Today’s post is dedicated to Toyin Onifade. She knows why.
Read previous episodes of To Tame A Virgin HERE
Uyi had not been able to sleep. A couple of things were bugging his mind. The first was the fact that his mother called. She never called unless she saw one of her ‘visions’, and they were usually bad.
“Omoruyi, I don’t like what I saw oh,” she spoke into the phone, breathing heavily.
“Mama, what have you seen now?” he had sighed.
“Hmmm… I can’t tell you but I need you to pray and stay away from strange girls, Omoruyi. Stay away from them! They will destroy you.”
When she hung up, Uyi put his phone aside and began to wonder which girl was strange in his life. Was it Temi who had disappeared without warning? Or Vivian who had been calling him and begging to visit Abuja again? Or was it Dami whose father had thrust into his laps the responsibility of making a ‘decent woman’ out of her?
And that brought him to the second issue disconcerting him. Dami’s father. His first encounter with the man was not terrifying; the man simply sized him up and invited him to dinner. Now the dinner was another matter. Felix Enenche was also invited and his presence intimidated Uyi who sat uncomfortably on one of the four chairs surrounding a petite dining table in the Alechenus’ family home. The mood was tense between Uyi and Felix but Justice Anyebe was oddly relaxed with an unreadable smile on his face. Dami was also unfazed by the gathering as she had gotten plastered before the dinner.
“So, Omoruyi Emmanuel, right?” Anyebe initiated the first conversation at the table.
“Tell me about yourself.”
Uyi did as requested and shared the basics about himself, making certain to mention his achievements and strong points.
“That’s impressive. So our little angel here went and got herself a genius.” Anyebe smiled and Dami gave him a smirk as she put her hand beneath the table and went for Uyi’s belt buckle. Uyi shifted awkwardly and gently pushed her hand.
“I heard there was a row between you and Felix and I am sorry about it.”
Felix was chewing his food with his head bent but he shot his uncle a bad stare momentarily.
“I would have gone about it differently,” Anyebe continued, “after all, you are family now… Or aren’t you?”
Uyi swallowed noisily and replied. “I…I am.”
“Or is this thing you’re doing with Damaris just casual sex?” Anyebe asked.
“No, sir. No.”
“That’s good to hear. So you love her and you’re serious?”
Uyi found Anyebe’s manner of speaking unnerving. He always thought judges spoke gently and calculatedly. But the man sounded more like a military man who liked to make his point clear in a brusque, blatant tone. Uyi realized he was cornered. He picked his glass of water and drank it slowly as his palms began to sweat. They were all looking at him, including Dami, who was busy beneath the table again. She had succeeded in freeing his buckle this time.
“I…love her,” Uyi lied, putting down his glass as he felt his belt loose free from his waist.
“You love her?!” Felix fired. “When did you even meet her that you love her? You only want to sleep with her!”
“And how is that your business, Felix?” Dami asked acerbically.
“So what do you intend to do with this new found love, Omoruyi?” Anyebe intervened before Felix and Dami started a war of words. He pushed aside his meal, a serious look coming to his face as he concentrated on Uyi.
“We will ehm…” Uyi cleared his throat and tried on a smile. “We’ll take things easy and see how it goes.”
“Take things easy? After you slept with her?” Anyebe’s eyes changed. “Damaris, get your hand off the man’s privates, for God’s sake! Must you always be shameless?”
Dami rolled her eyes and pulled away from Uyi.
“Can you excuse us, Felix, and you too, Damaris? Omoruyi and I need to talk.”
Felix picked his plate of food and reluctantly left the table. Dami kissed Uyi on his cheek and also exited. Anyebe watched them leave before he turned back to Uyi. He pulled out his checkbook and a pen.
“How much will it take you to stay with my daughter and make her happy?”
The question jarred Uyi and he stared at Anyebe with a confused face.
“How much will it cost for you to be her boyfriend so that she knows what it means to have a man in her life, someone who would keep her away from the lesbian group of friends she has surrounded herself with.”
“Haven’t you met them before? It was because of their kind I pulled her out of Europe and she came back here and joined the Abuja clique. They are the reason she’s not had a real boyfriend and it is only a matter of time before she becomes one of them. So thank you for fixing her back into womanhood. I’d be an old fool if I said I don’t know that you don’t love her. You just want to win money on that website.”
