babe whom they had met for the first time that afternoon. I could tell by the stares from my friends’ eyes, especially Fiyin’s, that they were struck by whatever it was that struck girls in certain guys that looked like him. But for me, it was different. I saw him and felt sick to my stomach. My heart doubled its pace and a heat wave that awakened dormant nerve endings took me. My eyes burned when he looked into them and for fear of appearing flushed by his presence, I busied myself with packing our things from the smaller car into his. We drove back to Lagos and he booked the 7 o’clock flight to Abuja for us and just when I thought I was free from his sickening presence, he hopped on the plane, paying business class tickets for us. I stretched out my legs and pretended to be asleep during the entire journey but listened as he chatted Amaka and Fiyin away. He had ignored me completely even up to the moment when we parted ways at the parking lot of the Transcorp.

“I’ll see you girls tomorrow,” he shook their hands, and mine as though I was a stranger. Then he added, for my benefit, “I’ll be staying at León Hotels. Um…are you girls sure I shouldn’t book a suite there for you?”

“No, thanks,” I said hurriedly and walked away and I didn’t hear from him since then.

“Kay, are you fine so?” Amaka looked away from the mirror and at me.

“I’m fine,” I lied.

“Is it because of Butter Babe and the way he was ignoring you?”

Butter Babe had a real name and he told them but they insisted on the Butter Babe. It was a name they had given him the first time I spoke about him. That day while having a breakfast of agege bread and butter, Amaka christened him.

“But Kay, what did you do to him nau?” Amaka pressed on.

I shook my head and kept on applying her makeup. “You’re late.”

“Please jor, the person can wait. You’re more important. Talk to me.”

“It’s nothing.” I smiled and the sides of my mouth flamed painfully.

“Kyen…”

“Maxy, I’m fine. Now let’s get you ready for your date.”

I applied the last brush strokes to her cheeks and told her I was done. She wasn’t so pleased with my work; she didn’t like the natural glow.

“Am I going for a swim or a date?” she hissed. “Thanks, anyways.”

She picked her makeup kit and redid her whole face. She was in her diva mood but I wasn’t bothered because I knew it was going to disappear soon. The girl believed she was going to meet James at the restaurant but he wasn’t going to be there. In fact, she had no idea what the entire trip held for her. She also wasn’t aware that she was treading the same path that made James walk out of her life over a year ago. He loved her intensely but was very afraid of losing her to his wealth. It wasn’t that he was stingy—because he was willing to give her the world—all he needed from her was a woman who could weather out the storms with him. He wanted her head out of the clouds and her feet on demure ground. As a result, he recruited Ishi and I to help. While he went ahead to attend to pressing issues, we set her on a journey to his past just to discover the places and events that contributed to his success. I knew she was going to find it difficult but I knew my friend was stronger than she would have anyone believe.

“Buy me something when you’re coming back o.” Fiyin said, concentrating on her ewedu and amala as Amaka hurried out.

“Kyen, you have to taste this meat.” Fiyin stood from the bed and walked to me with her plate of soup. “Taste.” She put a piece of meat to my mouth and I shook my head. “Taste nau. When did you start refusing meat?”

“Leave me jor.”

Just then she mistakenly rubbed against my neck and had a feel of my temperature. “Kyen, you’re hot o!” She dropped her plate and used her unsoiled hand to feel my forehead. “You’re burning up. What’s wrong? Malaria, typhoid, your period? What?”

“I’m fine,” I mumbled.

“No, ya not.” She rushed off into the bathroom and returned with washed hands. Straight into her bag she dove and began fishing for a thermometer. I have seen so many things come out of that bag; it seemed to have everything one was looking for. Once she even forgot a half-eaten loaf of agege bread which grew moldy and turned into an object nobody could recognize. I also saw a hanger, a games console, decoder and her father’s unloaded revolver.

“Here it is!” she pulled out a digital thermometer, unwrapping a yellow thread off it. “Open your mouth!” she sang and I lifted my arm. “You’ve not had your shower this evening. I’ll not have my therm smelling like armpit.”

“I won’t put that thing in my mouth.”

She thrust the thermometer into my armpit and put down my hand and started humming as she waited.

“Can you stop doing that?”

“Kyen, Butter Babe iz fine o. Oh my God! See hiz eyes! And the way he talks! Oh my God! Wait, Kyen…” she frowned. “You’re not playing this guy, are you? ‘cause if you are, you better stop! This one’s a keeper. You guys fit each other sef with all the foneh two of you speak. So you better keep him or someone else will steal him o. And it’s time you settled down. You’re old.”

