It’s Another Novocaine Saturday #6
I love you guys. I don’t even know how to start expressing how much. When I said show me love on Bellanaija, I didn’t know y’all will take it that seriously. I was dumbfounded when I saw the comments. Good Lord! Na so una love me?
How do I say thank you? How do I show my gratitude? The love you expressed in the comment section doubled the sales of the book, beating Fish Brain Madhouse records which has been there since January. Hmmmm…
Thanks a lot.
And here’s that my famous kiss.
So in retaliation, I will give the book freely to three lucky peeps next week. Today, enjoy IANS.
I’ll see you in the comment section..
“Isn’t this the cutest sight?”
I groan loudly. I don’t know for how much longer I can sit in this car with indecisive females and take one more ‘awww’. Or even stomach the sight before us. Yes, it’s supposed to be cute as Mary just said but I have to remind these girls that we’re here on a mission.
“Can the three of you just focus?” I snap my fingers. But they don’t hear me. Their eyes remain on Shady having a daddy moment with Dara as they both dance to music we can’t hear. The duo is in my husband’s biggest and classiest car showroom, surrounded by expensive luxury cars. And somehow Shady thinks this is the best place to perform his daddy duties.
I groan again. This is just wrong. Shady is going to ruin this business with his lack of class. How can you be dancing with a toddler when you have business to attend to? Look at the caliber of people around him and he’s stuck on parenting goals. I knew this was going to be such a bad idea. I had warned Ibro about it. Shady is an actor, not a car salesman, but Ibro had told me that he had been a hit realtor.
“It’s all about the numbers. If he can get people buying cars, then what is your problem?”
My problem then (and even now) was that my younger brother had waited for that spot for two years and when finally the manager is fired, Ibro tosses the job to his friend. Just like that! I have been pissed for three weeks and my anger isn’t going away anytime soon.
“Hasn’t he proven his worth?” Ibro had asked me just last week, showing me a printout of the sales Shady has made already. “In this harsh economy the guy is selling cars like no man’s business. I’m thinking that maybe Celia leaving him is a good thing. Abeg, she shouldn’t come back.”
“She should. At least, for the sake of Dara. The child needs her mother.”
“And Shady needs to learn responsibility. His present situation is perfect for him.”
I didn’t speak further. If I did, Ibro would call me unfeeling, a term he generously uses on me. Coldhearted bitch and ruthless too. I get those ones when we’re fighting. But his darling Eno – she’s all sweet and loving, tenderhearted and kind. Even after she cheated on him with her ex, Ibro finds no flaw in her.
Forgive me for rambling. I just had to get that off my chest after seeing the two necking in her car outside my house this morning. The effrontery! Would I do that to her? Would I blatantly shove my love for Ibro in her face?
Again, I wander off tangent. I apologize.
Back to Shady. Dude has stopped dancing, and is presently attending to a buyer, some pretty, little thing that has Dara in her arms and is flashing her thirty-two at him. I understand that he has a certain appeal with his tall, thin appearance. He carries his lankiness well and has an impeccable sense of style that I sometimes want Ibro to own. But that’s all there is to him. He’s broke and classless. Forget that he’s now earning huge for this present job; it does nothing to save him from his basicness which would soon bring my husband’s business to ruin. Of course it’s not something I want, and like my friends here, I’m supposed to do my bit to ensure that he keeps his head above water but really I don’t care if he falls flat on his face. It works well with my aim if he does but I’m not going to be the bitch that does not show compassion for a father holding a nine to five and caring for a two-year-old at the same time.
It was for this reason that when Peace threw in the suggestion that we take Dara off his hands so he can concentrate on selling cars, I didn’t object. However, they are all getting cold feet and I’m the only one still on the objective.
“Can we go in already?” I raise my voice, bringing them back to curve.
“Maybe this works for him,” Honey tells me. “Dara is his selling point.”
“Yeah, people just look at her and buy cars,” I answer sarcastically. Honey lends me a bad stare. I’d love to pluck out her eyes one of these days. She likes to oppose everything I say or do. She thinks her beauty, her handsome husband and trips around the world are good enough reason to compare herself with me.
