Merry Christmas, Guys!
I sincerely apologize for not posting this as scheduled. My modem has been missing for five days now, thanks to the three-year old in my house. I just found it today and you won’t believe where she kept it. smh…after I turned the house upside-down.
Anyhoo, enjoy the episode today. I’ll bring another tomorrow to make up. As for His Little Black Book, it’s not in my hands o. You guys should bug the Manswers guys on Twitter and Facebook. It’s with them. Wish I could post it here…
She prayed she would be able to remember Zinny’s house. She went the wrong way at first before finally finding the house. When she saw the gateman, she knew she had gotten the exact place. The man didn’t even recognize her. She didn’t blame him though after all, it’s been six years and she hadn’t visited here much before she left. She was glad when he told her that Zinny was at home because she didn’t know much about private universities academic calendar.
She walked up to the house and discovered there were changes here also. Everyone seemed to have moved on. She knocked on the oak door and waited. She knocked again before she heard Zinny’s voice saying she was coming. Excitement filled her.
“Yes?” Zinny said as she opened the door. Oleng just stood there smiling.
Zinny screamed when she recognized the person standing there. “It’s a lie! It’s a lie!” she yelled.
Oleng stepped forward and hugged her. They hugged each other fiercely. “It’s a lie. It’s a lie.” Zinny continued ranting.
“It’s true. I’m here with you.” Oleng informed her friend still smiling.
“I can’t believe this!” she screamed and hugged her again. “Oleng! Is this really you?” she cried.
“Where have you been?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Where’re my manners? Please come in.” she held her friend’s hand and led her in.
“They’ve all gone out. I’m alone at home. I was preparing breakfast. Would you like some?”
“Should I call my doctor first?” Oleng asked chuckling. She remembered that Zinny had been a bad cook.
“You’re not serious. I’ll have you know that I’m now the one in charge of the kitchen. My dad even told my mum to relinquish her kitchen duties to me.” she bragged.
“Really? Like washing of plates and pots kind of duties?” Oleng teased.
Zinny eyed her and they both laughed.
Oleng followed her to the kitchen.
“I intend preparing fried eggs and toast. Just sit and tell me everything that happened…no wait. Let me call Marvy to come over first.” She rushed to pick up her phone.
“Is she around?” Oleng enquired sitting down and facing her friend.
“Yes. We’ll both be resuming by October…hello. Come over to my house immediately…don’t question me. Just come…propose indeed! I want you to come and see the person who decided to grace my house this morning…not him now! Oooh…come jor! Wetin dey worry you sef? Please come and make it snappy. Okay…bye. I never knew Marvy was so inquisitive.” she grinned as she flipped her phone shut.
She went to hug her friend again. “I really can’t believe you are here. There was a time I thought you were dead. I thought your mother took you for an abortion and you died in the process. I wept myself silly. The gateman wasn’t cooperative either. He kept telling us that you no longer lived there. We even tried to bribe him to tell us if you were dead but he chased us out. We had to give up and told your soul to rest in peace. Any time I dreamt of you, I would cry woefully. I can’t believe you’re here, alive, hale and hearty.” she narrated slowly
“I was in Calabar. My mum woke up one day and told me to get ready for Calabar. I was glad at that particular time to change my abode but she seized my phone and my laptop. So I couldn’t contact you guys to tell you I was leaving. I wanted to come back before now but she wouldn’t hear of it. But now that I have graduated and no long under her wings, I decided to come back here to look for you all.”
“Calabar. Who would have thought you were so close yet so far?…Oleng, what happened to the pregnancy? Did you abort the baby?”
“No.” she shook her head sadly but later smiled. “I gave birth to him. You should have seen him, Zinny. He was so beautiful. I couldn’t help loving him even though he brought me a lot of sorrows. You would have loved him too. He looked exactly like Eric.”
“Where’s he now? Did you bring him along with you? I want to see him!” she said with excitement.
Oleng shook her head slowly. “He died a few hours after I gave birth to him. The doctor said a complication of some sort. They killed my baby.”
Zinny held her until she heard her name.
“Zinny. Zinny. Where are you? I don’t have time for your childish games.” Marvy shouted, looking for her at the back of the sofa.
“I dey kitchen.” Zinny said hoarsely and wiped away her tears.
“What are you doing in the kitchen? Didn’t you tell me that…Jesus Christ!…Oleng!” Marvy screamed as Oleng stood up. After her shock, Marvy ran to embrace her long lost friend.
