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It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #15

Here’s an announcement to new readers!

It’s Another Novociane Saturday is a combination of two separate stories. One of them voted as the best series on Moskedapages by my fans. You would enjoy this sequel better if you start the stories from the beginning.

Catch up with It’s Another Saturday here 

&

Novocaine Knights here

God bless you!

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Honey’s call meets me in the middle of a birth. My colleague holds my phone to my ear while I’m severing an umbilical cord. Honey wants to know if I can do dinner at theirs. I reply that I’m up to it. She tells me to wear a nice dress. There would be guests. Okay, I reply, thinking about the little red dress I bought off a colleague last week just to butter up to her and her gang of bitchy nurses. They still hate me for being close to Jide.

Honey hangs up, I go back to my patient. Hours pass, darkness comes and I am still at work. I have totally forgotten that I have to do dinner at the Onuoras. Honey calls again. This time my hand holds the phone. The first thing I say to her is “shit!”

“You totally forgot.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Please hurry over. Our guests just arrived.”

After she’s off the line, I dash out of the hospital like the mad woman I am. I don’t even have time to change from my scrubs. Thank God it’s a Sunday or I would have encountered some bad traffic on the way.

I smell my armpits. Not so fresh. I have been at the hospital since last night and haven’t had time for a shower today. I wonder if I can dash home, do a quick one, change and meet up on time.

I hiss, suddenly annoyed for agreeing to the dinner. Knowing how tired I am, I should have declined Honey’s invitation. But you see the thing about Honey is that she is so sweet that you can’t say no to her. I can understand why Jide is constantly smitten. She has charm, even over the phone.

“Olodo!” My head is sticking out of a window to insult a keke driver who thinks this is a good time to try to scratch my car. “You wan die, abi?!”

The guy rains abuses on me in Yoruba as he squeezes between my car and a trailer, barely missing my side mirror. I shake my head and ask myself for the zillionth time why I made this bold move to relocate to Lagos.

I blame my mom.

“Go to Lagos,” she said. “Plenty of men there. You’ll find a husband.”

As if there is a large sea of husbands here just waiting to be fished out and married. To her – and everybody else in my family who is married, finding a life partner is as easy as breathing and yet when I ask them to give me a husband they keep bringing me trash.

My dad believes my standards are too high, and that one day I will come down to earth. But I am already at that point where I don’t need love again. Let me just marry and get everyone off my back. I know the danger in this. My friend did it and she is now stuck in an impossible situation in the name of marriage. But I know there are men out there who are mature enough to stay civil in a marriage that is not built on emotions and unnecessary romance. The problem is that such men are an endangered species. Everyone else is a dick these days.

I hiss again. To drown disturbing thoughts, I turn on the radio to Cool FM. I don’t know what is playing but it sounds nice and makes me start to bump my head. I love music. I can’t sing. I can’t dance. I don’t know who sings half of the songs on my playlist but I just love music. In fact, if I hear a song I like for the first time, I will sing along to it, chopping my mouth and shouting when I get the lyrics right – just like I’m doing right now and drawing the attention of people in a yellow, rickety bus.

Whatever. They can stare on. Who gives a rat’s ass? My house is just around the corner, anyways. I keep singing and thumping on my steering wheel until I make the turn to my street. I drive past the Onuoras’ residence on my way home. When I arrive at mine, I rush into the shower and step out five minutes later. And this is not because I am in a hurry. I have never understood why people spend forever in the bathroom. Once my body parts are thoroughly washed and rinsed, what else is there to do?

After drying my body, I slip into a thong. No time to rub any type of cream. I brush my hair up in a bun, put on minimal makeup, a pair of diamond studded earrings and matching necklace…and oh, before I forget, I douse my armpits with some deodorant.

I stare in the mirror. I look good to go. A pair of flats compliments the look and finally some spurts of my favorite Victoria’s Secret perfume.

By now Honey is calling. I choose to ignore the call. When I leave the house, I hop on a commercial bike that takes me to theirs. A feeling of relief washes over me the moment I knock on the front door. Honey is there in a flash. When she opens the door, her face lights up in an approving smile.

“Hauwa, you look dashing. Where on earth do you get your dresses from?”

We hug and I walk in.

“Well, I shop here and there,” I answer, my ears picking voices coming from the dining area. “How many people?” I whisper in her ear.

“Just three,” she answers. “Come.”

As I follow her, it occurs to me that I have no idea what this dinner is about. I shrug. I’m hungry, so whatever.

“Look who the cat dragged in,” Honey announces the moment we get to the dining area. I quickly pick out the faces of Jide, Genesis and her husband. There’s a third guy there and I have no idea who he is, although I think I recall seeing him at the appreciation party Honey dragged me to on Friday.

“Huawei,” Jide greets, calling me a name that sounds nothing like mine. I forgive him for it like the million other times I forgave him.

“Good evening,” I greet. Genesis and her husband respond but the guy doesn’t. He simply keeps his stare on me and it is rather uncomfortable. Honey makes things bumpier by placing me directly opposite him.

“Everyone, I want to introduce you to one of my closest friends,” Jide says. “She took care of me like a sister would her brother at a point in my life when I was kind of discovering myself.”

I snort. I don’t mean to but Jide is quite an idiot. Discovering himself? Who is he kidding? He was a dog on heat, and he could have easily smashed me if I gave him as much as a wayward wink. Discovering himself, my ass.

I notice everyone is watching me. Am I supposed to be saying something?

“Nice to meet you all,” I mutter.

Genesis smiles and that beautiful dimple of hers gets my eye. A fancy plate is put before me flanked by impressive stainless steel cutlery and I am asked to feel free to serve myself. There are three dishes and all of them look mouthwatering. I am at a loss on what to choose.

“Try the pasta,” the strange man facing me says. Jide had mentioned his name but I hadn’t caught it. “Everything is awesome but the pasta is a hit.”

Only I hear him speak. Jide is saying something which they are all laughing to.

“Or you could do a buffet of everything,” the guy goes on. I am forced to look at him now. On his face I find a thin, pointed nose that is just like his thin frame. His eyes are like black seeds – dark and cryptic, like the well-groomed beard that stands out from the beards of the other men at the table. These days, men are going full on their stubbles but this particular man keeps it simple, giving him a much younger look. I easily conclude that he is in his forties. There’s a certain poise and calm that come with men his age, just like Genesis’ husband who is seated beside me.

“You want me to help?” he asks.

“Sure.” I smile and watch him begin to bless my plate with pasta, a potato meal that is unfamiliar to me and some rice that is rich with vegetables and bits of beef.

“Thank you,” I smile at him.

He smiles back. My eyes settle on his lips. They seem to belong to someone else and not him. Someone more rascally.

“So Hauwa, Jide tells us you’re a midwife as well,” Genesis’ husband, whose name I just remember as Dominic, speaks. His voice is raspy.

“Yeah, we work in the same hospital,” I reply.

“So where are you from?” Genesis asks as she rests her hand on her chin.

“I’m from Gombe state.”

“You’re a Muslim?”

“No.”

“Forgive my ignorance but I just automatically assumed you were a Muslim because of the name.”

I tell her that I understand. People from the south naturally conclude that everyone who comes from the north is a Muslim especially when they bear the same type of names the Muslims bear.

“So you’re Hausa?”

I excuse her ignorance again with a patient smile. “No, I’m not.”

“Fulani?”

“No.”

“Oh. Seyi’s half-Fulani, half- Yoruba,” she informs me. I store the name in my head. Seyi. He doesn’t look like a Seyi to me. He looks more like someone who would fit in nicely at my hometown.

“You’re from Kwara state?” I ask him.

“Yeah.” I see a little surprise on his face. “How did you guess?”

“It’s obvious.”

“I think you should eat. You haven’t touched your food.”

I lower my eyes to my meal and begin eating. Everything is delicious, I say to Honey. She grins in appreciation.

“I can’t believe you only started cooking recently,” Genesis comments. “I might soon come to you for lessons.”

“Me too,” I add.

Honey is blushing. Jide is proud. Dinner goes on. There’s small talk and big talk and small talk again as we move on to dessert. Honey doesn’t let me leave the table to clear the dishes. She and Jide gladly do the job and return with chocolate cake and ice-cream.

dessert2

By its name and appearance, the taste is orgasmic. When it comes to food, especially sweet things, I am quite expressive. And it is no wonder I let out a moan at the first taste of the ice-cream. There is silence and then laughter follows. I open my eyes which have been shut and stare at everyone shyly.

“I’m so sorry but I can’t help it. This is good,” I compliment.

“Thank you,” Honey responds. Dominic mentions something about ice-creams and they fall back into conversation once more. Seyi joins them this time. For the rest of the dinner, I am ignored by him. Maybe the way I moaned over that ice-cream turned him off. I know his type – the proper gentleman who likes well-behaved women that are about decorum and comportment and all those dainty things stuck-up rich people do.

But why should I even care what he thinks about me? I don’t know anything about him, not even his surname. So, I pretend he is not there as I direct remarks to everyone else but him. Anytime Honey tries to lump us together in a comment or question, I subtly remove him from it. And in that manner the night wears on until they announce that they are ready to leave. I also make known that it’s way past my bedtime.

“You’re leaving too?” Honey links her arm in mine. I am seated in-between her and Jide.

“It’s past ten, Honey.”

“It is, isn’t it? Well, you guys, thank you for coming over,” she says, rising up, after her guests stand to their feet. Hugs and handshakes are shared. I insist that I have to leave as we all walk outside.

“Genesis, do me a favor and take Hauwa home,” Honey requests. “You do remember her house, don’t you?”

“I do. But Seyi came with his car. Maybe she can join him and she’ll give him directions?”

My stare passes from Honey to Genesis and my dumb brain finally registers that the whole dinner has been about getting Seyi and I together. Why didn’t anyone pre-inform me?

“It’ll be my pleasure to take you home, Hauwa,” Seyi states. “If it’s okay with you?”

“It’s fine.” I smile.

He leads the way to his car, and as I predict, it’s a luxurious beast of metal, manly and fitting for his person. His perfume is stimulating but not in an intrusive manner. The way it blends with the leather smell of the car’s interior reminds me of a warm night in a deluxe hotel suite in some European country during winter, where one is lost in the arms of a lover, binging on kisses and sparkling red wine.

“So, which way?”

He has just driven out of the Onuora compound. The direction to my house is on our right but I have every intention of derailing him just to soak up the posh scent of him. The man already has my weakness.

“Turn left,” I direct. The car swerves to the left and goes on a slow cruise. No intruding vehicles or unnecessary pedestrians in our way. I breathe in and get in more of Seyi who remains quiet all through the ride. This time, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. In fact, if he speaks, it will ruin the perfectness of the moment. And it’s as if he knows this. He turns on some music that sounds like a mix of soul and jazz. I don’t ask him who is singing; I just let the moment take me.

“Which way?” he asks again. We are at a junction. To connect back to my house, we can either take left or right but neither of them seem like an option I want to consider.

Just take me away already, Seyi.

“Keep driving.”

He doesn’t say a word. The only time he speaks is when a call comes in and he has to respond to it. After that, he continues on until we get to yet another junction.

“Are you sure we’re not going off your route? I thought you lived near Honey.”

“Um…you can make a U-turn now.”

He gives me a questioning frown that doesn’t last on his face. But again, he is silent. On, we drive, all the way back to my street. We finally come to my house and I ask him to stop.

“You live here?” His head is angled to have a good look at my house which bears a large, black gate and high fence. I live with just one other tenant, who is residing in the apartment upstairs.

“Yes. This is where I live.”

“Cool. So, can I walk you in, just to be sure you get in safely?”

I think of the mess that is my living room and the junk I have in my verandah which I haven’t had time to stash away in its proper place. I will not disgrace my ancestors this night.

“No, it’s fine. Thank you for the ride.”

“Do you mind if I get your number, call you tomorrow or next or maybe when I get home?”

Oh, wow. Call me tonight? Dude wants to get laid badly.

“Well…”

“If you wouldn’t mind, of course.”

I mind. I actually do. In fact, when a guy I meet for the first time asks for my number on that same day, I never pick his calls. They only want one thing from me and I stopped giving it a long time ago, hoping to find the one right man that truly deserves it. So far, no man has been worthy. I am not surprised that Seyi is no different. But curiously, I give him every single digit of my cell phone number. I get a call from him immediately while we both sit there, listening to who I don’t know is singing.

“Goodnight, Seyi.”

“Have a lovely night, Hauwa.”

The way he pronounces my name is beautiful. Not the way they all do it here, ignoring that it has a ‘U’.

I step down from the car and walk home, forcing myself not to look back. But when I make it through the gate, I find a crack between the wall and peep out to see him driving away. I continue to my front door, insert my key in and only then do I realize that I had actually forgotten to wear a bra.

Crap!

Who the hell forgets to wear a bra?!

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

“I can’t believe she left her house without a bra.”

My laughter is loud at Jide’s statement. I have seen all sorts of crazy but Hauwa tonight, with her affronting nipples, takes the cake.

“Is she always that crazy?” I ask him as I walk around our bedroom with Jiney resting on my shoulder. She is having a restless night.

“Huawa has always been like that. She’s stylish and gorgeous from afar but when you get to know her, she’s a walking disaster. She sometimes reminds me of that Susan character in Desperate Housewives.”

“You used to watch Desperate Housewives?”

“And Telemundo. When you’re with a woman for hours who is in labor, you have to do everything to entertain her.”

“And Zee World?”

“Nah! I drew the line there.”

I laugh again. Marriage is sometimes beautiful. You discover new things about your partner every day. Last week I found out that Jide eats only the hard core of pineapples and never the juicier parts. Before then, I had never noticed it. Two days ago, he discovered that I have a birthmark behind my right ear.

“So about Didi…” he says, walking towards me. My light mood dies and I exhale heavily. A short while ago, after our guests left, Jide shared with me details of the conversation he had with Oba about Didi and the auctioning of her virginity.

Weird.

And disheartening. I had high hopes for her. And I still do. I don’t intend to leave this matter as is.

“Let’s talk to her,” I suggest.

“Same thought here.”

We put Jiney to sleep.

Didi is in the living room, watching E! and having a bowl of my chocolate ice-cream.

“I took what’s left. It was little,” she tells me.

“It’s fine. I’ve had too much. My boobs will leak if I take more. Enjoy.”

“Thank you.”

We watch TV with her for a while and then I tell her we want to have a talk. She doesn’t object. Jide speaks, asking her is she registered online to have her virginity auctioned. She darts her eyes around before admitting that she had plans to give herself to the highest bidder. But only for fun.

“I was curious. I just wanted to know if it was for real. I promise you, nothing to it.” She says this, giggling and bouncing her chubby body on the sofa.

“You’re sure it was just for the kicks?” Jide probes.

“Ha-ahn, Uncle Jide, I’m not that stupid.”

“But what if one day, this gets exposed online?” I ask. “What will you do? It’s the same thing as prostitution. You are selling your body.”

“I was only kidding, Aunty Honey. I didn’t mean anything by it. If I did, I wouldn’t have done it with Oba’s knowledge. Think about it.”

I do. I think about it and maybe, she is telling the truth. The set jawline of my husband’s face, however, believes differently.

“Well, it’s a good thing you were just goofing around,” he states. “We can’t imagine you doing something so utterly stupid. Popsi would be highly disappointed if he hears about this.”

“I know, and I’m sorry. I didn’t think it through.”

“Please ask them to delete your account from their database.”

“I will. Thank you.”

“Goodnight.”

Jide walks back to our bedroom while I decide to stop at Yazmin’s. But when I get to her door, I change my mind. I should let her sleep. It’s late, anyway. I join Jide in bed, ready to make love, but he is as tired as I am. We spoon, say a prayer and fall asleep.

When morning comes, I am awoken by the sensation of being filled. I open my eyes and see him on top of me. I respond with an agreeable sigh as my walls slowly stretch to accommodate him. He goes in hard and deep. My body quivers as he begins to grind his body into mine. His movements are fluid and measured, and it’s sweetly torturous. But it’s the sweetest things that don’t last long. Jide soon lets go, just at the moment when I feel like I’m about to have an orgasm.

“Noooo!” I cry, slapping his arms for being a sloppy one-minute man this morning.

“I’m sorry,” he splutters in laughter.

“So not fair.”

He lowers and gives me kisses all over my face until I forgive him. He then tells me the sweetest things every wife should hear each morning.

“I’ll make it up to you, sugams. I promise. Right now, I have to rush to work.”

“Me too. But just one more…” I beg. I can feel him already growing hard again.

He shakes his head. “Not now.”

Wicked man. I push him away. When he leaves to the bathroom, I throw a bathrobe on and go to Yazmin’s bedroom. I knock on the door. She doesn’t respond. I knock again and wait. Still no response. I turn the key and walk in.

The room is empty. The bed is made, blanket folded, floor spotless. But Yazmin is gone.

“Yaz?” I push the bathroom door in. She is not there. I leave the room back to mine and pick up my phone to call her. The line rings on the other end. She answers.

“Yaz, where are you?” I ask like a worried mother.

“Honey…” She sighs. “I’m on my way to Abuja.”

“Abuja? To do what there?”

“I have a plane to catch to Texas. I’m going home, Honey.”

My eyes fill with tears. I slowly sit on the bed and listen to her cry on the phone. It’s depressing.

“Are you coming back?”

“I don’t know. He doesn’t love me, Hon. He never did.”

My face is soaking wet now. “And the baby? What will you do?”

“I’m keeping it.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Honey, I gotta go. I have to check in.”

“Okay. Will you call me when you get to Abuja?”

“Yes.”

“I love you, Yaz.”

She is mute. I know she’s still crying.

“Give a big kiss to Tobe for me.”

“I will.”

She hangs up. I rub my palms over my cheeks to dry my tears. What a sad way to start the day. I so hate Emeka right now and I have to let him know how much. I scroll through my contact list and tap on his name. The line begins to ring.

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

I am happy today. After one week of being miserable and talking to a therapist, I wake up on the sunny side this morning. Maybe it’s because my husband is lying beside me and we’re back to our old selves, all fight gone, and a resolution reached on how to handle our marital situation with Yazmin.

Last night, Emeka and I had a talk we had both been avoiding for over a year. After he showed up at Mary’s place drunk and calling me Nicole, I gave him a nasty slap, a cold shower and some time to cool off. Afterwards, we spoke and he was open about his feelings for Yazmin.

“I love her, Tola. Maybe not the same way I love you. You’re my best friend but I have deep feelings for Yaz.”

“How deep?”

“I’m finding it hard to let her go. She means that much to me.”

My heart broke a million times hearing him say that but since he was only being honest, I took the revelation in bravely.

“But I will let her go if you just say the word, Tols. I can’t lose you for anything.”

“I don’t want you to let her go. Yazmin loves you, Mex, and she’s human and has a heart that you keep on breaking. Asides that, what will you do with Tobe if you ask her to leave?”

He was quiet. We were sitting out in the dark, just outside Mary’s kitchen. There was a table before us with dinner we both hadn’t touched.

“But this triangle isn’t working, Omotola.”

“It isn’t working because you keep treating Yazmin less than she deserves. Mex, I’m not in competition with her. I’m holding my place in your life. She should feel secure in hers. If she doesn’t, it’s your fault.”

“Can I love you both equally?”

“No one is asking you to. But neither of us should know how you feel about the other. Just make her happy. Is it that hard?”

“No. I’ve just been intentionally indifferent.”

“Please, go and make up with her because we’re all in this together. If one side hurts, the whole body hurts.”

“You’re okay with me spending quality time with her?”

“Haven’t we been doing this already, Mex? And it was going smoothly until you screwed it up. Me, I have a hospital to run and very little time to perform any wifely duties. You and Yaz have all the time in the world. Just make sure you’re not exhausted when I want you.”

I could see relief on his face. Dude was actually scared to have this talk. I had avoided it too but my therapist suggested it and I’m glad I listened to her.

He left his chair and came over to mine. Leaning over from behind, he rubbed my belly and was lucky enough to feel the baby kick.

“Please, eat. I made the food just for you,” I told him. He kissed me. It was a beautiful night that stretched into this beautiful morning.

tols2

And now, while he still sleeps, I leave the bed for my daily exercise. I’m a fit mama. I work out every dawn and dusk. Add that to eating the right meals and staying off anything fatty. I intend to have a healthy baby so that the pain of losing Majekodunmi is totally forgotten. Sometimes I remember him and cry. I wish I hadn’t held his underdeveloped body after I birthed him. The image still haunts me. To know that he was part of me and lived in me and yet died in me is not something I can put in words. I used to be an advocate for abortion until Jide handed me his lifeless, little form, wrapped in a blanket on which friends and family wrote out heartfelt messages. It had been hard for me to lay him to rest. I mourned him for a long time without anyone knowing. It was at that time I sought God and begged him to bring him back to me if he still loved me despite all my sins. God answered my prayers, and today I’m carrying another boy. His name is Akintunde, meaning the warrior has come again. It’s also my late father’s name who was born under similar circumstances.

Nobody knows how much this baby means to me and that is why I won’t let anyone, not even Emeka, give me negative aura during this pregnancy.

I pick out the sound of Emeka’s phone ringing. He is still asleep and doesn’t hear it. I go for it and see that it’s Honey calling. I pick the call; before I can say a word, she goes into a tirade, calling Emeka out for being unfeeling towards Yazmin. I tap Emeka awake. He opens an eye and I put Honey on speakerphone.

“You better not let her leave the shores of Nigeria or you’ll lose her!” Honey warns. “Just go and bring her back, abeg!”

“Honey?” Emeka is confused. Still sleepy. “What’s going on?”

“Yazmin is on her way to Abuja. She’s leaving you. Go and bring her back. She’s at the airport. She’s hurting deeply, Mex. Please, go and bring her.”

“Shit.” Emeka springs up. “Honey, let me call you back.”

He ends the call and immediately dials Yazmin’s number. It rings and stops without her answering. Emeka doesn’t wait. He picks his t-shirt, my car key and his phone. I get a kiss before he leaves. I go back to my exercise, mulling over the whole thing. My youngest sister who is in the States is a hardcore feminist and is not talking to me right now because she feels I am being oppressed over my decision to stay married to a man who has another wife. I told her, during our last conversation, that I was okay with the status quo.

“Polygamy is patriarchal and it is all about oppressing women!” she had shouted. “Will your husband allow you have another husband if the tables were turned?!”

“I have no intention of having another husband.”

“What if you fall in love with another man? Will Emeka let you marry him or have sex with him?”

Her question hit me hard. But the truth was that I was capable of being physical without putting my emotions to it. That was why it was easy to sleep with Jide. Emeka, however, is not that type of person. That is how I know that he loves Yazmin. And it is something I have come to accept. As for how he is able to love two people at the same time, I discovered human beings are capable of doing so, when as a teenager, I found out that my mom was having an emotional affair with our pastor.

My parting word to my sister was that human relationships were complex and Emeka and I were doing fine with our arrangement. Her response to me was, “You’re oppressed, and I am ashamed that you’re my elder sister. Don’t ever call me unless you divorce his ass!”

We haven’t spoken to each other since. I don’t care.

I leave the room to the kitchen for breakfast and to also tell Mary that I have long overstayed my welcome and I’m ready to leave.