I give her an unreadable stare as I secretly admire her outfit of a green fitted dress that shows no sign of her having just had a baby five weeks ago. I’m so tired of her and her perfectness and the way she flaunts it. She has the perfect body, the perfect husband and the perfect in-laws, and that’s why she feels so superior to all of us.
“Noka, I know you don’t like Shady for obvious reasons but can you please tuck that in and be nice to him? Don’t go there acting all ‘I’m your boss’ wife’. He’s your husband’s friend.”
“I should tuck what in exactly? The fact that he hit my friend?”
“He apologized,” Peace reminds me. “Did Celia tell any of us what he did? No. She just upped and left but Shady reported himself to every one of us and begged, including her brother.”
I take my hands off the steering for a second and turn around to face Miss Goody-Two Shoes. “And what is your point, madam?”
“Be nice. Forgive.”
“He is a wife-beater.”
“He is not,” Mary counters. “It was a moment of not thinking right, a bad decision, and he deeply regrets it. You should let it go and be reminded that we’re going in there to take Dara off his hands to ease his stress and not to punish him. He’s been a wonderful father for three weeks.”
Whatever. I don’t care. My brother deserves the job and I won’t rest until I see him get it. Ibro owes me that much.
“Let’s go in, abeg.” Honey steps down and the others follow suit. I’m the last to leave the car, stretching out my short Nautica skirt which I bought just a week ago at a ridiculous price. Eno has been sporting some new clothes; I don’t see why I shouldn’t indulge as well. I bought a whole wardrobe. I am yet to decide where to put the old ones, some of which I’ve not even worn. Bimpe used to say I have enough clothes to start a boutique with but I don’t think I do. Until I have the type of closet space Eno has, I’ve not even begun.
I follow my friends into the exquisite showroom that is proof of my husband’s wealth and refinement. It’s also proof of my hard work and unending support. The idea from the onset was not just to make it a showroom (like the other ones he owns, scattered about lagos) but a hub for car freaks. In addition, there’s a classy restaurant running from lunch hour till evening, just to help us make money on the side to keep the utilities running since they’re always paid for. Whenever I look at the place and think about how far Ibro and I have come, (of course I married him already swimming in money) I pat myself on the back by indulging in something nice. This is why it angers me much that Shady has brought his ghetto lifestyle into my family business.
The thin rake of a man sees the girls and I entering the showroom and lets out that killer smile he uses on Celia. Weirdly, I smile back. There’s actually something nice about it.
“Hi ladies. This is a pleasant surprise,” he says, walking towards us. I notice that he has abandoned the customer with his child. Such business ethic.
We exchange pleasantries and he leads us to his office where he offers us a leather couch to settle in.
“Give me some minutes, ladies, and I’ll be right back.”
He leaves and Peace engages us in a chat about some German guy in her church that likes her. We had first met him at Jiney’s christening and subsequently at a barbecue that Bobby invited us for. The guy’s accent is thick and sometimes he exchanges his V’s for W’s. He always smells of soap or aftershave. Never of cologne. His fashion sense is a total miss. He dresses too European for my liking. But the best part of him is that he’s really crazy about Peace, ready to propose at any moment.
“We’ve kissed and done the irregular ‘touching’,” she reveals with a look of embarrassment.
I cross my legs, ears itching to hear more.
“Which one is irregular touching again?” Mary asks. Peace laughs. Such a prude.
“How big is he?” I question. Peace covers her mouth in embarrassment again.
“It’s not all about sex, Noka,” she replies in a small voice. “I’m not planning to sleep with him. Not now and not in the future.”
“Is he circumcised?”
“Noka!” she gasps.
The mutual look of disgust that rests on all our faces pushes us into laughter.
“Urgh!” I make a face. “Those white guys and their uncut peens.”
“Are you speaking out of experience?” Honey turns in my direction.
