Tag Archives: friends

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #6

I love you guys. I don’t even know how to start expressing how much. When I said show me love on Bellanaija, I didn’t know y’all will take it that seriously. I was dumbfounded when I saw the comments. Good Lord! Na so una love me?

How do I say thank you? How do I show my gratitude? The love you expressed in the comment section doubled the sales of the book, beating Fish Brain Madhouse records which has been there since January. Hmmmm…

Thanks a lot.

And here’s that my famous kiss.

blow kiss

So in retaliation, I will give the book freely to three lucky peeps next week. Today, enjoy IANS.

I’ll see you in the comment section..

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“Awwww.”

“Isn’t this the cutest sight?”

I groan loudly. I don’t know for how much longer I can sit in this car with indecisive females and take one more ‘awww’. Or even stomach the sight before us. Yes, it’s supposed to be cute as Mary just said but I have to remind these girls that we’re here on a mission.

“Can the three of you just focus?” I snap my fingers. But they don’t hear me. Their eyes remain on Shady having a daddy moment with Dara as they both dance to music we can’t hear. The duo is in my husband’s biggest and classiest car showroom, surrounded by expensive luxury cars. And somehow Shady thinks this is the best place to perform his daddy duties.

I groan again. This is just wrong. Shady is going to ruin this business with his lack of class. How can you be dancing with a toddler when you have business to attend to? Look at the caliber of people around him and he’s stuck on parenting goals. I knew this was going to be such a bad idea. I had warned Ibro about it. Shady is an actor, not a car salesman, but Ibro had told me that he had been a hit realtor.

“It’s all about the numbers. If he can get people buying cars, then what is your problem?”

My problem then (and even now) was that my younger brother had waited for that spot for two years and when finally the manager is fired, Ibro tosses the job to his friend. Just like that! I have been pissed for three weeks and my anger isn’t going away anytime soon.

“Hasn’t he proven his worth?” Ibro had asked me just last week, showing me a printout of the sales Shady has made already. “In this harsh economy the guy is selling cars like no man’s business. I’m thinking that maybe Celia leaving him is a good thing. Abeg, she shouldn’t come back.”

“She should. At least, for the sake of Dara. The child needs her mother.”

“And Shady needs to learn responsibility. His present situation is perfect for him.”

I didn’t speak further. If I did, Ibro would call me unfeeling, a term he generously uses on me. Coldhearted bitch and ruthless too. I get those ones when we’re fighting. But his darling Eno – she’s all sweet and loving, tenderhearted and kind. Even after she cheated on him with her ex, Ibro finds no flaw in her.

Forgive me for rambling. I just had to get that off my chest after seeing the two necking in her car outside my house this morning. The effrontery! Would I do that to her? Would I blatantly shove my love for Ibro in her face?

Again, I wander off tangent. I apologize.

Back to Shady. Dude has stopped dancing, and is presently attending to a buyer, some pretty, little thing that has Dara in her arms and is flashing her thirty-two at him. I understand that he has a certain appeal with his tall, thin appearance. He carries his lankiness well and has an impeccable sense of style that I sometimes want Ibro to own. But that’s all there is to him. He’s broke and classless. Forget that he’s now earning huge for this present job; it does nothing to save him from his basicness which would soon bring my husband’s business to ruin. Of course it’s not something I want, and like my friends here, I’m supposed to do my bit to ensure that he keeps his head above water but really I don’t care if he falls flat on his face. It works well with my aim if he does but I’m not going to be the bitch that does not show compassion for a father holding a nine to five and caring for a two-year-old at the same time.

It was for this reason that when Peace threw in the suggestion that we take Dara off his hands so he can concentrate on selling cars, I didn’t object. However, they are all getting cold feet and I’m the only one still on the objective.

“Can we go in already?” I raise my voice, bringing them back to curve.

“Maybe this works for him,” Honey tells me. “Dara is his selling point.”

“Yeah, people just look at her and buy cars,” I answer sarcastically. Honey lends me a bad stare. I’d love to pluck out her eyes one of these days. She likes to oppose everything I say or do. She thinks her beauty, her handsome husband and trips around the world are good enough reason to compare herself with me.

I give her an unreadable stare as I secretly admire her outfit of a green fitted dress that shows no sign of her having just had a baby five weeks ago. I’m so tired of her and her perfectness and the way she flaunts it. She has the perfect body, the perfect husband and the perfect in-laws, and that’s why she feels so superior to all of us.

“Noka, I know you don’t like Shady for obvious reasons but can you please tuck that in and be nice to him? Don’t go there acting all ‘I’m your boss’ wife’. He’s your husband’s friend.”

“I should tuck what in exactly? The fact that he hit my friend?”

“He apologized,” Peace reminds me. “Did Celia tell any of us what he did? No. She just upped and left but Shady reported himself to every one of us and begged, including her brother.”

I take my hands off the steering for a second and turn around to face Miss Goody-Two Shoes. “And what is your point, madam?”

“Be nice. Forgive.”

“He is a wife-beater.”

“He is not,” Mary counters. “It was a moment of not thinking right, a bad decision, and he deeply regrets it. You should let it go and be reminded that we’re going in there to take Dara off his hands to ease his stress and not to punish him. He’s been a wonderful father for three weeks.”

Whatever. I don’t care. My brother deserves the job and I won’t rest until I see him get it. Ibro owes me that much.

“Let’s go in, abeg.” Honey steps down and the others follow suit. I’m the last to leave the car, stretching out my short Nautica skirt which I bought just a week ago at a ridiculous price. Eno has been sporting some new clothes; I don’t see why I shouldn’t indulge as well. I bought a whole wardrobe. I am yet to decide where to put the old ones, some of which I’ve not even worn. Bimpe used to say I have enough clothes to start a boutique with but I don’t think I do. Until I have the type of closet space Eno has, I’ve not even begun.

I follow my friends into the exquisite showroom that is proof of my husband’s wealth and refinement. It’s also proof of my hard work and unending support. The idea from the onset was not just to make it a showroom (like the other ones he owns, scattered about lagos) but a hub for car freaks. In addition, there’s a classy restaurant running from lunch hour till evening, just to help us make money on the side to keep the utilities running since they’re always paid for. Whenever I look at the place and think about how far Ibro and I have come, (of course I married him already swimming in money) I pat myself on the back by indulging in something nice. This is why it angers me much that Shady has brought his ghetto lifestyle into my family business.

showroom2

The thin rake of a man sees the girls and I entering the showroom and lets out that killer smile he uses on Celia. Weirdly, I smile back. There’s actually something nice about it.

“Hi ladies. This is a pleasant surprise,” he says, walking towards us. I notice that he has abandoned the customer with his child. Such business ethic.

We exchange pleasantries and he leads us to his office where he offers us a leather couch to settle in.

“Give me some minutes, ladies, and I’ll be right back.”

He leaves and Peace engages us in a chat about some German guy in her church that likes her. We had first met him at Jiney’s christening and subsequently at a barbecue that Bobby invited us for. The guy’s accent is thick and sometimes he exchanges his V’s for W’s. He always smells of soap or aftershave. Never of cologne. His fashion sense is a total miss. He dresses too European for my liking. But the best part of him is that he’s really crazy about Peace, ready to propose at any moment.

“We’ve kissed and done the irregular ‘touching’,” she reveals with a look of embarrassment.

I cross my legs, ears itching to hear more.

“Which one is irregular touching again?” Mary asks. Peace laughs. Such a prude.

“How big is he?” I question. Peace covers her mouth in embarrassment again.

“It’s not all about sex, Noka,” she replies in a small voice. “I’m not planning to sleep with him. Not now and not in the future.”

“Is he circumcised?”

“Noka!” she gasps.

“Simple question.”

“He’s not.”

The mutual look of disgust that rests on all our faces pushes us into laughter.

“Urgh!” I make a face. “Those white guys and their uncut peens.”

“Are you speaking out of experience?” Honey turns in my direction.

“No. I’m just… you know…”

“Mm-hmm?”

I notice all the girls watching me intently. I flash a wide smile. “I’m not telling anything.”

Shady returns with Dara who immediately runs into Peace’s embrace. She takes the little girl in her arms and hands her a chocolate bar she had bought along the way.

“What would you ladies want?” Shady asks. “Coffee? Breakfast?”

“Nothing,” I answer for all of us. “We’re actually here on a serious matter.”

“Not that serious,” Honey puts in with a smile.

“It’s about Dara.” I take control of the conversation again.

“Okay?” He crosses his arms warily, resting his flat bum over the edge of a glass table behind him that reflects the posh leather brownness of the office.

“We feel, and this is out of concern, that Dara is too much distraction for you, and we would like to help out with caring for her by taking turns. That way you get to concentrate on your job. It’s not easy for a man who has a lot on his hands to care for a child at the same time. Besides that, having her here at work might not be a good image for the company.”

A silent sigh from Mary tells me she doesn’t support my last statement.

“So, if you wouldn’t mind, we would like to offer our babysitting services to you. For free.”

Shady chuckles. It’s a silent chuckle that shows he’s only being polite.

“So you want to take Dara off my hands?”

“Yeah.”

“Because you think I’d hit her like I hit Celia.”

“No!” the others chorus. I simply take two and ponder on his insinuation. Why didn’t I think along that line?

“Shady, actually…” Honey speaks up. “It’s fine if you think this is ridiculous. We’re just concerned…”

“Dara and I are fine. And really, I appreciate it but you shouldn’t worry yourselves. We miss Celia and we desperately want her back but we’re coping. I need to bond with my daughter. Daycare was tearing us apart but her being here every day reminds me of Celia and keeps me focused.”

The others throw on pathetic faces and I roll my eyes in my head. I knew they’d sell out. Honey, especially. She thought it was a bad idea from the start. Well, whatever. It’s Shady’s loss. When customers start complaining, I’ll be quick to suggest to Ibro to have him changed to someone who is more competent.

I sit up. “But Shady, we haven’t heard from Celia since she sent us a message to our Whatsapp group that she was fine. Her phone rings unanswered and she’s never on Facebook. Please, are you sure she’s okay?”

Shady has the polite face on again. I know my insinuation comes off like I’m accusing him of getting rid of Celia but I don’t give five farts. We need to know what happened to our friend.

“Give me a second.”

He pulls out his phone from his pocket and soon we hear a line ringing as he puts it on speakerphone. After a long ring, Celia’s voice comes on.

“Shady, you’ve called me four times already this morning. Shey Dara is fine? What do you want?”

“Just checking up on you, baby.”

“I’m good.” There’s a pause. “You?”

“Missing you,” he answers with his eyes darting away. I spot an emotion in there and I suddenly feel bad for what I hold against him.

But the feelings lasts a second.

“When are you coming back?”

“I don’t know, Shady, and you calling me doesn’t help things. I need to clear that night out of my head. So please, respect my space and stop calling. Thank you.”

The line goes off. He looks at me. “That’s your friend. She’s fine – in some ways. She’s not stuffed in some cupboard, rotting away.”

“Noka didn’t mean that,” Peace comes to my defense.

“I know she didn’t. She’s a wonderful friend and I appreciate all she has done to see me out of my financial situation.”

I give a fake grin.

“You got me this job, got me a brand new car…And I’m utterly grateful.”

“Well, as Ibro will say, ‘ba yawa’.”

“Ba yawa,” Shady adds, smiling. I can’t believe he’s smiling after what he did to Celia. I do hope she’s getting proper loving from that Naomi chick. It would be the best blow to his face.

“I also want to thank you ladies again for being generous with that huge help you sent Celia’s way.”

“Well, what are friends for?” Mary quotes. I’m suddenly bored.

“We should be leaving.” I draw my legs together. I’m glad he has declined letting go of Dara. The idea of caring for another person’s child in the first place doesn’t appeal to me. The plan was to pass the tot to my housemaid if ever it was my turn to care for her. I already have too many children on my shoulders to worry about.

Shady escorts us out to the showroom and gets into some struggle trying to take Dara off Peace’s hands.

“Can I keep her for just tonight?” Peace begs. He shakes his head. The child breaks into a cry that irritates me. I slip on my sunglasses and hurry out to my car. I have to be somewhere urgently. My phone has been vibrating in my purse, riddled by phone calls from one person.

I sigh, feeling exhausted, thinking of the trips I have to take before I finally go to see the caller. I turn around and face the girls who are now walking towards me.

“I’ll pay everyone’s cab fares and that’s because I can’t drop you all at your destinations. I have a business appointment.”

“Housewives now have business appointments?” Mary teases. I yank her hair. She whines.

“Honey, you’re going back to your office?”

“Yep. Jiney’s there and I have loads of work to do before I close. Oh, and there’s that love concert this evening.” She sticks out her hand. “My transport.”

I take out some money from my purse and dump on her palm. She blows me a kiss, says goodbye to the girls and crosses the street. Mary and Peace also get some cash but I don’t wait for them to hail a cab before I dash into my SUV and drive off in haste. Patience is not a virtue the person I’m going to meet has.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

Wura is sprawled on the floor of her living room, eyes up at the ceiling. She is a mix of different emotions. The day of her love concert with Pastor Ralph is finally here, and although she is physically ready, she is a mess mentally. This would be her first public appearance since her lewd videos hit the net. Even though everyone assures her that her past is forgotten, she still carries it on her shoulders.

The program coordinator for the concert had come up with a brilliant idea to help quash her fears. He had suggested that once she took the stage after her opening song with Pastor Ralph, they were both to share their stories to the audience and talk about how they found God’s forgiveness which became the push for the concert. The idea had sounded awesome to Wura and Ralph. The program coordinator got someone from the media team to help with writing the stories, and in the end, they came out with deep emotional pieces that were bound to score empathy from the audience. It had seemed all good with Wura over the past months but today she wakes up not feeling ready for what the evening holds.

Alone on the living room floor while Bilal lies sleeping with half his body on a couch and the other on the floor, Wura tries her best to calm her nerves. The scarily-efficient Novocaine Knights event team handling the concert has assured her that everything is under control. All she needs to do is to show up at the venue and sing. Still, she fusses, and not even the blueness of her space or the mild scent of incense in the air gives her calm.

She shuts her eyes and prays for a bit but she can’t put her thoughts together, so she remains motionless, listening to music coming from her bedroom, a jazz album by Dario Chiazzolino. She forces herself to be carried away by the complicated but mellow guitar arrangements that are distinctive to Dario’s sounds. Soon she finds herself falling into calm, but the serene moment is interrupted by a knock on the door.

She is not pleased by the disturbance, as she is observing total solitude and silence to keep her vocal chords in shape until the moment she climbs the stage to sing. Having someone dropping in unannounced is not what she needs at the moment.

She goes for the door and unlocks it. When she opens it, she finds no one outside. However, she is greeted by the presence of a brand new steel string acoustic guitar resting on a stand, gleaming in metallic brown under the light of the morning.

“Oh my God,” she whispers, leaving the door and stepping outside. She touches the instrument like someone touching the face of a lover for the first time, caressing its edges, stroking its strings – just to be sure it’s all real and she’s not imagining it.

A little card hanging off one of the tuning machines, held by a fancy string, is blown by the wind and it falls to the floor. She picks it to find a note in Mahmud’s writing.

Mami,

You always wanted this, and I think on this big day, you deserve it. Sing like the wind, doll face.

I never stopped loving you.

Your-mood.

“Mymood…” Tears attack her eyes as a feeling of lonesomeness which has now become part of her, surges in, mixing with her joy. But she doesn’t let it stay. She lifts the guitar off the ground, and expertly holding it in her arms, strums the strings. She considers herself a rookie with the instrument but Pastor Ralph who has been her tutor for under a year thinks otherwise.

“Music is just you, Wuraola. I bet if I gave you a pair of drumsticks you’d find your way around the percussions.”

To that, she had remained quiet. She already knew the basics of drumming, learned on her own. But it had never been her favorite instrument. She loved melody, strings and chords. Maybe next year she would buy a cello and start learning that as well.

“Thanks, Mahmud,” she voices out, her first loudly-uttered words for the day.

“You’re welcome.”

Wura swivels at the sound of Mahmud’s voice coming from behind her, almost dropping the guitar. She finds him standing right beside the front door. She had been so carried away with the guitar at first sight that she hadn’t noticed he was there the whole time.

“Mymood?” she whispers. He doesn’t reply. He simply remains standing, staring at her intensely, his hands in his pockets. For a second, Wura thinks she is imagining his presence. She gently places the guitar back on its stand and faces him again. They haven’t seen in over a year. Having him in the same space with her after endless months of tears and longing can best be described as being in the presence of a celestial being. She is not sure what to do. But he makes it easy for her as he walks over and wraps his arms around her, one taking her neck and the other resting on her waist.

She meets his hug with tears. The distinct scent of him that comes with cologne and cigarette finds her memories and brings them all to her head.

“You don’t know how happy I am,” Mahmud expresses. “This is like a dream, mami. I’m holding you again.”

The broken tenderness in his voice and his face buried in her neck pushes her emotions to the peak. She lets loose in his hold. He doesn’t stop her. He knows the tears are not just of joy. He understands everything her snivels and shudders mean. He holds her until it goes away.

“Do you know how much I’ve missed you, you silly Yoruba girl?”

She giggles as he steps back and feeds his eyes with her body.

“Wuraola Adegbite! God will not sha let you kill me. See as you fine like kilode!”

He takes one more step backwards and shakes his head. She suddenly becomes aware that she is wearing only a boyfriend tee and bum shorts.

“Stop looking at me like that.”

He grabs her waist again and goes for her mouth fiercely. She sighs at the taste of him and the familiarity of his kiss that is made more pleasurable by months of want. The kiss is long and sweet like a mouthful of sugarcane juice on a hot day. Even when Mahmud stops, Wura goes for more. But he stops again her and leads her back into the house.

Bilal gets his attention as they walk in. He breaks in his steps and a warm smile brings his lips together.

“He’s sleeping?”

Wura nods. Mahmud walks over to his son and stoops to study him. “He’s now beginning to look like you, Wu.”

“Everybody says that.”

“But he has my nose, thank goodness.”

“Please!”

“And my hair.” Mahmud pats the toddler’s thick, dark locks.

“It grows too fast. I have to take him for a haircut every three weeks.”

Mahmud smiles in pride, lifting the boy off the floor and onto the couch.

“But you sef, why did you leave him like this?”

“Don’t worry. By the time you stay with him for just one day, the way he falls asleep will be the least of your problems.”

Mahmud rises up.

“So, what should I cook for you?” she asks. And before he can answer, adds, “I like what you’re wearing.”

Mahmud stares down at his outfit of a pair of jeans, a checkered shirt and a sweater. “The clothes look a lot better off my body than on it.”

Wura gives him a playful frown but at the same time, forcing away memories of the feel of his hairy body against hers.

“Stop trying to make me sin here, oga. I’m ministering to thousands today.”

“Then marry me and let me make love to you before you climb that stage this evening.”

“Mymood!”

“I’m serious.” He comes closer. “We already met all the requirements last year and fixed the date for the wedding before you changed your mind. I still have my friend who works there and all I need is a phone call, a couple of friends and we’re husband and wife. And then I can smash you legally.”

“Good lord! Your mouth!”

He goes for her lips again, but taking it slowly and teasingly this time.

“I love you, mami,” he asserts between kisses. She buries her fingers in his full beard, stroking it down until she touches his neck. Her self-control begins to wane. She stops herself by pulling away. But Mahmud won’t let her go. He holds her bound for one more kiss which leads to caresses that has them both falling over a couch. It takes both her will and his for them to control themselves.

Head resting on his chest afterwards, she requests, “go away for the rest of the day so I can concentrate on my concert.”

He nips her nose as she raises her head. “That’s not fair.”

“After the concert, we’ll resume talks about us getting married.”

“Don’t pull my legs.”

“Just go away, you distracting man. Come with something nice at the end of the concert.”

“I bought so many things for you, mami. And for Billy.”

She straightens up. “Tokunboh, please go.”

He stands to his feet and drags her to the front door where they kiss one more time. “My applause will be the loudest at the concert.”

She grins.

“Kiss Bilal for me.”

She stands by the door and watches him leave. Her eyes drop down to the guitar. She fixes a long, unbroken stare that gives her a cloudy vision. And then she blinks it away as she lowers herself to sit on the double steps that lead into the house. The last time she kissed Mahmud was over a year ago; they were standing in the airport, his plane set to leave for Dubai. He was to spend a week there before proceeding to Jeddah. He had asked her to pass that week with him but she had declined, stating that she knew they would end up being inappropriate with each other. Now, as she recalls the moment, she wishes she had gone along, and done everything to save their relationship, including following him all the way to Jeddah.

Distance has left a gaping hole between them, one which gives her doubts about wanting to spend her future with him. He has no idea what his family did to her in his absence, how they summoned her and begged her to sever all ties with him. His elder sister, Asma, and her husband Usman were the only ones who stood by her side. But that had not been enough. At that time in her life, she felt she had nothing left to cling to. Even her siblings abandoned her. She didn’t blame them or anyone for how they treated her. She also hated the Wura that was in those videos. She had pulled through relying on her music, the quiet, dark days when she was alone and all she had was her voice and the black and white notes on her Yamaha keyboard. Ralph was there for her as well, upholding her ragged honor even to the disrepute of his name. He became a constant in her life, lending her his voice, his shoulders and cheering words. It was upon his back she learned to stand again. He always had enough strength for her.

But last week he had caved and brought the weight down on them both. A rather strange thing had happened during her rehearsals at a friend’s house where he was staying at the moment, having finally parted ways with his wife. The house was a large, quiet place somewhere in Badagry, and had tall, bare palm trees and a yard that looked out to a small, dirty beach. Ralph had chosen to live that faraway to heal from his broken heart. It was Wura’s first time in the place and Ralph treated her to a glass of orange and ginger juice before they set about their rehearsals.

But things didn’t go well that morning, as Ralph ran through a song in a manner so depressing and dark that Wura saved them both by placing a gentle hand over his to stop him. Music notes from the glistening black piano he was playing died down and he lifted miserable eyes at her.

“She’s taking the children to the UK, and I can’t do anything about it.”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s the best for them. I’m paying school fees, accommodation and all but…”

He ran his hand over his forehead.

