Eid Mubarak, guys!
My Muslim brethren, where my ram at? I’m here patiently waiting o! No dull.
I want to thank everyone that participated in the Fourth Finger Giveaway. There were so many to choose from but I had to pick only five. I’m still in the process of giving out the books.
If you missed out, tough luck. This simply means you should just go and buy the book. I felt kind of sad that there were so many people who hadn’t gotten it yet. My reason for the giveaway was primarily to get numbers on how many people hadn’t gotten it. I found out that there are quite a lot. And I wonder why it’s so.
Is it too expensive? Are the payment options too stiff? Talk to me, let me know what your difficulties are in an attempt to finding a solution.
Otherwise, stop waiting for awoof and just go and buy the book. Help my ministry, biko, so I can continue doing this. Comments and sales are what keep me coming here. Without them, trust me, I for don pack shop since.
Sharon had been angry so many times in her life. It was a regular occurrence. There was always some new idiot each day who got the rise out of her. But none of them drew out strong feelings of hate like Bankole. She loathed the very air he breathed and wished so many times that he would be knocked down by a car or killed by more excruciating means.
Her wish was about to almost come true but first, things were going to get complicated.
It began with Seriki coming out to meet her outside Zor, in search of his fiancée.
“Where is Beatrice?”
Caught unawares, Sharon stammered a little before replying. “You know how she is… The proposal…it caught her off guard. She said she needs some time to let it all sink in.”
“Oh. She’s not happy I proposed?”
“No, she is. She’s just a little overwhelmed, so I told her to go home and cool off before she starts displaying some kind of attitude that people will notice.”
“You’re sure she’s fine?”
Sharon touched his arm. “She is. Don’t worry about her.”
“Well, this ruins the mood.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
“I honestly can’t stay here and continue if she’s gone. Maybe I should go and talk to her…”
“No, no, no. Just leave her. Let her sleep it off. By morning, she’ll be all compliant. Trust me.”
“A hundred percent.” Sharon drew closer. “Now, why don’t we leave this place to somewhere quieter? I know a nice bar around the corner.”
Seriki mulled over it for a few seconds.
He led the way to the parking lot, almost bumping into Madu who was in the company of Nmachi. They exchanged greetings and parted.
“It’s always good to come to an event fashionably late,” Madu told Nmachi as they got to the entrance of Zor.
“This is not fashionably late, Madu. We’ve missed most of the party.”
“Relax. You’ll still have fun, ferret.”
“Can you stop calling me that?” Nmachi said edgily.
She had the urge to punch him in the back of his head. And this wasn’t because he was calling her a ferret. She had been on edge all day, from the moment she woke up and set about a particular undertaking that was ignoble. Through the course of the day she had changed her mind on different occasions over the mission but then she would go back again and stick to course.
“You have to be ruthless to survive,” Madu had told her once.
This was her being ruthless. She needed to survive. She needed to heal from being dumped like a bag of dirt by Guru.
The club and its loud music gave her a headache as she followed Madu in. Normally, she loved parties; the louder they were, the better. But this was not a night to be merry. She endured Madu stopping at every forward movement of his legs to talk to someone. She also had to endure the nauseating girls that rushed up to him just to familiarize or for pictures.
“This is how to be a star,” he whispered into her ear. “See how they hardly notice you? We have to fix that. And please, don on a fucking smile on that black face.”
Now, she wanted to kick him in the nuts. He was adding to her jumpiness. She couldn’t wait to be done with him so she could rush home and hide away for a long time.
A girl in a pair of white bum shorts and a black t-shirt with Zor written on it, ushered them into a large VIP lounge that was boasting of Nigeria’s revelry-loving celebrities and socialites. Nmachi groaned loudly when she thought of enduring another round of Madu marking his presence with unnecessary acknowledgment of people he saw every other day.