“Oleng! Oleng! Is this really you?” she yelled.
“Yes. In flesh and blood.” she said smiling.
“Really? My God! We all thought you were dead. Oh! Thank God. Oleng!” she called again in amazement. “Zinny, see Oleng.” she told her friend who had gone to the fridge to bring out eggs.
Zinny chuckled. “I’ve seen her. That was why I called you to come and see her also.”
“This is unbelievable. What a pleasant surprise. Tell me, what happened to you.”
Oleng shrugged and began her story again to the point where she had stopped with Zinny.
“Oh! I’m so sorry.” Marvy shook her head sorrowfully.
Zinny who had finished frying the eggs and was now toasting some slices of bread shook her head also.
“I got my acts together, took external exams and got into the university. I finished some weeks ago.”
“Congratulations. Ours is in a few months from now. You know both nursing and pharmacy departments don’t share the same time table with other departments…I’m so happy to see you. Promise me you’ll never leave us again.” Marvy held her hand smiling.
“I promise.” she replied smiling and they hugged again.
“Sorry to ask this question Oleng but what about Eric. Didn’t you tell him about the baby?”
Oleng looked down at her feet. “I told him. I sent messages to his box and phone but he didn’t reply. He was forever offline and his phone was forever switched off or off service area. Then he finally sent me a message to terminate the pregnancy; that’s if it was his, he didn’t want to be saddled with an unwanted baby because he had a bright future ahead of him and to forget about him. He abandoned me.” she narrated with much pain.
She smiled at the look of shock on their faces. Marvy actually had her mouth open.
“Na lie! Eric couldn’t have done that.” Zinny was bamboozled.
“Well, he did.” she said as a matter of fact. “There’s no cause for alarm right now because I’ve moved on. I’ve forgotten about him and the baby and moved on.” she shrugged in a manner of indifference.
“But Eddy said you were the one who broke up with him. Eric told him so.” Zinny informed her.
“Borrowing your phrase, it’s a lie. He probably said that to hide his guilt. Anyway, I don’t care. Let’s forget about him. I have…so tell me, what have you girls been up to? Should I start getting ready to be a maid of honor?” She grinned.
“Indeed!” Marvy laughed. “Are you not the one who has finished school? Shouldn’t we be looking up to you?”
“Me? No way. I still have to get my masters degree and a good job.”
“I wonder what you want us who are still in school to do.”
“Before una start to argue about who go first marry, make we chop.” Zinny admonished them.
“Coming out from the mouth of the person who will marry first, what with her ‘Mr. Oil Company’ worker and all.” Marvy teased.
“Marvy!” Zinny chided with a warning finger.
“Don’t tell me you and Eddy are still going out?” Oleng asked taking from the pile of toast.
“They’ve broken up twice but they’re back together again. I dare say that this time around they’ll end up at the altar.” Marvy continued after taking a slice of toast.
“Na you get your mouth.” Zinny simply told her but she was grinning. “By the way Oleng, how did you know she was referring to Eddy?”
“I saw Dave in Calabar some months ago.”
“Dave!” they both screamed.
“I haven’t seen that cool guy in ages.”
“He was posted to Calabar. We didn’t see each other until it was just two months for him to leave. We spent those months together and he told me about you all. Luckily for him, he was retained by the company he served in.”
“That’s wonderful. He’ll be a big boy by now.”
“Nah! Dave is still the same cool and quiet guy though he has loosened up a lot. He’s much more fun to be with now.”
Zinny turned to look at Marvy in the spacious kitchen. “Tell me Marvy, do you hear wedding bells ringing?” She asked her friend smiling with mischief.
“I certainly do. Dave weds Oleng.” Marvy made a motion with her hands as if she was capturing a headline.
“Stop it you two. Me and Dave? I can’t imagine.” She looked scandalized.
“Ehen? What’s wrong with you and Dave getting married? E make sense die!” Zinny countered.
“Dave is like a brother to me. Like a good friend but certainly not a husband. Moreover, I don’t think he feels that way towards me.”
“Akwuko.” Zinny replied, taking a sip from her tea. “Dave wey dey trip for you that time?”
“Really?” Oleng was surprised.
“Of course. He hid it very well but we caught him a number of times staring at you when you weren’t looking.” Marvy put in.
“A lot of people stared at me then.” she reminded them with a nonchalant shrug.
