The Girl Next Door
They say the best cure for a hangover is more alcohol.
This is my way of the ninja. I catch a cold, I take ice water. I stub my big toe, I punch a door. I sleep with my brother’s psychotic fiancée, I get over the shock by smashing another chick. Not intentionally, though. This encounter just sort of happened. I didn’t go looking for the girl; she came for me and the rest is for the books.
I start the day, as you well know, roughly. Having just discovered that I’ve committed an abomination I become sober and start to reflect on my useless life. I try to pray but I feel God won’t listen, that he has allowed this adversity to fall on me as punishment. I have decided to take it in stride, although I haven’t concluded on what I’ll do with Tola. All I know is that I can’t let Emeka get married to her.
Since Church is out of my schedule for the day, I call my youngest brother, Obasi to come pick me and take me to my place. Oba arrives and waits in the hotel’s parking lot while I make it downstairs. He spares a greeting without looking at my face. I try to make short conversation with him but he tells me not to bother, that I mean nothing to him. He is just twenty-three years old. The last time I saw him, he was eighteen. I tell him I’m sorry for disappearing from his life. He tells me to shove it.
“Oba, I know you’re mad and I want to repeat that I’m sorry.”
“Jide…seriously, stop.” He has one hand on the steering and the other is holding his phone which has his attention. I’m uncomfortable with it, so I reach for the phone but he snatches it back and eyes me.
“It’s dangerous to text and drive,” I maintain. He ignores me. I reach for the phone again and this time, I pry it off his hand. He wants to retort something nasty but I point ahead of us; an SUV is heading our way. Oba swerves to avoid.
“Just face the road, biko.” I let out a breath. I have a moment of panic; the SUV has sparked images of the event that almost claimed my life five years ago.
“Why did you even come back?” Oba asks. “You should have just remained there. The most annoying part was that we were hearing gist of how you were balling. The chicks, the parties, we heard everything. But you won’t even pick my calls, Jide.”
I look out the window. He wouldn’t understand even if I explained to him. I apologize again. He says nothing further. We drive on without speaking to each other. At some point, I turn to look at him. He has changed from the pimple-faced, hormone-raging teenager I knew. He has cleaned up nicely, with a short crop of punk dreadlocks and a script tattoo on the side of his neck. My parents must have flipped when he came home with that tattoo, my mom especially.
I study his features even more and see what everyone says about us. He is a younger version of me. He has my neatly arched brows, dark solemn eyes, thin lips and even my prominent Adam’s apple. In noses we differ. Mine is slightly flatter than his which is a perfect copy of our mother’s thin and straight nose.
I understand his resentment towards me. I was the cool brother, the one he looked up to for life’s lessons. Then out of nowhere I disappear from his existence with no explanations. Anyone would be mad.
“Turn right.” I give him the directions to my house and he drives me right to my doorstep.
“You live here?”
He takes in my neighborhood with a little frown on his face. The environment is a lot different from the ones we were brought up in.
“Yeah. You want to come in?” I ask as I unfasten my seatbelt.
“No.” He plants himself on his seat and looks away from me. Outside the car kids are playing some game of hurling rubber bands at a line drawn on the ground. Oba concentrates on them instead.
“You want to play FIFA…?” I suggest but my request is met with an emphatic no.
“When is Mex coming back?” I question.
“Tomorrow. With momsi.”
I nod. “Okay. Later.” I get down from the vehicle and watch as he drives off.
“Uncle, good morning!” one of the kids greet. I smile at him. The others chorus his greeting, temporarily stopping their game to watch me. I wave to them and push in the pedestrian gate of the compound I live in.
It’s a big compound, with two buildings. One belongs to my landlord and the other one which is for the tenants, is a three-storey structure with six apartments. I live on the second floor. My house is the one with the cartons and Ghana-must-go bags cluttering the balcony. I’m yet to fix the place up. I hate packing or unpacking. The stress is too much abeg. And that is how, rather than arrange my apartment, I get in, set up my game console and play football while I brood on what to do with Tola.
I come up with no real solution. Time glides by. I don’t realize it is 1pm until someone comes knocking on my door. I open it and there’s this sexy little thing standing there with a stud on her nose.
Did I mention that I like petite girls too?
This one has this ajebutter look and that wildness in her eyes that tells she is willing to try anything.
“Hi.” She’s smiling like we already know each other.
“Good afternoon.” I try to be formal.
“My name is Eleojo. I’m your neighbor. I live upstairs. I just moved in like you.”
“Okay. Your name again?”
“Eleojo. E-L-E-O-J-O. But you can just call me Ele. What’s your name?”
Ha! See me see smally, asking for my name as if we’re mates.
“Okay. I just stopped by to say hi and to ask… When do you think the landlord will fix the borehole cos I fetched water from the well this morning? And you can imagine me carrying the bucket all the way. Three times! And there aren’t even abokis around to sell water. Do you think it will be fixed by today? I mean, a pumping machine goes for twelve to sixteen thousand. We can all just contribute if he’s broke. What do you think?”
Hian! I’m thinking nothing. How can someone so small talk so fast?
“Erm…he said he’ll fix it by tomorrow, so let’s wait and see.”
“Okay, then. See you later.” She turns away and I stay back to watch her leave. Long, blonde braids that swing left and right drop all the way to a portable bum. The cheerleader skirt she has on doesn’t hide much. I can huff from where I stand and it will blow open and reveal her nudity.
But I don’t dwell on it. She’s Oba’s age mate. I graduated from her type ages ago. Too much stress, these small girls.
As I turn back into the house, the power goes out and my phone rings. Tola is calling. I take the call.
“Hi Jide, I’m ready to meet. Can I come over to yours?”
“No. I’ll text you a place.”
I end the conversation and type out an address to her. After that, I wear a fresh set of clothes and leave the house.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
Tola doesn’t look all that to me any longer. All I see is this creature from hell that wants to ruin my life and my brother’s. I spare neither smiles nor courtesy when I walk into the restaurant and see her waiting. I pick a chair at her table and order a salad.
“I need answers,” I say. “I need to know why. That Bridemaker explanation you gave me is bullshit. If you’re really pregnant and Mex is misbehaving, you could have just gone to my mom ans she’ll put him straight. Seducing and sleeping with me…”
“Seducing?” she chortles.
“What you did, Tola, is contemptible.”
“Wow. We’re using big words now.” She smiles and crosses her legs, having pushed her chair back a bit. “I should tell you a little about myself since you’re going to be my brother-in-law.”
Not in this life.
“I’m the first daughter of my parents, who are both late. I live with my grandma in the States. I’m a doctor; just graduated from med school. Mex and I have been dating for four years. We’re sort’a in an open relationship. We decided it was best that way until we got married. There were no rules to it and I think that was where the problem was. I never slept with anyone else but I knew Mex was sticking it out with a few girls. I wasn’t bothered. I still loved him. Until he slept with my cousin.”
Senseless move, Mex.
“I got mad, I confronted him, we got in a fight and then he cancelled the engagement and said he wasn’t ready. I was pregnant by then but I didn’t tell him.”
“And so you flew all the way to Nigeria to sleep with me for revenge.”
“No, Jide. I came for my uncle’s wedding and then Kate’s wedding. I was with Kate and Bobby on Tuesday and Bobby was talking about you coming for the wedding. I thought well, best chance to meet you…”
“To have revenge sex.”
“No. I wanted to meet you because I felt you were the only one that could talk to Mex. I saw you at the wedding but couldn’t get to talk to you. You were always with your friends. I went to that after-party just to see you but by the time you walked up to me, the entire plan had changed.”
Tola stopped and sipped from a glass of juice in front of her.
“See, my cousin is a ho. She can’t help herself. And Mex is equally a whore.”
I don’t know this Emeka she speaks of; he sounds different from the brother I know.
“My cousin texted me and told me they had sex again. In our loft. Can you imagine? He was just waiting for me to leave.”
Tola’s features show nothing of her hurt. Not even her eyes. I’m beginning to get scared of her. She reminds me of an ex.
“So when you walked up to me and came up with that dumb opening line, I just sort’a went with the flow. And yeah, the chemistry was there too. On a scale of one to ten, you’re a nine. Mex can’t even come close.”
Is that supposed to be a compliment? This girl is sick.
“I don’t believe a word you just told me, Tola.”
“Like I care. Mex is flying in tomorrow. You can ask him yourself.”
“Oh, I will. Now can I have my things?”
“Jide,” she leans forward, “don’t even think of trying to screw things up for me. Your mom already knows about the baby. She supports our being together. I hear your dad is going to be a problem because he’s tribalistic and all but I’ll handle him…”
“By showing him your tits?”
She looked bored at my question.
“No, really Tola, what do you want from my family? Is it the money? I can give it to you.”