“No. I’m just… you know…”
I notice all the girls watching me intently. I flash a wide smile. “I’m not telling anything.”
Shady returns with Dara who immediately runs into Peace’s embrace. She takes the little girl in her arms and hands her a chocolate bar she had bought along the way.
“What would you ladies want?” Shady asks. “Coffee? Breakfast?”
“Nothing,” I answer for all of us. “We’re actually here on a serious matter.”
“Not that serious,” Honey puts in with a smile.
“It’s about Dara.” I take control of the conversation again.
“Okay?” He crosses his arms warily, resting his flat bum over the edge of a glass table behind him that reflects the posh leather brownness of the office.
“We feel, and this is out of concern, that Dara is too much distraction for you, and we would like to help out with caring for her by taking turns. That way you get to concentrate on your job. It’s not easy for a man who has a lot on his hands to care for a child at the same time. Besides that, having her here at work might not be a good image for the company.”
A silent sigh from Mary tells me she doesn’t support my last statement.
“So, if you wouldn’t mind, we would like to offer our babysitting services to you. For free.”
Shady chuckles. It’s a silent chuckle that shows he’s only being polite.
“So you want to take Dara off my hands?”
“Because you think I’d hit her like I hit Celia.”
“No!” the others chorus. I simply take two and ponder on his insinuation. Why didn’t I think along that line?
“Shady, actually…” Honey speaks up. “It’s fine if you think this is ridiculous. We’re just concerned…”
“Dara and I are fine. And really, I appreciate it but you shouldn’t worry yourselves. We miss Celia and we desperately want her back but we’re coping. I need to bond with my daughter. Daycare was tearing us apart but her being here every day reminds me of Celia and keeps me focused.”
The others throw on pathetic faces and I roll my eyes in my head. I knew they’d sell out. Honey, especially. She thought it was a bad idea from the start. Well, whatever. It’s Shady’s loss. When customers start complaining, I’ll be quick to suggest to Ibro to have him changed to someone who is more competent.
I sit up. “But Shady, we haven’t heard from Celia since she sent us a message to our Whatsapp group that she was fine. Her phone rings unanswered and she’s never on Facebook. Please, are you sure she’s okay?”
Shady has the polite face on again. I know my insinuation comes off like I’m accusing him of getting rid of Celia but I don’t give five farts. We need to know what happened to our friend.
“Give me a second.”
He pulls out his phone from his pocket and soon we hear a line ringing as he puts it on speakerphone. After a long ring, Celia’s voice comes on.
“Shady, you’ve called me four times already this morning. Shey Dara is fine? What do you want?”
“Just checking up on you, baby.”
“I’m good.” There’s a pause. “You?”
“Missing you,” he answers with his eyes darting away. I spot an emotion in there and I suddenly feel bad for what I hold against him.
But the feelings lasts a second.
“When are you coming back?”
“I don’t know, Shady, and you calling me doesn’t help things. I need to clear that night out of my head. So please, respect my space and stop calling. Thank you.”
The line goes off. He looks at me. “That’s your friend. She’s fine – in some ways. She’s not stuffed in some cupboard, rotting away.”
“Noka didn’t mean that,” Peace comes to my defense.
“I know she didn’t. She’s a wonderful friend and I appreciate all she has done to see me out of my financial situation.”
I give a fake grin.
“You got me this job, got me a brand new car…And I’m utterly grateful.”
“Well, as Ibro will say, ‘ba yawa’.”
“Ba yawa,” Shady adds, smiling. I can’t believe he’s smiling after what he did to Celia. I do hope she’s getting proper loving from that Naomi chick. It would be the best blow to his face.
“I also want to thank you ladies again for being generous with that huge help you sent Celia’s way.”
“Well, what are friends for?” Mary quotes. I’m suddenly bored.
“We should be leaving.” I draw my legs together. I’m glad he has declined letting go of Dara. The idea of caring for another person’s child in the first place doesn’t appeal to me. The plan was to pass the tot to my housemaid if ever it was my turn to care for her. I already have too many children on my shoulders to worry about.
