I’ve missed being here a great deal and I’m glad to be back. I was ready to resume last week but something happened and I had to postpone. I am good, but the devil wants to stop me from writing. I’ve had a wrist injury for sometime now and just two days ago, I discovered my other arm was swelling above the elbow. Please pray for me that this mumu satan will leave me the heck alone.
Now, concerning The Fourth Finger, I didn’t tell you guys I will be returning with it this June. Hian! I was surprised at seeing your messages, I had to go back and check the posts in which I mentioned when I would have the book ready. And I didn’t say I will make it blog posts either. I only mentioned that I would return with It’s Another Saturday and Novocaine Knights. So, I don’t know where you people got your info from o. Please feel free to quote me and I’ll apologize. Lol.
But the book comes out next month, so stay tuned.
For this one, I didn’t want to call it It’s Another Novocaine Saturday but seems like the name fits, so let it be so.
Lastly, if you haven’t been receiving newsletters, it’s because I disabled the plugin. I have over eight hundred subscriptions in the Mailpoet service alone and yet the click rate is about 10%, meaning people don’t open the emails. And what’s sad is that some people will unsubscribe and they’ll click on the option that I’m spamming their emails when they registered on their own. Hence, my account was flagged and I was told to go pro and start paying. But why pay when the response rate is low? I had to shut it down. My apologies.
It’s another Saturday…and we are the proud parents of Jiney Fumnanya Onuora. She comes to us on a cold night, exactly a week before she is due. I drive home from work after long hours of doing nothing in my office, battling with the cold that seeps into my bones like a bachelor who has been lacking the warmth of the finer sex for a long time. I stop on the way to buy roasted corn mostly because I am hungry but also, I need the heat. I had discovered a long time ago from numerous visits to movie theaters that chewing when cold keeps one warm.
I let down my window and my mouth waters at the sight of roasting cobs of corn. A man is selling them. A regular customer who grumbles about life a lot. All I ask him is how things are going with business and he launches into this long talk of how much the sack of corn he bought cost him.
“Eight thousand naira!” he exclaims, fanning the flame beneath his merchandise with a plastic fan. “And yet they gave me unripe maize!”
I feel sorry for him but it stops there. I’m not interested in his story. Everybody complains about the economy these days. It’s depressing. I’ve been affected by the crunch as well, having just made a down payment for the present house Honey and I live in, a colorful four-bedroom flat with a large compound, two mango trees and a small lawn in the backyard that threatens to turn into a swamp. Honey and I love it, anyways. Kalu had bought the house from some politician years ago but recently decided to put it up in the market after renovation.
“You should buy it, Jide,” he said to me. “You’re big enough to own your house.”
I had looked at my brother who was the business mogul amongst us and was probably richer than my dad, and asked how much the house cost. He replied with a sinister laugh when he called out the price. Adding ‘only’ to the figure as he said it slowly, knowing well that I could not buy it all at once. Take away the religious side of Kalu and you have a pompous, black ass that always subtly makes his younger brothers feel they’re not worthy to fill his shoes.
Well, in keeping to my own male pride, I tell him I am interested in the house. We haggle over the price and settle for a payment plan that will span over five years. We shake hands. A month later, I drag Honey out of bed early in the morning, blindfold her and bring her to the house. She falls in love instantly, dancing through the rooms with her bulge and filling her head with decor ideas. Over the course of two months, we fix the place and move in just as Honey gets into her ninth month. We don’t mind the quietness of the empty rooms. Our sanctuary is our bedroom and once we’re in it, the world outside ceases to exist.
I buy my corn, two cobs of what I have been told is soft. I ask him to give me ube worth a hundred bucks and the guy packages two miserly things and starts to tell me about how the price has gone up.
“Make it two hundred.”
He adds three more and lets me know he is doing it for the sake of my beautiful wife and unborn kid. I show appreciation that is not from my heart and head home. When I get in, Honey takes all the ube, leaving me with only one, and feasts on the softest corn.