“Money?” she cackles. “My parents didn’t leave us poor. Who do you think owns the hospital you’ll resume work in tomorrow?”
“Yeah, put two and two together. My surname is Adeniyi. My father was the late Professor Adeniyi who built the hospital with his friend. I am entitled to half of everything there, so money is not the issue.”
“Then what do you want?”
“A family, Jide. A husband, a home. Is that too much to ask from a guy I gave four years of my life to? You want me to just drop everything we shared like that? Jide, I love Emeka.”
This is the first time I feel her pain. It comes in her voice.
“Plus I’m back to claim what my father left for us but nobody takes a single woman serious around here, so yeah, Mex has to walk me down that aisle fast.”
“Tola, you know I can’t let it happen.”
“Then everyone will know we had sex. Simple!”
I rub the sides of my mouth. I’m not in the mood for the salad anymore as I see it coming on a tray carried by a smiling waitress.
“Here you go, sir.” The waitress places the tray on the table. “Anything else?”
“Ma’am?” she asks Tola. Tola shakes her head. The girl leaves. Tola pushes my debit cards to me.
“You shouldn’t go broke.”
“And the rest of my things?”
She shakes her head.
“There’s a picture in my wallet.”
“This?” Tola pushes a photo of my ex-fiancée towards me. I pick it up and the ATM cards.
“Who is she? The girl in the photo?”
“None of your business.” I pull out some money from my pocket which I leave on the table. I stand up.
“Your salad,” she says.
“Take it. The baby needs it.”
I leave the restaurant. On a cab back home, I dial Mary to text the address to her house. I need someone to talk to.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
“No, you didn’t!”
Mary can’t believe her ears. She is glaring at me with wide eyes.
“Why nau, Jide?”
I pull my legs up and make myself comfortable on her bed. Her one-room apartment smells so nice and feels so cozy. She loves the color purple and the décor reflects that, with dashes of green to compliment. She has a collage of photos on the wall above her small bed, memories of the best moments in her life. I find myself in more than a few photos and this triggers flashes of our past from school days when I was deceiving myself that I wanted to be a lawyer. I feel special that she still holds those memories close to heart.
I fluff a pillow and rest my head on it, having confessed my sin to her. I toy with the idea of sleeping over since my place is still a mess.
“How are you now going to do?” she asks.
“I don’t know, boo. That’s why I came to you.”
Mary is seated on an Arabian pouf on the floor. She has a serious look on her face and she seems a tad angry too. Her doll eyes have lost their sparkle.
“You’re disappointed in me,” I mumble.
“It doesn’t matter, Jide. I stopped being your moral compass when you disappeared from my life. You coming here and asking my advice on what to do after you’ve screwed up is what I don’t get.”
“You’re my friend.”
“Friend? You left! Friends don’t do that to each other! But you left! Without even as much as a ping! I called, I texted, I emailed! I was at your family house almost every weekend and no one had anything tangible to tell me! So you can’t come here and be asking for my advice like I owe you something! I don’t owe you anything! You don’t hold that place in my life anymore! And stop calling me boo!”
She flings a throw pillow at me and marches to her bathroom, I’m guessing to cry. Wow. She is really mad at me. This girl and her hot temper sef.
I do the gentlemanly thing and go after her, standing outside her bathroom door.
“So all that unnecessary vexing was you simply saying you’re not going to advise me?”
There is silence from her side for a few seconds and then she bursts out laughing.
“Walai, you’re an ass, Jide.”
“Look…I had a lot to deal with and I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to be forgiven. Is that too much to ask?”
“You’re still soooo selfish.”
She opens the door. There are no tears in her eyes, just the sound of the toilet flushing.
“You’re forgiven.” She walks past me and for some reason, I stare at her bum.
“Mary, who’s the alhaji that has been helping you arrange this your onions?”
“Nobody.” She reclaims her Arabian pouf.
“Nobody? As in…?
“No alhaji, no boyfriend, no friends with benefits. None. I’m keeping my body until marriage.” Her face is serious as she says this.
She crosses her legs, lotus style. “I rededicated my life to God, Jide. You should try that. It will save you from all this trouble you’re getting in.”
“Mary, I’m trying. I seriously am. But these girls, they just don’t want me to progress.”
Mary has her lips pressed together tightly and keeps her brows cocked up. She’s unaffected by my explanation.
“Seriously Jide, for how long? While you were away, we were hearing your gist about how you slept around. It was really bad. And now you’re back, you can’t even keep it in for one week? Haba! This same behavior cost you your relationship with Tarela and she almost killed herself.”
“Why are you bringing that crazy bitch into this matter now?”
“Because that crazy bitch was my best friend.”
“That accused you of sleeping with me.”
“She accused everyone of sleeping with you, Jideofor. Tari was in a bad place and it was all your fault.”
This is why I love Mary. She is blunt like that. She doesn’t sugarcoat things. And she knows how to put me straight. She has always been like that to me and my guys, the one person we can always go to for good counsel, our girl next door.
“And you’re going to get yourself in a worse place if you don’t stop. God gave you a second chance to shape up. What’s so hard in doing that?”
“I wish I had an answer to that question. But you don’t think I’m a sex addict, do you? I mean, sex addicts can’t go a day without doing it. Me, I can go for weeks, even months. Okay, maybe not months. But I’m not that bad, am I?”
“Your problem is something only you know its origins and only you can solve. But me I’m telling you to do something about it quickly before it destroys you. Only God knows what you’re hiding behind all that sex you’re having.”
“Maybe a small boy who just wants to be loved.”
“So back to the matter.” I sit on the bed. “The Tola chick. What do you suggest I do?”
“Just tell Mex the truth.”
“Like he doesn’t hate me enough already.”
“So you want to lie? One day she’ll let it slip just to spite Mex. It’s best you just tell him, let it all be over and you’ll have your peace. You didn’t know who she was when you had sex, so you’re innocent.”
“Not according to her.”
“I just have a bad vibe about her. And this one that you’re now working in her father’s hospital…”
Mary sighs. “It is well. Just be truthful and God will see you through.”
I feel somewhat better speaking to Mary. I don’t know if I can follow her advice, though. How do I look my younger brother in the face and tell him I’ve been with his woman? Then imagine the family hearing about it. My mom will be heartbroken, devastated.
“I made fried rice and turkey,” Mary announces.
“And you’ve been sitting there, looking at me, waiting for me to tell you I’m hungry.”
She gets on her feet and enters the kitchen. I pick a cosmo mag from a magazine rack by the bedside. It’s the latest issue. I flip through pages quickly.
“Jide you missed church today o.”
I pretend not to hear. “Boo, can I sleep over?”
“No!” she replies immediately.
“Because my bed is small and you sleep anyhow and you snore!”
“I promise to stay one place and not snore.”
“No, Jide! Just go home. I don’t want to be involved in stories that touch the heart.”
I’m not sure I understand what she means.
“Stories that touch the heart? Abeg, explain.”
“Explain what? You’re a guy, I’m a girl, my bed is small…”
I laugh, cutting her short. “Mary, boo, it’s never going to happen. Am I mad? I’d rather sleep with a prostitute than touch you.”
I bring the magazine closer to my face. A page showing different athletic sex positions gets my attention. I’m particularly intrigued by the Ex Sex. I turn the magazine sideways to understand the position better. I’m not certain it would work for me. I flip the page and suddenly get this feeling I’m being watched. I turn. Mary is staring at me with arms crossed and eyes that show I’ve done something wrong.
“You’d rather sleep with a prostitute than touch me?”
“That came out wrong, Mary.”
“So, I’m not attractive enough for you?”
“I didn’t say that. I meant…”
“So that’s why all those years you never hit on me? I was not sexy enough?!”
She raises her hand to stop me. “And there I was thinking you respected me as a human being.”
“Exactly! I respect you. And that is why I can never hit on you. Come on, boo. You’re hot.”
She really is. Maybe a little chubby but sexy as hell. Sadly, she doesn’t see that just because she doesn’t have the finest of faces. I wish she would stop dressing conservatively and try out flattering and more revealing clothes.
“I would totally come on to you if I didn’t take you as my sister.”
She nods and turns back to the kitchen. My explanation suffices, thank God.
Minutes later she reappears with lunch. I rub my palms together as she places a tray in my hands.
I start to eat. Delicious meal. I tell her that. She smiles. I flatter her some more because I can see she’s still upset over my previous statement. Me and my tongue sef. She tells me to eat and stop twisting her head. I do as she orders but halfway she stops.
“You take me as your sister? Really?”
“So you’ll be grossed out if I kissed you now?”
I drop my fork. This girl is ruining my meal. Which kain line of questioning be dis?
“Mary, I respect you as a sister. And as I said, I will totally hit on you if things were different between us.”