“She’s taking everything from me. Everything. Nine years of marriage, my children and the bulk of my money. And I did nothing wrong. I never cheated on her. She just got tired of me…”

He sighed and dropped his hand, fingers landing on the black notes of the piano, causing an unpleasant sound.

“I’m so sorry, sir.” Wura drew closer and sat beside him. They had never spoken about his divorce, not to this extent, at least. She was unsure of how to respond to his heartbreak which was alien to her, being that he had done everything to hide his pain. The emotional side of him was new and utterly distressing. She wanted to just reach out and hug the broken man in him.

“But she accused me of many things,” Ralph continued. “Of loving God’s work more than her, of never being there when she needed me, of sacrificing for my music more than I sacrificed for the family… And maybe she was right. Maybe every other thing came before her and the kids but it wasn’t intentional. I thought I was doing everything right, Wura.”

“Maybe the problem is not with you and you should stop punishing yourself.”

But it seemed Wura had just spoken to the air. Ralph went back and in time and brought up occasions that he felt he might have missed being a good husband and father, times when the church came first and his family second. Wura stopped him again, her hand on his as before.

“It’s not your fault. She stopped loving you. These things happen.”

Ralph sought Wura’s eyes from the darkness of his.

“I’m not supposed to tell you this but I have to let it out of my chest. She also accused me of loving you.”

Wura’s hand dropped.

“Of being in love with you.”

An uneasy smile, barely noticeable took one side of Wura’s lips. It was her turn to search his face. She didn’t know what she was looking for but she held his eyes.

“But you’re not in love with me. You love me as a sister.”

Ralph was silent.

“Pastor Ralph?”

He looked elsewhere.

“Pastor Ralph.”

His eyes returned to her. “What she thinks I feel or don’t feel for you doesn’t matter. What matters is the work God has used me to do in your life. The work we’re both doing.”

Wura stood up, her pulse hastening.

“You shouldn’t bother about what she said. She was just looking for reasons to leave. Even if hypothetically, I was in love with you, and it’d been so from the first day I met you, you think I’d throw my family and ministry away for that? Come on, Woo. You should know I’m not that type of man. I’d keep it all bottled up. Put the lid on it. Treat you as I would my sister, because God knows what I feel for you is pure and wholesome. So, let’s forget that talk and concentrate on our ministry of healing broken souls.”

Wura didn’t feel better by his explanation. He had, in uncertain terms, confirmed his ex-wife’s assertions and it scared the hell out of her.

“I’m still Pastor Ralph,” he insisted. “Nothing has changed between us, Woo.”

But it didn’t feel that way to Wura. On her way home that day, her mind went back to all the moments she felt he had expressed his feelings. Nothing inappropriate in his manner towards her was recalled; Ralph had been a mentor at all times, even when he found out that she was pregnant with Bilal. He had been supportive and gracious to Mahmud then and never wavered in his character.

However, the awareness of those facts did nothing to soften the blow of what he had told Wura. She wished he had never said a word on the matter even though she understood his need to unburden himself. Looking into the history of their relationship over the period of Mahmud’s absence she came to the awful realization that they had gotten quite close; so close that Bilal now called him ‘daddy’ and he sometimes knew when she was on her period because on more than one occasion, he had helped her purchase sanitary towels when menstrual cramps left her incapacitated. They were that chummy. Hence, through her entire week, even until this moment, she had carried the feeling that she was and still is in a sort of unhealthy relationship with him. And to her, Mahmud’s surprise return is God’s way of telling her to leave the life she shares with Ralph.

She counts the hours to the concert in feverish anticipation, her unease returning.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

His SUV enters the compound with the same weariness that claims his body. It feels to him like he has been driving for years without stop. He makes mental plans to sleep for five hours at least, and then wake up to map out more time to sleep for another twelve hours. Very little jobs like this claim his time and energy. He would usually delegate duties to the Novocaine Knights technical crew and hang about to see them done. But this is different. Wura, as sweet and soft-spoken as she is known to be, gets bumpy when it comes to her music and the sounds that accompany it.

Kasiobi had used most of the night and the dark hours of the morning to ensure that everything was technically perfect for the love concert. Mechanical glitches had prolonged his efforts but somehow he managed through, setting everything ready in good time.

He now longs for a warm bath and a cup of steaming hot chocolate or something of the likes. He recalls how Lexus always made the best cups of hot chocolate, adding twists with each fresh brew. He reminisces on moments when she got out of herself and treated him like he was the best thing since ice-cream. It felt good to be in love then, with nothing to worry about but whose turn it was to do the dishes or make dinner. Lexus had been the Lexus he’d always known – wild, open and bearing the mindedness and sometimes melancholy of a talented artist. In their small apartment in New York her talent blossomed, in oil paintings, charcoal and graffiti. The highlight of his nights after long hours in class and studio sessions was to come home and watch her, dressed in nothing but a single piece of clothing, throwing herself into her art. Sometimes, two or three days would go by before she acknowledged his presence. And when she did, she brought fierce affection with her. Their love was always on a high, sometimes too good to be true. But he had never nursed any worries. Lexus was not just his girlfriend; she was his best friend too. If love failed, friendship was bound to survive…

Kasiobi brusquely blocks thoughts of her out of his mind. Recalling their history together is always a torturous pastime, certainly not something he presently needs.

He steps down from his vehicle and walks towards his apartment, the sounds of reggae loudening as he nears the door.

Chichi…

He sighs.

She is becoming a problem. As he had predicted, her sole aim since she got back into his life had been to remind him that she once used to stoke his fires. He couldn’t count how many times he had wandered into the living room and found her naked or nearly so. He was now quite used to the show, something Kira constantly complains about. He foresees a fight between both girls soon, with Chichi being the instigator as is in her nature. They barely stomach each other, and it’s not that he really cares. He feels nothing particularly deep for either of them.

His present distraction is Didi whom he had had the pleasure of being with a few times at the Novocaine Knights head office. He finds her bubbly and quite naïve, but at the same knowledgeable in some areas about life for someone her age. She comes across as a spoilt child, much like Lexus, wild and willing to try anything. And maybe that’s why he finds himself drawn to her. Lexus still remains a constant crush in his life but he has no desire to get them back to where they used to be.

But Didi…

One of these days he’ll ask her out on a date, see what she’s all about.

He comes to his front foyer, the reggae music unbearable now. He opens the door and enters the living room, picking out a different, more disturbing sound than the music. He can hear Trinity screaming loudly from Chichi’s bedroom. He marches to the electronic stand and yanks off the main connection from the wall, stopping the music. He barges into Chichi’s bedroom and finds his daughter alone in her cot, kicking into the air with her screams. He takes her in his arms but the screams intensify.

“Chichi?” He peeps into the bathroom. It is empty. When he turns back to the room, he spots a piece of paper on one of the pillows on Chichi’s neatly-arranged bed. His tummy whips as he goes for the paper. On a second thought, he leaves it where it is, and stands to read its contents, written in Chichi’s hand.

Kas,

This is the worst thing I’m ever going to do in my life and everyone will hate for it but I have to go and find my happiness. I never planned to be a mother or a baby mama. I’m not good at doing both. It’s best I leave Trinity in your hands. I can’t raise her out of wedlock and God knows I tried getting you to love me but your heart is with Lex. When we got back together last year I thought it was for good but you dumped me again. You have no idea how much it hurts to keep loving one person and the person keeps dumping you. Well I wish you and Lex the best when you get back together. As for me, don’t look for me. You’ll never find me.

Chisom.

Weirdly, Kasiobi is not shocked. With Chichi one should expect anything. Heck, he even expects her to walk back in and tell him the note is all a joke.

Thus, his reaction to what he has just read is laughter. A shake of his head and more laughter. Trinity who continues to shriek at the top of her lungs is now clawing at his neck.

“Let’s go get you something to eat, Trini. Your mom has gone mad.”

He leaves the bedroom to the kitchen, opens the fridge and finds a feeding bottle containing breast milk, the only one left. After he tosses it into the microwave, he picks a chair and sits, doing his best to placate Trinity.

“She’ll come back,” he says to the tot. “Your mom will miss you so much she’ll come back.”

But his words sound alien in his ear as he looks around. Usually, Chichi would be standing in front of the cooker or the sink, dressed in a panty or nothing at all, doing everything to seduce him. Her absence rings as loudly as Trinity’s screams.

“Trini, sorry o. Biko, calm down. Your food is warming up.”

Luckily for both father and daughter, the microwave dings to a stop. Kasiobi takes out the milk, hurries to the living room and proceeds to feed Trinity. This is his first attempt and it goes badly. The milk is too hot and it burns Trinity on first taste and she goes into a fit worse than before. Kasiobi then dashes for freezing water from the fridge and spends an extra two or three minutes having the milk come to manageable temperature. By now, Trinity has given up wailing. She goes into silent whimpers, setting the most miserable expression on her face that has Kasiobi feeling inadequate. When he eventually feeds her and all seems well with the world, he stretches out to have a short playtime with her but fails at it as he discovers he is too exhausted. He yawns more than a few times and soon his eyes begin to shut without his consent.

kasi4

“She’ll come back,” he mumbles, yawning. But something in his head, sounding much like Lexus’ voice tells him, “Nigga, you know she’ gone.”

©Sally@moskedapages

 

 

It’s Another Saturday…#24

Honey’s Secret

So the other day Oba asks me how I cope with two wives and I give him a pretty straight answer. I tell him what he wants to hear – that I’m having a ball, basically. Double the pleasure, double the fun. It’s not beans to wear two wedding rings. I think I deserve some respect.

yazmex3

You’re never going to hear me complain about my marital status. I love both women and they love me back. Case closed. We have bumps like every normal family. Jide tells me I’m living in a fool’s paradise. He calls my situation, in quotes, “a fucking freak show.”

I take no offence. He’s my brother and he means no harm. Besides, he’s been cynical since Honey dumped him. I honestly like her as a person but the moment their breakup clocks two months, I’m hooking him up with one of my friends. I don’t believe a man should hunger for a woman, no matter how fantastic she is. There are lots of women out there who would drop on their knees if someone like Jide as much as looks their way, so why lose sleep over one random chick?

I’m not your regular douchebag; I’m just always realistic. I didn’t write the rules and I’m not about to change them. I have a heart beneath it all, mind you. I honestly do love my wives and I’m faithful to them because they both keep me on my toes. Man, do I love the drama and double loving they bring.

Take for example, Yazmin. She’s cray. On a whole different level. She has plans to screw my life with her demands. I have literally spent the last week attending to her, hand and foot. Still, she wants an extra limb, the one I have been reserving for Tola. And she knows this but she doesn’t care. Yazmin must get what Yazmin wants or Emeka will hang.

Presently I’m watching as she weakens me with her tongue skills. I have always been meaning to ask her who tutored her in oral sex. I should ask her now but I can’t even speak. That’s how good she is.

I swear out loud as she goes deep-throat. I don’t think I can take it any longer, so I grab a fistful of her hair and push her away from me.

“Biko, it’s enough.”

The look on her face is not a good one, hence I hurl myself up on my knees, and still holding her hair, I kiss her.

“Baby, I gotta run,” I tell her.

“Just one more.” Her hand dives below my waistline. “Five minutes, I promise.”

Five minutes sounds harmless but I should know better what Yazmin can accomplish with it.

“No.”

I move away but she holds on to me, her hand working the length of me.

“Just lay back and let me do my thing, papi.”

She pushes me and my back hits the bed. Before I can blink, she is on me and I am in her. When I feel her warmth, my lips sputter out something nasty that gets her laughing.

“Why are you doing this, mi vida?”

“Because you like it and I’m the only one who can do it the way you like it.”

And that’s no lie there. Yazmin gets me sexually. Tola holds me emotionally and sometimes, it makes for great sex but when it comes to consistent, mind-blowing mayhem in bed, Yazmin has no equal. And she’ll swear that she’s had only two other men in her life before me.

My phone is ringing. Tola is calling but I can’t stop now, not when I have flipped Yazmin over and her butt cheeks are squeezed in my hands as I give her a taste of her own medicine.

I bury her head in a pillow. If I don’t, she’ll kill me with all that loud moaning. And to worsen it, she’s mouthing off nastily in Spanish. I try my best to hold on but I can’t. I withdraw from her before I risk giving her a second child. She takes me in her mouth once again to finish the job.

The instant she enters the bathroom to wash up, I dash out of the house.

In my car, both phones are ringing. Tola is on one line and of course, Yaz is on the other. I glance at the house and I see her standing by one of the windows with Tobe in her arms.

“I love you,” I say into the phone.

“Pinche pendejo,” she replies.

I laugh and drive off. Forty minutes later, I am home. Tola is in the kitchen, sitting before a huge mortar she got from God-knows-where. She is pounding something that looks like a mixture of pepper and crayfish. The housemaid stands nearby, watching. I’m sure she has pissed her madam off and has been ordered to do nothing. I look at the madam in question. She has a malicious look on her face that has me wondering what I have done this time.

But she looks beautiful. Sexy, even – with her legs spread apart and her little baby bump beneath her t-shirt and shorts. I haven’t seen her in a week. Staring into her troublesome face, I realize how much I have missed her and her constant hassle.

“I have chlamydia,” she spurts out as she stops pounding.

“Chlamydia?” I go for a drink of water.

She orders the housemaid out with a quick gesture.

“Isn’t that like yeast infection or something?” I ask.

“It’s worse. And I got it from you because it is sexually transmitted.”

“Oh?”

“Have you had any discharge from your penis lately?”

“For real?” I pick a bottle of freezing water and shut the fridge. “No.”

“Burning pain while urinating?”

“No.”

“Swollen or tender balls?”

“Jeez, doc! I don’t have Claudia or Carissa…”

“It is called chlamydia and you freaking gave it to me and I’m sure you got it from your wife!”

“Haba!”

“Well unless you got some other sidechick out there…!”

“Kilode?! What is your problem this early morning, madam?”

“I have a really bad sexually transmitted infection that can cause serious damage to my reproductive system or hurt our baby and I got it from you and you’re asking me what my problem is?!”

“Calm down, doc. Maybe you got it from your trip. You like swimming, so maybe you used the pool and…”

“Don’t be very stupid, Mex. You gave it to me! And now, I have to go on antibiotics which could cause me yeast infection and generally screw up my entire pregnancy! I hate you!”

She abandons the pestle and leaves the kitchen. I follow her.

“Let’s talk about this…”

“There is nothing to talk about, Chukwuemeka!” She swings at me. I break my steps.

“I did not sign up for this! It was supposed to be just me and you but now I’m sharing you and sharing STDs?!”

She walks to the bed, drops on it and begins to sob. I hurry to her and take her in my arms. I assure her of my love. I kiss away the tears too.

She stops for a bit and looks at me. “We can make this work, Mex. Three of us can but not with STDs flying about.”

“I’m sorry about what you’re going through, baby.”

I lie back on the bed and pull her to sit on me.

“Is there another girl out there, Mex?”

“I already told you there isn’t.”

“Then it came from Yazmin…”

“Yaz is not cheating on me.”

“How then did I get chlamydia?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, you figure it out and get yourself tested for chlamydia. You and Yazmin. And also get yourselves treated while I take a break from this ménage-a-trois before I lose my mind. I can’t keep crying like this. It’s not good for me and the baby. And it’s so hard because I need you. You used to be my best friend.”

“I still am,” I assure her.

tolmex2

She lowers to give me a kiss. It’s deep and passionate and for a moment, I brace myself for a long session of lovemaking but she breaks contact and rises to her feet. I suddenly realize she has not unpacked her things from her travel suitcase.

I sit up. “I hope you’re not planning to go away again.”

“I am.” She takes in a long sniffle. “I’m beginning to hate you.”

“Tols…”

She stops me, picks her handbag and points at the suitcase. “Help me with that.”

“Where are you going?”

“Just get yourself treated. And I want you and Yaz to run complete tests of every other STD out there…”

“Come on…”

“I have freaking chlamydia!”

“Fine. We’ll run tests. Anything else?”

“My box!” She points and I go for her suitcase.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Someone is ringing my doorbell like a maniac. I listen to the sound while staring at my television screen without interest. Ekene and Saratu are too deep into the movie they’re watching and the box of fries and chicken they have wedged between them that they ignore the doorbell. Who gets so engrossed in a movie at 10am anyways?

I get off my seat and head towards the door, praying that it is not Jide I’ll find outside. It’s been a month since we broke up but seventeen days since we last saw. I still love him, even more than I did before but I just can’t be the Honey he used to know. I don’t even know who I really am. I have lost my mind, my emotions and generally my will to be the person I used to be or do the things I loved. The pain is intense and I can’t really explain it. I feel I have hurt Jide so much that there’s nothing I can do to make up for the pain I have caused. I am literally burying my head in the sand and it’s the darkest place I have been yet.

I’ve told him to move on and since I haven’t heard from him in a while, I guess he has.

I open my front door and the last person I expect to see is standing under the blazing sun, decked up in Casual Couture and frowning at me like I am responsible for making her break out in perspiration.

I lower my eyes to her feet and see a suitcase resting on the floor beside her.

Her frown disappears, replaced with a smile. “Hi Honey!”

“Hey, Tola.”

She gives a curious expression, her head tilted to an angle to study my face.

“Are you okay? Heard you and Jide broke up. How are you coping?”

“I’m good.”

“Is it me or have you added a little weight?”

Her statement cuts. I have added more than a little bit of fat. I can’t comfortably look into the mirror these days.

“But I understand. When Emeka started cheating on me back then I did a lot of comfort eating and added some weight. So, don’t worry. You’ll get over it.”

“Are you coming in?”

“Bless! I thought you were going to leave me burning outside.”

She drags in her suitcase and stops when she sees Ekene and Saratu staring at her inquiringly.

“Hi.” She waves.

Ekene waves back. Saratu merely stares.

“I’m greeting o,” Tola pronounces.

“Hello,” Saratu mouths.

“Honey, can we talk?”

Before I can answer, she takes my hand and drags me into the kitchen.

“How are you, darling?” She holds my face tenderly; and if I am in the right frame of mind I would be trying to decipher how I became her darling overnight.

“You miss Jide, don’t you?”

I stay silent.

“Aww, I understand how you feel. I also suffered from Jide withdrawal for like twenty-four hours after we had sex.”

Is she kidding me?

“But I trust that you’ll get your shit together. Unlike me and Mex.” She sighs. “I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to the way we used to be. Like right now, I am so mad at him. Yazmin has given me some STI through him! And he’s denying it, claiming that I got it from my trip to Mauritius. I’m like how?! How on earth does one catch an infection like chlamydia from a swimming pool?! So I said to him, go and get you and your wife tested for STDs and treat yourselves before we continue our threesome! I have a baby coming on the way and God knows I cannot risk him getting an infection!”

“Yeah.”

Her shoulders slouch. “Honey, you look really down. Are you sure you’re okay?”

She touches my forehead.

“Temperature fine.”

She pulls at my lower eyelids. “Eyes normal. Stick out your tongue for me. Say aaah.”

“I’m fine, Tola.”

“You’re sure?”

She takes my hand and tries to forcefully read my pulse but I pull away.

“Okay. Since you’re fine, can I stay with you for a while? Like let’s say two weeks. Until I’m no longer angry at Mex?”

“You want to stay here?”

“I know I should have told you before coming but the truth is I didn’t plan to bug you initially. I was actually going to stay at my aunt’s place but my cousin said there was nobody in the house, that they all traveled. Then I thought of my friends but I changed my mind immediately. If I went to any of them, they would start spreading gossip that my marriage is on the rocks, so I thought of that one person that would neither judge me nor spread gossip about me and we could have mad fun together…”

“And you thought of me.”

She nods with a grin. “I even bought you something from Mauritius.”

She pulls out a nightshirt from her handbag that has ‘sisters-in-lawv’ written on it.

“I have a matching pair in my box. You like?”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

“We’ll have fun, right? I could have gone to a hotel but I don’t want to be alone. And you’re such a cool chick and well-traveled as I am. We have a lot more in common than we know, asides the Onuora boys. Plus we’re both heartbroken.”

I simply smile.

“So, tell me your spare room is free.”

“It is not,” Saratu answers, walking in.

Tola instantly puts up the condescending air she is known for but I step in before things turn nauseating.

“You can stay in my room, Tola.”

“That’s better.”

“This way.”

I lead her to my bedroom and let her in.

“Jesus Lord!” She gasps at the state of mess that is a result of four weeks of neglect.

“I’ll try to fix things this afternoon. I’ve been very busy.”

I part open the curtains to let in air.

“Honey…” Tola walks to me and touches my hand. “What’s really going on?”

I look at her. I desperately want to talk to someone but my tongue feels too heavy right now.

“Like you said,” I reply, “heartbreak.”

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

 “And I’m done!”

Tola takes a pose and flings a wet wipe into a trashcan resting under my dressing mirror. The room is now spotless but not as good as I’d normally do it. Jide used to tease me of having traces of OCD. I wonder what he’ll think of me now.

The doorbell goes off again and I feel my tummy churn. Without a second thought, I shut my bedroom door. Tola doesn’t notice. She is busy undressing for a shower.

“I actually wanted to make catfish peppersoup this morning but when I saw Mex, I just lost my mood. The guy is just an annoying ass, I swear. But I love him like that.”

She takes off her bra using that skillful manner women use in taking off their bras. I remember I once had a roommate that could not only take off her bra while dressed but also her jeans with her panty still on.

Saratu barges in.

“That your friend is here again o!” she announces.

“What friend?”

“The curvy one. She insists on seeing you and she even brought her luggage as well. I wonder when this house became a refugee camp.”

“Erm…let me see her.”

I leave the room with Saratu.

“Are you doing a sleepover I know nothing about?” Ekene jokes. “Fine chicks are just dropping in from the sky like rain.”

I open the front door and there is Mary standing outside. She is not smiling and I’m guessing Saratu must have been rude to her.

“Hi Honey.”

She reaches forward and gives me a hug.

“I’ve missed you,” she tells me, letting go. She doesn’t comment about my weight. Bless her!

“I’m staying for the weekend. Just to keep you company and to make sure everything is copacetic. Hope you don’t mind?”

“We do – actually,” Saratu answers. Mary puts on a scowl. “And what is copacetic?”

“Ignore her,” I say. “Come in.”

Mary walks in. Ekene says hello, she mumbles in reply.

“We’ve met?” he asks, recognition hitting his face.

“No,” Mary responds.

