So I was able to work out a flexible schedule with my boss and I got some time for myself and that is why you have this episode today. Making up for lost time, it’s a few words longer but hopefully, it’s worth the wait.
It was raining outside and he was worried that he hadn’t closed his bedroom windows. He knew Iya Idaya would not remember to help him do so. He should call her and tell her to. He should also call Genesis and apologize for not being there for breakfast but both his phones had been switched off. Everything had to wait for now. He was about to go into something serious.
“You see how she’s wasting our time?!”
Dominic looked at Bashorun who was touring the length and breadth of Eva’s sitting room in agitation.
“We’ve been waiting for almost an hour!”
“It’s actually just twenty-two minutes,” Seyi corrected. His tone was curt. Like Dominic, he was pissed at Bashorun over the rape incident. But they were business partners and any scandal that affected Bashorun affected them all.
“You better sit down and find a way to grovel when she comes,” Seyi instructed. It was rare to find him angry. Bashorun had gone too far.
Eva walked in and stopped at the entrance, her eyes firing darts at Bashorun.
“What’s he doing here?” she demanded, gathering the excess material of her boubou in her hands.
“Hello Eva,” Dominic murmured. “Please, sit and let’s talk.”
Eva picked her favorite couch and snuggled into it, hugging a throw pillow. She began her sorry tale with no prompting but fell into tears halfway. Dominic knew she was acting but it didn’t stop him from walking to her and holding her while she wept. She finished with emphasized difficulty, dragging it out longer than it should have gone.
“Eva, we are so sorry…”
“Sorry for what?!” Bashorun cut in. “I didn’t rape her! She’s lying! She aborted my child!”
Eva’s reply to him was bitter tears. “I swear to God I will drag your name in the mud, Bash. I fucking hate you!”
Bashorun laughed. He was unfazed. Both Dominic and Seyi were frustrated at his behavior but it wasn’t anything new. Seyi, unable to take it any longer, begged to leave but Dominic wouldn’t let him.
“I have evidence enough to put you in jail, Bash,” Eva repeated for the umpteenth time but Bash only laughed.
“Put me in jail? In this Lagos? In this Nigeria? You’re a delusional cunt–”
“Bashorun!” Dominic bellowed. He got off the couch he was sharing with Eva and forced himself to stay calm by pushing his hands into his pockets.
“Get out of my house!” Eva pointed Bashorun to the front door.
“Gladly.” He smiled and shoved a hand into one of the pockets of a dashiki he was wearing. He pulled out a small compact disk and flung at her. “Pursue your bogus rape case and the whole world gets to watch all the sex tapes you made with your boy toy. What’s his name again? Jordan?”
“Oh God,” Dominic muttered.
Eva picked the disk and stared at it with apparent fear in her eyes. Bashorun grinned, a self-satisfied smirk behind it.
“The boy has videos of all the women he sleeps with, kept for rainy days. All I needed was to find him, which was difficult after what Domi’s thug did to him. But I did find him, paid a good sum and got a copy.” He laughed. “Have you ever thought of getting into porn, seeing that you lost out in the AMVCA’s this year again? You know, there’s a market for a MILF…”
Eva shot up from her couch and went after him. She was able to render a slap before Dominic pulled her back. Restraining her was restraining himself too. His rage was awakened and any little word or move from Bashorun was guaranteed to set him off. Somehow Bashorun knew this and he quietly made an exit, leaving them all in the wake of his madness.
“I thought you handled Jordan, Nick,” Eva accused as she freed herself from Dominic’s hold.
“I did but he’s just a boy….”
“A boy who made sex tapes of me! Do you realize what this means, Dominic?!” Her tears were genuine now and they were from extreme frustration. “Bash is going to go free!”
“He won’t; I promise.”
“He won’t, Eva,” Seyi added and left a certain look in Dominic’s eyes. Relief washed over Dominic inwardly; Seyi had finally consented. It was time to let Bash go and he was going to do it all cost.
She stared at her new boyfriend. He was gorgeous, well-built, tall and was everything Kasi was, only better. She could easily fall for him but nothing about him stirred her emotions, not even when he had given her a kiss just a few minutes ago and had his hand squeeze her bum. The kiss came from lips that knew what they were doing but Lexus didn’t connect, although she had kissed back and looked into his eyes like one who was love-struck, aware that Kasi was studying them both with devoted concentration.