“I’m not your sister, Olajideofor. I don’t see you as a brother, either. So yes, things can be different between us. Not that I want them to be. I’m just saying I need to know that I’m sexy enough for you to be attracted to me.”
“I am. Baby, you are beautiful and sexy and you have depth and soul. What man wouldn’t want that?”
“You. Not that I want you to want me. I just want to know that you can want me.”
Without thinking it through, I leave the bed to where she is, put my hands on her neck and pull her into a kiss. She gasps in my mouth but doesn’t fight me. My initial assault soon turns into a gentle dance of our lips that surprises us both and I swear I could go on but something smacks me in the brain and I return to my senses. I pull away.
She is dazed but I recover from my madness quickly as I take back my position on her bed.
She covers her mouth with both hands. “Oh God.”
“Yeah, I thought as much. Now, watch the awkwardness that follows that kiss, and tell me if you would want that a hundred times if we shagged.”
Mary is still silent. And she can’t continue her meal either. The awkwardness I just spoke about becomes palpable and I don’t know why. It was a harmless kiss. I put absolutely no emotions to the act. Maybe a little lust but not strong enough to mean anything.
“Are we going to stop talking to each other now?”
She looks at me as if she hasn’t heard me but she replies. “Why? Because of that small kiss?” She picks her plate from the floor and stands. “Abeg, we’re adults.”
I follow her to her tight kitchen with my tray and offer to do the dishes but she won’t let me. We brush over the incident and gist until the clock strikes eight. It is then I call it a night. We hug at the door when I’m about to leave. There’s no more awkwardness between us.
“Thanks for the meal and the advice.”
I turn away and walk out to dark clouds gathering up in the night sky. By the time I arrive home, it is already pouring heavily. I run into the compound and flex my legs with quick hops up the steps. When I get to the staircase leading to my apartment, I see Ele sitting in the dark, the light of her phone illuminating her pretty face.
“Hey.” I stop to catch my breath. I’m out of shape.
“Hi.” She looks up. “Thank God you’re back. I thought you weren’t coming home this night, still I was waiting.”
I straighten up. “You’ve been waiting for me?”
She nods and stands. I take in her appearance. She has a nightwear on, a cotton t-shirt and shorts to match.
“You won’t believe what happened to me. I was sleeping, enjoying the rain when all of a sudden part of the ceiling gives way and drenches me right on my mattress!”
“Yes! Before I moved in, the useless landlord promised me to fix the leaking roof but clearly, dude did nothing! My whole apartment is like a swimming pool right now! While I was there sleeping, the house was filling with water. I’m so mad! All my clothes, everything is soaked!”
“Sorry about that.” I unlock the door leading to my balcony and we walk in.
“I just want to chill here until the rain stops, then I can go to my friend’s house.”
I invite her in. We click instantly. Maybe it’s because for a twenty-two year old she is quite mature. Maybe it’s the fact that her nipples are straining through her nightie and pushing me to impious thoughts. Maybe it’s just because I dread facing another cold night alone. Whatever it is, the chemistry is undeniable. We talk politics, we analyze the economy (she’s studying marketing), we touch up on movies and finally, we browse the topic of sex. Things begin to heat up but I’m not going to make a move on Ele. I can see she wants me bad. It’s the manner in which she looks at me, the way she inches closer, how she’s not as interested in talking about sex as she is in doing it.
I ask if she wants to drink something. She shakes her head. Her eyes are dirty with desire. She pulls up to me and whispers something in my ear. I almost choke on my own saliva.
Well, I don’t have to tell you what happens next. Just call it a wild night. Ele might be only twenty-two but she is boss. I will never look at petite women the same way again.
Our romp ends as the rain slows. Ele wants to cuddle; I don’t but I oblige her. Soon after she’s asleep. I lay awake going through the different stages of an after-sex frame of mind. Same old empty feelings. Nothing new. Sleep comes after a long phone conversation with Ibro. He wants to take a third wife to please his family. His second wife who is the real love of his life is devastated. She’s also pregnant and full term. She has refused to eat all day or visit the hospital. Ibro wants me to come check her tomorrow morning to make sure she and the baby are fine. I promise to do so. He ends the discussion with a yawn. I yawn as well. The line disconnects and I realize I have a text waiting.
Jide, it reads, I heard you’re back in town. Can we hookup, say tomorrow. I’ve missed you. Tari.
Old things have passed away, I reply. Move on, Tarela.
I switch off my phone and sleep off in no time. But I dream of blood, of a beach on a stormy night and ghosts of girlfriends past. I wake up panting and startle Ele.
“Are you okay?” she inquires. My reply is an arm around her. I tug her close and bury her in my grasp. She thinks I want more of her but the only thing I want is to be rid of these recurrent nightmares. She slips from my arms and goes down on me. I don’t complain. Anything to drive away the demons. I close my eyes and sigh.
This is much better than sleep.
Thank you, Seye for the name “Olajideofor”
Image Credits: Pinterest, Tumblr
Finally, we come to the end of To Tame a Virgin. For all of you who started this and are here now, thank you. Your comments and retweets and facebook updates made me feel appreciated.
Special thanks to Oye and the 360nobs team.
This is dedicated to my husband…my muse. I almost threw away this story but he fell in love with the character, Dami, and introduced me to her.
HUGE DISCLAIMER: No character in this story is real. All my imagination. If they remind you of someone you know, I categorically state that I know no such person.
There was an SMS going round. Which simply read:
Click on the link to go to totameavirgin.com @rhodiumvee has a new post waiting for you.
Uyi got the SMS at exactly 7am; same time with Dike and every other subscriber to the totameavirgin website. Dike was still asleep when the alert came in. Kachi handed his phone to him as she got off the bed and went about her day. With sleepy eyes, he clicked on the link and was directed to the site. He could hardly recognize it as everything had Dami written all over it. There was a Youtube video. Dike clicked on it…
Uyi put his breakfast of noodles and eggs on his bed and set his laptop to click on the video link. With his other hand, he put a bottle of coke to his lips and waited with held breath.
Peter had watched the video a million times. It was he who edited it and others and got paid handsomely for it even though he clearly told Dami that he didn’t need the money. Nonetheless, the money had come in handy. With it he paid for two nights in a squalid hotel in the neighborhood. He was buying time before he went home to tell his folks about his HIV status. Strangely, he couldn’t stop thinking about Temi. He clicked on the link.
Temi was just two doors away from Peter in the same squalid hotel. Having accomplished what her mind set to do with the guy she met at the bar the night before, she saw no need to leave the hotel. Her eyes were grainy from crying all night. She had hit her lowest and was at the point where her life hung in an uncertain place; it was either going to make or break her. A can of beer found its way to her mouth and she clicked on Dami’s video.
Kachi peeped down the corridor to be sure Dike was not coming in the direction of the kitchen. She got the alert the same time he got his. He had no idea she was subscribed to the site. She did so when he first told her about it, just a day before it was put down. They hadn’t spoken about Damaris since then. It was a relief to hear from Ene that Damaris dropped the lawsuit against Dike. She had called Uyi to thank him for speaking on her behalf to her; but she was not too pleased with Dike’s tell-all on 360nobs about his affair with her even though he didn’t reveal his identity and marital status. Turning on the electric kettle, she waited for her browser to direct her to Youtube.
Thousands of other people online were watching Dami’s video at that moment. It was a two-minute montage of her sitting on her bed in crossed legs wearing nothing but a t-shirt over a pair of black pantyhose. With no makeup on and an early morning look to her hair, she began.
“So, it’s not news that a video of me going half-naked was spread by some mean girls that I called my friends. They succeeded in destroying my career, getting my dad to stop speaking to me and my boyfriend to break up with me. Nice one, girls. Secondly, I know you’ve all read the confessions of some guy who went on 360nobs to talk about my relationship with him and how it ended badly and how he got back at me by opening the totameavirgin site. Well, we’re friends now and he was kind enough to let me have the site and I intend to use it to rant, not giving a damn about those of you who are going to be coming here and leaving your player-hating comments. Sha, you’re all welcome. But know that this is not about you and your perceptions of me. Somehow you guys think by seeing my breasts you now know me. You don’t. I am not my breasts. I am Damaris Alechenu, a recovering drug addict, a model, a dancer, an ex-virgin and I don’t give a shit what you think.
“And now to the business of the day…”
Dami fished around the bed for something and came up with a card. “So ever since my boyfriend dumped me, I’ve been in a mess; crying, starving, playing Avril Lavigne, eating and adding weight, watching romance movies, drinking like a fish and doing a whole lot of other pathetic things. I don’t intend to share them with you but I’m using this medium to beg him nicely, since he won’t pick his calls, to allow me tell him how much he means to me. I was in rehab for twenty-eight days. Not your normal rehab but the Rihanna type. I was trying to do away with the addiction of loving you, Mr. Smith but I couldn’t. Instead I found twenty-eight more reasons why I love you and I am going to tell you today. But not here.”