I find her and Ekene in the kitchen. They are having a huge fight. I give them some privacy but stay within eye and earshot. Their fight has to do with Ekene’s insistence on not wanting to have a child at this time and Mary doing everything to get pregnant. Unkind words are thrown from both sides. Mary can’t stand the heat and so she leaves the kitchen. Ekene takes a chair. He fiddles with his phone for a while, thumbing over the screen, putting it down, lifting it up and repeating the process a few times. When he stops, he slants his head in my direction.

“Mrs. Onuora, you can come out now.”

Embarrassed, I step away from the darkness and stroll towards him.

“Guess you heard everything.”

“Just a little.”

He stands up. He is all dressed to leave the house. His light blue on dark blue attire, complemented by a dark brown tie and matching shoes remind me of how much of the outside world I have missed. I can’t wait to go back to work.

“Breakfast?” he offers.

“No, I’m good. I’ll do it myself.”

“You’re my guest. Please, sit.” He rolls up his sleeves. “Oats? Pap? Rice pudding? Madam made moi-moi.”

“Oats, please.”

Ekene puts a pot on fire and pours some oat into it, according to my specifications. He adds water and returns to me.

“Can you help me talk to your friend?”

“What’s going on?”

He takes his seat. “Before we got married, I had badly wanted a baby, just to make my mom happy. But she died and Tomiwa and I sat down and decided we would wait two years before we start planning for one. However, three months in, she begins to tell me that she wants to take out her IUD. She wants a baby. I get angry because this is not what we agreed. I scold her, she apologizes and doesn’t bring up the topic for a while but just last month, I stumble across a pregnancy kit she had discarded outside. I ask her about it and she confesses that she had the IUD taken out. I am mad at her. We have a fight and don’t talk to each other for days. Later on, she comes to me and apologizes and tells me how badly she wants a child. But I still don’t want one. Tola, a child changes everything. It changes us, and I’m in this amazing stage with her right now where I’m deeply falling for her.

“You know how our marriage went. It wasn’t really about love. We were both ready and desperate to be married and we did it. Soon after, I really started to fall in love. But all Tomiwa wants from me is a baby. Do you know how that hurts, Tola?”

I nod.

“I feel like your friend may never really fall for me.”

“Don’t say that. These things take time for some people.”

“I’m crazy about Mary. You guys have no idea.”

“So if you love her that much, give her what she wants.”

“So that she’ll push me away? No, thanks. I know how fathers are quickly replaced by their babies. Especially with first time moms. But that’s not what bothers me. I’m afraid that Tomiwa is simply living out a blueprint of how she feels her life ought to go. Find a man, get married and have kids. I don’t think I fit into her grand plan.”

I tell him I think otherwise. Mary doesn’t always talk about him but her feelings are strong. She doesn’t seem like the expressive type.

“She needs time, Kene. And maybe…just maybe a baby will bring you guys together.”

“I doubt that it would.”

He stands up to check my oatmeal. Like Tomiwa, Ekene is stubborn.

∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞  ∞∞∞∞

My activities for the day:

>Fight with a bus conductor over fifty naira.

>Insult a man’s entire generation on an ATM line when he tries to jump in front of me from nowhere.

>Get to work and generally ignore everybody. When they try to talk to me, snap at them.

>Get scolded by Wura for my nastiness.

>Enter the bathroom to have a good cry.

>Come back to the office go on Facebook to troll and give all my haters a piece of my mind.

>Return to the bathroom to have another weepy moment when one of them calls me a fat pig and adds a meme to it.

>Sit outside the office in rebellion and decide to do nothing until closing hours.

>Pick up my phone and finally dial the person who is responsible for my anger.

“Can you come over to see me at home?”

“Jide’s place or…?”

“No, the Ditorusin mansion.”

“Okay. I’ll be there in a bit.”

I hear him saying something else but I cut the line. I walk back into the office, pick my handbag and close for the day. I avoid the irritating buses I find outside the building for the sake of world peace. I have decided to use an Uber instead. As I wait for one, I rehearse the words I would tell my dumbass younger brother who feels like he has a say in my life and what happens to my vagina. He is so dead today.

My phone rings. I look up and see my Uber waiting. I hurry towards it. When I get in, I go back on Facebook to finish what I started. I can’t overemphasize how angry I am.

I cuss.

The Uber driver, like the million others out there, doesn’t even as much as blink an eye. I keep cussing and hissing until I arrive home. I enter my room and find stupid Oba waiting.

oba

I’ve always considered him the cutest amongst my brothers. It’s about the swag. He reminds me of DJ Kasbi who for reasons known to him abandoned me when the chemistry between us was peaking. I’ll still take him with open arms if he finds his way back to me. He can gladly pop my cherry for no fee at all.

And why on earth do my moralistic brothers find the idea of me auctioning my virginity such a disgusting thing? The average dumb girl will give it freely to a lost soul who would break her heart. If she can make a lot of cash from it, why not?

“Hey, Di,” Oba greets. I ignore him as I loosen the knot that holds my hair and take off my jacket.

“You won’t talk to me?”

I flash angry eyes at him. He stares back like an innocent child.

“Get off my bed!” I hit him with my jacket.

He stands. My hand knocks off his cap.

“I told you something in confidence, Obasi. Only you! I even remember telling you not to tell anybody! But you go and run your mouth to Jide and his wife because you feel you have a say over my sex life!”

“No, Di…”

“I have not finished talking! Shut up!”

“Please, don’t shout.”

“I can shout as much as I want, Obasi because you’re a Judas! I trusted you with my secret but you betrayed me!”

“Didi, calm down.” He comes towards me. I move back, repulsed by him. “Please, listen to me…”

I don’t know how it happens but I respond to an instant, thoughtless urge to slap him. My palm meets his face and I feel the sting, even more than he does. There is a fleeting moment of silence between us and then he charges at me, grabs the hand that has hit him, swivel me around like I’m some doll and slams me to the wall.

“If you ever try the nonsense you just did, Ndidi, I will beat you without giving a fuck that you’re a girl.”

“Obasi! Have you gone mad?! Let me go!”

“I’ve endured enough of your nonsense – you ordering me around, using me as a driver, spending my money anyhow and on top of that, having the guts to slap me. If you try it again, you’ll regret what I’ll do to you.”

I am shocked. Oba again? My own baby brother manhandling me? Is this spoilt brat out of his mind or what?

I push back. “Leave me alone, Obasi!”

“Apologize.”

“Apologize? Oba, what has gotten into you?”

“Apologize or I’ll not let you go.”

“Hian!”

I can’t believe this. Somebody tell me this boy is joking.

“Oba, let me go!”

“Apologize. It’s simple,” he says into my ear. “Say, ‘I am sorry for how I’ve been treating you.”

I feel hot, painful tears baking my eyes. This boy has gone loco.

“I’m waiting.”

I hesitate for a long time but when I see that he is not budging, I give in.

“I’m sorry,” I murmur, just to get him off my back – literally.

He releases me. I turn around and slap him again. This assault packs more punch than the first. Oba takes the same hand, pins it above my head on the wall and pushes my back to it. I open my mouth to speak and he covers it with his.

Revulsion hits me as I use all my strength to push him away.

“You did not just kiss me, Oba!” I scream. “What is wrong with you?!”

We are both heaving as we glare at each other. I’m reeling over what just happened.

“I am your sister, Obasi!”

“You’re not my sister,” he replies before I can finish speaking.

“What is wrong with you?!”

“You are not my sister, Didi! Your mother is not my mother! Your father is not my father! They both lied to you! We, all of us, lied to you!”

I keep breathing like an ox that has just been chased around by a pride of lion. I refuse to believe what I just heard.

“My dad had an affair with your mom in 1995. You were already born then. There was no way he could have been your father.”

“But…”

“They lied to you, Didi. Your real father is probably alive somewhere.”

“No,” I croak.

“Yes, Didi.”

“No. I’m going to call Jide and ask.”

Oba doesn’t stop me, and the fact that he doesn’t, scares me. I reach for my phone and call Jide. He answers immediately.

“Hi, Ndidi.”

I bite my lips before I speak. A sniffle escapes.

“Uncle Jide?”

“Didi, are you okay?”

“No, Uncle Jide.”

“What’s going on? Talk to me.”

I pause. Jide is the sweetest brother on earth. How can he not be related to me?

“Oba… Oba just told me that daddy is not my biological father. Is it true?”

Jide is silent.

“Uncle Jide?” my voice breaks.

“Where is that Oba that told you that nonsense?”

“Is it true, Uncle Jide? Please, tell me.”

“Didi, when you come home, we’ll talk about it. Please, pass the phone to Oba if he’s there.”

I give Oba my phone. He taps the speaker button.

“Obasi,” Jide calls. “Leave where you are to a quiet place so I can insult you right now.”

Oba doesn’t leave. Jide goes ahead with the promised insult but he serves it in Yoruba. I don’t catch a thing he says; however, his reaction to what I told him only confirms what Oba revealed to me. I fall on my bed, my back hitting it hard. As I look up at the ceiling, I begin to cry. My mom, the only person I loved and trusted, lied to me. The man whom I thought was my dad lied to me. My real father must be some scum of the earth, living a terrible life somewhere. What did I do to deserve this, Lord Jesus?

I cover my face with a pillow, praying it chokes me to death. Oba lets me cry for some time but soon I feel him climbing the bed. He kneels astride me and forces the pillow off my face.

“Please, stop crying, Di.”

His voice is gentle, nothing like the Oba who was just rough with me. But his gentleness can’t take away my pain. When his palm tenderly wipes my tears, he finds it a waste of time as his efforts only make me cry more. He keeps begging me to stop but I can’t. The pain is overwhelming. He gives up and lies beside me.

“There’s a silver lining in all of this, though,” he says.

“What silver lining?” I snivel.

“I can make moves on you now that you know we’re not related. We can actually have a thing.”

I lose what little sanity I have left as I let out a miserable wail. This is so not happening to me.

“I hate you, Oba!”

He cackles.

©Sally@moskedapages

Images: FoodbeastWe Heart It, Angela Simmons

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #1

Morning!

I’ve missed being here a great deal and I’m glad to be back. I was ready to resume last week but something happened and I had to postpone. I am good, but the devil wants to stop me from writing. I’ve had a wrist injury for sometime now and just two days ago, I discovered my other arm was swelling above the elbow. Please pray for me that this mumu satan will leave me the heck alone.

PLEASE READ!!!

Now, concerning The Fourth Finger, I didn’t tell you guys I will be returning with it this June. Hian! I was surprised at seeing your messages, I had to go back and check the posts in which I mentioned when I would have the book ready. And I didn’t say I will make it blog posts either. I only mentioned that I would return with It’s Another Saturday and Novocaine Knights. So, I don’t know where you people got your info from o. Please feel free to quote me and I’ll apologize. Lol.

But the book comes out next month, so stay tuned.

For this one, I didn’t want to call it It’s Another Novocaine Saturday but seems like the name fits, so let it be so.

Lastly, if you haven’t been receiving newsletters, it’s because I disabled the plugin. I have over eight hundred subscriptions in the Mailpoet service alone and yet the click rate is about 10%, meaning people don’t open the emails. And what’s sad is that some people will unsubscribe and they’ll click on the option that I’m spamming their emails when they registered on their own. Hence, my account was flagged and I was told to go pro and start paying. But why pay when the response rate is low? I had to shut it down. My apologies.

Anyways, enough of the long tori. Here’s It’s Another Novocaine Saturday. If you haven’t read It’s Another Saturday and Novocaine Knights, then you need to catch up HERE and HERE.

Enjoy!

Jide

It’s another Saturday…and we are the proud parents of Jiney Fumnanya Onuora. She comes to us on a cold night, exactly a week before she is due. I drive home from work after long hours of doing nothing in my office, battling with the cold that seeps into my bones like a bachelor who has been lacking the warmth of the finer sex for a long time. I stop on the way to buy roasted corn mostly because I am hungry but also, I need the heat. I had discovered a long time ago from numerous visits to movie theaters that chewing when cold keeps one warm.

I let down my window and my mouth waters at the sight of roasting cobs of corn. A man is selling them. A regular customer who grumbles about life a lot. All I ask him is how things are going with business and he launches into this long talk of how much the sack of corn he bought cost him.

“Eight thousand naira!” he exclaims, fanning the flame beneath his merchandise with a plastic fan. “And yet they gave me unripe maize!”

I feel sorry for him but it stops there. I’m not interested in his story. Everybody complains about the economy these days. It’s depressing. I’ve been affected by the crunch as well, having just made a down payment for the present house Honey and I live in, a colorful four-bedroom flat with a large compound, two mango trees and a small lawn in the backyard that threatens to turn into a swamp. Honey and I love it, anyways. Kalu had bought the house from some politician years ago but recently decided to put it up in the market after renovation.

“You should buy it, Jide,” he said to me. “You’re big enough to own your house.”

I had looked at my brother who was the business mogul amongst us and was probably richer than my dad, and asked how much the house cost. He replied with a sinister laugh when he called out the price. Adding ‘only’ to the figure as he said it slowly, knowing well that I could not buy it all at once. Take away the religious side of Kalu and you have a pompous, black ass that always subtly makes his younger brothers feel they’re not worthy to fill his shoes.

Well, in keeping to my own male pride, I tell him I am interested in the house. We haggle over the price and settle for a payment plan that will span over five years. We shake hands. A month later, I drag Honey out of bed early in the morning, blindfold her and bring her to the house. She falls in love instantly, dancing through the rooms with her bulge and filling her head with decor ideas. Over the course of two months, we fix the place and move in just as Honey gets into her ninth month. We don’t mind the quietness of the empty rooms. Our sanctuary is our bedroom and once we’re in it, the world outside ceases to exist.

I buy my corn, two cobs of what I have been told is soft. I ask him to give me ube worth a hundred bucks and the guy packages two miserly things and starts to tell me about how the price has gone up.

“Make it two hundred.”

He adds three more and lets me know he is doing it for the sake of my beautiful wife and unborn kid. I show appreciation that is not from my heart and head home. When I get in, Honey takes all the ube, leaving me with only one, and feasts on the softest corn.

For a moment, I am annoyed. This is a woman that gives me hell daily just because I knocked her up, demands the most ridiculous things at the oddest times and now, she’s eating the hot, juicy corn I bought to keep me warm from the never-ending cold spell she abandoned me to just because ‘sex is too disgusting’!

“Honey?” I call, after watching her attack my night snack like a piranha.

“What?” She throws her hands open. She is about to act oblivious to my pain, and as much as I want to let her feel my anger, I let it slide. A plastic chair before my reading table welcomes me into its stiffness as if to say, “bro, I feel your pain.”

I sit and begrudgingly begin to eat my one miserable ube and hard corn. The man deceived me about its softness. I wonder why I never learn. As I eat, I am forced to watch something on the History channel. Honey has a weird taste in television programs. I wonder what’s so intriguing about Egyptian pyramids and sphinxes at this time of the evening.

I endure the moment that seems like it will never end but only turns out to be less than thirty minutes.

“Can I watch something else now?”

“Sure, hotstuff.”

She flings the remote control at me and resumes the activity she was engaged in before I came in – picking leaves off waterleaf stalks for the afang soup she plans to make the next morning. The soup is her third trimester craving. After watching Mary prepare it once, she learned to do it herself and now falls into the habit of preparing it twice a week.

She sits on our bed, propped up on a stack of pillows, legs spread apart and the bowl of waterleaves before her. She is telling me about Yazmin being suspicious of Emeka seeing another girl. There are messages, according to Yazmin. I shake my head, no. Emeka is not cheating on his wives. Honey thinks so too. She feels Yazmin is just being insecure because Emeka spends more time with Tola who recently announced that she was pregnant.

Honey stretches out her feet and twists a little to the right. I look at her and smile, my initial anger at her unable to fight off my affection. Exhaustion claims her pregnant frame. She is burdened by that restlessness pregnant women are known to have towards the end of their term when they begin to feel they have carried their babies for nine years. Honey complains every day and I am now quite used to her whines. I always tell her to enjoy it because a time will come when she will miss it.

“Miss being pregnant?” she would reply. “Can’t you see how ugly and fat I am?”

She is neither ugly nor fat. In fact, the pregnancy has been good on her, even in this final stage. She is undoubtedly the most beautiful expectant mother I have seen. And my fans seem to agree. On my blog, monthly, I give updates on how the pregnancy progresses. Everyone is expectant as we are. Friends and family give more than the support we need. There is already a couples’ fight amongst our friends over who would be Jiney’s godparents but because none of them are catholic, we are considering asking the Ditorusins to do the honors. Honey and I have become quite close to them over the past seven months. Despite the age and status difference between Dominic Ditorusin and I, he considers me someone he can count on.

Genesis and Honey feel like they share some things in common, especially their history of being treated unfairly by family. They also like to sit over lunch and talk about the different countries they have visited. Genesis seems to be the one more invested in the friendship. Maybe it is because she is too way up the ladder of success to have any true friends. She desires to be let into the circle of my friends’ wives but Celia and the gang gave her the silent treatment on their first meet and she has since withdrawn. I believe they are intimidated by her wealth and refinement. They fail to see that she is a simple woman. Sometimes too down to earth, one would think she is pretending.

“Oh Lord,” Honey mumbles under a yawn, “I am so tired.”

“Then abandon the vegetables.”

“I’m almost through.” She yawns again, stretching out her arms. I do not listen to her. I walk to the bed and take the vegetables away to the kitchen. When I return to the bedroom I find a look of confusion on her face.

“What’s wrong?”

“I feel wet between my legs,” she tells me. “Like I’m peeing on myself.”

“Are you?”

“No, I’m not.” Her confusion switches to panic. “What if I’m bleeding, Jide? It just keeps coming out like water.”

“Then maybe it’s water. There’s only one way to find out. Lie down.”

“I’m scared.”

“Do you feel any pain?”

“No.”

“Just lie down.”

She obeys me and from quick observation I can tell that her water has broken. I get a pair of latex gloves to investigate further. Interestingly, she is 5cm dilated. I pull out my fingers and look at her panicked face curiously.

“What’s wrong, hotstuff?”

“Nothing, sugams.” I smile. “The baby is on the way.”

“What?”

“Get up. Let’s get you to the hospital.”

I help her up, change her clothes and just when we’re about to leave, she touches me. I look at her. She has a familiar wild look in her eyes.

“What’s that look, sugar lips?”

“Let’s do it here.”

For a second, I’m thinking she’s telling me that we should make love. But I look deeper into the eyes of the woman I have grown to understand over the course of seven months and realize she is telling me she wants to have the baby at home and not in the special birthing unit the hospital has prepared for her.

“Are you pulling my legs?”

She shakes her head, smiling wildly. “Jide, we have this new, beautiful house, everything we need to birth the baby and no noise. Think about it. No noise. If we go to the hospital, we have to deal with all your colleagues who will want in on the action. Not to talk of friends and family. But this is just us, hotstuff. You, me and Jiney. It’s a story you’ll always love to tell.”

She makes a compelling point but she’s wrong on one thing. I do not have everything I need to bring my first child into the world. I take Honey’s hands in mine.

“Are you feeling any pain yet?”

“Just a little. Nothing major.”

“Good. Let me dash off to the hospital…”

“No, no, no, no, no. Don’t leave me, Jide.” She clutches my arm.

“Hey, I’m just dashing off to pick a few things…”

“You’re the one who always says a baby can be born anywhere. All I need is to push and for you to catch her. Let’s just do it now. Please, don’t go.”

I laugh. “There’s no traffic. Nothing will delay me. I promise, I’ll be back in thirty minutes.”

“No.”

“I promise.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“Okay, okay.” She pulls me closer. “Kiss?”

I kiss her, lingering. I’m excited as she is but I don’t show it.

“Thirty minutes,” she reminds me.

“Thirty,” I repeat, running out.

Now, here’s where you think something goes wrong, like I get stuck in traffic or like the police arrest me because they’re so stupid or like Honey goes into quick labor or like she gets one complication or the other and the story turns gloomy.

Nope. Nothing bad happens. The twist is, I get to the hospital, pick what I need and dash back home to see Honey watching the E! channel, sitting on a towel and eating prawn crackers.

Strange?

Not really. I’ve had patients like her. One woman in particular walked into my office, told me she was in labor while chatting with her husband on Whatsapp. Before I could get her a bed in the maternity ward, her baby was already bearing down. She gave birth less than five minutes later without breaking two sweats.

“Hi, baby!” Honey waves at me and I hurry towards her.

“Get up. Your water has broken. You can’t be sitting on a towel like that. You can risk infection.”

“Oh?”

I help her up. “Let’s go to the room.”

“Don’t think I’m not feeling pain. I am. I’m just not shouting.”

“On a scale of one to ten…”

“Ten being the highest, I’d say the pain is seven.”

I stop and stare at her. She has a high threshold for pain but this is becoming strange.

“You’re sure it’s a seven?”

She nods. I don’t believe her until I check her cervix again and realize that she has progressed fast. The baby will arrive sooner than I imagine. I say nothing to her as I clear the bed and make sure everything is set for Jiney’s birth. To Honey, it’s all fun and games. She resumes watching the E! channel while I sit beside her and record her contractions. It doesn’t take long for them to become intense and for her to begin to feel real pain. Things escalate speedily in such a short while that I hardly have time to put my thoughts together. One minute she’s laughing at something someone said on TV; the next minute she’s screaming in agony; the minute after that, I’m asking her to push.

Jiney comes into this world at exactly eleven minutes to eleven pm. At the first sight of her, with her little arms thrust out, fingers clutching the air, face with an expression of what-the-fuck, my eyes moisten up. When I place her on Honey’s chest, she lets out her first scream and Honey joins her in a sob.

What follows after is a blur of happiness to me. I only come to my wits after both mother and baby are clean and comfortable. I lie beside them and take a selfie. The funniest thing happens when three of us fall asleep with the cannon camera I had kept on my reading table recording the priceless moment. To me, this is the definition of marriage and family. Last year, Honey and I walked into a lifetime contract as novices. We didn’t have a script and we just sort of took each day as it came, so I’m not surprised that Jiney’s arrival is much the same way.

At about half-past three, Jiney wakes up with a cry and parenting begins.

“Is her diaper soaked or is she hungry?” Honey asks, staring at her.

“She’s fine,” I assure Honey. “She just needs to be in her bed.”

“I want to feed her. I want to know what it feels like.”

I oblige the new mom. She sits in a special nursing chair that has a matching stool on which she can place her feet. I guide her on the process of breastfeeding. It doesn’t go smoothly and I don’t expect it to. Besides, Jiney is not hungry. We place her in her cot and stand over it, watching her until she goes back to sleep.

“She’s so pretty. Boys are going to swoon,” I say.

“Like crazy. She has my lips.”

“No, I have your lips.”

I pull Honey close for a kiss. “Finally, the sex ban will be lifted. I can’t believe you starved me throughout.”

“Sex irritated me. Even people kissing on TV had a smell that always made me nauseous.”

“Come on, let’s get to bed.”

I turn off the Cannon camera, we slip beneath the sheets and excitedly go through the amazing moment we just partook in. We had planned for an elaborate birth experience with family and friends present, video coverage and all of the pageantry one would expect from us. But in the end, I think we both wanted it to be about us and our child.  Before we drift into sleep, I go on Instagram and put up the photo we took earlier, captioning it:

When you’re both the father and the midwife. Our little princess is here! Unto us Jiney is born.