Shady escorts us out to the showroom and gets into some struggle trying to take Dara off Peace’s hands.
“Can I keep her for just tonight?” Peace begs. He shakes his head. The child breaks into a cry that irritates me. I slip on my sunglasses and hurry out to my car. I have to be somewhere urgently. My phone has been vibrating in my purse, riddled by phone calls from one person.
I sigh, feeling exhausted, thinking of the trips I have to take before I finally go to see the caller. I turn around and face the girls who are now walking towards me.
“I’ll pay everyone’s cab fares and that’s because I can’t drop you all at your destinations. I have a business appointment.”
“Housewives now have business appointments?” Mary teases. I yank her hair. She whines.
“Honey, you’re going back to your office?”
“Yep. Jiney’s there and I have loads of work to do before I close. Oh, and there’s that love concert this evening.” She sticks out her hand. “My transport.”
I take out some money from my purse and dump on her palm. She blows me a kiss, says goodbye to the girls and crosses the street. Mary and Peace also get some cash but I don’t wait for them to hail a cab before I dash into my SUV and drive off in haste. Patience is not a virtue the person I’m going to meet has.
∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞
Wura is sprawled on the floor of her living room, eyes up at the ceiling. She is a mix of different emotions. The day of her love concert with Pastor Ralph is finally here, and although she is physically ready, she is a mess mentally. This would be her first public appearance since her lewd videos hit the net. Even though everyone assures her that her past is forgotten, she still carries it on her shoulders.
The program coordinator for the concert had come up with a brilliant idea to help quash her fears. He had suggested that once she took the stage after her opening song with Pastor Ralph, they were both to share their stories to the audience and talk about how they found God’s forgiveness which became the push for the concert. The idea had sounded awesome to Wura and Ralph. The program coordinator got someone from the media team to help with writing the stories, and in the end, they came out with deep emotional pieces that were bound to score empathy from the audience. It had seemed all good with Wura over the past months but today she wakes up not feeling ready for what the evening holds.
Alone on the living room floor while Bilal lies sleeping with half his body on a couch and the other on the floor, Wura tries her best to calm her nerves. The scarily-efficient Novocaine Knights event team handling the concert has assured her that everything is under control. All she needs to do is to show up at the venue and sing. Still, she fusses, and not even the blueness of her space or the mild scent of incense in the air gives her calm.
She shuts her eyes and prays for a bit but she can’t put her thoughts together, so she remains motionless, listening to music coming from her bedroom, a jazz album by Dario Chiazzolino. She forces herself to be carried away by the complicated but mellow guitar arrangements that are distinctive to Dario’s sounds. Soon she finds herself falling into calm, but the serene moment is interrupted by a knock on the door.
She is not pleased by the disturbance, as she is observing total solitude and silence to keep her vocal chords in shape until the moment she climbs the stage to sing. Having someone dropping in unannounced is not what she needs at the moment.
She goes for the door and unlocks it. When she opens it, she finds no one outside. However, she is greeted by the presence of a brand new steel string acoustic guitar resting on a stand, gleaming in metallic brown under the light of the morning.
“Oh my God,” she whispers, leaving the door and stepping outside. She touches the instrument like someone touching the face of a lover for the first time, caressing its edges, stroking its strings – just to be sure it’s all real and she’s not imagining it.
A little card hanging off one of the tuning machines, held by a fancy string, is blown by the wind and it falls to the floor. She picks it to find a note in Mahmud’s writing.
You always wanted this, and I think on this big day, you deserve it. Sing like the wind, doll face.
I never stopped loving you.
“Mymood…” Tears attack her eyes as a feeling of lonesomeness which has now become part of her, surges in, mixing with her joy. But she doesn’t let it stay. She lifts the guitar off the ground, and expertly holding it in her arms, strums the strings. She considers herself a rookie with the instrument but Pastor Ralph who has been her tutor for under a year thinks otherwise.
“Music is just you, Wuraola. I bet if I gave you a pair of drumsticks you’d find your way around the percussions.”