She moved forward to the camera and placed the card in her hand before the lens. It was a wedding invitation with gold and blue writings. The bottom part that held the address was crossed out by a marker.
“My cousin’s wife’s younger sister is getting married and Mr. Smith, I am inviting you for it. You know the venue; it’s the place where we first kissed. When you come, look for the girl in the blue dress and she’ll tell you the twenty-eight reasons why I love you.”
Dami withdrew the card from the screen.
“And for the rest of you who are not invited, I have a brand new BB Q10 to give out.”
She went back to the bed and flashed Blackberry phone with its pack.
“If anyone can guess correctly, just three out of the twenty-eight reasons why I love my boo, they can claim the phone. But remember to follow me, then use the hashtag #Dami’s28 as you tweet. Be creative.”
She walked back to the camera and switched it off.
Word spread. Tweets and retweets flew across Twitter. People were talking. #Dami’s28 was trending in no time.
Temi got home sometime after nine in the morning. Ovie was not back from his sister’s where he had spent the night. Temi didn’t like the silence. The power was out. With a long hiss, she walked to where the fuse box was located to have a look at it. Something was wrong with some of the switches and she had complained severally to Ovie and Peter to find an electrician to fix it but they always did it themselves. She stood staring at the fuse box, lost. She didn’t hear when Edet walked in until he put a gentle hand on her arm. She jumped and turned to him.
“Edet! You scared me.”
“Thank God you’re here sha. Abeg, help me do this thing. I don’t know what they touch there.”
“Get me a stool or chair to climb.”
Temi walked into her bedroom and came out with a plastic chair. Edet got on it.
“So, you and Peter have broken up?” he asked. Temi was surprised at his question but she replied him even so.
“And he left?”
“Doesn’t he know that HIV is not automatic death? There are so many people living with it in Nigeria.”
“I pray he comes back. He has a good job and he’s intelligent. He can still live a full life.”
Temi was somewhat surprised at the way Edet spoke. To her, he had always been that jobless neighbor that sat around while everyone went to work and smoked himself silly.
“Edet, what do you do?”
“Your work? Where do you work?”
“Online. I’m a third party merchant. I help people buy and sell stuff in naira on the web.”
“And it pays?”
“Yeah.” He shut the fuse box and pulled at the main switch, bringing power back into the house.
“Yay!” Temi beamed. Edet got down but missed his landing and tumbled into her. He had his face in her breasts and she backed away immediately as he straightened up.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“It’s okay. It’s not as if you planned to fall on me.”
She had no idea.
“See, I have soup in the fridge. I’ll warm it and make eba for us.”
“That sounds nice. Eba in the morning.”
“Okay, I’ll make semo. It’s lighter.”
“Eba is fine,” Edet said and pulled out something from beside her lips. He showed her.
“Tissue paper. Wonder where I got that.”
“And there’s one more here.” He picked out another tiny piece of tissue beside her right eye.
“You’re welcome. Fine girls should not be crying.”
Temi smiled. She needed the compliment and the relief it brought. Edet was going to be nice company if he didn’t fall into her breasts again. She didn’t want to be alone. There were condemnatory thoughts waiting for her in her mind, a flood she kept at bay that was pulsing at the seams of her emotions. The littlest moment alone with herself would send her crumbling.
When Edet left the house, she went into loud music mode, playing a collection of party songs as she waited for the water she put over the cooker to come to a boil. She sang out loud too; she didn’t want to hear her inner voice.
Finally, the water began to bubble out and pour on the cooker. She took down the pot, poured the water into a bowl and got out the Ijebu garri she had set aside earlier. She kept her feet busy in a light dance as she set garri to the steaming water. But tears came to her eyes. They was no stopping them. She sang really loud now, louder than the thoughts condemning her, still they forced her into a choking sob. She stopped for a second and sniffed to pull herself together. Afterwards, the loud singing continued as she danced more.
Then out of nowhere, she felt it. The hot breath on the nape of her neck, the hands on her sides and the unmistakable feel of a boner on her bum.
Temi swiveled round in instant anger and landed the wooden stirrer in her hand on the head of her assaulter. Edet backed away with his hand on the spot he had been hit and hot water splashed into his face. It scalded him at first but cooled immediately.
“Are you mad?!” Temi screamed. The stirrer in her hand went up in the air again and was aiming at him when Edet stopped her hand and gave her a slap.
“Look at this useless human being! You poured me hot water!”
Temi recovered from the slap and lunged at him but he held her hands and pushed her towards the counter. She aimed a knee at his groin. He ducked with a lascivious laugh and pressed his body into hers. Temi squirmed helplessly. The more she moved, the more he forced himself on her.
“Stay one place and stop fighting me! I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Leave me alone, Edet!” Temi was livid but it came with no power. She was afraid; Edet’s firm grip gave her no means of escape. She screamed out and he stopped her mouth with a hand. She shivered. Instant fever tremors shook her as his other hand grabbed her breast. For the first time in her life, she wished she had long nails. Her fingers on his face were not giving her the result she wanted. Therefore, she used the only weapon she knew. She dug her teeth into his upper arm and bit down as hard as she could but he raised his hand and rammed his elbow into her face. She went weak, her knees buckled. The floor seemed to shake underneath her as gravity forced her down.
Is this how you’re going to be all your life?
The voice from within her was loud. It came to her ears above the sound of Kcee’s Limpopo coming from the sitting room.
They pull you down, you fall. They abuse you, you hide in a hole. They hit you, you’re down to the floor.
Edet had her in his arms again, not letting her fall.
“Edet, please let me go,” Temi stopped fighting and lowered her tone.
Don’t let him get away.
“Please, stop,” Temi begged. Edet wasn’t sure at first.
“Please. I promise I won’t tell anyone. Just let me go.”
“I didn’t want to hurt you.” He was breathing hard. “I just wanted to… I thought you and I could, you know… Your body, it does things to me.”
“Maybe we can but not now. Anyone can walk in.”
Edet nodded and moved away from her. Temi let out a relieving breath.
But Temi’s anger had been refueled by her inner person and she surged at him with renewed energy, picking the stirrer from the floor. This time she had him right on his forehead with three vicious blows. Next, she went for his nose, breaking it in one hit. She drew back with a heaving chest and watched him struggling with the stunning pain as blood flooded his face. She saw his eyes coming to rest on her in anger and she dashed out of the kitchen through the backdoor and ran all the way to the front gate.
“Aunty Temi, wetin dey happen?” the gateman asked but Temi stood, the stirrer still in her hand which was shaking non-stop.
The pedestrian gate opened and Ovie walked in. He stopped and gave Temi a once-over.
Temi, amidst her tears, narrated her encounter with Edet to Ovie who listened with a face that got incensed by the second.
“Is that all? Apart from slapping and touching you improperly, did he go any further?”
Ovie turned to the gateman. “Mallam, lock the gate. No allow Edet commot.”
The gatemen obeyed the instructions with no questions as Ovie drew Temi to sit on a bench by the fence. He got out his phone and dialed a number.
“Peter, show… Just come house abeg… Just come.”
He dialed the next.
“Uyi, abeg try come crib… Now… Ehn, me sef dey go for the wedding… Just come.”
He dialed the third.
“Murphy, abeg person need that your Buran Tashi… Carry am come for me now-now-now… Guy chill, I go pay you… Just carry am come.”
“OV, what are you doing?” Temi asked when he was through with the calls. “Why did you call all of them?”
Ovie handed his phone to her and walked towards the front door as soon as he saw Edet emerging from it. Edet spotted him, took a step backwards and dashed back inside. Ovie set his own feet into a spring and went for him. Seconds after, Edet appeared from the backyard and ran straight to the gate but he was met with a huge padlock. Knowing there was no way out for him, he turned around with his apartment in mind but Ovie caught up with him and threw him flat on his back through a punch. A second fist in his face thumped him out cold.
Temi watched from the window of her bedroom. Peter, Uyi and Murphy had arrived and they listened as Ovie recounted what she had told him. She didn’t really see why they were having a conference over the issue. It wasn’t after she listened in that she understood what was really going on.
Apparently, Edet had slept with Uyi’s ex. But that wasn’t all. Odun, Doctor Ahmed’s younger sister once reported that Edet had tried to sexually molest her at the backyard where they hung clothes. Edet got a slap on the wrist but the girl was sent back to her hometown. Finally, Ovie added that a few weeks before, a girl who had slept over after one of their Friday parties told him how Edet had been inappropriate with her at the party. Edet denied and said the girl was drunk and came on to him. There was nothing Ovie could do about the incidence.