#Jiney #ProudParents #ChildbirthWithoutFear #Homebirth #HappyFamily #Grateful.

A few smileys are added and I call it a night, switching off both our phones for the sake of sanity.

But the silence doesn’t last very long. At 6am, someone is banging on our front door. Honey clutches the blanket, poking her head out.

“Who do you think it is? Nne? Tola? Celia? Mary? Yaz? Saratu?”

“All of them.”

We giggle, not wanting to wake Jiney.

“I’ll get the door,” I say, standing up. Honey also leaves the bed but only to check on Jiney.

“Jideofor!” I hear my mother’s voice outside the moment I step out of the bedroom. “I’ll break this door o!”

I also hear another voice I can’t quite pick out. When I open the door, I find the old woman in the company of her three daughters-in-law. They all don’t look pleased with me.

“What is wrong with you, Jidenna? How dare you go and have my granddaughter without me knowing?!”

“Hi, mom.” I smile. I haven’t seen her in a while. I stretch out my hands to hug her but Tola interrupts by walking past me, into the house, calling out Honey’s name.

“Congratulations, Jideofor.” Elsie smiles calmly. Her face is still swollen with sleep.

“Thanks, Elsie.”

I move aside and let her through.

“I’m so not talking to you and Honey.” Yazmin follows her in and I’m left to face my mom’s indignation alone. She immediately dishes it to me in Igbo.

“Is it the latest style now for one’s daughter-in-law to have a baby quietly and the news is first announced on the internet?”

I laugh. “No, ma.”

“Then, what is it? What did I do bad to you and Erhinyuse that you did not call me when she went into labor? You know she is a first time mother and she needs me and her sisters by her side.”

“Mom, I’m a midwife.”

“You’re a man!” she reminds me in a tone as if to tell me that men are of a lower species to women.

“Can you just come in and see your granddaughter without all this drama, Nne?”

“I’ll never forget this.” She points at me. I take the pointed finger and kiss it.

“Enter.”

She walks in and I follow her, putting my arms around her as we walk. We enter my bedroom to find the women all surrounding Jiney. There’s cooing and ‘awwwing’. The moment my mom holds her granddaughter, she goes into prayer mode, leaving us with the job of adding ‘amen!’ at every ten seconds or so. After that, she hands her phone to Elsie, telling her to take photos of her and Jiney.

“You will put this up on that your instant something abi?” she asks me, taking a pose.

“Yes, ma.”

“And hashtag it well, biko. You can say ‘my mom already here for ‘omugwo’ things’.”

“Nne!” Elsie says good-naturedly.

“Yes o. Grandma on fleek.”

General laughter meets her humor.

“Oya snap the picture, biko.”

Elsie takes a couple of photos and the old woman christens Jiney.

“I have decided to name her Fumnanya.”

“What does it mean?” Honey asks.

“It means ‘love me’,” I reply.

“Awww. That’s such a beautiful name.”

“Now, I’m going to cry.” Tola puts her hands over her face and actually dashes off to some corner to cry. Nne instructs Elsie to go through her music playlist and pick Samsong and Chioma Jesus’ Odugwu, one of her all-time favorite gospel songs

“Mom, really?” I laugh and the ladies share my amusement. We all know what is about to go down. The moment her phone’s speakers come alive, the small woman cradles a startled Jiney who is now awake and begins to dance with her. No one dares interrupt the moment.

My mom is a worshipper. From the day I became aware of my existence as a human being, I was conscious of the fact that I had a mother who did not joke with her faith. Prayers and the bible were the foundation on which her strength rested. Underneath that was a realistic woman who believed in applying pragmatic methods when it came to life’s problems. And it has been this mixture of faith and commonsense, blind reliance on God alongside a no-bullshit way of looking at life that has made her cope with mothering four headstrong sons. She does owe all to God, looking for every occasion to worship him, and little Jiney has given her one this morning. We all watch as she dances to her heart’s content, joy on her face like she is being made a grandmother for the first time.

And she doesn’t tell me but my dad does, upon first sight of Fumnanya later on, that my little girl is my younger sister rebirthed in physical features. The one I was told that died just hours after she was born and broke Nne’s heart for months. The one we never talk about, who should have been named Fumnanya.

Watching my darling mother’s face get washed with tears and the women around me joining in the emotions, I suddenly feel clogged by all the excessive estrogen and decide to go shopping for refreshments.

The rest of the day is plagued with activity. We have guests pouring in from everywhere, and my mom in typical fashion ensures that they are well entertained. I provide the cash needed for her extravagant hospitability. By evening, Honey and I have to ask to be excused so we can take Jiney to the hospital to have her properly checked and assessed by a doctor. We leave with Nne who requests to be taken home so she can pick her omugwo bag. I tell her it’s not necessary, being that we’re in the same town. The look she gives me makes both Honey and I apologize. On our way back from the hospital, we pick her up from the family house. When we get home, we have just a couple of guests around – a neighbor whose red and constantly-blinking eyes are as much entertainment to me as his obese form that has taken most part of a two-sitter couch to consume as much refreshment as he can during his short visit, and his wife who chooses to take nothing at all but stares longingly at Jiney, yet refusing to go near or touch her. After handing us a gift of a set of pink mother and baby towels, they announce their exit.

Honey shuts the door after them and does a weird back and forth motion, telling me her center of gravity is messed up. She still feels like she’s carrying the weight of pregnancy.

I give her a surprise lift off her feet to which she responds with a shriek. We kiss all the way to our bedroom where we both collapse on our bed. The kissing stops there, both of us exhausted. Honey falls asleep first. When I am certain she won’t stir awake anytime soon, I carefully slip her push present around the middle finger of her right hand.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

Genesis starts the day by swearing. She doesn’t mean to but the F-word slips out of her mouth before she can swallow it back. Daylight is more than an hour away but she is wide awake. Her round, doll-like eyes which hold scanty lashes that appear oiled are left wide open in an unbroken stare at the bedroom door. She stares for so long that everything else becomes a grey distortion in keeping with the base color of the bedroom, and the door itself moves closer to her until it seems like she can just stretch out her hand and touch it – and if she does, she would walk through it into another life that is quite like hers but devoid of all the wealth and fame. In that other life, she would still have Dominic and their children and they would remain in this house with all the memories of the past when things were still right with their world. She wouldn’t have to think of responsibilities or have to worry that she is now a billionaire and is required to keep up with a façade that people of her echelon struggle with.

She thinks of how much she misses the simple life and how cruel and lonely it gets at the top. Nobody had warned her about this but she had learned a long time ago that going to sleep on a bed draped with linen that costs thousands of dollars does not give one a peaceful sleep. She still dreams of the same old monsters of her past and struggles with new ones, adversaries that feel she does not belong where she now is.

Genesis withdraws from the prison of her thoughts and swears again – and of course, she doesn’t mean to – as she remembers that she has a meeting to attend by 10am.

“Oh Lord…” she groans, just as the glass blind that separates the bedroom from the balcony slides open and Dominic steps in. He comes forward with a smile like one that has good tidings.

“See who just had a baby.”

He dumps his weight on the bed. It doesn’t creak beneath him like normal beds do. It takes his almost-110kg mass, dipping softly when he sits in with a raised a leg. Genesis shifts towards him to fit perfectly into his frame as he passes his phone to her. She taps on the dark phone screen and life comes to it, displaying Jide’s Instagram post.

“Awww, the baby is here,” she whispers. “So adorable. Precious little angel.”

Dominic pushes his body further into the bed, guiding Genesis along with him. She doesn’t seem to notice that she is being moved. Her concentration is lost in the Onuora family photo. Wistfulness settles in her eyes.

“It was a homebirth.” She sighs. “The simple pleasures of life.”

Still held by the photo, she doesn’t realize Dominic is giving her little doses of her own simple pleasures with downy kisses on her shoulder and a soft touch on her breast.

“Beautiful bliss. Happy family. This picture says it all.”

Something in her tone gives away her intimate thoughts and puts a stop to Dominic’s sexual advances. He looks into her face to find tears filling her eyes in a rush.

“Gen, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I’m just happy for them. They don’t have everything but they have each other and the baby. It’s a blessing.”

A solitary tear snakes down her smooth cheek and disappears to the side of her face.

“So, you have tears in your eyes because you’re happy for them? I don’t understand. Do you want another baby?”

Genesis twists her neck to bless him with a hostile stare. “Another baby? When it comes will you be here for it? Are you here for the ones you already have? When they were born were you here? I went through labor all alone while you were in Europe doing God-knows-what!”

Dominic stares at her with an expression that is devoid of surprise. Rather it carries a sigh.

“We don’t even have a picture like this!” She springs out of bed. “Or any that captures what we feel for each other and for the kids! And you know why? It’s because we don’t have that – that thing Honey and Jide have! In fact, we have nothing…but a lot of money! Money that makes me not trust anyone! Money that makes me unapproachable! Money that is driving a wedge between me and you! And I hate it! I hate all it comes with!”

Her palms assault her eyes to wipe off tears. It seems a futile effort.

“Jide comes home to Honey every night.” Genesis’ voice burns down. “They still have date nights and kiss like teenagers when they’re out in public. We lost all of that, Nick. Everything. And no, another baby can’t bring us back.”

“So, what do you want me to do, Gen? This is who I am, the man you married. You knew that before you accepted my ring. I am building a future for my children and their children. You want me to stop and take a few selfies just to show the world that I’m father and husband of the year? Is that what you want?”

His words force fresh tears down Genesis’ eyes.

He doesn’t understand. He never does.   

“You’re making the same mistakes you made with Lexus, Nick. Zach and Zoe are growing up without a father, and I’m learning to be in a marriage without a husband. I hope, when you hop on the next plane to wherever, that you enjoy how much of you we don’t get to see.”

She leaves the room to the bathroom. The door doesn’t slam at her exit but the coarse silence it brings as she stands in the emptiness of cold tiles over a marbled floor makes her feel like she had just made a big deal out of nothing. Remorse quickly takes over her mood but a voice tells her she did the right thing by letting out months of heaping sentiments and frustrations. She knows, with Dominic, there are better ways to express herself. She decides she will revisit the issue later at night after apologizing for her outburst.

She runs a foamy bath and soaks herself in. Her thoughts switch to Honey and she mentally cancels all her plans for the day as she wonders what gift would be appropriate for a newborn.

gen2

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

Being a big boy in Lagos means many things. One, you have gotten to a level where you do not only depend on yourself for your survival but you have another person or more depending on you for their survival.

Two, you would also have to own a car. Nothing basic like the Hondas, Toyotas and Kias that gun the roads looking like they all went through the hands of the same manufacturer. No, your ride has to stand out. Or would you like to be identified as John Camry or James Honda Civic?

Three, an apartment in one of the popular estates, especially on the Island, won’t be bad. The rent has to have a price tag that you can comfortably brag about in public. It is a taboo to squat with a friend or be known to still live with one’s parents.

Four, you should look the part. Clothes and shoes off pages of fashion magazines. Slay with the trends. Have your own style. Make love to designer labels. Once in a while, wear a Mai Atafo or a Caesar Couture, flaunt the look on Instagram.

kas

Five, have a social life. Mark your presence at parties thrown by other big boys. Throw a couple of your own. Make them exclusive. Invite your celebrity friends. You can’t be a big boy without being chummy with a few of them.

And lastly, don’t forget the girls. They are very important to elevating your big boy status. Pick them carefully and confuse them with cold, hard cash. Fuck them senseless, and then dump them when things are on a high. Never let them do the dumping. Do this three or four times and your name starts to go round. No one will talk about the brutal manner in which you move on to the next conquest. You will be remembered for your money and your bedroom skills. Be careful though, you may attract guys too.

The truth is, in Lagos, no one cares to know whose gutter you dug or whose dick and cunt you went down on to make your cash. As long as you have it, you’re good with the throng. Money is money. It’s the wheel that keeps the ever-spinning city of opportunity and dreams going. Much like other fast cities around the world, it does not run on anybody’s high-minded, moralistic lifestyle. It is unapologetically brutal and demanding as are its citizens.

Kasiobi thought he already had this figured out, having lived as a Lagosian for more than ten years. He now believed he had finally attained the status of big boy-ism, having worked his way through the school of hard-knocks and emerged successful and unbroken. But it takes just one girl to strip off his false impressions of himself, to leave him feeling small and cheated, almost in the same manner Lexus did when she moved on from their relationship to start something new with a guy whose sandy-white hair and blue eyes still gives him nightmares.

His new girl—Kira, they call her, short for Shakira and whose real name is something African and unpronounceable—is a runs girl, as he has just found out. Less than an hour ago, he was being treated to a deep-throat experience on her queen-sized bed of all things pink and soft, matching the overall décor of the roo; presently, he is hiding in her guest bathroom, listening to her have loud sex with a man she keeps calling ‘Mayor’.

Mayor had shown up without prior notice at her front door, and with wide, frightened eyes, she had dragged Kasiobi out of her bedroom to the guest bathroom, telling him blatantly that her blesser, the man who had bought her car and paid for her apartment had just come in from the UK and Kasiobi needed to make himself scarce until she could get him out of the way. Stumbling in anger and questions, Kasiobi was pushed out of sight and forced to listen to Mayor do the same things he had been doing to Kira for the valuable period of nine months.

Calming down somewhat, Kasiobi begins to laugh at his stupidity. How hadn’t he seen that a girl who called herself Shakira and was always between jobs had a sugar daddy? She had been too much of a dream and distraction when they first met, with a slim waist and full curves. But it had been her tattoos and carefreeness which reminded him of Lexus, that had drawn him to her and kept them together for nine months. He can safely say his feelings for her are from a place of authenticity. He worries when she falls ill. Frets when he doesn’t hear from her after two days. Spends precious money on her. Makes love to her with emotions or something similar. The only thing he hasn’t done is express any type of love for her verbally, and this is largely because he doesn’t feel like he loves her. At least, not in the way he had feelings for Lexus. It had been that expression of the famous four-letter word coming in a heartfelt utterance that caused the breakdown of their relationship in a foreign man’s land.

Lexus became distant all of a sudden and soon after asked for a break from him. It was springtime and to Kasiobi, New York didn’t look any different to him as it had done during winter. He still nursed the unending flu that had plagued him from the first day he arrived, and felt the same detachment that made him long for the putridness of Lagos. And when a week later, he found out that Lexus had moved on to someone else, he felt hate for the land called America. It gave him no dreams; instead, it took that which he had come with. It was hard to wait until summer to finish his short course in DJ Mastering, but he managed through, patching the broken pieces of his heart one day after another, and returned to Nigeria where he put his hustle on accelerate and faced his future with brutal determination.

His hard work paid off and he made something of a name for himself. A name not even slim-waisted Kira who could give blowjobs with her legs up the air could ruin. And so Kasiobi with the name no one can ruin, opens the bathroom door and walks past the scene before him without taking any of it in. He hears Mayor’s raised voice as he shuts the front door on his way out. The voice, although increasing in tempo in its own end faded with the background as Kasi went down a flight of stairs. He came out to a compound of six flats surrounded by small flowery shrubs and a floor that held interlocked bricks. Kasiobi’s vehicle, a metallic teal Jeep Renegade, is parked close to the gate. He had bought it off a friend of a friend, quite older than him, whose business was falling apart. The price was one-third of its original, a good bargain Kasi still smiles about, since the car is yet in its fresh stages.

As he sits in, his phone kicks off to a ring. Kasiobi sees that it is Genesis calling and he smiles. In so many ways, she is still his boss. He isn’t under Novocaine Knights anymore but he works with them more often than not. Once in a while, he would DJ at their club. Occasionally he stopped by at the house to see the twins, Zoe and Zach. The Ditorusins see him as family.

“Good morning, boss lady.”

“Hello, Kasiobi. How are you?”

“Great.”

Kasi let his window down, answering more questions about his wellbeing and business. He also inquires about her family. She tells him all is well.

“Kasi, I need a huge favor from you.”

“Anything, Ms. Genesis,” he says recalling how she had dumped a chunky sum of cash into his account to help kick off his career the moment he returned from the States.

“Lexus is flying in today, and she wants to give her dad a surprise. I have offered to pick her up from the airport but the thing is that my friend just had a baby and she needs me. So, please can you help me pick Lexus?”

Kasi’s face has pulled into a tight frown. Why the hell can’t Lex get a taxi home?

“You want me to pick her?”

“Yes, please. I don’t want her taking any taxis. I know you guys are no longer together but she told me you’re still friends and you communicate.”

Lies. He hadn’t spoken to Woyintonbra since the night he had asked her to dump her boyfriend and take him back and she shook her head at him, walking away.

“Yeah, we still talk.”

“So, please help me get her.”

“No problem ma. What time is the flight coming in?”

“It should be here in the next hour.”

“Fine. I’ll be there.”

“Thank you, Kasi.”

“No wahala. Anything else, madam?”

“No.”

And on that note, they both hang up. Kasi entertains mixed thoughts on going to get Lexus from the airport. He is both excited and hesitant. And curious too.

What does she look like now? What surprises will she come with? Will she be happy to see him? Will she run into his arms and kiss him like the old Lexus would?

Kasi shakes his head, turning on the car.

Lagos big boy but woman still dey show you pepper.

©Sally@moskedapages

Translation: Ube (Igbo) – Pear, the type eaten with roasted or boiled corn.

Push present -a present a father gives to the mother to mark the occasion of her giving birth to their child.

images: www.notey.com_chinesekittynoble_igwe

It’s Another Saturday…#28

Read Previous Episodes Of It’s Another Saturday

I’m So Not Sorry

I don’t let them drive with me. They are tailing my car and I’m wishing to God that I can just lead them off a cliff or lure them to some place where someone will have them abducted or something worse. I do not want them near the Onuoras.

I honk my horn at the huge gate before me as I bring the car to a stop. A smaller, pedestrian gate opens and a uniformed guard walks out to meet me. I let down my window.

“Aunty, good evening,” he greets.

“Good evening, Solo. How you dey?”

“Fine, ma. Erm…una no fit enter. No space to park inside.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“Maybe you fit give me your key make I park the car for you.”

“That would be great.”

I turn off the engine and step down. I walk to the car my siblings are sandwiched in and relay the news to the cab driver they came with.

“Is this your house, Erhinyuse?” Jessie asks as we head into the Onuora residence.

“Yes.”

We file in through the pedestrian gate. I notice that Emeka’s, Tola’s and Kalu’s cars are all parked in the compound, hence the lack of space.

“You share the house with other people?” Harry questions, his eyes scanning the environment.

“Yeah,” I reply. I lead them right to the front door and knock. Seconds pass, Jide comes to the door and opens it. Harry’s face transforms into an ugly expression. It is the only dignified way he can express shock.

“Good evening,” Jide greets. “We’ve been expecting you.”

I am dragged in with a light kiss on the lips and we both step out of the way to let them through. They walk in cautiously but nothing prepares them for the sight they find before them. The Onuoras are all waiting. Daddy, Nne, Kalu, Emeka and Oba, all of them, present.

I did not anticipate this pleasant surprise, one which is very much appreciated. I wonder if it was planned before I informed Jide about the meeting with my siblings. This can’t be a last minute setup.

“Our guests are finally here!” daddy says heartily. “Welcome! Come in, come in!”

I can see the infuriation that takes over Harry’s countenance which he masks with a smile. He hates being taken unawares.

“Good evening, sir.” He greets daddy. The others follow suit, acknowledging Nne as well. Eventually they settle into the couches offered to them.

“We feel sort of ambushed,” Harry mentions with a laugh. “Erhinyuse didn’t inform us that we would be coming here or we would have prepared. She told us she was taking us to her home.”

“This is her home,” Nne answers offhandedly.

“No, what I meant was…”

“She is part of this family. That’s what my wife is trying to say,” daddy elucidates. Harry keeps mute. “I think we should be properly introduced. Honey, can you do the honors?”

I am only too glad to show off the Onuoras to my siblings. One by one, I mention names and occupations.

“Impressive,” Harry mutters. “Our little sister learned well from us, choosing the right family for herself. It’s a pleasure to meet you all.”

The maid comes with drinks. I choose to serve them myself. When I pour drinks for Jessie, she leaves unkind eyes in mine and rejects what I offer. After I’m done serving them, I sit beside Nne.

“So, what brings you here?” daddy queries.

“Nothing of special occasion,” Harry responds. “We just wanted to see how our baby sister is doing. We haven’t heard from her since our father died and being that she was the closest to him, we were worried that she was finding it hard adjusting. We didn’t know she was being well taken care of here. It’s good to see that she is faring well.”

I feel my blood sour.

“But aren’t you in town to talk about your father’s estate with her?” Jide probes. I look at him with furrowed brows, the same way they all stare at him.

“Excuse me?” Jessie asks. She is trying to keep a plain face.

“The only reason you called Honey to see her is to talk about the estate your father owned which you turned over to the bank while he was sick and dying. Your plan right now is to bring fake documents to Honey, telling her the estate belongs to her, passed down by your father, and that it is about to be claimed by the bank unless she contributes money to save it.”

Jessie laughs. “What is this boy talking about? You sound confused, my dear.”

“You all know what I’m talking about. You plan to take everything her mother passed down to her under the guise of saving your father’s sweat and blood which he invested in that land. You will convince her that each of you is putting in a substantial amount to save the estate from the bank. Am I lying?”

I turn away from Jide and look at Jessie and also at Harry, who at the moment is finding it hard to hide his shock. Slowly they focus on Jane; she shrinks into her seat.

“But it is you, Mr. Harry, who has lost everything to the bank.” Jide goes on with so much calm, it’s scary. “Your name was one of the names listed under the Central Bank directive as owing hundreds of millions. You ran your business in debt and built houses and bought cars for your siblings with borrowed money from different banks. You have already given away your father’s estate but it was not enough to settle the massive debt you’ve acquired for more than ten years. The only way to stop them from ruining you is to rob your sister blind, knowing the moment you mention anything that has to do with your late father, she would gladly give in.”

“Lies!” Jessie laughs. “Plain lies.”

“Your sister, Jane, did the right thing, coming to me with this information,” Jide mentions. “Your wickedness has gone on long enough. It has to end.”

I feel tears leave my eyes. I try to speak but words fail me.

“Erhinyuse, Jane, you two brought us here to humiliate us?” Harry accuses in Urhobo.

“Brother, I did nothing. It is you who is trying to steal from me.”

“This was a setup between you and Jane! You brought us here to humiliate us in front of these strangers!”

“They are not strangers!” I retort.

Daddy steps in.

“I think your cup is full, mister man. It is time for you to stop your wickedness or something worse will happen to you. All the horror tales Honey told us about the maltreatment she received in your hands, it all ends here today. I am adopting her as my daughter. She is an Onuora from now on and I know your father and her mother will be happy to know that they did not leave her as an orphan. My son, Jideofor will take care of her and treat her the way a man ought to treat a woman, not the way you did. You will stay far away from her and desist from troubling her life from now on. Am I clear?”

Harry, whose eyes are set on me, can’t seem to utter anything. And for the first time, I am audacious enough to hold down his glare.

“Am I clear?” daddy repeats.

“Yes.”

“Honey?”

“Yes, daddy?”

“You have anything to say?”

I think of all that has been burning in my heart for years, all I wanted to tell them about how they hurt me. It’s right there on my tongue, a whole speech put together, memorized and rehearsed so many times but somehow, seeing them all intimidated, speechless and humiliated, I realize they are not worth my breath.