To that, she had remained quiet. She already knew the basics of drumming, learned on her own. But it had never been her favorite instrument. She loved melody, strings and chords. Maybe next year she would buy a cello and start learning that as well.
“Thanks, Mahmud,” she voices out, her first loudly-uttered words for the day.
Wura swivels at the sound of Mahmud’s voice coming from behind her, almost dropping the guitar. She finds him standing right beside the front door. She had been so carried away with the guitar at first sight that she hadn’t noticed he was there the whole time.
“Mymood?” she whispers. He doesn’t reply. He simply remains standing, staring at her intensely, his hands in his pockets. For a second, Wura thinks she is imagining his presence. She gently places the guitar back on its stand and faces him again. They haven’t seen in over a year. Having him in the same space with her after endless months of tears and longing can best be described as being in the presence of a celestial being. She is not sure what to do. But he makes it easy for her as he walks over and wraps his arms around her, one taking her neck and the other resting on her waist.
She meets his hug with tears. The distinct scent of him that comes with cologne and cigarette finds her memories and brings them all to her head.
“You don’t know how happy I am,” Mahmud expresses. “This is like a dream, mami. I’m holding you again.”
The broken tenderness in his voice and his face buried in her neck pushes her emotions to the peak. She lets loose in his hold. He doesn’t stop her. He knows the tears are not just of joy. He understands everything her snivels and shudders mean. He holds her until it goes away.
“Do you know how much I’ve missed you, you silly Yoruba girl?”
She giggles as he steps back and feeds his eyes with her body.
“Wuraola Adegbite! God will not sha let you kill me. See as you fine like kilode!”
He takes one more step backwards and shakes his head. She suddenly becomes aware that she is wearing only a boyfriend tee and bum shorts.
“Stop looking at me like that.”
He grabs her waist again and goes for her mouth fiercely. She sighs at the taste of him and the familiarity of his kiss that is made more pleasurable by months of want. The kiss is long and sweet like a mouthful of sugarcane juice on a hot day. Even when Mahmud stops, Wura goes for more. But he stops again her and leads her back into the house.
Bilal gets his attention as they walk in. He breaks in his steps and a warm smile brings his lips together.
Wura nods. Mahmud walks over to his son and stoops to study him. “He’s now beginning to look like you, Wu.”
“Everybody says that.”
“But he has my nose, thank goodness.”
“And my hair.” Mahmud pats the toddler’s thick, dark locks.
“It grows too fast. I have to take him for a haircut every three weeks.”
Mahmud smiles in pride, lifting the boy off the floor and onto the couch.
“But you sef, why did you leave him like this?”
“Don’t worry. By the time you stay with him for just one day, the way he falls asleep will be the least of your problems.”
Mahmud rises up.
“So, what should I cook for you?” she asks. And before he can answer, adds, “I like what you’re wearing.”
Mahmud stares down at his outfit of a pair of jeans, a checkered shirt and a sweater. “The clothes look a lot better off my body than on it.”
Wura gives him a playful frown but at the same time, forcing away memories of the feel of his hairy body against hers.
“Stop trying to make me sin here, oga. I’m ministering to thousands today.”
“Then marry me and let me make love to you before you climb that stage this evening.”
“I’m serious.” He comes closer. “We already met all the requirements last year and fixed the date for the wedding before you changed your mind. I still have my friend who works there and all I need is a phone call, a couple of friends and we’re husband and wife. And then I can smash you legally.”
“Good lord! Your mouth!”
He goes for her lips again, but taking it slowly and teasingly this time.
“I love you, mami,” he asserts between kisses. She buries her fingers in his full beard, stroking it down until she touches his neck. Her self-control begins to wane. She stops herself by pulling away. But Mahmud won’t let her go. He holds her bound for one more kiss which leads to caresses that has them both falling over a couch. It takes both her will and his for them to control themselves.
Head resting on his chest afterwards, she requests, “go away for the rest of the day so I can concentrate on my concert.”
