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My mom, the religious nut she is, will always tell me, “Nothing is ever hidden under the sun. One day God will expose you.” It makes me always wonder what type of mother she is. Normal mothers support and protect their kids but my mom will gladly throw me under the bus to please Jesus. And today, she has reared up her ugly head to remind me that nemesis is at my door.
“Mommy, I have heard you,” I say to her on the phone. I don’t even know why I answered her call. I am in the middle of something here.
“Ojonoka, pray o! Pray well-well! Devil wants to use you.”
Devil is already using me. He’s six foot tall, rugged, the exact opposite of my husband and he is presently screwing his fine tool into my lady parts. So, nothing new, mommy. I am potty in the hands of the devil because you refused to help me cover my sins.
“Can I go now?” I tell her gruffly, biting down my lower lip to contain the pleasure the father of my illegitimate son is giving me. I can’t tell you his name, so let’s call him B.
I dump my phone on the floor and clasp my arms around B as he digs in deeper in a manner that would make you think he wants to drill a hole all the way to my mouth. But it’s pleasure to me. It comes with pain that I’m used to. Pain that I like. This is a lot better than waiting and begging to be loved by Ibro. Forget that I shed tears before Celia just the other day. It’s tears of regret, not of guilt. I regret that I didn’t listen to my mom when she told me to be straight with Ibro on the issue of my first son. The money was all I saw and I was going to have it even if it meant denying my own blood. That was what I did, and now, I am paying for it. B has refused to stay in the shadows but it’s all good. This is a blessing in disguise. He gives me the attention Ibro denies me. Yes, I have to pay for it but body no be firewood. This is me loving myself. So, please don’t judge. You have no idea what it means to be neglected and to spend many nights alone until you have walked in my shoes. I started collecting B’s tool a long time ago but for people like Celia and Bimpe who like to poke their noses into people’s affairs, I had to play the victim card.
The two annoying creatures caught me leaving a hotel with B a year ago. It was after dark and we had the shadows to our advantage but that hawk-eyed Bimpe sighted us from afar as B was shoving his tongue down my throat while begging me to go back with him to the hotel for another round.
“Is that not Noks?” I heard her say. I froze and spun around. Guilt filled my face but I played a quick one, when I turned around, slapped B and hurried towards my friends.
“Noka, what is going on here?” Celia asked. I began to cry. She faced B. “Excuse me, what were you just doing to my friend?”
B laughed. “Ask her.”
And then he walked away. I held Bimpe tightly and bawled my eyes out. When they were finally able to get me to stop, I opened up to them and revealed everything. The only part I doctored was the part about how I enjoyed my moments with B.
“Please, don’t tell anybody,” I cried. “If Ibro hears it, he will divorce me. What will now be left of me and the boys?”
Celia who was also in tears with me, promised that she would keep her mouth shut. Bimpe also gave her word. All has been good so far. My mom’s prophecies can hit a brick wall and shatter to nothingness for all I care. The universe is on my side. Ibro does not love me. B is my recompense.
“Is he as good as this?” B asks me, his hand grasping my hair as he grinds me senseless.
“No,” I reply breathlessly.
“You’re the best,” I moan.
“You’re the best!”
He is not the best, though. Ibro is. My husband can make love like humanity depends on his dick for survival. But dick that can form for Africa, is that one dick?
I hold on to B, clutching his hairy butt for more of what he’s giving but I know dude is spent. So I brace myself for the end of my short-lived pleasure and start making plans for dinner. My boys are spoilt; they won’t eat yesterday’s leftovers or the nanny’s meals. I have to go home and prepare something fresh.
“Please, don’t cum,” I beg B. If only he listens and lasts as long as Ibro does.
“I’m sorry, baby but…”
He cums. Hard and noisily. I wish I have another fifteen or more minutes to spare to get the full measure of the type of pleasure I want.
B withdraws from me. I pull my legs up. He can see that I’m not happy but he doesn’t care. Shey he has taken all my money and gotten his satisfaction.
“Same time, next week?” he asks. “Or rather, come earlier. These days you just want to pop in and dash out. What’s up with that?”
I shrug. These days I’m being careful. Celia is insisting I tell Ibro the truth and my mother keeps preaching to me. Somehow it’s all getting to me.
“Nothing. I’m just busy.”
“Don’t be too busy for me.” He taps my ass, and when I try to walk away, he pulls me back. “Watch this.”
He shows me a video on his phone. It’s the latest recording of our son. Tears fill my eyes as I watch the boy playing football with a friend. B might be greedy and lacking of morals but he’s a good dad. He actually uses some of the money I send to him on our son. I am grateful for that.
“I’m tired of him asking for his mother.” B stops the video midway. “When are we going to tell him the truth?”
My tummy knots. “B…” I sigh. “You want me to lose my marriage? Where will the money come from if I do?”
“Your son thinks you’re his aunt and that we’re brother and sister. How does that sound right in your ears?”
“As right as you eating my monthly income!” I yell. “I don’t hear you complaining about that! But if you want it to stop coming, go ahead and tell him who I am! In fact, go and tell the whole world! Or better still, invest the money so that when my husband eventually kicks me out of his life, we’ll have something to fall back on!”
I hiss and pick my clothes off the floor. He watches me without saying a word as I dress up.
“See you next week.”
I pick my handbag and phone and head out. The moment I shut the door, I bump into Eno.
I gasp. Loudly. She gasps as well. She is also leaving a hotel room, and I can hear the voice of a man. Well, well… This should be interesting.
“Noka.” She recovers faster than I do. “What are you doing here?”
I am about to throw the same question at her when the door behind me opens and B sticks out his brainless head.
“Baby, you forgot your watch.”
I grab it from him and he retreats, totally oblivious of what he has just done. I turn around to find Eno’s arms crossed and a malicious look on her face.
“Noka, what did I just use my two eyes to see?”
“I should also ask you the same question,” I throw back at her as the man she is with steps out of the hotel room. Unfortunately for me, even before she says a word, I can see a clear resemblance between her and the guy. They possess the same complexion, same eyes, same lips and same color of brown hair.
“You mean, this guy?” She laughs. “This is my baby brother who just completed his NYSC and is here for some seminar being organized by this hotel. Should I assume that the guy that just handed you your wristwatch is your brother too?”
“Erm…yes. I’m his sister.”
“So brothers call sisters ‘baby’?”
I laugh drily. “That’s what everyone calls me at home.”
“I see. So, Ibro knows him?”
“I… No. Ibro hasn’t met him yet. He doesn’t live in Nigeria. He just came in from…Kuwait. He’s a…basket baller. See how tall he is? Hehehe.” I scratch my neck uneasily. I’m a rusty liar.
“I see. Why don’t you take him home? Why is he here?”
She walks past me and knocks on the door. Stupid B opens it.
“Hey, Noka’s tall brother.”
B frowns at her and then turns his eyes on me.
“I’m Eno, Noka’s mate.”
“We’re married to the same man.”
“Yeah, nice to meet you. I was just scolding her about letting you stay here when she has this really fancy house.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m…”
“Nonsense. You should come to hers. My husband would be glad to meet you. Seems you guys haven’t met before, which is quite strange. He knows every member of my family. I don’t see why he shouldn’t know Noka’s.”
Right now, I am praying for a bomb to drop or rapture to happen so that I can escape this mess. How do I get out of this one?
“Really, I’m fine here.”
“Okay. If you say so but Ibrahim won’t like it. Welcome to Nigeria.”
B looks at me. I smile.
He goes back into the room. Eno turns to her brother.
“Get your things, let’s go home.”
I see a complaint on his face but the frown she flashes him makes him disappear back into his room. The moment he leaves, she faces me.
“You smell of sex, you know that? Your hair is a mess, your lipstick is gone and there is guilt all over your face.”
“Sex? What are you talking about?”
“I have nothing more to say to you. Ibro will hear about this…”
“Eno, no.” I grab her hand. She looks at me and I withdraw. “Let me explain…”
She opens the door to her brother’s hotel room. “Explain it to your husband.”
And that is how my mom’s has used her mouth to jinx my good fortune. I clutch my fearful heart and handbag and leave the hotel to my car where I mull over what awaits me. It doesn’t matter what I would cook up to tell Ibro, Eno will paint a terrible picture and that would be the end of me. The only person that can save me is my mom but she would rather be burnt at a stake for Jesus than lie to save her daughter’s ass.
I am done for. Nobody can tell me anything. My own is finished. I better call the girls and start finding a way to twist this tale my way.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I haven’t seen Naomi since the incident. I had taken her to the hospital that night, following what her husband did to her, and stayed until the morning when she begged me to leave. She expressly told me I was never to visit her again. I knew it was the abused woman in her talking and so I ignored her pleas, went home and checked in on her later that day. I wasn’t allowed in to see her, however. I left and made plans to visit the following day. When I returned, I was told that she had been transferred to another hospital. According to the nurse at the front desk, the doctor who had handled a few other similar cases from Naomi was tired of her shielding her husband and lying about her injuries. She had claimed the latest one was from a car crash and he wasn’t buying it. Hence, he asked her to leave, stating that he was scared of being implicated if she eventually ended up dead. No one knew what hospital she was taken to. I called her number several times but she ignored my calls. I am scared for her.
It’s a Tuesday, a tiring one, but not too tiring for me to respond to a call from a friend. I don’t do it alone. I take Peace and Honey along to see Mary. I don’t really suggest the visit. I just drive up to see Peace, pick her up and then do the same to a whining Honey.
“I’m tired,” she complains. “This is 3pm. We’ll jam traffic on the way. Can’t we do this during the weekend?”
“No. Lasting friendships do not run on convenience. Mary needs us…”
“No, she needs you. She called you alone.”
“Honey, stop being such an annoying person this afternoon.”
“I’m tired!” she almost cries.
“Enter the car, jare.”
“You’re lucky I used a cab today. I wouldn’t have followed you,” she says, taking the backseat. Once she gets in, she sets to nurse Jiney. “I hate you, Celia.”
I get in behind the wheel.
“What’s with Mary, though?”
“I don’t know. She called me, says she needs to talk.”
“Then it’s serious. Mary’s the one we all go to when we need to vent. Now she needs to talk to someone. That’s new. I hope Kene’s not being an ass.”
“I hope so too.”
I put the car in gear and we drive away. For the first part of the journey, we are quiet. Well, Honey and I are. Peace is on a phone call with one of the girls manning her boutique. After trying her hands at different businesses and small-time jobs, Peace decides to settle for running a boutique. Reno finances the project single-handedly and now her stylish shop stands in one of the lavish spots at the Lekki mall, the one owned by the BSD Group.
“I didn’t want to go expensive,” she explains to us after the phone call, “but Reno insisted. And now, the shop is draining me.”
I rub her thigh. “Things will be fine.”
“But I think the whole thing is Reno’s way of letting you guys know that, despite the fact that everyone’s giving him the silent treatment, he has not crawled up into one hole and died. He is doing very well.”
“He’s a rapist,” I remind her even though I know it would hurt her.
“Ex-rapist,” she corrects.
“Celia, be nice,” Honey scolds.
“But he’s your current friend with benefits?” I look at Peace.
“Cee, don’t start.”
“Swear that you’re not having sex with him.”
She stares away from me.
“Once in a blue moon.”
“That’s why you dumped the German guy? Eyha.” I make a weepy face. “And I was hoping for cute kids.”
“Oyibos are overrated if you ask me,” Honey states. “Besides, he couldn’t fit into our circle.”
“Hon, he got circumcised for her and she didn’t even let him taste the goods.”
“I was not in love with him, Celia,” Peace responds. “Apart from that, at my age, I shouldn’t be looking for love. I shouldn’t even be looking for a man. I can do well by myself.”
“That’s the spirit.” I give her a high five. She doesn’t slap it.
“Awww, you’re hanging my hand. What’s wrong, darling?”
She seems annoyed. I really have to stop bringing up these discussions. They always leave her uncomfortable. It’s not an easy decision when you choose to walk on the path of solitude. The new Peace is done with giving her heart to men and to getting involved in any kind of relationship.
“There’s something empowering about being alone but it can also get lonely,” she whispers. “That’s why I still spend some nights with Reno.”
“We’re not judging you, P,” Honey responds. “Ignore the rapist statement Celia made.”
Peace smiles. I smile too. Peace is all grownup. Just the other day she was crying over how much she needed Reno. Today, she is doing fine by herself. Even her sense of fashion has improved. She has evolved into her own style. She’s doing the whole Naturalista thing; replete with the Ankara head-wraps, earthy sandals, African inspired jewelry and long Boho skirts. In fact, this is the precise description of what she is wearing now. A batik tee gives her appearance a modern edge that leaves her looking younger than her current age.
“I hope Mary has food.” Honey takes a long yawn that pushes me into yawning as well. “This child is killing me with all her sucking.”
“I’ve not even had lunch.”
“Mary always has food.”
We all go silent as I navigate a busy street. My thoughts are on Naomi, and on the threatening text I received from her husband last night. It came in one short line: leave my wife alone, Celia.
I have read it so many times that I now feel I wrote it myself. I didn’t show the text to Shady and my reason is simply that I want to handle the situation alone. I need to get Naomi out of the abusive situation she is in right now. As for her husband who thinks he can send me texts, he doesn’t know what his problem is yet. Dude is soon going to suck on his own balls for making that mistake with me.
“I’ve not seen Noks in a while,” Peace murmurs. She is rummaging through her handbag as she says this. I wonder what she’s looking for.
“I haven’t seen her too. Have you called her?”
“No.” Peace stops her rummaging. “Have you?”
“Honey, have you?”
“I don’t care. Meanwhile, I have found out her dirty, little secret…”
Peace makes a sharp turn. “What secret?”
I look at Honey through the rearview mirror, trying to see if she’s kidding.
“I’m not telling anyone, Peace. But Noka should never insult me or any of you or I swear, I’ll expose her.”
“What’s the secret nau?”
Honey shakes her head.
“No. Face your front.”
“Whatever it is,” I say, “if it will ruin her marriage, Honey, please don’t expose her. I know she’s been mean to you but it’s not enough reason to share whatever you saw with anyone.”
Honey holds my eyes in the mirror. I look away.
“You know the secret, Celia.”
Chai. This Honey sef. Why is she always this smart? And how on earth did she find out about Noka?
“I don’t know anything,” I reply.
“So two of you know this secret and you’re not telling me?” Peace whines. “Tell me how that is fair.”
We both ignore her and she goes on and on until we arrive at Mary’s.
“We’re all not good friends, Cee,” she concludes. “We’re losing our little circle. I blame Bimpe. She was the glue that kept us together.”
“We’re fine, madam,” Honey snaps. “Nobody is losing anything.”
My car stops outside Mary’s compound. I honk and seconds later a guard comes out. When he sees us, he smiles and returns to the compound. Soon, the gate slides to let us in. I drive through. Mary is waiting at the front door, dressed in white leggings and a matching top. She blends with the whiteness of the house, except for the pitch blackness of her new hairdo.
We walk up to her. She has hugs waiting. We haven’t seen each other in a few days but it isn’t us she’s really interested in. The moment she sights Jiney, she gets all mushy. She takes her off Honey’s arms.
She leads us into her beautiful home that still manages to take my breath away even after my many visits. The décor makes no attempt at being modest. Our dear Ekene is ostentatious; the house reflects his person. Mary, on the other hand, is the opposite. As long as she is comfortable and the house is clean, she can live in any condition. It’s interesting how both of them find a balance.
“First of all, food!” Honey cries. Mary laughs.
“Help yourselves. Jiney and I will be right back.”
“You kukuma have big breasts. Give her some while you’re at it.”
Mary disappears while three of us help ourselves with meals of our choice. There’s so much to pick from and we knock ourselves out. We settle in the living room. Mary joins us shortly with Jiney, now dressed in a complete Versace baby ensemble.
“Whoa!” Honey exclaims. “What have you done to my baby?”
“The same thing she did to Dara and Sammy,” Peace answers.
“I got some things from my last visit to Paris with Kene.”
“Awww, this is so sweet. Jide will fawn over her.” Honey coos at Jiney and gets out her phone to take a photo. “Jiji, did you say thank you to Aunty Mary?”
Jiney lets out a grin and Honey takes a photo. I also take a few shots.
“Mary?” I call, after we go back to our meals. “Are you fighting with Kene? Is that why you called me over?”
Mary smiles sadly.
“You cook a lot when you’re upset. You know that? What’s going on?”
“Yeah… Kene and I are fighting.”
Peace passes her a glass of orange juice. She declines. A minute later we are listening to her talk to us about her desperate need to have a child and how it has become a problem between her and Ekene.
“Now, he’s avoiding sex, and even when we do it, he uses condoms. All he wants is for us to keep going out on dates, traveling to exotic places, doing romantic stuff and all that.”
“Isn’t that a good thing, May?” Honey asks.
“Hon, we have all the time in the world to do that but my uterus can’t wait another year. It’s not him whose biological clock is ticking.”
“May,” I put my hand on hers, “do you love this man?”
She withdraws her hand in quick anger. “What type of nonsense question is that?”
“Exactly,” Peace mutters.
“I’m sorry. Let me rephrase. Do you love him as much as he loves you?”
Mary’s angry bearing disappears. “I love Kene but you know me…I can’t express it the way he does. Apart from that, I’m still growing into loving him.”
“No, you’re guarding your heart, May. And you have to stop it. Your days of spinsterhood where men hurt you are over. You don’t own your emotions alone now. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I’ll advise that you give Kene the key to your heart, please.”
“That’s scary. And I don’t think it’s okay for me to do that just because I’m married to him. He will hurt me. I have seen it happen to all of you. P, look what Reno did to you. And you too, Celia. Men do these things. They hurt us. I have to stay guarded.”
“Kene and I had an agreement. We are to play our roles as husband and wife. But he’s turning the script by demanding too much from me. I just can’t let down my guard like that.”
Honey and I sigh at the same time without meaning to. Mary has always been this tough with men. Jide was the only man she loved wholeheartedly and then he went and broke her heart. In addition, what Reno did to her left her with deep trust issues. Our dear Ekene has his work cut out for him. But I think we can lessen his load a little.
We advise her on ways she can let her guard down and allow Ekene in. We teach her how to express her love through numerous means without losing herself.
“You’re sure it’ll work?”