While he was still recounting the story to them, Peter left where he stood and went to Edet who was now awake and was seated on the bench occupied by Temi earlier.
“You know say na my babe you touch?”
Edet gave him a demeaning stare.
“Forget everything wey happen for these past few weeks, forget say we be neighbors and you know my shit and I sabi your own, forget all the gbana wey we dey smoke steady. Forget everything. Guy,” he tapped Edet’s chest and had his hand pushed away, “Temi na my babe. Me, I no be Uyi. You no fit touch my babe go free.” Edet got off the bench and faced Temi’s window.
“Temi, you said I touched you inappropriately? How? I just tapped you and you turned around and poured hot water on me and broke my nose!”
Temi pulled the curtain shut. She looked around the mess that was her room. She needed to pack her things quickly. With what had happened to her, she didn’t need anyone to tell her that her time in that house was over.
“Temi, come out and tell the truth! Did I touch you?!”
Edet’s voice caused her to cringe. It now had a creepy effect on her. She commenced on packing her clothes and shoving them into her biggest box which was sprawled open on her bed. She shut her ears to the sound of blows coming from outside. Schooling in one of the roughest universities in the country gave her a firsthand experience of what the male specie could do to their kind when it came to thrashing. She packed hurriedly but was compelled to stop when she heard Edet screaming and begging in a terrified tone.
Temi turned to the window and pulled the curtain aside to peep. Edet was on his kness, his head sandwich between Peter’s long legs as Ovie poured the first drops of a liquid in a brown bottle down his throat. He struggled but Uyi held his head firmly as the liquid went down. They let him go afterwards and he got to his feet. He staggered a little in bloodstained clothes and eventually sat on the bench. Murphy poured a bucket of water over him and they gave him a short time to put himself together.
“Oya!” Peter tapped him and pulled him to his feet. “Commot your clothes.”
“Ah-ahn,” Temi butt in. “It’s enough na. Please, stop.”
“Commot you shirt and short knicker! You think say I dey play?!”
“Peter, please na. Forgive him.”
“Temi, close that curtain!” Uyi ordered.
“Uyi, please. Please, you guys stop.”
“Temi, close the curtain.”
“Okay Uyi, come. Please, come.”
Uyi frowned at her but she pleaded with her eyes. He left his friends and went to meet her in the house.
“See, let nothing happen to him because of me. Buran Tashi can kill him. Please, Uyi… Please, stop.”
“He’ll be fine. We didn’t give him much. Just two capfuls or so. He needs to learn a lesson. We want to teach him what it really means not to control a hard-on.”
“So you people will just leave him like that?”
“After we tie him to his bed.”
“Forget him. Are you okay?”
“Yes.” She listened to the sound of Edet being carried away and didn’t hear Uyi’s question.
She came back to him. “Ehn?”
“Where are you going? You’re packing.”
“I want to go and stay with my friend, Hafsa, until I can come up with enough money to help me get a new place. But I can’t stay here again, not with Edet in this same compound.”
Uyi remained by the door, staring at her. She wasn’t the same girl he had known. She was no longer the Temi he still couldn’t stop worrying about. It looked like someone had come and sapped the beauty and life out of her in one night. Her skin was lacking its fresh glow and rashes had broken out on her face. The hunch of her shoulder was back.
“You’re looking at me and you’re still judging me,” Temi said.
“I am not.”
“I slept with someone last night,” she confessed. Her hands squeezed a t-shirt in her hand. “A stranger. A married man. I don’t even remember his name. After everything, he paid me like I was some prostitute.”
She sat down and proceeded to pick invisible things from the smothered t-shirt in her hands.
“As a teenager, I could give anything for attention. Anything to have somebody have my time. There was a time I used to steal dollars and jewelry from my aunt’s room to give my friends in school just so that they’d accept me into their click. Other times, I took them foodstuff because I was a day student and they were boarders. When boys came into my life, I realized I didn’t need girls anymore; male company was more fun and free. The only problem was all the boys wanted me and I didn’t know how to handle it. Eventually I ended up dating the headboy and almost every afternoon after school before I went home, I had sex with him in the storeroom of our class. Sometimes he took me back to his room in the hostel. Sex gave me the love and attention I didn’t get from my family. My aunt was always away, so I really had no one in my life. In the university it was worse. I had a boyfriend who made me have threesomes with his friend and so many times I wanted to break out of the relationship but he was the only one who had my time. When I eventually left him, my life became worse…
“Uyi, I don’t want to be like this. I am not a ho. Please, believe me.” Temi’s body shuddered in tears. “I wish you could look inside me and see my heart. I am not what people think I am.”
“I don’t want you to go away again. Please, Uyi. I promise I won’t kiss you; I won’t be a threat to your relationship and I won’t see you if you don’t want to see me but please, tell me you’ll still be in my life. You’re the only one who never took advantage of me.”
“Temi, stop crying, abeg,” Uyi muttered but it seemed he opened a dam. Temi cried for a long time and he watched from the door. He longed to comfort her but he needed her to understand her anguish and source of her sorrow.
“Would you like to go for a wedding?” he asked. “Just to get your mind off your pain?”
Temi shook her head.
“I promised I was always going to be around for you. You’re my friend and there’s still good in you. That’s what I want to believe…”
Uyi paused as he heard Edet screaming somewhere in the compound.
“You need tough love. A different kind of love. You need to see yourself differently and I think I can help you. I’m not intimidated by your body and gone are the days I wanted to sleep with you. I’m in love with my girlfriend and I’m committed to sticking with her. But I will not let you go, Temi. My conscience will kill me if I do. So, will you follow me for the wedding and quit this mad nonsense about you going to disturb your friend in her matrimonial home?”
Temi looked at him.
“Edet is the one packing out tomorrow. This is your house; you’re not going anywhere. You can’t keep running. Now, get up, have a shower, fix yourself up and look good and confident like the Temi I know. Then you can choose who will be your plus one at the wedding. We’re all going.”
“I thought you alone got the invitation.”
“Ovie and Murphy want to win that Q10 but I can help you get it.”
Temi smiled and Uyi saw a hint of life in her cheeks.
Uyi peeped out. “Your boyfriend is coming.” His tone flattened to almost a whisper. “He’s going through hell. He’s about to leave to his village to spend the rest of his life there. Please stop him. HIV is not a death sentence. Talk to him.”
To be Continued…
The conclusion comes tomorrow. Don’t miss it!
to @kidmanmorello HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
Read previous HERE
The sun was doing its usual thing, being unpleasant outside. Dami wasn’t envious of anyone caught under its burning rays. A spotless glass window pressed to her side as she got a full view of the street where her car was parked. A pair of little boys had chosen the car as a shield for which they protected themselves from each other while trying out their new, sophisticated squirt guns just bought for them by their mother. Dami turned to look at their mother who was in the same fast food joint as she was, trying to gather the bags of food she paid for in one hand while doing a balancing act with a restless baby on her waist with the other.
Dami’s eyes were drawn back to her car and she saw that the back windshield had been blessed with colored liquid from the boys’ squirt guns. The older boy was now taking aim from the driver’s side and he popped out his gun to squeeze out a good dose of yellow squirt on his brother. Angry that he was caught unawares, the younger boy opened his mouth in a heated scream and charged out from the other side of car. Dami let out her first real giggle in days as she watched a chase between the boys ensue. Still laughing, she turned back to her table and heard her phone beeping. She opened her Twitter account and checked her mentions. As usual, they piled high but she was looking for one in particular; she found it and tapped on it.
@RhodiumVee I sent you an email.
Dami went straight to her email account while her other hand picked a potato chip from a plate on her table. She found the email she was looking for and tapped over her screen.
Re: Are you done?
Just finished editing. Will send the video later tonight. Still don’t wanna get paid for dis. Just a little ad when you kick off and a good working relationship between us.
Dami tilted her head backwards and dipped the potato chip she picked into her mouth.
“My God, you have the neck of a giraffe.”
Dami let down her head and looked at her date who was standing before her, holding his car key and a freezing glass of orange juice.
“You’re late,” she said to him and pulled up the hood of her sweater to cover her face.
“A hoody and sunglasses? Are we hiding from the paparazzi?” her date teased.
“No. I’m just feeling gangster.”
He laughed and sat across the table.
“You’re still too fresh for an old man,” she said, looking at him fully.
“I am not old,” he retorted.
She adjusted her sunshades. “Dike, you’re forty-what? four? If you had gotten a girl pregnant at eighteen, she would be my age today.”
“How are you, Damaris? I see you’re still killing guys out there with your hotness.”
“Not really. I’m dying of a broken heart.”
“That never happens to you.”