This time, he was kind enough to introduce her. A few of them recognized her and it more than eased up some of her tension. Madu pointed to a corner and they both sat in as a bar waitress came by with the drinks menu.
“So what is this thing you want to tell me that has made you stick to me like glue all day?” Madu spread his hands out on the backrest of the couch they sat on. “Are you pregnant? Did Guru knock you up?”
“Then what is it?”
Nmachi’s palms began to perspire. She reached for her purse. With shaky hands, she opened it and took out a plastic drug container. It had been difficult to jam it into the purse, considering its size and width. When she took it out, it looked flattened and its cap was opened on one side.
“Vitamins. You’re really pregnant, ferret. Stupid move but great! We’ll tie you back to Guru and start all over again. And who knows, there might be a society wedding in the cards for you. But first, we’ll milk this with all we got…”
Nmachi stayed silent as he went on, building evil castles in his mind. When he was done and the bling around his neck didn’t hurt so much to look at because her eyes were now used to it, she broke her silence.
“Madu, I’m not pregnant.”
“Then what are the vitamins for?”
“They’re not vitamins. They’re…antiretroviral drugs.”
Madu gave her a terrified up and down glance and then shifted away from her.
“I am not the one with HIV. Guru is.”
“Guru is HIV positive.”
Madu shifted towards her again. “Lower you voice, ferret. That news is so hot, it shouldn’t leak.”
Nmachi sighed. She had not been loud. In fact, she had let out the news like a squeaky mouse, her conscience choking her.
“So you mean our boy has AIDS?”
“Not AIDS. HIV.”
“All join, abeg. He has the disease and that’s all that matters. How did you know sef?”
“Well, every morning I saw him taking drugs. But every time I asked him, he would tell me that he’s taking vitamins. In fact, he hid them in vitamin containers. But on the day we broke up, early in the morning, Papa came downstairs with this container in his mouth. I didn’t know how he got it. I took it and wanted to throw it away because it was empty, but on a second look, I saw what they wrote on it. Out of curiosity, I googled the name of the drug and saw that it was antiretroviral and the pills looked like what Guru had been passing off as vitamins.”
“He has AIDS.” Madu laughed, took her face and kissed her lips. “I love you! You don’t know what this means! And because of this, I’ll make sure your face is scrawled on billboards! Everywhere! You’ll become a star.”
He threw his hands up in the air and some of his celebrity friends, oblivious of what was going on, reacted in amusement. Still pumped, he rose up and gave a small dance, moving to the rhythm of the current song that was playing. Nmachi shrank back into the couch, sad, yet telling herself that she was justified for what she had done.
Guru deserves this. He brought it on himself.
Their drinks arrived. She stretched out and took her cocktail for a sip. It didn’t taste as good as what she would have done but she didn’t mind. She needed to numb her conscience.
Bankole had genuinely wanted them to talk – and they had done that – for ten minutes or so, seated in a bar so quiet one could hear cars outside zooming past.
The talk would have gone smoothly and straightforward in the likes of, “Bea, I love you. I never stopped loving you. And I miss you so badly. Can you please, dump Seriki, throw his ring in his face and move back in with me?”
But it didn’t go that way. Beatrice had been unable to speak. All he had asked was a question about her reason for accepting Seriki’s ring and she broke down in tears. He had thought it would be a short episode and they would get back into the reason why they were there in the first place but Beatrice was inconsolable.
“Let me take you home, then.”
To that suggestion she shook her head like a little child and clung to him.
The smell of her hair, the feel of her breasts, the softness of her skin, the familiarity, the memories…
He looked into her eyes. He saw need as raw as his. They didn’t have to speak to initiate anything, not with the years of understanding between them. He stood up and dragged her along. When they stepped outside to meet a light drizzle from the night sky, he took her lips in a fierce kiss. Her tears wet his cheeks but he didn’t bother. He could take all the wetness she could bring.
