A colleague asked me the other day if I get upset when readers tell me my episodes are short. I told her that I don’t. I feel flattered, rather. So, here’s a huge thank you for flattering me, guys.*kisses!*
But if I hear pim! about this episode ehn, I’ll be waiting with cane on the other side.
Enjoy episode 13 of It’s Another Saturday. If you want to catch up, read HERE
But Jide, Why?
“This is a very stupid move, Hon.”
Saratu is mad at me for quitting my job. This has been her state of mind since I broke the news to her two days ago. Earlier, she took me shopping and now we’re at a spa where she’s spoiling me silly, just to manipulate my mind into staying back.
“He is so going to dump your sorry ass.”
“No, he’s not.” I smile at her when what I really want to do wring her neck. She doesn’t like to see people happy in love. She tried to make Dele’s wife feel miserable when she quit like I did; I’m not surprised that she’s doing the same to me.
“You know I’m telling you the honest truth here, Hon. The guy is already misbehaving sef.”
I stop sipping from the pineapple paradise cocktail in my hand for a second but continue immediately before she thinks I’m taking her words seriously. Jide is not misbehaving. In his defense, he called me three days ago to explain that he’ll be incommunicado for a while because he’s going through something serious, which he would rather not explain to me. He begged for a little time to sort himself out and assured me that his feelings for me were still strong. I was upset, especially over the fact that he won’t share with me what was bugging him. But I didn’t let him know how I was feeling. The best way to drive a man away is to show your insecurities. I’ve done enough of that already; I don’t want him to start feeling choked by my love. So, I simply said to him that I was okay with it and offered him a listening ear whenever he would be ready to talk.
“You know when guys say they need a break it means they’re dumping you, right?”
“Sorry. Just…putting it out there.” She moves closer to me, ignoring the frown on the face of the masseuse that is massaging her feet. “That was what chief told me and then he disappeared for a while and returned with divorce papers.”
“Sara, he divorced you because you called his mother a whore and refused to apologize and then she died.”
“I didn’t kill her. Her conscience did. I saw her banging my driver.”
“Technically she was allowed to do that. She was a widow.”
“Stop deviating from the point.”
“And what is this point?”
“You are giving up your life for a man who is half-committed to you.”
“I’ll tell you for the last time, Saratu Gambo, I quit my job for myself. Not for Jide. In fact, he doesn’t even know I’ve quit. I did it all for me.”
“Deceive yourself. Me and you know that in this your tiny brain, you are already seeing yourself pregnant for him and having small, annoying children hopping all around the house.”
I laugh. She hates kids.
“I hope you guys sha used condoms. The worst thing you can do to yourself now is get pregnant for him.”
“Yes mommy, we used protection,” I say patiently and add a smile. Lying beneath her nastiness is a darling.
“I’ll miss you sha.”
“Aww. I’m still here until Monday.”
“Then why were you packing your clothes earlier?”
I’m packing because somehow my mind is not at rest. But I tell her I just want to make sure I have everything set on time.
“Don’t go,” she begs. “Take the job British Airways is offering you.”
I smile and then shake my head slowly. “I can’t.”
Her face goes sad. And then she pulls her feet out of the bowl it’s immersed in and gives me a hug.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
“Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone. It’s not warm when she’s away. Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone. And she’s gone too long. Anytime she goes away.”
Bobby is really proud of the noise he just made in the name of singing. He grins from ear to ear as Ibro compliments his voice. The song is for me, to tease me over my drab mood because they think I’m missing Honey badly. Well, I am but Honey is the last thing on my mind right now. Something more disquieting is killing me inside.
“At least, commot the eye glass and face cap nau,” Bright says, reaching for my sunglasses. I move back and adjust the hat on my head. “The song said ain’t no sunshine and there ain’t no sunshine here. You wan kill yourself because of woman?”
“No mind Jide,” Reno replies.
They go on, making fun of me while I take in our classy environment. It’s a bar and grill. Packed full with customers. It’s a new place and our drinks are on Reno’s tab. Trust him to always find the joints that make all the buzz.
My attention comes back to the table. I’m about to reveal something that will make my friends think I’m crazy but I just have to let it out. It’s killing me.
“Guys, I saw Ezinne,” I drop the bombshell.
They give me half attention.
“I said I saw Ezinne. She is alive. She never died.”
I get total silence now. They all focus on me.
“Which Ezinne?” Bobby asks.
“Is there any other Ezinne you think I’ll be talking about?” I flick a drop of beer off my phone screen. “I saw her three days ago.”
“Guy…” Bobby begins to speak but Ibro butts in.
“No dey play with such things, Jide.”
“I am not. I saw Ezinne with these two eyes.”
They are staring at me with more seriousness now. It won’t be long before I see pity creep into their expressions.
I drink my beer, a tortured man. Beering, as Emeka would call it, is all I’ve been doing since Ezinne made a passing appearance in my life. I stay sober only during work hours but the moment I get home, I hug the bottle. My eyes behind my sunglasses are blood red from all the chugging.