Honey raises a finger. “And please, make love, not babies. Then watch the babies drop in unannounced. That’s how more than half of the world gets pregnant, my dear. So, get with the script. If you do it right, Kene won’t have time for condoms. Imagine you hearing his car driving in at night and you rush out to meet him and take him right there, while the engine is still running. Will he have time for a condom?”
“Abi o!” I exclaim.
“Hmmm…” Mary gives our words some thought as she rests her chin on her cupped palm.
“And remember this…” Peace takes the last sip of her juice. “You don’t have a great marriage. You make a great marriage. You fight the odds to make it work.”
I nod in hundred percent agreement. Told you my darling Peace is all grown.
“Well, I feel better now,” Mary comments. “Tonight, I’ll swing into action.”
Loud laughter takes all of us. I stand up to have a second serving of my meal. When I return, Peace asks about Naomi. I set my meal on my lap quietly. I don’t want to talk about it but when I’m with the girls, there’s really nothing I can keep a secret. So, I take my seat and let out everything.
“What sort of monster is he?” Honey is most appalled. “So because she won’t get pregnant for him he decides to destroy her womb?”
“How did they even meet in the first place?” Mary asks. “Most times, the foundation of a relationship can tell you a lot about why that relationship is the way it is.”
“Well, they’re both from rich families but Charles’ family is richer and Naomi’s family basically sold her to him. He is almost nine years older than she is.”
“Thought as much,” Mary comments.
“They never loved each other but Nay wanted it to work in the beginning. Charles wasn’t just there. He would go away for long periods and when he returns he looks for reasons to abuse her.”
“Would you believe it if I told you that they have been married for six years and have had sex only twelve times.”
“What?!” Honey yells. “Twice every year or what?”
“I don’t know but that’s what she told me. And twelve times, it was terrible. He would give her everything – his money, cars, access to his bank accounts but not himself.”
Mary frowns. “Is he gay?”
“No. He has a mistress.”
“So why can’t he love his wife?”
“Naomi is beautiful, educated and from a wealthy family. She also runs his business well. She is the perfect wife and he can’t do without her. She knows this, and that is why she has refused to get pregnant for him.”
“And why she chose to be a lesbian?”
“She said she found love in the arms of her aerobics instructor four years ago and hasn’t looked at any man after that. Asides that, the abuse makes her hate men.”
“I’m happy for her,” Honey says snidely. “She should just carry her lips away from yours. And I think it’s time you too should leave her and her marital problems alone as her husband warned.”
“Honey, he has involved me and I will give him what he’s looking for.”
“Meaning, I want to know what he means by that his threat. The fool must be mad to send me that type of text. And that nonsense he did to Nay, he will pay for it.”
My friends are shocked at my stance on the issue.
“Cee, this is just a harmless question o,” Peace utters quietly. “Don’t be annoyed that I’m asking but are you in love with Naomi?”
“So I have to be in love with her before I help her out of an abusive situation abi? You girls think that if it happened to any of you I would just walk away?”
“No. I was merely asking…”
“Naomi is my friend. I have grown to like her and I will not sit down and let anyone touch her again.”
“But Celia,” Honey faces me, “what if you know only half of the story? What if there’s more to this?”
“Honey, I will not sit and let a friend get hurt.”
“But when did you even meet her that you now call her your friend? It’s not the same type of friendship we have.”
“You and Genesis nko? If her husband abuses her, will you sit down and watch it happen?”
“You’re not getting me, Cee. The basis of this your friendship is not on leveled grounds. Your feelings are genuine but Naomi wants to have something deeper…”
“She is an abused woman! She only fell in love with me because she was looking for an escape!”
“Please, let’s leave this talk. I’m getting annoyed here.”
I see Mary pass Honey a look.
“Fine. I’ll let it be,” Honey tells me in a resigned tone. “Just be careful.”
No one says a word for a while. I feel somehow about the way I just spoke to Honey. To lighten the mood, I leave my seat and hug her, kissing her cheek.
“Seems like your Naomi has infected you with a kissing bug, Cee. Step away. I like dick too much.”
I don’t step away. I hug her again. I can’t help it. She smells like a baby. I think I might be having baby blues.
Just then my phone rings. I’m surprised to see that it’s Naomi calling. I leave the girls to take the call.
I smile. I am genuinely happy to hear her voice.
“Nay, how are you?”
“I’m good. You?”
“Gosh! I miss you, sweetie,” the lesbian in her says. I ignore the emotions I hear in her tone as I walk into Mary’s all-marble kitchen. I find a chair and lower myself on it.
“How are you feeling, Nay?”
“A lot better. I am so sorry about the way things went these past days. Whenever Charles gets into his monster mode, my world turns upside-down.”
“Charles did not get into his monster mode, Nay. Charles is a monster, and you have to get out of that marriage before he kills you.”
“He’s not going to kill me, Cece…”
“He almost killed you. Where is he right now?”
“He went to his girlfriend’s place. I don’t think he’s coming back until tomorrow. He forgot to take my phone along. He confiscated it and that’s why I haven’t been able to call you.”
“Did you know that he texted me last night?”
“I was with him when he did it. He questioned me about you. Apparently, he found out about our trip to Fiji. He’s convinced something is going on between us. I told him that we were just friends and that I offered you the job to be my PA and personal consultant but he doesn’t believe me. He doesn’t want me to see you again.”
“He has no right to tell you who you shouldn’t see. You’re a person of your own, Nay. You don’t have to take shit from him.”
“He’ll calm down, Cece. He’s just angry because he found out that I had been lying to him about not being able to get pregnant. All he wants is a baby. Once I get pregnant, he’ll get off my ass.”
I am speechless. My friend really needs help. She has no idea how oppressed she sounds right now.
“Nay, the worst thing you can do to yourself is to get pregnant for that man. Don’t even think about it. All that should be on your mind at this moment is how you will divorce him.”
“But I can’t.”
“Why not?” I almost cry.
“My money is tied to his. Both of us built our company from scratch but he put in more money than me. If I walk away, I’ll lose a lot.”
“But your life will be safe. You’ll be free. Don’t you want to be your own woman, date whoever you want to date, do whatever you want to do?”
“Celia, you don’t understand.”
I stare at a clock on the wall facing me. It’s just a few minutes past six. “Nay, I’m coming over so we can talk better.”
I hang up and hurry back to the living room.
“I want to dash somewhere and come back real quick.”
“Where are you going?” Mary questions.
“It’s not far from here.”
Honey stares at her watch. “Let me kuku follow you and find my way to the family house. We have a meeting.”
Peace shakes her head. “The Onuoras and their meetings.”
Honey stands and takes Jiney in her arms.
“She’s so adorable,” Mary comments, kissing the child’s forehead.
“Don’t worry, you’ll soon have yours,” Honey tells her. “Thanks for the sweet rice.”
I impatiently wait for Honey by the door as she hugs Mary and Peace.
“Cee, you can go home from there,” Peace says to me.
“Yeah. I’ll find my way. Don’t worry about me.”
I rush back and hug my friends and dash out with Honey.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I park outside Naomi’s compound and walk to the gate. The gateman lets me in after informing me that Naomi is expecting me. I take a long walk to the main house and I am let in by the maid. I see Naomi walking towards me just as I step in.
“You can leave,” she tells the maid as she spreads out her arms to hug me. I notice, just before our bodies touch, that she has lost so much weight.
She hugs me and clings to me like I am a long lost lover.
“You have no idea how I’ve missed you, Cece.”
I want to tell her I’ve missed her too but I don’t want to give her the wrong impression.
“How are you?” She breaks the hug but caresses my cheek. If she is Shady and we are in this position, we would be kissing now. The awkwardness makes me pull away. She takes my hand.
“Come this way.”
She leads me to her main living room. This is quite different from the one I was taken to the first time I was here. It is more spacious and carries that look that marks living rooms of people who collect expensive art and décor items from all over the world. Everything in it is either gold-plated or nearly so. If one sells the room and the items in it, the money made would be enough to rent another house for years. It’s a shame that Naomi has all of this and can go anywhere she wants to in the world at a whim and yet she has no freedom.
“Let me get you something to drink.” She walks through another door, leaving it slightly open, and I see that it’s the room I was led to the first time I was here. The place is cozier and has a modern feel to it.
Naomi soon returns with two glasses of God-knows-what. It’s amazing how her skin heals. I had expected to see her still marked by bruises but nothing on her shows that she has faced any type of violence, except for a fresh scar on her chin.
“It’ll go,” she tells me as she notices me staring at it. “I heal nicely.”
I take what she offers, smell it and decide I don’t want it.
“You don’t like it?”
I shake my head. She downs it at a go, clutches her glass and sits beside me.
“I really missed you.”
“Cut it, Naomi. That’s not why I’m here.”
“I know.” She lifts a leg up on the sofa and leans towards me.
“Nay, you have to get out of this marriage fast. And while you’re planning to do so, don’t make the mistake of getting pregnant.”
“Cece, I understand why you want me to do this. I really do but it’s not so easy to get up and just leave…”
“Are you waiting till you’re six feet under?”
“God has nothing to do with it, Naomi. He will not force you out of here. Only you can do it.”
“Charles is…” She clasps her fingers around her glass of liquor. “He’s not always like this. It comes and goes. Sometimes he hits me just twice a year and it’s always my fault. Maybe I was disrespectful to him at work or he gives me instructions and I ignore them or I am rude to his mom… He’s generally nice. You understand it, don’t you? It’s like what happened to you with your husband. He’s a nice man but you pushed him to the wall and he reacted. We women are like that and men, they don’t know how to hold themselves.”
I rub my eyes in utter frustration. I can’t believe this side of Naomi. I’ve always seen her as a strong, independent, successful woman. Who is this person with me?
I am about to respond to her when she suddenly springs up, runs to the nearest window and peeps out.
“Shit! He’s back!”
“Who is back?”
“Charles! He’s back! He’s not supposed to come back this night. Cece, you have to go. Get up.” She stretches her arm to me as she returns to the sofa.
“I’m not going anywhere…”
“Celia, please! He’ll kill me if he sees you here. Please!”
I stand up. “I’ll stay right here. I’m not going to run out like a rat hiding from a cat. I’m not afraid of him. And I think it’s time someone faced him. I want to see if he’s man enough when his shit is thrown back at his face.”
“Celia, please.” She clutches her dress, eyes darting to the entrance. “Please, don’t do this to me.”
Unfortunately, my ears are blocked. I am enraged and have gone into that mode that Shady says only God and peppered chicken can get me out of.
Too late. The door opens and soon we hear Charles’ footsteps. I brace myself for what is to come, and it comes at us as I expect it would. Tall, huge and quite ugly. A beast in human skin. It looks at its wife and back at me with four o’clock eyes. Even I will abort any offspring it deposits in me. Charles Ogbeiwi is an appalling man.
“Hi darling,” Naomi greets as she sweeps towards him. I note that he doesn’t respond.
“You have a visitor,” he says after she hugs him. He gives me the look that demands that I acknowledge his presence. I don’t.
“Yes, this is my friend…”
“Celia,” I say defiantly.
“Celia,” he repeats. And then laughs. I smile, lifting just one corner of my lips to spell out a smirk. I wait for him to say something about the text he sent to me but he doesn’t. Rather he speaks into Naomi’s ear and they both walk to the other room.
Things are silent for a while and even when I pick out their voices, they’re very low. Something tells me to leave but I don’t listen, not with the way my heart is pounding. I want to see how this ends. The problem with us barrack kids is that we love trouble. I remember Joey taking me around Kaduna town in his small Volkswagen beetle in those days, just looking for who would cross our path. We both enjoyed the thrill of seeing stupid bastards get beat. It is the same way I feel right now.
I hear a sound and I pay close attention to the door leading to the next room. It is left open but I can see only Naomi. She is speaking, shaking her head, gesticulating in a defensive manner. As I try to make out what is happening, I see her head fling to the side as if she has just been slapped. It happens so fast that I am not sure I witnessed it. I hold my breath to see what will happen next. Several seconds go by and when I begin to conclude that I imagined what I saw, it happens again. And this time, I actually see the hand that hits her. I can’t believe my eyes.
But he does it yet again and she moves backwards, begging, whimpering.
“Didn’t I say I didn’t want to see her near you?!” The monster emerges in a bawl as his hand strikes one more time. It’s more forceful than the rest and it sends Naomi to her knees. I am in utter shock that he would do this in my presence. My feet itch to move and the boiling rage in me longs to rush towards her but curiosity keeps me back. I want to witness this. I want to know what my friend goes through. I need a story, a reason to react.
I watch as she lifts her hands to shield her face when he towers over her. She is crying and begging but he doesn’t listen. He throws yet another fist and she falls flat to the floor. My feet move fast and I rush into the room.
“What type of devil are you?!” I scream as I jump in-between them. He advances towards me. I face him squarely. “You’ll hit me too?! Please, go ahead and make my evening!”
He looks down on me in condescension but at the same time I can see that he is taken aback by my brazenness. It fuels my trouble.
“Hit me, coward! Or I’ll give you reason to.”
“Celia, no.” Naomi stands and puts her arms around me from behind.
“You’re a small man!”
The veins on his neck bulge out as his breathing reaches a crescendo. I expect him to burst anytime soon but he remains there, a man whose ego has been deflated by a woman. I wait, still, for him to do his worst. Instead he points at the door.
“Get out of my house!” Spittle hits my face as he growls.
“Let’s go, Nay.” I can feel her holding tightly to me.
“Naomi, if you step out of this room, never come back here! I’ll divorce you and leave you with nothing!”
“Fuck you and your threats! She’ll see you in court–!”
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
I make to move towards the door with Naomi but he grabs my shoulder with his paw, grabs Naomi’s hand with the other and tears us apart. When he lets go of me, the force of his strength flings me to a bookshelf. A vase resting on it shaken by the impact, leaves its position and crashes down on my head.
Perfect! This is what I have been aiming for. All I need is just a scratch and Joey will have his boys burn this house down.
Naomi tries to come for me but Charles stops her by pushing her behind him. He then comes for me, hooks those ugly hands on my upper arms and drags me out of the house. I know I should stay calm but I struggle and make it difficult for him. I want his fingers to leave marks on my body. I want to stir my brother’s bloodlust. Charles must pay for everything he has done to Naomi through the years. He must bleed for every drop of blood of hers that stained my clothes that night when she passed out in my arms.
As he takes me towards the gate of the house, I hear Naomi calling and crying. The sound of her voice breaks my heart. I fear for what he would do to her when I’m gone. I pray she stays strong. I hope I have not made things worse for her.
Here’s an announcement to new readers!
It’s Another Novociane Saturday is a combination of two separate stories. One of them voted as the best series on Moskedapages by my fans. You would enjoy this sequel better if you start the stories from the beginning.
Catch up with It’s Another Saturday here
God bless you!
Honey’s call meets me in the middle of a birth. My colleague holds my phone to my ear while I’m severing an umbilical cord. Honey wants to know if I can do dinner at theirs. I reply that I’m up to it. She tells me to wear a nice dress. There would be guests. Okay, I reply, thinking about the little red dress I bought off a colleague last week just to butter up to her and her gang of bitchy nurses. They still hate me for being close to Jide.
Honey hangs up, I go back to my patient. Hours pass, darkness comes and I am still at work. I have totally forgotten that I have to do dinner at the Onuoras. Honey calls again. This time my hand holds the phone. The first thing I say to her is “shit!”
“You totally forgot.”
“I am so sorry.”
“Please hurry over. Our guests just arrived.”
After she’s off the line, I dash out of the hospital like the mad woman I am. I don’t even have time to change from my scrubs. Thank God it’s a Sunday or I would have encountered some bad traffic on the way.
I smell my armpits. Not so fresh. I have been at the hospital since last night and haven’t had time for a shower today. I wonder if I can dash home, do a quick one, change and meet up on time.
I hiss, suddenly annoyed for agreeing to the dinner. Knowing how tired I am, I should have declined Honey’s invitation. But you see the thing about Honey is that she is so sweet that you can’t say no to her. I can understand why Jide is constantly smitten. She has charm, even over the phone.
“Olodo!” My head is sticking out of a window to insult a keke driver who thinks this is a good time to try to scratch my car. “You wan die, abi?!”
The guy rains abuses on me in Yoruba as he squeezes between my car and a trailer, barely missing my side mirror. I shake my head and ask myself for the zillionth time why I made this bold move to relocate to Lagos.
I blame my mom.
“Go to Lagos,” she said. “Plenty of men there. You’ll find a husband.”
As if there is a large sea of husbands here just waiting to be fished out and married. To her – and everybody else in my family who is married, finding a life partner is as easy as breathing and yet when I ask them to give me a husband they keep bringing me trash.
My dad believes my standards are too high, and that one day I will come down to earth. But I am already at that point where I don’t need love again. Let me just marry and get everyone off my back. I know the danger in this. My friend did it and she is now stuck in an impossible situation in the name of marriage. But I know there are men out there who are mature enough to stay civil in a marriage that is not built on emotions and unnecessary romance. The problem is that such men are an endangered species. Everyone else is a dick these days.
I hiss again. To drown disturbing thoughts, I turn on the radio to Cool FM. I don’t know what is playing but it sounds nice and makes me start to bump my head. I love music. I can’t sing. I can’t dance. I don’t know who sings half of the songs on my playlist but I just love music. In fact, if I hear a song I like for the first time, I will sing along to it, chopping my mouth and shouting when I get the lyrics right – just like I’m doing right now and drawing the attention of people in a yellow, rickety bus.
Whatever. They can stare on. Who gives a rat’s ass? My house is just around the corner, anyways. I keep singing and thumping on my steering wheel until I make the turn to my street. I drive past the Onuoras’ residence on my way home. When I arrive at mine, I rush into the shower and step out five minutes later. And this is not because I am in a hurry. I have never understood why people spend forever in the bathroom. Once my body parts are thoroughly washed and rinsed, what else is there to do?
After drying my body, I slip into a thong. No time to rub any type of cream. I brush my hair up in a bun, put on minimal makeup, a pair of diamond studded earrings and matching necklace…and oh, before I forget, I douse my armpits with some deodorant.
I stare in the mirror. I look good to go. A pair of flats compliments the look and finally some spurts of my favorite Victoria’s Secret perfume.
By now Honey is calling. I choose to ignore the call. When I leave the house, I hop on a commercial bike that takes me to theirs. A feeling of relief washes over me the moment I knock on the front door. Honey is there in a flash. When she opens the door, her face lights up in an approving smile.