Uyi chuckled. “What website?”
“You know what I’m talking about.”
“It’s not about the site, sir. I really feel something for Dami.”
“Well, whatever your motive is, all I care about is you doing the right thing as a responsible man. I will not sit here and discuss my failure as a father with you but I will tell you that I haven’t been around and hence, she and I have this huge gap between us. But you are going to fill it. You will bring us closer and you are going to keep her grounded, submissive and attracted to the male gender as every woman ought to be…just like her mother was…”
Anyebe paused briefly and blinked into the air before him. Uyi looked into his eyes and saw that his tough deportment was replaced by a brief troubled look.
“I…have a chronic heart disease that she knows nothing about and anytime now, I’ll be gone and I hate to think that I would leave her in the arms of fate. I need to be certain that I am leaving a legacy even if it ends up in the hands of a stranger. Damaris cannot end up gay. I will do anything and give you whatever you ask for. All you have to do is be a real man to her. You have to make her stop the drugs and the partying and the flirting around. You have to. She loves you; I see it in her eyes. She has given you everything. It is only fitting that you give something back. Make her happy and I will die in peace. That is why I invited you here and you will not disappoint me, Omoruyi. So again I ask, what will it cost?”
Uyi was in silent shock. Much of what the man had said was still finding a resting place in his head but he could sense deep paternal pain and he understood it. Being the only male in his family after his father’s death, Uyi knew what it meant to be a father at an early age. He had two younger sisters with children out of wedlock and an elder sister who was an unabashed runs girl. He was the only normal one in his home and the only father figure. Therefore, he understood what the sixty-two year old man sitting across him was going through. But try as he might, he couldn’t say anything back, either comforting or dispiriting.
“It’s a blank check.” Anyebe pushed a check at Uyi. “Fill in the date and the amount. Any amount.”
“Sir, I can’t accept this.” Uyi pushed back the check but Anyebe took it, folded it and shoved it into Uyi’s breast pocket.
“Keep it. Think about my offer and let me know by tomorrow morning.”
Anyebe went back to his salad and kept the straight face of the elderly, masking what lay beneath the surface.
After Uyi left the Alechenus’ he tried to remain collected for the rest of the night but he couldn’t. Dami had kept him awake with crazy stories from her life in Milan and Paris. He was carried away by her restless hand gestures and the constant light in her eyes that was fueled by her overexcited nature. But after a while, her excitement died and she fell into sleep while he remained awake all night, battling with his thoughts and the mosquitoes in his room. Somewhere in the slaughterhouse, some girl, as usual, was having the sex of her life as she screamed out obscenities in the silent darkness ; somewhere else, a bunch of guys were playing computer games, their voices also loud. Uyi remained awake at their noise until his mother’s call reminded him that he hadn’t slept.
Now he sat on a plastic chair with the blank check in his hand. His mother’s warning was replaying in his head but Dami’s inviting body called to him. He switched off his phone, put down the window shades and crawled in beside her. The warmth of her body distracted him immediately. She stirred and drew to him, pressing her body to his to let him know of her instant need. She took his hand and put it between her legs and wrapped herself around him. Already used to her brazenness, he went with the flow and told himself everything else was going to be fine in the end.
Doctor Mola looked at his patient sadly. She wouldn’t talk. She wouldn’t look at him. She wouldn’t respond to anything. All she had told him was her name. Every other information he needed from her, she had refused to divulge. But weirdly, she was recuperating really well. Having gone through a miscarriage and suffering from multiple bruises on her body, she seemed to be coping fine. Nonetheless, he needed more information about what had happened to her and how she had ended up on the cold pavement of a federal highway.
“Temidire, please talk to me.” He was speaking in a hushed tone to make sure neither of the other patients in the ward heard him. He drew his chair closer and looked at her beautiful hands with an urge to hold them. It wasn’t that he was attracted to her. He just had a weakness for broken souls and Temi was one.
“You won’t give a number of a relative or friend so I can call, you won’t answer my questions, you won’t…”
“I want to go home,” she mumbled and he sighed in relief.
“Finally you speak.”
“I want to go home,” she repeated, her eyes still staring in blankness.
“You will go home when you get better.”