For a moment, I am annoyed. This is a woman that gives me hell daily just because I knocked her up, demands the most ridiculous things at the oddest times and now, she’s eating the hot, juicy corn I bought to keep me warm from the never-ending cold spell she abandoned me to just because ‘sex is too disgusting’!
“Honey?” I call, after watching her attack my night snack like a piranha.
“What?” She throws her hands open. She is about to act oblivious to my pain, and as much as I want to let her feel my anger, I let it slide. A plastic chair before my reading table welcomes me into its stiffness as if to say, “bro, I feel your pain.”
I sit and begrudgingly begin to eat my one miserable ube and hard corn. The man deceived me about its softness. I wonder why I never learn. As I eat, I am forced to watch something on the History channel. Honey has a weird taste in television programs. I wonder what’s so intriguing about Egyptian pyramids and sphinxes at this time of the evening.
I endure the moment that seems like it will never end but only turns out to be less than thirty minutes.
“Can I watch something else now?”
She flings the remote control at me and resumes the activity she was engaged in before I came in – picking leaves off waterleaf stalks for the afang soup she plans to make the next morning. The soup is her third trimester craving. After watching Mary prepare it once, she learned to do it herself and now falls into the habit of preparing it twice a week.
She sits on our bed, propped up on a stack of pillows, legs spread apart and the bowl of waterleaves before her. She is telling me about Yazmin being suspicious of Emeka seeing another girl. There are messages, according to Yazmin. I shake my head, no. Emeka is not cheating on his wives. Honey thinks so too. She feels Yazmin is just being insecure because Emeka spends more time with Tola who recently announced that she was pregnant.
Honey stretches out her feet and twists a little to the right. I look at her and smile, my initial anger at her unable to fight off my affection. Exhaustion claims her pregnant frame. She is burdened by that restlessness pregnant women are known to have towards the end of their term when they begin to feel they have carried their babies for nine years. Honey complains every day and I am now quite used to her whines. I always tell her to enjoy it because a time will come when she will miss it.
“Miss being pregnant?” she would reply. “Can’t you see how ugly and fat I am?”
She is neither ugly nor fat. In fact, the pregnancy has been good on her, even in this final stage. She is undoubtedly the most beautiful expectant mother I have seen. And my fans seem to agree. On my blog, monthly, I give updates on how the pregnancy progresses. Everyone is expectant as we are. Friends and family give more than the support we need. There is already a couples’ fight amongst our friends over who would be Jiney’s godparents but because none of them are catholic, we are considering asking the Ditorusins to do the honors. Honey and I have become quite close to them over the past seven months. Despite the age and status difference between Dominic Ditorusin and I, he considers me someone he can count on.
Genesis and Honey feel like they share some things in common, especially their history of being treated unfairly by family. They also like to sit over lunch and talk about the different countries they have visited. Genesis seems to be the one more invested in the friendship. Maybe it is because she is too way up the ladder of success to have any true friends. She desires to be let into the circle of my friends’ wives but Celia and the gang gave her the silent treatment on their first meet and she has since withdrawn. I believe they are intimidated by her wealth and refinement. They fail to see that she is a simple woman. Sometimes too down to earth, one would think she is pretending.
“Oh Lord,” Honey mumbles under a yawn, “I am so tired.”
“Then abandon the vegetables.”
“I’m almost through.” She yawns again, stretching out her arms. I do not listen to her. I walk to the bed and take the vegetables away to the kitchen. When I return to the bedroom I find a look of confusion on her face.
“I feel wet between my legs,” she tells me. “Like I’m peeing on myself.”
“No, I’m not.” Her confusion switches to panic. “What if I’m bleeding, Jide? It just keeps coming out like water.”
“Then maybe it’s water. There’s only one way to find out. Lie down.”
“Do you feel any pain?”
“Just lie down.”
