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It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #13

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He is never this quiet. Not even on days when he goes on a hyper mode and has to medicate himself to calmness. Wura worries about his state of mind. He is seated on the steps that lead out to the backyard from the backdoor of his kitchen, smoking cigarettes. He has had one too many for the day and it bothers her. Watching him as a mother would her newborn, she is just coming to realize that the responsibility of protecting him is now all on her.

His mother passed away on Sunday night and was buried not long after. Mahmud had received the shocking news without showing any form of reaction. He traveled home to Sokoto the next day and returned on Wednesday and since then he hasn’t been the same. Wura has been unable to reach him and she doubts that she can understand his pain. As the lastborn, Mahmud had been his mother’s pet. Wura is not sure she can take the woman’s place.

“Tokunboh, there’s dinner.” Wura moves towards him. “You’re going to eat today, right?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“But you’re going to have a shower, at least?”

“Is the stink that bad?”

“No. It’s just that you haven’t showered in three days.”

He lights a fresh cigarette and turns his head away from her and she immediately knows he is going to be unreachable for the entire night.

“I’ll be in the room if you need me.”

She walks back into the kitchen, picks her dinner and goes to his bedroom. Tomorrow promises to be a busy one for her but for this night she will have a good rest. She takes her dinner at a relaxed pace as she keeps up with her social media accounts which haven’t been attended to in a long while. These days she is a celebrity, thanks to the Love Concert. But she is yet to find a way to respond to the growing popularity as it comes with both the good and bad. There are people who are yet to forgive her for her past, and would, at every occasion remind her of it.

Her eyes cloud over they fall on a photo comment on her Facebook fan page. Someone posted a munched photo from one of her sex videos and added the caption: A leopard cannot change its spots.

Wura deletes the comment and puts her phone away. She forces down a sob but she fails. Her mood plummets and she buries her head in a pillow for a good cry. She has come to accept that her past will always keep up with her but she is yet to find a way to handle it whenever it shows up. Every bad comment from a hater always gets her down in the dumps. Without Mahmud, she would have fallen apart.

Finding a short moment of respite after her tears, Wura goes for a long, cold shower and steps out to find Mahmud in the bedroom, popping a couple of pills. She notices he has switched on the nightlight, bringing in dimness to the room.

“Should I get dinner for you?” she asks.

“I’m not hungry. Thanks.”

He takes off his t-shirt and shorts and tosses them in a corner. He now walks towards her, stops and holds her eyes for a while.

“Thank you for being here with me, mami. I’ve been trying to get my thoughts together, to understand why it all happened. I thought it’d be the old man to go, I was even ready for it but life throws in this curve and I’m yet to understand it.”

“God knows best, Mahmud.”

“Thank you for being here…”

She touches his face. “Please, don’t thank me. Your loss is my loss, Tokunboh.”

“Still…”

He pulls her in for a hug that expresses his distress. Minutes later, following a shower, Wura sets his dinner before him and persuades him to eat. Being his first meal in three days, he takes his time. She sits beside him, distracting his mind with tales of how her week has been.

“How does someone sleep and never wake up?” he asks from nowhere, cutting her off midway. “She was fine. You saw her. Wasn’t she looking okay to you?”

“She was, Mahmud.”

“Then how can she just go to sleep and refuse to wake up?”

Wura doesn’t have an answer for him. She lifts his dinner tray off his laps and takes it to the kitchen. When she returns, she finds a cigarette between his lips and moisture in his eyes. She fears that he is withdrawing from her again, so she picks her handbag and car key and stands before him. She is about to tell him she is set to leave but he takes her hand.

“Please, stay.”

“I’ll come back tomorrow evening, TK. I have to go to bed early…”

“Stay for a bit, please.”

She drops her car key and handbag and sits beside him as before. She watches as tears leave his eyes and disappear in the thick stubble of beard he hasn’t groomed for a while. The long drags of cigarette smoke and the manner in which his fingers keep combing through his this hair in a back and forth manner show his pain. There’s a silent heave, a sniffle and he throws his weight backwards on the bed, his head hitting a pillow.

Wura follows him and finds that the tears are more now, gushing down the sides of his face. In a tender manner, she wipes them; and while doing so, speaks comforting words to him. But he stops her hand, kisses it and turns to face her. She doesn’t object when he moves closer and places his lips on hers. She is also silent when his hand leaves hers to rest on her waist. His mouth tastes salty, smoky and delicious at the same time, and his kiss comes to her with intensity.  He leaves her lips to bury his face in her neck. His hot breath and the graze of his stubble give rise to goosebumps on her skin. When his lips trace their way back to her mouth again, leaving wet patches in their path, Wura allows herself feel the familiar tremors of desire. And because she hasn’t been in this place in a long time, the spark is instantaneous. Every nerve in her is awake and she responds to Mahmud’s ministrations, shutting down the cautioning voice in her head.

What follows is a series of lovemaking sessions that last for most of the night, bringing to Wura the kind of pleasure she has fantasized over for months on end. When she finally shuts her eyes in sleep, the morning after is the last thing on her mind. All that has happened feels right, and her emotional state of mind being the neediest, finds gratification in Mahmud’s arms.

sexBut the morning comes faster than she wants it to, and it brings with it censure. She opens her eyes in a slow and lazy manner and shuts them again to feel a quick rush of tears burn them. She then buries her face in shame. After a while, she quietly slips into her clothes, picks her handbag and begins out when Mahmud calls her back for a kiss.

“Let me take you home,” he says, getting off the bed. Her head shakes. She can’t stare at him in the eye.

“Just take care of yourself,” she tells him.

He pulls her in for a hug that ends with another kiss. She tries to leave but his hand resting on the nape of her neck keeps her back as his lips tastes hers once more.

“Mahmud…” she groans. He breaks away but stays so close she can feel his breath on her cheeks.

“I’m sorry yesterday happened,” he whispers. “Knowing you, you’re going to beat yourself over it and I feel terrible… Just…don’t sink under.”