I make introductions.

“Nice to meet you again, Mary,” Ekene mutters.

I direct Mary to my room. Saratu follows us in.

“So, Mary the thing is the house is packed full. Tola just came in…”

“Tola?”

“Yeah. She’s in the bathroom.”

“Why is she here?”

I don’t answer the question. “She’ll be sharing my room. Saratu is in the other room…”

“And there’s nowhere for me to stay. I understand, Hon. Not that I could have called you to inform you, though. Your phone has been switched off for ages. How are you?”

“I’m good.”

“No, she’s not,” Saratu butts in. “But wetin concern me? You know what, Mary? You can stay. I’ll bunk with Kene. I just have a few days left in this damned country anyways, so enjoy your weekend.”

“No, it’s okay,” Mary protests.

“You’re not displacing me, seriously. I’m only too glad to be out of this house because sisi here has been acting really weird.”

Mary puts an arm over my shoulder. “She’ll be fine.”

“Me, I don try.” Saratu walks out and we’re left alone.

“Tonight we’re going for Peace’s divorce party,” Mary says. “I know she invited you.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

Mary faces me and rests her hands on my shoulders. “You will. I’ll dress you in a beautiful dress, do your makeup, fix up your hair and we’ll go and support a friend. I know you’re going through a hard time too and that is why I’m here to uplift your spirit. But I promise you that after this evening, you’ll feel a whole lot better.”

“Will Jide be there?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t want to see him.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t do anything about that. You just have to manage.”

I exhale. “Okay. I’ll go. I actually got Peace a gift but I was planning to have it delivered tomorrow morning.”

“You will hand it to her yourself. Come here.”

She draws me into a hug.

“I don’t know what is going on with you, Honey but you’ll be fine, dear.”

There’s something about Mary that gives me instant peace. I hold her tightly. That’s the only thing I can do to stop the tears from coming.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

“Awww, you look absolutely gorgeous, Honey!” Tola exclaims when I step out of my room with Mary behind me. “I’m officially jealous.”

“Me too.”

Saratu is busy with a chicken bone. She is yet to move to Ekene’s house. Right now, she’s in a pair of boxers and a strapless bra. Her hair is held up in Brazilian rollers while Tola helps paint her toenails. I have no idea how they bonded in the few hours Mary and I left them alone.

“Yellow looks good on you, Honey,” Tola compliments. I try to smile but I can’t. I agree that the dress I have on is lovely. Jide would love it, especially the length. He likes me wearing short things because he thinks I have amazing legs. But I feel fat.

“Don’t I look fat?”

“No.” The answer is a chorus from the ladies.

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah,” Tola reiterates. “I would have told you if you looked fat. Go and kill them, bae! Honey for the boys them!”

I smile.

“I particularly adore the heels,” Saratu comments. “When you come back, I’ll just claim them.”

“And your makeup is sublime,” Tola adds. “Please, Mary, let no man steal her from us at that party o. She will marry my dede whether she likes it or not. All this one her and Jide are doing is just yanga.”

Mary links her arm in mine. “She’s in safe hands. See you girls.”

We turn to the door and Mary drags me along. It’s dark outside and the weather a little cool after a long, hot day. I feel weird the moment my heels dig into the lawn. My skin tingles and the air invades my nostrils. I immediately have the urge to turn back. Mary senses it and she holds me tighter as we head outside the gate.

“Hey ladies!” Ekene’s car stops across the street. “Need a ride?”

“How does he always pop up from nowhere?” Mary whispers.

“It’s his talent.”

“You’re both looking great, by the way,” Ekene mentions. “It would be my pleasure to drop you off wherever you’re going.”

“Let’s go.” I tug Mary’s hand. We cross over and I take the backseat of the car, leaving her with a puzzled face and Ekene’s ogling eyes. He doesn’t seem to notice that she’s properly covered because her curves are in full display from underneath her outfit.

He is going to have a hard time concentrating on the road.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Peace welcomes me with a smile that is new to her features. She looks radiant in white. Her cheeks are full and ruddy. There’s a contagious glow about her.

“Where is Honey?” she asks me, looking over my shoulder. I smile apologetically in response.

“You guys should stop this rough play jor. I will not take that breakup nonsense I’m hearing. You belong together.”

“Please help me tell her when you see her.”

“So she’s not coming?”

“I don’t think so.”

“That’s heartbreaking. Come in jare.”

I step into the house and realize I am a late. Everyone else is present, except Mary, and they’re already having drinks. I throw in a general greeting and take the seat Peace offers after leaving a gift bag on the dining table where others are placed.

“How are you?” Celia leans towards me and whispers.

“I’m good.”

She’s stirring a cocktail. “You miss her?”

“Yeah.”

“We miss her too…”

“I have something to say, everyone!” Peace stands, interrupting Celia.

“First of all, thank you for coming. When Celia came up with the idea of this get-together I totally kicked against it because of my beliefs. Divorce is not a tag a Christian wants to carry, let alone party over. But when I deeply thought about it and remembered all I went through with Reno, I was like, why not? I am basically celebrating my life here today. Eight years ago, I walked down the aisle to stand before a man I barely knew. I gave my body, my heart and my future to him instead of giving them to God and I paid dearly. I never imagined I’d be here today, doing this, but I am and I’m grateful to God and to you, my friends. I don’t know why Mary is not here. She was the catalyst that woke me up and I owe her a lot. In her absence, I want to make a toast to life, to love and to broken hearts being mended.”

Celia passes her a glass of wine. She declines.

“Just for tonight, Peace.”

She takes the glass and lifts it in the air. As we are about to cheer, the door opens and Mary waltzes in.

“I’m sorry we’re late! So, so sorry! Our dumb driver took us through one corner-corner road and dumped us in traffic! We had to use a keke here. Hope we didn’t miss much?”

I am about to ask her who her companion is when Honey makes a grand entrance in the most beautiful dress I have ever seen on her. My tummy literally makes a loud grumble that gets Celia’s attention. She snorts. I ignore. My eyes won’t leave the door. Honey stands by it as if she is uncertain about joining us.

“Look who the cat dragged in!” Celia exclaims. “Hi Honey! We missed you, babes! Come give us a hug.”

Honey walks in with slow steps and hugs everyone, leaving me for last. I don’t intend to give a show when my arms wrap around her, so I make it quick but ensure that I hold her hand afterwards. Celia conspiratorially vacates her space on the couch but Honey decides to go for another empty space right opposite me. I don’t complain. It’s perfect. This way I can stare at her as much as I want.

“Honey, what would you like to drink?” Bobby asks.

“Water.”

“Water? Nobody except Kate is doing water here today. We have spirits, wine, champagne, beer, even palm wine! Pick any.”

“Um…”

“I know exactly what she wants,” I offer, getting off my seat.

I dash into the kitchen to mix the perfect cocktail. I want her to loosen up. It’s been seventeen days since we last saw. I have been counting because that is the most I can do. She has shut me and everyone else out and I don’t understand why. From what I have gathered, Saratu and that Ekene guy are the only persons that have access to her.

Fam, that just makes me plain mad. The guy literally lives in her house. The couple of times I went there to see her, it was he who answered the door. He didn’t let me in at both occasions and he held this smile on his face that made me just want to punch the yellowness out of his DNA.

I don’t want to believe that something is going on between them. I have been trying my best to shut out that irksome voice that keeps telling me that the Bridemaker curse has returned.

I’m worried. Something feels out of place and I might have plans to swallow my pride and speak to Ekene. Maybe he knows something I don’t. I won’t accept that she has stopped loving me as she told me the last time we met.

Her eyes had been wearing a veil of blankness. She was sitting across the table from me in this dim, bland restaurant she had chosen for us to have dinner. I held her hand. I caressed her palm with my finger but she merely stared back and told me she had lost every feeling she used to have for me.

“What changed?” I asked, my heart bleeding.

“Nothing,” she replied and pulled her hand away. “Nothing changed.”

“So you’re sleeping with Ekene again?”

“No.”

“Then what is it?”

“I’m sorry, Jide. I can’t do this.”

She picked her phone and purse and began out before I could stop her. I sat there, broken, angry and confused. She left me with questions that still need answers and I would have them tonight at all cost. This cocktail I’m mixing has always been her kryptonite.

I split the mix into two glasses, place one in the fridge and take the other to her. After serving it to her, I reclaim my earlier position and resume gazing at her.

“Before you ladies joined us, we were about to make a toast to life, love and broken hearts being mended.” Peace raises her glass once more as do we.

“Cheers!”

We salute to her toast. When I let my bottle of beer down, I catch Honey’s eyes on me which she averts straightaway. I also notice she has had a good gulp of her drink.

The evening goes by rather slowly, jokes are told, stories are shared and Honey loses her subdued temperament. She is into her second cocktail now, being entertained by Bobby’s hilarious tale about a client who pretended to go mad in court by stripping nude because she felt she was losing the case. I am not that into the story; I’m simply observing Honey. She has no idea my eyes are on her. She laughs out loud every now and then and I remember how much she loved doing that, especially when I strap her down and tickle her pitilessly. I miss that uncontained hilarity. And her lip-syncing skills and weird addiction for Choco Milo, or how she loved to be part of my morning shower just to hear me sing a Michael Jackson song. I haven’t sang since she left, though. Nothing is the same without her.

It’s almost 10pm and we’re having an argument about love and relationships. Everyone has something to say, including Honey. Her tongue is completely loose now and she has some interesting opinions about relationships and I’m amused.

Out of the blue, while speaking, her gaze drops to her phone and she lifts it off her laps.

“Excuse me,” she mutters as she hurries outside.

I go after her. I find her at Peace’s front steps and stop behind her. I’m just a hair’s breath away but I keep my space. The smooth arrangement of fine hairs on her neck gives me goosebumps. It is with self-control I keep my hands to myself.

“Come and get us in an hour,” she tells the person on the phone with her. “We’ll be done by then.”

I wonder if it’s Ekene.

“See ya.”

The call ends and she does a swivel into my waiting arms. There is initial surprise and then a twinkling of silence as we both remain immobile.

Then she makes to pull back but I tug closer, smelling her hair, feeling the lushness of her breasts on my chest.

“Why did you take all of this away from me, sugar lips?”

I’m not looking for an immediate answer. I’d rather have a kiss, so I take one without asking. She only lets me taste her lips for a second before she moves away.

I see the defenselessness in her eyes. The cocktail has done its job; it’s time to do mine. I take her hand and cart her away from the front entrance of Peace’s home. We end up outside the gate where I have the car parked.

“Jide, Mary will look for me,” Honey protests weakly.

“She won’t.”

I open the passenger door, she slips into the car on her own accord. When I fire up the engine, she turns on the Mp3 player and makes a selection of her favorite party songs. I see that she’s in a hyper mood and I’m a little worried that I went too far on the cocktail mix.

“I don’t want to go home yet,” she tells me.

“My place, then?”

She nods, and does so to the rhythm of the song presently playing. Then she goes ahead to lip-sync to it, dancing at the same time. It’s Sia’s Free the Animal playing, a song I have heard so many times. But I am just realizing the song is talking about sex. I don’t even know what the lyrics are exactly; I’m more interested in the way Honey’s body pulses to it. Naturally, I am on my way to being turned on but I’ll control it. We need to talk first. If all goes well, anything else can happen.

It’s a short drive to my house. Honey is still pumped; there’s a party going on in her head, I guess. Once inside the house, she livens it up with the home theater, now playing some Jimmy Jatt party mix.

This is not what I had in mind. I enter the kitchen for a drink of water and when I return, I find Honey stripped and left in nothing but her underwear.

I balk.

“Isn’t this why you brought me here?” she asks, sauntering towards me. “Why you got me drunk in the first place?”

“No, Honey.”

I switch off the home theater system.

“I didn’t get you drunk. I just wanted to loosen you up a bit so we can talk about why we broke up. I feel there’s something you’re hiding from me.”

“I’m hiding nothing, Jideofor.” She keeps her eyes on my lips. “Except this.”

Her bra falls to the floor. I look straight into her eyes.

“Erhinyuse, behave.”

I hold her hands together. “I need answers. Just a few answers. I know you still love me. I know the breakup was hard on you too and it still is. I can tell by just looking at you. But what I don’t know is why you let go of something really good. What did I do that is so unforgiveable? Why was it so easy for you to dump me just like that?”

She loses her seductive air as her eyes grow dim. “It wasn’t easy, Jide. It was the hardest thing. And I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s best that you don’t know.”

“Okay, what if I give you time and you eventually tell me what is going on, will that fix things between us?”

“Jide, we’re done. There’s no fixing things. You won’t even want to be with me once I open up to you.”

“Let me be the judge of that, Honey. Let me stop loving you on my own terms.”

Tears instantly fill her eyes. She stoops down and picks her bra.

“I have to go.”

I catch her hand as she turns away. “Don’t go.”

She steps closer and shawls her arms around my neck, going for a weak spot underneath my ear.

“I’ve missed you,” she whispers.

I have never had reason to resist her advances before and I don’t think this time will be different. We kiss like we have been sex-starved for years. We grope and fondle like wildlings. We crash into the nearest couch. When I thrust into her, she explodes, and I have to break for a while to let her have her moment. She laughs as the orgasm takes her. All I can do is entertain myself while I wait.

But she won’t let me. She drags me by the collar and forces me in deeper.

The feeling is bliss! That’s the only way I can explain it. I have held this want for a long time and it’s more than I can bear. The deeper I go, the wilder we both get, the more certain I am that I want to be doing this to Honey all my life. I don’t care what her story is, I am not letting her out of my sight again.

She has a second orgasm that makes me lose control. I try to pull away but she straps me in. History could repeat itself but at the moment, neither of us cares. The absolute ecstasy we’re both feeling and the elation of being together trumps everything else, thus I get lost in pleasure and spend myself within her.

Total stillness takes over. I kiss her while trying to catch my breath. Tired eyes stare back at me and I caress her lips until her eyelids close. It doesn’t take long for her to drift into deep sleep. I lift her up and take her into the bedroom, and then return to the sitting room to accomplish what has been tugging on my mind.

I pick her phone from the floor where she has left it. I make a ‘G’ with my finger to unlock the code and surprisingly, the picture I see on the wallpaper is of both of us.

I stare at the phone for a while, not knowing what exactly I’m looking for.

I begin with her call log. The last call she received was from a contact she saved as ‘Eks’, obviously Ekene. The call before that was from me, seventeen days ago. This explains why I haven’t been able to reach her since then; her phone has been off.

Nothing else of interest arrests my attention. I move on to her text messages and find a blank wall as well. What am I expecting to see?

I check her email messages next. I still find nothing. I put the phone down, more curious than ever. I guess I have to wait until she wakes up before we can have that talk.

I turn on the television to get distracted and it is at that exact moment she receives an email. I know I shouldn’t read it but my curiosity won’t let me act politely. I tap open to read. It’s from some doctor with a Dutch-like name and he is responding to an email she sent at an earlier time before we broke up with the header, “I am pregnant”. His reply comes in five lines.

Hi Honey,

I am sorry to reply you this late. I was off connection for quite some time.

Please, don’t abort the baby or stop taking your meds. The baby will be fine. I hope this is not too late.

Attached is a new prescription and recommended dosage, assuming you’re still pregnant.

Can you fly in for your routine checkup?

I feel my heart beating fast as I scroll down and discover the email sender is a psychiatrist. I tap on the attached prescription. It reveals that she is on a drug called Lithium. The name rings familiar but I can’t recall anything about it. I quickly go to Google search on her phone and type in the word. Google lists out some suggestions and top amongst them are lithium for mania and lithium for bipolar disorder.

I stop right there, afraid to go any further as a cold sensation washes over me. I know I said I needed answers but I’m not so sure this is what I wanted to discover.

I walk back to my bedroom and stand by the door. She opens her eyes.

“I’m cold.”

I turn off the air conditioner.

“No, I want you here.”

I slide in beside her and she snuggles into my arms. The words mania and bipolar disorder won’t leave my head and I’m scared but I love this woman and I’m willing to bear her burden.

“Do you still want to talk?” she asks.

“No, sugams.” I kiss her forehead. “I just want you back.”

jih

©Sally@moskedapages

Translations:

mi vida – my life (Spanish)

pinche pendejo – fucking asshole

sisi – young girl

yanga – to front

keke – tricycle

 

Image credits:pinterest.com, favim.com, tofo.me

 

 

 

 

It’s Another Saturday…#19

Read previous episodes of It’s Another Saturday

Peace Or Pieces?

Honey has been in hushed conversation with her elder sister for almost an hour. I had respectfully asked to be excused. I withdrew to my room to give them privacy but I have been restless. I still don’t trust Jane. Her excuse for showing up in town by this time is that she left Warri really late and did it without the knowledge of her siblings. How am I supposed to believe that?

I stretch out on my bed, my phone in hand. There’s nothing trending online and so I put my phone down and recall Honey’s question about Tarela. How did she find out about her? Did Mary let something slip?

My phone vibrates. I pick it. Tola’s calling. I hesitate to answer as my mind tries to figure out what the call is about.

Has it got to do with Mary’s case? Or something about Emeka? Or is it about our dirty history together?

I choose to ignore the call. It rings out and she calls yet again. Like before, I ignore the call.

A text comes in.

Dede, I’m not trying to get into your pants. Answer my call.

I smile. She has switched from addressing me as Uncle Jide to Dede these days. Well, I kind’a like it because it strips that unfortunate night we shared from my memory.

She is calling again. I answer her.

“Dede, good evening, sir.”

“Stop being silly, Tola. Why are you calling?”

“I’m calling to report your brother to you o.”

“What did he do now?”

“Over the past week he has been chatting with his baby mama. Initially, I thought it was harmless because she always sends Tobe’s pictures to him.”

Tobe is Emeka’s son.

“But recently, I noticed the chats were becoming of a personal nature and he has been calling her too or she will call him and they’ll talk like forever. The one that just happened this night was that she called and after they finished talking, he turned to me and said she wants to visit Nigeria.”

“Okay?”

“I’m pissed! He has already gone to see Tobechi, so why does she need to come? And what is unfair is that momsi has kind’a been putting the idea in his head as well, that she wants to see her grandson. Me, I’m not finding it funny o! Nobody is thinking of me and how I’m feeling about the whole thing.”

Is this babe serious at all? She’s calling to report my brother and mother to me and expect that I’ll take her side because we once humped?

“Tola, first things first. Tobe is Emeka’s son as much as he’s Yazmin’s. There will always be communication between them but you should not let it bother you because Yazmin is not in your area code. Then about momsi, are you serious at all? The old woman just wants to see her first grandson; she is not trying to make your love life complicated.”

“But she calls Yazmin and they talk all the time. She doesn’t call me like that.”

“Because you are always with her, Omotola.”

“She likes her more than me because I don’t have a child for Mex. Is that it?”

Wahala!

“Or is she still judging me over what happened between me and you?”

I ignore the statement.

“You want her to be calling you like that too? When she starts now it will be that your mother-in-law doesn’t want you to rest.”

“I don’t care. She’s not just my mother-in-law. She’s my mom as well. Let her call me the way she calls Yazmin.”

I laugh. Tola is like Honey in so many ways. I don’t know why they don’t get along.

“Okay, I’ll talk to her.”

“And talk to Mex too.”

Tola is stress. I don’t know what she wants me to tell Emeka but I promise her that I’ll talk to him just to get her off my line.

“Thanks, Dede.”

“Good night, Tola.”

I hang up and hear someone knocking on my door. Before I answer, I hear Jane’s voice.

“Jideofor, please come.”

Curiously, I follow her out to the sitting room where I find Honey, eyes red and face distorted in anger. I have never seen that expression on her before. She is staring at some spot on the floor and wouldn’t even look up when I walk in.

“Sit down, Jideofor.” Jane points to a chair as though she owns the house and I’m the guest.

I sit guardedly.

“Talk to Honey,” she says to me. “She wants to go to Warri to fight our seniors and I’m begging her not to.”

I’m surprised at what I’ve just been told. Honey wants to fight her siblings? That’s new. Looks like I have finally gotten across to her.

“It is not advisable at all. Not now. Not ever!” Jane emphasizes.

“Sorry but might I ask why?”

“They are not human beings. Yes, they are family but they are not human beings. Erhinyuse!” Jane pulls her ear. “Don’t be stubborn!”

Next, she says something in their dialect of which Honey retorts to rather furiously. I am left in the dark.

“Jideofor,” Jane addresses me again, “what I’m about to tell you is what I told Honey that put her in this mood you’re seeing. I could have shut my mouth and kept it a secret as it has been all these years but I felt she ought to know and be aware of the type of people she’s up against.”

“Okay.”

“My elder brothers, sister and my mom’s relatives have a hand behind Honey’s mother’s death.”

She stops and lets the breaking news sink in.

“But you did not hear it from me. I am taking great risk to relay this information to you. In short, they have no idea I am here. I left the family house and told them I was going to spend the night with a friend but I went to the park and picked a ride to come here since Honey has been avoiding my calls. The reason why I took this great risk is because they have sworn to deal with her if she fights them over her inheritance. Note my emphasis on it being hers. It is not theirs. Our father sold off all he had when he was first diagnosed with cancer and shared the money equally amongst four of us. Honey was excluded. And he told us directly that all he has left is his wife’s money which belongs to Honey alone.”

“Please could you go back to the point where you said they killed her mother?”

“I was there, Jideofor. I was on holidays from school at the time and the only one at home with Mommy Fatima. All my siblings were by then, married. Our dad had traveled out of town. That day was a Thursday and our aunt, my mom’s younger sister, visited. She had come in from Asaba. She said she was passing through to Ore and was spending the night with us. To be honest, I don’t know what she did or how she did it but by Friday morning, Mommy Fatima was vomiting and purging. It started like joke but it got to the point where all she was vomiting was saliva and water. I had to call our neighbor to take her to the hospital. The doctor called me aside and told me straight up that she was poisoned. He said he didn’t know what she had ingested but that he would try his best to make sure she is fine. By the time he treated her, she was feeling better. Saturday evening, daddy came and we took her home. But by Sunday, she started feeling terrible again. She was vomiting blood this time. Daddy wanted to take her to the hospital but she refused and told him right in my hearing that it was going to be a waste of time because she has seen her death already in a dream…”

Honey breaks into a muffled cry and I leave my seat to hers. She buries her face on my neck.