In a hotel nearby, they cheated on their insignificant others. Emotions were open and ran deep. As their bodies fell into ease, the rain intensified. They made love for most of the night. They would stop and start again, unable to fully quench their mutual desire for each other. When the rain finally stopped and they were both too tired to move, they fell into conversation.
Bankole’s pride was gone. He wanted Beatrice back and he told her so. Beatrice kissed his face a million or so times. She had longed for this moment for as long as she could remember. Nothing was going to tear them apart anymore…
Except for that loud bang on the door that startled them both while they slept in each other’s arms after the talk…
But first, Sharon was in a luxurious suite that cost more than a hundred thousand per night, lying beside a sleeping Seriki, taking selfies as proof of their night together. In some pictures, she bared her breasts, resting Seriki’s hand on them, the hand that had the signet ring he was never known to take off. After her perfect selfies, she placed that hand on his exposed genitals and took some more shots. She had started her ‘Night with Seriki’ album right from the reception of the hotel, and he was none the wiser. Tipsy, horny, he just wanted a good lay, something to compensate for Beatrice disappearing on what was supposed to be the happiest night of their lives as a couple.
After the photo moments, Sharon lay back and dove into deep thought, continued from months of planning.
Beatrice was a fool and a waste of time. Ungrateful bitch she was too. After everything Seriki had done, she was going to toss it to the wind for Bankole’s penis. Whatever voodoo the broke ass was using on her had to be undone today. Sharon was not going to lose out in the end when Seriki finally discovered Beatrice was a two-timing slut. This was why she had given him a GPS diamond ring to propose to Beatrice with. Of course, she didn’t tell him it was a tracking device. She alone had the app it came along with. She alone knew that Beatrice was with Bankole in a cheaper hotel a short distance away from them.
It was clear that Beatrice was going to ruin all she had worked for. Sharon had anticipated this and set in motion a plan that would see her on safe ground once the truth was exposed. That way, she would retain Seriki as a benefactor, and maybe lover and baby daddy (if the amazing sex they had last night eventually yielded something). Beatrice, for all she cared, could go and hang herself somewhere. She had given up on her.
Sharon yawned. She was tired. Seriki was a fatiguing lover. But he could dish out pleasure like he was born to take residence in vaginas.
I could have more of that…and the money, Sharon thought.
She lay still, listening to him snore. It didn’t irritate her. A man without money was nauseating, even if he slept like an angel. Seriki could be fat and stinking and she wouldn’t mind.
It was raining outside but she could not hear it. She was waiting for her betrayal to come to execution. It took an hour longer and finally, Seriki opened his eyes.
She turned. He yawned, looked around and yawned again.
“Good morning,” she greeted.
“Sharon, your morals worry me.”
“Same way I feel about you.”
“You slept with your sister’s fiancé on the night of their engagement.”
“You slept with your fiancée’s sister on the night of your engagement.”
Seriki drew himself up. “Can I drop you at home, so I can see Beatrice?”
“Riki…” Sharon sat up. “There’s something I think I should tell you.”
“What?” He gave a third yawn.
Sharon left the bed altogether and took a humble pose in the nude.
“What is it?”
“Beatrice is…” She breathed out. “She…”
“Talk nau.” Seriki was never known for his patience.
“When Beatrice left Zor yesterday, she left with her ex.”
“I don’t understand.”
“She still has feelings for the guy, Riki. I’m so sorry.”
Riki shook his head in confusion. “What are you talking about? What feelings? What ex?”
“The guy has a hold on her. She likes you. She really does but he has a hold on her. I don’t know if it’s jazz because he’s not even half the man you are and yet he twists her mind.”
Seriki squeezed his nose, making a sniffling sound. “So you’re saying I wasted my time and money on your sister?”
“Calm down, Riki…”
“Calm down?! Calm down?!” He got down from the bed. “You assured me that I could have her! You told me you’d deliver her into my arms! Those were your exact words, and now you’re singing a different song?!”
Sharon stayed silent.