I was twenty-eight.

“Yes, Mommy.” I answered, removed the thermometer and handed to her.

“Awww…” She shook her head and sloped down her lips. “Kyenpia, ya 38.7 degrees hot. Ya sick! Tch-tch-tch-tch-tch. Lemme give you something to take then I’ll call Butter Babe to come and nurse you while I hit one of the bars in this hotel.”

I wanted to ask her how she got his number but it escaped my mind. I walked into the bathroom, undressed and turned on the shower. Drops of water hit me like sharp needles but I braced the tremors until they slowly passed away. Yet I didn’t feel any better standing there because I knew my ailment wasn’t caused by a bug.

“Hayam hia!” Fiyin burst into the bathroom. “I have aspirin!” she moseyed towards me, shaking her big Yoruba behind. “You’ll feel better. I just ordered goat meat peppersoup for you, ko? You’ll take it, sleep well and when you wake, you’ll be fine.” She shoved the pill into my mouth. “Me, I’m hitting the pool bar.”

I noticed she was dressed in a tight-fitting dress that provocatively brought out her voluptuous figure. I hoped she met someone new out there.

“Have fun,” I murmured.

“Bye!” she hurried out. I chewed the aspirin, savoring its acerbic taste immensely and when I was done, I stepped out of the shower and wrapped a robe around me.

The door to the suite slammed and Amaka walked in. She was upset and carrying a gift box in hand.

“Hi babes,” I said with an uplifting smile.

“Kyen, I’ve done it! I’m finished!” Amaka blurted, taking off her heels.

“What happened? How did your date go?”

“Horrible. I thought I was going to meet James or at least a hot, young guy but guess who was there.”

“Who?”

“James’ maternal uncle! Apparently he works in this hotel. And he was waiting for me for fifty-two minutes!”

“His uncle?” I asked but I already knew.

“Yes! And see how I dressed!”

I looked at what she wore and felt her pain. Apart from the fact that it was really short, her breasts threatened to steal the show, as usual.

“And see my makeup. Why didn’t I stick to the one you did for me?” She rubbed her eyes. “I wanted to find a hole to bury myself, Kay. Then he started asking me all these questions about James and I didn’t have an answer and that was when I realized there are many things I didn’t know about James and he knows everything about me. Seriously, what type of wife will I make?” Tears filled her little eyes. I took the gift box from her and placed it on the bed.

“Kay, James will leave me again.”

“Calm down. He won’t.” Like a lover I held her from behind and rocked her gently.

“Now, the uncle will go and tell Mama Haliru and the whole family and James will dump me and go back to Watzhername and I won’t be able to see Eric again…”

“You’re stronger than this, Maxy. Stop it. Who gave you the box?”

“The uncle.”

To distract her I opened the box and pulled out a beautiful Hausa traditional attire and a veil. There was also a red envelope in the box. I picked it and took out a note which I read aloud.

Amaka,

Hope you enjoyed your date.

Take a ride as early as eight in the morning to Zaria. Take a bus to Shika. Ask for Baba Sani Restaurant and for Zakari. Please, dress appropriately.

Ishi

“Seriously?” Amaka mumbled. “To boko haram zone? That’s where they want me to go? As if this night wasn’t bad enough?”

I put the note back in its envelope and took her hand.

“Me, I’m tired, I can’t play this game again, Kay. I can’t.”

“You can do it, Maxy,” I hugged her again and felt the first surge of tears shake her body.

“Is there anything bad I’ve done to James that he’ll be treating me like this?” she sobbed.

“No, there’s nothing you’ve done.”

“I love him so much but he always wants me to prove it. How much will he take out of me before he knows he has me where he wants me?”

I had no answer, so I held her tight until she stopped crying.

“Maxy you can do this. I’m here for you, okay?”

It felt good to hold her because it was therapy for my soul as well. Something in me melted as I tried to comfort the only woman I called my sister, and without helping it, I dissolved into tears too. Amaka slowly disengaged from me and searched my face, parting away my hair to see me properly.

“Kay, you’re crying. This is a first.” She led me to the bed and sat me down. “Talk to me.”

I nodded but it took a while for me to say the words. “I think I’m in love.”

She pulled back and burst into laughter. “Go jor,” she said. “Butter Babe?”