“No, I’m leaving…against medical advice. I will sign the form.”
“Temi…” he drew closer and took her hands. She didn’t object. “I know you are fine but just give me one more day to observe you…”
“No.” She pulled her hand away. “I will sign the form and go home. Now.”
Mola spoke to her at length, trying to make her see reason for staying back but she remained adamant. Finally, he leaned back on his chair and sighed. “As you wish.”
He stood and walked to the nurses’ station outside the ward and explained to the matron in charge what Temi wanted. The matron, a tired old lady, merely shrugged and handed the DAMA form to Mola and he walked back in. Temi filled in the required fields and signed.
“So, whom should I call to pay your bills and take you home?”
Temi gave him a number and he tried it.
“I lost the baby,” Temi said to Dike as he drove her back to her house from the hospital. He looked at her and turned back to the road. Those were her first words to him since he picked her from the hospital.
“Temi what happened to you? The doctor said he found you by the roadside near Keffi. What were you doing there?”
Temi bit her lip and began to tear up. Dike reached for her hand but she turned away. “Just take me home.”
“That is what I’m doing. But you have to talk to me, cuddles. What happened?”
“I just want to go home,” she said and he sighed.
He acceded to her wish and drove her to her house. At the door, he stopped to take off his shoes but she shook her head at him.
“Temi…I need to know what happened to you and the baby. Talk to me. Come on…”
“Dike, thank you for paying my bills and bringing me home but I don’t want to see you again. I made that clear before.”
“Did you abort my child?”
She shut the door in his face and locked it behind her. She waited for him to knock but he didn’t. She walked into her bathroom and threw up in the toilet as she cried wretchedly.
Uyi was still awake and it was now approaching dusk. The check was yet to be filled and had now shifted base to his wallet. He looked at Damaris who was sleeping again and he envied her. He wore his clothes, switched on his phone and walked out of his room. The smell hit him first before the smoke did as he entered a smoke-filled zone where the slaughterhouse heroes were having a Workers’ Day marijuana fest. They were already high even though the sun was just setting. They were either going to move the meeting to one of the bars in town later or invite people over for a full house party, none of which appealed to Uyi. Yet he thought it wise to pay his respects since they had been accusing him of spending less time with them lately.
He walked into the sitting room and upon seeing him, they hailed. Ovie even got off his couch to do a mock bow before him.
“Una no well,” Uyi laughed as he picked out the faces of the usual suspects. In attendance also were two guys who lived next door. Uyi didn’t know their names but they were the guys that constantly supplied Ovie and Peter the men that needed female company and were willing to pay. Before Uyi appeared, they were planning a potential hook up to help ‘service’ one Alhaji that lived down their street. Peter was at the forefront of the arrangement. He had just broken up with his girlfriend after she caught him cheating. The hookup was a welcome distraction.
Uyi went round shaking hands with everyone, including Edet. When he got back to Ovie, he was acknowledged with a military salute. “Touale! How you take do am?”
Uyi hissed. “How you dey take do your own?” he asked lightheartedly and sat on the couch Ovie vacated. “Abeg, make pesin buzz me.”
Ovie handed him half-smoked weed with another mock bow but he declined and accepted a bag of fresh ones from Edet.
“But dat girl mehn…damn! She hawt. If you see her skin. Omo! Abeg, Uyi she get friends? I need a little oomph this night.”
Peter stared at Ovie. “The one wen you do last night no satisfy you? Buffet complex too dey worry you.”
“Abeg, dat last night babe na one kain beast of burden. I dey find me loaded girls like Damaris. You see the kain motor wen she park outside?”
“But Uyi, you no try.” Murphy who was seated at a far corner munching on fried groundnuts cut in. “You for introduce us to her. Na so e be now?”
Uyi frowned as he began wrapping his weed. “Introduce wetin? Make person come help me tidy my babe again, abi?”
“Na wa for you oh, Uyi. You too dey carry person for belle,” Edet commented bitterly. “Na so you take break my nose.”
Uyi gave Edet a mean eye. “Omo, catch head for there before you get fault this evening.”
“Back to the matter at hand,” Murphy butt in. “I fit just glance her small? I don see her for billboard and TV but I wan view her live even as she dey sleep now. She dey sleep abi she don die? I know say you don fire am sotay she enter coma.”
