My name is Kyenpia and I am Amaka’s friend. My friends call me Kyen or fondly, Kay. Amaka and I are very close, more like sisters. You know that type of friendship that has seen tough times and is destined to last till death? Yeah, that’s the type we share. We’ve had our rough moments and times when we had vowed never to speak to each other again but hey, we’re girls and that’s what we do—fight, never speak to each other and make up. And do it all over again.
Then there’s Fiyin….. She’s our friend too and we love her but she has issues that I will not share.
So my life is pretty busy. I joggle three jobs and in the off-chance that I have any time for myself, I spend it with my friends. But there’s this guy who is taking up my time these days. He’s mad crazy for me and I really like him. Well, let’s say that there are parts of him that I like more than the others and that is all I want from him. He’s loaded, he’s disturbingly handsome, he’s sexy and his eyes are bound to put a stop to my heart soon but I don’t love him. Did I hear you say I’m crazy? Yes, I know I am but seriously, I don’t love him.
Enough about this hawt brother. Let’s go back to Amaka – and James. Now that’s true love. I don’t believe in the phenomenon that much or about marriage et al. but I believe that some people come into this world to meet and to never leave each other. And that is the case of our dear Maxy and her Oga Haliru. Yes, that’s what we call him.
When he dumped her, I was mad at him. I don’t follow a girls’ code thing but I refused to speak to James for the entire period that he was not with my girl. When he started dating Onagite, that just made me lose my mind and I even ranted about it on air. (I’m a radio presenter, by the way.) Though I didn’t mention names directly on my show, everybody knew the person I was referring to. James ignored me just like he ignored everyone else that was against his relationship with the bitch (excuse my Spanish) and deleted me out of his life. Like I cared! We attended the same church and had mutual friends like Pastor Ishi (who is my closest male friend), Lanre (who is like a brother to me) and my babe (the hot dude I don’t love). How the latter knew James was none of my business. It’s Lagos. Guys know guys and that is why it is bad for a girl to play the ho with them. They will eventually find out.
Like I said, I’m a busy woman. I joggle between my radio job, my day job as a PRO in an NGO and finally my masseuse job that has me working on exclusive clients only. This last part is unknown to my friends, even Amaka; just like the fact that I’m seeing someone is unknown to them too. They think I’m still nursing the pieces of my broken heart from my last relationship. The guy was married but was separated from his wife. I had no idea initially but somehow I found out and called it off. Amaka and Fiyin heard about it and visited me with three bottles of wine to console me.
Fiyin was first to start crying as she related how her boyfriend had been hitting her and she had been too ashamed to tell anyone. We cried for her. And told her to dump him. Well, let’s say we were talking to a brick wall. She never dumped him.
Amaka cried next and showed us the wedding invitation James had callously sent her. We cried for her too. And she cried some more, broken from the core. We told her not to attend the wedding but when a woman loves a man…
My friends turned to me next and waited for my own sob tale. So I dug up tears from somewhere to look human and cried over the fact that my ex had left me. And my friends cried for me. But I didn’t feel a thing. How can I cry for a man? Puhlizz… All the talk about men, men, men was beginning to eat at my brain. A woman is made to do better. No wonder men shove their money and penises in our faces and expect us to lick everything up without questions.
After all the crying, I told Amaka that I wasn’t going to attend James’ wedding. She begged me to accompany her but I flatly refused. Fiyin agreed to go with her and the matter was settled.
The coming days kept me amused as I watched the silly duo wait in cheerless anticipation for the wedding to come. They went shopping for what to wear and tried to act like it was just another wedding they were attending but it was all pathetic. As for me, I had work to concentrate on.
The day arrived finally and Fiyin, alas, wasn’t able to make it. She had an “accident”. If you ask me, her boyfriend beat the living crap out of her. Amaka was left to go alone and of course, she came to ask me one last time to go along with her but I still refused; nothing was changing my mind. Since it was a Saturday, I remained home and washed my clothes, staying close to my phone for updates on the wedding. However, the first ping I got was not from them but from my babe and it went thus:
—Come to the hotel ASAP.
Remember I told you he was rich? No, I mean, mega rich. No, I mean he could afford a private jet if he wanted to. The hotel he was talking about belongs to him. It is called León Hotels with branches spread around Nigeria. My babe does a host of other businesses too. Legitimate ones.
So I read the ping again and my first reaction was to frown. How dare he talk to me as if I was one of his housekeeping ladies? Still I was curious as to why he should use that tone on me and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. Therefore I pinged him back:
—I’m not coming unless u send a ride.
Ride already waiting downstairs.
He was a man I couldn’t easily predict and though I liked it about him, I wasn’t moved by him trying to wow me on the occasion. I am not a material woman at all. I work really hard for my keep and I do not appreciate any male trying to buy me out. My babe knows that but he holds a firm belief that a beautiful piece of art like me should be spoilt rotten every now and then. Sometimes, I oblige him.