She obeys me and from quick observation I can tell that her water has broken. I get a pair of latex gloves to investigate further. Interestingly, she is 5cm dilated. I pull out my fingers and look at her panicked face curiously.
“What’s wrong, hotstuff?”
“Nothing, sugams.” I smile. “The baby is on the way.”
“Get up. Let’s get you to the hospital.”
I help her up, change her clothes and just when we’re about to leave, she touches me. I look at her. She has a familiar wild look in her eyes.
“What’s that look, sugar lips?”
“Let’s do it here.”
For a second, I’m thinking she’s telling me that we should make love. But I look deeper into the eyes of the woman I have grown to understand over the course of seven months and realize she is telling me she wants to have the baby at home and not in the special birthing unit the hospital has prepared for her.
“Are you pulling my legs?”
She shakes her head, smiling wildly. “Jide, we have this new, beautiful house, everything we need to birth the baby and no noise. Think about it. No noise. If we go to the hospital, we have to deal with all your colleagues who will want in on the action. Not to talk of friends and family. But this is just us, hotstuff. You, me and Jiney. It’s a story you’ll always love to tell.”
She makes a compelling point but she’s wrong on one thing. I do not have everything I need to bring my first child into the world. I take Honey’s hands in mine.
“Are you feeling any pain yet?”
“Just a little. Nothing major.”
“Good. Let me dash off to the hospital…”
“No, no, no, no, no. Don’t leave me, Jide.” She clutches my arm.
“Hey, I’m just dashing off to pick a few things…”
“You’re the one who always says a baby can be born anywhere. All I need is to push and for you to catch her. Let’s just do it now. Please, don’t go.”
I laugh. “There’s no traffic. Nothing will delay me. I promise, I’ll be back in thirty minutes.”
“Okay, okay.” She pulls me closer. “Kiss?”
I kiss her, lingering. I’m excited as she is but I don’t show it.
“Thirty minutes,” she reminds me.
“Thirty,” I repeat, running out.
Now, here’s where you think something goes wrong, like I get stuck in traffic or like the police arrest me because they’re so stupid or like Honey goes into quick labor or like she gets one complication or the other and the story turns gloomy.
Nope. Nothing bad happens. The twist is, I get to the hospital, pick what I need and dash back home to see Honey watching the E! channel, sitting on a towel and eating prawn crackers.
Not really. I’ve had patients like her. One woman in particular walked into my office, told me she was in labor while chatting with her husband on Whatsapp. Before I could get her a bed in the maternity ward, her baby was already bearing down. She gave birth less than five minutes later without breaking two sweats.
“Hi, baby!” Honey waves at me and I hurry towards her.
“Get up. Your water has broken. You can’t be sitting on a towel like that. You can risk infection.”
I help her up. “Let’s go to the room.”
“Don’t think I’m not feeling pain. I am. I’m just not shouting.”
“On a scale of one to ten…”
“Ten being the highest, I’d say the pain is seven.”
I stop and stare at her. She has a high threshold for pain but this is becoming strange.
“You’re sure it’s a seven?”
She nods. I don’t believe her until I check her cervix again and realize that she has progressed fast. The baby will arrive sooner than I imagine. I say nothing to her as I clear the bed and make sure everything is set for Jiney’s birth. To Honey, it’s all fun and games. She resumes watching the E! channel while I sit beside her and record her contractions. It doesn’t take long for them to become intense and for her to begin to feel real pain. Things escalate speedily in such a short while that I hardly have time to put my thoughts together. One minute she’s laughing at something someone said on TV; the next minute she’s screaming in agony; the minute after that, I’m asking her to push.
Jiney comes into this world at exactly eleven minutes to eleven pm. At the first sight of her, with her little arms thrust out, fingers clutching the air, face with an expression of what-the-fuck, my eyes moisten up. When I place her on Honey’s chest, she lets out her first scream and Honey joins her in a sob.