“Yes. He stared at you the same way. With longing.” Zinny interjected.
“Yeah.” Marvy concurred.
“I never knew.” Oleng remained surprised.
“That’s because you had eyes for only Eric then.” Zinny observed.
Oleng shook her head sadly. “Well, that’s no longer the case. But shouldn’t I have noticed it by now since we have spent so much time in each other’s company?”
“Knowing you, I’d say no. Because you see him as a brother, you would also think he sees you as a sister.”
“O God! I don’t feel anything for him. He’s just a good friend to me. I don’t want to hurt him by not reciprocating his feelings.” She sounded confused.
“He’s a big boy. He ought to understand that you still love Eric.” Zinny told her smiling.
“What?” Oleng couldn’t believe her ears. “Me? Still in love with Eric? You’re not serious. I don’t love Eric anymore. I admit I used to but after what he did to me? Certainly not! In fact, I hate him with a passion now.” she passionately acclaimed to their surprise.
“Please can we maintain something here,” she continued. “Please, can we never mention that name whenever I’m around? Please. You girls can discuss about him when I’m not around but please don’t mention him near me ever again. I don’t even want to know if he’s even in the country. Please.”
Silence took over the atmosphere after her outburst. After a while, Zinny dropped her mug and went to hold her friend’s hands.
“It’s okay, Oleng. I’m sorry I mentioned him. I was just trying to pull your legs. Don’t worry, Marvy and I won’t mention his name near you ever again. Abi Marvy?” Zinny asked her other friend grinning.
“Sure. I promise never to mention him near you again.” Marvy concurred smiling also and they all hugged.
Oleng and Marvy stayed there till Zinny’s siblings came back home. Oleng marveled at how big they had become. Only one of them recognized her. She bade goodbye to her friends and they promised to come to her house the following day; that was after she had assured them that her mum wouldn’t dare to throw them out if she didn’t want the history of her life to be told. They laughed at that.
When Oleng got home, she didn’t see her mum’s new car but she saw the other car, the Honda civic she had seen the day before. She got in and met her mum’s so-called lover in the living room watching television.
“Ah! You’re back.” he hailed when he saw her.
For an answer, she hissed and headed for her room.
“Please wait.” he called and ran after her.
He caught up with her at her door from across the lobby. She folded her hands across her chest and leaned on the door.
“Yes?” she rudely asked.
“What’s your name?”
“Didn’t my mum tell you?”
“I wouldn’t be asking if she did, would I?”
She eyed him before replying knowing he was lying. “Oleng.”
“Oleng. Quite a strange name. What does it mean?”
“Don’t worry.” she flatly replied.
“I don’t understand your attitude towards me. I just asked for the meaning of your name not that I said you should go to bed with me.”
“Which you’ll never have the effrontery to do.” she lashed out at him. “Oleng means don’t worry. Now if that is all, I’d like to enter my room now.”
“Is it the Ol or the Eng that means worry? Because if it is, you should be called either Ol or Eng because with such an attitude, a person who comes in contact with you will have cause to worry.” he threw at her.
“Please keep your opinions to yourself.” She turned the key in the lock and opened the door. “Please keep your distance from me also and I’d appreciate it if you don’t speak to me again.” She yanked open the door and slammed it in his smiling face.
He burst into laughter. “It will be very difficult to keep my distance and not talk to a gorgeous looking thing like you.” he yelled into her key hole before swaggering away.
“Bastard!” Oleng muttered and locked the door with the key.
She went to her bed and laid down. She made sure she stayed in her room till in the evening when her mum came back. When she was sure they had gone out, she tiptoed to the kitchen and prepared a quick dinner for herself.
Oleng was in the kitchen the following morning slicing yams to prepare a breakfast of fried yams and singing at the top of her voice when suddenly she felt hands on her sides, tickling her. She screamed and dropped the knife. It narrowly missed her legs. She turned around and was shocked to see her mum’s so-called lover standing there, grinning like an idiot.
“Good morning, Oleng. You have a lovely voice.” he cheerfully informed her.
“Wait. I thought I told you to keep your distance.” she threw at him.
“And I thought I told you that wouldn’t be possible,” he replied. “Look, what exactly is your problem? Are you pissed because I’m dating your mum? She’s a big girl so she can make her own decisions.”
“For your information, I don’t care if you’re dating my mum or Queen Elizabeth. All I want you to do for me is leave me alone!” She vehemently told him, fury blazing in her eyes.