“Please, let’s not have this talk. You lost your mom and you’re still grieving.”

“I don’t want you to feel bad over what happened…”

“I already feel bad, Tokunboh. I feel like shit.” Wura turns around, giving him her back. “I’m not so sure about me, if I’ll be the wife you think I’ll be.”

Mahmud’s full brows come together in a scowl. “Why?”

“See how easy it was for me to have sex with you? I couldn’t hold myself. What if after you marry me and my inner slut comes out and I cheat on you?”

Inner slut? What manner of rubbish talk is this, Woo?”

Wura gives no answer.

“So because you make love to the man you love, the father of your child, you’re now a slut?”

“Last night was not supposed to happen.”

“You’re right. It was not supposed to happen but I needed you and you were there for me. You took away the pain. Call it pity sex or whatever but I needed you.”

He walks around to face her.

“We were never supposed to happen, Belinda. Not with our different religious backgrounds and our pasts. But we’re here, fighting the odds, and I know we’ll make it work. You just need to believe it and never let anything from outside or within tear us apart.”

“I can’t think straight right now, Tokunboh. I have to go home and get my mind off everything.”

He covers her hands in his.

“Okay, I’m sorry about last night. I should have stopped us but I was as carried away as you were. At the same time, I’m not really sorry because being with you is what I always want to do. Don’t give up on us after what happened. I see you want to. I see it in your eyes. Please, hang on. We’ll get through this.”

Wura puts his hand to her cheek as tears let down.

“I so want to believe you, Mymood,” she says to him. “But can’t you see? There’s always something ready to tear us apart. First it was my past, then your family and now, this… Maybe we should just let go.”

Mahmud drops his hands. “We won’t.”

“It’s going to hurt now but we’ll both get over each other in the end.”

“You’re being ridiculous, Wuraola. It’s just sex!”

“It’s not just sex, Mahmud! What we did was wrong!”

“I am not going to lose you over what happened last night! Period!”

He gives the conversation an abrupt end by marching to the door.

“Since you’re irritated, you should go.”

She picks her handbag and walks to the door. Mahmud stops her and delivers one last kiss that sends her back to her emotions. After that, he holds her in a squeeze.

“Please, hang in there.”

He holds on to her a little longer and then lets go. His ringing phone takes him to his bed and while he attends to it, Wura quietly makes her exit. It is still dark outside when she leaves the house. A layer of moisture has settled over her car. She sits in and painful tears fill her eyes. She does not want to be taken by her emotions but the guilt cannot be helped. She remains in the car until the first light of the morning breaks. Only then does she drive home.

She enters a house that is dead quiet save for the hum of the deep freezer. Out of it she picks a bowl of chocolate ice-cream and retires to her bedroom where she consumes the entire thing without break. Afterwards, she hides beneath the blanket as the tears return.

Today is Sunday. She should be getting set for church but not in this state her heart is in. She is convinced God is disgusted at her.

Crying wears her out until her eyes shut. She doesn’t know for how long she sleeps but a long while after, she is awoken by Lexus’ voice in her ear.

“Move jare, let me lie down with you.”

Wura opens her eyes.

“Woo-woo, shift.”

She moves a little and allows Lexus in. They both leave their heads peeking out of the blanket.

“I need to talk to you about something,” Lexus says.

“You woke me up from sleep, so you better shoot.”

“It’s about Kasi.” There’s elation in Lexus’ tone. “I think I’m in love with him.”

Wura hisses. “I thought you had something new to tell me. Be going, let me go back to sleep jare.”

“No, no, this is deep, Woo. This is really deep, like massive. Like, I’m all in. Like, head over heels kind of shit!”

In spite of her mood, Wura smiles.

“So we’ve spent the entire week together – with Trini of course. And I think we make the cutest, little family.”

“I can imagine.”

“The arrangement is that we take Trini to daycare and then stay in and fuck all day and bring her back home, feed her, put her to bed and fuck all night.”

“Can you warn me next time before you use the F-word so lavishly?”

“Fuck?”

“Yes, stop saying it.”

“It’s just a word, Woo-woo.”

“Aunty, just go on with why you’re here.”

“Woo, have you had so much sex you get sore at first? But it’s the good sore that makes you want more; and then you get more until you become unsore and all you can feel is pleasure. Can you relate?”

Wura simply smiles.

“That’s where I am right now. But that asides, I think I really love Kasi.”

“You’ve said that already.”

“No, I mean, I love him enough to want to wear a ring and do the whole forever thing with him.”

Wura gives her a proper stare. “That’s serious, Lexi.”

“I know and it scares me because in New York, he was all about settling down and I freaked out and left him because I wasn’t ready. And now, I think I might’ve scared him off completely. As beautiful as our one week of smashing was, he hasn’t mentioned anything about us getting really exclusive.”

She sits up abruptly. “Woo, how do I propose to him?”

Wura’s brows shoot up.

“Propose?”

“Yeah. How do I say ‘Kasiobi, let’s get married?’ Of course, I don’t want to get married immediately because the entire concept still freaks me out but I want to own him exclusively.”

“You’re not joking.”

“Do I look like I’m joking, Woo? Kasi’s ass is mine and no Chichi or Shakira or any of them smelly ass thirsty bitches will touch his dick again.

Wura can’t help but laugh.

“Yes, I want to be his wife. Maybe next year or the year after. No, not the year after. That would be too far. Next year is fine. Trini has to start walking so she can be our perfect, little flower girl.”

“I can’t believe you’re going all girly on me this morning, Lexi. Your father’s prayers are finally being answered.”

“But seriously, how do I pop the question?”

“I hope you’re not planning to go on a knee with a ring.”

“Naa. That’s mainstream.”

“No. Actually, Lexus, that’s masculine.”

“Okay. So, any feminine ideas?”

“For starters, don’t buy a ring. Like I said, masculine.”

“Okay?”

“You can just talk to him. You could say, ‘remember we used to talk about settling down a lot?’”