“I forgive you,” I tell them in a small voice.

“I forgive you,” I repeat, a little louder.

“This is all nonsense!” Jessie growls.

“I forgive you for all you did.”

Jessie stands and makes for the door. Jide who is standing by one of the windows, parts the curtain.

“Solo, let out the dogs!”

Jessie freezes. Her eyes widen.

“We’re not prisoners here! You can’t hold us against our wishes!”

“Then sit until Honey has finished what she has to say.”

“Madam, sit down,” daddy orders.

The sounds of angry dogs barking outside forces Jessie to behave. She returns to her place beside Harry.

“Sister Jess, you held me down and put hot pepper between my legs because you caught me talking to a boy. Not once, not twice. Brother AB, you punched me on my nose because you lost your five naira and you thought it was me who stole it. You always threw frogs and lizards on my bed while I was sleeping at night; even dead rats in my schoolbag. Why?”

Abel, the quiet one, the psychopath amongst them gives me a squint for an answer.

“Brother Harry, you beat me every chance you got and then threatened to kill me if I reported you… You made my childhood and teenage years hell. All of you. But I forgive you. I do hope that all you did was worth it in the end, though. None of you deserves my forgiveness but I’m doing this to move on. That’s what our father would have advised me to do. So please, do me a favor and forget that I exist. Don’t call and don’t text.”

I give Jane a smile.

“Thank you, Sister Jane. You came through for me again.”

Jane smiles back. Harry rises up.

“Thank you for the drink and the cozy welcome,” he says to the Onuoras. “Erhinyuse, you have my blessing to marry your boyfriend. If you people want to do things the proper way, you will be warmly received at home.”

He clears his throat.

“I admit that we might have done hurtful things to you in the past. But I want to assure you that it meant nothing. It was all youthful exuberance. Please, let bygones be bygones.”

“They can never be,” Jide fires. “She still lives with the scars. Can those be bygones? Can you take them away? Can you undo this so-called youthful exuberance?”

Harry flashes a tight pout. I have never seen him this mousy before. I had no idea it could take so little to get him to cower. It turns out that Jessie is even gutsier than he is.

“I think your answer is as good as mine,” Jide concludes. “Bygones can never be bygones.”

Harry draws out a noisy breath. “Well, in that case, if you don’t mind, please tell your guard to hold the dogs while we leave,” he entreats.

Jide parts the curtains and leaves orders with the guard. While we wait, there is an itchy silence which no one cares to break. Beneath it all, I’m beginning to feel weightless as a feather. Years of pain are being lifted off my back. The emotions are running deep and I wish I had Jide’s chest to unburden myself.

“The dogs are secure,” Jide informs Harry. “Y’all free to go.”

Not adding any more words, Harry flurries out. Jessie and Abel follow while Jane remains. I walk over and hug her.

“Sister Jane, is it safe for you to go with them?” Jide asks.

She nods. “I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you.”

She hugs us both, says goodnight to everyone and exits the house.

The Onuoras break into banter with Oba replaying the drama we all witnessed. He gives his own hilarious version that has us all entertained.

“How do you feel, sugar lips?” Jide pulls me into a hug.

“I feel…good. How did you and Jane plan what happened here today?”

“Well, their incessant phone calls always left me restless and annoyed. So, I had Bobby contact friends in Warri who followed your brother around and found out he had serious debt issues. When your cousin’s wedding came and they got into town for it, I called Jane and we had lunch and I drilled her, giving her the little information I knew. She spilled everything, including their plans to take your money. So, we devised our own strategy and I’m glad you listened to me and brought them here.”

“Thank you, hotstuff.”

He kisses me. Once, twice and when we go for the third one, daddy stops us.

“Biko, no be for here o!”

Jide unlocks from my grasp to face him. “De Lawrence?”

“Sir?” daddy answers.

“Since she is your daughter now, can I officially ask for her hand in marriage?”

“Put a ring on it first.”

There is uproar of laughter. Only God knows where the old man learns these things.

Emeka comes to us. “Have you guys seen Tola?”

“No,” Jide answers. “But her SUV is outside. It’s been here all day.”

“Momsi said she parked it this afternoon and left. She didn’t say where she was going. I’ve been trying her line all day. Nothing.”

“Last I saw her was in the morning, we were at the salon together with Mary,” I recall. “And then she said she had a patient to see. Have you checked the hospital?”

“She’s not there. Well, if she calls you, please tell her to call me. I’m worried.”

“Sure thing.”

He makes a turn but stops and tells Jide something in Igbo. The look in his eyes is not friendly. Jide does not reply. Emeka walks off.

“What did he just tell you?”

“Says I should stop putting ideas in Yazmin’s head.”

I give Jide a pointed look.

“Yeah, you told me so.”

“So what plans do you have for the night?” I put my arm around Jide’s waist.

“I’m thinking loud music, lots of sand and the sound of the ocean.”

“The beach?”

It’s our thing to take long walks by the beach at night once in a while. After each walk, we’ll stop to have suya and drinks and watch high people do stupid things while getting intoxicated from secondhand weed smoke.

“Let’s go.”

We say goodbye to the family and head out.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Mary has different faces to her. There is sweet, caring, selfless Mary whom we all adore. Also there’s wise, insightful Mary that we all turn to for guidance and good counsel. And then there’s stubborn as an ass, irrational Mary that is nothing like the woman we know. She hardly ever gets into that mode but when she does, oh my God! You just feel like giving her a good beating.

That is how I feel right now.

“Mary, you shouldn’t do this.”

“Are you going to follow me and be useful by toning down my excesses or are you going to sit there, trying but failing miserably to stop me?”

I watch her slip into a long batik-designed gown.

“Mary, he is a man of God. You don’t just question him like that.”

“You see, that’s the problem. You people think these men of God are unquestionable and that’s why you can’t confront them. Well, me I don’t see them like that and that is why I’ll go to him and ask him if he really heard from God about my situation or not. It’s a simple question that deserves a simple answer.”

“Mary…”

She packs up her hair.

“I am not listening, P. So not listening.”

Again, I watch her. She applies lip gloss, lines her eyes, slips on her earrings and pushes her small feet into a pair of designer slippers.

“I’m ready to go.”

There is no use trying to stop her. She is resolute on her decision. I’ll simply do as she suggests.

As I follow her out of her apartment, I ask myself why I decided to visit her this morning. If I had kept my bored feet at home and engaged in my daily job search online, I would have been oblivious of her mischief and enjoyed my day in bliss.

Outside her apartment, we get into my car and I appeal to her one more time but she snaps at me.

“Madam, drive or I’ll get into a taxi and leave you here.”

I shake my head and start the car.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Pastor Bayila has a busy day and we are told we have to wait to see him. Mary doesn’t mind. She has come with her earphones which she insists on sharing with me. We both have the same taste in music, so I sit quietly with her, listening to her song collection. The only time I stop for a break is to receive a call from Celia who is babysitting Sammy.

Finally, Pastor Bayila asks us into his office. He is having breakfast when we get in, although it is lunchtime.

“Good day, ladies,” he greets. His boyish face reminds me of the COZA pastor anytime I see him. I always want to ask if they are related.

“Sit.”

He offers us seats in his comfortable office. Mary makes herself at ease as do I.

“Sister Peace, how are you?”

“I’m fine, Pastor.”

He nods and invites us over to eat with him but we both politely decline.

“So, how may I help you?”

“Um…” I lean forward. “It’s my friend here, Mary. She asked to meet with you.”

“Hello sister Mary.”

“Good afternoon, Pastor.”

“I am listening.”

I look at Mary. I think she is a little surprised by his down-to-earth manner. She hesitates before she speaks.

“I am not a member of this church, sir but I have been here a few times, invited by Peace. I was here for the beginning of the year one week program.”

“The fasting and prayers.”

“Yes, sir. I attended each day.”

“Okay?”

“Erm…I don’t think you remember me.”

Pastor Bayila shakes his head graciously. “I don’t. Please, remind me.”

“On the last day, on Sunday, when you were preaching, you picked me out from the crowd. You told me God had a word for me…”

Pastor Bayila puts down his cup of coffee and is off thinking.

“Really?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You said something about me meeting my husband…”

“Oh!” Pastor Bayila recalls with amusement. “The lady in green Ankara! That was you?”

“Yes.”

“Oh my! You have lost a bit of weight. How are you?”

“I’m fine, sir.”

“Good! Good. So you are our dear Sister Peace’s friend?”

“I am.”

“Great.”

“Sir, I’m here to ask you some questions about what you told me that day.”

“Go ahead.” He picks his coffee again.

“Sir, was it really God who told you those things?”

I shift in my seat at Mary’s direct question. But Pastor Bayila merely smiles.

“You think I came up with it myself?”

“I’m not saying that. I just want to be sure that God spoke to you because marriage is a serious thing and I don’t want to simply run into the arms of a stranger just because you said God said…”

“Mary?” I scold.

“It’s okay, Sister Peace. Let her speak.”

“I don’t believe in prophecies. I’m a very practical person and when it comes to my love life, I’d rather choose my husband myself. I like taking things into my own hands, so you see where this whole prophecy thing leaves me…”

“It leaves you out.”

“Exactly. Right now, I feel I am not allowed to make my own choice. I feel confused. I feel frustrated. I need to be sure, Pastor. I need to be really, really sure you heard God, that you did not imagine the whole thing. I need to be sure.”

Mary is all nerves. Her voice trembles with each word. I feel bad that I did not recognize her frustration earlier.

“Sister Mary, from what I deduce you seem to have found your husband and just like God made clear, you are rejecting him.”

“I have no feelings for the man. He popped into my life from nowhere and proposed to me. If I was to ever agree to marry him, I think I would prefer to know him better, to fall for him on my own terms but right now, I can’t. I am being forced to say yes to him or miss God’s plan for my life entirely. Do you understand my dilemma, sir?”

“Yes, ma.”

“And to worsen it, he is my friend’s ex-boyfriend. You see how messed up it is?”

“I see.”

“He waltzed into my life so casually. The day was not special and I never saw a sign. There should have been something in the skies on that day. Maybe a heavy rainfall or…something! But there was nothing!”

She moves forward until she is on the edge of her seat.

“Maybe you have another message for me, something entirely contrary?”

Pastor Bayila sighs out.

“God speaks to me mostly from the bible, Sister Mary. That’s the only way he knows he can get through to me because I am as much a skeptic and a practical person as you are. I’d have some divine revelation in a dream and brush it aside until he confirms it through another person, so I understand where you’re coming from. And that is why when he speaks to me the way he did on that day in January, I make sure it is from him.”

Pastor Bayila props back on his swivel chair.

“God gives his word and it’s up to you to obey it. He will not force you. We have the gift of choice, Sister Mary. Feel free to do as you desire but do not come back here to complain about the consequences.”

“Okay, sir. Thank you for your time, sir.”

Mary is up on her feet in haste. She doesn’t give me the opportunity to say a proper goodbye to Pastor Bayila before she leaves. Nonetheless, I stop to thank him.

“Have you heard from him?” he asks, concerning Reno.

I recall Reno’s visit four nights ago. He came in tears and a thousand apologies and with that look on his face that always did me in. I almost let him kiss me.

african_couple_kissing

 

Almost.

“No, I haven’t heard from him.”

“Stay strong, Sister Peace.”

“I will. Thank you, Pastor.”

I walk out of the office. Mary is waiting in the car when I get to the parking lot.

“You told Celia?” she flares when I slip into the driver’s seat. I see the backlight of her phone held in her hand go dim.

“Yeah, I told Celia.”

“When?”

“Last night after we spoke.”

“I didn’t ask you to tell anyone else! When did you start letting out secrets, P?”

“I’m sorry. I thought it was just one of those things we share amongst us girls.”

“I kept your secrets secret, P. How about a little show of respect on your side?”

I stay mute and contrite.

“I’m sorry.”

“Just start the car, let’s go.”

I do as she wishes. We haven’t gone quite a distance when I realize she is crying.

“May-may?”

I slow to the curb of the street we’re on and stop the car. I try to touch her but she slaps my hand away.

“It’s stupid that I’m crying over this. Stupid!”

“It’s not.”

“Is God going to come save me when this so-called husband turns into an asshole and starts hitting me or cheating on me or raping me?!”

“Mary, you are judging a man you don’t even know.”

“I don’t want to know him! My life is going in a certain direction and then he jumps right into it and I can’t keep going where I want to go because we are allegedly paired up by God! And now, I have to marry and play wife and have kids to a man I don’t freaking love!”

I so want to give up on her right now. She is completely gone bunkers.

“Mary… No one is saying you should marry him like immediately or even give him a yes.”

“The entire saga is making feel claustrophobic, P, and I’m afraid that I may end up falling for him. I just wish God could have let me make that choice all on my own. Who says I can’t pick a good life partner? Look at Jide and Honey, they chose each other without any divine intervention. Same with Shady and Celia and all our friends. Why must my own be different?”

I have no answer for her.

“I want to go away, to move to a new place just to get away from him but then I remember the story of Jonah who tried to run away from doing what God asked him to do and got swallowed by a fish!”

For some reason, I break out in laughter. Maybe it’s the tone of her voice or the analogy she employs but I am laughing real hard and I can’t stop. Soon enough, she joins me. We both laugh until the humor dies away and she is left with a distressed face.

“Reno came to the house some nights ago,” I reveal.

“He did?” Mary wipes her nose.

“He said he wanted to see his son. I let him in. He stayed with Sammy, put him to bed… And then we talked. He said a lot of rubbish; that he was sorry… that he missed me. He wanted us to get back together but first he wanted to kiss me.”

Mary tilts her face to look into my eyes.

“Did you?”

“No. No, I couldn’t.”

Mary doesn’t respond to what she’s just heard and I stay in silence with her until her phone begins to ring.

“Celia wants to talk,” she informs me. “Let’s drive over.”

I start the car again.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

yazmex6

Breakfast in bed the way Yazmin does it is always epic. She works her ass off to sexually satisfy me like any sidechick would. I hate to call her that but she reminds me every time that she is fine playing second fiddle to Tola. This morning, however, I am the one serving and I give her the full princess treatment. I initially did not have plans to touch her because she just returned from the hospital and is yet to fully recover. But each time Yaz begs for the D like one hooked on steroids, I simply cannot say no. Nobody likes to shine congo like her, plus she’s a junkie for my love.

We start the morning with selfies. She has me all over her Instagram. Every moment we share together is a reason to upload something new; today is no different. She tags it #malariafree #grateful #inbedwithhubby #aunaturale #wokeuplikethis. Never mind that she spent a good fifteen minutes tempering with her face and now looks nothing like one who just woke up or is recovering from an illness. Mexican chicks and makeup, though.

Not long after her upload goes live, we get a comment from a user @poonydoc. It simply reads: use a condom, please.

Yazmin shows me the comment and I shake my head. Tola hides behind that particular alias, being a constant nuisance to Yazmin on Instagram. Well, I’m glad she’s back on my radar, nuisance or not.

“I hate this bitch! Arghh!”

I take the phone from Yazmin.

“Is she another of your hoes, papi?”

“We already had this talk, mi vida. I don’t know this person. And it may be a guy. The handle says poonydoc, which means…”

“I know what it means but why does the person keep stalking me?”

“Because you’re sexy as fuck.”

I start to kiss her in places that are too sensitive to ignore. It takes seconds to make her forget poonydoc and abandon her phone. Her mind goes back to begging for sex and so I give her what she wants, slowly, gently, intensely. I surrender all of me like I do to Tola, annoyed that Tola has abandoned me and gave me hell worrying about her. I fully expend myself in pleasing Yazmin.

I am so deep into the whole thing right now that even if a bomb drops, I won’t stop. The cool of the morning after a heavy downpour, her moans and the numerous Spanish expletives she uses, the way she claws at my back and bites my shoulders… the girl is driving me nuts. I feel myself getting close to the peak. I drive in harder and deeper and then…

“Can you cum already so we can talk?”

I pull out from Yazmin in a flash and swing around to see Tola standing by the door. Yazmin covers her breasts and snaps close her legs.

“Are you crazy?!” she screams at Tola.

“Doc?” I make no attempt at covering myself. I face Tola with an unpleasant expression. There is no need asking her how she got in. It was she who helped get Bose as a maid for Yazmin. The girl will always remain loyal to her.

“Sorry for interrupting your thing, Yazmin, but I need my husband urgently.”

Swinging her backside provocatively, she strides out.

“Yaz, I’m sorry baby. I’ll be right back.”

Yazmin is angry. She cusses in Spanish, throwing my clothes at me. I hurriedly wear them and force a kiss on her lips.

Outside, I find Tola waiting in her SUV. I get into the passenger seat. She gives me a full stare from my head to my feet and then she stops at my midsection on her way down again.

“So, you’re really into her? It’s not just sex?”

“You shouldn’t have walked in on us.”

“Walked in?” Tola titters. “Dude, I stood there and watched you guys for a long time. You were so lost in that Mexican vagina, pounding it like a sledgehammer.”

I hold back a laugh.

“Well, all I know is that you can’t use those same moves on me again.”

I pick something naughty in Tola’s eyes.

“Were you turned on watching us?” I ask.

“It’s either that or I get jealous. This is for better or worse, abi? Including swallowing my pain when I watch my husband screw another woman senseless and then somehow turn that pain into something perverted so I can have a sane mind.”

There’s no mistaking the presence of this ‘pain’ she speaks of in her tone.

“I’m sorry about the claudia thing, Tols.”

“Your wife gave it to us.”

“No, I did. There was some chick…”

She lifts her hand to stop me.

“Condoms from now on.”

“I did the tests as you asked.”

“Condoms until the baby is born, Mex.”

“Fine.”

She massages the area above her left brow. That’s her way of calming frayed nerves. I lean over and kiss her neck. She lets me take her lips.

“You taste like vagina, Onuora.”

There’s no annoyance in her tone. Beyond all the long talk, I know Tola too well. She loves the idea of another woman in my life or Yaz would have been history by now. She enjoys the drama Yaz’s presence brings and I will not be foolish to stay exclusive to her. If I try, the babe will just straight-out disrespect me. She’ll ration sex, food and affection. Yazmin keeps her on her toes.

“I’ll make nsala soup for us.” She plays with my sideburn. “And then you can buy me chocolate ice cream and some chicken pie to go with. Coleslaw too. Peppered gizzard, apple juice and finally, Sade Adu to keep me sane. All night long, baby.”

No, seriously she literally means all night long. She is the only woman I know who would spend six straight hours loving a man and still wake up in the morning to serve him breakfast. She scares me sometimes. I’m glad it happens only once in a blue moon.

“But first, go in there and give some excuse why you can’t continue where you left off. I will not let you waste one more drop of sweat on her.”

I can’t even dream of protesting. Yazmin will just have to wait her turn. Madam is back and I want to be a good boy for her highness.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Na wa for Celia o! Drinking medicine for another person’s headache. Is it by force to have a man and get married? See me see wahala! Abeg, people should just learn how to give advice and end it there. Just because you’re my friend doesn’t mean you should try to impose your ways on me. If it wasn’t for Peace’s long mouth, you won’t be involved in my love life presently. All of you should just leave me alone jor!

I hiss out loud, so loud the woman sitting next to me in the bus gives me a curious stare. I pretend not to notice and hiss again. Celia and Peace are really pissing me off. They believe that my life will suck balls if I don’t heed to Pastor Bayila’s prophecy. But the more they push, the more obstinate I get. They will soon get tired and leave me and my life alone.

“Owa o!” I call out as the bus nears my stop. The conductor bangs his palm over the hood of the vehicle and the driver slows. I step down and begin the short walk that would lead me to my apartment.

On the way I stop to buy akara and yam. I also get some raw pap. I have a deep freeze full of different types of soups but I have no appetite for my own meals. I’m no different from other cooks who would rather have junk food or eat someone else’s less-appetizing cooking.

Having purchased my dinner, I follow a busy path that leads to my house. I have scarcely gone in and put some water on the electric cooker when someone knocks on my door. Concluding it’s my neighbor’s teenage daughter who loves coming around to watch cable, I open the door without a second thought.

An unpleasant surprise greets me. I gasp at the face that meets my eyes. On impulse, a foot of mine steps back.

“Good evening, Mary.”

My hand goes for the door to shut it but my unwelcomed guest stops me.

“Please, I want to talk. You can step outside if you wish. In fact, I think that’d be best.”

“Have you lost your mind showing up here?”

“Mary…”

“To the same place where you raped me? Have you lost your mind, Reno?!”

“Calm down, Mary. And listen to me, please.”

“Go away, Reno!”

He moves back one step and goes on his knees.

“No, Reno. You can’t do this. Just go away!”

“I am sorry, Mary. I am very sorry. I am not asking you to forgive me; I just want to let you know that I am sorry. I will say it anywhere, to our friends, to the police, to anyone…I will confess what I did to you…”

There are huge tears coursing down his cheeks but I am not in the least bit moved. I just want to kick his face in.

“You raped me, you bastard.”

I feel my own tears coming.

“And I can never take that back, Mary. I know.”

“You raped me, Reno. In my own house, on my own bed… You choked me with my own pillow. And now you’re coming here to say you’re sorry? Sorry for what? For making me hate my own house? For making me not trust even my closest male friends? Or are you sorry that your wife has abandoned you and you have no friends anymore and you spend your nights getting drunk and screwing prostitutes? First you visit Peace and load her fragile heart with BS and now you’re here trying to spit out the same drivel? Reno abeg, leave before I scream rape and they set you on fire in this neighborhood. Go!”

“I’m sor…”

“Leave!”

He wobbles up and turns away. Something about him is broken but like I said, I don’t give two. I retreat into my house and lock my door. Not long after, I hear another knock.

“Oh God! Didn’t I tell you to go away?!”

I dash into the kitchen angrily, pour out the water I have set on fire into a bowl and hurry back to the door. I’ll give Reno a lesson he’ll never forget.

Without pausing for a second, I wrench open the door and in one swoop, I furiously hurl the water out, just to realize a little too late that I have assaulted the wrong person. The bowl falls off my hand as I lose control of my muscles the moment shock takes me.

Holding his face in agony and falling to the ground is Ekene.

“Jesus!” I clasp my hands over my mouth.

Oh Lord, what have I done?

©Sally@moskedapages

Images Credits: r5ftnickjonas.tumblr.com, www.wattpad.com

 

To continue with this story please click HERE to find it on Okadabooks or simply send me an email to moskedapages@gmail.com

It’s Another Saturday…#27

What’s Love Got To Do With It

Last night, I was down in the pits. There was a trigger, a text from Harry that I ignored, and before I could stop myself, I lurched into this senseless state of melancholy that I couldn’t get out of. I went to bed and found myself feeling like the walls were closing in on me. Tola and Mary had long gone to sleep and when I checked the time, it was 1am.

I sat by my window for a while. The bed seemed to be laid with pins and needles. It took me exactly twenty-seven minutes to decide that I needed to sleep in Jide’s bed to feel better.

I got the car key, slipped out of the house and drove all the way to Jide’s. I had not expected to find him at home. When I entered his room, he was in bed, awake and reading.

He looked at me when I walked in, showing no surprise.

“I’m getting used to this,” he said. “The impulsiveness. The spontaneity.”