“So she followed him to his house or what?!”
“No…they went to a hotel.”
“How do you know this?! Isn’t her phone with you?!”
“Calm down, Riki, let me explain things to you.”
He crossed his arms.
“Beatrice really likes you but her mind is manipulated by that guy. Totally manipulated. He nearly ruined her life and future, had I not saved her from him. But somehow he pops back into her life anytime he feels like and she just loses her head. And that’s why I feel we should go after him. If we can fix him up for good, he won’t come near her again.”
“And where do we find this human being right now?”
Sharon picked her phone from the bed. “The ring you proposed to Bea with has a tracking device.”
“A tracking what?”
“It’s GPS enabled, just in case it gets stolen.”
“Oh? They make rings like that?”
“It just came out this year. Anyways, I know their current location.”
“And where is that?”
“On Jide Oki street.”
Seriki snapped his fingers. “Dress up, we’re going there.”
“Riki, didn’t you hear me say we have to fix the guy up for good so he doesn’t come near her again?”
“So, what are you suggesting?”
“Get your boys. Call them to meet us there.”
Like a zombie, Seriki nodded. He reached for his clothes, as Sharon reached for hers.
Things were going the way she wanted them to. Maybe they could get Beatrice to behave this time. But if they couldn’t, Sharon was ready with her arsenal to take her place in Seriki’s life.
They drove straight to Jide Oki in Victoria Island, Seriki livid behind the wheel. He ranted the entire time, detailing every good thing he had done for Beatrice. Sharon apologized at every turn, and suffered the pain of listening to him cuss as they waited for his boys.
They showed up eventually, three chunky guys that looked like bouncers. All five of them stormed into the hotel, stirring the front desk guy who ran to wake the manager up. All it took was the mention of Seriki’s family name and an extra key card to the suite Bankole and Beatrice were in was given to them – plus apologies.
They marched up a flight of stairs and came to a corridor that led them to three rooms. They stood before the middle one. Sharon flashed the key card over a metal pane and the door unlocked. One of the chunky guys hit the door with his arm and it threw in. Seriki charged in first, startling the lovebirds. Bankole sat up while Beatrice who had assessed the situation faster, was up on her feet, clutching the bedspread.
“Beatrice, what is this?!” Seriki bellowed. “Who the fuck is this guy?!”
“Who the fuck are you?” Bankole threw back with all calm, face in spite. One of Seriki’s boys made a grunt and moved towards him. Seriki stopped him and then faced Beatrice.
“I give you everything and you cheat on me with this lowlife, Bea?”
Beatrice was already in tears. She held Sharon’s eyes and saw that she had betrayed her.
“He needed to know, Bea. He needed to know. You want to ruin your life with this bastard…”
“Watch your tongue, Sharon!” Bankole charged up.
“No, you watch yourself! Useless human being! You won’t leave her alone! You won’t let her have a good life! All you know is to fuck!”
“Sharon, stop,” Beatrice pleaded.
“Wear your dress, my friend!” she retorted.
“No.” Beatrice shook her head, fear filling her eyes as she saw Seriki discreetly nod at his goons. “Riki, what are you doing?”
The guys advanced towards Bankole who remained standing.
“Riki, tell them to stop! Please! Riki!”
She watched helplessly as they pounced on Bankole with punches and kicks that threw him on the floor. The moment she saw blood after a boot stomped on his head, she lost her mind. What happened next became a blur. She didn’t know if it was Sharon or Seriki that led her out, her body still wrapped in the bedspread. She kept turning her head back and calling out to Bankole but no one seemed to hear her or care. When they entered Seriki’s car, she curled up in a ball and wept.
They took her home and she came down from the car like someone in a haze. Seriki put an arm in front of her to stop her.
“I proposed to you in front of the fucking world. The news is trending online right now. I won’t let you go and have you ruin my reputation with your indiscretion. Get your shit together and be the nice, little fiancé you’re supposed to be.”