“Why?” He said, tongue in cheek.
She hissed. “No reason whatsoever. Please just leave me alone!”
“I can’t do that because if things go as planned, I could become your stepfather.” he informed her grinning.
Oleng was too stunned to speak. She stood there staring at him. “You? Marry my mum?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes. Me. What’s wrong with that?”
“Are you not married?”
“Don’t you have kids?”
“Two. A boy and a girl.”
“So what do you want with my mum?”
“I love her.”
Oleng burst into laughter.
“What’s so funny?” he asked offended.
She stopped laughing then. “Is your love reciprocated?”
“Yes. She’s crazy about me.”
“Really?” she chuckled. “The thing is I can’t imagine my mum in love not to talk of getting married.”
“Watch and see.” he smoothly replied.
Just then she heard her mum’s footsteps.
“Sweetheart. Sweetheart. Where are you?”
“I’m in the kitchen, my love.” he called and sneered at Oleng.
“Honey, what are you doing in the kitchen?” Mrs. Akpan asked just before entering the kitchen. She was surprised to see her daughter there.
Oleng’s looked at her mother with irritation. Her mum had not for one second spoken a word of endearment to her and now this stranger was not only ‘sweetheart’ but ‘honey’ as well. Jealousy sliced through her. She felt murderous hatred for her mum that instant. To make matters worse, Mr. Wale Akinyele took her mum in his arms and kissed on her lips, right there in front of her. Oleng hissed and brushed past them.
She went to her room and willed her tears not to fall but they did unheeded. So her mum could actually love someone, she could show love to someone? She could feel for a stranger but not her own daughter. She hated that woman!
When she heard a knock on her door, she quickly wiped her tears away. The woman she had always called her mother came in. Oleng didn’t look at her but pretended to read a magazine.
“Oleng,” her mum called softly. Oleng noticed the so-called love seemed to have softened her mum. Well, it was just too late! She didn’t bother replying her.
“Emm…” she hesitated. “Wale is no longer in the kitchen; you can go and continue your cooking.”
“No need for that. I’ve lost my appetite.”
“Okay. Let me prepare it for you. Do you want the yams fried or boiled?”
“Do whatever you like with it. I just told you I’m no longer interested. You can ask your Wale how he wants it.” she spat out.
There was silence in the room.
“This is about him, isn’t it?” her mum nodded slowly as if just realizing. She shut the door and came into the room. “You’re angry because he’s here, isn’t it?”
Oleng continued to ignore her. She came closer to her daughter.
“Haven’t I tried? Haven’t I been celibate enough? In your growing years, did you ever see a man here? Did you ever see me with a man outside?”
“How could I have when you weren’t always around?” Oleng finally answered.
“Yet you never saw me with any man. What exactly is your problem? Am I not old enough to have a male friend? I’ve been celibate for 21 years because of you. And now that I’ve found love again, you want to ruin it?”
Her daughter waved a hand in disgust. “O please stop with the, ‘I’ve always been there for you’ kind of attitude. You and I know you don’t give a damn if I approve of Wale or not. You’d still do whatever you liked regardless of my feelings,” Oleng fumed, dropping the magazine to face her mother. “Do you know what is baffling me about this whole thing is that you can actually love someone. So you can actually love someone? I can’t believe this.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Am I not a human being?”
“No, you’re not!” Oleng yelled as she sprung up on the bed on her knees. “For 21 years, I waited for your love but I never received it and now suddenly you can actually love someone? Unbelievable.” Tears streamed down her eyes and she wiped them away in fury.
“I will not take that from you!” Her mother warned her sternly.
“You will. You just have to. I’ve waited all my life for a word of endearment from you but it has never happened but now you have words like sweetheart and honey for a stranger. Yes, that’s why I said you’re not human. How can you feel for a stranger and not your own daughter? Are you really my mother? Are you sure I wasn’t switched at birth?”
Mrs. Akpan slapped her daughter real hard on the face. “Don’t you say such rubbish to me.”
Just then Wale came into the room at the highly charged moment.
“Why are you both yelling?” he asked innocently.
“Nothing, sweetheart. Oleng and I were just having an argument. Please, I’ll join you in the living room. Please.” she smiled falsely.
“If you say so.” He shrugged and left the room.
Oleng just continued to hold her sore cheek and send daggers with her eyes at them.