“What exactly do you do?” Kasi asked. Standing in front of a mahogany dining table, he was stirring a cake mix in a glass bowl under Chichi’s instructions. Lexus and Chris were at the other end of the table, arms around each other’s waists – the perfect couple. Only Kasi wasn’t buying it.
“That’s a job? I thought it was a hobby.”
Chris laughed. His manner, untroubled. Chichi smiled and seductively licked a finger she dipped into the cake bowl and left an eye on him.
“I have over seventy thousand followers on Twitter and about forty thousand on my Facebook page. That should count for something, yeah?”
“And you guys met how?” Kasi wasn’t giving up.
“We met online and have been dating for a week.” Chris nibbled Lexus’ earlobe and she giggled. “Best week of my life.” His hand went for her bum again and this time it crawled under the mini skirt she had on. She slapped the hand after letting out a gasp. He slapped back hard and squeezed.
“One minute,” she said and dragged him from the dining area into Kasi’s bedroom which was the closest room. She pulled Chris’ ear in a warning.
“You’re just here to act, Chris, not to get hot in the pants. One more hand under my skirt and I’ll arrange your fineboy face with my hands. Try me.”
She gave a last pull of his ear and let him go. Chris smiled unperturbed as they stepped out again.
“Lex, I need some honey from your house. Can I get some?” Kasi asked. Lexus nodded and followed him out through the kitchen backdoor.
“You two are faking it,” Kasi exclaimed once they were out of earshot.
“Really?” Lexus smiled.
“Lex, I know when you’re pretending and just like the amnesia thing, I can see you’re lying.”
Lexus didn’t reply. She just kept walking. Kasi caught her by the elbow. She turned around and bounded into him. None of them were bothered about the closeness. Lexus looked up at the sky. It was drizzling and the drops fell on them harmlessly. Kasi’s hold on her went soft and his eyes fell on her lips.
“You’re putting on makeup now? And wearing skirts and doing your hair? This is not you. He’s changing you.”
“Relax. He’s just bringing out my girly side, something nobody really saw.”
“I saw… I see it. I know your girly side, Lex. I like it but I like you as a tomboy too. You don’t have to be what you’re not to make any guy happy.”
“Kas, this attitude you’re displaying is the reason why I kept him from you for twelve days. Yeah, that’s how long we’ve been dating and I chose not to tell you because I knew you won’t like him.”
“Why are you still lying? Is it jealousy that is worrying you?”
“Jealous?” Lexus laughed. “Of who? Chichi? Plizzz.”
“Okay look, Lex, I’m worried about you. Once in a while you start to act like a dumbass spoilt brat. Nobody in their right senses picks a guy off the net and starts dating him. What if he’s a serial rapist?”
“Have you had sex with him yet?”
Lexus let out a sly smile. “Not your business. You have Chichi; I have Chris. You and I are still best friends and we can respect each other’s privacy, right?”
“No, not after what happened to you.”
Lexus placed her hands on his chest. “I’m fine, Kas. I don’t need a hero. Chris is all that to me.”
“You’re even sounding weird, like some romance novel or something. He’s changing you.”
“You have feelings for him?”
“You have feelings for Chichi?”
Kasi’s heart raced up and she felt it beneath her palms. He took one step back.
“Let’s go and get the honey.”
He walked ahead. Lexus followed him, grinning to herself. Her dad was a genius.
He hadn’t realized how much he had missed her demure smile until he saw her. It was beginning to rain for the third time that afternoon as he neared the gazebo where she was waiting. To escape the rain, he quickened his steps.
Manuela’s Residence was an intimate and cozy domicile with old fashioned rooms, artistic décor, the relaxing appeal of nature, gazebos where one could sit out and eat delicious meals and definitely the place that had the best pizza in Lagos. Times when work threatened to drown him, Dominic went there to clear his brain and disconnect from the buzz of the business world completely. It was undoubtedly one of his favorite getaways and he was quite surprised that she had picked it out as the perfect place to meet with him.
“Good afternoon.” Her smile grew as he walked to her. She was going to offer her hand for a cordial handshake but he gently pulled her up and wound his arms around her. The look in his eyes when he finally let her go was loaded with a lot of things he knew he would never get the chance to say.