The sitting room went into laughter.
“No be small ting,” said Peter with a drawn laugh. He cleared his throat. “But seriously Uyi, no take dat babe play. As you don tear dat leather now, the number of guys wey one help you arrange the gbekus dem plenty. Me as number one. Edet here na constant…” Peter hardly finished when he fell into laughter and the whole sitting joined him except Uyi who was lighting his weed. After his first drag, he warned Peter in a light note.
“Abeg, no use your heartbreak mouth winchy my relationship.”
“Na true,” Ovie agreed with him. “Peter get bad mouth now. No talk again. Take dis one cover mouth.”
He handed Peter the previously rejected weed and sat on the floor. The conversation moved to other random things for a whole hour. At that time, the nameless neighbors had taken their leave and Murphy had prepared a bowl of soggy noodles which everyone ignored. Ovie, in a happy mood, dialed an eatery and ordered a late lunch for everyone. When he asked Uyi what Dami would like to eat, Uyi shrugged. Ovie ordered jellof rice and chicken for her and hung up.
“But Uyi, you love the babe?” Peter asked. Uyi who was a little high threw his hands behind his head and relaxed on the couch, saying nothing until Peter repeated the question.
“Guy no ask me. I no know,” he finally replied. “I jus like her and the euphoria of freshness still dey my body so surely I must have some kain strong feelings for her but love? Nna mehn, I no fit answer dat one because I no even sabi wetin I dey do with her.”
“No enter dat territory sha. E go hard you to commot,” Peter advised and there was silence for a short while. Murphy concentrated on his meal while Ovie stretched out on the floor dreaming of his ordered food. Edet had curled up in a ball and was sleeping.
“I wan ask you something, Peter,” Uyi said as Peter kept his eyes on his phone.
“I dey hear.”
Uyi got out his wallet from his pocket and pulled out the blank check Anyebe had given him and handed to Peter. Peter looked at it momentarily and passed it back to Uyi.
“Pesin write you blank check? Wait, wait, wait… no be Justice Alechenu name I see there? Make I see again.”
Uyi gave him the check again and he looked at it and looked back at Uyi. “Na your…. Na Damaris’ papa be dis?”
Uyi nodded and went ahead to confide in him everything that transpired between him and Anyebe. At the end of his story, he realized he had the attention of Ovie and Murphy also.
“Hin offer you blank check and you dey form?” Ovie questioned Uyi with a grave face.
“If your own babe papa offer you money, you go collect?” Uyi threw back at him.
“I go collect na! Wetin you dey yarn? Guy, money na money! No form over-kaku for dis matter, chairman.”
“See am. E don dey call you chairman,” Murphy noted.
“No mind the fool,” Peter said. “OV, you get faulty wiring and na God go save you because you fit ginger pesin to enter hell fire. God punish you. Na so you join me with that custress wey destroy my relationship.”
“Guy, I no follow you clean closet. But you no be my problem now sef.” Ovie went back to Uyi. “I gus to hail my brother! Uyi, make I no lie. I been dey think sey you be oshi but your parols these days too tight. You no dey fall my hand! As you don quarter to hammer, make I become your attaché. At your humble service, egbon!” He gave his third bow for the evening and Uyi smiled lightheartedly, enjoying every moment with his friends.
“So you’ll fill in the check?” Peter asked and the meaning in his tone and choice of language was conveyed to Uyi.
“Mehn, to be honest, I regret sleeping with her but I no fit stop. Anytime I dey with her, my senses go just lock up. The girl don hook me…” Uyi leaned back. “Then her papa…. I no fit accept his offer.”
“I dey feel you.”
“Come Uyi, bone dat yarns, leave sand-sand for bar beach abeg and just take the money, take the babe, take everything and do am like foreign. No hold anything back,” Ovie advised.
“No do am,” Peter countered.
“Do am!” Ovie and Murphy said simultaneously.
“The guy wan load hin pikin madness for on top your head,” Peter stated. “Na you born the girl?”
“But na you first enter there,” Ovie argued. “So as you get mind to do dat one, finish wetin you don start. Nack am belle before her eye go clear, then marry am. You be sharpito na. You don already earn bragging rights for her head and her papa dey respect you sef. So take the offer and live your life! Big boy movement from now on, baby! Hey! My guy don hammer!”