What follows after is a blur of happiness to me. I only come to my wits after both mother and baby are clean and comfortable. I lie beside them and take a selfie. The funniest thing happens when three of us fall asleep with the cannon camera I had kept on my reading table recording the priceless moment. To me, this is the definition of marriage and family. Last year, Honey and I walked into a lifetime contract as novices. We didn’t have a script and we just sort of took each day as it came, so I’m not surprised that Jiney’s arrival is much the same way.
At about half-past three, Jiney wakes up with a cry and parenting begins.
“Is her diaper soaked or is she hungry?” Honey asks, staring at her.
“She’s fine,” I assure Honey. “She just needs to be in her bed.”
“I want to feed her. I want to know what it feels like.”
I oblige the new mom. She sits in a special nursing chair that has a matching stool on which she can place her feet. I guide her on the process of breastfeeding. It doesn’t go smoothly and I don’t expect it to. Besides, Jiney is not hungry. We place her in her cot and stand over it, watching her until she goes back to sleep.
“She’s so pretty. Boys are going to swoon,” I say.
“Like crazy. She has my lips.”
“No, I have your lips.”
I pull Honey close for a kiss. “Finally, the sex ban will be lifted. I can’t believe you starved me throughout.”
“Sex irritated me. Even people kissing on TV had a smell that always made me nauseous.”
“Come on, let’s get to bed.”
I turn off the Cannon camera, we slip beneath the sheets and excitedly go through the amazing moment we just partook in. We had planned for an elaborate birth experience with family and friends present, video coverage and all of the pageantry one would expect from us. But in the end, I think we both wanted it to be about us and our child. Before we drift into sleep, I go on Instagram and put up the photo we took earlier, captioning it:
When you’re both the father and the midwife. Our little princess is here! Unto us Jiney is born.
#Jiney #ProudParents #ChildbirthWithoutFear #Homebirth #HappyFamily #Grateful.
A few smileys are added and I call it a night, switching off both our phones for the sake of sanity.
But the silence doesn’t last very long. At 6am, someone is banging on our front door. Honey clutches the blanket, poking her head out.
“Who do you think it is? Nne? Tola? Celia? Mary? Yaz? Saratu?”
“All of them.”
We giggle, not wanting to wake Jiney.
“I’ll get the door,” I say, standing up. Honey also leaves the bed but only to check on Jiney.
“Jideofor!” I hear my mother’s voice outside the moment I step out of the bedroom. “I’ll break this door o!”
I also hear another voice I can’t quite pick out. When I open the door, I find the old woman in the company of her three daughters-in-law. They all don’t look pleased with me.
“What is wrong with you, Jidenna? How dare you go and have my granddaughter without me knowing?!”
“Hi, mom.” I smile. I haven’t seen her in a while. I stretch out my hands to hug her but Tola interrupts by walking past me, into the house, calling out Honey’s name.
“Congratulations, Jideofor.” Elsie smiles calmly. Her face is still swollen with sleep.
I move aside and let her through.
“I’m so not talking to you and Honey.” Yazmin follows her in and I’m left to face my mom’s indignation alone. She immediately dishes it to me in Igbo.
“Is it the latest style now for one’s daughter-in-law to have a baby quietly and the news is first announced on the internet?”
I laugh. “No, ma.”
“Then, what is it? What did I do bad to you and Erhinyuse that you did not call me when she went into labor? You know she is a first time mother and she needs me and her sisters by her side.”
“Mom, I’m a midwife.”
“You’re a man!” she reminds me in a tone as if to tell me that men are of a lower species to women.
“Can you just come in and see your granddaughter without all this drama, Nne?”
“I’ll never forget this.” She points at me. I take the pointed finger and kiss it.
She walks in and I follow her, putting my arms around her as we walk. We enter my bedroom to find the women all surrounding Jiney. There’s cooing and ‘awwwing’. The moment my mom holds her granddaughter, she goes into prayer mode, leaving us with the job of adding ‘amen!’ at every ten seconds or so. After that, she hands her phone to Elsie, telling her to take photos of her and Jiney.