“That night Mommy Fatima spoke to Honey and also called her family members in Eritrea. After her last phone call, she instructed me to make her tea with lime; that her tongue tasted terrible and she wanted something sour to kill the taste. I entered the kitchen to prepare the tea and came back and saw her head on daddy’s chest. He was talking to her but I did not know she was already gone.”

Honey squeezes the collar of my shirt as her body shakes in sobs.

“I was like ‘Mommy Fatima, I’ve brought your tea’ and daddy went like ‘Shhh! You’ll wake her.’ So I put the tea on a stool beside the bed and was about leaving when I saw blood sipping from her nose. I said, ‘Daddy, look! Blood is coming out from her nose.’ And he said very quietly, ‘I know.’ Then I saw tears in his eyes and that was when I knew she was dead.”

“I will never forgive them,” Honey swears.

“They poisoned her, Jideofor. For no reason, they killed her. I was in shock for a long time and even up until today, I find it hard believing that they did it.”

“And your dad knew.”

“He did but he never spoke about it until the day he called in his lawyer to write his will about a month ago. I had been taking care of him because he didn’t like the nurse the hospital had assigned to him. So I handed over my shop and kids to my sister-in-law and went to the family house to stay with him. The day the lawyer came, Harry also visited. Daddy was dictating his will in my hearing and with two witnesses. As he was about finishing, Harry burst in, ordered me and the lawyer and the witnesses out, but I refused to leave. I stayed in and watched him tell daddy to ensure that the rest of us were included in the will. Daddy replied him in clear terms that he will not change his mind. I sat there and watched Harry insult him, telling him he hated him and was never going to forgive him for marrying a woman that tore the family apart. But daddy was unmoved. When Harry finished his insults, daddy said, and I quote: ‘the worst you people can do is kill me like you killed my wife. And it will be bliss for me because I’m in so much pain right now.’ Harry then replied,’ so you want to be stubborn, old man! You want to be stubborn abi?! We’ll see!” Then he stormed out and refused to see daddy until he died.”

Jane’s story has left me with goosebumps. Honey pulls away from me and that initial anger I saw has returned. It stays strong behind moisture-filled eyes.

“That is why I am here to beg Use in the name of God to leave them for God’s judgment.”

“Never!” Honey retorts. “They killed my mom and now they want to take her wealth and I should let them? What rubbish!”

“Sister Jane, with all due respect, Honey is right. We can’t just let them get away with all they’ve done. We know we can’t prove that they had a hand in our late mother’s death but we can stop them from stripping Honey of what is rightfully hers.”

“They can’t even do it.”

“But that’s what they want to do.”

“They can’t.” Jane has an assuring smile on her face. “The only reason why they think they can is because they believe that with the will in their possession, they can coax Honey into signing over everything to them but I repeat that they can’t.”

She is beginning to sound like a phrase in a song on repeat and why is that smile still on her lips?

She opens her bag and pulls out a black folder which she hands to Honey.

“I took this from Harry three days ago, photocopied it and replaced it with the photocopies.”

“What’s this?”

“Daddy’s last will and testament. It’s all in your hands now and that is why you should forget about everything and live your life like we never existed.”

Honey is speechless. She opens the folder and together we confirm that it is her father’s will. She looks at Jane.

“You did this for me?”

Jane is the one with wet eyes now. “I haven’t gotten over the horror of that weekend your mom died. It was terrifying. She went just like that! So fast! And none of us could do anything. She didn’t want us to.”

“I think she was tired of everything she had gone through and she just wanted to rest from it all.” Honey closes the folder. “Thank you, sister. And I’m sorry I didn’t pick your calls. I was mad at everyone.”

“I understand.”

“But you took a risk coming here, sister.”

“And that’s why I’m not going back there.” She laughs whilst wiping her eyes. “My husband and I are going on this short vacation to Dubai tomorrow. He’s been here since Saturday, waiting for me. We’ll be in Dubai until the children resume school. By then I’ll have the energy to face them if they get on my case.”

Honey walks over to her and gives her a hug. I watch both sisters struggle with their tears and remind myself how blessed I am to have a loving family and siblings that would do anything and everything to ensure my happiness. I want Honey to have the same type of home with me in the future.

“I should be leaving.” Jane draws her legs together and lifts her handbag to rest them on her knees. I look at the time on my watch. It’s almost midnight.

“Go to bed, sugar,” I instruct Honey. “I’ll be right back.”

They share another hug before I lead Jane out of the house. The journey to her hotel and back home takes me twenty minutes tops. I return to find Honey, burrowed in bed covers. I slip in beside her and she naturally snuggles up to me.

“For the first time in my life I am grateful that Jane is a kleptomaniac,” she mutters.

I throw in a laugh without meaning to. Honey joins me.

“Like really, her stealing ways saved those assholes from the fire of my wrath. I was ready for them… And I’m still angry. I don’t think I can forgive them, Jide.”

I don’t reply immediately. I palm her butt and draw her closer. Her hair is in my face; she smells of apples.

“You have gotten what is rightfully yours and no one can take it from you. That’s all that matters. I think you can let go now.”

She makes no reply. We stay in silence, listening to neighborhood dogs howl into the night. And then for some reason, Honey is turned on. And I am not. I just want to sleep but she insists on making love. She says she is restless and would sleep better if she ‘feels’ me. I tell her we’re out of condoms. She begins to bug my pleasure zones and I’m weak to resist. I inform her that she’ll be on top but she begs me to be in charge. She doesn’t say why but I understand she has this need to be loved. This is not just sex for her; it’s a release from all the turmoil going on inside.

I’m ready for her in no time. There’s no foreplay or urgency. Just really low-key lovemaking that leaves Honey in an emotional state. Each time I try to stop, she holds me back in; and that’s like double the pleasure of what I’m normally used to.

I’ve not had unprotected sex in seven years. And damn! Honey feels like Elysium. I can’t quite put into words the sensations I’m feeling. Plus, there is this connection that wasn’t there before. It’s like all this time I have been simulating. Right here, right now, is where I am supposed to be. I think I can finally understand what my mom means when she says sexual intercourse is spiritual because I think Honey and I just got into something new.

I take it slow as the pleasure builds, although I badly want to let go. With Honey working me to insanity with her walls, it’s hard to stay focused. I try but I find myself falling. I eventually let go and collapse on her chest, helpless. She holds me tightly.

“I feel better. Thank you,” she whispers.

“No, thank you. You don’t know what you just did to me.”

I kiss her lips and chin and slip away from her embrace to lie beside her. She finds comfort in my arms again and not long after, we are both drifting off.

“Take a pill tomorrow, sugams,” I whisper.

“Mm,” she replies.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Honey is up before me in the morning. I wake up to find her all dressed.

“What time is it?”

“Seven.”

I sit up. I have a client I need to see.

“So, I’m going to see Nne today,” she announces. “Then I’m off to Kalu’s office for business talks.”

“He’s back?”

“Yep.”

“Okay. Have fun,” I say, heading to the bathroom.

“I’m not in a hurry. I’m actually here until ten o’clock.”

She follows me to the bathroom. I stare at my reflection in the mirror. I need a shave.

“So why are you all dressed if you’re leaving in three hours?” I ask her as I lift up the toilet seat.

“Oh. I’m on my period. Got up around five to pee and there it was!” She giggles. “Looks like my special diet is working. I’m beginning to feel like a normal woman again.”

“Happy for you,” I reply wittily, thinking of the lack of sex I have to endure for the next five days.

“Do you think I should go natural with my hair? You saw Jane yesterday. That was all her hair. And mine can be longer if I let it grow naturally. You think I should?”

“It’s your business. Just don’t start wearing Ankara along with it. You’ll just weird me out.”

She grins. “I’m not trying to be Chimamanda.”

I flush the toilet and turn on the shower as she walks out.

Note to self: Buy condoms, bros. Last night, as awesome as it was, should never repeat itself.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

messy-room

The room is a mess when I wake up. Clothes everywhere, dirty dishes from last night’s dinner, a knife I had used in slicing onions, soiled diapers, my bra, a wig and some other nameless stuff litter the floor.

It’s like this every morning. The maid comes in during the day and cleans the house to perfection but by evening, Shady, our little girl and I, mess it up again. I always pretend not to notice the unuttered grumble on the maid’s lips that leaves her mouth in an angry pout every time she goes about her business. When she decides to speak, she complains that her pay is not enough, of which I’ll angrily yap back at her to quit if she’s tired.

Shady doesn’t like that I do that. He wants me to be considerate and sweet-talking but I’m just too frustrated to care these days. I don’t need him telling me what to do. I need him to help me get a job! This is not the life I projected for myself. I never wanted to settle into being a housewife. I had only gone off the job scene for a while to care for our baby just to realize that getting back in was much harder than I thought.

Dara is a year and eight months already and I still haven’t gotten a job. And Shady’s salary is barely getting us by. I long gave up on luxuries that came so easy for me and these days I have to manage the foodstuff because we cut back on so many things. Even money for my hair is always a problem. I keep my locks plaited neatly and use a wig whenever I can’t afford salon appointments. My friends have no idea what I’m going through. They have this perception that Shady is stingy but he isn’t. My poor husband is working his ass off in a job where they pay him less than he’s worth. I wish he would pursue his dreams, though. He’s such an amazing actor but for reasons unknown to me, he refuses to seek a career in the movie industry.

He is stressed out and frustrated as I am and it is taking a toll on our individual and married lives. Sex has become bland and if we’re not worrying about the rent, then we’re fighting each other over one thing or the other.

Take for instance, this morning. He gets up in a bad mood and has decided to take it out on me. First, he ignores my greeting and then asks me why I have left Dara’s dirty diaper on the floor.

I give him no answer and pick the diaper. When I come back to the room, I find him fixing the place up himself.

“Shady, the maid will come and do this. You’re late for work. Go and shower.”

He acts as if he’s deaf.

“Shady, go and shower.” I snatch my bra from his hand. “Leave what you’re doing–”

“DON’T FUCKING TELL ME WHAT TO DO, CELIA!” He charges at me.

I recoil.

“You always want to be the man in this relationship and I am tired! I am fed up! You make me feel small and inconsequential and I have had enough! If I want to clean the room, is it your hand I’m using?! Why can’t you just let a man be?!”

I slump into the bed dazedly. I have no idea what just happened.

“Shady?” I can barely hear my own voice. “What did I do?”

He continues to tidy up the room and when he is done I notice he has only succeeded in moving the mess from one place to another. But that is the least of my concerns; my brain is trying to work out why Shady would lash out at me the way he just did.

“Shady, talk to me nau.”

“So you don’t know?”

“Know what?”

“Okay. You’ll soon know.”

He stomps out to the kitchen with the dirty dishes and comes back with a broom. I stop him as he begins sweeping.

“Shadrach, talk to me.”

“Before we left this house to Jide’s yesterday, what did I tell you?”

I hold on to the broomstick as I try to recall the previous evening. But nothing comes to mind.

“Didn’t I tell you not to take sides in the Mary and Reno drama?” Shady interrogates.

“You did,” I answer quietly.

“Then why did you go there to bash your friend?!”

I become wordless.

“You accused her of wanting to break Reno’s home! You opened your mouth and exposed that Reno and Peace were not having sex! You became judge, jury and executioner! Who asked you?!”

Oh boy. I’m so in for it today. Shady is really angry.

“Even when I told you to tread carefully, you dismissed me like a small boy! Embarrassed me in front of our friends! Because you are madam and you must talk! You must use your mouth to bring somebody down if not you won’t feel good about yourself!”

I don’t feel good about myself presently. Shady is right. I was a massive bitch to Mary last night.

“Even when it became clear that Reno was lying, you still wouldn’t stop! You were defending him at all cost ‘cause when I can’t buy you that hair or that dress or that pair of shoes, it is Peace who always takes you shopping!”

“No, Shady.”

“Yes, Celia!”

I’m not the type to cry easily but there’s this thing in my throat that begs to be released in tears. Shady has just bared open my heart and what I see inside stinks. Did I really take Reno’s side yesterday and emasculate my husband just for the little gifts Peace hands down to me now and then?

Shady enters the bathroom for a shower and I stand right where he has left me and go through yesterday’s events again. The more I ponder on the matter, the more I see my faux pas and the more I realize Reno is guilty.

When Shady is through with his shower and he walks back in, I apologize to him. He fronts a little but he ultimately lets the whole thing slide after I promise to visit Mary and ask her forgiveness over the mindless and hurtful utterances I made.

“So does that mean you and Reno are no longer friends?” I ask Shady.

“We are. Just not like before. All I need is proof that he raped Mary and he’s history.”

I ponder on Shady’s words as I make breakfast. If Reno really is guilty as we all suspect, then the only way to find out will be through Peace. But Peace is not the type to let out a secret. She is that type of woman that will kill with her right hand and her left hand will be oblivious of what she has done.

I come up with a plan to visit and charm her into spilling out something. I doubt that it will work, though. She is always on her guard when it comes to issues concerning Reno. She can defend him to death.

Shady leaves for work and the maid arrives. I give her a few instructions before leaving the house. Since Shady has taken the car today, I pick a bus to Peace’s area. I stopped being able to afford cab rides a long time ago.

I alight from the bus and proceed on a ten-minute walk to Peace’s house. The gateman lets me in. I walk to the front door to find it wide open. Usually, I’d have to ring the bell and endure listening to some gospel song from the 1950s  before Peace shows up at the door. Today, I enter and rather than gospel music, I hear Peace’s seven month-old son screaming his lungs out. It doesn’t take me long to pick out his location.

“Peace!” I call out.

Little Sammy, having heard my voice, increases the tempo of his cry. I hurry to the kitchen and find him on the floor in a half-crawl, half-sitting position. His diaper is heavily soiled and poop is spilling from the corners.

“Peace o! Why did you leave Dara’s husband like this nau?!”

I put my handbag away and lift Sammy up, trying my best to avoid being soiled by poop. I take him to his nursery and find the place in a mess.

“Peace!”

I turn on the water heater and begin to strip off his clothes. The boy refuses to pipe down. I’m sure he has not had anything to eat. I start to placate him with a song I usually sing to Dara but it seems my efforts only get him more incensed.

While waiting for the water to heat up, I wipe him with a towel and take him in my arms to check on Peace in her bedroom. I find it empty.

“Peace!”

Sammy begins another bout of tears again and I’m forced to go back and manage the bath water as lukewarm as it is. I wash him clean, change his clothes and feed him whilst trying to reach Peace on her phone. Each time I try, it rings off the hook. I give up and decide to call Reno but only after I tie Sammy on my back and get him to finally calm down.

I dial Reno. Like Peace, his phone rings out. Strange.

I am about to leave the house to ask the guard if Peace had stepped out earlier when I remember that I have not checked the guest room.

I walk there, push the door in and see Peace lying on the floor. For a second, I lose my breath because she looks dead. But I see a finger move and a bottle of Red Label lying half-consumed at her feet. It is at this point something her former housemaid once told me came back to mind.

“She dey drink like fish! Squadi! Shelsea o! Star o! Gooda, Palmy, all of dem! She dey drink! In short, she dey use Squadi soak garri! Chop cornflakes  sef! After she go brush teeth, put Tom-tom for mouth, tie head-tie, carry Bible, go church!”

That information had been revealed to me on the occasion of some fight between Peace and the maid. Peace told me she fired her for stealing from her but the maid denied the claims and said Peace fired her because she gave her unsolicited advice about her alcohol addiction.

I had laughed off the maid’s version of the story; it had seemed ridiculous a tale and even more outrageous that Peace, of all persons, would be addicted to alcohol. She was the calmest, most peaceful, most Holy Ghost sister I knew. How could she be an alcoholic?

But now as I look at her in her pathetic state, I can’t help but evoke clear signs I missed. The constant trembling hands, blotchy skin, red eyes, memory loss, blackouts, loss of interest and yes, the Tom-tom addiction. But God! She hid the signs well. Isn’t there that saying that the best place to hide something is right where everyone can see it?

We were with her the entire time and never saw that she was nursing an addiction that was slowly killing her. Reno wasn’t the only thorn in her flesh.

“Peace,” I call.

She doesn’t stir. I make a fist and give the door a loud thump that makes her head jerk off the floor. Beneath her, I see vomit. I retch.

She swivels her head left and right and manages to widen her eyes. I hit the door again. She raises her head higher and aims her eyes at me.

“Reno…”

“It’s not Reno.”

But she doesn’t seem to hear me.

“Ray, you’re back? You’re not angry again?” She slurs. Her tiny voice comes off sounding like a five year Old’s.

“I was only joking… I won’t tell them… that you… you told me you raped Mary… I promise. I won’t say anything.”

She burps. “I pro…mise…”

Her head falls back to the floor again and I don’t know when tears leave my eyes and begin their way down my face.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not crying for her or for Mary. I am crying for Reno and what is about to befall him.

I pull out my phone from my pocket and dial my elder brother’s number. He is a lieutenant colonel in the army. I haven’t spoken to him in a while but he takes my call without hesitation as he usually does. Side note: he’s been madly in love with Mary for years but I have discouraged the two from hooking up because she’s too calm for his crazy.

Young African American soldier talking on cell phone.

“Cee, this one that you called me today, I hope it’s to tell me that my wife is now ready for me? Her diamond ring is gathering dust here o.”

“Joey…” I sigh. And then I tell him everything.

My talkative brother goes silent. For a really long time.

“Joey?”

“I’ll send my boys,” he replies brusquely and the line goes dead.

©Sally@moskedapages

image credits: getty images, hdimagelib.com

 

It’s Another Saturday…#18

He Said, She Said

“Reno would never do such a thing! Never! Mary is lying and God will punish her!”

I don’t care for Peace’s high-pitched voice screaming at me or her words conveyed in anger. I don’t care that my friends are split over the issue and the guys are giving me this look like I have just committed murder. I have done nothing but give Reno what he deserves. The doctor says he’s fine. I was not stupid enough to kill him; I only wanted him to feel pain.

“I will never forgive you, Jideofor! You or Mary! Never!”

I continue to act like Peace is an insect buzzing in some desert where no one exists. We are all settled in the waiting room of the hospital. My friends are here for Reno; I’m here for Mary. I am told she is still with Tola.

“Ah! Mary, you’re the devil!” Peace tempers on. “Mary that I took into my house when she was having accommodation issues?! Mary that I regard as my own sister?!”

Everyone is quiet, even the nurses at their station. They have tried to calm her but she is bent on raving like a mad woman. Let her carry on. I don’t give a damn. If this incident tears our circle apart, fine and good but I will not have any regrets over what I have done. In fact, if Reno steps out of that emergency room and he utters any word that pisses me off, I will continue where I left off.

“Jide, make we yarn.”

I look up to see Bobby standing over me. I get to my feet. As we head outside, Bright, Ibro and Shady join us.

“Did he really do it?” Bobby questions when we step out to the parking lot of the hospital.

“Don’t ask me that type of question, Bobby. No vex me dis evening.”

“Abeg, calm down,” he scolds. “We’re not saying Mary is lying. We just want to know the details.”

“I’ve known Reno for like twenty-six or so years, Bobby. He and Shady and I grew up together. We are like brothers. All of you know how tight we are, so does it make sense that I would just get up like that and accuse him blindly if I didn’t have proof?”

“What is your proof?” Shady chops my eyes with his. For the sake of our friendship, I relate almost word for word, what Mary shared with me. When I’m done, Ibro and Bobby think they may have reason to believe Mary, owing to Reno’s brazen sexual indiscretions. Shady, on the other hand is even more incensed now that he’s heard the story.

“Why didn’t you ask him his version before you went for his nuts?” he questions me.

“So that he’ll tell me it was consensual?”

“What if it was?”

“Shady, wetin dey do you? You think Mary would just cook up something this serious from nowhere? She has never lied to me. And you had to be there to see her. She won’t even let me touch or go near her. What will she gain by accusing Reno of rape?”

“She wants to ruin his marriage! What else?! She is desperate! Was she not the same person that stripped for you?!”

I cannot believe my ears. “Get off my face, abeg.”

“Guys, let’s wait for Reno to tell his own side of the story first,” Bright suggests. “Worst case scenario, it would be his word against Mary’s. But at least we would have heard both sides.”

“And then what?” I demand.

“Na wa o, Jideofor, calm down, dude.” Bobby rests a hand on me. “We’ll know what to do when the time comes.”

These guys have no idea the enormity of what just happened. This is beyond he said, she said. A woman has been violated. Whether we move past it or not, she will never be the same.

“Mehn, whatever.”

We head back in at the exact moment Mary and Tola are coming out to the waiting room. No one is on the alert, so we are unable to foresee Peace’s attack on Mary until she dashes towards her and claws her neck with her fingernails. Tola steps in too late. Mary is already bleeding from the onslaught. She holds her neck and keeps her head lowered.

“You will die in hell!” Peace screeches as Noka holds her back. “Liar! Prostitute! Ingrate! Devilish serpent!”

“Oh God, this is not happening.”

Celia holds a hanky to her eyes. Bimpe also looks distraught. As I walk towards Mary, an elderly nurse appears and requests that everyone, except relatives of patients, should leave. I ask Honey to stay behind. Peace also stays back, now having been calmed by Noka and Bimpe. I notice that the women have avoided Mary. None of them as much as utters a word to her. My heart breaks at the way things are going.

Tola leads us back to her office and commences on treating Mary while Honey and I sit back and watch. Jason Derullo is singing from a laptop on Tola’s table. The sound is somewhat soothing.

“In my SS3 I was raped by my Physics teacher,” Tola reveals as she applies antiseptic over Mary’s injury. “No one believed my story because they said I liked boys and wore my uniform shorter than everyone else’s, so they concluded that I had seduced the man and he rebuffed my advances and I decided to spoil his name. Even my own mom didn’t believe me. I was a disgrace to her; so she withdrew me from the school and sent me to a more conservative one where we were required to fast every Friday and pray every other second.”

She dumps a bloodstained cotton wool into a metal bin at her feet and reaches for clean gauze.

“I’m sorry, why am I telling you this story?” She stops for a bit and slants her head in my direction. “You should not let this pass, Jide. That beast should go to jail.”

She completes her work in silence and cleans up. The door creaks on her way out. Mary informs us that she is ready to go home. Honey invites her to sleep at ours but she declines. No one speaks in the car on the way to hers until I kill the engine just outside her apartment.