“Hauwa, you look dashing. Where on earth do you get your dresses from?”
We hug and I walk in.
“Well, I shop here and there,” I answer, my ears picking voices coming from the dining area. “How many people?” I whisper in her ear.
“Just three,” she answers. “Come.”
As I follow her, it occurs to me that I have no idea what this dinner is about. I shrug. I’m hungry, so whatever.
“Look who the cat dragged in,” Honey announces the moment we get to the dining area. I quickly pick out the faces of Jide, Genesis and her husband. There’s a third guy there and I have no idea who he is, although I think I recall seeing him at the appreciation party Honey dragged me to on Friday.
“Huawei,” Jide greets, calling me a name that sounds nothing like mine. I forgive him for it like the million other times I forgave him.
“Good evening,” I greet. Genesis and her husband respond but the guy doesn’t. He simply keeps his stare on me and it is rather uncomfortable. Honey makes things bumpier by placing me directly opposite him.
“Everyone, I want to introduce you to one of my closest friends,” Jide says. “She took care of me like a sister would her brother at a point in my life when I was kind of discovering myself.”
I snort. I don’t mean to but Jide is quite an idiot. Discovering himself? Who is he kidding? He was a dog on heat, and he could have easily smashed me if I gave him as much as a wayward wink. Discovering himself, my ass.
I notice everyone is watching me. Am I supposed to be saying something?
“Nice to meet you all,” I mutter.
Genesis smiles and that beautiful dimple of hers gets my eye. A fancy plate is put before me flanked by impressive stainless steel cutlery and I am asked to feel free to serve myself. There are three dishes and all of them look mouthwatering. I am at a loss on what to choose.
“Try the pasta,” the strange man facing me says. Jide had mentioned his name but I hadn’t caught it. “Everything is awesome but the pasta is a hit.”
Only I hear him speak. Jide is saying something which they are all laughing to.
“Or you could do a buffet of everything,” the guy goes on. I am forced to look at him now. On his face I find a thin, pointed nose that is just like his thin frame. His eyes are like black seeds – dark and cryptic, like the well-groomed beard that stands out from the beards of the other men at the table. These days, men are going full on their stubbles but this particular man keeps it simple, giving him a much younger look. I easily conclude that he is in his forties. There’s a certain poise and calm that come with men his age, just like Genesis’ husband who is seated beside me.
“You want me to help?” he asks.
“Sure.” I smile and watch him begin to bless my plate with pasta, a potato meal that is unfamiliar to me and some rice that is rich with vegetables and bits of beef.
“Thank you,” I smile at him.
He smiles back. My eyes settle on his lips. They seem to belong to someone else and not him. Someone more rascally.
“So Hauwa, Jide tells us you’re a midwife as well,” Genesis’ husband, whose name I just remember as Dominic, speaks. His voice is raspy.
“Yeah, we work in the same hospital,” I reply.
“So where are you from?” Genesis asks as she rests her hand on her chin.
“I’m from Gombe state.”
“You’re a Muslim?”
“Forgive my ignorance but I just automatically assumed you were a Muslim because of the name.”
I tell her that I understand. People from the south naturally conclude that everyone who comes from the north is a Muslim especially when they bear the same type of names the Muslims bear.
“So you’re Hausa?”
I excuse her ignorance again with a patient smile. “No, I’m not.”
“Oh. Seyi’s half-Fulani, half- Yoruba,” she informs me. I store the name in my head. Seyi. He doesn’t look like a Seyi to me. He looks more like someone who would fit in nicely at my hometown.
“You’re from Kwara state?” I ask him.
“Yeah.” I see a little surprise on his face. “How did you guess?”
“I think you should eat. You haven’t touched your food.”
I lower my eyes to my meal and begin eating. Everything is delicious, I say to Honey. She grins in appreciation.
“I can’t believe you only started cooking recently,” Genesis comments. “I might soon come to you for lessons.”
“Me too,” I add.
Honey is blushing. Jide is proud. Dinner goes on. There’s small talk and big talk and small talk again as we move on to dessert. Honey doesn’t let me leave the table to clear the dishes. She and Jide gladly do the job and return with chocolate cake and ice-cream.
By its name and appearance, the taste is orgasmic. When it comes to food, especially sweet things, I am quite expressive. And it is no wonder I let out a moan at the first taste of the ice-cream. There is silence and then laughter follows. I open my eyes which have been shut and stare at everyone shyly.
“I’m so sorry but I can’t help it. This is good,” I compliment.
“Thank you,” Honey responds. Dominic mentions something about ice-creams and they fall back into conversation once more. Seyi joins them this time. For the rest of the dinner, I am ignored by him. Maybe the way I moaned over that ice-cream turned him off. I know his type – the proper gentleman who likes well-behaved women that are about decorum and comportment and all those dainty things stuck-up rich people do.
But why should I even care what he thinks about me? I don’t know anything about him, not even his surname. So, I pretend he is not there as I direct remarks to everyone else but him. Anytime Honey tries to lump us together in a comment or question, I subtly remove him from it. And in that manner the night wears on until they announce that they are ready to leave. I also make known that it’s way past my bedtime.
“You’re leaving too?” Honey links her arm in mine. I am seated in-between her and Jide.
“It’s past ten, Honey.”
“It is, isn’t it? Well, you guys, thank you for coming over,” she says, rising up, after her guests stand to their feet. Hugs and handshakes are shared. I insist that I have to leave as we all walk outside.
“Genesis, do me a favor and take Hauwa home,” Honey requests. “You do remember her house, don’t you?”
“I do. But Seyi came with his car. Maybe she can join him and she’ll give him directions?”
My stare passes from Honey to Genesis and my dumb brain finally registers that the whole dinner has been about getting Seyi and I together. Why didn’t anyone pre-inform me?
“It’ll be my pleasure to take you home, Hauwa,” Seyi states. “If it’s okay with you?”
“It’s fine.” I smile.
He leads the way to his car, and as I predict, it’s a luxurious beast of metal, manly and fitting for his person. His perfume is stimulating but not in an intrusive manner. The way it blends with the leather smell of the car’s interior reminds me of a warm night in a deluxe hotel suite in some European country during winter, where one is lost in the arms of a lover, binging on kisses and sparkling red wine.
“So, which way?”
He has just driven out of the Onuora compound. The direction to my house is on our right but I have every intention of derailing him just to soak up the posh scent of him. The man already has my weakness.
“Turn left,” I direct. The car swerves to the left and goes on a slow cruise. No intruding vehicles or unnecessary pedestrians in our way. I breathe in and get in more of Seyi who remains quiet all through the ride. This time, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. In fact, if he speaks, it will ruin the perfectness of the moment. And it’s as if he knows this. He turns on some music that sounds like a mix of soul and jazz. I don’t ask him who is singing; I just let the moment take me.
“Which way?” he asks again. We are at a junction. To connect back to my house, we can either take left or right but neither of them seem like an option I want to consider.
Just take me away already, Seyi.
He doesn’t say a word. The only time he speaks is when a call comes in and he has to respond to it. After that, he continues on until we get to yet another junction.
“Are you sure we’re not going off your route? I thought you lived near Honey.”
“Um…you can make a U-turn now.”
He gives me a questioning frown that doesn’t last on his face. But again, he is silent. On, we drive, all the way back to my street. We finally come to my house and I ask him to stop.
“You live here?” His head is angled to have a good look at my house which bears a large, black gate and high fence. I live with just one other tenant, who is residing in the apartment upstairs.
“Yes. This is where I live.”
“Cool. So, can I walk you in, just to be sure you get in safely?”
I think of the mess that is my living room and the junk I have in my verandah which I haven’t had time to stash away in its proper place. I will not disgrace my ancestors this night.
“No, it’s fine. Thank you for the ride.”
“Do you mind if I get your number, call you tomorrow or next or maybe when I get home?”
Oh, wow. Call me tonight? Dude wants to get laid badly.
“If you wouldn’t mind, of course.”
I mind. I actually do. In fact, when a guy I meet for the first time asks for my number on that same day, I never pick his calls. They only want one thing from me and I stopped giving it a long time ago, hoping to find the one right man that truly deserves it. So far, no man has been worthy. I am not surprised that Seyi is no different. But curiously, I give him every single digit of my cell phone number. I get a call from him immediately while we both sit there, listening to who I don’t know is singing.
“Have a lovely night, Hauwa.”
The way he pronounces my name is beautiful. Not the way they all do it here, ignoring that it has a ‘U’.
I step down from the car and walk home, forcing myself not to look back. But when I make it through the gate, I find a crack between the wall and peep out to see him driving away. I continue to my front door, insert my key in and only then do I realize that I had actually forgotten to wear a bra.
Who the hell forgets to wear a bra?!
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
“I can’t believe she left her house without a bra.”
My laughter is loud at Jide’s statement. I have seen all sorts of crazy but Hauwa tonight, with her affronting nipples, takes the cake.
“Is she always that crazy?” I ask him as I walk around our bedroom with Jiney resting on my shoulder. She is having a restless night.
“Huawa has always been like that. She’s stylish and gorgeous from afar but when you get to know her, she’s a walking disaster. She sometimes reminds me of that Susan character in Desperate Housewives.”
“You used to watch Desperate Housewives?”
“And Telemundo. When you’re with a woman for hours who is in labor, you have to do everything to entertain her.”
“And Zee World?”
“Nah! I drew the line there.”
I laugh again. Marriage is sometimes beautiful. You discover new things about your partner every day. Last week I found out that Jide eats only the hard core of pineapples and never the juicier parts. Before then, I had never noticed it. Two days ago, he discovered that I have a birthmark behind my right ear.
“So about Didi…” he says, walking towards me. My light mood dies and I exhale heavily. A short while ago, after our guests left, Jide shared with me details of the conversation he had with Oba about Didi and the auctioning of her virginity.
And disheartening. I had high hopes for her. And I still do. I don’t intend to leave this matter as is.
“Let’s talk to her,” I suggest.
“Same thought here.”
We put Jiney to sleep.
Didi is in the living room, watching E! and having a bowl of my chocolate ice-cream.
“I took what’s left. It was little,” she tells me.
“It’s fine. I’ve had too much. My boobs will leak if I take more. Enjoy.”
We watch TV with her for a while and then I tell her we want to have a talk. She doesn’t object. Jide speaks, asking her is she registered online to have her virginity auctioned. She darts her eyes around before admitting that she had plans to give herself to the highest bidder. But only for fun.
“I was curious. I just wanted to know if it was for real. I promise you, nothing to it.” She says this, giggling and bouncing her chubby body on the sofa.
“You’re sure it was just for the kicks?” Jide probes.
“Ha-ahn, Uncle Jide, I’m not that stupid.”
“But what if one day, this gets exposed online?” I ask. “What will you do? It’s the same thing as prostitution. You are selling your body.”
“I was only kidding, Aunty Honey. I didn’t mean anything by it. If I did, I wouldn’t have done it with Oba’s knowledge. Think about it.”
I do. I think about it and maybe, she is telling the truth. The set jawline of my husband’s face, however, believes differently.
“Well, it’s a good thing you were just goofing around,” he states. “We can’t imagine you doing something so utterly stupid. Popsi would be highly disappointed if he hears about this.”
“I know, and I’m sorry. I didn’t think it through.”
“Please ask them to delete your account from their database.”
“I will. Thank you.”
Jide walks back to our bedroom while I decide to stop at Yazmin’s. But when I get to her door, I change my mind. I should let her sleep. It’s late, anyway. I join Jide in bed, ready to make love, but he is as tired as I am. We spoon, say a prayer and fall asleep.
When morning comes, I am awoken by the sensation of being filled. I open my eyes and see him on top of me. I respond with an agreeable sigh as my walls slowly stretch to accommodate him. He goes in hard and deep. My body quivers as he begins to grind his body into mine. His movements are fluid and measured, and it’s sweetly torturous. But it’s the sweetest things that don’t last long. Jide soon lets go, just at the moment when I feel like I’m about to have an orgasm.
“Noooo!” I cry, slapping his arms for being a sloppy one-minute man this morning.
“I’m sorry,” he splutters in laughter.
“So not fair.”
He lowers and gives me kisses all over my face until I forgive him. He then tells me the sweetest things every wife should hear each morning.
“I’ll make it up to you, sugams. I promise. Right now, I have to rush to work.”
“Me too. But just one more…” I beg. I can feel him already growing hard again.
He shakes his head. “Not now.”
Wicked man. I push him away. When he leaves to the bathroom, I throw a bathrobe on and go to Yazmin’s bedroom. I knock on the door. She doesn’t respond. I knock again and wait. Still no response. I turn the key and walk in.
The room is empty. The bed is made, blanket folded, floor spotless. But Yazmin is gone.
“Yaz?” I push the bathroom door in. She is not there. I leave the room back to mine and pick up my phone to call her. The line rings on the other end. She answers.
“Yaz, where are you?” I ask like a worried mother.
“Honey…” She sighs. “I’m on my way to Abuja.”
“Abuja? To do what there?”
“I have a plane to catch to Texas. I’m going home, Honey.”
My eyes fill with tears. I slowly sit on the bed and listen to her cry on the phone. It’s depressing.
“Are you coming back?”
“I don’t know. He doesn’t love me, Hon. He never did.”
My face is soaking wet now. “And the baby? What will you do?”
“I’m keeping it.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“Honey, I gotta go. I have to check in.”
“Okay. Will you call me when you get to Abuja?”
“I love you, Yaz.”
She is mute. I know she’s still crying.
“Give a big kiss to Tobe for me.”
She hangs up. I rub my palms over my cheeks to dry my tears. What a sad way to start the day. I so hate Emeka right now and I have to let him know how much. I scroll through my contact list and tap on his name. The line begins to ring.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I am happy today. After one week of being miserable and talking to a therapist, I wake up on the sunny side this morning. Maybe it’s because my husband is lying beside me and we’re back to our old selves, all fight gone, and a resolution reached on how to handle our marital situation with Yazmin.
Last night, Emeka and I had a talk we had both been avoiding for over a year. After he showed up at Mary’s place drunk and calling me Nicole, I gave him a nasty slap, a cold shower and some time to cool off. Afterwards, we spoke and he was open about his feelings for Yazmin.
“I love her, Tola. Maybe not the same way I love you. You’re my best friend but I have deep feelings for Yaz.”
“I’m finding it hard to let her go. She means that much to me.”
My heart broke a million times hearing him say that but since he was only being honest, I took the revelation in bravely.
“But I will let her go if you just say the word, Tols. I can’t lose you for anything.”
“I don’t want you to let her go. Yazmin loves you, Mex, and she’s human and has a heart that you keep on breaking. Asides that, what will you do with Tobe if you ask her to leave?”
He was quiet. We were sitting out in the dark, just outside Mary’s kitchen. There was a table before us with dinner we both hadn’t touched.
“But this triangle isn’t working, Omotola.”
“It isn’t working because you keep treating Yazmin less than she deserves. Mex, I’m not in competition with her. I’m holding my place in your life. She should feel secure in hers. If she doesn’t, it’s your fault.”
“Can I love you both equally?”
“No one is asking you to. But neither of us should know how you feel about the other. Just make her happy. Is it that hard?”
“No. I’ve just been intentionally indifferent.”
“Please, go and make up with her because we’re all in this together. If one side hurts, the whole body hurts.”
“You’re okay with me spending quality time with her?”
“Haven’t we been doing this already, Mex? And it was going smoothly until you screwed it up. Me, I have a hospital to run and very little time to perform any wifely duties. You and Yaz have all the time in the world. Just make sure you’re not exhausted when I want you.”
I could see relief on his face. Dude was actually scared to have this talk. I had avoided it too but my therapist suggested it and I’m glad I listened to her.
He left his chair and came over to mine. Leaning over from behind, he rubbed my belly and was lucky enough to feel the baby kick.
“Please, eat. I made the food just for you,” I told him. He kissed me. It was a beautiful night that stretched into this beautiful morning.
And now, while he still sleeps, I leave the bed for my daily exercise. I’m a fit mama. I work out every dawn and dusk. Add that to eating the right meals and staying off anything fatty. I intend to have a healthy baby so that the pain of losing Majekodunmi is totally forgotten. Sometimes I remember him and cry. I wish I hadn’t held his underdeveloped body after I birthed him. The image still haunts me. To know that he was part of me and lived in me and yet died in me is not something I can put in words. I used to be an advocate for abortion until Jide handed me his lifeless, little form, wrapped in a blanket on which friends and family wrote out heartfelt messages. It had been hard for me to lay him to rest. I mourned him for a long time without anyone knowing. It was at that time I sought God and begged him to bring him back to me if he still loved me despite all my sins. God answered my prayers, and today I’m carrying another boy. His name is Akintunde, meaning the warrior has come again. It’s also my late father’s name who was born under similar circumstances.
Nobody knows how much this baby means to me and that is why I won’t let anyone, not even Emeka, give me negative aura during this pregnancy.
I pick out the sound of Emeka’s phone ringing. He is still asleep and doesn’t hear it. I go for it and see that it’s Honey calling. I pick the call; before I can say a word, she goes into a tirade, calling Emeka out for being unfeeling towards Yazmin. I tap Emeka awake. He opens an eye and I put Honey on speakerphone.
“You better not let her leave the shores of Nigeria or you’ll lose her!” Honey warns. “Just go and bring her back, abeg!”
“Honey?” Emeka is confused. Still sleepy. “What’s going on?”
“Yazmin is on her way to Abuja. She’s leaving you. Go and bring her back. She’s at the airport. She’s hurting deeply, Mex. Please, go and bring her.”
“Shit.” Emeka springs up. “Honey, let me call you back.”
He ends the call and immediately dials Yazmin’s number. It rings and stops without her answering. Emeka doesn’t wait. He picks his t-shirt, my car key and his phone. I get a kiss before he leaves. I go back to my exercise, mulling over the whole thing. My youngest sister who is in the States is a hardcore feminist and is not talking to me right now because she feels I am being oppressed over my decision to stay married to a man who has another wife. I told her, during our last conversation, that I was okay with the status quo.
“Polygamy is patriarchal and it is all about oppressing women!” she had shouted. “Will your husband allow you have another husband if the tables were turned?!”
“I have no intention of having another husband.”
“What if you fall in love with another man? Will Emeka let you marry him or have sex with him?”