“You will put this up on that your instant something abi?” she asks me, taking a pose.
“And hashtag it well, biko. You can say ‘my mom already here for ‘omugwo’ things’.”
“Nne!” Elsie says good-naturedly.
“Yes o. Grandma on fleek.”
General laughter meets her humor.
“Oya snap the picture, biko.”
Elsie takes a couple of photos and the old woman christens Jiney.
“I have decided to name her Fumnanya.”
“What does it mean?” Honey asks.
“It means ‘love me’,” I reply.
“Awww. That’s such a beautiful name.”
“Now, I’m going to cry.” Tola puts her hands over her face and actually dashes off to some corner to cry. Nne instructs Elsie to go through her music playlist and pick Samsong and Chioma Jesus’ Odugwu, one of her all-time favorite gospel songs
“Mom, really?” I laugh and the ladies share my amusement. We all know what is about to go down. The moment her phone’s speakers come alive, the small woman cradles a startled Jiney who is now awake and begins to dance with her. No one dares interrupt the moment.
My mom is a worshipper. From the day I became aware of my existence as a human being, I was conscious of the fact that I had a mother who did not joke with her faith. Prayers and the bible were the foundation on which her strength rested. Underneath that was a realistic woman who believed in applying pragmatic methods when it came to life’s problems. And it has been this mixture of faith and commonsense, blind reliance on God alongside a no-bullshit way of looking at life that has made her cope with mothering four headstrong sons. She does owe all to God, looking for every occasion to worship him, and little Jiney has given her one this morning. We all watch as she dances to her heart’s content, joy on her face like she is being made a grandmother for the first time.
And she doesn’t tell me but my dad does, upon first sight of Fumnanya later on, that my little girl is my younger sister rebirthed in physical features. The one I was told that died just hours after she was born and broke Nne’s heart for months. The one we never talk about, who should have been named Fumnanya.
Watching my darling mother’s face get washed with tears and the women around me joining in the emotions, I suddenly feel clogged by all the excessive estrogen and decide to go shopping for refreshments.
The rest of the day is plagued with activity. We have guests pouring in from everywhere, and my mom in typical fashion ensures that they are well entertained. I provide the cash needed for her extravagant hospitability. By evening, Honey and I have to ask to be excused so we can take Jiney to the hospital to have her properly checked and assessed by a doctor. We leave with Nne who requests to be taken home so she can pick her omugwo bag. I tell her it’s not necessary, being that we’re in the same town. The look she gives me makes both Honey and I apologize. On our way back from the hospital, we pick her up from the family house. When we get home, we have just a couple of guests around – a neighbor whose red and constantly-blinking eyes are as much entertainment to me as his obese form that has taken most part of a two-sitter couch to consume as much refreshment as he can during his short visit, and his wife who chooses to take nothing at all but stares longingly at Jiney, yet refusing to go near or touch her. After handing us a gift of a set of pink mother and baby towels, they announce their exit.
Honey shuts the door after them and does a weird back and forth motion, telling me her center of gravity is messed up. She still feels like she’s carrying the weight of pregnancy.
I give her a surprise lift off her feet to which she responds with a shriek. We kiss all the way to our bedroom where we both collapse on our bed. The kissing stops there, both of us exhausted. Honey falls asleep first. When I am certain she won’t stir awake anytime soon, I carefully slip her push present around the middle finger of her right hand.
∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞
Genesis starts the day by swearing. She doesn’t mean to but the F-word slips out of her mouth before she can swallow it back. Daylight is more than an hour away but she is wide awake. Her round, doll-like eyes which hold scanty lashes that appear oiled are left wide open in an unbroken stare at the bedroom door. She stares for so long that everything else becomes a grey distortion in keeping with the base color of the bedroom, and the door itself moves closer to her until it seems like she can just stretch out her hand and touch it – and if she does, she would walk through it into another life that is quite like hers but devoid of all the wealth and fame. In that other life, she would still have Dominic and their children and they would remain in this house with all the memories of the past when things were still right with their world. She wouldn’t have to think of responsibilities or have to worry that she is now a billionaire and is required to keep up with a façade that people of her echelon struggle with.