I nodded again. “In the past, with us, sex was nothing intimate. Once our clothes were off and the deed was done, we were gone our separate ways but he gradually changed the rules with lingering after-kisses and phone calls at odd hours of the night to tell me about his day. Then there was this strange look in his eyes and the way he buried his head in my neck each time he hugged me… Maxy, the scariest part was that I liked it. I never stopped him; in short, I wanted more… Please, tell me I’ve lost my mind.”

“You’ve lost your mind,” she grinned. “But you found your heart. Finally, a real man broke the spell.”

“I’m not sure I can handle it. I’ve been sick throughout the day. In short, I can’t explain the way I’m feeling.”

“It’s because you’ve not told him nau. Or have you?”

I shook my head. “Last night, I couldn’t take it anymore and blurted to him that all I wanted from him was sex and a man who could be the father of my child.”

Amaka drew back with an ugly scowl and stared at me for an extended time. “The father of your child.” She repeated slowly. “So, this your life’s plan not to get married but to have a child is for real, Kyen? You’re not joking?”

“You know I don’t believe in love or marriage and yes, it’s my plan to have a child before I turn thirty.”

“Hian! So, he’s a sperm donor.”

“Maxy, I can’t do cuddling and PDA and all that rubbish! Relationships are a ton of baggage and I don’t want to carry one on my head, abeg.”

“And you told him that?”

“Yes! And I don’t want to tell you how it went.”

Amaka sighed and the look in her eyes said she was about to get serious. She hardly tried at wisdom but when she did, it came from somewhere deep.

“Kay, I know you had a rough childhood, coming from nothing and having no one but yourself and fighting against all odds to make it without anyone’s help. Again, I know you never had to rely on any man like the rest of us, and you have fulfilled all your dreams all on your own. But Kay, I think it’s time to reward yourself with a little love.”

I shook my head.

“Please, allow someone else help you carry the load…”

I shook my head again.

“It’s going to be alright, Kay.”

“I just want to be left alone, Amaka.”

“But your heart doesn’t. It’s tired of the loneliness. See, you know what?” She clapped her hands together. “Get dressed and go and tell Butter Babe exactly how it’s doing you.”

“I can’t.”

“You will.” She stood and pulled me up. “Yay! My friend’s in love! Finally! Do you know how long Fi and I have waited for you? Where’s Fi sef?”

“Somewhere, drinking.”

“That girl and booze sha. Dress up!” She urged me and fished into her box for something to wear.

Some thirty minutes later, we were dressed and downstairs, getting into a cab. The drive to León Hotels was short and uncomfortable. On the way, I felt my fever rise, so I popped another aspirin and downed a full bottle of water while Amaka came up with a plan on how to break Fiyin away from DJ for good. The cab left us outside the hotel gate and we took a long walk in. The hotel boasted of a five-storey structure of dark glass surrounded by green life that was pulsating even at night. The weather was a little cold and showed early signs of Harmattan. I wondered why it still rained in Lagos and prayed I had closed my windows back home.

Amaka hurried ahead of me the moment we got into the reception. I saw her speaking to an overly bleached, overly made up girl behind the desk; I caught only half of their conversation.

“He’s at the lounge bar,” the girl pointed. “See that door on your left?”

We turned and saw a group of guys seated on comfortable couches in a corner, discussing. Beside them was a large, glass door.

“Go through it,” the girl said. We thanked her and went in the direction we were led. A corridor behind the glass door took us straight to the lounge bar. It was a large, dark room with dim lights that glowed warmly only in certain areas. The bar table was long and glassy and two barmen were behind it. My mouth watered for a stiff drink to calm my nerves but Amaka held my hand tightly. Our eyes searched for Butter Babe, scanning the entire room, going through the groups of people we saw hurdled in corners. Finally, we saw him seated on a couch in one end but he was not alone.

Fiyin was with him.

Amaka’s grip around my hand tightened. “Is that Fi?” she asked. “I thought she was at the Transcorp.”

I felt something stir in me that didn’t really feel pleasant. I guess they call it jealousy.

“Did she tell you she was coming here, Kay?” Amaka asked.

“No.”

“No, this is bad, Kyenpia. Fiyin’s doing this again?” Amaka boiled with instant anger as she let go of my hand. I held her back. “Let’s go and meet her.”

“I’m not interested in that drama, Maxy.” I shook my head and turned away but Amaka came after me and stopped me.

“Kyenpia, that girl is a bad friend. She did this to you before and you let her go but it won’t happen this time again o!”