“How are you, Mofe?”
Her hands rested on the table and she leaned forward, then backwards. He could tell she was to some extent, restless.
“You came,” he muttered, “even after I told you not to.”
She put a hand to her mouth and cleared her throat. “I had to see her, to know if it’s true.”
The talk they were about to have was serious. Dominic didn’t want to start off with her that way. He needed to catch up, to see if there was any chance at all that she would take him back. Genesis was still a probability. But she was a certainty. He just needed a yes from her and he would let Genesis down easily over the coming months after he had used her to accomplish the plans he had against Bashorun and Mother.
But Eyimofe wasn’t the type of woman one kept in the burner. Her type was rare. She came with hard-set principles; all one had to do was to forget to cross a T or dot an I and the person was history. Dominic prayed she hadn’t shut the door on him completely.
He called a waiter and they both placed their orders. Once the waiter disappeared, Mofe gave him a smile that dashed his hopes completely. It hadn’t carried the warmth she once had for him.
“So how is he?” Dominic enquired.
“Your ex, the one you are living with.”
Dominic noted that she had used the word ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. He dared on.
“So when are the wedding bells?”
She laughed in an unnecessarily high pitch that tried to hide the seriousness of whatever was coming next.
“Soon. Very soon. How about you? How is Genesis?”
“Fine.” His answer was quick. Genesis crossed his mind briefly as a disturbing thought. For that moment he wanted to forget her for the sake of Mofe but he could not. Genesis was the most perfect woman a man could ask for and that was what scared him about her. It was as if someone had taken him to a doll factory and fitted together a textbook version of a picture-perfect female custom-made for him. The only weakness he knew Genesis had was her growing love for him. And he hated it; it was beginning to eat into his system. Maybe that was why he wanted to cling to Mofe. With her, there had been no deep connection and yet, somehow they understood each other on some tacit level. She was the type of woman who didn’t ask too many questions. Genesis, on the other hand, knew to behave in that manner only in theory and had done so really well in her past but now that she was growing feelings, she was bound to take him away from his freedom soon.
“Okay, the suspense is killing me, Nick. Please tell me everything I need to know about Jibo. There are too many questions left unanswered.”
Mofe was leaning all out now. Anxiety had marred her calm features and Dominic felt sorry for her. He recalled the night, not long ago when she had called in tears, wanting him to disclaim the rumor that had followed her all the way to Germany concerning Jibo’s mistress who was also the mother of his two children.
“But how did you hear about it?” Dominic asked.
“Tuoyo called. He told me.”
“Tuoyo’s your brother; he’s supposed to protect you from such news…”
“Nick, please… you said you had more to tell me.”
“Yeah.” Dominic adjusted his sitting by taking in a deep breath and jerking out the waistband of his jeans. He was adding a little weight; all Genesis’ doing.
“I can see anger and hate in your eyes, Mofe…”
“Don’t I have a right to curse Jibo to burn in hell forever? He knew the type of person I was and yet he did what he did to me? Is it fair? What if he had given me some incurable disease?”
“Calm down, Mofe. Jibo wasn’t a bad guy.”
It was struggle for Mofe not to raise her voice.
“He did not only cheat on me, Nick. He was an armed robber…”
“He was not.”
Mofe had more to say but went silent at the serious tone in Dominic’s voice.
“You want to hear the true story about Jibo…”
“It’s why I flew six hours to be here, Nick. Please.”
“To understand who Jibo was I have to tell you a little about myself and the type of work I do on the side. You know I’m into politics, right?”
“So sometimes it gets really dirty and we look for people to clean things up.”
“What does dirty mean?”
“Nothing bloody, Mofe. I have done my best to stay away from bloodshed and I can assure you that Jibo did as well. He was basically like a bounty hunter or more like a middle man…”
“A political thug?” she asked offensively.
“Close. He made things happen. If someone owed money or was being difficult or if some big boss wanted to pass a message across, Jibo was your man. He was very persuasive, he and his boys. The fear of him was literally the beginning of wisdom. He had influence over the area boys in the entire Eti-Osa local government.”
“What? Wait…Eti-Osa? Dominic, we lived on the other end of Lagos. How was he anything in Eti-Osa? How was he even anything that you’re saying he was?”