She thinks of how much she misses the simple life and how cruel and lonely it gets at the top. Nobody had warned her about this but she had learned a long time ago that going to sleep on a bed draped with linen that costs thousands of dollars does not give one a peaceful sleep. She still dreams of the same old monsters of her past and struggles with new ones, adversaries that feel she does not belong where she now is.
Genesis withdraws from the prison of her thoughts and swears again – and of course, she doesn’t mean to – as she remembers that she has a meeting to attend by 10am.
“Oh Lord…” she groans, just as the glass blind that separates the bedroom from the balcony slides open and Dominic steps in. He comes forward with a smile like one that has good tidings.
“See who just had a baby.”
He dumps his weight on the bed. It doesn’t creak beneath him like normal beds do. It takes his almost-110kg mass, dipping softly when he sits in with a raised a leg. Genesis shifts towards him to fit perfectly into his frame as he passes his phone to her. She taps on the dark phone screen and life comes to it, displaying Jide’s Instagram post.
“Awww, the baby is here,” she whispers. “So adorable. Precious little angel.”
Dominic pushes his body further into the bed, guiding Genesis along with him. She doesn’t seem to notice that she is being moved. Her concentration is lost in the Onuora family photo. Wistfulness settles in her eyes.
“It was a homebirth.” She sighs. “The simple pleasures of life.”
Still held by the photo, she doesn’t realize Dominic is giving her little doses of her own simple pleasures with downy kisses on her shoulder and a soft touch on her breast.
“Beautiful bliss. Happy family. This picture says it all.”
Something in her tone gives away her intimate thoughts and puts a stop to Dominic’s sexual advances. He looks into her face to find tears filling her eyes in a rush.
“Gen, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m just happy for them. They don’t have everything but they have each other and the baby. It’s a blessing.”
A solitary tear snakes down her smooth cheek and disappears to the side of her face.
“So, you have tears in your eyes because you’re happy for them? I don’t understand. Do you want another baby?”
Genesis twists her neck to bless him with a hostile stare. “Another baby? When it comes will you be here for it? Are you here for the ones you already have? When they were born were you here? I went through labor all alone while you were in Europe doing God-knows-what!”
Dominic stares at her with an expression that is devoid of surprise. Rather it carries a sigh.
“We don’t even have a picture like this!” She springs out of bed. “Or any that captures what we feel for each other and for the kids! And you know why? It’s because we don’t have that – that thing Honey and Jide have! In fact, we have nothing…but a lot of money! Money that makes me not trust anyone! Money that makes me unapproachable! Money that is driving a wedge between me and you! And I hate it! I hate all it comes with!”
Her palms assault her eyes to wipe off tears. It seems a futile effort.
“Jide comes home to Honey every night.” Genesis’ voice burns down. “They still have date nights and kiss like teenagers when they’re out in public. We lost all of that, Nick. Everything. And no, another baby can’t bring us back.”
“So, what do you want me to do, Gen? This is who I am, the man you married. You knew that before you accepted my ring. I am building a future for my children and their children. You want me to stop and take a few selfies just to show the world that I’m father and husband of the year? Is that what you want?”
His words force fresh tears down Genesis’ eyes.
He doesn’t understand. He never does.
“You’re making the same mistakes you made with Lexus, Nick. Zach and Zoe are growing up without a father, and I’m learning to be in a marriage without a husband. I hope, when you hop on the next plane to wherever, that you enjoy how much of you we don’t get to see.”