“Maxy, you know I don’t do drama, especially, not for a guy.”

“This is not a matter of doing drama, my friend! That is the first man you’ve ever loved and you want to let him go like that?”

“He’s not worth it–”

“Don’t lemme slap you now! Go there and displace that backstabbing bitch and when you’re through, I’ll face her myself.”

“Maxy…”

“Kyenpia Elizabeth Joseph, if you don’t go, I’ll go there and cause a scene. Oya!”

She pushed me forward and followed behind closely. I took slow steps towards Fiyin and Butter Babe. It was Fiyin who first saw me and she moved away from him and blessed me with a Judas smile as she stood.

“Yay! You guys finally came!” she hugged me. “What took you so long? I’ve been waiting.”

Amaka and I looked at each other in shock and before I could prevent her, she stopped Fiyin who was trying to hug her, with a dirty slap.

Oh, good Lord!

©Sally@moskedapages Cover Design by @Iamayomidotun

No Heart Feelings #6

This post is dedicated to Goodnews and Amelia and Godiya and Chux and Toyinfab… HML! God bless your unions!

Read Previous Episodes HERE

Nandir had an oval face with high cheekbones and a narrow chin. Her doll-like eyes were always accentuated by long eyelashes and thinly plucked eyebrows. A long nose rested above constantly pursed lips and she possessed dark, glowing skin that was almost without blemish. She wasn’t particularly beautiful facially but her appearance drawn out by eye-catching clothes and a relentlessly spilling cleavage always turned heads wherever she went.

Nandir adored the attention. In fact, she thrived on it. She could never be seen out of her house without makeup and some revealing outfit, even under the chilly conditions of Jos weather. There was no such thing as casual appearance with her. But for sad reasons, she had stumbled out of her one-room apartment in nothing but a pair of jeans and a rumpled, shapeless tee which was faded and frayed at the edges, and had hired a taxi all the way to the Yakubu Gowon Airport to pick Jimi. Her hair was in its state of natural mess and the strip of fake eyelashes on her left eye was hanging loose, giving the eye a droopy look. A zit on her chin glistened under parched lips that were void of lipstick or gloss.

It was a rare sighting and Jimi could hardly recognize the mess that waved at him from the backseat of a taxi that was waiting at the parking lot. He lifted his Ray-Ban’s a tad to have a proper look and sure enough it was Nandir, his ex. Dodging a couple of ladies that walked by him, he walked to the taxi.

“Hi,” Nandir said. She spared no smile.

“Hi.” Jimi dug his hands into his pockets to warm himself. The change of weather was getting to him. “Where’s Nanle?” He asked, getting into the taxi hurriedly.

“He asked me to come pick you. His boss won’t let him out of the office.”

“Okay.”

The taxi driver started the car and put it into motion.

“Sorry about your wife,” Nandir uttered, searching Jimi’s face. “You got all my texts and pings?”

“Yeah.”

“I heard she was beautiful…”

Jimi released a tolerant smile.

“Well, God knows best. I’m glad you’re okay.”

To read the concluding story, click–> HERE

No Heart Feelings #1

Her smile was blinding…

but maybe it was the morning sun in his face.

He blinked to adjust his eyesight away from the brightness and back into the beautiful gap-toothed smile that was before him. She who had the blinding smile laughed at his dilemma and stretched up like a kitten to pull the curtains close. She returned to the bed and he had her in his arms.

“Don’t go,” he pleaded. She giggled and kissed him. It was just one of her tease-kisses.

“And Udo will kill me. I didn’t go for her Igbanku. I have to go for this white wedding. And if it wasn’t because of how tied you are at the office, I would have asked you to come along.”

“No, the real reason I’m not invited for that wedding is because Udoka hates me.”

“Only because you hate her back and hate every other woman on the planet.”

He squeezed her bum underneath the covers. “Hate is a bad word, Marie. How about love? Let’s try love now.”

She giggled as he kissed her lips down to the side of her left arm, the most sensitive spot on her body. She used to tell him that if that part of her was stroked lightly non-stop, it could make her lose her mind. She said it touched somewhere in her brain that couldn’t be controlled.

And so he made her squirm in his arms uncontrollably. Marie wiggled and giggled and stopped only when he tasted her skin as he lightly nibbled a love-handle in her side. She tasted of clean sweat and sheer womanliness. He buried his face into the soft fluff of her belly which was intricately tattooed with stretchmarks. She hated the stretchmarks but they were part of her and of him as well. He loved her like that.