“Naa. I don’t think I want to dredge up that past. It’s painful for both of us.”

“Then just leave hints.”

“Hints are going to fucking take forever! Urghh! Can’t I just say, ‘Kasiobi, marry me!’?”

“No!”

“Why?”

“Because girls don’t propose. The guy has to do it with a ring and on one knee and it has to be a huge surprise.”

“Who makes these rules?!” Lexus cries out in frustration.

“I don’t know. Just don’t propose.”

“Oh, before I forget, awesome surprise party on Friday. I had fun.”

“Thanks. All your dad’s idea. He just wanted to appreciate you and the boss lady.”

“I can’t believe I actually cried when he asked her to dance Unchained Melody with him. All I saw was that scene in Ghost with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. It was so beautiful, and I think it’s what inspired me to want to make this bold move with Kasi.”

“I’m proud of you sha. You’re all grown up now.”

Lexus sticks out her feet and rests them on the footboard. “So can you be a darling and throw in a good word to Kasi for me?”

“How?

“Just let him know I’m ready to take the plunge. He can propose any time, from now till the end of the year. I am so ready. Hair, nails and makeup will be on point every day for the perfect moment.”

Wura falls apart in laughter. “Tonbra, you will not kill me o! Come and be going, let me go back to sleep, abeg. I no get your time this afternoon.”

“You’ll talk to him for me? Maybe pick out the ring? It should be a blue or black stone. Nothing feminine.”

“I’ll talk to him.”

“Thank you!” She hugs her. “I love you, Woo-woo.”

“Me too, baby.”

“Meanwhile, I’m hungry. What did you cook?”

“Nothing jare.”

“Let me call Genesis to know if she has food.”

“She always has food. Go and raid her kitchen.”

“You want to come along?”

“Nope. I want to sleep. Now, go.”

Lexus stumbles down. She pushes her legs into a pair of crocs.

“Wait, though. You didn’t go to church, Woo?”

“No.”

“What’s wrong? Your eyes are swollen.”

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

Lexus abandons plans of leaving and takes the bed again.

“What happened?”

Wura lowers her eyes. “Mahmud and I had sex yesterday.”

“Ooooh.” Lexus moves closer. “How was it? Give me deets!”

“It was great, Lex,” Wura replies. “But you know it was wrong.”

“Nope. I don’t know that.”

“I was waiting until we got married…”

“But then you got horny and did it. So what? You’re going to kill yourself now?”

“You won’t understand.”

“No, I don’t. I’ve never understood your religiosity. But hey, it’s your life. Keep on killing yourself over something you enjoy doing. But seriously, how was it? I want details.”

“Go home, Lex.”

Lexus springs up. “Stop regretting what you did, Woo. It was just sex.”

“Just go.”

“Breathe in and out. And tell yourself ‘I love sex and it’s okay to do it with Mahmud’.”

Wura flings a pillow at her. “Be going.”

“See ya!”

Lexus steps out and Wura dives back under the blanket but that only lasts a matter of seconds as she hears Lexus calling out Ralph’s name. Knowing her alone time is over, Wura walks out to the living room where she finds Ralph and Lexus conversing.

“You’re the worst niece ever, Tonbra,” Ralph states. “You don’t even care about your cousins.”

“Uncle, me and your offspring are not age mates. What am I going to be discussing with them? How to wrap weed or have safe sex?”

Pastor Ralph cringes. Wura laughs.

“It’s fine. You don’t have to connect with them.”

“I thought so too.”

“We should have a family dinner or something one of these days…”

“Yeah…before Aunty Maggie disappears with all your money to London. You know I never liked her, right? Just putting it out there.”

Wura’s jaw drops.

“Eva didn’t like her too,” Lexus continues. “Thought she was too stuck-up. But it was weird that Eva thought Wura would have been better for you.”

Ralph looks at Wura who merely frowns at Lexus.

“I’d have been calling you ‘Aunty Woo-woo.”

“Lexus, just go nau,” Wura begs with a giggle. “Be going.”

“Yeah, Uncle Ralph, let me split and go and see Zach and Zoe before they start looking at me weirdly like your kids do.”

“Okay, sweetie.”

They hug and Lexus makes her exit. Ralph turns to Wura.

“You look tired.”

“Just sleepy.” She yawns.

“Why weren’t you in church today?”

“I had a little fever,” she lies, “but I’m better now.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, hopefully the good news I have for you will change your mood.”

Wura sits up and Ralph takes a seat as well, resting his feet on the center table. He is wearing a pair of loafers that match well-ironed grey pants and a black shirt. She notices he has lost some weight.

“Should I get you something to eat?” she asks.

“No, I’m fine. Just brace yourself for this massive gist.”

“I’m all braced up.”

“You remember the record company that contacted you two years ago to have you sign a recording contract?”

Wura nods but with a drop in enthusiasm. The record company in question had come to her for a three-year recording contract with an offer of a few million bucks and a tour around Africa but they had a single clause that put an end to the deal. They wanted her to break up with Mahmud, on the reason that she couldn’t be a renowned gospel artiste and have a relationship with a Muslim. This had happened shortly before her videos became viral and being so invested in her relationship with Mahmud then, she had walked away from the deal.

“But Pastor Ralph, you know I want nothing to do with those people.”

“I know but they have come with something different this time. Something you can’t resist.”

“Okay?”

“Fo Yo Soul Recordings is signing three musicians in Africa. One from SA, another from Ghana and then, wait for it… You and I, as a duo. As a team.”

Wura gasps, head pulled back, mind taking in the news. “You’re joking.”

“I’m serious.”

“For real, Pastor Ralph? As in, for real?”

“Yes.”

“Oh my God!” Wura springs up and screams as she hops around like a little girl. She stops and asks Pastor Ralph if he’s pulling her legs.

“No.”

She screams out again and stops once more. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“It is.”

“Fo Yo Soul?”

“Yep.”

“As in Kirk Franklin’s record label?”