She leaves the room to the bathroom. The door doesn’t slam at her exit but the coarse silence it brings as she stands in the emptiness of cold tiles over a marbled floor makes her feel like she had just made a big deal out of nothing. Remorse quickly takes over her mood but a voice tells her she did the right thing by letting out months of heaping sentiments and frustrations. She knows, with Dominic, there are better ways to express herself. She decides she will revisit the issue later at night after apologizing for her outburst.
She runs a foamy bath and soaks herself in. Her thoughts switch to Honey and she mentally cancels all her plans for the day as she wonders what gift would be appropriate for a newborn.
∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞
Being a big boy in Lagos means many things. One, you have gotten to a level where you do not only depend on yourself for your survival but you have another person or more depending on you for their survival.
Two, you would also have to own a car. Nothing basic like the Hondas, Toyotas and Kias that gun the roads looking like they all went through the hands of the same manufacturer. No, your ride has to stand out. Or would you like to be identified as John Camry or James Honda Civic?
Three, an apartment in one of the popular estates, especially on the Island, won’t be bad. The rent has to have a price tag that you can comfortably brag about in public. It is a taboo to squat with a friend or be known to still live with one’s parents.
Four, you should look the part. Clothes and shoes off pages of fashion magazines. Slay with the trends. Have your own style. Make love to designer labels. Once in a while, wear a Mai Atafo or a Caesar Couture, flaunt the look on Instagram.
Five, have a social life. Mark your presence at parties thrown by other big boys. Throw a couple of your own. Make them exclusive. Invite your celebrity friends. You can’t be a big boy without being chummy with a few of them.
And lastly, don’t forget the girls. They are very important to elevating your big boy status. Pick them carefully and confuse them with cold, hard cash. Fuck them senseless, and then dump them when things are on a high. Never let them do the dumping. Do this three or four times and your name starts to go round. No one will talk about the brutal manner in which you move on to the next conquest. You will be remembered for your money and your bedroom skills. Be careful though, you may attract guys too.
The truth is, in Lagos, no one cares to know whose gutter you dug or whose dick and cunt you went down on to make your cash. As long as you have it, you’re good with the throng. Money is money. It’s the wheel that keeps the ever-spinning city of opportunity and dreams going. Much like other fast cities around the world, it does not run on anybody’s high-minded, moralistic lifestyle. It is unapologetically brutal and demanding as are its citizens.
Kasiobi thought he already had this figured out, having lived as a Lagosian for more than ten years. He now believed he had finally attained the status of big boy-ism, having worked his way through the school of hard-knocks and emerged successful and unbroken. But it takes just one girl to strip off his false impressions of himself, to leave him feeling small and cheated, almost in the same manner Lexus did when she moved on from their relationship to start something new with a guy whose sandy-white hair and blue eyes still gives him nightmares.
His new girl—Kira, they call her, short for Shakira and whose real name is something African and unpronounceable—is a runs girl, as he has just found out. Less than an hour ago, he was being treated to a deep-throat experience on her queen-sized bed of all things pink and soft, matching the overall décor of the roo; presently, he is hiding in her guest bathroom, listening to her have loud sex with a man she keeps calling ‘Mayor’.
Mayor had shown up without prior notice at her front door, and with wide, frightened eyes, she had dragged Kasiobi out of her bedroom to the guest bathroom, telling him blatantly that her blesser, the man who had bought her car and paid for her apartment had just come in from the UK and Kasiobi needed to make himself scarce until she could get him out of the way. Stumbling in anger and questions, Kasiobi was pushed out of sight and forced to listen to Mayor do the same things he had been doing to Kira for the valuable period of nine months.