“Where did you see her?” Bobby interrogates.
I travel back to Wednesday. A routine visit to my favorite food joint just down the street from my house is all it takes to turn my life upside-down. I walk into the joint, order my usual of amala and ewedu with two servings of shaki. They pack the food for me, I pay and I’m on my way out when I bump into a woman whose purse, pocket umbrella and phone clatter to the floor.
“I’m sorry,” I say and immediately hit the floor to pick the fallen items. I gather them in my hands and rise up to meet a face that belongs to a stranger but eyes that are Ezinne’s. She gasps, steps back and stares at me with lips parted. My hands holding the items are hanging in the air as we both grip each other’s eyes.
“Ezi?” I pant.
She grabs her belongings and dashes out of the restaurant in a flash. I run after her but find that she has hopped into a waiting cab and disappeared into the rainy night. I stand there for a long time, dazed, confused, wondering what the heck I just encountered or if I even encountered it at all.
“For real?” Bright asks.
“Yeah. I went to her parent’s house that same evening only to discover that they no longer lived there. They had moved not long after they said she was dead.”
I finish my beer and wipe my mouth. My friends are dead quiet. Nobody wants to voice out what’s in their heads. I help them.
“Y’all thinking probably I imagined this, that we’re back to that time when I was very sure she was not dead and I stood by my conviction even without evidence. Well, this is different. The person I saw was Ezinne. The nose and lips were not hers but the eyes…they were her eyes.”
“You know say two people fit get the same eyes, abi?” Reno stated.
“It was Ezinne, Reno.”
My tone brings back the silence. I call for another bottle. A waiter comes along with it but Bobby takes it away from me.
“I can’t let you do this again, man.”
“Bobby, abeg give me my beer.”
“What’s it with this Ezinne chick that messes you up like this? She appears from the grave…”
“It’s not even her,” Ibro contributes.
“…and you turn to this person,” Bobby continues.
“Give me my beer!”
“You have fixed your life, Jideofor. You have a good job and a woman who loves you, man. Get your shit together and get that Ezinne out of your head! Abi na jazz she jazz you?”
His last words hit something hard in me and my hand stretched out for my drink, drops down. I abandon my thoughts of Ezinne and my growing annoyance at Bobby and spring to my feet. My head throbs but I ignore it, pick my phone and dash out of the bar without saying anything to them. I’m sure they’ll conclude that I’ve finally lost it but I’m not thinking of them. I’m flagging down a red cab in a crazy manner. I need to get home fast.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
I dash into the house like a madman and barge into the spare bedroom, the one that holds the bathroom Tarela used the day she visited with Mary. I begin a frantic search of any diabolic object she might have planted there. I turn the room upside-down but find nothing.
I stop. Maybe I’m exaggerating. Or just being plain judgmental. After all, she did tell me she had turned her life to God. Why am I still thinking she’s the same person from the past?
I allow utter silence into my consciousness. It’s the only way my instinct works well. I listen real hard and it tells me that something is still off. I turn to the bathroom door absently and then recall that it is the one place I haven’t searched. I push the door open and go straight to the toilet tank. When I take off the lid, I’m not surprised at what my eyes fall on.
I pull out a black box that is soaked in water and has red strings tied around it. When I open the box, I see two voodoo dolls bound together. I shake my head. Tarela! I hiss. Old habits die hard. She has not changed one bit.
I walk into the sitting room, place the so-called juju on a couch and dial Mary.
“I need to see you right away,” I tell her.
“Is everything okay?”
“Please, just come.”
I recline on my three-sitter, scratching my two-day old growth of beard as I stare at the dolls in disappointment.
Tarela was a nice, soft-spoken girl when I met her. It was love at first sight. Crazy, mad love that made my friends envious. She stole everyone’s heart, especially my mom’s. No one would have ever thought she had another side to her. She had it well hidden; even I was fooled. Or maybe I wanted to see only what my eyes wanted to see. When I eventually discovered who she really was, we were both already invested in the relationship and she was wearing my ring. She had even gotten herself this vintage wedding gown with all her earnings. Sadly, I had to end the relationship for my own good but Tarela simply refused to let go. I tried everything and finally resorted to moving in with Ezinne, whom I was secretly dating for a while. My blatant actions shocked everyone and they tried to get Tarela and I back together but my heart was already sold to Ezinne. The more they pushed, the deeper I fell. Soon Ezinne and I got engaged and Tarela’s insanity went into overdrive. She showed up at my birthday party unannounced, gave this long speech about how much of an asshole I was, broke a wine bottle and slit her throat with it.
My life turned to a mess from then on and I swore never to have anything to do with her again. I thought that by now she would be over me but obviously I was disillusioned.
Mary raps softly on my door. I stand up and let her in.
I take her hand and drag her to the couch where I left the box of voodoo dolls. I point. She looks but doesn’t make sense of what she is seeing.
“This is the real reason your friend came here on Tuesday,” I expound.
“I don’t understand. What is this supposed to be?”
“What does it look like?”
Slowly, realization hits her face.