He nips her nose as she raises her head. “That’s not fair.”
“After the concert, we’ll resume talks about us getting married.”
“Don’t pull my legs.”
“Just go away, you distracting man. Come with something nice at the end of the concert.”
“I bought so many things for you, mami. And for Billy.”
She straightens up. “Tokunboh, please go.”
He stands to his feet and drags her to the front door where they kiss one more time. “My applause will be the loudest at the concert.”
“Kiss Bilal for me.”
She stands by the door and watches him leave. Her eyes drop down to the guitar. She fixes a long, unbroken stare that gives her a cloudy vision. And then she blinks it away as she lowers herself to sit on the double steps that lead into the house. The last time she kissed Mahmud was over a year ago; they were standing in the airport, his plane set to leave for Dubai. He was to spend a week there before proceeding to Jeddah. He had asked her to pass that week with him but she had declined, stating that she knew they would end up being inappropriate with each other. Now, as she recalls the moment, she wishes she had gone along, and done everything to save their relationship, including following him all the way to Jeddah.
Distance has left a gaping hole between them, one which gives her doubts about wanting to spend her future with him. He has no idea what his family did to her in his absence, how they summoned her and begged her to sever all ties with him. His elder sister, Asma, and her husband Usman were the only ones who stood by her side. But that had not been enough. At that time in her life, she felt she had nothing left to cling to. Even her siblings abandoned her. She didn’t blame them or anyone for how they treated her. She also hated the Wura that was in those videos. She had pulled through relying on her music, the quiet, dark days when she was alone and all she had was her voice and the black and white notes on her Yamaha keyboard. Ralph was there for her as well, upholding her ragged honor even to the disrepute of his name. He became a constant in her life, lending her his voice, his shoulders and cheering words. It was upon his back she learned to stand again. He always had enough strength for her.
But last week he had caved and brought the weight down on them both. A rather strange thing had happened during her rehearsals at a friend’s house where he was staying at the moment, having finally parted ways with his wife. The house was a large, quiet place somewhere in Badagry, and had tall, bare palm trees and a yard that looked out to a small, dirty beach. Ralph had chosen to live that faraway to heal from his broken heart. It was Wura’s first time in the place and Ralph treated her to a glass of orange and ginger juice before they set about their rehearsals.
But things didn’t go well that morning, as Ralph ran through a song in a manner so depressing and dark that Wura saved them both by placing a gentle hand over his to stop him. Music notes from the glistening black piano he was playing died down and he lifted miserable eyes at her.
“She’s taking the children to the UK, and I can’t do anything about it.”
“Well, it’s the best for them. I’m paying school fees, accommodation and all but…”
He ran his hand over his forehead.
“She’s taking everything from me. Everything. Nine years of marriage, my children and the bulk of my money. And I did nothing wrong. I never cheated on her. She just got tired of me…”
He sighed and dropped his hand, fingers landing on the black notes of the piano, causing an unpleasant sound.
“I’m so sorry, sir.” Wura drew closer and sat beside him. They had never spoken about his divorce, not to this extent, at least. She was unsure of how to respond to his heartbreak which was alien to her, being that he had done everything to hide his pain. The emotional side of him was new and utterly distressing. She wanted to just reach out and hug the broken man in him.
“But she accused me of many things,” Ralph continued. “Of loving God’s work more than her, of never being there when she needed me, of sacrificing for my music more than I sacrificed for the family… And maybe she was right. Maybe every other thing came before her and the kids but it wasn’t intentional. I thought I was doing everything right, Wura.”
“Maybe the problem is not with you and you should stop punishing yourself.”
But it seemed Wura had just spoken to the air. Ralph went back and in time and brought up occasions that he felt he might have missed being a good husband and father, times when the church came first and his family second. Wura stopped him again, her hand on his as before.
“It’s not your fault. She stopped loving you. These things happen.”
Ralph sought Wura’s eyes from the darkness of his.
“I’m not supposed to tell you this but I have to let it out of my chest. She also accused me of loving you.”