He forced the GPS ring back on her finger and then kissed her lips.
“I’ll check on you later.”
When he let go, she walked to her front door in the same hazy manner as she had left the car. Soon after, Sharon met up with her and unlocked the door.
“Bea, I’m sorry…”
“I am. I really am. There was nothing I could do. He kept questioning me and questioning me until I told him the truth.”
“How did he even find me?”
“I don’t know. The guy has his ways. He just made a few phone calls and then next thing he said I should get into the car with him. I’m so sorry, babe.”
“He’s going to kill Banky.”
“He won’t. Riki is not a killer.”
Beatrice stared down and saw a couple of bloodstains on the bedspread. She began cry ingagain.
“It’s okay, Bea. It’s okay. Come here.”
Sharon wrapped her arms around her and rocked her until she stopped crying. It was now daylight and it came with a sun that wanted to erase all signs of the night’s downpour.
“Let’s go inside.”
Sharon led Beatrice to her room and helped her snuggle under the covers.
“I want to call Banky, to know if he’s okay.”
“I will call and find out by myself, babe but just chill first. Sleep.”
“I can’t sleep.”
“Let me make tea for you.”
“No. I want to call Banky.”
Sharon left the bedroom and returned with Beatrice’s phone, a glass of water and a pill.
Beatrice straightaway dialed Bankole’s phone but met a dead tone. She attempted a few more times and got the same response.
“I can’t reach him,” she whispered.
“He is fine. Riki had no intention of killing him. Just relax.”
Beatrice spilled more tears. Sharon passed her the glass of water and the pill.
“Contraceptive. I know you didn’t use condoms.”
“Leave me alone, abeg.”
“The worst thing you can do to yourself right now is to get pregnant for Bankole. Please, take the pill.”
“I said leave me alone. Leave. Go. Get out of my room!”
Sharon placed the glass of water and pill on the nightstand and left the room. Just as she stepped out, she got a call from their father.
“Daddy, good morning.”
“Morning, my daughter. I don arrive o!”
“Arrive keh? Daddy, you use night bus?”
“Ah-ahn! But daddy, I been give you money for flight nau. Why you go enter night bus like poor man?”
“That plane something, I no understand am. Abeg, come carry me from here.”
“Where you dey?”
“You hear me? I say Jibowu.”
“I heard you, daddy. I dey come.”
Sharon grumbled all the way down the stairs and to the kitchen where she picked Beatrice’s car key from a wall key holder. She left the house and drove out of the compound.
From her bedroom window, Beatrice watched her sister leave. The moment the gate closed after her, Beatrice threw on some clothes, grabbed her wallet and phone and dashed out. Her destination was the hotel on Jide Oki street.
Nmachi had not slept a wink all night. She didn’t do the famous tossing and turning on the bed. Rather she spent the night in her kitchen, mixing and drinking cocktails while Papa slept fitfully on a fluffy Afghan on the floor beside her.
Her conscience was not a good ally. It had refused to bend to her wickedness. It plagued her at each breath and not even alcohol could drown it.
She sat before her kitchen window, watching the sun make a statement in the sky. Her head hung so heavy she believed all the alcohol she had drunk had gone up there. Her eyes were swollen in pain. She was drunk but sane enough to search for Urenna’s number and dial it.
The phone rang for what seemed like ages before Urenna picked up.
“Nmachi, do you realize what time this is?”
“Yes, it is. 7am exactly. I hope you remember that I don’t work for you again.”
“Rena, I fucked up. I fucked up biiiiig time. Biiiiiiiiiig time!”
“Nmachi, you sound drunk. What happened?”
Nmachi burped and confessed all she had done. Her tale was told in long pauses, slurred talk and disjointed sentences. All the same, Urenna got the gist.
“I pray you and Madu rot in hell!” she shouted at Nmachi. The line went dead. Nmachi stared at her phone.