“I don’t want to report to the police.”

My fingers tighten around the wheel.

“Peace is my friend,” Mary continues. “She’s been good to me. I don’t want to do anything to hurt her.”

I inhale and release my breath quietly to put a lid on my inner hero that demands justice. I feel like a failure, not being able to convince Honey to fight for what is rightfully hers; and now, I’m going to sit and watch Reno get away with what he has done to Mary.

“I want to travel home to see my mom. I’ll be leaving tomorrow evening.”

“Mary, please don’t go.”

“No, Jide. I can’t stay here right now. Did you see the way them Celia were looking at me?”

“I wasn’t looking at you like that, Mary.” Honey turns around and stretches a hand to touch her. She shrinks away. “Jide wasn’t. Tola wasn’t. That should count.”

“No, you don’t understand, Honey. These women have been my friends for like forever. And now…” Mary slowly swivels her head left and right. She is tired. She is weak.

“Thank you, Honey. Thank you, Jide. But I don’t want this to separate you from them. I’ll travel for a while and come back when everything has cooled off.”

“Mary, please…”

She opens the door and comes down from the car. I jab my forehead on the steering. Honey places a hand on my back.

“Everything will be okay,” she whispers. I doubt her words.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

I know very little about Mary apart from the fact that she is Jide’s closest female friend and had recently expressed her feelings for him. I also know that she doesn’t really like me, evidence of this was at Emeka and Tola’s wedding where she acted as if I was non-existent. I can’t really say I like her too or even want to be friends with her but one thing I know is that for each time I looked at her last night, I saw a shattered woman. She reminded me of Saratu in our first year in school after she was raped by her cousin. The distinct similarity in both cases is the expression of shock mixed with wretchedness. It will take a while for Mary to heal; just as it took for Saratu, but that was only because Sara had a strong support system. Mary has only Jide and I.

“Sugar lips?”

I pick the breakfast tray before me and step out of the kitchen. I don’t know if Jide will like the scrambled eggs I have whipped up. I’m still new to this cooking thing but so far, I have learned to prepare quite a good number of meals. I wouldn’t call scrambled eggs a full meal, though. It was pretty easy to prepare and the presentation is flawless but I have gleaned that taste is what really matters. I pray Jide likes it.

I walk into his room. He is having one of those I’d-prefer-to-walk-around- my-house-nude moments. The sight of him is distracting, but I know he’s not going to be in the mood for anything right now. He’ll be off to work in the next hour.

“Have you seen my black Ralph Lauren t-shirt? The new one?”

“No.”

He begins to fling clothes to the floor from his wardrobe. He is still carrying his bad mood from last night. I place the tray on the bed and stand to watch him mess up the room I have painstakingly organized. He and I need to have a talk soon. I plan to get myself an apartment far away from him. I don’t believe in shacking up with a man until marriage. I feel it undervalues a woman. You give him sex constantly, he sees you naked all the time, you part with your privacy, you provide wifely duties; and in the end, when he is tired he might just dump you. But when you live on your own, your worth and importance increases and the distance will no doubt, make the heart fonder. Apart from that, I have never moved in with a man before and I don’t intend to do so now. I love my freedom. Not long ago, a husband was all I needed but now that I’m just about to build my future, I see myself in all sides of light. However, I’m not sure Jide would like the idea of me getting my own apartment. He is already asking when I’ll move the rest of my stuff in.

“You made breakfast?”

I turn. I was actually on my way out of the room; I can’t stand his moody air. It choked me the whole of last night.

“Yeah.”

He softens in a smile. I mush up. It’s things like this that might change my mind from moving to my own place. He just knows how to get me with his smiles.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I hope I don’t poison you, though.”

He smiles again but with some distraction, as he faces his wardrobe.

“Jide, you have more than a dozen black t-shirts. Just pick another one.”

“No. I want the Polo.”

I stop to think. “This is not about the Polo, is it?”

He looks at me.

“You’re upset because you feel helpless over Mary’s case, the same way you still feel helpless over the situation with my siblings.”

He keeps on throwing things to the floor. “You’ve never been so wrong. What has a Ralph Lauren got to do with the things you just mentioned?”

“Jide, I told you things will be okay. Mary will get her justice and I’ll get mine.”

He pauses again. “You think so?”

“I know so. Bad times come but they go. Don’t let them weigh you down.”

“Okay. Still doesn’t help me find my Polo, though.”

The guy is just impossible. I go back into the kitchen for my breakfast. Because I was experimenting with making scrambled eggs earlier, I wasted a lot of fresh eggs and now all I have to eat is cereal. I don’t mind though. I throw in some of my special muesli into a big cup. I am on a fertility diet to restore my regular menstrual cycle which is yet to recover from flight mode.

breakfast in bed2

I walk back to the room and see Jide gorging on his food.

“You like?”

He bobs his head up and down. “Really nice. Really, really nice. If you keep cooking like this, you’ll cause fight because I’ll just abandon momsi’s meals.”

“Abeg o.”

I sit beside him and turn on my laptop. He starts to tutor on me on the basics of running the website he opened for my business. He’s impressed that I’m a quick learner. I get a kiss when I point out a shorter route to adding images to a post.

“So when are you moving in?” he asks unexpectedly, his lips behind a cup of coffee. I throw my eyes off.

“Nne is not going to be happy if she discovers we’re living together,” I reply.

“Nne is not your boyfriend, is she?”

“No.”

“So tell me something else, not this Nne excuse.”

I can’t escape the seriousness in his eyes.

“Can I think about it, hotstuff?”

“Sure. But I hope I’m not pressuring you, though.”

“No.”

I don’t know why I can’t tell him my plans. I guess I don’t want to hurt him, because he has all these other plans for us.

“Can I have Mary’s number?” I ask.

“Okay.”

We continue eating.

“Mind I ask what for?”

I spill what has been on my mind all morning.

“Well…I approve, if that’s okay with you,” he says.

“It is.”

He looks at me and points out, “You remember I told you she stripped for me, right?”

“Yeah.”

“And you’re cool with that?”

“It’s not about me or you right now, Jide. She needs us.”

“And I need you.” I don’t miss the desire in his voice, and before I reply, I am wrenched by my feet and dragged towards him. He places himself between my legs and starts to kiss his way up my body. I complain that I’ve not showered; he ignores me. He weakens my resistance easily (see why I want my own place?) and I can’t stop him. I’m beginning to respond to his fondling when we’re interrupted by my phone. I don’t need to check to know it’s Jane calling. I have already assigned a special ringtone for her because of the way she has bugged me since the past day. This is the third time this morning and I’m just about fed up. I pick the phone and send her a quick SMS, informing her to text whatever it is she has to say. I dump the phone aside and continue with Jide. In-between taking him off my underwear and me biting his lower lip, I hear a notification sound alerting me that I have an SMS. I am too engrossed in my man to care abeg.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

I hear the window on my right squeak open and a curtain sliding apart. I give a smile and wait. Not long after, the door before me opens and Mary stands, staring at me curiously. Her eyes are still swollen from last night. She has this overall sallow look on her.

“Hi Mary,” I greet.

“Hi Honey.”

“Can I come in? I know I should have called before coming but I suspected you would give me some excuse, so…”

She steps aside to let me in and locks the door behind us. I find she is not alone in the room; there is some chick who is glaring at me with hostile eyes.

“Hi,” I say to her and take the chair Mary has offered. I notice that the chick doesn’t reply my greeting.

“Tarela, meet Honey, Jide’s girlfriend,” Mary introduces.

“Jide’s girlfriend,” she repeats.

“Yeah. Honey, this is my friend, Tarela.”

Again, the arrogant human being doesn’t spare a greeting. I turn my eyes from her and absorb Mary’s comfy space. It is well-arranged and colorful. I notice a pair of matching pink suitcases on the floor. She had not been joking about leaving.

“Tari,” she faces her friend, “we’ll talk when I return from my trip. Right now, I have to do something important.”

Tarela doesn’t seem pleased to be dismissed. She stands up and forces on a phony smile whilst hugging Mary. After that, she breezes past me like I’m air.

Weird. And totally bitchy.

Mary locks the door after her and gives me her attention.

“Mary…” I move forward on the chair, “I know we don’t know each other very well but you are Jide’s friend and that means you are part of my life too. It means you’re my friend. And that is why I’m here to let you know that I completely stand behind you. I don’t know Reno or what he is capable of but I know that you were not lying. I saw it in your eyes yesterday and I still see it now. I can’t imagine what you went through, and if I were you, I’d probably find someplace to hide too. But Mary…you’ll only be giving him power if you leave. You will be giving your friends reason to doubt you…”

“They already doubt me.” Mary sits on her bed in a dazed manner.

“I know. I saw all that yesterday and it’s really sad.”

“You think you know someone until stuff like this happens.” She is staring blankly at the floor. “They actually think I cooked the story up.”

“And that is why I think you shouldn’t go. If you do, you’ll be giving them reason to think you’re lying.”

“I don’t care!” she lashes out. “They can think whatever! It’s not as bad as how I feel! I can’t even look at myself in the mirror! Today is Sunday and I didn’t go to church because I feel dirty!”

“You are not dirty.”

“I let it happen, Honey! I didn’t stop him, I didn’t fight, I didn’t scream! I just laid there and allowed him!”

I walk to her and put an arm around her. “Because you were in shock. It is not your fault, Mary.”

“Why did I let him in here?” she looks at me powerlessly. “Why didn’t I tell him to wait in his car?”

Her state threatens to put me in tears but I maintain my composure.

“I trusted him. I opened up to him these past two weeks about so many things. I trusted him, Honey. Why did I trust him?”

“It is not your fault, Mary.”

She doesn’t seem to believe me, so I hold her until she cries herself to weariness.

“Come and stay with us, Mary. Just until you feel stronger.”

She spaces out. “No.”

“Jide and I feel you need friends by your side. You can’t be alone.”

“I’m going to be with my mom.”

“Mary, we’re here for you.” I hold her shoulders. “Don’t run. Stay and prove your innocence. Stand and fight Reno. Don’t let him win.”

I know I sound like a hypocrite, having refused to struggle for what is rightfully mine from my siblings. Maybe I need to preach to myself as well.

“Jide is okay with me coming to stay with you guys?”

“Yes, Mary. You are most welcome.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

She neither seems elated nor soothed. I help her pack her things and together we stand outside her house and wait for a taxi.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

 “We just have to clear up everything, Jide. Reno is willing to narrate his own side of the story and he wants us all to be there.”

“Bobby, it’s past seven. Can’t we do this tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow is Monday. We’ll all be tired after work abeg.”

I massage my shoulder. I am so bushed after an annoying day at the hospital.

“So can we come over? I already called Mary and she said if the meeting doesn’t hold at yours, she’s not going anywhere.”

“Okay. You guys can come.”

Bobby dials off and I stretch out on my bed. I share with Honey the details of the conversation I just had with him.

“Well I’m curious to hear Reno’s side of the whole thing.”

“He’s going to lie,” I stress. “And they’ll believe him. Things won’t go well, I assure you.”

“Let’s just hear him out. And you, try and stay calm no matter what happens. No kicking anyone, okay?”

“Yes, ma.”

She leaves the room to the kitchen where Mary has been cooking. Earlier Mary had asked permission to prepare dinner, stating it was the only way to get her mind off what happened.

As I take off my clothes, I overhear both women talking. Mary appears to be tutoring Honey on the meal she is preparing. I don’t know much about the psychology of rape victims but I’m glad she is doing this and not locked somewhere, crying.

I open my wardrobe and discover that the clothes I had previously scattered are now neatly arranged. I find a gift box placed over them. When I open it, I see a note.

ralph lauren

Here’s a new polo for all your stress. I found the other one in the laundry basket.

P.S: Girlfriend, not housemaid.

I laugh. Honey and her wahala sef.

I change into fresh clothes and lie down to read from Fifty Shades of Grey. I want to blow my brains out for even attempting to read it but I know if I don’t, Honey will be on my case. It’s not like Christian Grey can teach me anything when it comes to sex. I can do bad all by myself.

Dinner is ready some minutes later and the three of us sit at my rarely-used dining table to eat. Honey and I try to make conversation with Mary but she only answers in monosyllables. It is as if I’m looking at a different person.

“Please, excuse me.” She gets up halfway and retreats to her room. Honey’s shoulders slouch.

“It takes time, sugams. Let her be.”

“She said she doesn’t want to speak to a therapist.”

“She doesn’t have to. Just eat and stop stressing.”

Honey pushes a piece of boiled plantain through her lips.

“Thanks for the t-shirt.”

She smiles.

“And I got the post script too. I promise to clean my shit from now on.”

She laughs and then takes a drink of water.

“Hotstuff, who is Tarela?”

I shoot up my brows. I am about to answer her question when we hear a knock on the door. I check who it is.

Bobby and Kate walk in. I offer them seats but Bobby is interested in what’s left on my dinner plate. He goes for it, much to Kate’s disapproval.

“Kate, can I get you some?” Honey asks.

“No, thanks. I can’t keep anything down these days.”

“Ehya. Sorry. Water, maybe?”

Kate smiles and Honey goes for a glass of water from the dispenser. As Bobby and I launch into small conversation, there comes another knock. I open the door to let the trio of Noka, Celia and Shady in. Noka explains that Ibro is on his way. Moments later, Bright and Bimpe come in, followed by Reno and Peace who barely mutter a greeting to me. I find perverse pleasure seeing Reno walk in pain he is trying so hard to conceal.

Shortly, we all settle down and Mary joins us. She sits beside Honey while I pick the last available chair from the dining area. Bright, who is the oldest amongst us, decides to preside over the get-together. We do not wait for Ibro.

Bright begins by reminding us of the strong bond we share and how nothing should tear us apart. He expresses his disappointment in me for manhandling Reno. I show no remorse for what I have done.

Next, he turns to Mary and asks her to recount what really happened between her and Reno. Mary replies that she doesn’t wish to speak; I offer to speak in her stead.

“Oh, she can’t talk now,” Peace quips.

“It’s okay, darling,” Reno responds. “Let Jide talk.”

I clear my throat and retell Mary’s story, exactly as it was told to me. While I speak, I get muffled reactions, especially from Reno and Peace. When I finish, Peace claps her hands dramatically.

“Mary!”

“Calm down, Peace,” Bright says. He looks at Mary. “Anything you wish to add?”

“No.”

“Oya. Reno, over to you.”

I can see a smile in Reno’s eyes masked by a serious look. He moves in his seat.

“First of all, I want to tell Jide that if it’s not for God and my wife, you’ll be in a mortuary today.”

“You’re a bastard,” I toss back with much calm. “My craze just dey corner dey watch you. If dem born your papa well, come touch me.”

“Guys abeg, not this,” Bright begs. “Please, Reno, just talk your own. Leave Jide.”

“I did not rape Mary,” Reno states plainly. “I did not do to her anything she didn’t like.” He gives Mary a lewd stare and Shady’s eyes catch mine. “We had consensual sex yesterday just as we’ve been having for almost a month now.”

“Oh my God!” Celia gasps silently. Mary shows no reaction to his allegations.

“That is the only crime I have committed here,” Reno goes on. “I have begged God and my wife for forgiveness. I totally regret what I did and all I’ve been doing to hurt Peace who has been an immeasurable blessing in my life.” He turns to Peace. “I’m still on my knees, my love.”

I roll my eyes.

“You know I have forgiven you, baby,” Peace replies, patting his hand. I don’t find sincerity in her manner. Unless my eyes are lying to me, Peace has no affection whatsoever for Reno.

“You guys know me,” Reno continues. “Yes, I have strayed from my matrimonial bed but come on, guys, rape? Mary, for that matter? She’s like a sister to me.”

“And yet you went into her pants,” I tell him. He ignores me.

“She lived with us when things were hard for her. We took her in like family. Why would I hurt her? In fact, it was the fond feelings I developed for her that led us into the affair. I thought what I felt for her was strong and that is why it makes no sense that she will get up and accuse me of raping her. Mary, is it because I told you that we’ll have to end the affair soon because Peace was beginning to suspect? That’s why you called Jide and told him all these lies? Haba, Mary. Why?”

Mary keeps an expressionless face but I know she’s only trying to stay calm.

“Well Uncle Olajideofor?” Peace faces me.

“Well, Aunty Peace you think I don’t know Reno just spewed bullshit right now? You and I know he is lying. Your husband raped your friend! And you’re covering up for him! And I don’t know who is worse; you or him!”

“It is you, Jide! You and Mary!” Peace shouts back in her jarring voice. “Honey, you better beware! That witch beside you is a man snatcher and a home wrecker!”

“Peace, calm down nau! What is this?!” Bimpe chides.

“She is a home wrecker!”

“Your husband is the home wrecker,” Mary retorts silently. “He has slept with everything sleepable and you condone it and keep praying for him. How do you think it will end?”

“My friend, shut up!”

“No, you shut your mouth, Peace!” Mary yells back. “I’ve had enough! I have been silent because of the respect I have for you and because you are my friend but nothing about what Reno did to me was right!”

Her lips hold more words but she struggles to let them out. Her tone loses its power again and tears rush down her eyes. “He raped me. He pushed a pillow on my face and raped me. I could hardly breathe. I couldn’t even fight back. Why, Reno?”

He holds her eyes coldly.

“I let you in as friend, Reno. I opened up to you, telling you things I never told anyone before, and what I get in return is for you to force yourself on me and lie that we were having an affair? Why?”

The whole room is silent. Heavy sighs from unvoiced thoughts dot the tense air. I watch their faces and catch their uncertainty. Mary has to be a really good actress to pull off her present emotional state. One can literally feel her heart shattering with each word.

“Are you through with your act?” Reno asks.

“God will judge you.”

“Are you through, so you can tell them about the secret sex life you and I had eight years ago?”

Mary sucks in her breath.

“Oh, you conveniently missed that part out to Jide.”

“Shameless!” Peace interjects. Noka mutters something else to Celia’s hearing alone and the latter hisses. I look at Mary, questioningly.

“Tell them,” Reno pressures.

“Mary?” Bobby can’t hide his displeasure.

Reno’s eyes sweep over all of us. “Mary and I were friends with benefits for almost a year and nobody knew. I broke it off the moment I started dating Peace. Mary was devastated. She had hoped it would lead to marriage but unfortunately, I didn’t have any feelings for her.”

“You’re a dirty liar.” Mary responds.

“Mary, is he telling the truth?” I question.

“Jide, don’t believe him.”

“Did you guys ever have something?” Celia demands impatiently. I begin to feel uncomfortable.

“Mary?”

“I have nothing to say to anyone.”

“Haba Mary!” Celia exclaims. “I just can’t believe you’ll do this.”

“Tread carefully, Cee,” Shady mumbles.

“No, it’s clear who is lying here, Shady. Why won’t she talk if she’s innocent?! We’re asking her a simple question and she’s keeping quiet!”

“Mary, please say something,” I plead. She looks at me with vacant eyes. I don’t understand what is going on. I study my friends’ faces; they are beginning to lean towards Reno.

“Mary, talk nau,” Bimpe urges.

“Please Bims, leave me alone.”

I try not to show my disappointment.

“Well, whether she talks or not, we now know the truth,” Peace comments snidely. “There has always been something between them and because he won’t take it past sex, she turns around and labels him a rapist.”

Peace is undoubtedly the stupidest woman I’ve met. Honey would be slapping me across the face by now if I was Reno.

I look at the bastard. He is smiling to himself because he has swayed the gullible minds of our friends. As for me, despite the twist, I stand by my conviction. I know him as well as I know Mary and I know that the person lying here is him.

“Well, having heard from both sides,” Bright sighs, “I still can’t come to a conclusion.”

“Me I can,” Celia states. “Mary is lying. She has been desperate and lonely for a long time and I mean this with no disrespect, Mary. I’m just telling the truth here. Any man could have found it easy to get into your pants. If Jide wanted, he could have done so without qualms. But Reno was an easier prey. Knowing how lose he was, (again, no disrespect, Reno) you went for him and I’m sure it was smoother this time because of what you guys once had. But what I don’t get is why you would label him a rapist. You’re not a spiteful person, Mary.”

“Exactly,” Noka concurs.

“Peace is your friend and she’s like the nicest person on this planet. You knew she and Reno were hardly having sex. We all knew, and yet you went to sleep with her husband. Were you planning to tear them apart and take her place?”

I butt in, stopping Celia. “You’re going too far, Cee.”

“How am I going too far?”

“Can’t you people see that Reno is the one lying here? He’s making fools out of all of you. I saw Mary’s medical report. She was bruised badly. He went at her like the animal he is. And why are you people even surprised that it would come to this? Reno has been a certified dog!”

Reno laughs with no remorse. The idiot had always had it in him to be immoral. If I know him, he is enjoying the drama and attention, and if given another chance, he would repeat the act.

“Jide, the only reason you are defending Mary is because she has slept with you too!” Peace accuses. I disregard her. Actually, I feel sad for her. She is an abused woman but she has no idea.

“Peace, enough of the accusations,” Bright steps in. “You guys, I have a feeling this will drag on if I don’t put an end to it now. I really don’t know who to believe but I know something went down between you two, Reno and Mary. And I am certain that as long as God exists, the truth will come out one day and the liar will be shamed. That being said, is there a way we can heal this rift? Reno? Mary?”

Reno answers first. “Sure. I can forgive Mary and move past this.”

“Mary?”

“No.” Her voice is still. “I was going to forgive you, Reno, to let it all go because of Peace but since you insist on lying and cooking more stories against me, I will take you to the police. Anywhere this case wants to go, let it go. I will not let you get away with what you did to me.”

She stands up and walks out quietly.

“She is guilty, that’s why she’s walking away!” Peace says out loud. “Well, walk away all you want but God will give you a dose of your own medicine very soon!”

No one utters anything further. I know they all have a lot to say but nobody wants to voice out what’s really in their hearts. The one person that has surprised me in this whole thing is Shady. Yesterday, he was on Reno’s side. Today, I think he knows better.

One after the other, my friends leave and the house is quiet once more. I knock on Mary’s door. She steps out.

“You’re going to ask me if Reno was telling the truth about what happened between us eight years ago.”

“Yes.”