Dami took off her sunshades and exposed sore eyes. “I’ve been crying like an idiot for more than a week and he still won’t pick my calls.”
“Who? The new boyfriend?
“Does it have anything to do with the video where you exposed your breasts?”
“By the way, it was…nice.”
“You 70s perv. You finally saw my boobs,” she muttered, dusting something off her sandal. “You and the rest of the world.”
“But you’re crazy. What were you thinking?”
Dami sat up. “Nothing. The bride was my friend and she’s female. It’s not like she hasn’t seen breasts and a vagina before. Now everyone’s calling me a lesbo and for the first time, stuff like that is getting to me. Maybe it’s because everything else is crumbling. My dad is also not talking to me, my agent dumped me, Felix fired me, I’m supposed to be at a fashion show in London by this time but…” she rubbed her eyes and her phone beeped once more. It was an SMS from Uyi. Dami sat up and with a fluttering tummy, opened the SMS.
Stop callin and texting. U shd be getting ur act 2geda and not running my ba3 down
Dami shut her eyes but tears escaped the lids and slid down her cheeks.
“Damaris?” Dike took her phone from her and read Uyi’s SMS. She buried her head on the table and cried a little.
“I’ve called him like a million times today,” she said, raising her head. Dike handed her a serviette and she blew her nose into it. “I heard he’s not feeling fine. I just wanted to check up on him. Dike… you’ve pissed your wife off so many times. How do you say you’re sorry and have her forgive you?”
“You really love this your guy? What’s his name?” Dike drew his juice toward him.
“Answer my question na,” Dami rubbed her eyes. “I’ve done everything to tell him how sorry I am but he doesn’t even care.”
“On a serious note, what did he say or do that had you sold like this? Look at your eyes when you talk about him. They sparkle even in your tears.”
“Forget the sparkle, Dike. What should I do? I miss him like mad and I hate the silence. Why won’t he pick even one call?”
“Give him time. He’ll come back to you.”
“How do you know?”
“As long as he loves you, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done. He’ll come back… Okay!” Dike slapped his hands together. “Putting sad issues aside, what’s this meeting about? Have you finally decided to let me go free?”
“Free keh.” Dami blew her nose a second time. “You opened a website to make fun of me.”
“True but I have apologized.”
“It’s not enough.”
“Then what do you want?”
Dami exhaled, smiled mischievously and crossed her legs. “A public apology.”
Dike rubbed his beard and grinned cynically.
“Pay for an online interview on one of those gossip blogs and make a public apology. Tell them why you opened the website and then, say you’re sorry.”
“Wow!” Dike laughed. “You’re really gangster, Damaris.”
“I’m trying to repackage myself and you’re going to be my first online PR guy.”
“I’m not doing it.” Dike picked his juice and took a first sip.
“See, Dike… don’t start being difficult. I’m not asking you to expose your identity or anything like that. Be anonymous, don’t even say you’re married; just apologize for the website and tell the whole world I am a very nice girl. Blame my fuck-ups on daddy issues or lack of a mommy in my life but paint me as a really nice girl deep inside – with amazingly strong virtues.”
“And this does what? It makes people like you?”
“No. It makes me trend. And when I trend, I rise from the ashes like the Khaleesi!”
Dike muttered something to himself and when Dami asked him what he said, he began to laugh. Dami drew his juice to herself and dipped a straw into it.
“Okay, Khaleesi,” Dike tried to keep a straight face. “I’ll do it. What else do you want?”
“I want the website.”
“I closed it.”
“Get it back and give it to me.”
“Because I want it.”
“All part of rising from the ashes?”
“Okay, that’s doable. Anymore?”
“Don’t divorce your wife.”
Dike’s smile went missing.
“You know I went to rehab, right?”
“More than once but that doesn’t matter. It turned out that I learnt something all the times I went there. We have this twelve-step recovery program and the number nine step is forgiveness. So last week I went to Felix’s to tell him and Aunty Ene I’m sorry for my behavior and blah-blah-blah… and I saw Travis. Mind you, he thinks I’m the coolest aunty ever, even though your wife keeps giving him the eye when he’s around me. He’s always calling me his tree while he’s a monkey.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know but he’s soooo cute.”
“He has a crush on you.”
“Like father like son.”
“Admit it, Ogudike, you fell.”
“It’s Ogbudike. And I didn’t fall.”
“As I was saying, after climbing my whole body in the name of monkey climbing tree, Travis stops midway and goes, ‘Aunty Dami, what is a divorce?’ And I’m staring at him, confused. And that, is why I don’t want children. They can’t ask what ten times ten is or why Barney is a big fool. They want to know what a divorce is?”
“What was your answer to him?”
“I told him to Google it.”
“What da?!” Dike spread out his hands. “You could have told him it’s the name of a movie or a word for adults!”
“When it’s not me that gave birth to him. Totally not my problem. So, in conclusion, for the sake of that cute boy who is going to break a lot of hearts in the future, go back to your wife.”
“Wow. Dami’s giving advice. Thank you but totally not your problem.”
“So that’s that? You’re dropping the whole lawsuit?”
“But my dad cannot know about it. I’ll tell him by myself.”
“I’m cool with that.”
Dami’s smile was for Dike but it turned sad when she stared at Uyi’s SMS again. She blinked rapidly to ward off tears and glanced outside. One of the little boys was scratching the butt-end of his squirt gun on her car and she stood up.
“Hey!” She pointed. “See why I hate children?!”
She dashed outside.
When Dike left Dami, he drove straight to Felix’s. It was the beginning of August and schools were closed, which meant Kachi and Travis were home. He wasn’t yet prepared to see Kachi but with what Dami told him about Travis, he felt it was time he had a one-on-one with the boy.
Kachi was at the door when he got to the house. She was still wearing her night coat and her hair was in a mess. She wasn’t expecting him, so she straightened her hair and covered herself properly when he walked in.
“Good afternoon,” she greeted.
“How are you doing?” he asked. He was looking up the staircase.
“I am doing well. The baby is fine too.”
“He’s upstairs.”She looked in the direction of the stairs. “Travis!”
Dike could hear the sound of play and laughter from within the house.
“Travis?!” Kachi yelled again and Travis came running down with his friend, Felix’s son, chasing after him.
Dike smiled. The reaction towards him was always the same. It was priceless to hear the sheer joy in the boy’s voice every time he saw him.
“Uncle Dike!” George, Felix’s son also ran to him and he lifted both boys in his arms and twirled them around.
“Daddy you promised to take us out,” Travis said after the excitement mellowed down.
Travis and George nodded.
“Well, I have to go to the office.”
“No!” Travis protested.
“You promised, Dike,” Kachi said with a low voice.
“Okay, let’s see… Why don’t you guys go and get dressed and come back?”
“Yay!” Both boys shouted simultaneously and Dike let them down.
“Have your shower first o!” Kachi added and they grumbled as they ran up. When they were gone, Dike bent over a little, holding his waist.
“I must be getting old.”
Kachi turned around and walked to the foot of the stairs and stopped. Dike didn’t notice; he was glued to his phone. She walked back to him and stood by awkwardly until he noticed her presence.
“My visa has been approved and school starts in September.”
“Good. Then we have to hurry things up. I believe they can grant a Decree Absolute in your absence. All we need to thrash out is where Travis will be living. I don’t want him staying abroad; I will not raise my son on foreign soil. I can allow the new baby live with you but you cannot take my son away from me.” Dike heard his voice get edgier with each word.
“I don’t intend to, nnai.”
Her tone struck something in him and so did the name she called him but he pushed his emotions aside.
“So what’s the plan?” he asked her.
“Travis stays. That means you will look for someone to take care of him.”
“I will do what is best for my son, even if it means finding someone else to take your place. Yes, I will not hesitate to do that.”
“There’s a nanny agency…”
“Nanny what? Who told you I would want a nanny for Travis?”
“Please lower your voice, Dike, and listen to me.”
“He needs someone who will cook for him and wash his clothes and pick him from school and all that. We can’t dump him here or take him to our families. He can always visit but it would be wrong to put the load on them. We’ve not even told him what is happening yet and I don’t think it’s advisable to bring in someone else into his life other than a nanny.”
“You’re expressly telling me that I can’t see another woman when you’re taking yourself and my child in your womb to go and be with another man?!”
“No. I’m not going to Leke. He is in Nigeria. He’s married now.”
“Oh, so you’re running away from him without a care of what it could do to your son?”
Kachi paused a little before she continued in a leveled voice.
“We need to get Travis someone. I know a very good agency. They’re expensive but worth it. The women are capable and paid well and every one of them has some form of background education in child psychology. Travis will be in good hands.”
“My answer is no. I will take care of my son by myself.”