“She’s angry,” she muttered just before the phone fell to the floor. She looked down. It seemed like the device was resting in the bottom of a deep well. She couldn’t reach it. A few seconds passed and she didn’t even know what she was staring at or why she was in her kitchen. She managed down the stool she was sitting on and staggered as far as her legs could take before collapsing on the backrest of a couch in her sitting room. There, she slept off.
“Are you related to the patient?”
Beatrice had her hand resting on a desk, speaking to a nurse who was polite and carrying a smiling face. The hospital was a small one, as the hotel manager at the hotel in Jide Oki had explained. Bankole had been rushed there by him and a deposit was made to have him admitted and attended to by the doctors. Beatrice had offered to refund the money spent but the manager smiled in an embarrassing manner and informed her that another lady who claimed to be his girlfriend, whom Bankole had called before he became unconscious, already refunded him and settled the bills at the hotel.
Beatrice knew she was coming to face trouble with Ruky at the hospital but she didn’t care. She was going to see Bankole at all cost.
“Yes, I’m a relative,” she said to the polite nurse. “His sister.”
“What’s your name?”
The nurse looked her over. “It’s not visiting hours but since you’re his sister, you can go in. Please, do not make noise. He’s in a critical state and any little thing can upset him. He’s sedated but in case you find him awake, try not to cry in his presence.”
Beatrice felt sick at what she was hearing. “How serious are the injuries, ma?”
“Very serious. But he will make it by the grace of God.” The nurse opened a file before her as Beatrice stood. “This young men sha, playing with their lives. Just because of women. Somebody else’s girlfriend. Hmmm…”
Beatrice ignored her and began out but remembered she had not asked what room he was in. She returned. The woman gave her directions. She left the reception and out to another building that led her to a series of private wards. She found Bankole’s room down a brightly-lit corridor Outside the door, she breathed in and then entered.
Ruky, who was beside Bankole, sat straight but Beatrice didn’t notice her presence. Her eyes fell on Bankole. He was a mess—head and body wrapped in bandages, both hands in POP, IV lines stuck in him and an oxygen mask on his face.
“What are you doing here?” Ruky asked. Beatrice could not respond. Instead, she began to cry.
“I asked you a question. What are you doing here?”
“Is he okay?”
“Does he look okay to you? Is this the same guy you seduced into sleeping with you last night?”
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know this would happen.”
“You knew. You knew your stupid fiancé is a psycho, yet you led Banky into his trap. Is this some sort of game to you? To see two men kill each other for you?”
“No. No…I’m sorry.”
“Sorry will not undo what Seriki did. And I want you to tell him that me and the whole of G&M will be pressing charges. We will see him in court. Tell him that. And you, you’ll not go free too.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“If you know what is good for you now, disappear. Just turn around and return to where you came from and don’t ever come back here.”
“Banky needs me…”
Ruky shot up to her feet and advanced towards her. “Get out of here, Beatrice. Bankole does not need you. In short, he doesn’t want to see your face again.”
“That’s not true.”
“He told me that.”
“He told you?”
“He was conscious about an hour ago and he told me to make sure I never let you come near him.”
“He said that?”
“Yes. Now, leave.”
“At least, can I settle the hospital bills?”
“You think we need your stinking blood money?” Ruky mocked with a laugh. “Have you asked your man how he makes his cash? Maybe you should, so that you will stop parading yourself around like you’ve won a lottery by being with Seriki. Royal family, my foot!”
“Will you, at least, send me a text when he gets well?”
“So that you people will come and finish what you started and kill him for me?”
Ruky pushed her. “Go. Get out.”
Beatrice turned around but kept her eyes on Bankole as she was shoved out like a criminal. She took a slow, heartbreaking walk out of the hospital. In the back of a cab, she glued her face to the window and shut her eyes in prayer to God. She asked him to heal Bankole. And then she added, as an afterthought, “and please Lord, let me get pregnant for him again.”