“We were having sex. And it was I who broke it off. Not him; and just to get back at me, he proposed to Peace whom he had taken out on a date just twice. He never loved her. He married her to spite me.”

“So why didn’t you tell everyone this earlier?”

“There’s a saying that you don’t waste valuable time explaining yourself to others. Your friends don’t really need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.”

“Mary, apart from Reno, nobody was your enemy here today…”

“You and Honey are the only friends I have right now.”

She retreats into the room and shuts the door, leaving me dumbfounded.

Dear God, please heal my friend and restore the person she used to be.

I walk back to the sitting room. Honey and I stretch out lazily on a couch on opposite ends. She has one foot over my shoulder and the other in my hand. I’m making an imaginary phone call with it, telling an alter version of her how much I feel for her. I sneak in a tickle now and then and she freaks out with screams and wild laughter. It’s during one of her screams that her phone begins to ring in that distinctive ringtone she has assigned to her family members.

“It’s Jane again.” Her appealing lips lose their laughter and push out in a grimace. “She replied my text in the morning that she’d rather speak with me.”

“Then hear her out.”

“I think they’re trying to bully me into signing off everything to them.”

“Maybe they suspect that you’re having second thoughts.”

“Am I?”

“Just answer the call.”

Honey frowns as she takes the call, adjusting herself to a sitting position. I rest my head on her laps and she plays with my brows as she converses. I listen to her speak in her language as my finger plays with her belly button. I think Urhobo is sexy on her tongue.

Concerning her father’s will, I’m beginning to make her doubt her decision. Earlier I came up with this clever idea that she should first do a DNA just to prove to them that she is her father’s daughter; and then, hand the wealth to them out of a generous heart. She is falling for the plan and I am certain that once the DNA result is out, it will be a question of not wanting to be cheated out of what is rightfully hers.

“Okay, I’ll be there now.” She puts down her phone and looks at me with a disturbed face.

“Jane says she just got into town and I should come and get her.”

I sit up. “Your sister is in town? This town?”

“Yes.”

“What for?”

“I don’t know.” Honey stands and begins towards the bedroom.

“Is she alone?”

“Yes. I have to go get her.”

I’m unsettled by this turn of events. I follow Honey in. “Let me drive you to the park.”

“No, don’t stress yourself.”

“I am not stressing myself. I’m making sure you’re safe.”

And that’s just the honest truth. I can’t let Honey out of my sight when it concerns her siblings. Jane might be the nice one but I think she has come for something sinister. And talk about timing. Only witches visit at night.

©Sally@moskedapages

Image credits: geb.ebay.com, weheartit.com

It’s Another Saturday…#17

Read Previous Episodes Of It’s Another Saturday

Ravished!

I find her waiting outside. She has two boxes with her and a broken expression. I park the car, get down and help her with her things. When we enter the car, I take a good look at her face and see that the demon of a brother has left her cheeks marked. My anger grows wings. I try to find my voice but I can’t.

“They took all of my mom’s stuff and set them on fire,” she says, her eyes lost somewhere. “Every single thing my dad had kept over the years.”

That explains the smoke I’d seen rising from the building as I was approaching.

“They said she slept with someone else to have me. He was never my father.”

“And you believe them?”

Honey says nothing. I want to scold her really bad for letting those animals get to her but I think of her pain and loss. All she needs is a shoulder to cry on. I drive her straight to the hotel and lay her down. She tells me she is too exhausted to wash up. Her feet are dusty, her skin oily with sweat. She has acne on her face and the creaminess on her skin is gone. She doesn’t look like the Honey I know. I want to beat somebody real bad for this.

Before I can say anything, she falls asleep, snoring like a tired, old woman. I take a walk out of the room and dial Bobby. He answers my call but lets me know immediately that I disturbed his sleep.

“I need a lawyer,” I tell him.

“What trouble have you gotten into this time?”

I relate Honey’s ordeal to him.

“Devils!” he spits angrily.

“Azzin! He decorated her face, Bobby.”

“And you leave am?”

“I swear, I dey regret. You don’t want to see how she looks, man. She is traumatized.”

“Ah no o! We just have to screw those fuckers up abeg. I’m taking the case. I’ll be in Warri next tomorrow. I’ll fly in through Asaba.”

“Thanks, man.”

He hangs up after cussing Honey’s siblings one more time. I walk down to reception and ask a very alert receptionist where I can get some analgesic, explaining to her that I’m a medical personnel with a patient up in my room that needs treatment. She asks me to give her a second as she leaves her post and returns with a key.

“Follow me.”

I accompany her to a door that opens to a pharmacy.

“Help yourself,” she says. I pick the drugs I need and ask her bill to it to my room. She explains that the pharmacy is closed for the day, that she had just felt like doing me a favor. I understand that she needs some cash. I pass her some notes and go back upstairs. Emeka calls me and tells me he heard about Honey’s father’s death and wishes to send his condolences.

“She’ll hear.”

“How is she coping? Heard she lost her mom too.”

“Aww, she’s just an orphan like me,” I hear Tola say in the background.

“Well, shit happens,” I reply. Emeka immediately senses there’s something bothering me. He questions me in Igbo and I tell him everything.

“Boys suppose travel that Warri go arrange that nigga. I hope you people are not leaving it all to God?”

I laugh. He’s lucky Nne is not there or he would have received a smack on the back of his head.

“God gave us lawyers,” he states.

“Bobby is on the case.”

“That’s better. Bobby can’t be messed with.”

True. I’m proud to have him as a friend. He’s brutal, thanks to a boss and mentor that was famously known as agbero. Bobby is the posher version of him but not any less ruthless or intelligent. If I know him, he’ll be up early tomorrow, making phone calls to find out whose legal toes he would probably be stepping on once he gets into Warri to take Honey’s case; and he would doubtless, also call in some favors.

My anger has abated now and I’m calm enough to listen to that voice that has been telling me to pray. Nne would always say to me that before I face my enemies for war, I should always ask God for peace. My heart is against making peace with the animals Honey calls her siblings but I pray, nevertheless. It’s that type of prayer where I first ask for forgiveness from all my sins before laying my complaints. I don’t know if God will answer my prayer but I know he is the father to the fatherless. I tell him to help, if not for my sake, then for Honey’s who is now his sole responsibility.

After the prayer session, I lie beside her. She is not snoring anymore. I watch her sleep and I’m thinking if it’s too early to ask her to be my wife. It’s something I plan to do eventually but I feel that as a married woman, she would have better standing in this fight against her family. That way I can get into their drama and treat their fuckups personally without anyone telling me nonsense. But knowing Honey and her strong-minded persona alongside her romanticized way of viewing marriage, she would kick against the idea. All the same, I’ll try.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

This is not how I like my breakfast in bed. Not with my man half-worrying about me and half-concealing his anger over how my siblings treated me. I, on the other hand, have decided that I am done shedding tears. It’s time to move on. Very painful decision to make, especially since I know I rightfully own all that my dad left. However, I will not waste time that I’ll use to build my future in fighting with my seniors. They can take it all. Daddy had already compensated each of them years ago but somehow their greed and hate for me and my late mom consumes them still.

Well, whatever they do, they cannot erase the fact that daddy loved my mom more than any man I ever knew who loved his wife. I guess that is why I have this textbook impression of what love and marriage should be. He doted on her to the point of obsession. I can’t remember how many times I saw them kissing or the few occasions where he’d literally sweep her off her feet in his arms and leave her squealing like a little girl. Of course, my brothers and sisters couldn’t stand their brazen display of love. Harry was particularly disgusted over it and many times I heard him openly voice his irritation.

It was no secret that daddy had not loved their mother while she was alive because, according to my aunt, she was impossible to love.

“She was the most wicked woman on the face of the earth,” my aunt had told me. “She hated and fought with everyone and poisoned your brothers’ and sisters’ minds against your father. Every time he was away at work, she told them he was with other women, something that was a total lie. Everybody knew that even though she was the most impossible woman on the planet he was still faithful to her.”

He had only married her to please his mother. The marriage barely survived the years it did. One ordinary day she died on her way to some errand, knocked over by a police van that threw her off the road and to her grisly death. Ten months later, daddy married my mom in a drama-laden wedding ceremony that would have given Mexican, Spanish and Indian soap operas combined, a run for their money. My mom was never welcomed by his family or his late wife’s. And it didn’t make it easier that she was young, beautiful, educated and opinionated. They tried to make life unbearable for her but she fought them on every side. In the end, they killed her.

Daddy told me she died in her sleep but I knew he was lying. I had spoken to her on the phone the night before she died and she had sounded like one in pain, stopping every now and then to breathe. When I asked what was wrong, she had simply told me she was tired. Then she went ahead to talk about her love for me and how she would have me as a daughter again if she had another life to live. She told me to make sure I fell in love with someone like my dad and to be certain that his family loved me. She didn’t want me to suffer the same fate as she did. At that point, I became apprehensive and asked why she sounded like she wanted to die. She laughed my fear away and told me she wasn’t going anywhere. And in one final warning, added that I should never fight with my siblings. She prayed for me over the phone and called it a night. The next day, daddy called and summoned me home. He didn’t have to tell me; I knew something had gone wrong with her. I cried all the way to Warri. I was taken to the mortuary upon insistence, to see her. She looked nothing like the healthy mother I knew. She had emaciated so much and yet daddy insisted that she had died peacefully. The chapter of her mysterious death was closed after the burial and I got no other explanation from him. It’s been so many years but I still suspect foul play.

“You’re seriously not going to take them to court, sugams?”

I love Jide’s voice in the morning. It’s deeper and sexier. He sits, facing me, watching me with intense eyes. I am having my breakfast like I have not eaten in days. Come to think of it, I really haven’t had a decent meal in a while.

“Initially I wanted you to leave them with the money but after you told me what your dad was worth and how much your mom contributed to the wealth, I don’t think you should just let it go like that.”

“It’s just the Igbo in you talking, Jide.”

“It is not about money.” He seems annoyed by my statement. “It’s about your father’s legacy, about what your parents built, the love they shared. Your siblings want to take it all away.”

“Then let them have it. I don’t care.”

He says nothing more. I can see that he is still annoyed, though. I leave my breakfast and crawl towards him.

“You don’t remember yesterday, do you?” He asked. “How your brother hit you, how you cried, how I came and found you sitting outside your own father’s house because they kicked you out after setting your mom’s stuff on fire?”

“Jideofor, please stop.” I hold his face and kiss the edges of his lips. “Let’s just forget them and leave this town.”

“Where is the woman who smashed my phone and walked out on me? I want her back so we can deal with these assholes together. Where I come from, you do not just throw away your father’s legacy like that. And it is not about the money. It is about your pride. The memories your parents built. The pain of loss that must be healed.”

“But not by fighting with my brothers and sisters!” I shoot back and move away from him, exasperated. “I want my peace, Jide! It’s priceless! I need my peace! Inheritance wars never end! They go on and on and on! And I don’t want that!”

I get off the bed in frustration.

“I want to start and build my business and get married and have kids and forget that I ever had siblings! I can’t live my life looking behind me and wondering who wants me dead just because of money that won’t follow me when I die.”

“I understand where you’re coming from but Honey, you can’t just leave them like that.”

I sigh. I am tired of explaining myself to him.

“They’ll see you as spineless.”

I have had enough. I walk into the bathroom for a shower but my knees weaken beneath me and I burst into tears.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Couple_Legs

I’m glad to be away from Warri. Finally I can have my peace.

It’s Friday and I wake up to find my head resting on Jide’s chest.

“Morning.”

I try to remember the night before but I can’t. I know we were spooning and then we ended up making love in the same position. Did I sleep off during the act?

“Yes, you did,” Jide replies. I bury my head in shame.

“I’m sorry.”

“Sorry? It was actually an intentional act from me. You were dead tired and couldn’t sleep. I told you I would tranquilize you, remember? You had this dirty joke about me injecting you?”

“Yes, I remember. But still I’m sorry.” I keep my head buried on his chest. I get a smack on my bum, and then a squeeze, or more like a crushing cuddle as he pulls me into him.

“How are you, though? No more headaches, fever?”

“No.”

“Good. So you have energy for me like…right now?”

“Now?”

“M-hm.”

I’m about to reply but he attacks me with tickles. I scream; he shows no mercy. I have to kick my way out of his clutch to free myself before he stops. He takes my hand again and sits me properly on the bed.

“You know I’m crazy about you, right?” His voice carries a serious timbre.

“Yeah.”

“And I don’t want anything to be between us.”

“Me too.”

“I actually cheated on you with Ezinne. We kissed and maybe my hands strayed a little…”

“Maybe?”

“Okay, not maybe.”

I pinch his nose.

“But that was all we did. I’m sorry, baby.”

I smile genuinely. I had forgiven him a long time ago. “I hold nothing against you, babe. I knew you did something with her and when I forgave you, I forgave you for what you told me and what you didn’t tell me, so it’s fine.”

“Sure?”

I stroke his cheek. “Sure, hotstuff.”

He takes my hand and kisses it. Together we enter the bathroom for a shower and there’s a lot of naughtiness as we both soap up. Jide tells me he’s glad that I can laugh after all I’ve been through. I reply that he makes me happy.

“So, the car is yours,” he says casually.

“Car? What car? The one you brought to Warri?”

“Yeah.”

“Mine?”

“Yeah. Got it for you.”

The news doesn’t sink in. “But I don’t even know how to drive.”

“I’ll teach you.”

“Okay.”

A few seconds go by and then I get the message.

“The car is mine?!”

He gives a quiet laugh. I scream and get soap all up in my mouth and nose.

“For me?!” I turn off the shower. I’m overwhelmed. It’s the most expensive thing a man has ever given me.

“Yeah.”

I start to cry. Life doesn’t feel so shitty anymore. I have the best boyfriend in the world. I thank him with kisses, long and sensual ones, but he doesn’t seem to be in the mood. He’s late for work.

We leave the bathroom and I snuggle in the bed to watch him dress up. His bedroom has changed quite a lot. It looks smaller but that’s just because he used up all the extra space smartly. I love the new décor. It’s cozy, manly and cool. I’m in a sea of pillows and bed covers that hold different tones of blue. I pick out Argyle and Moroccan patterns against a cobalt duvet. There is a small, black ledge beside the bed that holds items Jide likes to indulge in before he sleeps; like a tin of cashew nuts, a hydro flask of freezing water for when he gets thirsty at night, his novel collection of ‘manread’ (as he calls it), and surprisingly, Fifty Shades of Grey. I smile when I see the book. I had begged him to read it so we could try some Christian Grey stunts but he had vowed that he’ll never read such ‘tasteless’ literature, that he had already been scarred enough by the cheesiness of the movie. I spot a bookmark sticking out of the novel, indicating he is currently reading it. Silly boy. After all the shakara.

I tilt my head towards the wall above the bed and see two square paintings hanging side by side. One of them is of a busy street on a dark, rainy day. The other has a black background that holds the painting of a daffodil. It suddenly strikes me that Jide’s feelings for me are not surface. This particular flower holds meaning for two of us and he has let it into his personal space. I begin to feel bad for the hard time I gave him over his ish with Ezinne. I recall daddy’s advice and promise to make it up to him.

Daddy…sigh. It’s heartbreaking that I can’t think about him without exhuming the terrible things my siblings told me. How do I live past the nightmare?

How can I just let it all go like that?

Jide pulls me to my feet for a kiss.

“Can I borrow your car, sisi?”

“Sure.”

“Want me to bring you something on my way back?”

I pull at his waistband. “Just your hot self.”

He encloses me in a hug and leaves.  I hear my phone ringing. I fish for it. The screen spells out Jane’s name. I go for the answer button but remember that I have promised to have nothing to do with them. I reject the call.

Yet I am curious as to why she’s calling. As much as she is the kindest to me, I still don’t trust her.

I search for a change of clothes from my suitcase and come up with a pair of matching Ankara shorts and a crop top. I lie in bed with a pen and notebook in hand to touch up on the plan for my travel agency. Saratu has shown interest and Dele’s wife has also bought into the idea enthusiastically. Tomorrow is Saturday and we plan to meet to talk about it before Saratu travels back to London.

My phone buzzes. Jane is calling again. I don’t take the call. Seriously, what does she want?

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

If I go for one more wedding where people leave what they came for and start questioning me about my marital status, I’ll break someone’s neck. Can’t married folks just leave us single people alone? Is marriage the height of life’s achievements? It’s already hard on a guy just being a guy. People should free me abeg.

“We should sha hear wedding bells by the end of the year,” Celia says to me with an annoying wink.

“Can you just stop, madam?” I reply. She laughs. I wish Honey was here for this wedding. Everyone would have let me be. I don’t even know why I came in the first place; I don’t know the couple getting married. I did it for Mary who had specially invited me. This is her first big wedding as a chef. Reno has graciously offered to help her and both of them have whipped up dishes that the guests are going crazy over. I especially like the goat meat peppersoup. I have to admit that it is better than my mom’s.

“I think we should leave,” Bobby says, staring at his wristwatch. We all concur.

“Peace, are you waiting for Reno?” Celia asks.

“No. He’ll stay back with Mary until after the wedding. Let’s just go.”

We shuffle our way through the thick crowd of wedding partiers. After bidding my friends goodbye, I get into my car and head home. I have no idea that they are tailing me. It isn’t until after I park outside my building that I see them driving towards me.

“Is everything okay?” I enquire as they all step out of their cars.

“We came to pay Honey a visit over her father’s death,” Shady says.

I’m touched. I have the most amazing friends in the world.

“Thanks, guys…”

“And we’re also here for a beer or two,” Bobby adds. We laugh.

“Yeah, Mary promises to come with more of her peppersoup,” Celia announces.

“Let’s go in.”

I lead them to my apartment. Honey appears to be home. I hope her hangout with her friends went well. She opens the door and lets us in, surprise impressed on her face.

“Am I on the barstool again today?” she asks and gets a round of laughter.

“No dear,” Peace replies. “We just came to pay our respects to your dad.”

She hugs Honey, sits her down and in classic Peace manner, delivers this long tribute that gets all of us emotional. Honey is in tears when she is done.

“Sweetheart, I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“Aww, you poor thing,” Noka adds and before I know, the women are all over her. Well, looks like they have finally let her in and the idea of Mary taking her place is old news.

Honey pulls herself together and thanks everyone. Subsequently, she and I raid the fridge for drinks.

“You have very nice friends,” she tells me.

“Yeah. But sometimes they can get anal,” I reply, taking two bottles of wine from her. “Be warned.”

“Where’s Mary?”

“She’s still at the wedding with Reno. They’ll be here soon.”

Honey brushes her butt against my groin as she walks away. I swallow and wish my friends are not under the same roof with us right now.

I join them in the sitting room. Over drinks, we talk about Honey’s siblings, and everyone except Peace, shares my mind over what should be done to them.

“You can’t just let them do this to you, Honey,” Celia strongly puts out.

“If the inheritance is in your name, then they can’t touch it,” Bobby states.

I feel this is not a good day to talk about this issue but I just have to let out why the whole thing gets on my nerves.

“Honey wants to sign it over to them,” I reveal. She frowns at me as everyone faces her.

“Why, luv?” Noka asks.

“I don’t want to fight them.”

“But it’s legally yours,” Bobby points out. “And that is why they have come up with this bullshit that your dad was not biologically your dad. If they can prove that, then they don’t need you to sign over the money to them. They will just take you to court to challenge your dad’s will.”

“That’s the problem. I looked nothing like my dad. And my mom was already pregnant when they got married, so I don’t know…”

“Sugar lips, you allowed them get to you? You actually believe them?”

“I am the only light-skinned person in my house and the only one that doesn’t look like my dad.”

“Your mother was light-skinned,” I stress. “She was half- Eritrean and half- Shua Arab,” I explain to my friends.

“You shouldn’t believe them, Honey,” Bimpe tells her. “They are lying and we will prove that they are. Abi, Bobby?”

“It’s all in your hands, Honey,” Bobby emphasizes. “And they can’t touch what has been passed down to you. So as long as that will is in your name, you still hold the power. If they insist that you are not related to them, we can get the court to order a DNA test, using a sample from one of them.”

“But what if it turns out negative?” Honey asks with fear in her eyes.

“Then we fight still. It might get hairy but we’ll get something out of that inheritance in the end. Nothing will nullify the fact that it was willed to you. The law will back you on that.”

“Trust Bobby,” Bimpe utters. “He handled my case with my ex-husband. The monkey wanted to cheat me out of a business we built together but Bobby helped me get what was rightfully mine. He will help you, Honey.”

Honey seems overwhelmed. I don’t want us to push her into a decision she doesn’t want to make.

“I’ll talk to her later on,” I assure my friends. “We’ll come up with a plan.”

“You’d better,” Celia pipes. “Because the whole thing is just scattering my brain. It’s like being raped, like someone violating me. God knows what I would have done if it was me.”

Shady cleverly shifts the conversation to something else and time ticks by as we banter. Someone mentions something about Mary’s peppersoup and Peace wonders out loud where Reno is. She dials his number but gets a busy tone.

“I’m sure they’re still occupied at the wedding,” she comments, putting her phone away.

“Let me call Mary.” Noka picks her own phone from her bag. As she sets to dial Mary’s number I see that I have an incoming call from Mary herself. I answer it.

“Are you alone?” Her voice is hush.

“No. Anything the matter?”

“Please, can you come to my house right now? Please?” I hear distress in her voice and move away from the curious eyes resting on me.

“What’s wrong, boo?” I walk into the kitchen.

“Just come, please. Don’t tell anyone where you’re going. Just come.”

She puts an end to the call. I walk back to the sitting room.

“Who was that?” Honey asks.

“Erm… Nothing serious. My mom. She wants to see me straightaway. She won’t say why.”

“I hope everything is fine.”

“Me too. You guys, excuse me. I’ll be right back.”

I leave the house in a hurry and dash downstairs. When I get into the car, Mary is calling again.

“Are you on your way?” This time I pick out that she’s crying.

“Boo, what is wrong? Talk to me nau.”

“Are you on your way?”

“Yes.”

I fire up the gas and drive away from my neighborhood. I get to Mary’s apartment some fifteen minutes later. I knock on her door and she opens it. She is wrapped in a bathrobe. I am not wrong about her crying. I’m greeted by red, swollen eyes.

“Jeez! What happened to you?”

She locks her door. I walk in to find her room in disarray.