“Obviously, there was a lot you didn’t know about him, especially how much he loved you.”
Mofe pursed her lips in anger and raised her hand to stop Dominic from speaking further.
He continued, stubbornly.
“But so many things went wrong under his control. Bodies piled up, investigations were made, people who had a lot to lose got uncomfortable and it got all messy. They wanted Jibo gone…”
“So how does this connect with you?”
“Well…I got in a fight with my late friend, Martin. Beat him to a pulp at a construction site I owned. You saw it all on the video.”
“Unluckily for me, someone on the site that evening, one of the engineers, recorded that video and blackmailed me. He asked for a lot of money and stupidly, I paid but he had only just started. He came back for more and pissed the hell out of me and I contacted Jibo to pay him a visit.”
“To kill him.”
“No. Jibo went to his house and found that the guy had already been shot by someone who had come for the same video. Unfortunately, the person didn’t get it and was forced to flee the scene when Jibo arrived.”
“You’re sure Jibo didn’t kill that man? Because the night he died, he came home and his clothes were stained in blood.”
Dominic shook his head. “He didn’t. He actually tried to save the guy but he couldn’t. However, the guy told him where to find the memory card before he died. Jibo found it and the first thing he did was call me and I gave him clear instructions to leave the place because the same person that had shot the guy had called the police on Jibo and his crew. That same person passed out orders to the police to kill Jibo the moment they got him because Jibo had seen him just as he was leaving the house that night and could point him out as the guy’s murderer.”
“Who is this person?”
The question was left unanswered as the waiter returned with their orders. They both offered polite smiles and waited patiently until they were duly served and left alone. Then Mofe went back to the question. Her eyes were desperate and demanding.
“The person was Bashorun,” Dominic answered.
Mofe’s lips quivered at the mention of the name. Confusion was written on her face.
“Yes, the same Bashorun I introduced to you as my childhood friend has Jibo’s blood on his hands.”
“Why?” her voice came in a strained whisper. “What did he do? Because he saw his face?”
“Jibo was a dead man, Mofe, and he knew it. Bashorun had connections with the same people that felt Jibo knew too much of their business. They wanted him dead for political reasons; Bashorun wanted him dead for personal reasons. I had kept Jibo alive for as long as I could but that night I just couldn’t… I’m sorry.”
“So he was not a robber at all?”
“All the people the police told me he robbed and raped and killed, he didn’t?”
“So all the times he was away he wasn’t robbing somewhere, he was with his mistress and their kids?”
Dominic sighed. “Probably.”
He took a sip of wine from a glass on the table and found it too tangy for his liking. He took another sip nonetheless.
“He told me to take care of you, Mofe; he made me promise not to tell you all of this or even about the other woman. No matter how much her family hassled him, he refused to get married to her because he was devoted to you. She is the daughter of some Baale in Lekki. It was all political.”
“Don’t lie to me!”
“He loved you, Mofe. I’m not lying.”
She raised both hands. She didn’t want to hear any more about Jibo. Dominic gave her some time to collect herself as he concentrated on his wine.
“Does your friend, Bashorun know that you know what he did?”
Dominic’s eyes clouded as he replied. “No.”
In a bad habit learned from Genesis, he dipped his fingers into his dish and picked out a combination of chicken, spinach and ham all mixed in cheese and put it between his lips.
“So you’re just going to let him go like that?”
“Every dog has its day, Mofe.”
“Yet Jibo was the only dog whose blood painted the streets.” Mofe put a finger beneath an eye to stop a tear.
Dominic held her other hand and looked into her eyes to assure her. “Trust me, Mofe. Bashorun will pay.”
“So is there anything I missed? Any gist you need to fill me up with?”
Wura gave Pastor Ralph a smile. She had missed him badly and wanted so much to tell him all that had happened to her but she couldn’t. The pregnancy wasn’t something she was ready to tell anyone yet.
“How about your boyfriend?”
“Wh-what?” Wura hid a smile.
“I heard the rumors…”
“But you were in the States.”
“So? But hey, I’m not judging you or anything. Just pray to God about it and he’ll guide you. I hope you’re not thinking of marriage now, though. You still have to go to school and do that smash hit single that I’ll produce.”