Wura’s hand dropped.
“Of being in love with you.”
An uneasy smile, barely noticeable took one side of Wura’s lips. It was her turn to search his face. She didn’t know what she was looking for but she held his eyes.
“But you’re not in love with me. You love me as a sister.”
Ralph was silent.
He looked elsewhere.
His eyes returned to her. “What she thinks I feel or don’t feel for you doesn’t matter. What matters is the work God has used me to do in your life. The work we’re both doing.”
Wura stood up, her pulse hastening.
“You shouldn’t bother about what she said. She was just looking for reasons to leave. Even if hypothetically, I was in love with you, and it’d been so from the first day I met you, you think I’d throw my family and ministry away for that? Come on, Woo. You should know I’m not that type of man. I’d keep it all bottled up. Put the lid on it. Treat you as I would my sister, because God knows what I feel for you is pure and wholesome. So, let’s forget that talk and concentrate on our ministry of healing broken souls.”
Wura didn’t feel better by his explanation. He had, in uncertain terms, confirmed his ex-wife’s assertions and it scared the hell out of her.
“I’m still Pastor Ralph,” he insisted. “Nothing has changed between us, Woo.”
But it didn’t feel that way to Wura. On her way home that day, her mind went back to all the moments she felt he had expressed his feelings. Nothing inappropriate in his manner towards her was recalled; Ralph had been a mentor at all times, even when he found out that she was pregnant with Bilal. He had been supportive and gracious to Mahmud then and never wavered in his character.
However, the awareness of those facts did nothing to soften the blow of what he had told Wura. She wished he had never said a word on the matter even though she understood his need to unburden himself. Looking into the history of their relationship over the period of Mahmud’s absence she came to the awful realization that they had gotten quite close; so close that Bilal now called him ‘daddy’ and he sometimes knew when she was on her period because on more than one occasion, he had helped her purchase sanitary towels when menstrual cramps left her incapacitated. They were that chummy. Hence, through her entire week, even until this moment, she had carried the feeling that she was and still is in a sort of unhealthy relationship with him. And to her, Mahmud’s surprise return is God’s way of telling her to leave the life she shares with Ralph.
She counts the hours to the concert in feverish anticipation, her unease returning.
∞∞∞ ∞∞∞ ∞∞∞
His SUV enters the compound with the same weariness that claims his body. It feels to him like he has been driving for years without stop. He makes mental plans to sleep for five hours at least, and then wake up to map out more time to sleep for another twelve hours. Very little jobs like this claim his time and energy. He would usually delegate duties to the Novocaine Knights technical crew and hang about to see them done. But this is different. Wura, as sweet and soft-spoken as she is known to be, gets bumpy when it comes to her music and the sounds that accompany it.
Kasiobi had used most of the night and the dark hours of the morning to ensure that everything was technically perfect for the love concert. Mechanical glitches had prolonged his efforts but somehow he managed through, setting everything ready in good time.
He now longs for a warm bath and a cup of steaming hot chocolate or something of the likes. He recalls how Lexus always made the best cups of hot chocolate, adding twists with each fresh brew. He reminisces on moments when she got out of herself and treated him like he was the best thing since ice-cream. It felt good to be in love then, with nothing to worry about but whose turn it was to do the dishes or make dinner. Lexus had been the Lexus he’d always known – wild, open and bearing the mindedness and sometimes melancholy of a talented artist. In their small apartment in New York her talent blossomed, in oil paintings, charcoal and graffiti. The highlight of his nights after long hours in class and studio sessions was to come home and watch her, dressed in nothing but a single piece of clothing, throwing herself into her art. Sometimes, two or three days would go by before she acknowledged his presence. And when she did, she brought fierce affection with her. Their love was always on a high, sometimes too good to be true. But he had never nursed any worries. Lexus was not just his girlfriend; she was his best friend too. If love failed, friendship was bound to survive…
Kasiobi brusquely blocks thoughts of her out of his mind. Recalling their history together is always a torturous pastime, certainly not something he presently needs.