“Yep.”

“Oh my God! Oh my God! I can’t breathe.” She fans herself.

“You need water?”

“Yes.” She doubles over, hands on her knees. “No, I’m fine,” she says when she sees him rise up. She straightens up too. There are tears of joy dancing in her eyes.

“Finally.” The words come out in a whisper.

“Finally.”

“Oh God.” She slumps back into her chair and starts sobbing. Ralph watches her for a bit but when she doesn’t stop, he takes the space beside her and places his hand on her back.

“I never thought this day would come,” she cries. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“You better believe it.”

“But I’m not worthy, Pastor Ralph. I don’t deserve it.”

“Stop saying that…”

“No.” She sniffles. “You don’t understand. Last night…”

She sniffles again.

“I slept with Mahmud.”

Ralph’s hand leaves her back. She covers her face.

“Slept with him, as in, on the same bed…and nothing happened?”

“Everything happened.”

Ralph shuts his eyes in disappointment.

“I am so sorry. So, so sorry.”

He doesn’t say a word. His silence stretches as her sobs intensify. But somehow he pulls her close for a hug.

“Oh, my darling Wuraola, you’re always a mess.”

“I’m sorry.”

“But God loves you like that, you know? In your weakness, he’s strong. Strong for you. Don’t give up on yourself. He’s still molding you.”

“But I keep falling.”

“He will restore you, baby girl. Just hold on, and please, stop crying.”

His words only pull her deeper into her emotions. He is patient with her; he lets her unburden and it takes quite a while. When the last tear is gone, wiped by his hanky, he releases her.

“You want to hear me play something? It’s a new song.”

Wura nods. Somewhere outside the house Bilal is screaming at the top of his lungs in excitement. She guesses he is playing football with her cousin. She is glad he is off her hands today. Her mood wouldn’t have been able to contain him.

Pastor Ralph leads the way to her studio. When they get in, she finds some corner on the floor to sit on while his fingers caress the black and white notes of her piano.

©Sally@moskedapages

Image: weheartit

It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #2

Good evening,

I’m so sorry for the missed episode of The Immortals’ Code. I was too lazy to do a last minute edit. Please, don’t be mad.

Read the first episode of It’s Another Novocaine Saturday

 

novocaine saturday

It is Noka who first notices the ring on my finger barely seconds after I let them into the house. She has an eye for glittery things, a look of greed I’ve come to accept as part of her nature. And it’s not just the look. It’s her entire person. She is of a covetous kind. It was for this reason she got pregnant for Ibro and became his wife and is now in a loveless marriage. One would expect that she would have learned after all this time but she gets worse by the day.

She clutches my hand and gasps.

“Honey! This is so sexy!”

I smile at her. I think her dress is sexy too. It is worn for Ibro whom she hasn’t seen since in a while. He now lives with Eno in a smaller house somewhere in Ikeja, miles away from her. I can’t imagine her pain. She literally begs him to touch her and it seems she would be doing so tonight. Her dress is red and hugs her curves sinfully, showing off a plunging neckline no one can ignore. It’s a good thing the men are all outside. It would be awkward to have people’s husbands trying not to stare at her boobs.

“Why did you buy it?” she asks of the ring as the others make themselves comfortable on pale yellow couches.

“Jide bought it. It’s my push present.”

“Are you serious?”

“Push what?” Mary asks, glowing in all lights of Ekene’s love. I hardly recognize her these days.

“Push present,” Celia repeats. “It’s a father’s way of saying to the mother of his child, thank you for pushing my child out of your vagina.”

“I’m just hearing of it,” Peace confesses. “But I love the sound of it. I wish men would start giving sex presents too.”

“Well, I get a present every single time Ibro and I have sex…”

Celia stops Noka. “Which is like almost never. Abeg, spare us. We know your husband has money. It’s getting quite irritating the way you remind us. Can’t you learn from Mary? Does she brag about everything Ekene gives her? By the way, they are probably richer than you people but no we won’t hear word from you. Abeg, shush.”

The message is to Noka but somehow all of us comply, no one saying a word after the outburst, waiting for Noka to retort. But she doesn’t. She sits beside me, silent as a mouse.

“Am I the only one that is anxious to actually see our little Jiney?” Mary turns to me. “Madam, go and bring the latest Onuora bundle. Abi you think we came here to look at your ugly face?”

I rise to my feet but stop when Genesis steps into the living room with my little angel. Another moment of jerky silence follows. Of course, my friends are not awed by my baby but have been taken unawares by Genesis’ presence.

“Hi ladies,” she greets, calling each of them by name. Their replies are polite but lacking of cordiality. Only Mary responds with friendliness, rising up to take Jiney off her arms.

“Awww, she’s so adorable. See her face like her daddy’s.”

The others crowd around Jiney and she gets passed round, taking kisses that Jide would not approve of. He is already very protective of her.

Peace is the last person to hold her. She gently rocks her back to sleep after she had been awoken by our loud voices. While she drifts off, we talk about my birth experience and share a good laugh over how it went. They each tell their own birth stories, Celia lamenting on how long it took for her to regain her body back after she had Dara.

“I tied my tummy like there was no tomorrow but it didn’t work. Last-last I resorted to aerobics and tummy exercises.”

Noka lifts my t-shirt without permission. “Who tied yours for you?”

“Nne. Jide doesn’t like it, though. He says it’s archaic.”

“It is,” Genesis agrees.

“It is not,” Noka counters. “It worked for me.”

“And me.” Peace lifts her hand.

“Maybe I didn’t do it well,” Celia says. “It should have worked for me if I did.”

Her statement is said only to oppose Genesis who simply smiles back at her.

“Well, I didn’t tie mine,” Genesis insists.

“And you’re flat like that?” Peace asks, taking everyone’s attention to Genesis’ scandalously-dangerous curves. She is wearing a loose jumpsuit that should naturally understate her sexiness but it does nothing of the sort. Genesis has the type of body that even a blanket would find hard hiding.