Wura laughed but it didn’t come from her heart. How was she to tell him that all her dreams had to wait because she was already nine weeks pregnant?
“So, let’s start.”
Pastor Ralph picked an acoustic guitar and sat on a stool. He pointed Wura towards the grand piano that stood in the middle of the cathedral’s platform and her eyes popped out.
Everyone knew he never allowed anyone near that piano unless necessary. It was one of the most expensive items in the church and had been given to him by a celebrity gospel artist from the United States as a birthday gift. He, in turn, dedicated it to God but wouldn’t let anyone touch it. Wura considered it a rare privilege that he would ask her to play it.
She took the seat before the instrument and ran her fingers over the notes in relish and with a sigh. He laughed heartily.
“So the bishop is finishing off his marriage series in service tomorrow,” Pastor Ralph stated.
“But tomorrow is Good Friday. Can’t he hold off and celebrate Easter like everyone else?”
“I tire for the guy. Anyways, we have to find something appropriate and mellow, something that resonates with love, forgiveness and all that. So, I was thinking Cece Winan’s Healing Part as an intro song?”
“Okay.” She nodded but she wasn’t okay. The song, coincidentally, had been the song that she had been playing the entire time she was away from Mahmud and shut out from everyone else as she fasted and prayed for guidance from God. Forgiveness had been her focus and she knew it was no coincidence that the bishop at the church was speaking on the same issue. Wura was certain God was using him to touch her heart, and now Pastor Ralph had chosen that song as a confirmation.
She had forgiven Mahmud quite easily because of her feelings for him but had made up her mind not to date him. There was no way God would ask her to open her heart to a Muslim.
“Erm… Madam Wuraola,” Pastor Ralph called.
“Sir?” She brought her mind back into the church cathedral.
“This your boyfriend must be something that he makes you wander off like one lovestruck teenager. I just have to meet the dude.”
“Oya, let’s work o. Over to you.”
Wura, as usual, picked out the key for the song and played the opening notes on the piano as Pastor Ralph watched her with pride.
“I trained you well. Keep it up, child.”
She sang out the first lines in her distinct manner of making every song she came across hers. But no matter how good she was, Pastor Ralph would always spot out a flaw that could be adjusted. He stopped her and strummed out what she had sung on his guitar, correcting where she had erred.
“Start again, a little softer on the second line.”
She nodded and began again but stopped abruptly, her eyes at the back entrance of the church. Mahmud had just stepped in and she felt her stomach churn at the sight of him. Pastor Ralph followed her eyes and looked at her.
“Is that him?”
“Yes.” She faced the piano again as she began to feel herself perspire. Something was definitely wrong in heaven. A prayer she had sent out to God early that morning had been answered by Mahmud’s appearance but she felt some parts of it had been misunderstood or lost in transmission. Or just maybe she was having a really weird dream. Somebody had to wake her up.
“Go and meet him nau.”
Wura shook her head. Her pores were really letting out steam now. God had to be joking. The only reason she had asked him to make Mahmud show up at her rehearsals with Pastor Ralph that evening if heaven wanted them together was not because she was testing God. She was very sure there was no way he would want her tied to a Muslim. She had made that prayer because she had thought it out carefully and concluded that the probability of Mahmud making an appearance at that particular moment was very slim. And even if it were ever planned to happen, God himself would have done something to stop Mahmud from showing up.
“Wuraola!” Pastor Ralph called.
She sat straight and rose to her feet.
Her walk to Mahmud was slow; in-between she wanted something to change. Maybe he could disappear or maybe she could just wake up, because every step she took towards him was one step away from her resolve not to be with him. But gravity was also known to run in straight lines and it dragged her heart towards the father of her child.
Yes, she had made a prayer to God. Yes, he had heard her loud and clear. But he had only responded to the unspoken voice in her heart that had asked to be with Mahmud.
After a long wet day, it was now trickling when she stepped outside to meet him. He had come with an umbrella to shield her from the shower but had chosen instead to cover her in his arms to show how sorry he was.
She wasn’t happy with God but it was at that moment, being held by Mahmud in a way no one had ever held her that she understood why God had brought him to the doors of that church. It wasn’t something she could utter but she felt it deep within that this was what her heart really wanted.