“Jimi?” she lifted his head to look up at her face.

“What?” Jimi put his head down again and rested his ear on her belly. He could hear her innards churning. Funny sounds.

“Have I told you how much I love you?”

“No.”

He kissed the little knob that was her belly button and lifted himself up. “I would like to hear that now but not in words, Marie.”

He got to her breasts and just as he was about to make his famous move on them, a baby’s scream from the next room interrupted him.

“And she’s up,” Marie murmured. “Baby of life!” she complained and shimmied out of Jimi’s arms. “Be right back.”

She rolled off the bed, walked to the baby nursery and seconds later Jimi heard their six month old daughter giggling in response to her. Despite the fact that his morning sex was cut off, he was glad to hear such happy sounds. Marie was singing now. She had the most amazing voice; it made him feel like the luckiest man.

Everyone knew about his bizarre dislike for women. His friends had concluded he was going to end up gay, a priest or marrying the ugliest woman in the world but Marie came and changed all that. At first, he treated her like he did the rest, shying away from her as if she was the Bubonic plague. But his phobia for her died the first day she held his hand. He was scared that we were going to be stuck together, his hand glued to hers. Yet when she tried to pull away, he held her tight.

Marie was enchanting.

She had a noticeable gap-tooth and there was that tiny mole on her nose like a stud earring. It was another thing she didn’t like about herself because she felt her nose was big enough and didn’t need any more attention but to Jimi she was all allure without the nastiness beautiful women were known by. Their love was cocooned and untouchable even by his hatred for her species. While he stayed away as much as he could from every other woman, his love for her grew each day. She was the only woman in his life – well, apart from his mother and sisters.

Jimi got off the bed. He still wanted Marie but she was taking longer than usual with her breastfeeding. He walked out of the room to the nursery to peep on mother and daughter and saw Marie in a conversation with someone on the phone. She looked stressed to the point of crying. Only Udoka could put her in that state. Jimi disliked Udoka. To him, she was another daughter of Eve who thought using men the way she felt like was her God-given right on earth. She and Jimi never hit it off (not that he had ever hit it off with any of them); especially since she found out that she couldn’t push him around as she did her fiancé. Jimi endured her because of Marie.

“I will be there na. I gave my promise, sweetie.”

Marie looked at Jimi and smiled as she tried to end her call. “I’ll be on my way. Akure is just four hours away na. Okay, see ya!”

She rolled her eyes and dropped her phone. “Udoka and her stress.”

Jimi strolled to his daughter’s cot. She was playing with a rattle but her eyes lit up when she saw him.

“You think she recognizes me?” he asked Marie.

“Yes Jimi, she does.” Marie was taking off the spaghetti top she had on which was stained with breastmilk. She peeped into the cot. “Kiki knows and loves her daddy.”

“I’m hardly home on time.” Jimi said in apology to Marie.

“It’s okay, baby.” She rubbed his back gently as she hurried out. “Terdoo!” She called the housemaid. “Come baf dis pikin o!”

“I’m sorry for being away so much, Ki.” Jimi tickled his daughter’s cheek. “But I’ll try to make it up to you, soon. I promise, okay?”

Kiki gurgled and continued with her rattle. Terdoo, the housemaid, almost bumped into him on her way in. She curtsied in apology and moved away. Jimi kept his eyes away from her. Looking at females other than the ones in his family was still a big issue for him, despite the fact that he was seeing a therapist for his predicament…or phobia, as he was told.

Gynophobia was the general term used for people like him but his was beyond the general type. He found the company of beautiful women, in particular, nauseating. Caligynephobia it was called.

Getting hitched to Marie seemed to have helped his situation a little in the initial stages but after a while he relapsed. At work, he stayed in his office the whole nine to five, every single day. He usually took a back entrance in, created for that specific reason, and he left work after everyone was gone, which was the major explanation for why Kiki hardly saw him. At the office they dubbed him The Phantom but it was a good sub for him. He was the boss and it was important that he was a specter to them. On the rare occasion when he came out for board meetings, the whole office slowed down as females stopped whatever they were doing to gawk at him as he walked by.

At home, he stayed in all day. His social life was dead and his friends had given up on him entirely. When he had gotten married to Marie two years ago, they found it hard to believe that he had ended up with a drop-dead gorgeous woman. They were certain he was playing a fast one. They waited for the curtain to fall and reveal the sham they were certain was his marriage but when they saw them moving past the first year and into the second and even with the birth of Kikelomo, they gave up and accepted that Jimi had been finally broken. From that time, Marie was awarded a high level of respect in their midst, mostly because they held that she was jazzing him. He didn’t mind. Marie had a special magic on him that locked him in her forever.