“You must have done liposuction,” Noka concludes. “I did mine in Abuja. Who’s your doctor?”

“I didn’t do any liposuction. This is the way my body is. I dance to keep shape.”

“Ah. You’ll come and teach me the dance o!” Mary pats her own tummy. “I need it.”

“No wahala.” Genesis stands up, as do I. I can hear Jide entering the house through the backdoor. I’m guessing he’s getting drinks. They’ll also need peppersoup.

“So can I get you ladies anything?” Genesis asks. “There is goat meat and catfish peppersoup, party jollof, yam porridge and egusi with pounded yam.”

“You cooked all of that?” Peace gapes at her.

“Well, I’ve been here since morning, so…”

My friends look at me as though I have betrayed them but I pretend not to notice. Genesis is as much a friend as any of them. Even more than they may ever be. She had visited as early as 8am, melancholic in her manner when she cornered me in the kitchen to ask how she can help. Nne was leaving to the hospital at that time. Elsie’s eldest daughter, not so accustomed to Nigerian weather, had fallen ill and was admitted in the hospital. Hence, Genesis’ presence was much needed. I asked about why she looked so glum and she told me she had a fight with Dominic just before leaving home. She had admitted it was her fault for giving him stress over his constant absences. She had planned to apologize later in the day but Dominic had resurrected the issue and led them into a row that saw them exchanging offensive words with each other.

“I am tired of the money,” she sobbed. “It’s become a burden. The fame, the status… I wish someone would just take everything away. Just strip it off and let me have Dominic again.”

I lent her my shoulder to cry on and she had a good one. Shortly after, while we ate breakfast with Jide, she told us how she came into Dominic’s life and how they ended up together and built their business to what it is today. It was a peculiar story but a beautiful one. Jide and I advised her to be patient with Dominic and find subtler ways to express her concerns next time. After breakfast, she and I got busy in the kitchen. She did all the cooking while I entertained visitors. I am surprised that she is still pumped to serve my guests after all that work.

“Don’t worry,” Celia speaks, getting up. “We will serve ourselves. This is our house.”

She leads Noka and Peace to the kitchen. Mary stays behind, obsessing over Jiney.

“It’s almost seven o’clock, Honey.” Genesis reads the time on her watch. “I have to go.”

I look at her with a grateful smile. I don’t know how to thank her. Apart from the cooking, she has left a check for Jiney with an amount I’m still reeling from. I give her a bottle of vintage wine to take home to Dominic, and just as she is about leaving, Noka walks in on us with an expression I’m not comfortable with.

“I’ve been trying to place your face, Genesis.”

“My face?”

“Yes.” Noka drops her dish of peppersoup on a stool and straightens up. “Did you ever date the petroleum minister some five, six years ago?”

“Me?” Genesis places a hand on her chest.

“Yes, you. Were you dating him then? He was just a director or something like that in NNPC.”

Peace and Celia file in, each with a dish of something to eat.

“What’s happening?” Celia sits.

“I was just asking Genesis if she ever dated the petroleum minister.”

“That’s silly,” Mary puts in. “The man is in his fifties or so and married with kids. How could she have dated him?”

“Well, shit happens.”

I am upset with Noka. I don’t know where she is going to with her assertions. Genesis is clearly embarrassed by the line of questioning. I already know of her past but I don’t think she needs to explain anything to anyone. I decide to step in.

“Genesis has been here all day and has left her babies for almost twelve hours. Please, allow her go home to them.”

“Just answer the question,” Noka presses.

“Yes,” Genesis replies. “Yes, I dated him. Any problem?”

“So it was you who tore my aunt’s marriage apart.”

“Ojonoka!” I scold. “What’s wrong with you? Behave yourself!”

“Honey, I have to leave,” Genesis announces a second time. “Thanks, again. Goodnight, ladies.”

They all respond, excluding Noka. I walk Genesis to her car and apologize for Noka’s rudeness.

“It’s okay. The past will always come calling, Honey. And maybe I deserve what I’m getting from Nick after what I have done to other people’s marriages.”

“Haba! Don’t speak like that. Your marriage is fine. Dominic adores you. And your past is your past. Ignore Noka. She’s just being the basic bitch she is.”

Genesis pulls me close for a hug. I can feel her heaviness through her hold. I assure her that all will be well. As she drives away, I stand outside until the taillights of her car disappear. Jide calls me over to say hi to the guys. I spend a few minutes with them, accepting congratulatory messages and lighthearted teases. They eventually let me be and I enter the house to give Noka a good scold for her rudeness to Genesis. She listens to my rant without uttering a word but doesn’t show any remorse.

“She ruined my aunt’s marriage, Honey. You would hate her too if she did the same to you.”

“So you hate her?”

“I didn’t say so.”

“You just said so. You hate her for no reason.”

“She is a husband snatcher.”

“Was! That was her past! Why are you judging her without even knowing her?!”

“Honey, calm down,” Mary pleads.

“I’m pissed, abeg!” I retort, keeping my eyes on Noka. “You come to my house to visit me and then you insult my guest! Why can’t you just be a nice person?!”

“I wonder,” Mary murmurs. “You were totally out of line, Noks.”

Noka ignores us both. For all she cares, I might be a buzzing fly trying to steal her peppersoup. Peace motions to me to calm down.

“I think you really need your husband’s dick to help you take the edge off,” I add acerbically. “Try and do that tonight. And by the way, Genesis is here to stay. You just have to get used to her.”

“As long as she’s not stealing my husband, we’re good.”

“Your husband is already stolen,” I bite back as I march off to the kitchen.