Her question hit me hard. But the truth was that I was capable of being physical without putting my emotions to it. That was why it was easy to sleep with Jide. Emeka, however, is not that type of person. That is how I know that he loves Yazmin. And it is something I have come to accept. As for how he is able to love two people at the same time, I discovered human beings are capable of doing so, when as a teenager, I found out that my mom was having an emotional affair with our pastor.
My parting word to my sister was that human relationships were complex and Emeka and I were doing fine with our arrangement. Her response to me was, “You’re oppressed, and I am ashamed that you’re my elder sister. Don’t ever call me unless you divorce his ass!”
We haven’t spoken to each other since. I don’t care.
I leave the room to the kitchen for breakfast and to also tell Mary that I have long overstayed my welcome and I’m ready to leave.
I find her and Ekene in the kitchen. They are having a huge fight. I give them some privacy but stay within eye and earshot. Their fight has to do with Ekene’s insistence on not wanting to have a child at this time and Mary doing everything to get pregnant. Unkind words are thrown from both sides. Mary can’t stand the heat and so she leaves the kitchen. Ekene takes a chair. He fiddles with his phone for a while, thumbing over the screen, putting it down, lifting it up and repeating the process a few times. When he stops, he slants his head in my direction.
“Mrs. Onuora, you can come out now.”
Embarrassed, I step away from the darkness and stroll towards him.
“Guess you heard everything.”
“Just a little.”
He stands up. He is all dressed to leave the house. His light blue on dark blue attire, complemented by a dark brown tie and matching shoes remind me of how much of the outside world I have missed. I can’t wait to go back to work.
“Breakfast?” he offers.
“No, I’m good. I’ll do it myself.”
“You’re my guest. Please, sit.” He rolls up his sleeves. “Oats? Pap? Rice pudding? Madam made moi-moi.”
Ekene puts a pot on fire and pours some oat into it, according to my specifications. He adds water and returns to me.
“Can you help me talk to your friend?”
“What’s going on?”
He takes his seat. “Before we got married, I had badly wanted a baby, just to make my mom happy. But she died and Tomiwa and I sat down and decided we would wait two years before we start planning for one. However, three months in, she begins to tell me that she wants to take out her IUD. She wants a baby. I get angry because this is not what we agreed. I scold her, she apologizes and doesn’t bring up the topic for a while but just last month, I stumble across a pregnancy kit she had discarded outside. I ask her about it and she confesses that she had the IUD taken out. I am mad at her. We have a fight and don’t talk to each other for days. Later on, she comes to me and apologizes and tells me how badly she wants a child. But I still don’t want one. Tola, a child changes everything. It changes us, and I’m in this amazing stage with her right now where I’m deeply falling for her.
“You know how our marriage went. It wasn’t really about love. We were both ready and desperate to be married and we did it. Soon after, I really started to fall in love. But all Tomiwa wants from me is a baby. Do you know how that hurts, Tola?”
“I feel like your friend may never really fall for me.”
“Don’t say that. These things take time for some people.”
“I’m crazy about Mary. You guys have no idea.”
“So if you love her that much, give her what she wants.”
“So that she’ll push me away? No, thanks. I know how fathers are quickly replaced by their babies. Especially with first time moms. But that’s not what bothers me. I’m afraid that Tomiwa is simply living out a blueprint of how she feels her life ought to go. Find a man, get married and have kids. I don’t think I fit into her grand plan.”
I tell him I think otherwise. Mary doesn’t always talk about him but her feelings are strong. She doesn’t seem like the expressive type.
“She needs time, Kene. And maybe…just maybe a baby will bring you guys together.”
“I doubt that it would.”
He stands up to check my oatmeal. Like Tomiwa, Ekene is stubborn.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
My activities for the day:
>Fight with a bus conductor over fifty naira.
>Insult a man’s entire generation on an ATM line when he tries to jump in front of me from nowhere.
>Get to work and generally ignore everybody. When they try to talk to me, snap at them.
>Get scolded by Wura for my nastiness.
>Enter the bathroom to have a good cry.
>Come back to the office go on Facebook to troll and give all my haters a piece of my mind.
>Return to the bathroom to have another weepy moment when one of them calls me a fat pig and adds a meme to it.
>Sit outside the office in rebellion and decide to do nothing until closing hours.
>Pick up my phone and finally dial the person who is responsible for my anger.
“Can you come over to see me at home?”
“Jide’s place or…?”
“No, the Ditorusin mansion.”
“Okay. I’ll be there in a bit.”
I hear him saying something else but I cut the line. I walk back into the office, pick my handbag and close for the day. I avoid the irritating buses I find outside the building for the sake of world peace. I have decided to use an Uber instead. As I wait for one, I rehearse the words I would tell my dumbass younger brother who feels like he has a say in my life and what happens to my vagina. He is so dead today.
My phone rings. I look up and see my Uber waiting. I hurry towards it. When I get in, I go back on Facebook to finish what I started. I can’t overemphasize how angry I am.
The Uber driver, like the million others out there, doesn’t even as much as blink an eye. I keep cussing and hissing until I arrive home. I enter my room and find stupid Oba waiting.
I’ve always considered him the cutest amongst my brothers. It’s about the swag. He reminds me of DJ Kasbi who for reasons known to him abandoned me when the chemistry between us was peaking. I’ll still take him with open arms if he finds his way back to me. He can gladly pop my cherry for no fee at all.
And why on earth do my moralistic brothers find the idea of me auctioning my virginity such a disgusting thing? The average dumb girl will give it freely to a lost soul who would break her heart. If she can make a lot of cash from it, why not?
“Hey, Di,” Oba greets. I ignore him as I loosen the knot that holds my hair and take off my jacket.
“You won’t talk to me?”
I flash angry eyes at him. He stares back like an innocent child.
“Get off my bed!” I hit him with my jacket.
He stands. My hand knocks off his cap.
“I told you something in confidence, Obasi. Only you! I even remember telling you not to tell anybody! But you go and run your mouth to Jide and his wife because you feel you have a say over my sex life!”
“I have not finished talking! Shut up!”
“Please, don’t shout.”
“I can shout as much as I want, Obasi because you’re a Judas! I trusted you with my secret but you betrayed me!”
“Didi, calm down.” He comes towards me. I move back, repulsed by him. “Please, listen to me…”
I don’t know how it happens but I respond to an instant, thoughtless urge to slap him. My palm meets his face and I feel the sting, even more than he does. There is a fleeting moment of silence between us and then he charges at me, grabs the hand that has hit him, swivel me around like I’m some doll and slams me to the wall.
“If you ever try the nonsense you just did, Ndidi, I will beat you without giving a fuck that you’re a girl.”
“Obasi! Have you gone mad?! Let me go!”
“I’ve endured enough of your nonsense – you ordering me around, using me as a driver, spending my money anyhow and on top of that, having the guts to slap me. If you try it again, you’ll regret what I’ll do to you.”
I am shocked. Oba again? My own baby brother manhandling me? Is this spoilt brat out of his mind or what?
I push back. “Leave me alone, Obasi!”
“Apologize? Oba, what has gotten into you?”
“Apologize or I’ll not let you go.”
I can’t believe this. Somebody tell me this boy is joking.
“Oba, let me go!”
“Apologize. It’s simple,” he says into my ear. “Say, ‘I am sorry for how I’ve been treating you.”
I feel hot, painful tears baking my eyes. This boy has gone loco.
I hesitate for a long time but when I see that he is not budging, I give in.
“I’m sorry,” I murmur, just to get him off my back – literally.
He releases me. I turn around and slap him again. This assault packs more punch than the first. Oba takes the same hand, pins it above my head on the wall and pushes my back to it. I open my mouth to speak and he covers it with his.
Revulsion hits me as I use all my strength to push him away.
“You did not just kiss me, Oba!” I scream. “What is wrong with you?!”
We are both heaving as we glare at each other. I’m reeling over what just happened.
“I am your sister, Obasi!”
“You’re not my sister,” he replies before I can finish speaking.
“What is wrong with you?!”
“You are not my sister, Didi! Your mother is not my mother! Your father is not my father! They both lied to you! We, all of us, lied to you!”
I keep breathing like an ox that has just been chased around by a pride of lion. I refuse to believe what I just heard.
“My dad had an affair with your mom in 1995. You were already born then. There was no way he could have been your father.”
“They lied to you, Didi. Your real father is probably alive somewhere.”
“No,” I croak.
“No. I’m going to call Jide and ask.”
Oba doesn’t stop me, and the fact that he doesn’t, scares me. I reach for my phone and call Jide. He answers immediately.
I bite my lips before I speak. A sniffle escapes.
“Didi, are you okay?”
“No, Uncle Jide.”
“What’s going on? Talk to me.”
I pause. Jide is the sweetest brother on earth. How can he not be related to me?
“Oba… Oba just told me that daddy is not my biological father. Is it true?”
Jide is silent.
“Uncle Jide?” my voice breaks.
“Where is that Oba that told you that nonsense?”
“Is it true, Uncle Jide? Please, tell me.”
“Didi, when you come home, we’ll talk about it. Please, pass the phone to Oba if he’s there.”
I give Oba my phone. He taps the speaker button.
“Obasi,” Jide calls. “Leave where you are to a quiet place so I can insult you right now.”
Oba doesn’t leave. Jide goes ahead with the promised insult but he serves it in Yoruba. I don’t catch a thing he says; however, his reaction to what I told him only confirms what Oba revealed to me. I fall on my bed, my back hitting it hard. As I look up at the ceiling, I begin to cry. My mom, the only person I loved and trusted, lied to me. The man whom I thought was my dad lied to me. My real father must be some scum of the earth, living a terrible life somewhere. What did I do to deserve this, Lord Jesus?
I cover my face with a pillow, praying it chokes me to death. Oba lets me cry for some time but soon I feel him climbing the bed. He kneels astride me and forces the pillow off my face.
“Please, stop crying, Di.”
His voice is gentle, nothing like the Oba who was just rough with me. But his gentleness can’t take away my pain. When his palm tenderly wipes my tears, he finds it a waste of time as his efforts only make me cry more. He keeps begging me to stop but I can’t. The pain is overwhelming. He gives up and lies beside me.
“There’s a silver lining in all of this, though,” he says.
“What silver lining?” I snivel.
“I can make moves on you now that you know we’re not related. We can actually have a thing.”
I lose what little sanity I have left as I let out a miserable wail. This is so not happening to me.
“I hate you, Oba!”
Missed previous episodes of It’s Another Novocaine Saturday? Catch up here
“I don’t want to do this,” Genesis says out loud. She is talking to no one, although she is in the company of Zach and Zoe whom she has just dressed up for an outing. Her expression of frustration gets their attention and they both fix their stares on her.
“You guys want to go see grandma?”
The gurgle turns into a smile. Genesis sighs, regretting her decision to have the twins visit Mamisi. But the woman had begged to the point of embarrassment and left Genesis with no choice. Now, she wishes she can take back her consent.
“Ma, I’m ready.” Iya Idaya emerges from Genesis’ closet where she went to keep a few clothes. She is set to take the twins to Mamisi’s. She would stay there with them before bringing them back home by six.
“Please, always have your eyes on them.”
Iya Idaya lifts Zach from the bed. Genesis takes Zoe and together they leave the bedroom. The sound of Dominic’s robust laughter rings through the house as they walk down the stairs. He has a few friends over. Having just had lunch, they are now seated in the living room, drinking over hearty conversation.
“I want you back here with them at 6pm sharp, Iya Idaya. Not later.”
Genesis and Iya Idaya step outside to a waiting car. They strap the twins in their seats at the back and after giving them each a kiss, Genesis stands and watches as the car drives out of the compound. She goes back into the house only when the gate slides back into place.
Loud laughter from Dominic and his friends greet her when she walks in. She takes a peek to see how things are going, having no desire to join them. But Seyi who is among the group, calls her in. The conversation stops as she enters the room. Seyi makes space for her to sit beside him and as soon as she does, the banter continues.
“I think I’ve fallen in love,” Seyi reveals to her in a low tone.
“Fallen in love? That’s new.”
Seyi leaves the sofa and goes for a glass of wine for her.
“And who is the lucky girl?” Genesis takes the glass offered.
“Someone I’d like to meet today.” Seyi sits and crosses his legs, straightening creases on the navy blue kaftan he’s wearing. A pair of lace-up leather boots completes the attire which Genesis approves of. She has always argued with herself over whom she feels is more stylish between Seyi and Dominic. Although Seyi’s fashion sense is more expressive, it lacks the attention to detail Dominic has. But both men always impress with their looks, pampering themselves with the same attention they give their women. Not that Seyi has had a woman in a while. His last relationship with a much younger girl ended quite dramatically after a pregnancy scare. Since then he has stayed off females completely, concentrating on work as much as Dominic does.
“Remember your friend on Friday night at the party?” He straightens out his moustache.
“What friend?” Genesis asks.
“The fair one who was in the company of her husband, whom you called Sugar or something like that.”
“Yes, that one. Honey.”
“You’re in love with Honey?”
“No. But maybe if I had met her before her husband did, yeah, probably I’d have fallen for her. She’s got it. And that dress she wore…” Seyi gives a thumbs up.
“You even noticed her dress.”
“I’m sorry, my eyes pick out and appreciate sophistication by default… which reminds me to compliment the way you looked on that night. You killed it as usual.”
Genesis fights off a grin but her dimple betrays her. And for some reason, Dominic’s eye falls on her from across the room, adding to her blush.
“Thank you,” she says to Seyi.
“So, back to my crush.”
“She came with your friend.”
“Okay?” Genesis tries to recall the events on Friday night. So much had happened that she gave little attention to the people around her. She can hardly remember all that transpired that night.
“She was wearing a teal dress that had stones on it.”
Genesis had spent the entire Friday with Honey glamming up for what she thought was a charity ball. On their way to the party, Honey had made a quick stop at the junction of their street and picked Hauwa whose dress left a mark on Genesis.
“I loved that dress she had on,” Seyi comments.
“So her name is Hauwa?”
“She’s a Muslim?”
“I don’t know anything about her, Seyi. She’s Honey’s friend.”
“Is there a way I can see her today?”
Seyi leans in closer. “I thought about her all night on Friday, and the most of yesterday. So, yeah…I think maybe it’s something deep I feel. I need to see her to be certain.”
“I hope you’re not planning to just sleep with her, Shay. She seems to me like a responsible type.”
“I just want to see her before I travel back for business.”
“I think that can be arranged. Give me a minute.”
Genesis leaves the living room and returns some minutes later, talking to someone on her phone. When she sits, she concludes with the call.
“Honey will have us over for dinner tonight,” she informs Seyi.
“I hope we won’t be intruding?”
“She insists. I was going to have us do the ‘we’re in the neighborhood and so we decided to drop by’ type of visit while she had Hauwa over but she insists on dinner. She’s happy to entertain us for the night.”
“Okay. With Nick?”
Genesis glances at her husband. “Your friend is very anti-social. What’s the deal with that?”
Genesis bursts out laughing. Dominic stares at them with a frown.
“You know he’s an arrogant prick.”
“Hey, he’s not. And to prove to you that he isn’t, we’ll take him along.” Genesis adjusts her sitting to a more comfortable pose. “So tell me what you like about Hauwa?”
“I have no idea, Gen. You guys walked in together and trust me, you were smashing and your friend…”
“Honey was gorgeous as well, but Hauwa…” He shakes his head. “She got me like damn!”
“You think she could be the one?”
“The one?” He chuckles. “Take it easy. I don’t even know her. She could have a man on the side.”
“Whatever she has, please, Shay, no hit and run with her.”
He taps his chest. “Scout’s honor.”
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
I had planned to have a quiet Sunday. Just stay in bed and sleep until I hit the gym in the evening. But family drama will not let me be. First it’s Mex and Yazmin. After ignoring her for a whole week, Mex stomps into my house, barges into Yazmin’s bedroom and demands that she returns home or the marriage is over.
I have never been a fan of Yazmin but I just can’t stand and watch a woman being treated like shit, so I step in and order my brother out of my house. He is tipsy, of course. I don’t give a shit. Instead, I call Oba over and ask him to drive him to Kalu’s. After they are gone, I have a moment with Yazmin which basically ends in me being a shoulder she weeps on for a whole hour. She tells me she desperately wants to leave but is torn not because of the pregnancy but because she still loves Emeka. Even more now, with all their issues. She explains how they fall deeper into each other after every fight.
Crazy. But then the whole love triangle is.
Before I let her be, I notice that she is running a temperature. I get my thermometer and stethoscope. I check her vitals. Things don’t look good.
“Have you started attending antenatal?”
She shakes her head and breaks down again. “I don’t want this baby!”
Good Lord. What am I to do with this mess? Where is Honey when I need her?
“I want to have an abortion.”
I sigh and balance my butt properly on her bed. This is going to take long.
She explains to me her reasons, which are quite logical. Emeka doesn’t want the baby, they never planned for it and she feels guilty over the whole thing. She feels getting rid of it will give her some peace of mind and heal her marriage.
I let her speak until she falls silent. Only then do I make her see reasons in keeping the pregnancy. Unlike many of my colleagues, I am pro-choice and strongly believe that a woman should be allowed to make her own decisions as pertaining to her body. But I’m never going to go outright and tell anyone that comes to me for advise to terminate a living, breathing fetus.
“We will take care of your baby, Yazmin. You have brothers and sisters and parents who will be here for you even if Mex isn’t. We will never break your heart. You are family and so is that baby you’re carrying. So, please, think about it before you make your decision. Okay?”
She nods with a smile so faint. I smile back. I think I have taken to her finally.
I get off the bed and walk to the door. She stops me.
“I want to keep the baby.” She sniffles. I look at her. “Yeah, I want to. I didn’t plan for it but I think it’s innocent and shouldn’t have to die because Mex and I were careless. Yeah, I want to keep it. But will you be my midwife? Please? Because if you’re not, I don’t think I can stay strong.”
I mull over it for some seconds.
“I need to check you. I don’t feel comfortable with that fever you have. Is it okay if I have a quick look?”
I go to my room and return with a few items. I take Yazmin’s vital signs again and calculate her due date. I find that she is already thirteen weeks pregnant. I question her about her gynecological and reproductive history as well as any medical conditions in her family that I need to know of. After that, I examine her for gum disease which can be an indicative factor for preterm labor. Done with that, I check her breasts, abdomen, and listen to her heart once more. Finally, I do a thorough but delicate pelvic exam. This is one of the reasons the gynecologists at the hospital where I work don’t really like me. I have been accused of trying to take over their jobs. But that’s far from it. I am just thorough with my methods, having trained specifically as a gynecological nurse before moving on to midwifery. This is all part of my process. The doctors usually run the first tests and once the pregnancy clocks twelve weeks, I take over, but sometimes, I am stubborn and break the rules with patients who have little trust in their doctors.