“You’ll watch your words while you are here. I will not tolerate any form of insolence from you anymore.” she warned her daughter who continued crying.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be leaving soon.” Oleng quietly told her with a sob.
“Suit yourself.” her mum replied with a careless shrug and went to the door. “You took my first love from me. I’m not going to allow you take the second.”
Oleng wondered what she meant by that when she closed the door. Had she indirectly killed her father? She decided to ask Aunt Vien the story of her mum’s life when she returned to Calabar. She had wanted to stay a whole month but she couldn’t stand these old love birds, she would return to Calabar at the end of the week. That was her home now anyway.
She was glad they were out when Zinny and Marvy came to visit. She really enjoyed their stay because they caught up on old times, watched new movies and joked around a lot. To crown the day, Dave came to see her while they were still there. Zinny and Marvy both screamed with delight when they saw him. They got up and more like jumped on him than hugged him. They asked him a lot of questions concerning his past and future and congratulated him on his job. When evening came, they all went out in Dave’s car to have fun in places like Kusano, Genesis etc. Oleng was sorry to see all of them leave when it was night fall. Dave promised to pay her a visit again the following day.
Oleng was glad again that her mum and her lover boy were not around when Dave came to visit. They discussed a lot of things and planned when they would return to Calabar. Dave was surprised she wanted to leave so soon but understood when she said she wasn’t in good terms with her mum. They were still talking about the flat he found in Calabar when her mum came in with her man friend in tow.
“Good afternoon Ma.” Dave greeted politely, standing up.
Mrs. Akpan looked at him in disdain. “Who is this, Oleng?”
Oleng stared at her mum nonchalantly and said, “A former school mate of mine, my friend.”
“What’s he doing here?” her mum fumed.
“He came to see me. We met again in Calabar where he served and came back here together. We were just planning when we would leave for Calabar.” she said still with indifference.
“I thought I told you not to bring a male here ever again. This is not a brothel. Now leave young man.” she ordered furiously.
Oleng stood in front of Dave when he made to leave.
“What’s the meaning of this? Why are you embarrassing me? Can’t my friends visit me here anymore?”
“Oleng please. It’s okay. Don’t talk back at your mother. I’ll leave.” Dave placated.
“No! It is not okay. Why must she embarrass me like this?”
“I’m very sorry for coming in the first place ma.” Dave politely said and brushed past Oleng.
“Dave,” she called but he didn’t turn around. She walked up to him at the door.
“Please I’m very sorry for this embarrassment. Now you know what I’ve been facing all my life. I don’t know about you but I’m leaving for Calabar tomorrow.”
“I understand,” was all Dave said before he left.
“I hope you’re happy now!” she yelled at her mum.
“You should be ashamed of yourself bringing a man in here after what happened to you.” her mum lashed out. “My house is not a place where you can always get pregnant whenever you like.”
Oleng became angrier when she saw the look of shock on Wale’s face. Her mum had just let out an embarrassing secret to this stranger.
“Why are you so bent on frustrating me? Since you obviously don’t want me here, why did you tell me to come in the first place? To torment me? To remind me always of the mistake I made years back? Well, I can’t take it anymore. I’ll leave first thing tomorrow morning.” She walked away with her head held high.
Mrs. Akpan sat down in anger on the sofa.
“Why did God give me such an ungrateful daughter? After all I’ve done for her.” she lamented.
“It’s okay, honey. Kids of nowadays are like that. They think they’re always right. Mine behave like this most times but I dare say you didn’t handle that well just now.” Wale said as he sat down close to her on the sofa.
“What do you mean?” she asked confused.
“You should have allowed him to leave before confronting her.”
“I know but I was just so angry seeing him here. The last guy who came to this house got her pregnant when she was fifteen and left her high and dry.”
“Yes. That’s why I’m over protective towards her.”
“But do you know what she has been doing in Calabar all these years?”
“I don’t care if she has been whoring around. All I know is that she won’t do it in my house.”
“What happened to the pregnancy?”
“I took care of it.”
“I trust you.” he said laughing and she couldn’t help laughing also.
When Oleng heard them laughing while she was packing, she felt like committing murder. They were laughing at her expense, right? Well, they wouldn’t see her again to make fun of. She would make sure of that. She swore right there never to see her mum again. Her mum would be the one to come and look for her. She was filled with so much hatred for the woman who had given birth to her. No. She shook her head. She had probably been switched at birth. She sincerely believed so.