What a way to end the day! I wish Bimpe was here. She alone knows how to put Noka in her place. I wonder how she and Bright and the kids are coping in Angola. The last time we spoke on the phone she expressed that she was making friends with other expatriates. She actually used to be my least favorite amongst the wives but I now realize how her presence had been influential on them. Noka needs to be tamed and since Bimpe is not here to do it, I’ll take it upon myself to put her straight.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

Dominic is welcomed into Wura’s three-bedroom home by her cousin. He’s a young boy in his teens, face riddled with pimples and sporting a few strands of hair on his chin. He greets Dominic with a smile much like Wura’s. Dominic returns the gesture as the boy points him into a couch of navy-blue fluffiness that matches little, azure dots on buttery-colored curtains that hang off the windows.

The room is small and cozy, the type of space lovers might enjoy, snuggling in under dim lights and the fragrance of mild incense which Dominic spots burning in a corner. Certainly, Mahmud’s northern influence on Wura inspires her décor choices. The couches all bear distinct Afghan designs that complement each other. And Dominic, without having to look twice, can tell that they are all imported pieces, including the Moroccan lantern hanging off the ceiling that gives the room its subtle lighting.

Dominic makes himself at home in the comfy space, putting away a toy truck he almost crushes as he sits.

“Aunty is in the studio with Pastor Ralph,” the teenage boy informs him. “They’re rehearsing for their concert.”

“Just tell her I’m here. But she shouldn’t rush out. I’ll wait. You know who I am?”

The boy nods.

“Okay. Just inform her I’m here.”

“Yes, sir.”

The boy disappears through a door to his left, leaving it wide open. The sound of music floats in, carrying rich, full notes from a piano playing a familiar song that puts Dominic in a calm disposition. Before long, the smoky tone of Ralph’s voice hits the air, harmonized by Wura’s subtle soprano as they take on Bebe and Cece’s It’s Okay.

Maybe we can talk it over
And save our hopes and dreams
Though the waves seem endless
Somehow we’ll cross this angry sea
With love all things are possible
If we just believe

I need to know, yes it’s okay
Can I hurdle this storm
Yes but only together
With love in our hearts, the only way
Somehow, things will work out just you wait and see

 Oh it will, believe it will

See real life confrontations
Caused our vows to break
But I learned the word forgiveness
Can time chase the pain away
True love made our hearts inseparable
If we just believe

But right now it hurts so bad
And feels so bad
But tomorrow waits with laughter
If we endure the tears then joy comes after

I need to know, you need to know
It’s gonna be okay
Can I hurdle this storm, oh-oh-only together
With love in our hearts, the only way
And somehow, somehow
Somehow I can feel love again
Somehow, things have worked cause you stayed with me
I’m glad to know it’s okay

 It’s okay

As the ending notes on the piano die down, Dominic realizes that the song has taken him to an emotional place. His fight with Genesis earlier had been the worst they ever had. He had called her names that he wishes he can unsay. The pain he saw in her eyes as she hurried out of the house might need more than a verbal apology from him to heal. It would need all of him, and he isn’t so sure he has the time or endurance to give Genesis what she wants at the moment. She was raised a diva, taught to be demanding of her men. She either gets the best or nothing, and this includes affection and time. If Dominic doesn’t love her the way she wants to be loved or spends quality time with her, they get into a fight. He is coming to learn that as successful and as business-savvy as she is, she is beginning to lose grip of what’s important to them as entrepreneurs. He fears that she will let her sentiments get the best out of their business and ultimately ruin what they had both worked for. It is for this reason he is paying Wura an August visit. She alone can fix things.

“The Don himself!”

Ralph emerges from Wura’s studio. Dominic rises up to share a handshake and a manly hug with his childhood friend. Ralph enquires about Dominic’s family and Dominic replies that all is well. When Dominic throws the same question his way, Ralph presents an uneasy smile.

It is hardly news that he and his wife are going through a difficult divorce. As Ralph had shared with Dominic a short while ago, the marriage had been hanging by a thread for years, both of them managing each other for the sake of their reputation as church leaders. But his wife woke up one morning and decided to share with the women fellowship in a tear-jerking session that she was leaving Ralph. He got the shocking news from the general overseer’s wife after it had spread around the church like a California wildfire. Ralph did everything within his power to change his wife’s mind but it was obvious she stopped loving him a long time ago. Thus, their nine-year marriage was tossed into the hands of court documents and lawyers.

The collapse of their relationship left Ralph broken but filled him with a desire to minister to folks like him going through tough times in their marriages and relationships. And what better person to have on his tour than Wura, a woman who was publicly disgraced when her past was shared to the public in sordid videos that went viral just a week to her wedding. She had withdrawn from church and work, following the devastating scandal, also breaking off her engagement with Mahmud who was insistent on marrying her despite everything. She then fell into depression that saw her admitted into a psychiatric clinic. Ralph stood by her through the duration of her hospitalization, especially when Mahmud had to leave the country for a surgery course in Saudi Arabia. During the period, two broken souls sought God and found healing, and together commenced on the tour that has so far run for three months and will come to an end in a mega gospel concert organized by Novocaine Knights at the end of the month. As told to Dominic by Ralph, this final concert would be Wura’s first appearance since her public disgrace. Prior to this, she had stayed behind the piano and lent her voice as a backup singer alone. This would be her chance to share her story and redeem herself through her music.

“Hello Wura.” Dominic smiles at her as his eyes shifts to the corner where she stands like a stranger in her own home.

“Good evening, sir.” She curtsies in her usual courteous manner.

“I like what you did with this place.”

“Thank you, sir. And you’re heartily welcome to my home.”

“Where’s Bilal?” he inquires of her son.

“Sleeping.”

“By this time? Ah. You’re in trouble at night be that.”

Wura shakes her head in exaggerated self-pity. “He keeps me up every night. Every single night.”

“I feel your pain.”

“Sorry for interrupting you guys but I gotta run.” Ralph extends his hand for a handshake and blows a kiss at Wura before stepping out.

“Mr. Dominic, can I get you something to drink? Don’t mind my stupid cousin. The boy doesn’t have manners.”

“No, it’s fine. I’m good.”

“This is your first time here since I decorated the place,” Wura says, moving towards him, her long Ankara skirt making a whooshing sound as she walks.

“Yes, it is.”