“Tomorrow, I’ll take you to the hospital to have some tests run.”
“Are they going to do another pelvic exam?”
“Yes. I’ll refer you to an OBGYN who will run further tests.”
“I always freak out with pelvic exams but you were gentle and I hardly felt a thing.”
I hold my tongue. I am not to say thank you to that. I have just literally shoved my fingers into her vagina. I doubt that Emeka will find it funny.
“I’ll be there with you,” I promise. She seems relieved.
“I’ll get you something for the fever and a full bottle of water. Please stay hydrated, draw the shades close, turn off your phone, use earplugs and go straight to sleep. Didi will watch Tobe.”
I stroll out and find my wife’s beautiful face smiling at me as she steps out of the kitchen. She has just returned from the market where she went to get foodstuff for tonight’s dinner with the Ditorusins.
“Is Yaz okay?” she questions.
“She’s fine. Nothing a little rest and Tylenol won’t fix. How are you?”
The scent of her perfume is like a pheromone and I follow it until my lips are tasting the sweetness of her mouth.
“Can I help out with something?”
“No, I got it all covered, hotstuff. Just sit down and put your ear out for Jiney when she wakes up.”
I’m not in the mood for Jiney or anything else. Having just had a taste of Honey’s lips, I want the rest of her. However, I take a couch in the living room and visit my blog to do some technical work in the backend. Barry makes it hard for me to concentrate. Chewing my jeans and yapping for no reason is his idea of male bonding. I ignore him and when he gets tired, he sits quietly beside me. By now I’m done with my blog and I’m trying everything I can to get laid but nothing is working. Not even when I use Barry whom Honey now considers the cutest thing asides Jiney. Amused at my antics, she takes a picture of both of us and quickly uploads it on Instagram, tagging me.
I tap on the little heart icon to like the picture, agreeing with her about my cuteness. I seem to have gotten sexier as a married man. I tell her that and give her kudos, all in a bid to get tail but Honey is not falling for my sweet mouth.
“Later in the night when I’m tired, you’ll be molesting me anyhow,” I tell her as I follow her into the kitchen.
“I’ll touch you anyhow I want, hotstuff,” she responds, stroking my junk as her other hand stirs something in a pot on fire. I drag her away and pin her to the wall for a steamy kiss but my phone lodging in my back pocket starts to ring. Honey pulls it out and hands it to me.
“Nne,” she utters.
I answer the old woman’s call.
“Nne’m oma, how are you, darling?”
“Tired,” my mother answers. “Please come and speak sense to your younger brother before I pour pepper in his eyes.”
“Nne, I have washed my hands off Emeka…”
“Which Emeka? I’m talking about Obasi.”
“Oba is at home? I sent him to Kalu’s a short while ago.”
“He’s here with me. He just got in and it seems he has lost his mind with the nonsense he’s telling me. I will soon slap him and pour that pepper in his eyes.”
She then goes off in Igbo in one long ass lamentation.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes.” I groan silently as she rings off. Honey gives me a comforting peck. To show appreciation, I squeeze her boob and correctly aim for the nipple. She shrieks, pulls back and smacks me. Barry, who has been watching us, begins to bark at me. The beast is quite protective of her.
“Shattap.” I playfully kick it and it goes for my Nike slipper. We struggle for a while before I fling it off and hurry out of the house.
A sunny sky meets me outside. No, scratch that. Burning hell meets me outside. My car offers little comfort. The AC is bad. I let down the windows and hit the streets.
I yawn. I am tired, hungry and horny. The last thing on my mind is Oba and Nne’s drama. I pray it doesn’t take my time.
I arrive at the family house and from the gate I hear Nne’s raised voice. When I get in, I expect to see Oba in the same state but I find him seated on a couch in the living room, thumbing over his phone screen.
“What’s going on?”
“Ask her,” he replies. I look at my mother and I don’t need to be told that she has gotten into her bitch mode. This happens once a year. Woe betides the person that is responsible for bringing out this side of her. What is her grouse this year? Oba wants to leave the house and move in with a colleague. That is all! Nothing else. To her, Oba is still her little baby boy and going to live on his own means he has joined bad gang. The old woman is not having it. And yes, she has fresh pepper, pounded and waiting to pour into his eyes.
I put my arms around her and lead her to the kitchen where I sit her down, placate her and explain to her that Oba is now a grown man and should be allowed to do as he pleases.
“Nne, one day he will get married and leave you and your husband. Will you follow him and his wife to his house?”
At this, she keeps quiet.
“He is an adult now, mom. Please, it’s time you let him be.”
“Abeg, help me tell her.” Oba is standing by the door, hands in his pockets. “She doesn’t want me to go, yet she won’t let me have any girl over.”
“So that you will be romancing them in my parlor, in broad daylight!”
“Will you let me carry them to my room?”
“You see it? You hear your brother, Jideofor? All he wants to do is fornicate, and that is why he will not leave my sight! I can’t have a useless son, going around with a wayward penis!”
“Jide did it and nobody said anything.”
I turn to him. “Hey!”
“Jide did it and that’s why you too you want to do it, okwa ya? I will not only rub pepper in your eyes! I will hold that your thing and bathe it with the pepper! Open that your nonsense mouth again and see what will happen to you!”
“Mommy, free me nau! Let me go! It’s just out of respect that I’m still here o! You know I can walk out and there’s nothing anybody will do to me!”
I see hurt in my mother’s eyes. I gesture to Oba to leave. He goes away, grumbling. I take her hands in mine.
“Nne, you know you’re fighting against the wind. You know that, right?”
Tears fill her eyes.
“This is not a crying matter nau.”
“No. You don’t understand. It’s your father’s late mistress that is responsible for all of this!”
“How did she enter this talk now?”
“The only reason I am holding on to Obasi is because of that her useless daughter.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I suspect something is going on between two of them.”
“Oba and Ndidi?”
“Yes. I don’t want to ask him because it will be like I’m accusing him. I have not seen anything directly that connects them but I sense it, Jideofor. I sense it. And I don’t want that girl in our lives in any way. She has the same strange, evil spirit her mother had. She will ruin my baby. Please, help me talk to him. If he can stay away from her, then I’m fine with him living anywhere he desires to but as it stands, I want him under my nose all the time before she will destroy him. Please, talk to him.”
Wow. What a lot to take in. Oba and Didi? It’s unlikely. Nne must be imagining things. Nonetheless, I assure her that I’ll have a word with him.
“Let’s go for drinks,” I tell him as I come out to the living room. He picks his phone and follows me out. I allow him drive my car. I sit back and turn the radio on.
“So, what’s going on between you and Didi?”
Oba looks at me for some seconds and then throws his head back in laughter.
“Nne suspects there’s something between us?”
“Ignore her jare. There’s nothing going on between me and Didi.”
And so I rest the matter. We stop at a sports bar, play a game of pool over drinks and after two bottles, Oba begins to sing a different tune.
“I have a crush on Didi,” he confesses. “Basically she’s been using me as her driver since she came to Lagos. And hey, I’m not complaining. She’s hot. I’m her baby brother, so it’s all good. We get to hang out a lot…”
“And you drop her for dates with other guys and spend money on her, abi?”
He gives an uneasy laugh. “I really, really like her, Jide, but it’s not just the brother and sister issue. I mean, I could just tell her that we’re not related.”
“And watch yourself burn in popsi’s hell.”
“I can handle that. But here’s my issue with Didi – and I’m not supposed to tell anyone this. Can you keep it to yourself?”
He breathes out loudly. Whatever he is about to say is difficult to let out.
“Didi is auctioning her virginity online to the highest bidder.”
I put my beer bottle aside.
“The URL of the website is sellyourvirginity.org and Didi is registered there.”
I quickly pick my phone up and type in the site’s URL in my Google Chrome.
“You can’t find her there. It’s a very private site that protects its members. It’s run by Bunny Ranch in the US.”
“And what’s that?”
“A brothel. Once Didi’s auction ends, they’ll fly her to the ranch to meet her bidder and basically, she’ll be stuck there as a ho’.”
My tummy churns. “Oba, are you sure of all you just told me?”
“Can you please help her before she fucks her life up?”
I am dumbfounded. Unable to say anything, I down my beer as I ignore my ringing phone. Honey is calling. I guess the Ditorusins have arrived. I call one of the bar girls to come over with our bill. As I wait for her, I take a good look at my brother’s face and feel sorry for him. Dude is really in love.
“Not Ndidi,” I tell him as I rest a hand on his shoulder. “Find someone else, Oba. Not her. She’ll break your heart.”
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.”
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.
“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.
But 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.
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?”
“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.
“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.”
“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!’?”
“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?”
“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?”
“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?”
“What’s wrong? Your eyes are swollen.”
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
Lexus abandons plans of leaving and takes the bed again.
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“For real, Pastor Ralph? As in, for real?”
“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.
She screams out again and stops once more. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
“Fo Yo Soul?”
“As in Kirk Franklin’s record label?”
“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.
“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?”
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.”
“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.
As promised…although it’s coming very late. Goodnight, ye nightcrawlers
Evening falls and I am chill. I have turned off the air conditioners and parted the curtains to let the air in. I have switched off the lights too. Jiney is asleep and I have the house all to myself. A glass of wine, a bowl of chicken, a collection of my favorite songs and I’m fighting depression like a pro.
Okay, not really like a pro. I feel far from ace but I will pretend that everything is fine. My doctor won’t write me a prescription for the sake of Jiney, although he admits that the pills wouldn’t have any effects on her.
“Talk it out with your husband, Honey,” he advises me. “If you settle your fight with him, I’m certain you’ll feel better. If you don’t, then come back to me.”
So, here I am, listening to I Fall to Pieces, but holding it together, hoping Nne has gotten through to her son’s blockhead and he’ll come home to me.
The baby monitor makes a sound and Jiney’s scream comes next. I break away from my ‘me time’ and hurry to She who must be fed. I bring her back to the living room and we activate nursing mode. As usual, she sucks me dry until I almost fall asleep. When she is satisfied, she goes back to bed without even as much as giving me a smile. After I put her away, I slip into my nightshirt. It’s 8pm already and I doubt that Jide will come home tonight. Suddenly the chicken and wine lose their appeal. I am on my way to dumping them in the kitchen when I hear Jide’s car making it into the compound. It’s a sound I have missed. However, I hold back from my usual running to the door to welcome him. Instead, I take a leisurely walk to it, unlock it and wait…
But he does not come in. He takes the backdoor, and I do not realize this until he calls me.
I turn around to see my husband in scrubs with a contrite smile and hands bearing gifts.
“I’m so sorry, sugams.”
“Me too.” I give off something between a laugh and a muffled sob as I rush to him. When I throw my arms around him, the gifts hit the floor. He is about to speak but I hush him with my lips over his. I rape the man’s mouth which is by the way, the sweetest thing ever. I can see he still wants to apologize but really who apology epp when hormones are on a high?
Soon my hotstuff responds to my urgency with the same fire and we’re flinging clothes to the floor. I push him to one of the couches. I go after him. I use my mouth on him, tasting, nibbling, licking, sucking. I get him speaking in strange languages. I handle that tool like a boss. By the time I’m done with it, it will nod only to me.
But Jide cannot wait. He stops me, pulls me to him and takes my waist. I am lifted by strong arms and I sink down on him. We stop for a second and I smile for no reason as his fingers dig into my bum.
“Do your thing, Hon.”
And I do my thing. I do my man. In a way I had never done before. I am savage. Blame it on Hauwa and the wild imaginings in my head. Nne has told me to trust my husband but this mind of mine will not stop thinking the worst. Anyways, I have decided to channel my insecurity into better use and Jide will be happier for it.
“You’re crazy, you know that?” he says to me in-between inaudible sounds of pleasure. I laugh, stop and lower myself to kiss him. He pushes my hair which has fallen over his face backwards and buries his fingers in to deepen the kiss.
“I love you, Hon.”
“Me too, baby.”
I go back to my former position. The ride is wilder this time and Jide cannot just keep quiet. You know when a man gets it so good he starts to call you all the sweet and nasty names you ever heard. He even promises you heaven on earth.
“iPhone 7,” I request.
“Yes! iPhone 7 with the EarPods. Chai! This woman, you’ll kill me.”
And kill him I do – when I stop just as he is at the brink, and finish it off with some mouth love, giving him a full brain drain. He dies for some minutes, unable to speak or move. I microwave the chicken and serve it with chilled wine. Both naked, we lie under the coziness of a blanket in our bedroom. He then takes his time to explain to me who Hauwa is to him. Although I feel better now that I know there’s absolutely nothing between them, I am jealous of their relationship. I want that with him – the friendship part. We don’t have it yet. We’re still lovers. I want to be his best friend. No other woman should take that spot.
“But why did you get angry and walk away like that, hotstuff?” I ask, circling my finger around a mole on his thigh.
“I was angry, that’s all.”
“That’s not all, Jide. Something pushed you. You don’t get angry like that. It builds up. What pushed you?”
He lets out a long sigh. “Can I sit up for this?”
He pulls down the blanket and rests his back on a pillow as he sits straight.
“This is going to be brutally honest, Hon. You’re sure you want to hear it?”
My heart misses a beat. “You cheated again?”
“No, no, no. Haba, Erhinyuse. Trust me nau. Trust your husband. I promised that I’ll never touch another woman. I even just told you that I never cheated on you with Hauwa. Why can’t you just trust me?”
The sadness in his tone gets me sad as well. “I’m sorry.”
It takes him some time to recover from my accusation and go back to what he wants to say.
“Remember when you put me through one week of hell after I confessed to you that I cheated on you in Zanzibar?”
“And how a wedding date was fixed and all?”
“Honey… the truth is… I wasn’t ready to get married. I felt kind of forced into it. Marriage was not what I wanted at the time.”
I shift away from him a little. This is not consciously; my body just shifts away.
“I understood that you were pregnant and didn’t want to be showing at the wedding and that also, you needed to stamp yourself in my life, following what I had done… I understood, but I wasn’t ready. My own plan was for us to have the baby and then fix a date. So much had happened to me in a short while—the accident, my neurological issues, my infidelity… I didn’t want any of that carried into our marriage. I wanted a clean slate, to heal properly, to go to therapy with you, to help you with your depression, to enjoy being pregnant with you. I wanted to know you better, Erhinyuse, to become your best friend through our struggles. There was so much we could have done without the pressure of marriage.
“But you wanted the fairytale so badly you took all the issues between us and slathered them over with a magical wedding. I was hurting inside. I felt hamstrung. But I didn’t want you to know because I was scared to kick off your bipolar. I just wanted you to be happy. You needed to know that I was not like every other man out there, and so even when you bugged my phone again and the spy detection app I installed informed me, I was silent. When you said you didn’t feel like sex because of the pregnancy, I didn’t complain. And when you became a pregzilla and constantly demanded for an arm and a foot, I gave you all you wanted, denying my own pleasures. For me, the marriage came too early. The wedding spoiled a good thing. Resentment built up in me and I didn’t even know. When Hauwa came into the scene, I didn’t decide to hang out with her just to spite you. No, it was just a window to get away, to be reminded of who I was before I bore the husband title.
“It was wrong to seek that in her. I should have come to you, spoken to you and together we’ll trace our way back but no, I enjoyed the escape. And so when we had our fight on Sunday, I snapped. I am sorry I held all of that for so long, Hon.”
He looks at my face and sees it covered with tears. He slips back into the blanket.
“Please, don’t cry.”
“I’m so sorry, Jide. I didn’t know you didn’t want to get married.”
“I didn’t say that, Use. I said I was not ready at the time. Are you crazy? How can I not want to marry the most beautiful woman in the world? Who will I now leave you with? You’re my best friend.”
He wipes my tears. “You are.”
“Not Hauwa or Tomiwa?”
“Have you seen me near Mary of late? Abeg o! She’s somebody else’s property. Just like you’re mine.” He kisses my nose. “You and I will love like there’s no tomorrow but please, learn to trust me. I’ll never cheat on you.”
“But can Hauwa just disappear already?”
“You feel threatened by her?”
“Nope,” I lie.
“Hauwa wants to settle down. Badly. So, if you can give her one of your male friends, she will forever be loyal.”
I have no intention of doing that so I keep my mouth shut.
“Do you want to eat microwaved popcorn and watch Power or just make love?” Jide asks.
“Power, popcorn and your fine ass,” I reply, my hand stroking his junk, which is already hard, by the way.
“You’re looking for trouble, sugar lips.” He throws off the blanket, climbs over me and soon he’s filling every inch of me. Power and popcorn come much later, after I have been made love to like a princess, pounded like a whore and eaten out like a honey pot.
It’s almost midnight now and Jiney has had another feed. Jide changes her diapers while I make popcorn and then we both cuddle up to watch Power. We haven’t quite gone into it when my phone rings.
“It’s Yazmin,” I tell Jide.
“Again? What has Mex done this time?”
I take the call.
“Honey, I sent you some messages on Whatsapp. Please check them.”
“Is everything okay?”
“No… erm…I don’t know. I Just… please, check them and tell me what to do.”
She goes off the line. I get on Whatsapp and see two messages from her, telling me that Emeka has just left the house to Omoh’s place.
-Who gave him Omoh’s address?
-He got it from me
-How did you know the way to Omoh’s house??
-He sent it to me. He invited me over
-And you went?
-Wait, you mean you didn’t block him as I advised???
-I did but he went on Twitter and sent me a DM and then Papi saw it and now he’s on his way there. Please, help. Do I go after him
-Are you alright? It’s 12 midnight. Stay back.
-But you sef you light a fire and sit back to watch it burn. I have a feeling you’re enjoying this
-I am not, I swear
I roll my eyes. Yazmin is quite dumb for not completely blocking Omoh from all her social media accounts. You don’t deal with creepy men using kids gloves, unless you like the attention. I have a feeling she enjoys getting a rise out of Emeka.
And the Omoh person, he clearly needs to be buried alive for a few minutes. He had promised me when we met earlier today in his office that he would back off Yazmin, although he insisted that she didn’t deserve to be anyone’s second wife. What’s with sending his house address to her?
And finally, Mex cum Papi cum hothead brother-in-law, what is he thinking he’s up to?