“Oh God! Pin cushions? Voodoo dolls?”
“Voodoo dolls? What for?”
“You’re asking me? You brought the person that dropped them here.”
Mary unslings her handbag and puts it aside. “Jide I don’t understand. I came here with Tari nau. When did she give you this that I didn’t know?”
“She didn’t exactly give me; she hid the box in the guest toilet when she allegedly went to pee.”
Mary is still terribly confused. “But why?”
“Mary, your friend planted jazz in my house.”
Mary slaps a hand over her mouth. Her shock is palpable.
“Clearly, you have no clue who your Tarela really is. Sit, let me gist you.”
I help her immobile body into a couch and give her a glass of cold water to calm her head.
“I left Tari for Ezinne because I found out that she was using jazz on me.”
“Jide, please stop lying.”
“I was in her crib when I made the discovery. I can’t remember what I was looking for under her bed that afternoon that led me to find a bottle that had a short, red candle, some hair, a used condom and other nameless creepy stuff inside it. I confronted Tari and she swore with her life that she had no idea what it was and how it got there. She claimed one of her friends who hated her might have put it there and suggested we go to church for special prayers. Mary, my feelings for Tari died that day.”
Mary is still shaken. “What if she wasn’t lying?”
“She was. I did a background check on her after that and realized she had lied to all of us. Her parents are not dead. I couldn’t trace the whereabouts of her mother whom I was told, abandoned her, but her father is a witch doctor in their village in Benue state.”
Mary is dizzy with the news. She speaks but only with her hands because she can’t find the words to express herself. “Is her name really Tarela?”
“She’s not Yoruba?”
“Jideofor, why didn’t you tell anyone this nau?”
“To what ends? You were all in love with her. I was the bad one. Besides, she must have been trying to erase a painful childhood, so I felt it would have been heartless to expose her to the people that have shown her love.”
“Love?” Mary stands up in anger. “What love?! She manipulated us! Maybe even jazzed us! She lied! And she’s still lying! I swear I’ll tell everybody, Jide! Wha-wha-wha-what type of wickedness is this?! Even to the extent of voodoo dolls?! Voodoo dolls?! That girl has liver, Jide! I’ll expose her shit, right after I beat her blue-red!”
I know Mary is not bluffing. If I don’t stop her, she’ll carry on with her threat.
“Oh God! And Jide you said nothing and took all the insult?”
I shrug. I’m weird like that sometimes. If one simple explanation is not enough for you to believe my own side of the story, then I see no need going to extra lengths to prove myself.
“I’m so mad, Jide, you won’t understand.”
“Actually, I do.”
I calm Mary and beg her to keep what we have discovered secret. We have to find out what Tarela is up to before we act on it.
“But aren’t you scared of…this?” Mary points at the twin dolls.
“I don’t believe in its potency. What I hate about it is the desperation in Tari. After all these years, she shows up out of nowhere and thinks she can ruin my life again? I won’t take it smiling this time.”
“Na wa o.”
I lose my current mood and slip back to thoughts of Ezinne. Mary picks out that something is wrong.
“Jide, is there more you want to tell me?”
“Mmm?” I reply distractedly.
“I hope it’s not this Tarela’s something that is making you look miserable like this o.”
I look at Mary. “Ezinne is alive.”
She pulls her head back in reaction to my words. I take my time to narrate the details of my encounter with Ezinne. And unsurprisingly, Mary, just like my friends, thinks I’m out of my mind. She even develops this interesting theory as she eyes the dolls suspiciously.
“What if the jazz is already working?” she submits squeakily.
“What if the jazz is here to mess with your head and it’s working? Tarela was here on Tuesday, right? And then you saw Ezinne the very next day. What if you didn’t really see Ezinne? And the job of this thing is to just mess up your life and…”
“I SAW EZINNE!” I thunder.
“Okay, okay, okay. Calm down, Jide. Just…calm down…”
I don’t care to see Mary’s expression. I know if I look I’ll see shock and hurt but I don’t care. I just want her out of my house.
“Jide?” she calls.
“Mary, please leave. If you think I’ve lost my mind or I’m messed up as you said and these two stupid things here are responsible, then I don’t think I can stand you right now. Leave, please.”
“Jide, you’re hurting yourself. Please, stop it. For the sake of your mom, please stop.”
“I’m fine and my mom is fine. The only hurt here is that the people I trust think I’m psychotic. Good. Fine. I am. So you people should just let me be. If you can’t help unravel the mystery of why somebody who is supposed to be dead is alive, then get the fuck out!”
Mary picks her handbag. “I’ll be praying for you.”
“Thank you. Go.”
I hear her footsteps over my floor, loud, in rhythm with my labored breath. The door closes and in rage, I kick the voodoo box to the floor. It knocks over the half glass of water Mary has left and that one also comes crashing in pieces. When the noise dies down, I hear my phone ringing. I pull it out of my pocket. It’s Honey calling. I toss the phone aside and lie back on the couch. The only person I want to hear from is Ezinne. I need answers from her or I’ll go mad for real.