She settles into one of the Afghan couches and picks a throw pillow that has gold trimmings on its corners.

“So, Mr. Dominic, this one that you visited me this evening, I’m scared o.”

“Relax.” Dominic laughs. “It’s all good news, the first of which is that Lexus is back.”

Pleasant surprise fills Wura’s face as she gasps. “Are you serious? When?”

“I was in my study this morning and next thing she was standing in front of my table. Best surprise ever.”

“Awww, that’s so sweet. I can’t wait to see her.”

“I’ll give you her new number before I go.”

“Okay, thank you. Yay! Lexi’s back!”

“So, Wura…” Dominic moves forward on his seat. “The reason I came here is to offer you your old job back.”

The pleasantness drains from Wura’s face.

“Novo needs you, Wu. Your management skills are top notch. Genesis and I haven’t been able to fill that hole you left. You were our most valuable player on the team.”

“Sir… you’ve forgotten that a client recognized me from the videos.”

“A client. Just one. And really, it doesn’t matter. We, your family, we did not judge you. We stood by you through that difficult time and we’re still here for you. You’ve been brave enough to put yourself out there again in your music tour with Ralph.”

“I stay in the shadows literally.”

“Well, it’s time you stepped out. You can’t keep punishing yourself for your past, Wura. You have to let it all go. And since you’re going to be on stage with Ralph for this final concert, I don’t see why you can’t take back your place as Novo manager again.”

“Sir, I don’t know. Even the thing with Ralph, I’m still contemplating. The moment I step on that stage, they’ll resurrect everything. The videos will resurface.”

Dominic leaves his seat to hers and lifts her restless hands off her skirt.

“Remember I was accused of murder and I had no one to defend my name?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You never asked me how I got over it or maybe somehow you think my heart is made of stone.”

“No, I don’t think it is.”

“It is not. I’m as human as you are and I’ve been where you’ve been and the only way I survived was just to keep going. Your shit is already out there. You can’t do jack about it. Some people will forever call you a stripper. You can’t undo that. But what you can do from now on is to write a different future for yourself. And we all believe in your greatness, Wuraola. We need you to start believing in that greatness too. Will you do that for all of us?”
Wura nods, eyes brimming with tears.

“Your salary would be doubled and you’ll get a brand new car plus other benefits. Please, consider the offer.”

“I’ll think about it, sir.”

Dominic lets go of her hand and stands up.

“Lexi’s number?” she requests as she pulls out her phone from her pocket. “So she’s completed her art course?”

“Yes, she has, and she’s back home to stay.”

“Yay! I’ve missed her like mad.”

Dominic passes Wura his phone and she copies out Lexus’ phone number.

“She says she still has to go back to iron out a few things but she particularly came because she has a surprise for us.”

“And you don’t like surprises.” Wura laughs.

“You know me nau. I was like madam, I hope you’re not pregnant for that white boy sha. That one will not go down well with me. I’m sorry but I agree with my wife that I’m the occasional racist. I will not be the grandfather to white kids.”

“Sir, it’s not that deep nau. If Lexus decides to marry the guy, then I’m sure he’s cool.”

“And Kasiobi?”

“I think you just have a bias for Kasi.”

“I do. He’s been endorsed by Gen and I and Lexus better adjust her sights on him. Enough of this her white boy persuasion.”

Still laughing, Wura shakes her head as she hands Dominic back his phone.

“I’m on way, Wura. Take care and be sure to give me your answer soon.”

“No wahala, sir.”

Wura walks him to the door and once he steps out into the night, he dials Genesis. For the eighth time, she refuses to take his call.

∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞

novocaine saturday

Kasiobi stares inattentively at the girl in the voicing booth. She is just another voice that would be forgotten soon, even before she is known. There is no question about the power of her vocals. Her cords pack a punch but that is all there is to it. She lacks what it takes to be a star. He had sensed it on their first meeting, by just looking at her, that she wasn’t hungry enough for the fame, but he had obliged her– only as a favor to a friend.

He lets her have her moment in the booth while his mind travels to Lexus whose image he can’t quite get out of his head.

He had gone to pick her on Genesis’ request and found her in a t-shirt and distressed black skinnies, topped with a red fedora. A pair of gray Yeezy Boost 350 sneakers which probably cost a fortune also caught his eyes. Her overall look screamed ‘model off-duty’. Casual, yet chic. Kasiobi concluded her designer boyfriend was responsible for her new sense of style which had turned her tomboy looks to something modish. And he also noticed that she was fuller at the hips and bust, having added some weight in the right places. It gave her an overall mature look which turned heads. Everything about her begged to be noticed but in typical Lexus fashion, she was oblivious of what was going on around her.

Taxi drivers had tried unsuccessfully to get her attention but her phone had all her concentration. She didn’t even notice that Kasiobi was standing a couple of breadths away from her. His eyes had been on her tattoos, checking to see if she had inked on something fresh, but all he saw were the old ones.

Nothing new. Yet everything different about her. She remained the same girl who used to be his best friend amongst other things but was now a stranger.

“Lex?”

Her head jutted up, her eyes falling into Kasiobi’s in surprise.

“H-hey.”

Some uncomfortable seconds passed and then she put her arms around him for a hug of which he didn’t object to. He felt the familiar crush of her breasts on his chest and the softness of her skin that translated into memories of intimate moments.

“I’ve missed you, Kasbi.”

He had realized just then that his anger at her would not last long and it got him irate at himself. Having Lexus as a friend was fine but having her back as the girl that had the power to crush his resolve put him on edge.

Lexus broke from the hug. “Let me guess. Genesis sent you to pick me up.”

“She’s busy.”

“It’s fine. Awkward. But fine.”

They didn’t speak after that. He helped put her baggage in his vehicle and they carried on in silence as they headed into town. However, Kasiobi interrupted the peace when they hit their first traffic stop. He unfastened his seatbelt and leaned towards her. When she returned his stare, his lips took hers unexpectedly. He kissed her like he had forgotten something in her mouth and was searching for it. He went in deep and hard, his puny anger making a comeback. But he stopped abruptly and went back to the wheel.