“Did you fight with somebody?”

She remains silent.

“Mary?” I turn to her fully and when I take a step forward, she moves back.

“What happened here?”

And just like that she shatters into tears. Her fingers clutch at the collar of her bathrobe tightly. I try to touch her but again she steps away from me.

“Mary, please talk to me.”

But she wouldn’t, so I sit and let her cry it out. Finally, she simmers down and let out words that cut my heart like a knife.

“Reno raped me.”

I can’t move. A thick cloud of darkness falls on me, choking me. I can’t speak; she can’t either. When I finally regain use of my voice, I ask her how it happened. She tells me everything – in disjointed words, but I piece it together.

Mary had called Reno about two weeks ago to help her out with the catering of the wedding since he was a master chef at a prestigious hotel and had catered to many weddings before. Although an excellent chef, Mary was new to the food business and needed help on her first huge gig. Reno gladly offered his services for free. Over the days that followed they walked closely together, seeing each other every now and then. Reno alone was aware of some new guy Mary was dating and had promised to keep it a secret from the wives because she wasn’t sure the relationship would go anywhere. Mary opened up to him about many other things in her life and especially her loneliness and fear that she might not find the perfect man. Reno played the role of the supportive friend and they bonded in such a short time. She trusted him, she told me, just as she trusted me.

“I would never have imagined that he’ll do this to me. Never!”

mary

The story becomes grimy when she begged Reno to accompany her home earlier on so she could change into something fresh before they drove down to my place. Upon getting to hers, she decided to go for a quick shower while Reno waited. When she stepped out of the bathroom in her towel to pick what she would change into, Reno shamelessly asked to have sex with her. She explained to me that she thought he was joking at first and brushed the request off but he repeated himself and went on to tell her how he had always nurtured feelings for her and wished it wasn’t Peace he was married to; and that his feelings had grown for her over the past week and he hoped they could develop something on the side.

At that point, Mary lost her top and ordered him out of her apartment, threatening to tell Peace what had just transpired. And to her, she thinks that was the mistake she made, because Reno turned into this beast that locked her door, pushed her to the bed and raped her.

Anger like I’ve never known bustles inside me. I feel tears scald my eyes as I watch my friend sit in one corner of her room like one who is held hostage in it.

“I am so sorry, Mary.”

I don’t know if she can hear me. Her head is bowed over.

“When exactly did this happen?”

“It happened just before I called you. He told me that if I told anyone what he did he would deny and say we had consensual sex and I had been seducing him for a long time.”

“Did he use protection?”

She shakes her head.

Lord help me, I will kill Reno and nobody will stop me.

Mary stretches her hand to me and hands me a small container. She doesn’t tell me what it is but I know it’s semen sample.

“Wear something let’s go to the hospital.”

“No.”

“Mary, you need to be properly checked and taken care of.”

“No.”

“Please,” I beg.

“Jide, no. It’s just sex–”

“IT IS NOT JUST SEX!” I am enraged. My tone plunges Mary into another round of weeping. I pull her from the floor and hold her until she calms.

“Mary, please let a doctor check you.”

She steps back. “So that they’ll treat me like a rape victim? And ask me intrusive questions and leave me worse than I already feel?”

“No. They’ll give you anti-retroviral medication alongside contraceptives and some pain killers. If you don’t want to talk to anyone, it’s fine.”

She considers my words. “They won’t ask me to recount what happened?”

“No.”

“Okay.”

I leave the house and sit in the car. My anger has not gone down one bit. Reno has no idea what is coming.

I take Mary to the hospital and leave her in Tola’s care. I drive back to my house as if I’m on steroids. When I get in, I am shocked to see Reno comfortably sitting on my couch, sipping on my wine and making conversation like he had not just committed a monstrous crime.

God knows self control is the last thing on my mind. I speak to no one as I aim straight for him, jerk him off the couch and deliver a punch that breaks his nose on impact. Dazed, his head falls back. I use the opportunity to knock him to the floor and he goes down in a heap.

I am so furious I can’t hear my friends speak. My anger is made worse by the helplessness I felt when I couldn’t give Honey’s brother the beating he deserved.

I see Bright dashing towards me. And in quick but lethal kicks, I give Reno’s balls a lesson in unbearable pain. Before Bright gets hold of me and drags me away, I add one last kick to the side of his face that knocks him out.

“You’ve killed him!” Peace screams and rushes to him. I ignore her and everyone else as I shove Bright off and storm into my bedroom.

©Sally@moskedapages

Image credits: favim.com, pinterest.com

Translations:

Agbero – tout

Sharaka – to fuss

It’s Another Saturday…#14

Afternoon!

Next week I’ll bring you a new series from someone new. It’s all about family scandals. If you think you have drama in your family, you haven’t seen nothing yet. So, sit tight. You’ll have a mad ride with this one.

Enjoy episode 14 of It’s Another Saturday…

The One Who Keeps Appearing

Jide did not just walk me out of his house. He did not just do that. What in the world!

I breathe in deep. Calm down, Mary. He didn’t mean it. He would never knowingly treat you like that. It’s the jazz, so calm down…

Heck, I can’t! I am so mad I feel like walking back to his house and giving him a piece of my mind. How can he talk to me like that? Is he insane?

Anyways, I don’t blame him sha. He’s seen my nakedness, that’s why. But all the same, I’ll keep my cool. He’ll apologize when the juju clears.

I pull in another breath and glance down the street to see if a bus is coming. There’s a crowd waiting and I’m ready to cuff anybody that tries to stop me from getting into the next bus that shows. I’m so not in the mood.

I take out my phone in the meantime and begin to connect with my girls. I can’t keep this Tarela’s issue under wraps. I notice movement around me and look up. A bus is on its way. Not many empty seats for all of us. Oya Mary, time to bring out the barracks side of you.

bus stop

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

I get into Noka’s posh home and feel so dirty because I’m smelling of automobile fumes. I dust myself futilely. Damn this town and its pollution!

I hear a baby crying. It should be Bimpe’s or is it Peace’s?

I can hardly keep up with their kids. It’s as if they’re trying to outdo each other in childbearing. I even hear that Bobby’s wife, Kate, is already pregnant. Lol! Sharp shooter. I don’t want to be like them abeg. I want a husband with whom I can keep the honeymoon fire burning for at least a year and a half before kids come. I wanted Jide to be that man. Too bad we don’t always get what we want.

“Hi Mary!” Celia comes along with the baby that’s making all the noise and thrusts it at me as if it’s biting her. And I’m there looking at her like what am I supposed to do with it.

“I want to piss.” She runs off.

I look at the baby. It doesn’t look like Bimpe’s. It’s quite younger and has Ibro’s nose.

“Whose baby is this?” I ask as I walk into the kitchen where Noka, Peace and Kate are having coconut cookies and milk, like little kids. Bimpe seems absent.

“Can the mommy of this baby raise her hand?”

They all look at me. I notice Noka’s eyes are red.

“It’s Eno’s baby,” she tells me.

Eno is Ibro’s second wife.

“Okay, so why am I carrying her?”

“Where is this Celia sef?” Noka asks tiredly as she comes for the infant in my arms. “I gave her baby and she disappeared.”

“Why is the baby not with her mother?”

“Long story,” Noka responds and cradles the newborn.

I place my handbag on the kitchen counter. “Gist me.”

“Eno left Ibrahim. She got up two nights ago and just left.”

“Without her baby? Why?”

“Because he’s adamant on marrying the Kanuri chick his family wants him to marry. Eno told him she won’t stand for it, that she’s still young and since she didn’t give him a son, she’s not obligated to stay, so she left.”

“And you’re sad because…?”

“Because Ibrahim has been acting like a dick since she left. And then he dumped this child with me and when I complained, he told me to also pack and leave if I can’t take care of his child.”

I don’t get why Noka is breaking her head over the issue. Ibro has never loved her and it’s not like he’s going to anytime soon, so why break her head over him? Anyways, I’m not one to talk.

“Noka, don’t let Ibro and Eno’s madness get to you.”

She nods in sadness and tries to placate the baby as she turns to Peace.

“P, breastfeed this baby for me nau.”

“Noka give the child formula abeg. Na me born pikin? Me that I’ve already weaned my own baby.”

“Only last week. And look, your boobs are leaking.”

Peace stares at her breasts as if they have betrayed her.

“Please. She’s just a baby. I beg you.”

Peace gives in with a grunt. She takes the baby and begins nursing her.

“Madam Mary, what is this Tarela gist you have for us?” Celia appears. “I hope she has finally killed herself for real so that we can all rest.”

“Be nice,” I tell her and then go right ahead to give them details of Tarela’s sorcery ways. They are left stunned; well apart from Peace who claims she always knew Tarela was from the dark side.

“Oh please!” Celia hisses at her.

“Seriously, I knew. You know at that time I was strong spiritually. Not now that you people have influenced me into drinking alcohol.”

Celia smirks. “Abeg make I hear word.”

“But seriously, how could Tari do that?” Noka seems more affected by the news.

“Please who is she?” Kate asks quietly. As Celia gladly gives her the history of Tarela and Jide, I study Kate, taking note of her reluctant eyes and shy looks, and I’m thinking to myself that Bobby is such a cradle snatcher. The girl can’t be more than twenty-three. We know little about her apart from the fact that they courted for about a month or so, as he told us, and then he popped the question. Add another month and they’re walking down the aisle.

“But how can Tari stoop this low?” Noka remains bewildered.

“Well what do you expect from somebody who slashed her own throat?” Celia comments, picking a cookie.

“But I don’t understand some women,” Kate murmurs. “You’re killing yourself for a man that doesn’t give a damn about you. It’s just plain stupid. Like men are finished in the world?”

The kitchen goes hush. None of us want to look at Noka. Only Celia dares murmur a sardonic ‘mm’, at which point Kate realizes her gaffe and apologizes to Noka straightaway.

“No, it’s okay.” Noka puts out her hand to stop her. “Not like I don’t know what you all think about me.”

Each of us mumbles some form of polite defensive but she shuts us all down with another raised hand.

“Seriously, it’s fine. I sometimes sit down and wonder what is wrong with me. Why I can’t just walk away. I tell people that it’s because of my vows and the kids but the truth is I feel too weak, even helpless without Ibrahim.”

“But he keeps breaking your heart, Noka,” I remind her.

“All the time,” she emphasizes. “But I always look forward to those moments when he loves me. They’re few but they are enough to keep me with him.”

“You sound like an abused woman, Noka,” Celia blasts. “Ibro is abusing you emotionally and you still cling to him as if he’s life. My dear, you can do better without him.”

Oshey feminist Celia.

“It was Bruno Mars who said ‘a whole new world is waiting. It’s ripe for the taking.’”

“You didn’t have to sing it,” I chip in. Celia and Bruno Mars sef. I wonder if she still has wet dreams about him.

“Zip it, Mary. As I was saying, Noka, we women have to start showing these men our worth or they’ll keep treating us like shit. I hate Eno but right now, babe just upped her status on Ibro’s respect bar. And if you’re not careful, you might be the sacrificial lamb he’ll use to get her back. This just means that your place is still not secure in his life after two boys, first wife status and seven years of marriage. Why? Because you’re a wimp. You have no self-worth.”

Celia finishes and in typical character remains in Noka’s face to ensure her words sink in well.

“So you’re saying I should leave him?”

“You’re his first wife, Ajonoka. You’re not going anywhere. See, the thing with men is that they always complain that we demand too much and yet if we don’t demand, we are taken for granted. I think it’s time you start demanding what is rightfully yours. Demand Ibro’s love. Demand his time. Demand his devotion. Demand his property. Demand his cash. Demand his dick. Demand all of him.”

I’m not sure if Celia’s advice is the best but Noka sure needs some confidence boost.

“Thank you,” she whispers and takes Eno’s baby who is now deep asleep in her arms.

“So, back to Jide…” I say.

“Let’s fast and pray for him,” Peace suggests. My face melts into a smile. Woman after my own heart. “Juju is not something we joke about. I’m not comfortable with Jide seeing Ezinne’s ghost. It’s not funny. If he has been charmed, then only God can help him.”

“Yes. I also think we should pray,” Kate agrees.

“Yeah, we should.” Noka nods.

We all focus on Celia. She cringes. “Can I pass?”

“This is not the barstool, Cee,” I scold. “It’s someone’s life at stake here.”

“Must we fast? Prayers energized by food work just as well.”

“Celia!”

“Okay. We’ll fast.”

“For three days,” Peace directs as she stands. “We’ll break it every evening in my house.”

“You’re leaving?” I ask.

“Yeah.”

“Let me follow you so you can drop me abeg.”

We share hugs with the others.

“Can you guys pray for Ibrahim too?” Noka pleads. “That he’ll love me.”

“I’d rather pray for you,” Celia declares, “that you you’ll stop loving him.” She throws her hands in the air and shuts her eyes. “Jesus, take the wheel!”

With a smile, I join Peace outside and we drive away. She drops me off at a stop not far from the Onuoras’. I use a keke to find my way there.

Mommy is at home. She gives me a hug when I walk in and scolds me for not visiting as I used to. I apologize. She asks me to join her in her garden at the backyard. She wants to get some fresh ugwu for some soup she wants to prepare.

I find it difficult sharing the news of Tarela’s acts and Jide’s present state. No mother should have to hear that the one woman she endorsed for her son turned out to be a villain. But I have no choice, so I share with her every single detail.

“Thank you,” is all she tells me and then pats my cheek, giving me that calm, small smile of hers that always takes the heat out of every problem.

“Jide will be okay,” she adds. “Don’t worry about him.”

I wish I could have her faith or her calm.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

I’m calling Jide for the fifth time today and he’s still not taking my calls. I think I just got into my worry phase. And I’m panicky too. I haven’t spoken to him since Wednesday. And today is Monday. I know he said to give him time but why is he not picking my calls? What have I done that he’ll act this way towards me?

Many bad thoughts run through my mind, thoughts that I can’t put a lid on. I fear that there is another girl. I fear that now that he’s had me, he has become disinterested. I fear that he doesn’t really feel anything for me. I fear that we are done.

I try his number again. It rings off. I redial. Same response. Panic level increases as the air in the taxi I’m in becomes tight.

I let down the window and poke my face out. The busy street flies past me unnoticed.

“Are you alright?” the cabbie asks. He is Saratu’s special cabman. Old, greying hair at the temples, beany-eyed, fatherly.

“I’m fine, Glen.”

“So you’re leaving us,” he says. I catch the warmth in his eyes in the rear mirror.

“Yes.”

“I’d love to visit Nigeria one day.”

“You’ll love it,” Saratu sitting beside me, says. I’ve almost forgotten she’s with me. She has been giving me the silent treatment all day. I’m surprised she still has a tongue. I look at her.

“Stop looking at me jor. Deserter of the friend.”

I smile in distraction at her. Jide has just ended my eighth call and switched his phone off entirely. Tears burn my eyes and I’m glad that Saratu doesn’t notice as she suddenly comes alive, engaging Glen in some talk about the last time they went out to play Bingo.

I face my phone again and this time, I try Oba’s number.

“Aunty?” Oba answers instantly.

“Hi Oba.” I infuse life into my voice.

“Are you in town?”

“No,” I reply.

“Okay. So how are you?” he enquires.

“Good. How’s everyone?”

“We’re all fine.”

“How is Jide?”

Oba pauses at my question. “He’s fine, I guess. Haven’t you spoken to him?”

“I haven’t. His phone is switched off.”

“You tried his other line?”

“I think that phone is bad.”

“Momsi just mentioned that he’s been switching off his phone lately.”

I feel a little consoled hearing that piece of information.

“Sha we’re going there now to see him.”

I feel my heart leap.

“Good. When you get there, please flash me. I’ll call back and you’ll hand the phone to him.”

“Okay.”

“Please, don’t tell him I’ll call. I want it to be a surprise.”

“Okay.” There is puzzlement in Oba’s voice.

“Thanks, Oba.”

“Sure thing.”

“So, Gatwick, yeah?” Glen asks just as I hang up.

“Yes,” Saratu and I answer together.

“Lover boy still not answering his phone?” she asks. I say nothing. She squeezes my knee. “I won’t rub it in.”

“Bitch.”

She sniggers. I drift away. I can’t wait to see my dad who is seriously ill, as I’ve been informed. I’ve missed my siblings too. However, my need to see Jide is foremost. It’s annoying that he’s someone I’ve known for only a short while and he already means so much to me.

I try not to think of him as I take in the most I can of the city that has become almost like a second home to me. I don’t know when I’ll be back here. I think of my colleagues and how much I’ll miss my life as a flight attendant. I feel anxious ending ten years just like that; but I am too excited to care.

“We’re here,” Glen says to Saratu and I. We get down and he helps me with my luggage and gives me a warm, bear hug, rubbing his stubby hands on my back.

I try not to cry when I face Saratu. She doesn’t cry so easily so it means something to see her eyes moist.

“You’re crying?” I tease.

“Yes, over the fact that you’re going to get your heart broken.”

“Yeah, I’ll miss you too.”

She hugs me and won’t let go. I have to wrestle myself off her clutch.

“Bye,” she whispers as I turn away. Tears flood my face, ruining my Mac. I’d like to think I’m crying because I’ll miss Saratu and whatnot but truth is I’m crying because…heck, I don’t know. It just feels good to let it all out.

legs2

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

The file containing Ezinne’s details is spread out on my bed with a paper with names and numbers printed out and pictures of her. The paper contains contacts of her friends and relatives. I have called every one of them and now I’m doing a double check to see who I have missed, except for the ones that were unavailable. None of them had any news about Ezinne. In fact, most of them were mad at me; some terminated the call the moment I let them know why I was calling. I didn’t really bother about their attitude. I just wanted someone to give me something tangible.

I fall back on the bed and resist the urge to turn on my phone. I wish Honey would just give me a little more time. I feel I am close to unraveling the mystery. Or am I just plain ridiculous here? But I saw Ezinne. I saw her…

Someone’s at my door. I groan. I am not taking visitors but what if it’s Ezinne? Crazy thought, but she showed up from the grave, didn’t she? Finding my house shouldn’t be a problem. I drag my feet to the front door and look through the peephole. When I see it’s my mom, I bump my forehead to the door and wish her away in my mind.

“Jideofor!” She bangs loudly. “Or are you saying you can’t hear me? What type of foolish behavior is this?”

Shit. She spoke entirely in Igbo. And she’s wearing her glasses. Means I’m in for an earful today. Thank you, Mary. You want to be my girlfriend and you can’t even keep a small secret.

I unlock the door. It pulls open with a whine and I stand, staring down at Nne’s small frame, realizing how much I’ve missed the nosy, old woman. I bend and give her a warm hug, diffusing her annoyance. After the hug, I drag her in and ignore Oba outside. I lead her to a couch. She sits and gives my house a good stare. This is her second visit. She still doesn’t like my décor. Flat, was what she called it the last time.

“Obasi, please wait in your brother’s room. We need to talk.”

She’s still in her dialect mood. Try not to push any buttons, Jide.

“Why are you like this?” She gestures, making a sweeping movement from the top of my head to my feet.

“Like how?” I reply in Igbo.

“Like you have not bathed in days.”

“But I have.”

“What is the problem, Jidenna?”

“Just come straight to the point, mom. I know Mary told you everything.” I sit.

“Yes, she did. So where is the juju?”

“Inside.”

“Go and bring it.”

I don’t argue. I walk into the guestroom and return with the box. She takes it in her hands and studies its contents keenly. And then she puts it aside.

“It’s totally useless,” she mutters. I am surprised at her conclusion. She is deeply religious. Aren’t there special prayers she needs to pray and demons to exorcise from my life?

“Mary came to me on Saturday and since then I’ve taken my time to fast and pray. And my God doesn’t disappoint, Jideofor. From the instant Tarela tried you, she lost the battle. Have no fears, my son. This nonsense cannot work on you. But as for her, it is the beginning of the end. For her to resort to this means after all we did for her as a family, then it means something bad is coming her way. She will pay for her evil acts.”

I watch my mom speak and grasp that her real reason for showing up is not Tarela but Ezinne. I wait for the moment when she’ll take off those glasses and ask me to look into her eyes so she can give me a good talking to. I don’t understand her sometimes. She wears the glasses when she wants to show she’s not kidding but will take them off when she’s about to get serious.

“What is this nonsense I’m hearing about you bumping into the ghost of Ezinne?”

Just as I predicted. And yes, she has taken off the glasses. I know she came with swords drawn. It will do me no good to argue with her. I will be the good son today.

“So you have started this your madness again.”

“Hurtful words, ma.”

“No, you need to hear it!” She flares. “It’s madness! And you need to get out of it fast before it takes you again. Ezinne is dead! She died five years ago. You have moved on. Keep moving on, Jideofor. Don’t let her take your life from you again. You have Honey now and that girl loves you. Don’t break her heart.”

“I’ve heard.”

“Does she know about this your latest misbehavior?”

“What misbehavior…?” I start to say but remember my resolve to act cool. “She doesn’t.”

“She’d better not. And you dare not mess with her or I promise you you’ll hate me for what I’ll do to you.”

“Chill abeg. It has not reached that level and stop talking to me like I stole meat from your pot abeg. You’ll just come into somebody’s house and be forming angry mother.”

Yeah, I know I said I’ll be calm but I just had to stop her.

“Why shouldn’t I be angry?” the stubborn woman throws back. “My son has something good and he wants to spoil it.”

“Nne, it’s okay nau! Hian!”

She sees on my face that it won’t go well for her if she continues, so she stops and tries another slant.

“Have I told you that Honey is going to be your wife?”

“Yeah. Just a day after I met her.”

“Okay. Then, let me tell you what I have not told anyone.”

I lean back. This is going to be an epistle.

“The day before I met Honey on the plane, while I was at Emeka’s in New York, I was having my morning devotion and I was particularly praying for you when God dropped a scripture on my mind concerning you. Exodus chapter twenty, and verse six. It says, ‘on that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of lands.’”

“Okay?”

“I didn’t understand what it meant until I met Honey.”

“Okay?”

“And then it made sense. The land flowing with milk and honey.”

“You got to be kidding me, mom.”

“God was speaking to me, Jideofor.”

I laugh.

“Stop laughing.”

“I’m sorry but mom, come on! Milk and honey? Okay, I believe you. But the thing is I have honey. What about the milk? Does this mean I get to marry two wives?”