“Baby?”

Marie was calling him in that exceptional voice that only meant one thing. He felt his heart race. It wasn’t excitement; it was fear. The same fear that always held him whenever an attractive woman looked his way or called his attention. Even with all the time he had spent with Marie, it was still a struggle for him. He took a deep breath and counted one to ten as his therapist taught him. After the count, he walked into the bedroom. Marie was kneeling on the bed, nude. She called him forward with her forefinger and he felt the racing heart again. This happened on a daily and his breathing exercises plus other therapeutic tricks to help up his confidence always worked.

Marie leaped into his arms and pushed him to the bed.

“My treat,” she said and sat on him. He wore his sunshades. He couldn’t look into her eyes for long.

She was in control. He was her slave and he let her do as she pleased. But halfway, she stopped and began to cry. He took off his shades. She had never cried during sex before. He was worried.

“What’s wrong, Marie?”

“I love you,” she said. “I want you to always know that.”

“Okay. I’ll try not to forget.” He laughed lightly. “Is that why you’re crying?”

She nodded. “Just…love me like this was your last day on earth.”

“With all pleasure.” He sat up and without break, switched places.

“Mmmm…smooth,” she smiled but a tear slid to the side of her face. She shut her eyes and cried some more as he complied with her wish.

He went to work late that day, right after he made sure she was safely tucked behind her seatbelt, ready for her journey to Akure.

“I still don’t think you should drive alone,” he had reiterated to her.

“Bukky is coming with me.”

“Okay. Ehm…no overtaking without making sure a car is not coming on the opposite lane.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Your limit should be eighty kilometers.”

She laughed. “Haba. You want me to reach there next year?”

“If any tire bursts, don’t step on the brakes.”

“I won’t.”

“And don’t ignore anything your dashboard is telling you, okay? Read all the regulators and meters.”

“Okay, sir. May I go now?”

“I already prayed but you’ll get there safely Insha’Allah.”

“Amen!”

She beamed into his eyes and he looked away shyly. It still didn’t stop him from kissing her.

“I have given Terdoo all the instructions for Kiki. But I left a copy on the dresser. I love you, baby daddy!”

“Come back first thing Sunday morning o.”

“Lord willing.”

He blew her a kiss. She keyed the engine and drove away from the house. Jimi stood until her car disappeared from his view. He didn’t feel right about her journey.

*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *

Jimi was restless at work, unable to concentrate for most of the morning. When he was sure Marie had arrived Akure, he called her phone and she answered.

“I’m here, alive and safe, so you better stop worrying.”

He was a bit relieved. “Okay, have fun and ping me with enough pictures o.”

“Alright baby…”

“Marie?” his voice waned a little.

“Yes, Jimi?”

“Missing you already.”

“Me too but it’s just two days na.”

He was silent.

“Marie, you there?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m here.”

“I just have this bad feeling…”

He wanted to explain what he meant but his secretary walked in. She was an old woman, almost as old as his mother and she fumbled and frowned a lot. Jimi was planning to fire her and hire a young guy instead.

“Everything’s fine,” Marie whispered in his ear. “I have to go. Talk to you later.”

She hung up and he faced his secretary who dropped in to tell him he had guests waiting.

His day went by in a slow, busy wind and he didn’t have time to call Marie back, though he constantly expected to see the blinking, red light on his phone indicating she was pinging him. But he saw nothing all day. Finally, work came to a close and he left quite early to spend the time with Kiki. He was glad when he got home and found her awake. They had a good father and daughter time until she fell asleep in his arms and he passed her on to Terdoo. He put off calling Marie till later in the night when he was sure she would be resting from all the excitement of Udoka’s bachelorette party. He had a shower and settled in to watch the news while having dinner and that was when he heard his phone come alive with Marie’s ringtone.

He went for it.

“Marie?”

There was a short pause.

“Marie? Hello?”

“Hello? Good evening.” The voice belonged to a male.

“Good evening…”

“Are you the husband to the woman who owns this phone?”

“Yes? Where is she?”