He turned a page in his book.

“I understand that it’s your way of fighting your snags but can you please call me next time you want to leave your house at 2am to come see me?”

“I didn’t expect to find you here.”

“Just…call me next time.”

He didn’t understand that I did not want to burden him with my problems, that at that time of the night I just wanted to get away from the four walls of my room and it didn’t matter if I put myself in danger.

“I’ll try.”

He went back to his book while I entered the bathroom for a shower. It made me feel better, the change of environment, the cool of the water. I breathed out when I turned the shower off.

These days I try not to worry about certain things even though it’s hard. I take each moment as it comes as Jide has taught me. It’s difficult to have my shortcomings and my gloom laid bare before another person but he doesn’t complain – not when I sometimes withdraw to some place to brood or when I lash out at him for no reason or even when I dive into some unexplainable mood of excitement. He’ll tell me there’s no difference between me now and the person he fell for. But I know the difference; it’s something I suffer daily. Having finally been taken off my meds, it’s hard to keep a balance.

“And that’s because you worry yourself about staying normal. Just live.”

That’s what I’m trying to do. I wish it wasn’t so darn hard. I wish my siblings would just stay out of my life for good.

“Hon?”

I walked back into the room where it was freezing. He winched up the blanket and I stole in. He had his arms lifted to let my head rest on his chest but that wasn’t my final destination. I slid all the way down, taking his Calvin’s along. I needed something to distract me.

He didn’t protest.

And here I am this morning, tired, lazy, not willing to leave the bed for my morning out with Mary and Tola.

“Sugar lips?”

Jide taps me. I pretend not to hear.

“You should wake up.”

I moan.

“Honey…”

“Leave me. I want to sleep.”

“Your period is here.”

Straightaway, I throw off the bedspread I’m covered in as I jump up. True to his words, I’ve stained his bed. I look at him in shame. He’s seated at the other end, eating an apple, calm.

“I’m so sorry. I’ll clean this up immediately.”

I drag the bedspread and dash into the bathroom. I’m a bit sad that my period is here. It means the baby we’ve been planning for is not coming anytime soon. This threatens to dampen my mood but Jide appears with a pack of tampons.

“Maybe history will repeat itself,” he says and kisses lips I’ve pressed together. “I’m going to work and then off to my parents’. Will you promise me that you’ll not let your menstrual cycle or whatever it is that made you drive into the night dictate your happiness today?”

I nod, determined to act upon his words but I have no idea that somewhere in town, my evil siblings are thinking of the best way to ruin my day.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

I am staggered! I simply cannot believe this.

Somebody please tell me I am not dreaming right now. Please tell me my eyes are not imagining things because I am sitting here lost, confused, shocked to my bones at the sight before me.

This is not just happening.

“Mary, you’re not saying anything.”

Of course I am not saying anything because my mouth is hanging wide open and my tongue has lost its speech. How do you expect me to speak, Ekene?!

“Mary?”

I manage to bring my dazed eyes away from where it has been held bound and direct it to Ekene’s hand on mine. His touch is warm, yet strange on my skin.

“Please, say something. Even a ‘no’ would be a lot better than this silence.”

I take my eyes away from his hand and look into his face.

It’s a stranger’s face. I don’t know this man at all. Not his pink lips. Not his rubbery nose. Not his light-brown eyes. Not even the whole beard gang thing he has going on.

I don’t know him!

“Mary?”

Something snaps in me and I recoil from his touch. He raises his hand, moving back a little. I pick my phone and handbag, and still maintaining my silence, I hurry to the door as if chased by a ghost.

“I need my answer in four days, Mary!” he says as I open the door. “Four days!”

I slam the darn door and half-run, half-walk my way to Honey’s house. When I get in there, I collapse into a chair in a huff and stare at Jide who is watching some TV.

“He proposed,” I say.

Jide turns down the volume of the television.

“What did you just say?”

“Ekene proposed to me.”

Jide’s reaction is one of puzzlement. He calls Honey who walks in with questioning eyes.

“What’s going on?”

“Ekene proposed to me. He got out a ring and just popped the question from nowhere.”

“For real?” She grins. “Where’s the ring?”

I blink a couple of times at her and shake the dazedness out of my head.

“What ring? You think I’d say yes to that type of proposal? First of all, he tricked me into coming to his house. There was no girlfriend there! None! Just me and him and a house that can take twenty more people. I asked him where his girlfriend was and he was like the dinner was a surprise for her and if she knew about it, the surprise would be ruined. I believed him and went ahead to cook and he stood in the kitchen the whole time, not talking, just staring at me and giving me the creeps. After I was done and served the food, he asked me to sit. He confessed that he had lied about having a girlfriend and was hoping that I’d be the one.”

Jide stopped me. “Wait, what?”

“My thoughts exactly. I now asked him, ‘Ekene, what type of creepy, by-force toasting is this that you Igbo boys like doing?’ Sorry Jide.”

“Be nice.”

“No, but seriously, have you not seen those market traders that will grab your hands and pull you, calling you stuff like ‘my wife’ ‘my color’? Ekene looked like the same thing to me! No difference! I had scarcely recovered from him calling me his girlfriend when he brought out this blinding diamond ring from nowhere, looked straight into my eyes with that his cockiness and said, ‘Mary, marry me’.”

“No way,” Jide remarked.

“I swear. He said it like that. Not ‘Mary, will you marry me?’ And he didn’t even go down on his knees!”

“And your answer?” Honey asks.

“I freaked out, Honey. In fact, I am still freaking out! See, how my heart is pounding in my chest. My tummy is even turning sef.”

Honey is laughing; Jide is equally amused.

“Why are you freaking out, though?” Honey wonders. “I’m sure you’ve met different types of men. Kene can’t be the weirdest.”

I stand up. “He is. By far, he is. I just can’t deal.”

“You like him,” Jide states. He is not asking; he sounds sure.

“Me?”

“Yes, boo. You. See the effect he has on you.”

“He scares me. I don’t like him, Jide. When did we meet that he’ll propose to me just like that? Abeg o! I’m sorry, Honey, I know he’s your friend but his actions today ring of all shades of ritualist behavior.”

“Haba nau.”

“Then explain why a man that rich who has been around the world and has everything going for him will go and buy an expensive diamond ring and propose to a girl he hardly knows? It makes no sense! Unless he wants to use his wealth to dazzle me into marriage and then offer me as sacrifice to prolong his life.”

Honey rips apart in laughter.

“She really likes him,” Jide tells her. They both nod.

“Can you stop saying that, Jideofor?!”

“He’s getting you all worked up.”

“He is not!”

I breathe out.

“He is not.”

Another breath.

“I am calm. Very calm. Very, very calm. And I will repeat: I do not like Ekenedilichukwu Obiecheta.”

“Wow!” Jide sits up. “You called his full names, using the correct Igbo accent and you didn’t even stutter. Abeg, husband him.”

I am mad at Jide. I hiss and pick my handbag.

“I’m going home.”

“Why?” Honey frowns.

“All of you are annoying me. You and you and Ekene…all of you. Ekene clearly doesn’t understand the concept of boundaries and feels he can just pop a proposal from nowhere and I’ll say yes. Then instead of you two to be on my side, you’re making fun! You should all enjoy yourselves. I’m going home!”

I don’t give them an opportunity to respond. I know I am being silly but I haven’t been in this mood in a really long while. I march into the guestroom and shut the door behind me. But then I remember one vital piece of information I didn’t pass to them. I poke my head out.

“Oh, and he told me right before he asked me to be his girlfriend… he said, ‘I can have anything I want. Anything, including you.’ Can you imagine?”

“You don enter,” Jide sniggers.

“No, she has not.” Honey tries to remedy things. “Kene is just being Kene. He teases a lot and he understands boundaries, Mary. Please, don’t go. I’ll talk to him and tell him to behave. Just please, don’t go, Mary boo.”

I give a vehement shake of my head. My mind is made up.

“Okay, can you allow me speak with him first?” she requests.

“Still not changing my mind.”

“Please?”

Honey goes for the door and she’s out in a jiffy.

“You want to know my thoughts?” Jide asks.

“No, thank you.”

I close the door, leaving him still amused.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

mary's ring

“I told you not to propose to her, didn’t I?”

“Hi Honey.”

Ekene lets me into his house. The place is grand and spotless – as usual. The only difference from the last time I was here is the aroma of food in the air.

Ekene leaves me standing in the living room and walks to the dining area. I trudge after him and find him seated at the table, having dinner. The meal and setting is something only a professional like Mary can pull off. My tongue longs to have a taste but I’d rather listen to him explain his actions.

“You had to go freak her out, Kene. Why?”

“Well you know me, I don’t have time beating about the bush. And I’m too old to be doing boyfriend and girlfriend unlike some people I know. I learned my lesson with you. Years of my life wasted in love. Look where it got me. No more time for long talk, baby.”

I pull a chair and slide into it, my eyes catching the glitter of the controversial diamond ring as it sits in its box, untouched.

“Kene, you’re probably the closest friend I have and Mary and I pretty close; she’s an amazing person. And that was why when you told me you were crazy about her, I gave my blessing. In fact, I even dreamt about you guys getting married. I wanted you two to work but the way you’re going about it is wrong, Kene. You can’t force love. You have to…”

“Who said anything about love?”

He picks a piece of watermelon from a bowl of intricately-diced fruits and throws into his mouth. He looks at me.

“Because you’re in love you think everyone else has to go your way to maintain a happy relationship?”

“No. I…”

“Honey, I am not looking for love. I am looking for a wife. A beautiful, godly, industrious, humble woman I can take home to my dear, old mother. Mary fits the bill. Simple. Abeg, don’t go mushing up things in her head and filling her with romantic ideas. Plus I really, really like her. Do you know she has a birthmark on her neck that is shaped like the one on my left ankle?”

I smile at him. “But you used to believe in love.”

“I still do but not love at first sight and all that nonsense about being struck by lightning and having butterflies in one’s tummy. I want to grow into my feelings.”

“Well, you have a point. I’m just saying the whole proposal thing…”

“Is medieval. I know, and that’s how I do my thing. Leave me be, abeg.”

“You scared her.”

“I’d be worried if she wasn’t scared, Hon. The way she bolted out of here was proof that she is the one. Do you know how many women would walk in here and see that ring and go nude for me? But she didn’t; she got scared and that’s why I want her.”

I stare at the ring.

“Is this the same one you got for me?”

“No. I returned that one the day I went over to your house and from outside I heard you moaning and screaming out your boyfriend’s name like he was the best thing you ever had.”

“He is.” I give Ekene a straight face.

“Well, I’m glad you’re happy.”

I pick a slice of apple and stand.

“I know Mary will say yes,” Ekene adds. “She just needs to figure things out. She likes me. Maybe not as much as I like her but she likes me. And that’s enough for me.”

“I really want you guys to work, so stop being cocky and try not to screw things up.”

“How are you these days sef?” He looks at me.

“Good.”

“He knows?”

“Yeah. And he’s so amazing, and so patient, and so…”

I stop as I think of the many, beautiful ways Jide has been there for me from the moment I shared with him the story of my bipolar disorder.

“He’s an angel, Kene. And this means you have to stop being an ass to me. I have a bodyguard now.”

Ekene smirks. I tell him I’m leaving and he waves absentmindedly as he concentrates on his meal. I stroll back home with plans to talk with Mary but when I get in, Jide Informs me that she is gone.

“She says to tell you that she is sorry but she misses her home.”

I dump my sad self on Jide’s laps. His arms enfold me. I’m going to miss Mary. Tola is gone already. I have come to love both women in the short time they spent with me. Jide is right about having friends who will stand by you in dark moments. They both know about my depression and have been beside me, patient and supportive. I have had a couple of blue moments which they helped me through. The house is going to be quiet without them.

“You can come bunk with me if you need a roomie.”

Jide’s breath on my earlobe gives me goosebumps and other ideas. Too bad it’s that bloody time of the month.

Jide stares at his watch at the exact moment my phone starts to ring. I groan. I decide to let it ring out.

“You won’t pick the call?”

“Nope.”

“Okay. Um…I have to pop back to my parents’.”

“Again?”

“Family meeting.”

“Is everything alright? I don’t understand these family meetings you guys have been having all day.”

“Everything is fine, baby.”

“Can I come along?”

“No.”

I try to read his eyes which seem kind of evasive at the moment. Jide is always open with me about everything. What is he hiding?

“Are you coming back?”

“Sure.”

He kisses me before he leaves. Worrying about him, I stand by the window and watch until he’s out of sight. The moment he’s gone, my phone rings again. The Caller ID tells me Jane is calling for the millionth time. I know she wants to scold me for not honoring our cousin’s wedding, an occasion had no intention attending.

“Good evening, sis.”

Jane huffs on the phone. “Erhinyuse, why are you treating me like this? Fifteen times I called. Fifteen!”

“I’m sorry, sister.”

“This is not fair at all.”

“I know. And I’m sorry. I was busy.”

“Too busy for me?”

I stroll to the kitchen. I am so not in the mood to be scolded. I’m having cramps and the last thing I need is someone breathing down my neck.

“I’m sorry,” I say for the last time.

“Why didn’t you come for Sabina’s wedding?”

I open my fridge. “Well, you know… everyone else will be there and I don’t want drama. Brother already sent a text, telling me I was acting irresponsibly for not attending the wedding even though Sab and I are in the same town.”

“And what did you reply?”

I am staring at a fridge stocked with fresh fruits and salads. “Nothing.”

“That’s good. Ignore. Anyway, I want to see you.”

Immediately, red flags go up.

“You want to see me?”

“Yeah. Are you at home?”

I quickly recall a casual conversation I had with Jide two days ago about my family and how he warned me not to let any of them near me. His warning had sounded odd and when I asked why he came up with it from nowhere, he simply repeated himself and added, “If they want to visit, don’t take them to my place or yours. Bring them to my family house.”

I asked no more questions after that, finding it uncanny that at that moment we spoke, my cousin Sabina was having her traditional wedding and no doubt my siblings were present. I did not want to share that information with Jide. I felt my family issues were mine alone to handle. Just being with me was enough burden on him, although he must never hear me speak this way of myself.

“Can I come over?” Jane requests.

“Erm…I’m not at home right now…”

“I just want to drop your aso-ebi with you.”

I frown. “I don’t recall contributing for it. Or is Sab giving it out for free?”

“I paid for it to save face, okay? So tell me where you are let me hand it over to you with some other food ingredients I brought from Asaba since you have now started cooking.”

“You know what? Tell me where you are and I’ll drive over.”

“Even better. I’ll send a text.”

She goes offline and I remain standing, the light of the refrigerator in my face. I settle for a bowl of chicken salad. While I await the text, I dive in with a fork.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Jane is at some fast food restaurant as her message says. I drive there, still with no intention of informing Jide. It isn’t until I park the car in the parking lot and realize that Jane is not alone that I decide to dial his number. Annoyed, I speak to him on the phone.

“You were right about not trusting any of them,” I tell him.

“What’s going on?”

“Jane is in town. Everyone else is here as well for my cousin’s wedding. Jane told me she wanted to see me and asked me to meet her at this fast food joint. I drive here, thinking I’m meeting with her alone and you won’t believe who she’s here with!”

“Your other siblings.”

“I have a very good mind to turn this car around and go home right now, Jide! I am so pissed! She tricked me into coming here!”

“Calm down, sugar lips.”

“I trusted her.”

“I know. Just calm down and listen to me. Go and meet them. It’s safe. It’s a public place. Just go there and tell them you’d rather host them at yours–”

“Never!”

“Listen to me. Remember what I told you the other night?”

“Yeah.”

“Do it. Tell them you’re taking them to yours but bring them to the family house.”

“Jide, I don’t want them near your family. It will be a disaster…”

“Let me worry about that, sweetheart. Just bring them over.”

“Jide…”

Bring them.”

I concede, but not wholeheartedly. Imagine the shame if Harry or Jessica decide to act up in the presence of Jide’s parents.

“And take it easy on Jane.”

“She betrayed me. I’m so done with her.”

He laughs. “See you soon, sugams.”

I leave the car. Jessica is the first to spot me. The huge glass windows that act as walls do not hide what’s going on in the restaurant. I see them all looking at me. Jane is the only one with a lowered head. I grip my wallet tightly to still my nerves as I walk in. They keep their eyes on me and there is not one smile to go with their offensive stares.

I, however, maintain a poised exterior as I amble towards them.

“Good evening,” I throw in a general greeting. For a moment it seems my show of respect would be ignored by them as they used to do years ago but Harry breaks into a scary grin that halts my steps.

“Erhinyuse, my darling sister! Come and give me a hug.”

I stand frozen. Something evil crawls up my spine and fills my throat as I glare back at the same hands that abused me throughout my childhood now spread open to me in a show of love.

What on earth has this old devil up his sleeves this time around?

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I am not sleeping. I’m sprawled on my floor, eyes to the ceiling, hands on my chest.

To watch the video or not to watch the video.

This is a rerunning dilemma in my head. I have one good reason to watch the video and an equally damning reason why I shouldn’t. Following my hysterics earlier at Honey’s house, I have decided to handle the situation with commonsense. One would think I’d toss Ekene’s proposal aside but I can’t. This video holds the reason why.

I turn around. My laptop is asleep. I tap it awake. It takes me another ten minutes or so of fighting the urge to go on YouTube. In the end, I do. I search for the video and with a palpitating heart I play it.

It’s a recording that stretches for an hour and twenty-one minutes. I should forward to the frame that mostly concerns me but I decide to watch from the beginning to calm my nerves. I sip cup after cup of green tea while I watch. I’m into my fifth cup when the video gets to the moment of truth. I sit up and clasp the cup with both hands.

“There’s a sister at the back row there!”

The voice of Peace’s pastor fills my ear, bringing nostalgia and a host of other feelings into me. My eyes stay glued on my laptop screen and I am transported back to the day the video was recorded.

Peace had invited me to her church for some program they were having at the beginning of the year. It was something they did annually. Seven days of fasting and prayers. I had begrudgingly attended; the end of last year had seen me in a terrible relationship that left me somewhat depressed. Church was the last thing I wanted but Peace assured me that I’d feel better when the program ended, and so I decided to attend just to get her off my back.

It ran for one week and finally we came to the last day, which was a Sunday. The church was packed to the rafters that morning and I had found myself somewhere at the back because I came late. The service was one of those power-charged affairs and when finally Peace’s pastor took the stage, people’s hearts were open to hear God’s word with a lot of expectations. I wasn’t one of those people. I was a tad disappointed that a whole week was wasted and I didn’t feel any better about my state. Years of failed relationships had left me bitter and resentful of the male species.

Somewhere in the middle of his sermon, the pastor stops, turns and directs his eyes straight into mine. But he says nothing and continues preaching. I tell myself I imagined the occurrence. However, towards the end of his sermon, he repeats his action and this time, he calls out.

“The sister at the back row there!”

He points. Heads turn left and right, including mine.

“The one with the green and yellow Ankara!”

Now, all eyes focus on me. There’s no one else wearing a green and yellow Ankara outfit except me. Slowly, I put my hand to my beating heart to confirm if it’s me as I rise to my feet.

“Yes, you. You have a surprise coming for you this year.”

Yeah right, my inner skeptic remarks. I have always had a strong dislike for pastors who did things like this. In my church we do not entertain such. We are more orthodox in our way of worship.

“Your husband will come this year,” the pastor continues. My inner skeptic snorts. It’s clear that I am not married because I am not wearing a ring. Please, man of God tell me something else.

And he does.

“God says to give you two signs so that you will know this message is from him because the man will come into your life and without these signs, you will throw him off.”

Okay, this is getting interesting.

“First sign: he will propose to you without any relationship going on between you two. Second sign: when he proposes, he will give you a short time to return with an answer.”

I remain a doubting Thomas.

“And God says you should say yes to him because that is your husband. He said he has made events and situations in your life align to that man. Your years of searching and frustration are not wasted years. The time was not yet set but before this year ends, you will wear a ring on your finger.”

The congregation choruses out a loud ‘amen!’ that terrifies me. I slump back into the chair, annoyed at Peace. Clearly, she told her pastor things about me.

“I did not,” she says in sincerity after the church service.

“You’re sure?”

“Why would I even do such a thing, Mary?”

“Maybe out of concern.”

“Please believe me, I did not. And you know what’s even scary about what happened here today?”

“What?”

“Our pastor hardly ever does what he did. He is more of a teacher than a prophet. If he prophesies in a year, it might be two or at most three times. What happened today was rare, so please take it as a message from God.”

Indeed. And that’s how I go through the year, a disbeliever, even though deep inside I know the message wasn’t a hoax. For fear of wanting it to come true, I refuse to entertain the presence of any guy. I dedicate my year chasing my career.

And then Jide returns home after five years and the feelings I once had for him are re-ignited, especially after the kiss we share. I tell myself he is the one. I speak to Peace first but she dissuades me, reminding me of her pastor’s prophecy. Ignoring her words, I share my feelings with Celia and the rest and they are only too happy to pair us up. Peace is not in support but she keeps mum and goes with the flow. When Jide brings Honey to the get-together at Celia’s and throws all of us off, only Peace shows support for their relationship. Well we all know how that story ends and how the next day, I debase myself by stripping for Jide and he gives me the tongue-lashing that I rightly deserve.

Peace’s reaction to the incidence is an ‘I told you so’.

“Shebi you will listen to God now?”

Listen to fire. I tell myself that the chances of that prophesy coming true is one in a million. I am more likely to get a yes if I propose to any random man out there than find Peace’s pastor’s dream husband for me.

I carry on with this state of mind as the months go by, oblivious of what waits for me around the corner.

Ekene is a blow to my face I don’t see coming. His proposal knocks me off balance and the after-effect still leaves me swooning. I am fighting him with everything in me and even after watching this video as a confirmation of where my life is supposedly ought to be heading, I insist on rejecting him.

“I do not like Ekene,” I say out loud. I need to believe this. I need God to hear me. “I don’t like him.”

I finish my cup of tea.

“I will not marry him.”

©Sally@moskedapages

Images credits: www.virgosandkisses.com, mystictalia.com

 

 

It’s Another Saturday…#26

Good evening, my people!

I promised to give you info about Boys With Toys. It’s not so good news. So here it goes…

The book is not ready for publishing. I know I promised but I have done everything to keep the promise and yet that little part of me that says not yet has been saying not yet quite a lot. It’s finished but I just feel something is missing. It’s there, edited by my good friend, Uche but I can’t exactly say what’s missing. And I’m not about to put out something that I’m not 100% comfortable with. Usually with such stories, I leave it to rest for a while and review it with fresh eyes later, so hopefully I’ll find that missing thing.

Again, I apologize for raising your hopes. I am as disappointed as you, having planned for something and it doesn’t come out the way I want. But you know me; I will always make up for it.

I won’t sha announce next time until I am very sure. The book will just be published and then I can tell you later.

Secondly for those having issues downloading the Fish Brain Series…

  1. If you have a Blackberry, I’m sorry, it may not work but Aminat (a follower here) suggested using mobogenie app to download okadabooks app. Thanks Amina.
  2. You probably have it already in your book list if you have clicked on ‘Buy’. Check the book list and you may see it.
  3. If none of these work, I’m sorry I won’t be able to help you. You’ll have to contact okadabooks admin or contact me to send you a PDF copy which costs N500.00. For the free copy, I’ll send it straight to your email box, no charges.