-Yaz, if things get hairy, call me or Jide
I dump my phone on the nightstand and relate to Jide details of the chat.
“Should we step in?” I ask.
“Nope. They’re adults. Ignore them jare.”
He drags me close and nestles me between his legs. Soon his fingers begin to work on my nipples.
“Really?” I ask as I feel him grow hard again.
“You starved me for seven months, ma’am.”
“So you want to catch up in one night?”
“Just the tip. I promise.”
“Jide…” I whine but weakly. I still need more of him even though my body is exhausted. Well, one more orgasm won’t hurt.
He moves me into a spooning position and gently slides into me. When he starts moving, my body falls into a relaxed state. This is his famous sleep potion. It’s pleasurable, at the same time soothing.
I don’t know when I fall asleep.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
Party Celia is back, and it takes me less than twenty-four hours to put together a Saturday shindig, inviting all our friends. I had not bothered with the little details of preparing the small chops. I simply called a catering service and made orders. This was after I had a set of furniture and curtains brought into the new house. It seems I am beginning to enjoy the effects of being able to afford stuff. Things happen at the click of your fingers when you have the means.
I love our new home. The rent is on debt, though. A certain sum will be taken out of Shady’s salary until it is all paid off; this fundamentally means that he is stuck with Ibro for a while. But it’s a good deal since Shady is a massive hit to the business in the short time he has been there.
“I went there, knowing nothing about selling cars,” he tells me as we both fix the new curtains.
“But you’ve always been a fantastic salesman, Shade.”
He bends to give me a kiss on my nose. He loves when I call him Shade. No one else does that.
“At that your stupid, old job, they overused and underpaid you,” I reminded him, passing him a pole and a pair of curtains.
“Well, I kept all the details of their clientele and sent them newsletters. Ibro didn’t want to do a slash on the prices at first. But after a one-week test run, he was singing a different tune. Now, he wants us to extend it to a month. I told him it would be too much of a good thing. We need to maintain our standard.”
Dara strolls in with her sippy cup in her hand. “Mommy, tea.” She points it at me. I follow her to the kitchen, make some hot chocolate for her and we return to Shady.
“How about Nollywood? Don’t you want to act anymore?”
He looks at me. “Babe, do you want us to go down that road again or do you want to make money?”
“Just asking.” I pass over the last set of curtains to him. Dara and I watch him fix them and three of us stand back to enjoy the beautiful mix of rainbow colors on all four windows.
“It’s beautiful,” he mentions and then rests his chin on my head. “You color my world, Cee. Don’t ever leave me again.”
“Daddy?” Dara lifts both hands in the air at him.
“Didn’t you just drink some now?” I question her.
“Tea,” she repeats, her face coming to a sob. Shady lifts her up and takes her to the kitchen.
“You are spoiling that girl, Shadrach.” I go around picking little bits of gold threads and discarded décor pieces from the floor. When I’m almost through, I remember I have a phone call to make. I take a break from cleaning and call Naomi.
“Hi sweetheart,” she answers.
“How was your night?”
“Awesome. The husband came home last night. He was smelling of roses. You know I hate roses. No lipstick stain, this time. Thank God. But I found a red strand of hair on his shoulder. Red, synthetic hair. How can he stoop so low?”
This is not why I called. I am not interested in what happens in her marriage but she never gets the memo.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Nay.”
“Thanks. I should get me my own little sidechick, you know?”
“Hopefully she’s not me.”
“Hopefully, she is.”
“Anyways, I’m calling to remind you of my little get-together this evening. Are you coming?”
“Yes. but just briefly. The husband and I are having sex tonight. I’m ovulating. He wants this baby badly.”
Naomi is not interested in having a kid. Her husband believes that she has infertility issues but nothing is wrong with her. She is on the pill and he has no idea.
“Nay, soon he’ll find out the truth. You can’t pay off every hospital to keep lying to him.”
“Until he finds out, my womb stays untouched.”
“So you’re coming?”
“Okay. See you by seven.”
After I drop the call, Shady and I put everything together to ensure that the party turns out well. Daylight breezes by speedily and darkness skulks in. Bobby and Kate are the first to arrive, owing to Bobby’s punctual nature. I hear that these days he is busy with a small tech hub he opened on the island. It is particularly set up for students and for people like him who have other things taking up their time but are crazy about IT. I hear Kate manages the hub well.
We hug as they walk in. Kate hands me a bottle of wine while fighting off their chubby son who feels the wine should not belong to me. We have a laugh over it and I point her to a couch.
Mary and Ekene are next. My former best friend embraces me like I have just returned from the dead. She asks me a lot of questions in a short stretch of one minute. She wants to catch up before the other wives come. I don’t have time for that as I hear the doorbell ringing again.
I dash for it and we have Peace smiling at me like the freaking sun. Behind her is her German boyfriend. I wonder if he finally got circumcised.
Next are Jide and Honey. They are wearing matching traditional attires, having just left a wedding. I tell them they look adorable. Honey hands me the fourth bottle of wine for the evening, and as they walk in to join the others, Jide holds her from behind, whispering into her ear. I smile at them. They give all of us relationship goals.
Lastly, her highness, Noka, steps in with Ibro.
“And she finally comes home,” she mutters after giving me an up and down look. “Nice wedges, sha. Prada?”
I nod. You can’t fault Noka’s eye for fashion. She always hits it on the head, although I feel like when it comes to wearing the chicest outfits, Honey is queen.
Ibro gives me an unexpected hug and whispers into my ear, “you did us all a solid by disappearing. It would be nice if it keeps happening.”
I laugh and he lets me go.
“How are you, though?”
“I’m good and I’m indebted to you, Ibrahim.”
“Ba yawa. We were just upset that you guys hid what was going on for so long. Why?”
I look down in embarrassment.
“Well, we thank God that all is good now. If you need anything…”
“Just call me,” Noka chips in with a smile that says ‘don’t you dare go near my husband.’
“Thank you, Ibro,” I answer.
They walk in and the others hail them with cheerful shouts. I grin. I have missed this. All of it—friends, laughter, naughtiness and a good time. I have the whole package for them tonight.
It starts with light conversation. Over drinks and small chops, we catch up on what has been going on in each other’s lives. I notice I haven’t missed anything much, save for the pictures a certain Hauwa lady shared of Jide and herself in Canada. Jide gets the heat from all of us and we demand he issues a dramatic apology to Honey even though he keeps explaining that they are past the issue.
“Apologize, oga.” Noka passes around her phone where she has saved the photos.
“You people should leave my hubs alone, biko,” Honey protests. We all shut her down. Jide must apologize.
He leaves his space beside her and stands in front of her. We are all expecting him to swing out some magical words but Jide lowers and gives her a long French kiss that leaves all of us embarrassed.
“You guys shouldn’t have insisted,” Bobby comments, breaking the intense silence.
“E don do o!” Noka claps, stopping them.
“Leave them alone,” Peace hushes her and stares longingly. I doubt that she is still seeing Reno. The German is becoming a fixture in her life.
Finally, the lovebirds part lips.
“Two of you are so shameless,” Mary says.
“Look who is talking,” Honey throws back.
Ekene politely asks for a drink of water. I dash into the kitchen to bring another round of drinks. Mary comes along and I hand her a tray containing small glasses of cocktail.
“What are they for?”
When we return to the living room, we meet the others arguing over something political. It’s not the way I want the evening to go, so I take over the mood and announce that I have a game for them.
“This is why I’m actually here,” Bobby exclaims in a dance.
“We’ve actually missed your silly games, Cee,” Mary mentions.
“Thank you, fam.” I curtesy. “So, down to business. This game is called Never Have I Ever. I’m sure you guys know it…”
“I don’t,” Ibro states.
“Well, it’s simple,” I say, pulling out a piece of paper from my jean pocket. “On this paper, I have over a hundred statements that describe acts starting with the line Never Have I Ever. When I read out anyone and you have ever done it, you will indicate by having a drink of what’s on that second tray. I know we have two breastfeeding mommies here, so we’ll have them drop five hundred bucks each time they have ever been guilty of anything I read out. If you know you’re going to be driving. please, drop five hundred bucks. Don’t worry. I have change, a whole bundle of hundreds.”
“What will you do with the money, madam?” Noka asks.
“It’s for charity, dear. So, are we ready?”
Enthusiastic nods meet my question. I smile evilly. They have no idea what awaits them. I take my seat.
“Never have I ever watched porn with someone else.”
A general gasp spreads across the room as they all stare at each other. Jide breaks the silence by reaching for a drink. Laughter follows and other hands go for cocktails. Honey drops five hundred naira. Only Kate and Mary do neither.
“Tomiwa, you’ve never watched porn with someone else before?” I probe.
“I have never watched porn before. Period.”
“That’s a lie!” Bobby counters. “In school, you walked in on me and my ex…”
“…watching porn. You remember?”
“I walked in and walked out. Remember I freaked out? Since then, I have never ever watched it again.”
“Holiness aunty,” Noka murmurs. “Dey carry Bible for your head.”
“Worefa. Continue jare.”
I read out the next statement. “Never have I ever taken someone’s virginity.”
“Jisos!” Bobby exclaims. We all laugh. But Jide, again, takes the lead. We glare at him. He downs his drink before he answers.
“We were teenagers. She wasn’t my first, though.”
Ekene goes next and everyone holds back stares, avoiding Honey’s eyes. We all know the love story they once shared. Bobby is third to pick a drink.
“But of course,” Jide says. Kate hides her face in a hanky.
There are no more candidates, so I reach forward and take a drink. Shady’s mouth drops open as do the others.
“You guys don’t want to know. Moving on!” I read out the third statement. “Never have I ever lied to protect a cheating friend.”
All the wives give their husbands accusatory glances as fresh laughter erupts. But I surprise them and go first. Gasps replace the laughter; they fix their eyes on me downing the cocktail. When I put the glass back on the tray, I catch Noka’s glare. I hold it but she looks away.
The men follow my lead. Kate drops a thousand naira note and I give her five hundred.
I read on. “Never have I ever woken up next to a complete stranger.”
“Everybody, abeg pick a glass and drink!” Ibro yells as Shady refills empty glasses.
“Y’all hoes,” Honey says, going first. “I’ll own my shame.”
I watch them all down their drinks. Kate and I are the only ones who have never woken up to total strangers.
“Behold, my wife in whom I am well pleased.” Shady blows me a kiss. I catch it and place it on my chest.
“Not like you met her a virgin,” Noka sneers.
“Moving on!” I cut her off, and continue with the game. My questions get more interesting and downright nasty. More drinks, more mirth and things wind up in the course of an hour. No one is colossally tipsy because I had ensured, while making the cocktail, that the alcohol percentage doesn’t cause any drunkenness.
“Celia, it’s good to have you back,” Jide tells me.
“We missed this.”
“Me too,” I reply. I begin to clear the table. Mary and Peace offer to help me. Honey joins them and we all walk to the kitchen.
“So, where did you go, aunty?” Mary probes. “You look so fresh and fluffy.”
“You should travel more often,” Honey adds. “It suits you.”
“Where exactly did you go?” Noka comes in.
I face her. “Fiji.”
“Your girlfriend took you there?”
“She’s not my girlfriend, Noks.”
“What girlfriend?” Honey and Peace ask simultaneously.
I place wine glasses in the sink. I have anticipated this moment and prepared a response.
“I just wanted to get away and Naomi was going on a short vacation and she took me along.”
“She didn’t kiss you again or anything like that?” Peace is genuinely worried.
“No, she didn’t.”
I chuckle. “I’m sure, P. By the way, she offered me a job which involves me traveling the world with her.”
“What type of job is that?” Mary queries.
Peace takes on a ‘mommy countenance’. “And you said no, right?”
“Actually, I said yes.”
Everyone stops what they’re doing to focus on me.
“Why, Cee?” Peace’s voice is broken. “You’ll leave Dara and Shady and follow a woman who forced her lips on you and told you she wanted an affair with you?”
“Na wa o!” Noka claps her hands. “Nothing we no go hear.”
“That’s not a sound decision coming from you, Cee,” Mary asserts.
“Can I explain myself?”
They give permission. I tell Kate who has just stepped in to shut the door. As she does, I take a pose with crossed arms.
“I really need this job. Not for the money, not for the long haul. I need it for now.”
“Why?” Honey asks.
“Girls, that slap Shady gave me woke me up. It made me think about my life and where I am headed as a person, as a woman. Money has always been an issue for us as a couple. I had had dreams. Huge dreams for us, but none of them came true; and for a moment it seemed like life was passing me by. In fact, life passed me by for a while. And then I went to Fiji and saw that there was a world out there that I wanted to be part of.
“I am not leaving my marriage or my kid. I am just…trying to live. When you get married, you leave a lot of yourself behind. Your goals become about you and your husband – and then the kids, when they start popping out. And so, you abandon yourself and years go by and you realize that you’re now old and you can’t find the person you used to be or the dreams you used to have.
“I don’t want to be a statistic. I want to have a story to tell my kids one day, of how I traveled the world and of all the places I’ve been and people I met. I don’t want to be some plain, old Jane who wakes up one day and regrets what she could have been, or if she could have had it better.”
“Awww, this is inspiring,” Noka utters blandly. “I actually have tears in my eyes.”
Honey flashes her a nasty glare.
“But you’ve forgotten to add that the person who is flying you up and down to fulfil this your dream of discovering yourself actually wants to fuck you.”
“I know that, Noka.”
“And I have no squabbles with that, Celia. In short, go ahead and have an affair with her if that makes you happy. It’s all part of your midlife crisis, your…self-discovery… But please, make arrangements to get Dara a nanny so that your husband would stop taking her to work.”
“Ojonoka!” Honey spins to face her.
“I have had enough of your spitefulness! Enough! This is your last warning! If you do or say anything unkind to any of us from today…”
“You’ll do what?” Noka moves towards her.
“Oh, please, try me.” Honey also takes a step forward.
“Ladies, abeg,” Kate pleads. Noka laughs and claps her hands in a taunt but I can see on her face that she is scared of Honey’s unspoken threat.
“Okay o. I’ll play nice before someone with mental issues claws out my eyes.”
Mary dives in-between them. “Noka, get out.”
“What did I do?”
“Get out!” Mary repeats.
Noka turns around, picks a samosa from a paper plate and leaves.
“Honey, ignore her words,” Mary begs.
“It’s fine. It’s okay. She can joke about my issues as much as she likes but I’ll get her. Oh, I’ll so get her. She doesn’t know me.”
Angry, Honey also leaves the kitchen. I exhale sadly. This is not how I wanted the evening to turn out.
“It’s not your fault, Cee.” Mary rubs my back. “They’ll both cool off. Honey will be back to say she’s sorry.”
“She doesn’t need to apologize,” Peace mutters. I see anger in her eyes too. “Noka has gotten out of hand. We need to do something about her.”
“Can we not make this beautiful evening about that dumb bitch?” Mary voices out in frustration. She holds my face. “Celia, I may not understand what you’re feeling or how badly you want to fulfil your itchy feet but I’m solidly behind you. Just talk to Shady about it and make adequate plans for Dara. It would be nice if you even took her along on some of your trips. She is part of you. Just…make sure you are not hurting her and Shady in the end. Okay?”
I nod. She hugs me. Peace joins in the hug.
“But the moment that Naomi touches you inappropriately, please get on the next flight back to Nigeria after you give her a dirty slap.”
“Trust me nau.”
We break away and find Kate washing wine and cocktail glasses. We help her out and in minutes the kitchen is clean. On our way out, Honey comes back in. She pulls me aside.
“I’m sorry for what just happened here. Noka gets on my nerves with her attitude.”
“Honey, it’s fine. No need to apologize. You handled her fuckup…”
“Not quite. I’m planning for her. She feels she’s better than all of us but I’ll show her that she isn’t. When I dig up dirt about her and expose her shit…”
I shake my head. “No need to, Hon.”
“I will o. Everyone has skeletons in their closet and I’ll find hers…”
“Trust me, you don’t want to dig out Noka’s. Just let it be.”
Jide pokes his head in. “I’m ready if you are, Hon.”
“Give me a second,” she responds. Jide thanks me for a wonderful night and leaves.
“Travel to anywhere you want to, Cee. Follow your heart but don’t forget those who need you.”
Honey squeezes me, pecks my cheek and dashes out. One after the other, they leave, but Ibro stays back to tidy up business deals with Shady. While they sit at the dining table and pore over some papers, Noka follows me into Dara’s bedroom.
“Nice place.” She looks around. Flowers, lush green lawn and butterflies are painted on the wall – all of Shady’s doing. The bed, wardrobe and floor are all in different hues of pink that match the decor. I am proud of him for this. It seems I am not the only one who found myself after that slap. He has changed quite a lot. My going away also did him some good. Having learned to care for his child all alone and to clean the house too, he is now hands-on with domestic responsibilities. Who knew he had this shade to him?
“Celia?” Noka calls.
“Yeah?” I reply. My hands are busy with Dara’s onesies.
“I know I come off as bitchy and insensitive but you know I’m not like that, Cee. You know I love you. All I was trying to say in the kitchen before Honey went all savage on me is that having Dara being in the showroom with Shady is unprofessional…”
“Did you know that Dara is starting school on Monday?”
“But what do you care? Your mind is occupied with the next blowjob you’re going to give the father of your illegitimate son just because you can’t pay up the blackmail money he keeps increasing every year.”
Noka’s shoulders slump down. “Why are you bringing this up?”
“Because your life is so perfect and one day Ibro will find out that the boy you call your little cousin is actually your son and you guys will live happily ever after.”
“Please, don’t tell Honey this or she’ll use it against me.”
“I’m not going to tell on you but I will if you don’t stop being a bitch.”
She watches me tuck Dara in and then she puts her arms around me for a hug. “Goodnight.”
She walks out of the bedroom and stops.
“He’s asking for more than blowjobs now. The last time, he wanted me to go all the way. I told him I couldn’t. I gave him some money. That was why I couldn’t contribute when the girls suggested that we should give you something.”
“Noka, don’t sleep with him. And stop giving him head. Tell the truth.”
“Just do. Your son needs to know who he is and Ibro needs to know the truth.”
“Then let us help you. We’ll tell our husbands and they’ll talk to him. Just stop lying and cheating on him.”
Her eyes glisten. “I can’t.”
Shady appears and she wipes her eyes subtly. “Ibro is ready to leave. Are you ladies done?”