Calming down somewhat, Kasiobi begins to laugh at his stupidity. How hadn’t he seen that a girl who called herself Shakira and was always between jobs had a sugar daddy? She had been too much of a dream and distraction when they first met, with a slim waist and full curves. But it had been her tattoos and carefreeness which reminded him of Lexus, that had drawn him to her and kept them together for nine months. He can safely say his feelings for her are from a place of authenticity. He worries when she falls ill. Frets when he doesn’t hear from her after two days. Spends precious money on her. Makes love to her with emotions or something similar. The only thing he hasn’t done is express any type of love for her verbally, and this is largely because he doesn’t feel like he loves her. At least, not in the way he had feelings for Lexus. It had been that expression of the famous four-letter word coming in a heartfelt utterance that caused the breakdown of their relationship in a foreign man’s land.
Lexus became distant all of a sudden and soon after asked for a break from him. It was springtime and to Kasiobi, New York didn’t look any different to him as it had done during winter. He still nursed the unending flu that had plagued him from the first day he arrived, and felt the same detachment that made him long for the putridness of Lagos. And when a week later, he found out that Lexus had moved on to someone else, he felt hate for the land called America. It gave him no dreams; instead, it took that which he had come with. It was hard to wait until summer to finish his short course in DJ Mastering, but he managed through, patching the broken pieces of his heart one day after another, and returned to Nigeria where he put his hustle on accelerate and faced his future with brutal determination.
His hard work paid off and he made something of a name for himself. A name not even slim-waisted Kira who could give blowjobs with her legs up the air could ruin. And so Kasiobi with the name no one can ruin, opens the bathroom door and walks past the scene before him without taking any of it in. He hears Mayor’s raised voice as he shuts the front door on his way out. The voice, although increasing in tempo in its own end faded with the background as Kasi went down a flight of stairs. He came out to a compound of six flats surrounded by small flowery shrubs and a floor that held interlocked bricks. Kasiobi’s vehicle, a metallic teal Jeep Renegade, is parked close to the gate. He had bought it off a friend of a friend, quite older than him, whose business was falling apart. The price was one-third of its original, a good bargain Kasi still smiles about, since the car is yet in its fresh stages.
As he sits in, his phone kicks off to a ring. Kasiobi sees that it is Genesis calling and he smiles. In so many ways, she is still his boss. He isn’t under Novocaine Knights anymore but he works with them more often than not. Once in a while, he would DJ at their club. Occasionally he stopped by at the house to see the twins, Zoe and Zach. The Ditorusins see him as family.
“Good morning, boss lady.”
“Hello, Kasiobi. How are you?”
Kasi let his window down, answering more questions about his wellbeing and business. He also inquires about her family. She tells him all is well.
“Kasi, I need a huge favor from you.”
“Anything, Ms. Genesis,” he says recalling how she had dumped a chunky sum of cash into his account to help kick off his career the moment he returned from the States.
“Lexus is flying in today, and she wants to give her dad a surprise. I have offered to pick her up from the airport but the thing is that my friend just had a baby and she needs me. So, please can you help me pick Lexus?”
Kasi’s face has pulled into a tight frown. Why the hell can’t Lex get a taxi home?
“You want me to pick her?”
“Yes, please. I don’t want her taking any taxis. I know you guys are no longer together but she told me you’re still friends and you communicate.”
Lies. He hadn’t spoken to Woyintonbra since the night he had asked her to dump her boyfriend and take him back and she shook her head at him, walking away.
“Yeah, we still talk.”
“So, please help me get her.”
“No problem ma. What time is the flight coming in?”
“It should be here in the next hour.”
“Fine. I’ll be there.”
“Thank you, Kasi.”
“No wahala. Anything else, madam?”
And on that note, they both hang up. Kasi entertains mixed thoughts on going to get Lexus from the airport. He is both excited and hesitant. And curious too.
What does she look like now? What surprises will she come with? Will she be happy to see him? Will she run into his arms and kiss him like the old Lexus would?
Kasi shakes his head, turning on the car.
Lagos big boy but woman still dey show you pepper.
Translation: Ube (Igbo) – Pear, the type eaten with roasted or boiled corn.
Push present -a present a father gives to the mother to mark the occasion of her giving birth to their child.