And here’s Another Saturday…

Emeka’s Blues

It is Oba who brings her to my house late at night because my parents won’t take her in. They have had just about enough with Emeka and his women issues.

“Jide, if you talk to your brotehr, tell him to be a man, for God’s sake,” my mom pleads on the phone as I open the door to let Oba and Yazmin in. “We can’t keep taking on his responsibilities.”

According to the story, Emeka took Tobe from Yazmin and abandoned her for five days. Presently, she is ill. Oba brings her in, literally helping her walk. For the zillionth time, I want to punch Emeka really hard in his face. Whatever she has done to him, this is no way to treat a woman. It is totally irresponsible and I’m fed up with his nonsense.

“Yazmin, tell me how you feel?”

“Heartbroken.”

“I mean, literally. You feel feverish, any pain, headache…”

“Really, I’m heartbroken.” She shivers. “This is not the first time it’s happening. When Mex dumped me and went back to Tola, I got like this. When he married her, it was the same thing. So don’t worry about me. Just get him here, could you? When I see him, I’ll feel a lot better. And I miss Tobe too.”

I refuse to listen to her. She looks messed up. I walk into my room and return with a stethoscope and thermometer. I take her vitals and discover that her pulse is erratic and her temperature way above normal.

“Any tummy ache?”

“A little.”

“Headache?”

“Yeah. Burning eyes.”

“Have you started seeing your periods again?”

“Yeah.”

“And the last was…?”

“Two weeks ago, I think.”

I read her pulse for the second time. I don’t think she’s pregnant but I can’t be too sure.

“Can I go pee?” she requests. Oba offers to help her up. The moment he takes hold of her hand, she vomits some greenish substance over my floor. Oba jumps back but I take a good look at the puke.

“It’s malaria,” Honey says from where she stands by the door.

“Yeah. I think so too. Yazmin, we need to get you to the hospital to run some tests and probably have you admitted.”

“I hate needles!” she cries.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

The last time I had a fight with Emeka was in secondary school and I gave him a beating he never forgot. Right now, we’re too old for any type of fist fight but I think a good tongue-lashing is in order.

I see his car driving into the hospital premises. I wait beside my car as he parks and approaches me. There is a heavy-set frown on his face that doesn’t move me.

“Two days, Mex. She’s been on admission for two days and you’re just getting here! What type of demon is worrying you?”

“The type that lives down the lane of mind-your-business.”

He makes to walk past me but I put a hand to stop him. He stares down at the hand and slowly lifts his eyes to look into my face. When I stare back into his eyes, I see beyond his façade. He is falling apart.

“Get your shit together, Mex. Treat your wives right. You chose this path. No one forced you into it. So get your shit together.”

“And you suddenly become the elder brother who gives good advice that I need to follow.”

“Don’t be an idiot.”

“Don’t tell me what to do! When I needed your help, you sat on your high horse and refused to be involved! The Yazmin you’re forming Voltron for is the same woman you wanted out of my life! Just because she showed up at your door and told you a sob story, she is suddenly an angel and now I have demons! Well, why don’t you go ahead and fuck her since you’re on a spree of fucking my wives?!”

I ball my fist but by some divine intervention, I keep my hand down.

“Oh, you wanted to hit me.” He laughs. “You for try yourself. This is not secondary school, Jide.”

I have never felt this humiliated in my life. I keep my head lowered as he marches off. He doesn’t go far when I hear what I suspect to be the sound of a palm coming in contact with a face.

I turn and see Tola about to deliver him a second slap but Honey who is behind her, steps in by grabbing her hand. He tries to push past Tola only to be assaulted by her again. This time she jabs his chest, sending him backwards.

“Is that how you speak to your elder brother and how you treat a woman who is lying sick in bed?! Then what happens when you get tired of me, Chukwuemeka?! You kick me out?! Mm? Yazmin is in there, she is not getting better because of you! You are obligated to take care of her no matter what! You put her in this mess! She is thousands of miles away from her family and you are all she’s got and you abandon her?! Your dear, old mother who ought to be resting has been the one by her side! And you waltz in like a boss and disrespect your elder brother! What about your son?! You separated him from his mother! Are you thinking at all, Chukwuemeka?!”

Emeka’s anger immediately bubbles down. “But I’m here to see her nau, doc.”

“You’re scaring me, Chukwuemeka! I don’t know who you are again!”

Tola shoves him aside and marches to her car. I stand and watch his eyes follow her. When he sees me looking, he turns and makes his way into the hospital. Honey and I walk to Tola’s car. She is seated behind the wheels, crying. Honey slips into the passenger’s side.

“I think my pregnancy is making me soft. Or else explain why I was fighting my own husband for not taking care of the chick that’s destroying our marriage? Would any woman in her right senses do what I just did? Honey, would you?”

Honey doesn’t respond.

“I can’t do this anymore, Dede. I just can’t. I think I’ll annul this marriage.”

Honey stares up at me sadly, urging me with her eyes to say something. I have a lot to say but not as much as Tola. She has to unburden and understand her pain.

“I love him. As in, mad crazy love that makes me stick with him because I know he’s going through some stuff and he needs someone. The type of love that makes me forget myself and my needs because I want to see him get better. You know that type of love?”

She doesn’t really need an answer from us.

“And then there’s Yazmin who loves him too and she has her own issues to deal with and he doesn’t just want to abandon her, so he takes her baggage and I take his. I carry all of it and I’m falling, Honey! I’m falling!”

Honey lends her a shoulder to cry on but Tola stays there only for a few seconds.

“I am much more than this. Stronger, focused, driven. I don’t take shit from men; everyone knows that. But look at me now. My friends are probably laughing behind my back, Honey. I am in a polygamous relationship. My husband has a second wife!” She laughs. “H-h-how did I get here? Was I sleeping when Emeka got me into this? Why couldn’t I just walk away when I had the strength? Why did I allow him screw me up this badly that I’m beginning to defend the other woman?”

“Because you’re only human, Tola,” Honey replies, holding her hand.

“I don’t want to be! I want to be selfish! To love me alone! To think about my own happiness! Only me! I don’t want to share my husband with another woman! I want what two of you have! Why can’t I get that?”

Honey offers her shoulder again and it was put into good use this time. I wait to drop in my own piece of advice when she calms.

“If you’re not happy with the arrangement, Tola, it’s okay to leave. You have tried abeg. You acted civilly and maturely. It’s now Emeka’s turn to put things straight. And let’s not forget the child you’re carrying. Whether now or tomorrow, he or she doesn’t need all this drama. If Emeka and Yazmin are not willing to be adults, then it’s your responsibility to stand and take firm decisions.”

Honey agrees with a nod.

“I don’t want to lose him, dede but if I don’t walk out now, I may be stuck.”

“You know what to do, Tola. We’ll support you all the way. Just stay strong.”

“Thank you.”

I touch Honey’s cheek. “Sugar lips, see you tomorrow.”

I walk back into the hospital. I have a long night ahead of me

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

Female Chef Preparing Salad In Kitchen

Lord, I am tired! I need a warm bed, a nice cup of aromatic tea and a full body massage from strong hands.

The first two can be arranged but the last, which is what I need direly, is just wishful thinking. For the first time in a long while I am beginning to nurse ideas of wanting a man. But it’s just fleeting. It comes and goes. That’s what happens when you hang around a loving couple like Jide and Honey. They are contagious—the way he kisses random spots on her body when he thinks no one is looking or how they take showers together or the way they lie in the dark at night listening to music and not saying anything to each other. Simply adorable!

A few days ago, Tola and I stayed up late at night, unintentionally listening to them make love. They were hush about it because the power was out and there was pitch silence in the house but every now and then, we heard Honey moan.

“They’re having sex, right?” I had asked.

“Like duh! And I hate them.”

Laughter escaped my lips.

“Do you miss having a man, Mary?”

“No.”

“Well, me I miss my husband.”

Honey moaned again.

“Is it going to last all night?” Tola questioned.

“Are you asking me?”

“Jide should come out and put on the gen for us jare. I’ll go and knock at their door.”

“Leave them.”

“The weather is hot!”

“Go and have a shower then.”

Tola turned and faced me, a pillow wedged between us.

“You know you have to let men back into your life at some point, right?”

“Why?”

“The way you talk about them is disturbing.”

“Really?”

“Well, considering what you went through, it’s allowed.”

But my therapist thinks I have to move past that stage now. She had told me not to put my abuse in the same room with my love life. Those had been her words exactly.

“To you, Reno is a rapist. And Reno is a man. Therefore, all men are rapists.”

She went on to tell me that we were going to work at making sure every important area in my life does not get affected by what Reno did to me.

“It’s going to be tough, Mary but we will pull through.”

And here I am, pulling through, albeit slowly.

“Chef?”

I look up. I’m still not used to being called that.

“One of the guests is asking to see you,” the waiter that had just called me says. “The man is not in the banquet hall. He’s waiting in the reception.”

I rise from my chair beside the massive oven I’ve been watching and wipe my hands on my apron. Once a guest requests to see you privately, it’s a good sign. It means they want to request your services for their own event.

I pick a hot towel from a steamer nearby and wipe off the oil on my face. The scent of eucalyptus fills my nose as I inhale. On my way out, I pump my lips to revive my gloss. It’s just a few steps to the reception and when I get there, I see a few people around. I wish I had asked the waiter what the person looks like.

No one acknowledges my presence, so I assume it’s the guy who is backing me and speaking with the receptionist. I am about to walk to him when a familiar voice calls my name.

I turn and there is Ekene, looking all spruce in a striped blue suit and matching shoes. He had been sitting beside me the entire time and I missed him because he wasn’t wearing his customary shorts and t-shirt.

As I take his strange, new appearance in, my eyes deceive me by telling me he looks gorgeous.

kene2

“Hi,” he says. “What a coincidence. I ask for the chef and it turns out that she is you.”

I regain my sight and realize it is the same Ekene that irritates me.

“Hello Ekene.”

“You’re a big madam o! Catering to international events and shii.”

“How may I help you, Ekene?”

“Can we go somewhere private so we can talk?”

“No. Dessert is to be served in…” I check my watch, “thirteen minutes. I don’t have time.”

“But you came out here to see me.”

I sigh. “Ekene…”

“Fine. I’ll be here till you’re done?”

“Okay.”

I don’t wait one second. I begin back to the kitchen. The soufflés’ I put in the oven are okay by now. Time to get busy.

The kitchen soon fills with waiters and waitresses and a beehive of activity begins. The head waiter and I work together as we have done all day, ensuring service goes smoothly. A tiring hour later, I’m slumped over a table, sipping juice from a party cup.

“For you.”

A waitress dumps a complimentary card before me that holds Ekene’s details. Simply put, he is an oil marketer. Why am I not surprised? When Honey had pointed at his house as we were driving out of the estate last week, I had asked if he was an armed robber. She had laughed.

I turn the card over.

Meet me at the bar, he had scrawled over his social media details. P.S: you look scrumptious in apron.

I hiss. He’s so silly. I drop the card and continue with my drink. I’ll take my time, abeg.

I pour myself more juice and sip slowly, watching the kitchen assistants do the dishes. One of them is singing a Yemi Alade; I tap my feet in rhythm. I don’t leave until she goes into her third song.

I take off my apron, touch up on my makeup lightly and pick my handbag.

“Bye Chef!”

They all wave as I leave. I take a short walk to the bar. Ekene is waiting. He pulls a chair for me when I stroll up to his table. I notice he is not wearing his suit. He is left in his shirt with folded sleeves that expose arms marked by veins.

Why is he disturbingly yellow?

I look away and sit.

“What would you like to drink?”

“Nothing.”

He calls over a waiter and orders a drink on my behalf as I watch him in silence.

“It’s just red wine,” he tells me.

“I already told you I’m not drinking. Can we go straight to business, please? What do you want?”

“Yeah, business… So, my fuel stations will be opening in exactly ten days from now. I didn’t want to throw a party initially but friends will feel offended if I don’t. It’s not going to be something big but it has to be loud enough to make a statement. The food must be exceptional like the one you did here today. Have I said you are an amazing cook?”

I can’t hide my smile.

“You are. And that is why I need your culinary services. Payment will be split in two. Before and after. Does that work for you?”

“Yeah. What type of guests are you expecting?”

He goes into details and I take notes on my phone. For a moment, he is not Ekene, Honey’s annoying ex that drops by at hers, unannounced with his dog and ogles me like he has no home training. He has even lost his slight Igbo accent and is beginning to sound like some foreign national. I find myself being carried away by him until the waiter returns with a bottle of wine on ice.

I slip back into my commonsense.

“I have to go, Ekene,” I say, standing up.

“Why?” he holds my hand. “We’re ending up in the same destination. Sit, let’s drink. Stop forming abeg.”

I pull my hand away. “I’ll text you my account details so you can make the first installment for me to begin preparations. I like to work ahead of time.”

“I like you, Mary.”

I try hard not to hiss.

“Goodnight, Ekene.”

I start to walk away.

“Will you come to my place tomorrow evening and prepare a romantic dinner for me and my fiancée?”

I stop and turn. “You have a fiancée?”

“Not yet. I’ll be proposing to her tomorrow.”

I look into his face to see if he’s teasing but I find him serious.

“And you’ve been all over me?” My voice comes off annoyed.

He laughs. “It’s a man thing. Harmless flirting.”

“You’re disgusting.”

“So, will you prepare dinner for two tomorrow? I’ll pay you well.”

The suppressed hiss escapes my lips as I spin around and stride off. On my way home to Honey’s, I work myself up to annoyance that my logical mind begins to question my reason for my emotional state.

He’s an ass! He’s had a girlfriend all this time and he’s been putting moves on me! Why are men so useless?

But he never really toasted you.

Hello! He doesn’t have to come out straight to toast me for me to know he wanted to get into my pants.

But he never said anything about sleeping with you.

That’s all he wants! That’s all they ever want!

My logical mind lets me be. I sulk the entire way home. I plan to pack my things back to my house first thing tomorrow morning. I know Honey has asked me to extend my stay and even offered the option of being housemates but I’m going to have to graciously tell her I can’t. The thought of having Ekene as a neighbor just plain aggravates me.

I walk into Honey’s sitting room. I find her there with Tola.

“Hey girls!” I greet, taking off my shoes by the door. They hail back.

“Honey, so Ekene has a girlfriend?” I blurt. I can’t hold it in.

“Girlfriend? From where nau?”

“He told me to come and cook dinner for him and his girlfriend tomorrow evening, that he’ll be proposing to her then.”

Honey looks around in confusion. “What are you saying?”

“It’s what he told me. And the whole time he has been making moves on me.”

“Abeg, ignore Kene. He’s just pulling your legs. That’s how he does.”

“Please, just help me tell him to stay away from me because I don’t want somebody to come and disgrace me because of him.”

“He doesn’t have a girlfriend.”

“Okay o.”

“Well, the only way to find out is to make the dinner for them.”

“Why do I want to find out? What’s my business with his love life?”

“Ah. Babe you’re vexing o.”

“My period is around the corner. I hate people annoying me at this time.”

I exit the sitting room. My period may be around the corner but it is not the reason for my bad mood. Ekene is. And I don’t know why any man would make me feel this way.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

I have a calm patient today that goes through labor as though it’s a walk in the park. And she gives all kudos to me.

“You make things easy,” she says to me.

This uplifts my spirit. I promise to check on how she’s progressing in the next thirty minutes as I entrust her into the care of a maternity nurse.

I head to another wing of the hospital where Yazmin is. Earlier my dad visited and left with Nne because I had offered to look after Yazmin for the night. Emeka still refuses to stay with her. I wonder what grave sin she has committed.

“Can I come in?” I poke my head into her room.

“Hi Jide,” she says, pronouncing my name as Jidi. I have never bothered to correct her and I won’t do so now.

“How are you?”

“Better.” She smiles. She does look better. I sit beside her.

“The doctor says that maybe I’ll go home the day after tomorrow.”

“Excited?”

“Yeah. I’ve missed Tobe.”

“Yazmin?”

“Yeah?”

“Why is Emeka so mad at you?”

She looks elsewhere.

“You can talk to me, Yazmin. Anything you say is held in confidence.”

“You’re not going to tell Tola?”

“No.”

She exhales. “I cheated on Emeka a short while before I came to Nigeria. And I didn’t use protection and Tola got chlamydia.”

“Oh.”

“I told Emeka what I did, he got mad and made me do STD tests. Everything came out negative but he still can’t forgive me. I think he wants us to split.”

“Do you love Emeka, Yazmin?”

“Yeah. The guy I slept with…it was just a onetime thing. It was stupid. I was drunk, he was drunk. The day it happened was on my cousin’s birthday but it was also the two-year anniversary of my late boyfriend’s death, so I was pretty messed up that night.”

“Tell me about your late boyfriend? How did he die? Was he ill?”

“No. My dad murdered him.”

I sit straight and stare into eyes that hold pain from her past.

“Has Emeka told you what my dad does? Who he is?”

“Yes.”

“So Marcelo, my late boyfriend, his dad used to work for my dad. He was his second in command but something happened and they split and he started his own drug cartel. To my dad, that was a slap in his face. He ordered me to stop seeing Marcelo but I refused. We loved each other and had plans to elope if things got heated. But that never happened. Marcelo got missing and a couple of days later, parts of his body were sent to his family and a few close friends. I got his left arm where he had my name tattooed.”

I shiver at her story.

“I disowned my dad and permanently moved to New York. That was where I met Mex. He came to me when I needed someone. He helped me get through. We were friends at first and then we shared our first kiss on one snowy night.”

She smiles.

“It felt right. It was beautiful, Jidi. I love Emeka.”

“But he loves Tola,” I tell her plainly.

“I know.”

“Yazmin, I’m sorry for all you went through. I know it was hell but can’t you see that the only reason Emeka is with you is because he feels you still need him? You have dumped your fragile heart in his hands but Tola has already taken up all that space, so he’ll keep letting you down because there’s so much he can take as a man.”

“But a man can have a wife and still keep a mistress. African men can have as many wives as they want.”

“Not this man, Yazmin. He was raised differently. And right now, He is falling apart. If you truly love him, you’ll let him be where his heart wants to be.”

“What are you saying?” Her eyes sheen with tears.

“Let him go. You deserve more than he’s giving you. And he can never be the real Emeka with you or with any of us. We’re all losing him.”

She bends her head. “Please, can you go away? Right now?”

I stand up. Tears slip from her eyes as I take my leave.

Outside the ward, I feel like an evil person even though I am sure I have done the right thing that everyone else is afraid to do. I hope this doesn’t bite me in the back.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

“Mary, this is good,” Tola says with a mouthful. Mary has just whipped some goat meat peppersoup in less than thirty minutes. How she does it, I don’t know. And it tastes so good!

“Your husband will enjoy,” I comment.

“Ekene ba?” Tola teases. Mary chokes and starts coughing.

I dash into the kitchen for some water.

“I know you like him, Mary,” Tola says.

“I don’t.” Mary takes the glass of water I offer. “Thank you.”

“Why are you forming? Every time the guy drops by, you spend at least fifteen minutes moaning about how rude he is or how noisy his dog is.”

“The dog wakes me up from sleep every morning, barking at the window.”

“Awww, it comes to wake its master’s beloved up. How sweet.”

Mary frowns. Tola bats her eyes at her.

“You won’t face what is bugging you, Tola. The tears on your face have not yet dried and you’re entering my own matter.”

“My dear, I’ve decided not to cry for Emeka again.”

“You said that yesterday.”

“And I’ll keep saying it until I mean it. But let’s go back to you, shall we?”

Mary frowns again and diverts her eyes to me. “No, let’s talk about Honey and Jide.”

“Why?” I ask.

“Do you guys have sex every day?”

I flush with embarrassment. I am about to give an answer when a knock comes to the door.

“Who is it?” Tola calls out loud.

“Nicole?” a voice answers and we stare at each other.

“Who is Nicole?” Mary asks.

“She knows herself!” the voice responds.

It is then I recognize who it is and notice that Tola has buried her face in her hands.

“Tell him to go away,” she whispers as I go to the door.

I open it a little. Emeka is standing out there with unsteady legs.

“Hi Emeka.”

He tries to stand straight but sways a little. He rests a hand on the wall. “Tell my wife I need to see her.”

“She doesn’t want to see you.”

“I know but tell her I’m sorry.”

He peeps into the house.

“I’m sorry, doc! I’m very sorry! I miss you! I miss us!”

“Mex, go away abeg!”

“Please, come back home!”

“Go away!”

“Please!”

Tola vacates her seat to the door and slams it hard in his face. I step away. She remains by the door, her back to it.

“You slapped me, doc. Right on my cheek, you slapped me.”

“And I’ll do it again if you don’t go away.”

“I love you!” he hits the door.

“Mex, behave!”

“I can get us back to the way we were! I just need time, baby! Trust me!”

“You’re drunk, Mex. You say a lot of shit you don’t mean when you’re drunk or having sex and I don’t need that right now. Go to your wife. She needs you.”

“You’re my wife,” his voice mellows to an emotional tone. “My wife…”

And then he goes silent for a while.

“He’s gone?” I ask. Tola shakes her head.

“Thinking of the next stupid thing to say.”

And as if he hears her, Emeka resumes.

“You make a grown ass man do stupid things, Nicole. You know that?”

“Your name is really Nicole?” Mary probes.

“No. Just a name he calls me whenever he’s drunk.”

“And I’m about to do one stupid thing now. You remember the time I stripped and sang outside your window under the rain?”

“Don’t you dare, Chukwuemeka!”

“Then come out and stop me before I start.”

Tola covers her eyes. “He’s going to do it. He’s so going to do it.”

“Then go and stop him,” Mary tells her.

“No.”

“I’d have gone to watch if he wasn’t my boyfriend’s younger brother,” I say.

“You’re a bad girl, Hon,” Mary mumbles.

“No but seriously, Tola, he’s doing it?”

“Butt naked.”

“Wow. He really loves you.”

“No, he’s really drunk.”

“Yo, Nicole! I can’t remember all the lyrics to this song but I’ll try.”

“Emeka…” Tola murmurs with a sigh.

I’m never shy but this is different

I can’t explain the way I’m feeling tonight

I’m losing control of my heart

Tell me what can I do to make you happy

Nothing I ever say seems to come out right

I’m losing control of my heart

I wish that I could be

Another better part of me

Can’t hear what you’re thinking

Nicole if I just let go

You’ll open up your heart

Mary and I listen in silence. It’s a song I vaguely know but I am very sure the tempo is upbeat and not as slow as Emeka is going about it.

“Daniel Bedingfield,” Mary says.

“Thank you. Was trying to remember who sang it.”

I watch Tola whose ear is pinned to the door. It’s either I’m seeing things or her eyes have gone misty.

I can’t read you

I wish I knew what’s going through your mind

Can’t touch you

Your heart’s protecting I get left behind

“Aww, so cute,” I coo. Mary eyes me as Emeka continues.

Bla-bla-bla-bla I’m acting stupid

I can’t play the game I’m all intense and alive

I’m losing control of my heart

Bla-bla-bla something-something nervous

I should play my hand all cool and calm

I can’t breathe!