I step out of Dara’s bedroom and together we walk to the sitting room. Shady and I escort them to their car. When they leave, we go back into the house and I find that my phone is ringing.
I put it to my ear.
A sobbing voice at the other end comes on. “Cece?”
“Nay, what’s wrong?”
“Can you come over, please?”
“Yes. Please, come over. Please…”
I don’t ask her what is wrong. I quickly explain to Shady that she needs me. We already talked about her last night and in his opinion, she is no threat to our relationship. However, I am not sure he will feel the same way if I tell him of my travel plans.
“You want me to drive you there?” he asks.
“No, I’m good.”
He passes me his car key and I hurry out of the house. I find that I am genuinely worried about Naomi. We had become quite close during the trip but solely as friends. I worry that something bad has happened to her.
When I arrive at her house and a maid leads me up to her bedroom, my breath is held.
I open the door. “Naomi?”
“I’m here,” she answers from the bathroom. I stroll through a messy room, not made untidy by habit but by what seems like a scuffle. I step over broken glass and cosmetics flung from the dressing table as I aim for the bathroom.
I push the door open and find Naomi on the floor. I can hardly recognize her as her face is red and black and swollen into twice its size in certain places.
“He found out, Cece. He found out I’ve been lying to him and he beat me. He almost killed me. He was choking me…”
Her voice is barely a whisper and fear rests on her face. I rush to her.
“Let’s get you to the hospital.”
I help her up and discover that the blood I see on the floor is from between her legs. The entire floor on which she sits is covered in a pool.
“He wanted to kill me,” she repeats. “He stomped on my tummy, telling me he’ll destroy my womb since I won’t carry his baby.”
I fume, mad at her a husband, a man I have neither seen nor spoken to. I help her out of her clothes and put her under the shower to wash away the mess. I need to clean her up before taking her to the hospital. I hope she hasn’t lost too much of blood.
“Don’t leave me,” she clutches my hands as the water hits her body.
∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞
Genesis is startled out of her sleep. She had gone to bed quite early after organizing some seminar for financial moguls. The day hadn’t been exactly fun for her, as Zach had gotten into a crying spell that threw her into an unpleasant mood. When she couldn’t handle his tantrum, she left him in the care of Iya Idaya.
Mamisi had also been contributory to her grumpiness. The old woman showed up unannounced and dumped a heap of clothes in the laundry room. Genesis scolded her and they got into a fight. Iya Idaya stepped in with an offer to launder the clothes but Genesis would have none of it. She asked Mamisi to leave, then stomped up the stairs and went straight to bed.
Now she is awake, not sure why she is. She turns off the air conditioners and opens the windows. The night is cold and the sky clear with a full moon.
Genesis walks back to her bed. She clutches her rosary and soon falls asleep.
On the bed, lying beside her is Dominic. Motionless. Stiff. Cold. Pale.
She wakes up with a scream, her heart pounding painfully in her chest. Her rosary is still clutched in her hand but she holds it tighter. She begins to pray. She is incoherent, her words disjointed. But she prays on, until she finds some peace.
She lies back again and falls asleep once more. There are no more bad dreams waiting. She makes it to the morning.
When she stirs up at daylight, her nose picks the strong scent of Dominic’s perfume but she doesn’t give it much thought. Having had nothing to eat last night, hunger drives her downstairs. She bursts into the kitchen and is surprised to find Dominic with the twins.
“Look who’s finally awake!” he stretches a hand and she ambles to it.
“Why are you here?”
“I missed you guys so much that I decided to come back.”
She bends for a kiss from him, and then delivers several pecks on her children’s cheeks.
“Seriously, why are you back?”
“I missed you guys nau. I can’t miss my family again?”
“I’m thinking that maybe I’m still sleeping, so I’ll go back upstairs, crawl back into bed and wake up when morning comes.”
Dominic laughs heartily. “I’ll come and show you that I’m real.”
He calls for Iya Idaya and instructs her to continue feeding the kids. He drags Genesis upstairs. In their bedroom, he kisses her until she is breathless.
“Was that real enough or you need to wake up?”
He doesn’t let her answer. He kisses her again, lifting her nightshirt and kneading her backside.
“This feels real,” she moans.
“Not quite yet.”
He tosses her to the bed. Her mouth salivates at the sight of his blatant erection. She has always been able to get completely turned on by just seeing him aroused, whether nude or clothed. The man is impressively endowed. She waits in anticipation as he undresses. He makes it clear that he isn’t in the mood for foreplay. She isn’t either. A week ago she had found him too clingy. Now, she doesn’t mind if he is stuck in her all day.
He falls on the bed and goes straight to business. He is wild and nasty, reminiscent of that first night they made love when he went into her apartment and demanded her body like he owned it. Time and work took that edge away. Their sex life remains awesome but nothing can be compared to that night…
Soon, Genesis is screaming out his name. She has never been one to hold in her pleasure. She arches into his every possessive, powerful thrust. She gives back as she gets it but soon finds that she can’t match his energy. Not this morning, at least. This morning, it’s all about him and how much he can give.
So, she takes and takes until she runs out of staying power.
He stops, panting hard, body soaked in sweat.
“What on earth did you eat in Singapore, Ditorusin?”
He laughs and leaves for the bathroom. She falls back on the bed. Sheets wet. Genitals quivering.
When she finally catches her breath, a smile fills her face. As she begins to wonder what has come over her husband, her phone beeps.
She picks it up and there’s a message from a foreign number.
Hi Genny. How are you doing? I’m guessing Nick is at home now. Please, rush him to the hospital. He is not in top shape. He had a heart attack during our first meeting here. After a doctor cleared him, I put his ass back on a plane home. Please, have his doctor give him a check. Love, Seyi.
Genesis jumps out of bed and hurries to the bathroom in annoyance. She flings the door open.
“Domi, you had a heart attack and didn’t tell me?!”
Her movement halts. Her hand freezes in the air. Dominic is lying on the floor, eyes looking up at the celling.
“Call the ambulance,” he rasps.
Just wanted to surprise you with this episode this evening but before you read, here’s a short announcement
Please tune in this Friday. I’ll be here to remind you again on Friday and to bring you a new series from @Ibukunwrites
Have a cool evening.
This episode is dedicated to Seye who recently walked down the aisle with his sweetheart. I wish you a happy married life, Seye.
He looks into his bag. He has packed light. Nothing more than the basics. A few shirts, a few pants, a pair of shoes, underwear and toiletries. He knows he is missing important items but his head cannot just figure out what needs to be added. Genesis usually does his packing for him. She would include all he needs and extra things that never cross his mind. Sometimes she tosses in little surprises like handwritten notes, her thong or one of the children’s stuffed animals. He always looks forward to discovering what new item she leaves in his bags.
Today, however, she’s in a mood. She blames it on the housekeeper’s illness which has left her handling the bulk of the house chores. But Dominic knows she’s upset because of his trip. She tries to be a big girl about it, having just told him a few days ago that she is done getting upset over his trips.
“Fly to Jupiter, I don’t care. I don’t need you to make me happy.”
Since then her moods have fluctuated a great deal. He hates that she hurts over his absences. He lives for the moments when he makes her happy but she has always been an outrageously-difficult woman to please. Gifts and elaborate romantic gestures have no effects on her. She simply wants the little things – love, family, and waking up beside him every morning.
“Just a little longer,” he would tell her, but her response would be a brushing away of his words. She stopped believing him when he had started to sound like a chant. He however, means to keep his promise. Soon she wouldn’t have to worry about him being away. Business is good, despite the recession. Four years ago, the BSD Group invested in foreign currency, partnering with European financiers to spread the BSD chain of malls across Africa and in some parts of Asia. The returns have been unprecedented, pushing all partners involved into unimaginable wealth. It has been four years of sleepless nights and dedication. Soon, he would go on the much needed break and give Genesis all she desires.
Dominic takes another peep into his bag and decides he would abandon the idea of packing and have breakfast with Genesis instead. She had slipped out of bed as early as 5am and is yet to return to their bedroom.
He grabs his phone and a t-shirt on his way out. The sound of the twins playing draws him to their bedroom where he finds them in the company of Iya Idaya who is seated, watching them. Just recovering from a brief illness, she looks worse for wear but upon sighting Dominic, she manages a smile and a greeting.
“How are you feeling?” he enquires. She tells him that she is doing better. He wants to know if she is taking her drugs. She replies that she is.
He stops for some playtime with the twins but they barely acknowledge his presence. They are already so attached to each other that they do fine entertaining themselves. After a few minutes of being ignored, Dominic rises up and asks Iya Idaya if she knows where Genesis is. The old woman shakes her head.
He exits the room and makes his way out of the house to the next building. The apartment upstairs, once belonging to Genesis, is still very much hers. When she wants to get away from the stress of work or if they get into one of their intense fights, she would leave the main house and hide out there. The fact that Eva passed away on her bed does little to bother her.
Dominic comes to the building and takes a door that leads to stairs going up to the second floor. But just as the top of the first flight of stairs he spots Genesis engaged in her fitness routine, which to him is a collection of sexual poses that turn him on. She doesn’t have a regular schedule for them but does them quite often to keep in shape. Dominic’s best pose is when she splits, either with her legs up in the air or flat on the floor. It always amazes him how someone who is plus size can have so much control of her body and make it do impossible things. He is most impressed by her discipline and dedication to her fitness goals. It is this same manner of mind she employs in Novocaine Knights that has kept them at the top.
Dominic stops for a moment to watch her. She has her entire weight on her hands alone and her feet up on the wall.
She turns her head in his direction and turns it back. He is ignored for the next couple of minutes in which he sits and waits. She eventually lets down her legs and straightens up.
“Packed yet?” she asks, wiping perspiration off her forehead.
“More or less.”
“I’ve always told you never to bother doing it. I’ll come help.”
She picks a towel hanging off the bannister, slings it around her neck and comes down the stairs to meet him. When he rises up, his hand takes her waist and pulls her close for a kiss but she pushes him away.
“You know we don’t do this, Nick.”
“I’m sorry,” he apologizes, grabbing her again. “But I need you. I feel so drained and I’m not looking forward to this trip at all. You’ll give me the strength I need.”
“Domi, no. You’ll make love to me and leave me in an emotional mess for days. Don’t ask for what I can’t give. Just do your usual disappearing so that I can adjust to being single for two months.”
“Two months? Who says I’ll be gone two months?”
Dominic laughs. “You shouldn’t be listening to him.”
“Aren’t you guys traveling together?”
“We are but I’m not staying two months.”
She looks at him with something of an expectant expression. “So when will you be back then?”
“I don’t know.”
The expression vanishes. She starts out. He goes after her and forces his arms around her. In that manner they walk into the main house through the backdoor and end up in their favorite sitting room where she had left her phone charging.
“You want coffee?” he asks as she stretches out. The day has just begun for her. Her phone starts to buzz and she lazily stretches to the extension cord it is plugged in to take the call. An angry voice meets her ear and for a minute or so she has to endure whatever it is the person on the line is saying, throwing in apologies every now and then. Someone in the décor department has just messed up a bridezilla’s wedding decoration, substituting a shade of red for a deeper one.
“Maroon! Not burgundy!” The bride screams on. “Now my wedding is ruined!”
Genesis rubs an eye with the heel of her palm, feeling sore in the ear from all the shouting. Somehow she manages to bring the bride to calm and assures her that she’ll fix the situation in good time.
“Email a photo sample of the original color you asked for and a picture of what was done. I’ll look at it and if your complaints are legit, I’ll have it fixed in record time.”
“Isn’t your reception six hours away? Have no worries. I’ll make you happy. All I want is for you to relax and smile. It’s your day. Don’t let anything spoil it for you. Your husband and the cameras need that beautiful smile.”
Genesis knows nothing about her, if she has a beautiful smile or not. Like many of the weddings and events that are handled by her staff, she is hardly aware. She takes on the big jobs for the big names and leaves the minor ones for her capable staff to attend to. She hates to be called in to repair someone else’s screw-ups.
Genesis rambles out her email to the woman and dumps the phone just as Dominic walks in with a pair of mugs containing coffee. She hadn’t known for how long she had been on the phone.
“Angry bride,” she explains, taking an offered mug. “I don’t even know how she got my number.”
“I hope you didn’t tell her you’ll fix whatever she’s calling you to fix.”
Genesis stretches out her legs on Dominic’s laps after he sits. “I did.”
“Remind me again why you hired people?”
“If they’re not doing their jobs, fire them.”
“That’s why people call you heartless.”
Dominic slips his hand underneath her top and leaves it resting on her tummy.
“But I’m sure it’s nothing. Just a normal bridezilla fit. I’ll handle it.”
They sip their coffees in silence until her phone rings again. Dominic passes it to her. It’s the same bride calling. She wants to know if Genesis got her email.
“Ah. I sent it almost ten minutes ago.”
“I’ll check my spam folder to see if it’s there. Please don’t call again as I’m busy right now and will not take your calls. I’ll call you if I need you to resend the email. Besides that, relax. I’ll fix everything that needs fixing.”
“Thank you, ma.”
The woman hangs up and Genesis consults her phone to get the said email but discovers she is out of internet service.
“Can I use your phone, Nick?”
Dominic dips his hand into his pocket, pulls out his phone and hands it to her. She types in the password. The screen brightens up as a text message pops into view.
“You have a text,” she informs him.
“Read it. I’m expecting some money.”
“You’re always expecting some money.”
“Abeg read it.”
Genesis taps on the SMS icon and it opens up to a short message from an unknown number which she reads out loud.
I’ve done all you asked for. I hope you’re happy. I’m on my way out of the country now. I’ll be expecting the rest of the money in 24 hours.
“Shit,” Dominic mutters. “Let me have that.”
Genesis passes the phone over to him and he returns it to her shortly.
“Something you care to share with me?” she asks.
“It’s not nothing, obviously, and I don’t want to pester but I’m curious and a little worried. My guts feel uncomfortable with that text.”
“Gen, let it go. Just do whatever it is you want to do with the phone.”
Genesis taps on the message icon and discovers that the message is no longer there.
“You deleted it.”
“Genesis Raymond, can you please let that text go?”
“No, Nick. You tell me everything. Why are you hiding this one?”
Dominic throws his head back and rests it on the couch. “Fine…” He sighs. “I paid Chichi off to leave Kasiobi and disappear for good.”
“I don’t understand, Nick.”
“I’m giving her ten million bucks to get the hell out of Kasiobi’s life so he can go back to Tonbra. She left the baby behind.”
“Nick?” Genesis sits up. “Why would you do that?”
He straightens his posture. “Because Tonbra deserves to have the man she loves but with Chichi in the picture there’s no way in hell that’s going to happen.”
Genesis gives a dazed wobble of her head. “You scare me all the time, Dominic.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m simply nudging the lovebirds towards each other.”
“They are eventually going to end up together. Nothing can tear love apart.”
Dominic laughs. “Sometimes you’re so naïve. Nothing can tear love apart?”
“If they’re meant to be…”
“Genesis, please. You’re sounding like a cheesy romance novel. Love has never been enough to keep two people together. You have to give it a little nudge sometimes and that’s exactly what I did. I don’t want my daughter spending her youth being lonely and seeking for love in the wrong places. Soon, she’ll get over Kasiobi and start settling for less. As a father, I can’t watch that happen. She will not become Eva and end up being murdered by some man who can’t control her. So I’m doing everything to see her happy, and no one will give me the third degree over it. I’ll do it for Zach and Zoe if they fall into the same situation. This is who I am, Gen. I have the money and I’ll use it to fulfill selfish needs. Get used to it.”
Genesis lays a hand on his lap. “I understand, Nick. Relax.”
“I made Chichi sign a non-disclosure. If she ever comes back for her child, I’ll expose the documents to Kasiobi so he’ll know she gave up her child for money.”
“But what if Kasiobi has his sights on someone else?” Genesis asks, recalling the couple of times she had watched him flirt with Didi at the office.
“As long as the girl is not carrying his child, there’s no reason to worry. Chichi was the biggest threat.”
“I pray she never returns.”
Dominic pushes his hand into Genesis’ top once more as the mood mellows. “I pray you let me touch you before I go.”
Genesis ignores him as she signs into her email account and handles her client’s issues. The case takes her over fifteen minutes to sort out, during which Dominic graduates from just touching her to fondling her breasts. After she is through, he takes the phone off her hand, pins her down on the couch and starts to kiss her. She feels weak to stop him. His stunt with Chichi is a huge turn on. She has always had a weakness for his darker side.
“I’ll miss you,” he says into her ear, tickling it with his breath, and at the same time, pushing his hand into her pants to find the lushness of her bum.
She encloses her arms around him. “I never get used to you being away, Nick. It always hurts. Please, don’t stay too long.”
Her last word is caught in his lips. He kisses her lavishly but stops to look into her eyes.
“Just a little longer, Ms. Raymond.”
∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞
So I’m lying on this blue couch, doing my décor thing in my head and trying to take a selfie at the same time when my roomie steps into my sunlight and goes, “Is my ass big in this dress?”
Annoyed for losing a perfect shot that captures my eyes, I retort, “What ass?”
A pair of bespectacled eyes lands me an unpleasant stare. I return a smile. The person who has just spoken to me is a cute, petite Edo girl we call Ehizogie or Ehi for short. She is my housemate and also my colleague. We don’t particularly like each other but somehow we manage. Work and accommodation lumps us together. It’s only wise that we get along. Good thing I get to spend only weekends with her; during the week, I stay with my elder brother and his wife.
“If you want to see what they call ass, check this out.”
I get up, turn around and give Ehi a good view of my heavily-endowed behind. It is African in every sense, the type that gets fellow females jealous and males drooling.
“You’re just fat,” she claps back. “Nothing sexy about it. Go and lose weight.”
To infuriate her further, I lower myself and give a twerk. There’s music coming from my bedroom, something that sounds like what Patoranking will sing. And I don’t only twerk to the beats, I give my booty a slow grind as though I am doing it for the viewing pleasure of a dude. And well, what do you know! A dude walks in unannounced, catching me in my moment.
He stops and focuses on me with a frown. I don’t stop. I’m not specifically doing it for him but if he chooses to be entertained, then he should by all means knock himself out.