“I am sorry sir. She was involved in an accident and has been rushed to the hospital. We would like you to come immediately…”

Jimi didn’t hear anything that was said after that. He merely kept nodding in a daze. The caller was smart enough to text the address to him. Jimi called his best friend, Kaseem, who drove him to Akure. He was still not lucid when they got out of the car and walked into the hospital. Kaseem got all the information they needed and Jimi saw himself being led out of the emergency entrance to another part of the hospital. He didn’t mind the distance as long as he was going to be with Marie again. He was so lost in his haze that he didn’t see the huge sign above the large double doors they came to that read MORTUARY.

He walked in blindly and then it felt as if someone slapped him back to life and he became aware of his milieu. The temperature of the room they were in was cold. It was a small, empty room with a sleeping attendant at his desk who sprang up when they walked in. Kaseem talked to him and he led them to an inner room. It was larger and had stainless steel tables, refrigerators and floor coverings that extended up to half the walls.

“Wh-what are we doing here, Kas?” Jimi turned to Kaseem but Kaseem just followed the attendant further in. On one of the tables at the end lay something covered in a white cloth stained with blood. It didn’t look like a human corpse even though Jimi suspected it was. The attendant stopped and urged them forward.

Jimi couldn’t move.

“Tha’s not…that’s… That’s not Marie…”

Kaseem looked at him. “Jimi…”

He shook his head. “It’s not my wife. No. Let’s go.”

Kaseem came back to him and held his shoulders, looking straight into his eyes.

“Jimi, Marie was crushed by a trailer as she was crossing a street. I’m sorry, man. She didn’t make it. She’s gone. I am so sorry.”

Jimi pushed Kaseem’s hands away and moved towards the table, one unhurried step at a time. He could feel every part of his body coming to a convulsion but he pressed on until his hands were resting on the cold, steel edge of the table.

He couldn’t lift the cloth. He nodded at the attendant to do so and he did, very fast.

And what Jimi saw…or did not see of Marie’s remains sent a poisoned arrow to his heart. He heard someone scream in agony and didn’t realize the sound came from him until he was taken over by uncontainable sobs. He backed away from the jumble of bones and flesh on the table and was almost toppling medical apparatus on a counter behind him.

Kaseem put a hand on him. In his tears Jimi managed to tell him to take out Marie’s wedding ring to see if it had a certain engraving. Kaseem did, with the help of the attendant, and confirmed the engraving. It was Marie. She was really dead.

That day Jimi’s world collapsed.

*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *

He was dead. He walked around like a zombie. Life around him also departed, floating by in hues of grey and rust-brown, during which time he evaluated his mortality and came to the conclusion that he also did not deserve to live. The only reason he remained was because he was too much of a coward to kill himself. He went through irrepressible grief as months dragged by and when he finally came to the point of acceptance where he knew he had to close the door and at last recognize that Marie was gone forever, six months had passed. He was in isolation in his father’s old house in Jos and had not seen Kiki during the time. The room he slept in was a shrine dedicated to Marie that had most of her belongings and pictures. He was going insane and he knew it but felt it was his right to be allowed his madness no matter how long it lasted. It didn’t last forever, though. His mom visited and had a serious talk with him.

“You have to move on, Olujimi. Kiki cannot grow up without you. Her mother is gone but you’re still here and she needs to know that she’s not alone.”

“I am not ready, mom. Besides, Kiki is the exact replica of Marie. How do I look into her face every day knowing I’m looking back into Marie’s?”

“It’s Allah’s blessing to you. It means Marie is not gone forever. Son, you have no choice but to go back.” She picked out the words in slow bits to emphasize every point. “Pack your bag. We leave tomorrow morning.”

Her voice carried that final note Jimi couldn’t go against but the love in her eyes was unmistakable. For her sake and Kiki’s he was going back to the place where he was certain he would feel Marie’s loss more. He was not so scared, though. He wanted to hold on to her for as long as he could.

There was a quiet dinner organized by his sisters for him when he arrived home. It was bittersweet as he sat at the table Marie always insisted that they have their meals. It felt somewhat calming to be back and good to be accepted by Kiki who opened up her arms for him with an endearing hug. She didn’t remember him but she let him hold her. She was Marie personified in character with all the love and cuddliness. He was also relieved to find that Terdoo was still there. For the first time, he dared look into her face and saw that she was a withdrawn, beautiful lady with wise eyes. She loved his family as much as she loved hers and he knew he owed her a lot for all the sacrifice she put in to care for Kiki.