I’m losing control of my heart

Yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah ah

I wish that you could see

The other better parts of me

Feel this fire I’m feeling

Then you’d see me in control

Baby then you’ll know

But I can’t read you

I wish I knew what’s going through your mind

“And he can sing…” Tola whispers, the tears I saw earlier now unmistakable.

Emeka stops as if interrupted.

“He’s done,” Tola tells us, biting her lip.

“Tola, go and meet him nau,” I plead.

“The last time he did this, the police arrested him and I went to get him out of jail and I forgave him,” she sobs. “I’m tired of fixing him, Honey. I’ve tried.”

“But he’s really sorry nau. Just hear him out.”

Tola steps away from the door as if she’s about to consider my request but she turns to the left and enters the guestroom. The silence that supervenes touches both Mary and I deeply for a long moment. I lose my appetite for the peppersoup in my dish.

“This is why I’m never falling in love,” Mary sighs.

I look at her and see Ekene’s complimentary card on the chair beside her.

Interesting.

Does she know she is the ‘girlfriend’ she’ll be cooking dinner for tomorrow? Clearly, she has no idea that she has gotten into an ‘Ekene trap’ and the only way out is to play the game the way he likes it.

Well, me I go just dey watch her like film because chicken wey run from Borno go Ibadan go still end up inside pot of soup

©Sally@moskedapages

Translation:

Chicken wey run from Borno go Ibadan go still end up inside pot of soup – You can’t run away from your destiny

 

 Image source: usa.hermes.com, Getty images

It’s Another Saturday…#25

Good morning!

For those of you who haven’t read the Fish Brain series, it is out for download on Okadabooks. Follow the Facebook link below to download them (Like my page in the process :)). The first book is free while the other two cost just N375 each. Really cheap for the length and the experience. 😉

Please leave a review and tell your friends and family.

FACEBOOK LINK 

As for Boys With Toys, I’ll give you some info on Saturday.

This episode is dedicated to people like me who suffer from depression. Nobody really wants to talk about it but a lot of people go through it. You will find your healing and all the love you need. If you want to talk to someone, you know how to reach me. Hang in there!

Healing
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“So I have a toaster,” Peace whispers into my ear.

My eyes pop out. “Already?”

“What do you mean by already? In fact I have like three toasters.”

She swipes chicken bones off a dish into a garbage bag and places the dish in the kitchen sink. I wash the dish while listening to her tell me about the guy in her church who has the hots for her.

“He’s a widower, no kids, not so rich but very dapper. However…”  She stands beside me, backing the sink. “I’m not ready to go into any relationship now. I need to get a job, rebuild my life from scratch and concentrate on Sammy before I start thinking about men again.”

“But you like this guy?” I turn off the tap.

“Naa. Not really. I’m just basking in my newly-found spinsterhood. It feels great to be wanted again.”

I wipe my hands on a kitchen napkin. “But you know you can actually date someone, right? God will not punish you for it.”

“I know but…I don’t think I’m ready yet. I’ll give myself at least a year…”

“A year? P, cobwebs will grow on you o.”

“What will people say if I start seeing somebody so soon?”

“Who cares what people will say? You owe no one nothing.”

“Mary, it’s not as if anyone is saying anything at church but they judge me with their eyes. You know how we Christians can be sometimes. Nobody wants to know what happened in the marriage, the woman is always to blame.”

“Abeg, ignore them jor. Where were they when you were suffering?”

“Well…”

“Do what makes you happy, my dear.”

“I will.” She hooks an arm around my neck. “But only when you also decide to start dating again.”

“Me keh.”

“If I recall, you were very open to meeting someone new until that Reno incident occurred.”

“Abeg, P leave that thing.”

She faces me. “No, Mary. We can’t let one idiot ruin our chances of happiness.”

Her fingers pick something off my face.

“I’ll find love when you do,” she adds.

“You go old be dat.”

“But seriously, how are you coping?”

I lean back a bit. “It’s hard sometimes. My room still gives me nightmares. I’ve changed my perfume, thrown away my pillows and the sheets that were on the bed that day and basically everything that reminds me of what happened but I still have moments. Therapy helps sha, thanks to Jide who paid for it because God knows I can’t afford that doctor. But I basically find my solace in the Bible. Verdict is, I’ll be fine. I have since moved on.”

I pick out the guilt on Peace’s face and I spare her the unease of having to say something appropriate.

“I think you should dump these garbage bags outside.”

“Yeah.”

She picks two huge bags and hurries out.

I check the time. It’s past eleven and all our friends are gone. Peace thinks I’m spending the night but I feel it would be rude to Honey if I sleep elsewhere. I wonder if I’ll find a cab in this neighborhood at this odd hour.

A jug of freezing apple juice resting on the kitchen counter beckons to me and I go for a glass as I mentally plan for an event I’m catering to next week. I am almost down to my last gulp when Peace returns to the kitchen.

“Mary, there’s a fair guy outside asking after you and Honey. He said he’s been calling Honey’s line and it’s been ringing with no answer.”

“Oh, that’s Ekene. Her ex…em, I mean her neighbor.”

“Ex? Neighbor? Which one?”

“Both.”

Peace places a pot of some nice-smelling stuff on the cooker for her usual night cap concoction. Only Lord knows what’s inside.

“I do hope the guy is not a threat to Jide o,” she says.

“Threat keh? How now? You didn’t ask where Jide carried Honey off to?”

“They left together?”

I laugh. “Lastma! They’re probably in cloud twenty by now. The way his eyes were on her the whole time ehn. And the yeye girl didn’t even notice.”

“Ehya. I’m glad they’re back together.”

“Let me be going, P.”

“Going? But I’m making something for us to eat. All we did was drink all night.”

“Eat what this night, Peace? Abeg, I dey go. Eat your concoction alone.”

She laughs. “Okay, luv. Thank you.”

“Kiss Sammy for me.”

We hug and she walks me to the front door. It’s a bit chilly when I stroll out to the gate. I’m hoping that by some miracle Ekene would be gone by now but I catch him waiting outside his car. I grunt. It’s best to pretend I don’t see him.

I take the opposite route and stick close to the shadows.

“Mary!” he calls out. I frown. He’s so anyhow! “Mary!”

I stop out of annoyance and turn.

“Where are you going?”

“Home.”

“Where is Honey?”

“With her boyfriend.”

He pulls back. “Boyfriend?”

“Yes, her boyfriend. Jideofor. They left together. To his place.”

“You’re sure?”

I roll my eyes.

“I saw that.”

“You saw what?”

“The eye-rolling. I saw it.”

“Well, goodnight.”

“Where are you going?”

“Home.”

“Your house or…?”

“Why do you always ask questions? That was how you were bombarding me all the way here until you missed road.”

“Okay. So, your house or Honey’s?”

“I said I’m going home. That’s all you need to know.”

“Come and enter the car let me drop you.”

“No, thanks.”

I continue walking. I have vowed not to be alone in the same space with any man. Cars are as unsafe as bedrooms and not even a luxurious beast on wheels can make me change my mind. If I am lucky I might get a cab. This part of town is notorious for bad transportation once it gets dark.

I hear a car honk at me. I don’t turn. I know it is Ekene.

“So you’d rather walk in those ridiculously-high stilettos than let me take you home?”

I stride on. He drives beside me.

“It’s unsafe for you to walk all alone by this time of the night.”

I keep walking. He keeps driving.

“Am I irritating or something? Or…you just don’t like Igbo guys? Or is my accent that bad? Or is it my complexion? I know women go for tall, dark and handsome but come on, I’m not that bad. Even Honey thinks I’m cute.”

I snort.

“You think so too.”

My annoyance starts to wane.

“I’ll be fine, Ekene. Just go home.”

“So that Honey will come and skin me alive for not dropping you at her doorstep safe and sound? Biko, just spare both of us the drama and enter the blasted car.”

“Goodnight, Ekene.”

I hasten my steps, leaving him behind. I don’t move three or four feet ahead when his car speeds up beside me and screeches right in front of me, almost making me bump into it.

“Jesus!” I put my hand to my chest and try to catch a racing heart.

He comes out of the car.

“What is wrong with you?!” I scream at him. “Are you crazy?! You almost hit me!”

“I’m sorry. Please, enter the car. I am asking like a gentleman. Please.”

“No!”

I hurriedly cross the street and luckily for me an empty cab slows beside me. Before I get into it, I catch Ekene’s eyes on me. He seems pissed. Like I care.

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

It’s daylight.

I open my eyes and find I am alone. The sun is fiercely making a statement in the sky. I wonder why it’s so hot these days. The weather is just screwed up this year. I pick a remote control from the bedside and change the temperature of the room.

I sit up. Hanging off a chair beside the bed is a jersey with the inscription #Jiney at the back.

I smile.

Jide plays football with his friends on certain weekends. They always compete against each other – the married guys versus the bachelors. On his blog he had asked his followers what they thought the best combo name of he and I would be to inscribe on his jersey. People gave numerous suggestions, a vote was made and the name ‘Jiney’ won.

The week we broke up, there was a huge game planned. Jide did badly and the bachelors lost for the first time.

I pick the jersey and inhale. The scent of fresh laundry cannot mask Jide’s fragrance. I slip into the jersey as my feet touch the floor. I wonder where Jide is.

I can hear my phone ringing from the sitting room. I go for it. Dele’s wife is calling.

“Honey, na wa o!” She shouts into my ear once I take the call.

I dump my weight into the couch Jide and I violated last night.

“How can you just go off radar like this nau? What is going on with you?”

“I’m fine, babe. I was just having some issues, is all.”

“Ha! You made me fear o!”

“But didn’t Saratu pass across my message? I told her to tell you that I needed to be alone for a while.”

“So that’s why you didn’t want to see me abi? Honey, we live in the same town…”

“That can be debated, madam. It’s almost a day’s travel to your side.”

“Shut up, abeg. I was talking. We live in the same town and you didn’t want me to come see you. Why am I your friend, though?”

I play with the tacked edges of the jersey as I listen to her scold me.

“And I feel slighted that Sara has access to you and I don’t.”

“I’m sorry.”

“O ga o! Me I’ve just decided to forgive you ni; if not, we won’t be speaking to each other now.”

“I’m sorry nau.”

“I’ve heard. Anyways, I was calling concerning our business. Everything is set. Sara and I have done our own part. In fact, the running around we did these past weeks ehn, even Dele is complaining. To set up business for Naija no be beans.”

“You girls, well done.”

“Anyway, sha. We’re waiting for your go-ahead. You are our oga at the top.”

I shake my head. Ever since the Oga at the Top incidence occurred, Dele’s wife has not let it be.

“Just do and let’s start before the spirit dies, abeg.”

I sigh. I had literally stopped my whole life for an entire month. Now, it’s hard to get back. I still don’t have the desire to begin again.

“We’ll have to sit and talk about a grand opening,” she adds. I smile. Dele’s wife can’t do without partying.

“Okay, ma.”

“How are you doing? Are you and Jide back together?”

“No.”

“Honey, why nau? That guy loves you. He called me like up to five times this past month. How can you just break a grown man’s heart like that? It’s not fair. Whatever is worrying you, please do away with it and let him back in, abeg.”

“I’ve heard.”

She tells me she loves me and hangs up.

I let my phone down for a second and take in the sitting room as it brings back beautiful memories of Jide and I. I stretch out on the couch, lazy to get up and have a shower. After a while, I go online. I have some Facebook and Instagram notifications waiting which I respond to. Done with them, I go through a couple of fresh emails and discover I have one from my doctor in South Africa which I don’t recall opening. I hiss before I proceed. He’s an unserious man, going off grid when I needed him direly.

I start to read the email and every word I take in stabs me in the heart. Tears veil my sight. I put my phone away and pull my knees together. It is at this moment that Jide comes in.

The front door slams and I hurriedly try to wipe my tears but Jide spots me in the act. He cocks his head to get a good look. I plant a fake smile on my lips.

“Hi.”

“Honey?”

He walks to me, looking sexy in scrubs. Despite my tears, I notice.

“Are you crying?”

With my hands still trying to wipe my tears, I shake my head in a lie. He stoops before me and pulls my legs down.

“I can’t let you keep killing yourself like this, Honey. I’m here, my ears wide open and my heart ready to accept whatever it is you have to tell me. Please, talk.”

“I shouldn’t have had an abortion,” I utter, the words stumbling over each other really fast.

“I shouldn’t have. I was scared that my meds would cause some birth defect for the baby and since I had been on medication way before I got pregnant, I was worried that the damage was already done. But that was no excuse. I should have gone for a scan first or waited to hear from my doctor but I was just so mad at you that day. And now, my doctor is saying I shouldn’t abort the baby, that the pregnancy would be fine even with the meds. But it’s too late, Jide. And it’s all my fault.”

Jide holds my hands to comfort me even though he doesn’t understand half of what I have just spilled. He lets me cry for a while.

“Sit down,” I say to him eventually. He takes the space beside me.

My fingers go into a nervous twisting contest with each other until he places a warm hand over them.

“I have bipolar disorder,” I confess to him. I can’t look into his eyes.

“I was diagnosed six years ago. I remember my doctor breaking the news and me staring back at him in total confusion. I was like, ‘isn’t that a mental illness?’ and he said, ‘yes. You can also call it manic depression.’ I remember not being able to process anything in the days that followed. The diagnosis was way worse than what I was feeling. I had always known, from my teenage years, that my level of depression was not normal. And when the doctor listed out the symptoms for me, a lot of stuff started to make sense. He said it could likely be linked to family history; maybe someone in my family had suffered or was suffering from it.”

“Was there anyone?” Jide asks, lifting a leg to rest on the couch so he can face me better. His sudden question and movement jarred me out of my narrative, making me realize I was sharing for the first time, my darkest secret. Before this, only Ekene knew. And I didn’t have to tell him. After a terrible spell of depression six years ago, he had dragged me to the psychiatrist who studied and pronounced me mentally disabled.

I had felt like dying that day. Questions that had no answers plied my mind for weeks and even today, I am still left in the dark. For this reason, I have kept this part of me hidden, hoping that somehow I would wake up one morning and it would disappear. Being with Jide freed me for a while. In fact, I believed I had been cured until the abortion, which plunged me into darkness, my worst ever. Since I left Jide, I have been locked in, shades drawn, eating myself to stupor and not being able to find my way out.

“I wouldn’t have known then if someone in my family had it. Bipolar is hard to diagnose because apart from the depression, it comes with highs. You have moments when you feel really happy and have lots of energy. But when I think of it now, I think my mom suffered from it. The pain I felt the day Jane shared with us the details of my mom’s death still lingers. It opened up a can of worms that explained a whole lot about what my mom suffered while she was alive. She did not only have to deal with enemies on the outside, she had her own mind working against her just as I do. And I believe that was the reason she readily accepted death when it came. I do not want to end up like her.”

“Are you taking your meds right now?”

“No. I stopped after the abortion and I’ve been on a terrible low.”

“You think medication is bad for you?”

“I think it’s good but too much of a good thing can turn bad too. I don’t know who I am anymore without the meds.”

“Is this why you broke up with me, Hon? You thought I would leave you if I knew?”

“You don’t know me, Jide. The real me. Before I was diagnosed, I could go for months on a constant high with little sleep, always up and running. Sometimes when I’d get off flights, I’d go clubbing and because we were not allowed to drink, I’d compensate with sex. I was in a constantly-spinning wheel. That was how I was able to manage my job competently. My bosses loved my efficiency but I was dying inside. And then I had my lows too. I remember locking myself in the lavatory during flights and just crying for no reason until a colleague would knock and tell me a passenger was waiting to use the place.

“Or at stopovers, I’d do the exact opposite of clubbing and stay locked in my hotel room until the next flight. And this had basically been the story of my life before the meds. I suffered it in the university and also in secondary school but I hid it really well then. Imagine you feeling like just dying but you have to wake up every day, smile, hang with friends and just live a life you don’t really want to live.”

“Do you think the way your siblings treated you could also be a contributing factor?”

“My doctor believes so.”

“Me too. It was painful to watch your elder brother abuse you the way he did.”

“My doctor says the abuse made me isolated and since I didn’t share it with my parents, it became part of my existence and left roots deep inside me. He thinks I should speak to my siblings, tell them how much they hurt me. He says it would help heal me. But I don’t want to.”

“Maybe you need someone to be there beside you. Can you do it if I’m there?”

His request baffles me.

“Why would you want to be there, Jide?”

“What sort of question is that, Honey? I am your friend.”

“You don’t know me, Jide. I am not the Honey you fell in love with. That one you love behaves herself, she is nice, polite, well-mannered, acts moderately…”

“And this one sitting here with me is who?”

“You don’t know me. And it would be best if we stayed away from each other.”

“Honey, you met me and fell in love, and your whole world stopped and you created space for me. You did that. Not the medication. You. And just like that you want to erase everything?”

“Jide, smashing your phone was me just playing with you. I can get worse. You don’t know me.”

“You keep saying that. Give me a chance to know you!”

“It would be a disaster, Jide! I know! I stopped my meds because I want to start my life afresh…”

“Start it with me.”

“No, Jide! I need to be able to, on my own, build myself, and learn how to manage my emotions and my moods before…”

Jide dashes up. “You can’t, Honey! You can’t do it alone! That’s what I’m trying to tell you! I have been there! When I lost Ezinne, I fell into depression and had mindless sex with strangers. I couldn’t sleep alone at night because I’d have nightmares; there must be a girl in my bed every damn night! And yet I couldn’t commit. I went for the ones that were already in committed relationships because I didn’t want strings attached or any type of drama. But in the end, I was lonely, angry and depressed. I’m not saying I’ve felt exactly how you feel but I have been there in the pits and I thought I could heal myself on my own but I couldn’t. And that was when I decided to come back home, to family, to friends…”

He bends his tall frame over me, resting his hands on the couch.

“And then I found you and my life found light. Being with you is my healing process, Erhinyuse. If you go, Honey…you’ll take me back into the dark. Please, allow me be the same for you. The one place you can go whenever you feel too weak to face your day. And of course, we’ll both be taking it one day at a time. Mmh?”

I bury my face in my hands. God! I love this man insanely and he sounds so convincing and I just want to throw my hands in the air and say take me but he doesn’t know the half of it.

“I do. I know more than the half of it,” he says and I look up into his eyes, baffled. “Yes, sugar lips, you just spoke out loud.”

I cover my face in embarrassment. He pushes my hands down.

“And it’s something you have done several times in the past. And I love it. You do other weird things too but I never complained because I have my own crazy.”

He shifts my weave off my face and lets it rest on my shoulder. He does so with so much concentration and tenderness that gets me smiling.

“You have a loving family, you know? And I don’t mean those assholes in Warri. I mean, Nne and her husband. And you have brothers and sisters too.”

He kisses my nose.

“You want to talk about the baby?”

“No.”

“You want to have another baby?”

I giggle but I see he’s serious.

“Be honest, Honey.”

“Funny enough,” I reply reservedly, “I want to be given another chance. I know it’s not a cure but yeah, I want to be a mom.”

“That can be arranged, starting from…last night.”

We both laugh.

“So, I think you’re reeeally beautiful and I think you have an awesome mind that I would want to know. So, you think you could maybe be my girlfriend – again?”

I put my arms around his neck and he lifts me up. I wrap my legs around him.

“Is this a yes?”

“Mm-hm.”

He knots his eyebrows. “Have we tried this style before?”

“Jide?”

“Just checking.”

∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞            ∞

I’m apprehensive about speaking to Yazmin about this claudia thing. How do I go to her and say ‘hey, Yaz you could have claudia’? She would just flip.

I should have paid more attention in my biology classes because I vaguely recall my sexy biology teacher saying something about the penis being the host of certain infections. I wasn’t concentrating, of course. I was staring at her boobs and thinking of the many things I could do with it.

Now, this claudia stuff, I’m wondering for how long I’ve had it and went about not knowing it was there. I dare not Google it, not after Tola’s scary questions about my balls. Yeah, that’s one of the perks of marrying a doctor. They scare you with medical stuff. Maybe the infection is not even that bad; I suspect it’s one of those things women have that comes and goes.

“Papi, what’s wrong?”

I stare at my son and look up at Yazmin.

“Does he have big ears?”

Yazmin gazes at Tobe like he’s a hunk. “No. He’s just so cute.”

“Well, for a baby he has big ears.”

“Papi, you want some syrup with your waffles?”

“Waffles kwa?” I frown at Yazmin. “Bia, when will you learn how to start cooking ogbono and egusi or learn how to say ‘Emeka’?”

She hisses, Nigerian style, and walks back into the kitchen where she emerged from.

“At least, you learnt something.”

“Syrup or plain?” She shouts from the kitchen.

“Plain, abeg. Which one is syrup?” I stare at my son. “Toby, your mother wants to turn us to white men and give us jedi-jedi and we say no to that. You are full-blooded Igbo. Your name is Tobechi Onuora. You’ll speak Igbo before you speak Spanish and when you see me, you say ndewo or I’ll daze your jaw.”

The tot bursts into a cry.

“You don’t like what I’m saying? Screw you.”

Yazmin returns with a breakfast tray and wrinkled brows. “Why do you always make the boy cry?”

“Because I can.”

She carries Tobe with one hand and sets the tray on my lap with the other. She picks a chair facing me to nurse Tobe. wafflesI stare at the breakfast. I want to scold her for the joke of a meal but I don’t want a fight this morning. This is basically all she knows how to cook.

“Thank you, mi vida.”

“De nada.” She smiles.

“So um… Tola has claudia and she thinks we might all be infected. It would be good if we run tests and…”

“Wait, back up. Tola’s got what?”

“Claudia.”

“Claudia?”

“Yeah. It’s an infection.”

Yazmin blasts into laughter and gets Tobe terrified. He shrieks out in an annoying voice.

“I’m so sorry, baby.” She places him back on her nipple. “Your daddy just cracks me up. What the hell is claudia?”

I ignore her and dig into my waffles.

“I’m guessing you mean Chlamydia.”

“Whatever. Tola has it. She swears it’s not from a dirty swimming pool in Mauritius and God knows I’ve been faithful to you girls, so I don’t know where else it came from. My best bet would be a public toilet.”

“So you want us to get tested?”

“Yeah. And also get treated.”

“Okay.”

I pause. “Okay? That’s your answer to all I just told you?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re not worried that you have a nasty claudia infection? That it is going to affect our sex life? You’re not upset about it?”

“No. I guess shit like this happens in polygamous families.”

“Oh. I see.”

“You see what?”

I slant my head in the direction of the kitchen.

“Erm…what’s the name of this girl again?”

“Bossy?”

“It’s Bose, Yaz. Bo-se.”

“Whatever. I don’t like her.”

“Bose!” I call the housemaid.  She answers and appears before me in seconds.

“Take my son from his mother.”

She stares at Yazmin and back at me.

“Sir?”

“Take the boy and give him formula.”

“Why?” Yazmin questions.

“Take the boy, my friend!”

Bose approaches Yazmin hesitantly and Yazmin, slightly scared by my sudden change of mood, passes the baby to her. I wait until we’re out of earshot before I speak.

“Who did you fuck, Yaz?”

“Wh-what?”

“Who did you fucking fuck to give me and Tola claudia?!”

“Nobody, papi.”

“Yaz, it’s nine in the morning and I have to be at the office before ten. I ain’t got time. You better start talking before I walk out that door.”

She does a silent and slightly insolent sigh. “Some guy I met at a party back home.”