By the way, while he watches, let me introduce myself. My name is Ndidi but people call me Didi or Chubby Di. I don’t mind, though. I’m fat, curvy, thick, voluptuous, plus sized and full of myself. You’ll never find me feeling sorry over how I look. Naa. I love my body and I am comfortable in my skin. There’s a huge market for my type, especially on this side of Nigeria. God bless the day I packed my belongings and moved from the east to the land flowing with men that appreciate booty. I have a long list of thirsters and blessers, already and I’m not even a ho. Just wild, sexy and more entertaining than your average girlfriend.
“Hello Kasi.” I stop tormenting my male spectator with my behind and face him.
Gosh! Kasiobi’s voice is to die for! It’s deep but not in a baritone way. Just deep and smooth like he should be whispering sweet nothings in your ear all night. And don’t even start me on his looks. He’s fine, with Will Smith kind of ears and pink, kissable lips. He is tall and (the best part) thin. Just the way I love my men. I can’t be plus size and go after fatsos like me. How do we enjoy sex? By bumping into each other’s cellulites? No, thank you. Skinny boys are best. They know how to love a big woman.
So, I’m thinking Kasi has a thing for me but he hides it well. Same way I hide mine. Dude’s got me feeling some kind of way but he’s never going to know I’m crushing on him. We’ve met on four different occasions but it has all been work-related. I’ve heard gist of his pathetic love life with the boss lady’s stepdaughter, Lexus, and how she dumped him. It’s not clear if he has recovered from the heartbreak but he’s yet to replace her. I’d have offered myself as a rebound girlfriend but not yet. I am watching the tides. I am barely three weeks old in these environs. It’s best to keep my head in what brought me here – and that is to work as an events planner at Novocaine Knights and to build a relationship with the family I never had.
I am an only child of a mother who was branded an ogbanje and rejected by her people. My grandmother died giving birth to her after losing four babies. My grandfather alone was left with the burden of caring for her but he remarried and had children by his new wife who maltreated my mom endlessly. Eventually, she ran away from the village and moved to Aba where she survived by selling food during the day and attending school at night.
According to her, one day, this rich man in his luxurious car drove up to her food stall to buy lunch and she fell in love with him. He was a married man with three sons but she didn’t care. A short affair culminated and I came to be. Sadly, the only thing mommy knew about my dad was his name – Lawrence Onuora. It took her five years before she bumped into him again. At that time, her hard work had paid off and she was able to secure an admission into University of Lagos, her dream school. And while I was left in the care of my maternal great-grandmother, mommy got herself educated, paying her fees with money she got from selling food in a canteen on campus.
She met daddy again at the school gates and they resumed their affair, meeting in hotels, until one unfortunate incident when his second son ran into them. The affair ended and left mommy heartbroken. She had told daddy about me but he made it clear that I was to remain in the shadows for the sake of his family. This didn’t stop him from being responsible for me. I was taken away from the village to Onitsha for a better life. Mommy eventually graduated but dropped all prospects of getting a decent job and returned to the east. She opened a beer parlor, faced her life and forgot all about my dad. Each time I asked, I was told he was dead. I only discovered he was alive when she was on her deathbed. She told me the entire story of how I came to be and gave me his phone number. Right in her presence, I called him. They spoke in Yoruba, a language I didn’t understand. When they were done, she asked me to put the phone on speaker. Her last words to us were, “Lawrence, your daughter, Ndidiamaka. Take care of her as your own. Ndi, your father. Go and be with him. God bless two of you.”
And then she breathed her last. It is barely three months since she passed. Daddy gave her a grand burial in the same village where she was treated as an outcaste. He took her shame away. He gave her a royal farewell and left tongues wagging for a long time. After my mourning period, he put me on a flight to Lagos. I was introduced to his wife, my brothers and their wives on a quiet night. Not all of them welcomed me with open arms. Nne, especially, doesn’t like me but I don’t take it personally. She lost her only daughter a short while after her birth. I understand her angst.
Wait, did I just deviate to talk about my family and forget about Kasi who is still standing in front of me in all his male hotness?
“Please, Ehi, I need your help desperately,” he says to Ehi.
“Anything, Kas,” she replies with a smile I never saw on her before.
I watch two of them leave the house and return shortly with a baby that looks every inch like Kasiobi. I take two, slump back into my seat and gape at the scene. He has a child?! How on earth did I not know this whole time?! And who the hell is her mother?!
“I’ll just change into something real quick and we’ll be out of here,” Ehi says and disappears into her room, leaving Kasiobi and I. And of course the baby whose cheek is enjoying the touch of his lips.
“Is she yours?” I ask.
“Yeah. Her name is Trinity.”
“Cool. So you’re married?”
He laughs. “No. Single dad.”
“Where’s her mom?”
“Oh, she’s out of town for a bit.”
“And left her all alone with you?”
“I’m capable.” He looks at his daughter. “Am I not, Trini? Is daddy not capable?”
Awww, how cute. But why would a mother leave a baby so little and travel? And why on earth did Kasiobi go and get a girl pregnant? Well, the whole thing now has K-leg. Who wants to be loving up a guy that has a baby under his care? I can’t be doing nanny abeg.
Ehi returns. “Let’s go.”
“Bye, Didi,” Kasiobi tells me. “See you later this evening at the concert.”
They walk to the door and then Ehi turns back. “I forgot my phone.”
She runs to her bedroom while Kasiobi makes his exit. I become moody over the latest development as I sit staring after him. Ehi comes back again but stops and blocks my sunlight once more.
“Stop wasting your time fantasizing about him, Ndi,” the silly thing speaks without permission. “His soul is tied to Lexus.”
“Plizz! Fantasizing is for teenagers like you,” I snap. “Speak for yourself.”
I flip my braids backwards, barge into my bedroom and begin fixing my scattered bed. My phone rings while I’m in the middle of it. The boss lady is calling. I pick the call in excitement. It’s not always she needs me for something outside office hours. I’m still a rookie in the business and apart from doing my job, I always aim to please her. Today of all days is a good opportunity to prove myself with the love concert. I had been assigned to do only a few things but I want more responsibility.
I don’t get an answer.
“Hello? Good morning.”
I meet more silence.
I bring the phone to my face and put it back on my ear.
I hear some sounds but not a word. I conclude that the network is bad and go offline. My thumb is about to tap on a button to return the call but a better idea pops into mind. I hurry out of my bedroom and find my way out of the apartment. There’s a small fence separating the bosses’ house from ours. In-between both houses stands a tree and beneath it a swing bench I enjoy spending spare time on.
I follow a small gate and come out to the massive mansion that is probably the most beautiful house I have seen in Lagos so far. At my entrance, guard dogs begin to bark fiercely. I ignore them because I know they have been caged. I follow a path that takes me straight to the kitchen via a backdoor. Upon entry I expect to see Iya Idaya, the housekeeper but I find no one present.
I leave the kitchen, finally having my opportunity to take a good look at the house. I have only been here once and it was on a brief visit. Now, I get the chance to absorb the elegance and beauty all at once, which blows me away at second glance.
Now, mind you, I’m standing in what seems like an anteroom which opens up to a stairway that leads up. If I guess correctly, the sitting room is to my left. It is where I plan to end up after I call the boss lady and tell her I am waiting for her. Before then, I decide to take a small tour.
Facing me, some feet away, is a door. My curiosity tells me to find out what is behind it. Since the door is ajar, it won’t be bad to take a peep.
I walk towards it and when I get there, I push the door open and come upon a beautiful sight of the boss and boss lady making out. The room is a mini-parlor with diffuse lighting and bright colors. It is not meant for any type of entertainment but somehow this beautiful couple has found it worthy enough to make out in.
The boss, lying between his wife’s legs which are spread apart, kisses her like he is born to kiss women. He stops and lowers his head to kiss her breast which is in full glare of my eyes. He does this as his hand goes between her legs. When he touches her ‘there’. She moans.
And I think I moan alongside her or something, because they stop abruptly and turn in my direction. My chest tightens, I step back, and find to my relief that they had not seen me. They have been startled by the stupid family cat that has just slipped past my leg and into the room. I had been too engrossed to feel its fur over my skin.
I withdraw and end up in the living room, trying not to keep the image of what I had just witnessed. It doesn’t help me. Who will quench the fires when I’m all alone? My bae-lessness, which has carried on for a long time is becoming something of a headache. I have dated just two boys in my life and both relationships didn’t have happy endings. Every other guy I met after them just wanted to be there for the nacks, something I wasn’t giving. It’s not like I’m looking for love, either. I simply want a reasonable guy that I can grow into loving, someone who is not all about sex. I might ooze it and talk so much about it but the fact is that I’m a novice. Literally, a virgin. Never known a man before, although, I have known men enough to understand the workings of their third legs. When people see me they automatically assume I have a PhD in men and sex. But I’m just a neophyte. A wild one, though.
Ehi has this theory that I’m wild because I’ve not been popped.
“When you have your first, you’ll calm down. I was like you – wild and wanting – and then I got disvirgined and became sane.”
I had rolled my eyes and almost snored to her unsolicited speech.
“In my opinion, the penis is overrated, and I’ll advice that you keep your body for marriage and use sex just for babies. That is what God would want of you.”
I had smiled. She wasn’t aware that I knew about her failed marriage to an old man her father’s age, which barely lasted four months after the man caught her engaged in lesbian sex with an unnamed chick. Now, she was using the religious angle on me. Bitch, please.
I pick my phone and plug in my earphones to listen to music. Boss Lady is moaning very quietly but I can pick out the sound. Well, they need it as a couple, with the boss always out of the country and his wife swamped with work– as I’ve heard.
I wait much longer than I thought I would and finally, I hear words and not moans. I also hear a door close. Only then do I choose to make my presence known. When I step out, the boss lady shows some surprise.
“You’ve been in there?” she asks.
“Yes, ma. Good morning, ma.”
“What happened to you calling me Genesis? How many times will I correct you?”
“I’m sorry Ms. Genesis.”
She smiles. A dimple shows on her cheek.
“Hello.” Her husband steps out of the mini-parlor. He shows no signs of what had just occurred between them, unlike her whose hair is in disarray.
“Good morning, sir,” I reply to his greeting.
He grabs his wife by the bum for a kiss and whispers into her ear. I look elsewhere.
“Oh, please, go away,” she tells him as he walks off. She turns to me. “So, Didi, why are you here?”
“You called me, actually. I answered the call and you weren’t saying anything, so I thought you needed me. Here I am.”
She gives me a guarded look. “How long have you been here?”
“I just got in.”
She suddenly becomes conscious of her hair. She shakes the expensive locks and they fall back into place. I wonder how much they cost.
“I think my phone dialed you on its own. It has a mind these days.”
I giggle. Not like what she said was funny but because she’s Genesis, the most beautiful woman I have ever come across that has a huge heart, and is an inspiration not to plus size women alone but to all women. I think I can fittingly call her a goddess. Let me digress a little and tell you how I almost ran mad on the day my elder brother’s wife, Honey, brought me to this house to meet her for the first time.
My dream had always been to work for Novocaine Knights. They were and still are that much of a big deal. Apart from the fact that they organized the best parties, weddings and events, they were rumored to pay their staff well. So on that Saturday when Aunty Honey brought me to the house and the door opened and I saw Ms. Genesis standing before me, I went blank for some seconds. I told myself she wasn’t the one. I said, ‘Didi, you have only seen her pictures online and videos of her. This can’t be her. Naa! This is a prank.’
But Aunty Honey hugged and greeted her, calling her name, and that was when I knew that it was her for real.
I fainted. Not literally. Just fainted out of my old life and into my new one with Genesis Ditorusin. So now you understand why I giggle when she says certain things even though there is nothing to giggle about. She is quite used to me doing that, though.
“Anyways, it’s good you’re here. Iya Idaya is not feeling so well, so I’d be glad if you step in and help me babysit the twins today. I have another event I’ve been planning which I have to attend briefly.”
She touches my arm. “I know this is last minute and I hate to do this to you but I need them out of my hair today. Can you handle them?”
This is not what I have planned. I want to be part of the décor team putting things together for the concert. I have dreamed about this. Why is Ms. Genesis doing this to me?
“Iya Idaya will put you through. Can you help out?”
“Sure,” I answer. I feel sad but anything for Ms. Genesis.
“Thank you, Didi. I owe you one.”
It better be an Hermes Birkin. You have four of them you aren’t using or so they say.
“But does that mean I’ll miss the love concert?” I ask.
“No, dear. You’ll be there with them. I’m sure by then your colleagues would have some free time on their hands to help you out.”
Great. I’ll be the fat one carrying babies around while my mates are fishing for men. I see Ehi laughing at me right now.
“You’re such an angel.”
Ms. Genesis pats my cheek and leaves me standing alone.
Permit me to swear…..
∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞
“That’s the last of her friends I know. If she’s not here, she can’t be anywhere else.”
Kasiobi fixes his eyes on the glass door of a beauty salon that has designs of beauty and fashion accessories etched on it. Ehi has just emerged from the place, having gone to ask a onetime mutual friend of Chichi if she has any knowledge of her whereabouts.
“None of them have seen her since she left for South Africa last year.” Ehi pushes her glasses upwards to scratch her nose. “They didn’t even know she came into town.”
“Ehi, we’ve been to four different places. Definitely somebody is lying. One of them must know where Chichi is.”
Ehi shrugs. Kasibi rubs his eyes in frustration. “Three hours of nothing.”
Ehi throws her head back to stare at Trinity who is fast asleep in her seat. “At least, someone’s not stressed out or stressing you right now.”
“Are you hungry?” Kasiobi enquires.
“Let’s stop at the mall to eat and buy some baby formula.” He starts the car. “I swear, I’m so frustrated right now.”
“Everything’ll be fine.”
He puts the SUV into gear and connects with a busy street.
“I could offer my services for free.” Ehi faces him, playing with her braids. “I’ll gladly take care of Trini and in return you get to be my boyfriend.”
Kasiobi laughs despite his exhaustion. “Who spoilt you like this for me, Ehi? You used to be such a good girl.”
“Life showed me pepper jare.”
“I so badly wanted you at some point but your forming put me off and then you went and allowed Chisom to disvirgin you.”
“Can we not talk about that phase of my life right now?”
“The lesbian phase?”
“Chichi is bad influence and that’s why I don’t understand why you want her back. Trinity doesn’t need a mother like her.”
“And who’ll be the best mother?”
“I’m not crazy about you like that, Kas. Besides, I’m smart not to come between you and Lex.”
“We’re not together. I have a babe.”
“Shakira is a ho. Everyone knows that.”
“So you’re not getting back with Lex?”
Kasibi’s hand stiffens around the steering. “No.”
“But Kasi, I’m very sure you guys are meant to be together and no matter how hard you try to fight it, you’ll end up with her.”
“You’re making it sound like there’s some power out there that controls these things.”
“He doesn’t have time for our love lives.”
“Are you serious?”
“I believe in love, and I think you guys have it but if it never works out, I’m right here waiting.” She waves her hand. Kasiobi takes it and kisses it.
“You’re such a lowkey flirt, Kas.”
“I’m just trying to be nice in case I’ll ever need you to babysit Trini. But on a good side, though, that baby behind is going to score me enough booty. Watch what happens at the mall, but then you’ll have to give me some distance so that they don’t think we’re together.”
“You’re not well.”
Kasibio tries to smile but a yawn stops him. The drive to the mall is an uphill task and when they get there, he leaves Ehi with the chore of sourcing for food while he embarks on finding the best formula for Trinity. As he browses the stacks of different brands of baby foods in the kids section the last thing on his mind is the attention he is getting from female shoppers.
“Don’t go for that one,” a familiar voice stops him as his hand stretches to pick a can of milk amongst many off the shelf.
He turns around and Lexus’ smiling face meets his.
“Hi Kas. Hey, Trini.”
The naturally-unsmiling tot gives Lexus a grin.
“Weird,” Kasi mutters.
“We have a thing. Can I…?” She stretches her hands out and Trinity inclines towards her.
“She remembers you?”
“Not really. She fell in love with me from the first day. I think I have something she loves. Must be my piercings.” She kisses Trinity’s forehead. “How are you, bae? Did you miss me?”
Kasiobi watches both of them bond with Trinity trying to go for one of Lexus’ earrings. He notices other things too – like Lexus’ body con top tucked into a ripped jean that shows off her petite butt. He picks out faint signs of makeup on her face but the best part of her look is the pair of ankle strap heels she has on. He had never imagined she could comfortably go about in any footwear other than sneakers. He had hated Russell for a long time but at the moment, he is grateful he came into Lexus’ life and changed her style.
“So where’s Chichi?”
“Um…she’s out of town for a couple of days,” Kasiobi replies. “She’ll be back on Monday.”
“Okay.” Lexus faces the shelf. “Pick the SMA. That’s what she takes.”
Kasiobi glares at his daughter. “She takes formula?”
“But Chichi told me she has been exclusively breastfed from day one.”
“No offence but Chichi is a liar.” Lexus looks at Kasiobi. “And you too.”
“I’m a liar?”
“You’re lying about where Chichi is.”
“Still lying. It’s in your eyes. Something’s wrong. You look fucked, rings around your eyes, you smell of sweat and metallic stuff and you’re here buying baby food. Where the hell is Chichi? You guys fight or something?”
Kasibio shuts his eyes. “I hate you.”
“Or you caught her with your girlfriend on your couch?”
“Then where the fuck is she? Why is Trini having soiled diapers?”
“Yes, she is, daddy. And she’s about to start crying over it.”
Kasiobi rolls his eyes in exasperation. “Chichi left, okay? I came home this morning and saw a note. Says she’s tired of the arrangement and she’s not coming back… She left.”
“Awww, poor Trini.”
“She took all her stuff…and…left. I’m still traumatized.”
“I don’t particularly give a fuck about you. I’m worried about this angel here. Has she eaten?”
“What did you give her?”
“Refrigerated breast milk and then custard twice.”
Lexus frowns at him. “Grab a ready to eat formula, a bottle, and a bib while I get diapers and go and change her.”
“I’m not doing it for you.”
She begins to walk away from him.
“I’ll be at the food court,” he announces. “Jollof and peppered chicken?”
“Yeah. Always with ice-cream.”
She disappears to the next isle while Kasiobi remains standing until someone passing by nudges him. He begins to toss baby food into his shopping cart, going back to Ehi’s words about a force out there that wants him and Lexus back together. Thirty minutes ago, he would have fought against it but here he is, already coming up with a million ways on how to play nice with Lexus. Getting back with her doesn’t seem like a bad idea right now.
Anything for Trinity, he tells himself.