“Me I don tell you my own,” Peter said and drew his phone to his attention again.
“Abeg, whose phone dey ring?” Edet stirred from sleep and looked around dazedly. Uyi picked out the sound of his ringing phone. He found it at Edet’s feet and he answered his call without looking at the caller ID.
“Hello?” came a familiar voice.
“Temi?” Uyi strained his ear. There was loud background noise coming from her end. Uyi stood and walked out of the sitting room.
“Tems, where have you been? I have been calling and calling but your phone has been off. Are you okay?”
She said she was fine but he caught a tremble in her voice.
“Are you at home? I’m coming over now, darling.”
“Okay, please come.”
Uyi was surprised at himself at the name he just called her. He hadn’t meant it to come out.
She hung up and he walked back in. He headed to his bedroom where he had a shower, brushed and changed into fresh clothes. Dami was still sleeping when he left.
“Guys I wan reach Maitama,” he announced to his friends.
“don’t worry. Our investment dey in good hands,” Ovie winked and Uyi hurried out with a laugh.
Temi turned off her cooker and commenced on preparing the third bowl of eba since she returned from the call center down her street. The soup she brought out had defrosted and was now in the microwave but she couldn’t get the eba right. The first had been too soft, the second had been too hard and this one was already turning out like the first. Very frustrated, she hit the bowl and it fell to the floor. She felt a sharp pain in her ribs as she fought compelling tears. She rubbed her stinging eyes and felt a different pain on her cheeks where her hands had touched. The place was swollen and raw as was every part of her body. Against Mola’s advice, she had taken off all the bandages on her bruises before she had her bath and now the rawness was getting to her. She lowered herself to the floor painfully to pick the bowl but an upsurge of emotions got the best of her and she broke into tears and remained crouched.
She could hear someone knocking on the front door but somehow she couldn’t move herself.
“Temi!” Uyi called from outside.
“The door is open,” she said in tears, her voice in a whisper.
Uyi knocked again and tried the door handle and the door creaked open.
“Tems?” he called and she felt her stomach flutter. Even after all she had been through, her heart still knew what it wanted.
“I’m here,” she managed to say and he turned in the direction of the kitchen. Uyi stood at the doorway, one foot almost in the air as he froze at her sight.
“Temi?” he could barely speak out. “What’s this? Who did this to you?”
He squatted and held her hands. “Come on, get up.”
He pulled her up and examined her fully. “Your boyfriend did this?” She shook her head and clung to him. He held her, careful not to hurt her, but her grip on him was tight.
“Oya, please stop crying. I can’t stand tears, abeg. Stop it.”
He managed to free himself and led her to her room. “Sit.”
She sat on her bed and he walked into her bathroom. He returned with a bowl of antiseptic water and a face towel.
“There’s gauze and bandage in one white polythene in the parlor,” Temi said. Uyi walked into the sitting room and returned with dressing for her wounds and attended to her.
“My mom is a nurse,” he said, “and she had this medicine store and I always watched her dress wounds, so I learnt a thing or two.” Uyi was smiling, trying to make easy conversation but Temi sat before him miserably, tears flowing freely.
“Temi, but who did this to you?” He asked when he concluded with the last dressing. Temi said nothing, did away with her nightshirt and lay down.
“Talk to me, Tems. You’re killing me here.”
Temi drew a long sniff and opened her mouth to speak but the words were far from coming as her eyes stared into the distance frighteningly. Her face scrunched in agony afterwards and she moaned, biting her fingers, her whole body shaking. Uyi felt incapacitated and unexpected tears come to his own eyes. He blinked them away rapidly, put aside the bowl of water and towel and climbed into the bed behind her. He wrapped his arms around her, feeling her tremble with each snivel.
“Please, don’t go,” she begged.
“I won’t go anywhere, darling.” Again, the word had come out unexpectedly and so did the pecks he placed on her burning cheek and ear lobe. He stroked her fingers slowly and whispered something in her ear. Her shivers subsided at once and she drew a long sniff. She shut her eyes and listened to his heart beating in a regular rhythm. Nothing on earth could compare to that priceless moment and no words could better what he had just whispered to her.