“You’re joking with God’s word?”

I let out spurts of laughter that I can’t control. She watches me in a heavy-set scowl.

“Okay, let me explain what milk and honey mean from Songs of Solomon.”

“For real?”

“The first passage says, ‘your lips, my bride, drip honey. Honey and milk are under your tongue’. While the second passage reads, ‘I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride. I have gathered my myrrh along with my basalm. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey. I have drunk my wine and my milk’.”

I clear my throat loudly. “I’m sorry but that is so sexual.”

“And you think it’s a mistake that it is? Sex is God-ordained. But only for married couples.”

“Noted, ma.”

“And that is why that message is for you because Honey is your wife.”

“You said that the last five hundred times.”

“One more scripture is there as confirmation.”

I give her dizzy eyes.

“That one says, ‘my son, eat honey, for it is good. Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.”

I now give her side eyes. “Can you stop?”

“I am hundred percent sure in my spirit that those scriptures give a clear message from God to you. Honey is yours. And no Tarela or Ezinne, those two evil Egyptians in your life, can separate you and her.”

“Amen!” I laugh.

Nne adds more scriptural admonitions before she asks me to burn Tarela’s voodoo. Subsequently, she prays for me. She stays for quite some time and I genuinely do not want her to leave because of the color she has added to my gloominess. For a moment, I begin to believe that I never saw Ezinne, that my mind has played a good one on me.

“Jide, someone wants to speak with you.” Oba walks into the sitting room, interrupting Nne in the middle of some hilarious tale about village folks.

“Who?” I stare at the phone he’s stretching out to me. He shrugs. Clueless, I take the phone and put it to my ear.

“Hello?”

There’s no answer at first.

“Hello?”

“Hotstuff, why are you doing this to me?”

Honey’s voice instantly makes me feel a cocktail of warm emotions. I realize how much I’ve missed her. I rise from my chair.

“Hey…”

“So you’re even okay? I heard you laughing just now.”

“Sugar lips…”

“Is there anything I did that you’ll treat me like this?”

I make my exit from the sitting room to have some privacy.

“You won’t pick my calls and you keep switching off your phone on me. What did I do?”

I walk into my bedroom and shut the door.

“Honey, first of all, I am sorry, baby.”

“Sorry is not what I want to hear. I want an explanation for your strange behavior.”

I earnestly don’t want to tell her about Ezinne.

“Or are you tired of us?”

“No. No, sugams. No. Get that out of your head.”

“Then what is going on?”

I feel bad for putting her in this state.

“Jide, please talk to me. I know something is going on. Is there another girl?”

I stare out into the darkness through one of the windows. There is no moon in the sky, no stars. Just darkness that mirrors some part of me.

“Yes, there’s someone else, Honey. My ex… she is supposed to be dead but I saw her last week. Imagine someone whom you were told died five years ago, popping back into your life just like that.”

Honey listens to me in silence as I tell her everything about Ezinne. Her life, her death and reappearance.

“Maybe I’m crazy.”

“Maybe you’re not.”

I’m surprised at her statement. I haven’t told her how my friends reacted to the news, so I know she’s not trying to score points by believing me. It is a genuine act.

“You don’t think I imagined the whole encounter?”

“Why would you?”

I breathe easy for the first time in days.

“Well, unless you’re still in love with her.”

“I am not. I just want answers, Honey. Why did she fake her own death? Why does she look different? Where has she been? What…?”

I stop, noting how I’m getting worked up over the matter.

“I’m sorry, sugar lips.”

“I understand, Jide. If my ex who is dead shows up from nowhere it would throw me off balance too. So, I understand. I just need to know that you don’t love her anymore.”

“I don’t.”

“And that she’s not going to come between us.”

“She won’t. I promise.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

There’s a short pause. “Can you…stop looking for her?”

Oh, Honey, don’t ask me to do this.

“I know what I’m asking is hard but please, stop going after her. If she faked her own death, it means she didn’t give a damn about you and she wants to be left alone, so please respect her wishes and stop looking for her.”

“Honey…”

“If you continue you’ll hurt me. There’s so much I can take, Jide. And you know how hard it is for me to trust anyone. Please, don’t give me sleepless nights over this issue. If she shows up to offer an explanation, fine. If not, let her be.”

I sit on the bed and stare at Ezinne’s pictures. In all of them, her mysterious eyes stare back at me.

“Jide?”

“Yes, baby.”

“Promise me.”

I draw in a quiet breath . “I promise.”

“We’re both letting go of our pasts. That’s the only way this relationship will work.”

“I know. I know. I’m sorry.”

“You’re forgiven.” Her voice softens. “I’ve missed you.”

“Me too.”

“So much so that I’ll be seeing you tomorrow morning.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah. I quit my job.”

“No way!”

“I did.”

“You go girl!”

She giggles.

“That’s the best news I’ve heard in a while. Finally, I have you all to myself and Honey, the things I’ll do to you.”

She giggles again.

“I’m so proud of you, smoochie. That job was chipping off at your life little by little. I’m happy you’re done with it. So you’re flying in when?”

“I’m at the airport right now. My flight leaves in like thirty minutes. In seven hours I’ll be knocking at your door.”

“No, I’m coming to pick you at the airport. I can’t wait to see you.”

“’Me too.”

I’ve missed her. I can’t wait to see her. I think she’ll be what I need to get Ezinne out of my mind.

“Hotstuff, I have to go,” she says.

“See you, baby.”

The line goes off. I give Ezinne’s pictures one last glance and decide to gather them back into the file they came from. I still need answers but for now, I have to let things cool off, especially since Honey is going to be around.

The file finds a hidden corner in my wardrobe. After which, I turn my phone on and walk back to the sitting room. My mom informs me she’s leaving. I walk her and Oba downstairs. They drive off. I go back in, fix myself a cup of coffee and start preparing for work. Several minutes later, I’m out the door. I take a bus and sit in front, waiting for the empty seats behind to fill up.

An SMS comes in and thinking it is one of those promotional ads from five-digit numbers, I ignore it. The bus fills up with more people, we pay our fares and begin our journey. I go online and reply some comments from the few readers who visit my pregnancy and childbirth blog. I’m growing popular by the day. People are intrigued by the idea that I’m a male midwife. I like the attention I’m getting.

The bus driver stops at a fuel station to refuel his tank, ignoring protests from his passengers. I lean back on my seat and remember the SMS that had come in earlier. I click on it only to discover that it’s not a promotional. The very first word I read quickens my pulse.

Jay, let’s meet tomorrow evening at LeChase Hotel. Room 219. 8pm.

Ezinne.

I can’t believe what I’ve just read. Wow. Ezinne is really alive and I did not imagine that encounter with her.

I exhale, having held my breath for the entire length of time I was reading the text repeatedly. I go through it one more time to be sure I’m not conjuring the whole thing up.

The bus driver returns, we continue our journey. I store the number and dial her as soon as I’m done.

“Hello? Jay?”

Her voice is like a bolt of lightning that strikes my heart. I can’t take it. I feel my chest tighten. I end the call immediately, and thus my restless desire to see her again resumes.

I know I promised Honey but I just have to what I have to do. It is the only way I can let go of this longstanding affection that I have for Ezinne which I feel crawling into my heart like a venomous serpent.

Honey, sugar lips, I’m very sorry.

©Sally@moskedapages

Image Credit: travelgear.liburlibur.com, naijamayor.com

It’s Another Saturday…#13

A colleague asked me the other day if I get upset when readers tell me my episodes are short. I told her that I don’t. I feel flattered, rather. So, here’s a huge thank you for flattering me, guys.*kisses!*

But if I hear pim! about this episode ehn, I’ll be waiting with cane on the other side.

Enjoy episode 13 of It’s Another Saturday. If you want to catch up, read HERE

But Jide, Why?

black woman in spa

“This is a very stupid move, Hon.”

Saratu is mad at me for quitting my job. This has been her state of mind since I broke the news to her two days ago. Earlier, she took me shopping and now we’re at a spa where she’s spoiling me silly, just to manipulate my mind into staying back.

“He is so going to dump your sorry ass.”

“No, he’s not.” I smile at her when what I really want to do wring her neck. She doesn’t like to see people happy in love. She tried to make Dele’s wife feel miserable when she quit like I did; I’m not surprised that she’s doing the same to me.

“You know I’m telling you the honest truth here, Hon. The guy is already misbehaving sef.”

I stop sipping from the pineapple paradise cocktail in my hand for a second but continue immediately before she thinks I’m taking her words seriously. Jide is not misbehaving. In his defense, he called me three days ago to explain that he’ll be incommunicado for a while because he’s going through something serious, which he would rather not explain to me. He begged for a little time to sort himself out and assured me that his feelings for me were still strong. I was upset, especially over the fact that he won’t share with me what was bugging him. But I didn’t let him know how I was feeling. The best way to drive a man away is to show your insecurities. I’ve done enough of that already; I don’t want him to start feeling choked by my love. So, I simply said to him that I was okay with it and offered him a listening ear whenever he would be ready to talk.

“You know when guys say they need a break it means they’re dumping you, right?”

“Saratu?”

“Sorry. Just…putting it out there.” She moves closer to me, ignoring the frown on the face of the masseuse that is massaging her feet. “That was what chief told me and then he disappeared for a while and returned with divorce papers.”

“Sara, he divorced you because you called his mother a whore and refused to apologize and then she died.”

“I didn’t kill her. Her conscience did. I saw her banging my driver.”

“Technically she was allowed to do that. She was a widow.”

“Stop deviating from the point.”

“And what is this point?”

“You are giving up your life for a man who is half-committed to you.”

“I’ll tell you for the last time, Saratu Gambo, I quit my job for myself. Not for Jide. In fact, he doesn’t even know I’ve quit. I did it all for me.”

“Deceive yourself. Me and you know that in this your tiny brain, you are already seeing yourself pregnant for him and having small, annoying children hopping all around the house.”

I laugh. She hates kids.

“I hope you guys sha used condoms. The worst thing you can do to yourself now is get pregnant for him.”

“Yes mommy, we used protection,” I say patiently and add a smile. Lying beneath her nastiness is a darling.

“I’ll miss you sha.”

“Aww. I’m still here until Monday.”

“Then why were you packing your clothes earlier?”

I’m packing because somehow my mind is not at rest. But I tell her I just want to make sure I have everything set on time.

“Don’t go,” she begs. “Take the job British Airways is offering you.”

I smile and then shake my head slowly. “I can’t.”

Her face goes sad. And then she pulls her feet out of the bowl it’s immersed in and gives me a hug.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

“Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone. It’s not warm when she’s away. Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone. And she’s gone too long. Anytime she goes away.”

Bobby is really proud of the noise he just made in the name of singing. He grins from ear to ear as Ibro compliments his voice. The song is for me, to tease me over my drab mood because they think I’m missing Honey badly. Well, I am but Honey is the last thing on my mind right now. Something more disquieting is killing me inside.

“At least, commot the eye glass and face cap nau,” Bright says, reaching for my sunglasses. I move back and adjust the hat on my head. “The song said ain’t no sunshine and there ain’t no sunshine here. You wan kill yourself because of woman?”

“No mind Jide,” Reno replies.

They go on, making fun of me while I take in our classy environment. It’s a bar and grill. Packed full with customers. It’s a new place and our drinks are on Reno’s tab. Trust him to always find the joints that make all the buzz.

My attention comes back to the table. I’m about to reveal something that will make my friends think I’m crazy but I just have to let it out. It’s killing me.

“Guys, I saw Ezinne,” I drop the bombshell.

They give me half attention.

“I said I saw Ezinne. She is alive. She never died.”

I get total silence now. They all focus on me.

“Which Ezinne?” Bobby asks.

“Is there any other Ezinne you think I’ll be talking about?” I flick a drop of beer off my phone screen. “I saw her three days ago.”

“Guy…” Bobby begins to speak but Ibro butts in.

“No dey play with such things, Jide.”

“I am not. I saw Ezinne with these two eyes.”

They are staring at me with more seriousness now. It won’t be long before I see pity creep into their expressions.

I drink my beer, a tortured man. Beering, as Emeka would call it, is all I’ve been doing since Ezinne made a passing appearance in my life. I stay sober only during work hours but the moment I get home, I hug the bottle. My eyes behind my sunglasses are blood red from all the chugging.

“Where did you see her?” Bobby interrogates.

I travel back to Wednesday. A routine visit to my favorite food joint just down the street from my house is all it takes to turn my life upside-down. I walk into the joint, order my usual of amala and ewedu with two servings of shaki. They pack the food for me, I pay and I’m on my way out when I bump into a woman whose purse, pocket umbrella and phone clatter to the floor.

“I’m sorry,” I say and immediately hit the floor to pick the fallen items. I gather them in my hands and rise up to meet a face that belongs to a stranger but eyes that are Ezinne’s. She gasps, steps back and stares at me with lips parted. My hands holding the items are hanging in the air as we both grip each other’s eyes.

“Ezi?” I pant.

She grabs her belongings and dashes out of the restaurant in a flash. I run after her but find that she has hopped into a waiting cab and disappeared into the rainy night. I stand there for a long time, dazed, confused, wondering what the heck I just encountered or if I even encountered it at all.

“For real?” Bright asks.

“Yeah. I went to her parent’s house that same evening only to discover that they no longer lived there. They had moved not long after they said she was dead.”

I finish my beer and wipe my mouth. My friends are dead quiet. Nobody wants to voice out what’s in their heads. I help them.

“Y’all thinking probably I imagined this, that we’re back to that time when I was very sure she was not dead and I stood by my conviction even without evidence. Well, this is different. The person I saw was Ezinne. The nose and lips were not hers but the eyes…they were her eyes.”

“You know say two people fit get the same eyes, abi?” Reno stated.

“It was Ezinne, Reno.”

My tone brings back the silence. I call for another bottle. A waiter comes along with it but Bobby takes it away from me.

“I can’t let you do this again, man.”

“Bobby, abeg give me my beer.”

“What’s it with this Ezinne chick that messes you up like this? She appears from the grave…”

“It’s not even her,” Ibro contributes.

“…and you turn to this person,” Bobby continues.

“Give me my beer!”

“You have fixed your life, Jideofor. You have a good job and a woman who loves you, man. Get your shit together and get that Ezinne out of your head! Abi na jazz she jazz you?”

His last words hit something hard in me and my hand stretched out for my drink, drops down. I abandon my thoughts of Ezinne and my growing annoyance at Bobby and spring to my feet. My head throbs but I ignore it, pick my phone and dash out of the bar without saying anything to them. I’m sure they’ll conclude that I’ve finally lost it but I’m not thinking of them. I’m flagging down a red cab in a crazy manner. I need to get home fast.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

I dash into the house like a madman and barge into the spare bedroom, the one that holds the bathroom Tarela used the day she visited with Mary. I begin a frantic search of any diabolic object she might have planted there. I turn the room upside-down but find nothing.

I stop. Maybe I’m exaggerating. Or just being plain judgmental. After all, she did tell me she had turned her life to God. Why am I still thinking she’s the same person from the past?

I allow utter silence into my consciousness. It’s the only way my instinct works well. I listen real hard and it tells me that something is still off. I turn to the bathroom door absently and then recall that it is the one place I haven’t searched. I push the door open and go straight to the toilet tank. When I take off the lid, I’m not surprised at what my eyes fall on.

I pull out a black box that is soaked in water and has red strings tied around it. When I open the box, I see two voodoo dolls bound together. I shake my head. Tarela! I hiss. Old habits die hard. She has not changed one bit.

I walk into the sitting room, place the so-called juju on a couch and dial Mary.

“I need to see you right away,” I tell her.

“Is everything okay?”

“Please, just come.”

I recline on my three-sitter, scratching my two-day old growth of beard as I stare at the dolls in disappointment.

Tarela was a nice, soft-spoken girl when I met her. It was love at first sight. Crazy, mad love that made my friends envious. She stole everyone’s heart, especially my mom’s. No one would have ever thought she had another side to her. She had it well hidden; even I was fooled. Or maybe I wanted to see only what my eyes wanted to see. When I eventually discovered who she really was, we were both already invested in the relationship and she was wearing my ring. She had even gotten herself this vintage wedding gown with all her earnings. Sadly, I had to end the relationship for my own good but Tarela simply refused to let go. I tried everything and finally resorted to moving in with Ezinne, whom I was secretly dating for a while. My blatant actions shocked everyone and they tried to get Tarela and I back together but my heart was already sold to Ezinne. The more they pushed, the deeper I fell. Soon Ezinne and I got engaged and Tarela’s insanity went into overdrive. She showed up at my birthday party unannounced, gave this long speech about how much of an asshole I was, broke a wine bottle and slit her throat with it.

My life turned to a mess from then on and I swore never to have anything to do with her again. I thought that by now she would be over me but obviously I was disillusioned.

Mary raps softly on my door. I stand up and let her in.

“Hi.”

I take her hand and drag her to the couch where I left the box of voodoo dolls. I point. She looks but doesn’t make sense of what she is seeing.

“This is the real reason your friend came here on Tuesday,” I expound.

“I don’t understand. What is this supposed to be?”

“What does it look like?”

Slowly, realization hits her face.

“Oh God! Pin cushions? Voodoo dolls?”

“Yeah.”

“Voodoo dolls? What for?”

“You’re asking me? You brought the person that dropped them here.”

Mary unslings her handbag and puts it aside. “Jide I don’t understand. I came here with Tari nau. When did she give you this that I didn’t know?”

“She didn’t exactly give me; she hid the box in the guest toilet when she allegedly went to pee.”

Mary is still terribly confused. “But why?”

“Mary, your friend planted jazz in my house.”

Mary slaps a hand over her mouth. Her shock is palpable.

“Clearly, you have no clue who your Tarela really is.  Sit, let me gist you.”

I help her immobile body into a couch and give her a glass of cold water to calm her head.

“I left Tari for Ezinne because I found out that she was using jazz on me.”

“Jide, please stop lying.”

“I was in her crib when I made the discovery. I can’t remember what I was looking for under her bed that afternoon that led me to find a bottle that had a short, red candle, some hair, a used condom and other nameless creepy stuff inside it. I confronted Tari and she swore with her life that she had no idea what it was and how it got there. She claimed one of her friends who hated her might have put it there and suggested we go to church for special prayers. Mary, my feelings for Tari died that day.”

Mary is still shaken. “What if she wasn’t lying?”

“She was. I did a background check on her after that and realized she had lied to all of us. Her parents are not dead. I couldn’t trace the whereabouts of her mother whom I was told, abandoned her, but her father is a witch doctor in their village in Benue state.”

Mary is dizzy with the news. She speaks but only with her hands because she can’t find the words to express herself. “Is her name really Tarela?”

“Yes.”

“She’s not Yoruba?”

“No.”

“Jideofor, why didn’t you tell anyone this nau?”

“To what ends? You were all in love with her. I was the bad one. Besides, she must have been trying to erase a painful childhood, so I felt it would have been heartless to expose her to the people that have shown her love.”

“Love?” Mary stands up in anger. “What love?! She manipulated us! Maybe even jazzed us! She lied! And she’s still lying! I swear I’ll tell everybody, Jide! Wha-wha-wha-what type of wickedness is this?! Even to the extent of voodoo dolls?! Voodoo dolls?! That girl has liver, Jide! I’ll expose her shit, right after I beat her blue-red!”

I know Mary is not bluffing. If I don’t stop her, she’ll carry on with her threat.

“Calm down.”

“Oh God! And Jide you said nothing and took all the insult?”

I shrug. I’m weird like that sometimes. If one simple explanation is not enough for you to believe my own side of the story, then I see no need going to extra lengths to prove myself.

“I’m so mad, Jide, you won’t understand.”

“Actually, I do.”

I calm Mary and beg her to keep what we have discovered secret. We have to find out what Tarela is up to before we act on it.

“But aren’t you scared of…this?” Mary points at the twin dolls.

“No.”

“But…”

“I don’t believe in its potency. What I hate about it is the desperation in Tari. After all these years, she shows up out of nowhere and thinks she can ruin my life again? I won’t take it smiling this time.”

“Na wa o.”

I lose my current mood and slip back to thoughts of Ezinne. Mary picks out that something is wrong.

“Jide, is there more you want to tell me?”

“Mmm?” I reply distractedly.

“I hope it’s not this Tarela’s something that is making you look miserable like this o.”

I look at Mary. “Ezinne is alive.”

She pulls her head back in reaction to my words. I take my time to narrate the details of my encounter with Ezinne. And unsurprisingly, Mary, just like my friends, thinks I’m out of my mind. She even develops this interesting theory as she eyes the dolls suspiciously.

“What if the jazz is already working?” she submits squeakily.

“What?”

“What if the jazz is here to mess with your head and it’s working? Tarela was here on Tuesday, right? And then you saw Ezinne the very next day. What if you didn’t really see Ezinne? And the job of this thing is to just mess up your life and…”

“I SAW EZINNE!” I thunder.

“Okay, okay, okay. Calm down, Jide. Just…calm down…”

“Leave.”

I don’t care to see Mary’s expression. I know if I look I’ll see shock and hurt but I don’t care. I just want her out of my house.

“Jide?” she calls.

“Mary, please leave. If you think I’ve lost my mind or I’m messed up as you said and these two stupid things here are responsible, then I don’t think I can stand you right now. Leave, please.”

“Jide, you’re hurting yourself. Please, stop it. For the sake of your mom, please stop.”

“I’m fine and my mom is fine. The only hurt here is that the people I trust think I’m psychotic. Good. Fine. I am. So you people should just let me be. If you can’t help unravel the mystery of why somebody who is supposed to be dead is alive, then get the fuck out!”

Mary picks her handbag. “I’ll be praying for you.”

“Thank you. Go.”

I hear her footsteps over my floor, loud, in rhythm with my labored breath. The door closes and in rage, I kick the voodoo box to the floor. It knocks over the half glass of water Mary has left and that one also comes crashing in pieces. When the noise dies down, I hear my phone ringing. I pull it out of my pocket. It’s Honey calling. I toss the phone aside and lie back on the couch. The only person I want to hear from is Ezinne. I need answers from her or I’ll go mad for real.

Chilling-on-couch

©Sally@moskedpages

Image Credits: writechangegrow.comkristinandcory.com