The silence continued, now burdened with fresh sexual tension that Kasiobi had supposed was dead. He was amazed at how quickly Kira was forgotten and all he thought about was kissing Lexus again. He looked at her. Her face was pressed to the window. Her fedora was resting on her laps, letting free her full, long hair which fell all the way to her neck in different tones of brown. Preoccupied eyes continued to stare out but she turned suddenly and caught him ogling.

And to him, that had been the defining moment. Looking into her eyes, he knew he was going to let her back in as easily as it had been for her to walk out on him. The thought annoyed him a great deal and he expressed it with more quietness, giving quick, terse responses when she tried to engage him in conversation.

“Clearly, you’re still mad at me,” she finally said when he neared the street that led to the Ditorusin mansion. He kept his face away. The sight of people walking about a drab street on a busy morning was good distraction.

“Kas, I’m sorry.”

“Let’s not go back there, Lex.”

“I tried to explain but you never let me,” she complained in a Nigerian drawl that had been tainted with an American accent.

“Tonbra, shut the fuck up.”

She obeyed – but only for a few seconds.

“You know what? Fuck you, Kas. You think breaking up with you was easy? It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. I had massive feelings you.”

“And yet you walked away.”

“I don’t expect you to understand what I was going through at the moment.”

“Oh, it’s about you now and what you were going through? When did you become so complicated sef? You have feelings for a guy and yet you leave him? I don’t get it. What happened to the Lexus who loved the simple life and lived for the moment?”

“That was what I was looking for!” she uttered. “Just the moment! Just two of us being two of us and having fun every day but…”

She broke off, staring out again.

“Tonbra, what happened to you?”

She looked at him with a weary smile. “You. You happened to us. You screwed up what we had with bullshit talk about love and marriage and…having kids.”

“And that’s a bad thing?”

“It was scary. I wasn’t ready to be responsible for anyone’s feelings or even be responsible for anyone at all.”

Kasiobi tried to ponder on her words but shook the silliness of them off his shoulders before they settled in.

“You know what? I officially give up on you. We should end this talk now and never have it again.”

“Fine.”

“Good.”

The silence returned, and went on until he pulled up in front of her house. When he said goodbye to her with a hug, he sensed that she had something to say. But she stepped back and he waited, watching stray curls of her hair, blown by gentle morning breeze shimmer in hues of brown as they flipped across her face.

“I don’t want to lose our friendship, Kas. It was and still is more important than anything else.”

“Lexus, you can’t just separate our friendship from our love life. They were interwoven. You did not only betray me as a girlfriend. You broke my heart as a friend and it’s hard to go back to being us.”

“So I should give you time?” she asked.

He gave no reply, entered his ride and fired it up.

“Bye, Lex.”

He drove away, leaving her outside the gates of the house with a look on her face that was going to break him if he stayed longer. When he got home, he fixed himself a scanty breakfast and let Kira in just to watch her grovel.

Twelve hours have gone by since then and Kira is still groveling. While the ambitionless girl in his studio sings herself into a delusion, Kira prepares a meal of starch and banga soup to appease Kasiobi. She sets a lavish table and pokes her head in to let him know that dinner is ready.

“I’ll be out in a jiff,” he replies. But he takes longer. A whole hour later. When he eventually comes out, he finds a pouting Kira and a dish that has gone cold. He renders no apologies to her. Kira is now quite used to his poor eating habits, and being that she is still in a contrite mood, she makes no complaints about her food being ignored.

“Don’t you have somewhere else you have to be?” Kasiobi asks, walking into his bedroom. “With Mayor or something?”

“He dumped me. Said I should move out of the house.”

“Maybe you’ve been begging the wrong person all day. He’s your sugar daddy. Go back to him and grovel. I’m not going to take over from him. I can barely feed myself.”

“I’m not asking you to take care of me.” Kira clutches Kasiobi and rests her head on his chest. “I can take care of myself.”

“By finding a new blesser?”

She gives no answer.

“Go home, Kira. We’ll talk tomorrow, abeg.”

She looks up at him. Her expression turns innocent. “I’m still your girlfriend?”

Kasiobi stares back, finding her artificial lashes and the deep red blush on her cheeks distracting.

“We’ll talk tomorrow,” he repeats.

“I want to spend the night. I’m scared of what Mayor will do to me if I go back there this night.”

“Kira…” Kasiobi sighs in exhaustion.

“Please, baby.”

He releases another sigh, twirling the edges of her hair in his fingers. He has no plans to do away with her just yet. She could be good reason to keep Lexus away from him.

“Just tonight.”

Fingers dig into his joggers from behind and squeeze his butt as a kiss meets his lips, seizing his mouth without consent. His t-shirt is peeled off his body and he finds himself falling backwards until he hits the bed. Kira sits on him, her face disappearing in the darkness as the power goes out.

novocaine saturday

She drops her weight over him for another kiss but a flash of light from his phone on the bedpost alerts him of a notification.

He picks the phone and sees that it’s a Whatsapp message from an unknown contact. He taps it open.

-Hi Kas, this is Lex. Store my new number

He types out a reply.

-Okay

He adds her to his contact list as another message comes in.

“Who is it?” Kira inquires. Kasiobi ignores her and reads Lexus’ message.

-I’m about to send you something. Please, don’t freak out

He waits. A blurry photo pops up in the chat thread. He taps on it and waits some more. When it clears up, the photo of a baby held in Lexus’ arms is displayed. Kasiobi frowns and thumbs over his keyboard.

-Whose baby is it?

He glues his eyes to his phone screen as the double tick that indicates his message has been delivered turns blue. An uneasy feeling takes over his mood. A few more seconds pass and he repeats his question.

-Whose baby?

Lexus’ answer drops in.

-Yours, Kas. She’s your baby.

©Sally@moskedapages

 

 

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