I am instantly traumatized. I zap into a coma for a few and come back to life. I’m not sure how long I stayed in oblivion but clearly it wasn’t long enough because I return to find the two-timing bitch’s face glaring back at me with a do-your-worst look.

I mentally take a drink of icy water to cool me down. She must not see my heart cracking.

“Details, Yazmin.”

“My cousin, not the fat one, the one with the big boobs…”

I recall the cousin in question.

“It was her birthday and she threw a party at her house and I was there. I got drunk, met some guy from my high school and stuff happened. It meant nothing, really. Just sex.”

Ah! I don die! Wetin I go marry?

“Just sex,” I mumble.

“Yeah.”

“And this happened when?”

“I think a week before I came here.”

“Just sex,” I repeat.

“Papi, you’re mad?”

At this point, I can’t form again. My mouth hangs open and I glare at her as she continues speaking out of turn.

“I mean, I didn’t know our marriage is supposed to be that serious. We said we were only doing it to get my dad off our backs and so that I can have my life, away from him. Not like I’m Tola that you’re openly crazy over. I’m just the baby mama.”

“And that’s why you feel you can fuck around like a cheap ass puta.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“That is what you are!” My rage comes full force as I spring up. “How can a married woman, a mother who is breastfeeding go partying, get drunk and fuck around?!”

“It was just the one guy.”

“And without a condom?!”

“It was a mistake.”

“Mistake?! Bitch, his dick accidentally fell into your pussy?!”

“Don’t shout on me!” She starts to cry as my phone decides it is the best time to ring. I check the Caller ID; it’s a call from work. I reject it and face her.

“I don’t know how you do it in Mexico but here, a married woman who does what you did is sent packing. And that’s what’s gonna happen to you.”

It’s her turn to be shocked.

“Yes, I’ll call your dad and your mom and tell them what a slut you are after I send you back home!”

I grab my car key and head for the door.

“And yes, Tobe is not going with you,” I add.

She hurries to me before I leave.

“I’m sorry, papi. It meant nothing. I was just horny.”

“I bought you a fucking vibrator last Christmas! You even have those huge ass candles in your room you could have used! Why fuck a stinking dick that is infected with Mexican claudia and pass it to me and my wife?! Why would you do me like this, Yaz?! I defended you before Tola!”

“I’m sorry.”

“And you weren’t going to tell me?”

She blurts out series of excuses and apologies that make no sense and sends me into a rage again. To keep my lid on, I storm out. Once in the car, I dial her number and tell her to get dressed. We have to run tests at the hospital. I swear to God, if there is one more STD apart from this claudia, she is going back home. I won’t kill myself because of woman.

©Sally@moskedapages

 Image credits: huffingtonpost.com, www.lepainquotidien.nl

It’s Another Saturday…#23

It Must Have Been Love

Shit has hit the fan at last. We have been called to a family meeting by my parents on this humid Monday morning to settle issues between Emeka and Tola. As told to me by my mom, Tola had threatened to kill Emeka with a knife last night, literally holding his penis hostage for nine hours until the sun came up and Kalu drove over to rescue him. They say she is still in bad shape but Nne has been able to calm her down. Now, she wants to have a word with everyone.

I really don’t know why I have to be there. I wish they would just cut me off from anything that has Emeka’s name on it. I have my own issues to deal with, the biggest being how I am going to convince the woman I love that I am not a colossal ass.

God will not easily forgive me for what I did to Honey. I think yesterday I got to the lowest point of my life with my words to her. I didn’t sleep through the night. I spent the entire time whipping myself psychologically and emotionally. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was trying to get through to her line but was unable to.

“I don’t know what to tell her, boo,” I say to Mary over the phone.

“Just apologize, Jide. And assure her that you didn’t mean those words.”

“I didn’t but truth is I freaked out.”

“You are a grown ass man, Jide.”

“Boo, I needed time to think it through and let it all sink in. A baby is not a new gadget or a new car you just acquire. A baby is a life, an entire human being. If I don’t welcome him or her mentally and emotionally, then accepting them physically would be a farce. I had to prepare myself!”

“Well, see what your preparation has caused you.”

“She was inconsolable. My God! She cried like she was losing her dad all over again. I felt so terrible and I still do.”

“Abeg, don’t waste time. Go and tell her sorry before I take it personal.” Mary hisses. “Na dis kind story dey vex me. You just fall my hand big time, Olajideofor.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t tell me sorry! Go and tell her. And get an engagement ring while you’re at it for heaven’s sake!”

“Okay ma.”

Mary hangs up. I look outside the window of the cab I’m in. There’s Monday rush traffic building up ahead of us. I brace myself for wasted time and use the opportunity to cancel appointments with my patients, reassigning them to junior midwives. I intend to take the entire day off to be with Honey. She needs to know how much I love her and that I do not plan to bail on her or the baby, even though I am yet be excited that she is pregnant.

I arrive at the family house really late, hoping they had carried on their meeting without me. Unfortunately, I meet them in good time. The old man is about to speak when I enter the sitting room.

“Sorry I’m late,” I apologize. “Traffic.”

“Sit down.” My mom points to an empty space on a sofa beside Oba. When I get myself comfortable, I take in my environment.

Tola is seated in-between my parents on one of the three-sitters. Emeka and Kalu are put together while Yazmin occupies a single couch. My mom appears more exhausted than saddened. She holds Tola’s hand in both of hers. Yazmin seems uneasy and she draws no comfort when her eyes briefly catch mine.

“I was about sharing a true story before you walked in Jideofor,” my dad speaks. “You remember your late Uncle, Festus, my eldest brother?”

“Yeah.”

“He fell into a similar situation with Chukwuemeka when he recently got married to your aunty. Festus played away match with one small girl in a neighboring village and she gave birth to twin girls for him. Meanwhile your aunty had a son for him already. So, it was that he wanted to secretly settle the mother of his twins and send her on her way but our father said, ‘No. We do not do such in our place. The woman has given birth to your child and by doing that, you have completely killed her market. Who do you now want to leave her and the twins for? What man will even take secondhand cargo?’

“So, your grandfather refused. And thus, Festus and all the males in the family went over to the girl’s village and paid her dowry and brought her home. She was given her own room in the compound and they all lived in peace with your aunty even after your uncle’s death. What is the essence of my long story?”

“I wonder,” Oba murmurs. My mom eyes him.

“My daughter, Omotola,” my dad continues, “we cannot drive the mother of one of our sons away, especially since he is a first son. It is not in our culture to do so. It is better that the mother on her own accord, chooses to leave. We will bless her and send her on her way in peace but she will not take our son along. I have already told this to Yazmin. She says she has no desire to leave. You were here when she said it. Your husband who is also her husband wants her to stay. We too, we want her to stay. Omotola, I know it is painful but my daughter, what has happened cannot be reversed. And that is why, as a family, we plead with you in God’s name to forgive two of them and accept Yazmin as your sister.”

Tola looks away from him.

“Forgive your husband for his foolishness.”

“But daddy, if the table was turned and I did what Emeka did, won’t you be throwing me out of the house now?”

“Good question,” Oba comments.

“My dear, I am not a hypocrite. I will not throw you out of my son’s house if you did what he did. It is his right to do as he wishes, not mine. I may suggest it to him but I’ll leave him with his decision. The same way I am letting you know right now that it is your choice to stay with him or to go. But we are hoping you stay because you are now part of us and you’re carrying an Onuora. It will hurt us immensely if you go away but we will understand. Nevertheless, we beg you to forgive, to accept Yazmin as your sister and to manage this misbehaving Igbo family as part of yours.

“As for Chukwuemeka, your chapter is not closed in my book. There will be consequence for this grave wickedness you have displayed. May God deal with me severely if I see your face in this house after today. From now on you are banned from coming here.”

Emeka gulps. “What?”

“Lawrence…”

My dad raises his hand and stops my mom. “I’ve said what I’ve said.”

“You’re disowning me?”

“I have no right to. You’re still my son and that’s never going to change but you are not welcome here any longer.”

“Daddy, please.” Tola pleads.

I stare at my mom, expecting her to speak on her son’s behalf but she doesn’t. Her eyes hold tears that may take twenty years to spill. Her mercy has reached its limit and so has everyone else’s except Tola’s.

“Daddy, please forgive him.”

My father’s face is set in stone as he looks at Emeka who has gone on his knees. He dare not approach him.

“I’m sorry, dad. I screwed up big time. I’ll fix it–”

“How?” My dad probes. “You mess yourself up and the women who love you and you say you will fix it? How? What legacy do you want to leave your children with? When Tobe grows up to be a man tomorrow, what would he have learned from you? Or do you think women are rags you use to mop the very floor you walk on? When did you become this useless person? Where did we go wrong?”

The weight of my father’s pain falls on me and I am reminded of my own responsibility waiting. How do I present my case to them without them concluding they have failed as parents? I don’t feel any different from Emeka. We are both fuckboys. Our dicks have spoken for us and chosen the paths of our destinies. While Emeka seeks to ‘fix’ his issues, I intend to make things right with my woman.

I watch as Tola leaves her seat and plants her knees on the floor before my parents.

“Get up,” my mom commands. “Don’t kneel on his behalf.”

“Please mom, I want to speak. This is the reason why I called everyone together.”

“You’re pregnant…”

“I am fine. Please Nne, let me speak.”

“Go ahead.”

“Daddy, mommy, you’re the only parents I have. You have been kind and loving to me even with my flaws and mistakes. I owe you more than I can ever repay you. Right now, all I have to give back is my love and respect and this child I am carrying and that is why I have no intention of leaving Emeka. I have vowed for better or for worse and if this is the worse I’ll have to live with, then I’m ready for it. Oyibo woman no fit enter my domot come kolombi my husband. All of us go die on the line.”

Oba sniggers and I smile.

“Mommy, daddy, I just want to say thank you for stepping into this messy situation.”

Nice one, Tola. You just scored high on the scale of best daughter-in-law. Yazmin, your storytelling skills won’t cut it in this round.

Tola dabs her eyes with the back of her hand and returns to her seat.

“Emeka,” she confronts her husband. “I don’t know if love you the way I used to. It will take God’s grace to get us back to that place of love. Last night when I held your… When I held you, I had a lot of time to think things through. And I have come to the following conclusion if we want this marriage triangle to work. One: this baby I’m carrying, whether boy or girl will be considered your first child. Two: Yazmin is not entitled to anything you own. You will take care of Tobe and her but if anything happens to you or she decides to leave, she goes with nothing. Three: Yazmin must live in this same town with me. Not far away from me. I don’t trust her; I want my eyes on her. Four: I am the official Mrs. Chukwuemeka Onuora, the one you take for public functions. Five: If you do not accept my terms, you are free to leave but I will make sure I drain you of every last kobo you have. These are my terms.”

There is a hush that allows everyone present mull over her words.

“Thank you, darling,” Nne says. “Chukwuemeka? Yazmin? What have you both to say to all that Tola has just laid down?”

Emeka nods and looks at Yazmin.

“I’m fine with it,” she replies.

“It’s not just to say you are fine with it,” my dad drops in. “You are to say, ‘thank you,’ because no woman of this generation is this generous to share her husband with another woman, so don’t sit there and act like it’s your right to take what rightfully belongs to her.”

“I’m not trying to…”

“In short, you have no mouth or claim over Emeka as long as Tola exists in his life. She has become your madam. You’ll call her aunty. You will respect her the same way you respect us. If Emeka does anything to hurt you, you will not come to us but go straight to her to report him. She is your mommy as well. I will not hear that you were rude to her or you try to rub shoulders with her. Do you hear me?”

“Yes, dad.”

“That is our culture here. In the olden days in some parts of Igboland, the first wife was responsible for searching for and initiating marriage procedures to bring in a new wife for her husband. And once that wife has been brought in, she must accord the older wife all the respect she deserves. That is how it is done. If you cannot cope with the terms, Yazmin, feel free to find your way back to your father’s house but you must drop our son for us. Do you understand?”

“I do, dad,” a tearful Yazmin answers. She seems harassed by the old man who before now has been a cool dad to her.

“Oya, say thank you to Omotola.”

Yazmin faces Tola. “Thanks.”

“Which one be thanks? No, my dear. Do things properly. Yorubas love respect. You saw how she went on her knees before us? Do the same.”

“Dad?” Emeka protests.

“Shut your mouth,” my mom fires back.

With tears streaming down her face, Yazmin lowers to her knees before Tola. “Thank you, Tola.”

“Get up, abeg. After you’ll go and give him head behind my back.”

I try hard not to laugh but I can’t help it. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of drama between both women. Yazmin looks like she has some trouble in her as well.

“Dad,” Emeka speaks up, “please take back your words about me not showing up here again. I’m really sorry for everything. I would do anything…”

“You have done enough.” The old man stands up. “You need to start undoing now. Until I see a man in you, a true husband and a responsible father, you are not welcome here. Have a nice day, everyone else. I have things to do.”

As he walks up the stairs, I see our perfect family falling apart. I wonder if things will go back to the way they used to be.

I hang around a bit to add some comfort to my mom’s life but she assures me that she is fine.

“I’ll spend the rest of the year praying, Jidenna. Everything is so confusing right now and I don’t know which way to turn but I know God will heal this family and set things right. The devil will not succeed.”

“Amen,” I say sincerely. Holding her frail form in a hug, I tell her I love her. She pats my cheek and I step into the kitchen for a drink of water. I see Yazmin sitting before the kitchen table, her phone is placed before her and she is on a video call to a woman I’m guessing is her mother. I don’t understand Spanish but I gather that the woman is mad at her for some reason, going by the way she is screaming. I feel somewhat sorry for Yazmin. Honey has told me she is also having a hard time on her own.

yaz

I take my drink of water and rinse the glass cup.

Yazmin looks at me briefly. She is on her way to a smile but I step out of the house through the backdoor.

“Jide!”

I turn to see Emeka trudging after me.

“I was thinking…” He walks up to me. “I’m trying to get Yaz her own place because I don’t think she’ll be comfortable here again. So I was thinking that since she’s in good terms with Honey, she could bunk up with her until…”

“No.”

“You didn’t even let me finish.”

“My girlfriend’s house will not be a hotel where you drop by to shag your wife whenever you’re horny. Besides, Honey is going through a lot right now. She doesn’t need stress.”

“Okay. No wahala.”

I start to walk away but he stops me again.

“I don’t want this thing to tear us apart, JD.”

“It won’t. I just have my own ish to deal with. As for Yazmin, I’ll come round. Just give me time.”

My answer seems to please him. He goes back to the house while I head out the gate. There are usually no cabs cruising by at this time of the day, so I decide to take a walk and while I do, I try Honey’s number. It rings, much to my nervousness. I have not prepared a speech for her yet.

“Hello?”

Hearing her voice takes the edge away.

“Hello?” I repeat. I can’t work up the words to express how sorry I am.

“Um…are you home?”

“Yeah.”

“Can I come over?”

She sniffles. “Alright.”

“Honey, are you okay…?”

She disconnects the line and I’m left staring at my phone. I hear the horn of a car, cock my head to see a cab and I flag it down.

The driver takes me to Honey’s house. Saratu lets me in and I head straight to Honey’s bedroom. I find her crouched on the floor and her head on the bed. Her face is to the wall, she is not crying.

“Honey?”

At the sound of my voice, she blinks but says nothing. I pull her up from the floor and try to look into her eyes but she wouldn’t let me. She dives into the bed and burrows her head in a sea of pillows.

“Honey, talk to me.”

“She won’t.”

I turn to the door where Saratu is standing.

“She’s been like that since last night.”

“What happened?”

Saratu’s expression shows that my question is ridiculous.

“Let’s talk.”

I do not want to speak with her but it seems she has something to tell me. I follow her to the sitting room and take a seat. She sits facing me.

“She had an abortion,” Saratu reveals and my chest constricts.

“Yesterday when you left, she went to some pharmacy in God-knows-where and bought a pill. In the evening she was tossing and crying in pain and bleeding as well. So I took her to the hospital where it was discovered that the pregnancy was threatened. A D&C had to be carried out immediately. We came back home around ten and she has since been like this.”

“Has she eaten?”

“No.”

I stand up and turn towards Honey’s bedroom.

“I think maybe you should go,” Saratu says to me, arms crossed. “You have done enough damage already.”

“Excuse me?”

“My friend loves you to death. The pregnancy was a mistake. She didn’t plan to trap you or whatever rubbish you told her yesterday. She nearly killed herself with that pill. All because of you! So you don’t deserve her. She has a full life ahead of her and she doesn’t need you in it.”

“Erm…Saratu, I understand your concern for your friend but it does not give you the right to be rude to me.”

I walk back into Honey’s bedroom.

“Close the door,” she says.

I do not only close the door, I turn the key in the lock and face Honey. She is now seated with her back to the wall, a pillow on her laps.

“I killed our baby, Jide. And I’m scarred.”

I walk to the bed in a slow pace.

“I wasn’t thinking when I drove out to buy the pill. I was just so mad at you and I wanted to get even. If I had just waited until the morning…”

She sniffles.

“My dad used to tell me to wait until the morning whenever I’m angry because daylight makes a person see better. I should have waited. Now, she’s gone.”

“She?”

“Our baby. She’s gone.”

I sit beside Honey and take her hand.

“I slept briefly this morning and had a dream about her. She had very weird hair like an albino. And then she had this really cute pink dress with tiny butterflies on it. She was on a swing chair and I was pushing her gently but she wanted me to push harder and higher and she was saying, ‘mommy, up! Up!’ And so I pushed harder and harder until she disappeared and the chair came back empty. And then I woke up.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Guilty. Depressed. Angry.”

“Physically, how are you doing?”

She laughs drily. “Fine. And that’s what’s weird. I take a life and I feel fine. My womb should be killing me right now or something.”

“It doesn’t work like that, Honey.”

“God will punish me. I know that. This is the second time, so God is on my case. Maybe when I eventually get married I won’t be able to have babies again.”

“Don’t talk like that.”

“I shouldn’t? Jide, I committed murder! I killed an innocent life!”

“Calm down.”

“You’re not angry at me? You’re not mad that I killed your baby?”

I scratch my head. I don’t want to answer her question. Of course, I am upset that she did what she did but what right do I have to scold her? It was me who told her that I wanted nothing to do with the baby. I stood and watched her cry her heart out and still accused her of wanting to trap me. In my opinion, I am equally culpable, if not worse. It’s like the case of Adam and Eve and I will not make that mortal mistake of putting the blame on her.

“I am not mad at you, sugar lips. Rather I am mad that I made you do such a terrible thing.”

“I am sorry, Jide.”

“Me too. For what I said and how I acted yesterday. Can you forgive me?”

She runs her hand over my beard. Her smile is broken. I want to take her in my arms and heal her but I feel this rift between us. It’s in the way her eyes look at me. There’s something missing in her stare. But maybe it’s just the psychological trauma that she’s passing through. It’s not something new to us in the medical field. Whether through careless mistakes, deliberate attempts or medical conditions, we get mothers like Honey, who after losing their pregnancies or babies, temporarily lose their mind to guilt. Abortion can be devastating and I have heard of cases where women immediately regretted their actions after the deed is done and plunge into deep psychological trauma. Oftentimes, they do not want to be consoled as they feel the guilt is the best punishment for what they have done.

“I shouldn’t have,” Honey whispers. I squeeze her hand. She pulls it away from me.

“We need to talk,” she says.

“I’m listening.”

“I think we should break up.”

I crease my brows. “What’s the meaning of that?”

She looks at me. “I’m not in a good place right now. I can’t be the person I used to be. I need to go through this alone.”

“No, we’ll go through it together, Honey. Your pain is my pain. Your loss, my loss. We will weather this storm together.”

She shakes her head. “No.”

“I’m not listening to you.”

“Jide, we are not good for each other. We are not ready to love. It was all about the sex and good times but when we both faced reality, both of us thought only about our selfish interests and in the process, lost a life. Do we need a prophet to tell us that we are not meant to be?”

“Honey, we will heal and learn and grow from our mistakes; not run from them.”

“I’m sorry I just can’t continue. All I felt before, the warm emotions, the feelings of desire, the sheer joy of just being around you, they’re all gone. I don’t see you the same, Jide.”

“You’ve fallen out of love?”

“What is love, Jideofor? Butterflies in the tummy? Passionate sex? Dinner date and trips to the cinema? Breakfast in bed? What is it exactly?”

“It’s when two people care for each other the way we do.”

“It’s a lot more than that, Jide, and sadly, we don’t have it. We’re just two selfish people infatuated with each other and it’s time we went our separate ways.”

The look in her eyes I saw earlier is now full bloom. The Honey I used to know is no longer there. Dear Lord, what have I done to a good woman?

“Honey, you’re just going through a phase right now and you’ll overcome it. I am here to hold your hand through it. That is what true love does…”

“No, Jide.”

“Honey…”

“No,” she emphasizes and rises up from the bed. I watch her in dazed silence as she walks to the door and holds it open. It is not until I spot tears in her eyes that I realize I am actually being dumped.

“You’re not thinking clearly, sugar lips.”

She says nothing. And I think she’s sparing me the indignity of a nasty breakup. I stand up and take slow steps to her in the hopes that she’ll change her mind but she looks at me with a blank stare that is alien to her features.

“Honey, I love you.”

“Me too. But I need to understand what that all means.”

“Do I give you time?”

“Don’t wait for me, Jide. I don’t know what is happening to me right now and I don’t want to keep you waiting. If you find someone else, please move on.”

“I will not move on. I’ll wait for as long as you keep me waiting, Hon. You are my wife and what happened yesterday only solidifies what we have. We have just experienced our first and probably only loss…”

“Just stop, please. And go. I need to be alone.”

“I respect that.”

She avoids my eyes but I pull her close and hide my face in her neck. I breathe in her smell and my hand feels the smoothness of her skin as my arm goes round her waist. I can’t believe she wants to take all of this away from me. What do I do with myself in her absence? How do I cope without her sugar lips?

I plant soft pecks on her neck and chin until I find her soft lips. Just one taste of her and my mind takes me back to that first kiss at Celia’s home party.

“We’ve come such a long way, sugams. Why do you want to throw everything away?”

“Go, Jide.”

I kiss her some more and her body naturally settles into mine.

“Go.” Her voice is weak and so are the hands that try to push me away. I know I can easily take advantage of her but I choose not to. I step back and catch a glimpse of how much she loves me through eyes veiled with tears.

“Keep the car, keep your key to my house,” I tell her. “Like I said, I’ll be waiting.”

“Go, please…”

I kiss her forehead and walk out. It’s the longest trip I have taken from her bedroom to the front door and each step is agonizing. She is not the only one who will go through the pangs of guilt. Mine awaits me in the dark places of my heart.

I step out to the sun and for some reason it burns hotter than normal. A lizard scurries past me as I step on the trimmed lawn beneath me. I look down and the grass doesn’t seem so green, the same way little blooming flowers in a flowerbed nearby have lost their color.

Must be my eyes or the blinding sun or maybe this is what heartbreak really feels like.

Mixed race couple holding hands

©Sally@moskedapages

Image Credit: www.revistapredicciones.clwww.veooz.com

Translations:

Na dis kind story dey vex me – It’s this type of story that gets me angry

Oyibo woman no fit my domot come colombi my husband – a white woman cannot just show up in my territory and snatch my husband

No wahala – no problem