He steps down from his vehicle and walks towards his apartment, the sounds of reggae loudening as he nears the door.
She is becoming a problem. As he had predicted, her sole aim since she got back into his life had been to remind him that she once used to stoke his fires. He couldn’t count how many times he had wandered into the living room and found her naked or nearly so. He was now quite used to the show, something Kira constantly complains about. He foresees a fight between both girls soon, with Chichi being the instigator as is in her nature. They barely stomach each other, and it’s not that he really cares. He feels nothing particularly deep for either of them.
His present distraction is Didi whom he had had the pleasure of being with a few times at the Novocaine Knights head office. He finds her bubbly and quite naïve, but at the same knowledgeable in some areas about life for someone her age. She comes across as a spoilt child, much like Lexus, wild and willing to try anything. And maybe that’s why he finds himself drawn to her. Lexus still remains a constant crush in his life but he has no desire to get them back to where they used to be.
One of these days he’ll ask her out on a date, see what she’s all about.
He comes to his front foyer, the reggae music unbearable now. He opens the door and enters the living room, picking out a different, more disturbing sound than the music. He can hear Trinity screaming loudly from Chichi’s bedroom. He marches to the electronic stand and yanks off the main connection from the wall, stopping the music. He barges into Chichi’s bedroom and finds his daughter alone in her cot, kicking into the air with her screams. He takes her in his arms but the screams intensify.
“Chichi?” He peeps into the bathroom. It is empty. When he turns back to the room, he spots a piece of paper on one of the pillows on Chichi’s neatly-arranged bed. His tummy whips as he goes for the paper. On a second thought, he leaves it where it is, and stands to read its contents, written in Chichi’s hand.
This is the worst thing I’m ever going to do in my life and everyone will hate for it but I have to go and find my happiness. I never planned to be a mother or a baby mama. I’m not good at doing both. It’s best I leave Trinity in your hands. I can’t raise her out of wedlock and God knows I tried getting you to love me but your heart is with Lex. When we got back together last year I thought it was for good but you dumped me again. You have no idea how much it hurts to keep loving one person and the person keeps dumping you. Well I wish you and Lex the best when you get back together. As for me, don’t look for me. You’ll never find me.
Weirdly, Kasiobi is not shocked. With Chichi one should expect anything. Heck, he even expects her to walk back in and tell him the note is all a joke.
Thus, his reaction to what he has just read is laughter. A shake of his head and more laughter. Trinity who continues to shriek at the top of her lungs is now clawing at his neck.
“Let’s go get you something to eat, Trini. Your mom has gone mad.”
He leaves the bedroom to the kitchen, opens the fridge and finds a feeding bottle containing breast milk, the only one left. After he tosses it into the microwave, he picks a chair and sits, doing his best to placate Trinity.
“She’ll come back,” he says to the tot. “Your mom will miss you so much she’ll come back.”
But his words sound alien in his ear as he looks around. Usually, Chichi would be standing in front of the cooker or the sink, dressed in a panty or nothing at all, doing everything to seduce him. Her absence rings as loudly as Trinity’s screams.
“Trini, sorry o. Biko, calm down. Your food is warming up.”
Luckily for both father and daughter, the microwave dings to a stop. Kasiobi takes out the milk, hurries to the living room and proceeds to feed Trinity. This is his first attempt and it goes badly. The milk is too hot and it burns Trinity on first taste and she goes into a fit worse than before. Kasiobi then dashes for freezing water from the fridge and spends an extra two or three minutes having the milk come to manageable temperature. By now, Trinity has given up wailing. She goes into silent whimpers, setting the most miserable expression on her face that has Kasiobi feeling inadequate. When he eventually feeds her and all seems well with the world, he stretches out to have a short playtime with her but fails at it as he discovers he is too exhausted. He yawns more than a few times and soon his eyes begin to shut without his consent.
“She’ll come back,” he mumbles, yawning. But something in his head, sounding much like Lexus’ voice tells him, “Nigga, you know she’ gone.”