“Nnai,” Kachi broke the barrier between them and held his hand. Her cool touch calmed him and he listened to her without interruptions. “Please, trust me on this. If it doesn’t work, then you can take him to be with Mama or bring him back here. I don’t want him to be tossed around anyhow. I see the pain in his eyes when George plays with Felix and I don’t want it to be a constant. I need him to always be with you. Please, biko.”
“I will think about it.” He pulled away from her and walked to the front door. She tried for a satisfied smile but nothing came out. She had more to tell him. She wanted to say she didn’t want to go away. If there was one little window he left ajar for her, she was willing to climb in through it. After days of prayers and counseling with her pastor, she had finally let go of all the pain and bitterness left in her and she was willing to start again. But Dike had made it clear that he was done. He had stopped wearing his wedding ring and had taken every last property of hers left in their house to her mother’s place. All that was remaining for them was the final decree from the court and a traditional divorce settlement at Kachi’s hometown which was fixed for the following week. Kachi was ready for neither. She wanted her husband back. She tried asking Ene for help but Ene, for the first time, somehow conveniently had no ideas up her sleeve. Kachi suspected that she had taken orders from Felix who in turn had taken orders from Dike.
Kachi was to be left alone to find her way back. If only Dike would open the door.
Dike and Kachi spent the following week at the nanny agency. They went through an interview and filled forms. Subsequently, they went through a list of résumés and handwritten applications by the nannies, each of them stating why they were good for the job. Finally, on the last day, just two days before Kachi’s and Dike’s trip to the village, they were introduced to the nannies. None of them were up to Kachi’s taste.
The first was too old; the second had eyes for Dike; the third wore a fake smile; the fourth was too young; the fifth didn’t sound convincing; the sixth was too religious; the seventh looked lazy and the last one which Dike approved of entirely, Kachi just didn’t like. When asked why, she replied, “I don’t know. I just don’t like her.”
Dike was livid. He held his anger until they got out of the agency.
“You’re setting out deliberately to piss me off, Onyekachi! You’re doing it again! Must you be in control all the time?! This was your idea! You convinced me and now, no one is good enough! We’ve been coming here for a whole week and I have been missing work and…”
“Calm down. Calm down, Dike,” Kachi pleaded. “We’re going to my village next tomorrow. I will get a girl for you there. I’m sure there’ll be someone. She’ll be cheaper and she will have the added advantage of cooking your favorite meals…”
Dike left her talking and walked towards his car. She went after him.
“But in case you don’t like that idea…”
“Okay, I have one more letter.” Kachi took out an envelope from her handbag. “I’ve gone through it. She’s not done nanny work before but she’s a mother and that should count for something.”
Dike snatched the envelope, got into his car and drove away.
Temi was crying in the dark. Discretely. Peter was asleep beside her. She loathed herself for her weakness. Her mind scolded her for being broken over Uyi but her heart was too shattered to do otherwise. She was now officially Peter’s girlfriend and he did everything to make her happy but she wasn’t connecting with him on an emotional plane. She had tried to stop the sex since Uyi caught them almost three weeks ago but she found that she couldn’t. The more she bled for Uyi, the more she wanted Peter. She would wake up each morning soaking in guilt from the previous night but she would go back again, longing for more.
She sat up and got down from the bed. Her hands felt around the floor for her nightgown and she found it. As she began slipping into it, the door flung wide open with a loud bang and she saw the silhouette of a female at the doorway.
“Peter!” The silhouette screamed. There was anger and pain in her voice and it jolted Peter from his sleep. He rubbed his eyes and sat up while his hand went for the light switch behind his bed. He turned it on and the silhouette turned into a girl with wild hair and a body like Temi’s. She had tear-stained cheeks and snot running from her nose. But in her hand was a machete and it was posed to strike. Temi quickly backed away towards the bathroom as Peter sat up straight.
“You and me will die today!” the girl shouted.
“Come here and meet your fate or if you allow me meet you there, it will be bloody, I swear to God!” She raised the machete into the air and Peter’s eyes followed it.
“Peter, go to her nau,” Temi begged.
“Lola, calm down. Let’s talk. Whatever is wrong, we can handle it but not with that cutlass, abeg.”
Lolade laughed and her voice brought chills to Temi. “Peter go, abeg. Just go.” She looked at Lolade. “Please, don’t kill him or me, abeg. I don’t want to die.”
Lolade looked at Temi and laughed again. “Oh no, my dear. I won’t kill you but you will soon die. Piro!” She turned sideways and left a space between herself and the door post. “Oya, in the parlor! NOW!”
Peter hesitated and she hammered the machete into the door post. Temi screamed and ran into the bathroom.
“If I do as the tin dey take do me now, Piro, I swear me and you go die for here today!”
“Hah-ahn. What is it? Kilode?” Ovie had come out of his room. “Lolade, wetin?”
She ignored him. “PETER!”
Peter got to his feet and walked to her slowly and as he walked past her, she hit his head with the blunt end of the machete. Temi ran to Ovie and held him.
“Who is she?”
“Ex? So what is she doing here with cutlass na? Is she crazy or what?”
“Lolade, crazy? No. She caught Peter cheating and they ended it and next we heard she found some other guy to marry. I don’t know what she’s doing here. I’m as shocked as you.”
Temi walked to the sitting room but hung by the entrance. Lolade had put Peter on a couch opposite her but the weapon was still in her hand.
“Peter, me and you knew ourselves tay-tay! We grew up in Gwags and even the fact that you schooled in Port did not stop our relationship! I kept it real. Even when I knew that you were cheating on me, I still remained faithful. The day I decided to end everything was when I felt I had had enough! It was too much for me! Even a million dogs on heat are better than you! And let me not lie, it pained me! It pained me well-well when I left you but I was happy that I was done with your cheating ass! And as God will have it the guy that had been toasting me for years still wanted to me!” She smiled bitterly.
“The wedding plans were done sharp-sharp, everything was set! I felt like the luckiest girl in the world! My bobo is nothing like you! He is stinking rich! Nothing like you at all!” She flashed her left hand at Peter. “Look at the ring! Four solid carats! He was not taking me to play! Everything was set! All that was left was blood tests! Simple blood tests!” Lolade stopped at this point, stared into the air and tears flooded her face. She took out a paper from her back pocket and flung it at Peter. “You did that to me! You useless dog gave me HIV!”
“Jesus!” Temi gasped.
“What did I do to deserve this type of punishment, ehn?! Didn’t I love you? Didn’t I stick with only you even with all the loaded Abuja guys toasting me? Didn’t I give you everything you wanted, Piro?! Why will you destroy my life like this?! WHY?!”
“What are you talking about, Lola?” Peter frowned at the paper in his hand. “This is not true. It’s a mistake.”
“SHARRAP!” Lolade shot up from her chair and the machete followed her. “Are you deaf?! I have AIDS, you wicked bastard! And today, me and you will die because I cannot watch myself turn to nothing! Ha-ha! NO! I will not watch myself die! We will end it today! Together! Here!”
She lunged towards Peter but he got up and dashed out of the house, stumbling on his way. She ran after him but Ovie caught her in time and wrestled the machete out of her hand. He held her afterwards as she cried.
Temi watched the whole scene in shock. As she stood there immobile, she didn’t realize that she wasn’t breathing. The moment she felt a tightening in her chest and she let out a breath, her head began to swirl. Her vision deemed, her body went lax and she blacked out.
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I sat crouched at a corner of the room… With my arms circled around my folded knees.
Another stream of tears rolled effortlessly down my cheeks as I relived the experience.
I could still feel his fingers like the gentle slithery movements of a snake as he caressed my body.
I closed my eyes….If only I could shut out the images…
But No…. They were there… Refusing to leave…They came with such vivid clarity!
Images of flailing arms … Fighting to keep away the evil that loomed above me.
I remembered trying to scream… But I couldn’t hear the sound of my own voice.
Randomly the images came, in no defined order. I recalled a struggle to retain my underwear as groping hands determined to take them off…
The sound of a dress being torn…
Then I remembered the slap! Like a thunderbolt, the impact had gone through my whole body shutting down every remaining resistance I had.
I had lain there passive… Like one in a daze… And watched in horror as my young and innocent body was brutally ravaged!
I could still hear the wicked but ecstatic grunts of pleasure as he forcefully entered me again and again. Beads of sweat dropped from his forehead as saliva flowed in tiny streaks from the corner of his mouth. The stench of alcohol literally exuded from the pores on his skin.
For a moment my eyes had locked with his and I cringed in disgust!
“Who is this animal?!” I remembered thinking. There was a deadness in his eyes which were filled with fiery desire and burning lust! As I looked into those eyes, I realised I was staring at a beast… For I couldn’t bring myself to call him a man.
A surge of bitter tasting bile rose in my throat as I retched under a strong wave of nausea.