After the dinner, he retired to his bedroom which he had not seen in six months. In keeping with his instructions, no one moved a thing out of it. When he walked in, he half-expected the overbearing presence of grief to engulf him but what he felt was strange peace and the fruity smell of Marie’s perfume. It still hung in the air, her essence confined. He went to sleep that night without pain. Marie was finally resting in peace and so was his heart. The aching, he knew, would always be there but for the moment, he was not burdened by sorrow.

He used the subsequent days to accommodate his new life outside Marie, spending most mornings making important phone calls to get him the job of his dreams. He still had the position of his old job waiting for him since it was a family business but he wanted to do away with everything that would put him back into the life he used to know. A couple of evenings had him driving into town to places cursed with traffic so that he could get stuck on the streets just to enjoy the feeling of being lost and to cry alone; other times, he would just sit in and watch some boring football match or foreign news.

On one of those evenings when he picked the news, fate came visiting without warning just as it did on the day Marie died. Jimi was watching a sponsored piece on tourism in Cyprus. The location was Nissi Beach, one of their famous spots. He felt bad watching the report because Marie had always wanted to holiday there but his work had not allowed them.

As the reporter walked the length of the beach, asking a tour guide questions, Jimi followed their conversation out of boredom. They stopped at some point where a group of people, couples mostly, were relaxing on loungers under canopies. Jimi was marveling at the clear blue of the sea when the silhouette of a woman caught his eyes. She was dressed in a turquoise blue, short-sleeved dashiki and a pair of shorts and she was staring into the sea as gentle breeze blew into her springy Bohemian hair. There was scar on her left elbow that drew him closer to the screen and he leaned all out to have a clearer look at her.

Jimi’s heart began to beat really fast and he felt his head pulsing in apprehension as the woman in a slowed motion turned to her side and smiled at someone he couldn’t see. The world stopped moving for him at that instant because the woman smiling was none other than his Marie.

She did a full turn and stretched out her hand to the person she was smiling at – a young guy about his age with the body of a runway model. But it wasn’t the presence of the man that unnerved him. It was the bulge Marie was carrying. She was pregnant. And to add to his pain, he saw a gold ring on her wedding finger.

Jimi shot up from his bed. He suspected he was seeing things. It couldn’t be Marie. Marie was dead and buried! Who was this woman impersonating her?

Thank God for a PVR decoder. He got the remote control and rewound back to the moment she turned her face to smile at the guy. The mole on her nose was there and the gap-tooth was clearly identifiable. Unless she had a twin with the exact features, that was certainly Marie. Jimi pressed the rewind button over and over and over again until the screen froze at the point where she stretched out her hand to the guy.

There was a riot of emotions in him—anger, pain, confusion, denial, sadness, dejectedness—and he could hardly breathe.

A knock came to his bedroom door and Terdoo walked in. She curtsied.

“Uncle, good evening.” She stared at the TV screen. “Uncle I have something to tell you.”

Jimi threw a frosty look at her from her head to her toes as if she was a stranger. He took note of the delicate curve of her form and the dark, introverted beauty on her face and all of that combined together gave him an immediate feeling of nausea and edginess upon his already teed off mood. Without thought, he let out the first words he found on his lips.

“Get the hell out of my room and my house right now! You’re fired!”

He didn’t care what Terdoo’s reaction was, he just wanted her out of his sight, but when he realized she was still standing there, he shouted the more.

“Are you deaf?! GET THE HELL OUT!”

Terdoo retreated calmly and Jimi slammed the door after her. When he turned back to the TV screen, he found it had unfrozen and Marie was gone.

At this point, He was enraged and out of control. With one full force, he grabbed the television, wrenched it off the wall and hurled it to the ground.

He picked his car key. He had no destination. He only wanted to be away from everything that reminded him of Marie. He had been a fool to trust in a woman and have her fail him. His hands trembled as he grabbed the door handle and pulled the door open. He stopped when he saw Terdoo standing before him. His head immediately went down.

“I thought I told you to leave.”

“I was watching the report on Cyprus on CNN just as you were…”

Jimi couldn’t believe he was hearing the same Terdoo that had worked for him for almost three years speak articulate English. She had always conversed with Marie in pidjin.

“I can help you find your wife. Just…don’t send me away, please. I have a son who relies on me. Without this job he won’t go to school.”

Jimi’s anger made an immediate withdrawal from the exterior and into his insides, simmering in his heart in silence.

“Get out of my way,” he said as he walked past her. “And pack your things tonight.”

©Sally @moskedapages