But nothing came out! My stomach was probably empty… But I did not care!
There was only one word that could explain how I felt…….
That was thirteen years ago, when I was just twelve years old… and now it is happening again!
Still crouched in one corner of the room, my hands still folded around my knees, I know what is about to come as he nears me. I feel like screaming, like getting up and charging at him but I know it would be useless. He would pick me up as if I am a piece of paper and throw me hard on the bed and I would not be able to escape his grip. So I sit there, shivering, tears stinging my eyes, my heart beating wildly. I know what to expect. After all, it has happened a million times before. From that first encounter thirteen years ago, I had somehow become a vessel for him to express his depravity. It isn’t something new, yet I am still terrified as hell.
I close my eyes as he grabs my hand and yanks me off the floor and throws me to the bed.
“So you think you can leave me and follow another man abi?!” he growls, landing me a resounding slap on my arm, careful not to touch my face. I scream and try to kick him away but I know it only ignites him. He is blaming me for following another man but I am guiltless. I only visited my aunt who just came into town and she kept me fifteen minutes longer than my curfew time. Now I am being punished and called a whore in my husband’s house. The other people in the house are listening but they will do nothing, they will say nothing. I will walk out with a limp and bruises and they will greet me with a smile as if nothing happened. They will ignore the cry for help in my eyes as my own family has ignored them for thirteen years. My life will continue with no hope because the world around me has no place for me to run.
“How many times will I tell you that you belong to me?! No man will ever have you as long as I’m alive! You are mine, forever!”
“Please, don’t…” I cry but he slaps me again. He puts his hand around my neck and holds me in a choke. There is darkness in his eyes as a cackle erupts from his throat.
“Open your legs!”
“Don’t do this. Please…” I beg. Maybe today is the day he will look at me with those eyes and have mercy. Maybe, just maybe he will not force himself in today and will love me the way a man should love a woman. But why should I hope for such things? It is not my place to enjoy them. I am only a woman and have no soul, as I was told. And it seemed like just yesterday, when I was but a little girl and was told my body belonged to a man old enough to be my father. Sadly, I don’t think I have grown from that time. As a girl I have come into this pain and it has lived my life for me.
So, I lie there, unresponsive to his touch, dead at every thrust he makes, numb to my own self. I keep my eyes up at the ceiling and look at the light bulb until it fades into memories of a wonderful past I have kept secure in my heart.
I see my brother teaching me to throw stones at lizards on the fence of our house. I see my sisters and I playing suwe and fighting over whose turn it is to wash the plates. I hear my father’s hearty laughter from the parlor as he watches something on TV. I listen to the cries of my baby brother while my mother bathes him in the backyard. The air is breezy and smells of rain but the sun shines brightly, refusing to go away though the clouds enshroud it. I look up and try to take in all its brilliance but grandma says I could get blind from doing that. So I lift my hand and shield my eyes while I hear my mother calling me. But the sun breaks through stubbornly, aiming to blind me…
I blink and I am back to hell, the light bulb stinging my eyes while his sweat pours over me. How many times have I been in that position, looking at that same bulb, at the ceiling it is hanging from? How many times have I taken the pain and yet emerged and kept a happy smile when I am outside with my children?
He gives one final grunt and pulls out of me. “Go and get ready for our in-laws,” he says with an evil grin and walks into the bathroom. I pull my legs together and try to cry but I can’t. There are no more tears here. I have to do as he says.
I secure my wrapper tight and hurry out, carrying around my familiar limp, trying to hide the pain in my arms. The compound is already buzzing with activities as the maids prepare for my husband’s new wife. I have never met her but I pray she is someone I can relate with, a friend that can finally keep me company. I go about preparing the meal and making sure the maids clean her room properly. It is my former room and now that I am a senior wife, I have been moved to a different room.
I finish what I am supposed to do and ensure that everything and everyone is set. Then I retreat to my side of the house and sit silently as the wedding ceremony progresses. There is music and dancing and food and drinks. Everyone is happy and cheerful and for a while, from my prison, I forget my pain and smile. Hours pass and finally the last drum is beat and there is a cold hush in the large compound. The generator goes off and I light a candle in my new room. My bladder alerts me that I must use the toilet and I grumble. How many times must I go in an hour? The maids call me ‘Aunty Piss’ behind my back but they do not know my weak bladder is a souvenir from my battle with VVF. I am glad to be alive even though my bladder embarrasses me every so often.
I stop in my tracks as I hear the sound of someone crying in the dark. I look around me, flashing my candle in the shadowy corridor but I see nothing. The crying continues and takes me only a few more steps for me to know it is coming from my old room. I go cold. But I strain my ear to listen some more if I can hear my husband’s voice. I hear nothing.
I move forward, each step with a churning stomach and I finally come to the door. I clasped the handle tight and slowly push the door in. The crying doesn’t stop; instead it is turned up a notch as I walk in. I put the candle before me and I freeze. Lying on my bed, hugging my old pillow with eyes sketched in fear is someone’s little girl. I feel a shiver in my bones as I look at her. She can’t be older than eleven and yet her future is going to be destroyed in one night.
I cannot move. I can hardly breathe. I feel like I am looking at myself. It is happening all over again. The girl sees something in my face that beckons to her. She leaves the pillow and runs to me, falls at my feet and hugs me. She is crying, pleading, begging me to take her home.
Home? I don’t know where home is right now. Maybe it never existed; it could be all in my head, for I do not understand how a parent can give their child away to be raped and abused. They call it marriage but it is no marriage. It is rape, it is abuse, it is evil, it is death.
I look at the girl and pull her up to me, holding her tight in my embrace, telling her it will be alright as the candle burns away. But nothing will be alright. Nothing will be fine from the moment he touches her. In one night he will take her from childhood, past her youth, past her womanhood and dump her right in a dark grave. And every night after that, he will pummel her to death.
Is this what I want for her? Should she suffer as I still do?
I pull away from her but she holds me tight. She won’t let go. Together we walk to one of the windows and I peep out. I can see him emerging from his side of the compound. How many times have I looked out this window and watched with dread as he approaches me.
Something sparks in me. I look at the candle. It is just a flame but I know what power it holds.
I set the flame to the thin curtain at the window and watch as the cloth fights the heat. But it is no rival for the fire. It whorls backwards and gives in to the flame, embracing it. I do the same to the second curtain and both of us watch as they both burn. I lift the bed sheet and set the mattress ablaze also.
The girl’s eyes are wide and she moves back from the rising inferno. I see the question in her eyes. I have an answer in mine.
I will buy you another night, maybe a second night but that is all I can do.
I have wilder ideas of running away but I have children. Where will we all go? I look at the flames leaking up everything and though I know this is temporary, it gives me pleasure. It also gives me strength and courage. And I feel a tingling, a tiny tingling in me to fight for my freedom, for her freedom.
Maybe I will fight…someday soon. Maybe today.
Written by yours truly and Valentine Oje Ikenna who blogs at Valentineoje.wordpress.com. He is a doctor, a pastor and a passionate writer.
Both of us SAY NO to #childmarriage. The Nigerian Literati say no to #childmarriage
Please stand up against these sick senators who are pushing for child marriage. It is not enough to sit and say it is never going to happen. We should raise up our voices against it and insist that strict measures be taken to have it completely abolished in places where it is being practiced. How can a lawmaker marry a thirteen year old and we think it’s his prerogative? How many more girls will go through pain and horror in the hands of sick men who abandon them in shacks to die and still roam around the community with no one punishing them? How can we all sit and have this injustice being done to innocent children and yet expect God to come down and save us? If we keep quiet, what then is the hope for our children? Don’t think because you’re a Southerner, it has nothing to do with you. What affects one, affects all.
The Nigerian community is speaking up against this. It’s just a flame but you can help the fire spread by sharing this message, irrespective of your religion and beliefs. It may not be enough to stop these men who are comfortably playing god with the bodies and souls of little girls. But it is enough to stir something in you. We should not be known as a nation that sits down and does nothing. Stop saying our efforts can’t go anywhere. These girls have to know there is another way to live. They have to know that marriage is a contract between two consenting adults and they have nothing to do with it. They have to know that there are people who hear their cries and are fighting for them.
If you are in Abuja, the venue is: Unity Fountain, by Transcorp Hilton. Also the Park. Time is: 9am-12noon.
For those in Lagos, the venues are:
1. Ojeez Restaurant, National Stadium Surulere.
2. Alausa Park, Opposite Lagos State Governor’s Office, Ikeja.
3. The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki
4. New African Shrine, Agidingbi, Ikeja.
5. Arrangements are still on-going for those in Festac Town and it’s environs.
Time is 9am-12noon.
And in your little corner, let your candle burn.