I took a quick shower, dressed up in a pair of shorts and fitted tees and rushed out. I lived on the last floor of my building, so it took a while for me to get down because I hate stairs. I can hear you ask why I chose to live on the third floor… well, ask me that later and I’ll tell you.
I got downstairs and where I expected to see one of my babe’s drivers waiting for me, I saw him instead, standing by his car in sunshades and a black suit and it was then I remembered that he was supposed to be at James’ wedding.
“Hey.” I hugged him and he briefly kissed…no, pecked my lips. That was odd.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at the wedding?”
“It was cancelled,” he said.
“Cancelled?” I didn’t believe him. “As in, James is not marrying Onagite again?” I smiled nevertheless.
“Yeah. Get in the car.”
I didn’t care for the tone of his voice as I hopped got into the passenger’s side. I concentrated on Fiyin’s ping which had just come in.
—U wnt beliv wat oga Haliru did!
“James called Amaka’s name as he was about to say his vows,” my babe answered before Fiyin’s answer came in.
“What?” I was stunned.
“Yeah, he did. Shocked the hell outta me.”
I looked at Fiyin’s latest pings and it confirmed what I had just heard. I was ecstatic and tried to reach Amaka but her phone rang off the hook. I put my phone away and looked at my babe. He had gone back to his frowning mode.
“Hi,” I said. “So what’s this impromptu meet that you’re pulling me into? I thought we were supposed to have dinner later.”
“I don’t want to talk in the car.” He didn’t look at me. “Seatbelt, please.”
I pulled my seatbelt and clipped it on and watched as his butter fingers touched the buttons on the CD player. Music came on and we drove in silence listening to his collection of rap music.
* * * * * * * *
He lived on the last floor of his hotel, one out of two penthouses. There was a private elevator that led up there and just like the ride to the hotel, we went up in silence. When we got into his suite, he took off his clothes and left only in his boxers, he rolled a joint and sat to smoke while I waited for him to say what was on his mind.
By the way, he said the weed was for medical purposes. He refused to share what medical issues he was suffering and I never pried but seriously, I didn’t believe him. I was okay with the plant and he seemed to be in control each time he took it, so why lie?
“When were you going to tell me you massage old, horny men for a living?” he asked, eyes blazing at me. I smiled in return. Was that what was eating him up?
“I am a certified masseuse and I am quite good with my hands. What’s the problem there?”
“The problem is that you’re putting yourself in danger. You could get raped. This is Nigeria, sweetie and many men here don’t know the difference between a massage and a sexual body work-up!”
Wow. He was angry. I had never seen him angry before and there he was, eyes reduced to an unreadable squint but his jaw set tight and fists clenched. It was then I saw the first signs of affection from him and my ‘boyfriend alert’ started buzzing in my head.
Boyfriend Alert is the sound your head makes when a man you have been having sex with decides he wants more and starts to show signs of owning you.
“Hey, I work with a bodyguard,” I explained. “He’s a bouncer at a club in town. We work together. As I’m inside doing the massage, he’s waiting outside the room just in case my client crosses the line. And besides, I have female clients too and they all act professionally with me.”
“I hate the job, Kyen! Stop doing it! You’re putting your life in danger and your reputation at stake!”
“It is work! And I get paid!” I threw back at him.
“How much?” His tone lowered.
“Fifteen to twenty thousand an hour.”
“Is that all, that you have to go out there and put your life at risk?! A measly twenty thousand naira, Kyen?!”
“Yes! It is nothing to you but means a lot to me!”
“I can pay you ten times more than that every day for you to stop!”
He stood and walked to me. “don’t do it again! I don’t want you touching other men!”
Boyfriend Alert buzzing in my head loudly now. He definitely was beginning to use love lingo and I was uneasy.
“Why? Why don’t you want me to touch other men?”
“Because it is wrong, Kyenpia.” He put his hand around my waist and pulled me closer.
I pushed him off and turned away. “It’s a profession. I trained for it and worked one whole year in a good spa. I can’t give it up just because you have issues with it!”
He faced me. “don’t do it anymore.”
“Stop talking to me like that! I’m not your girlfriend!”
“Yes you are!” He lowered his voice. “You mean that much to me.”
It wasn’t the fact that he had shouted that got me. It wasn’t even that he had held my hand really tight when he said it. It was those words. I hated them! And looking into his tiny eyes to realize he wasn’t kidding made me hate him for loving me. I wiggled my hand free from him and made it to the door. He followed me and held me tight from behind.
“I want more, Kyen,” he whispered into my ears as his left hand went for my right breast. “I want more than this. I want all of you, to possess you, to have you to myself. Alone.”
He was putting me in a tight spot. I was always weakened by his touch and would do anything he asked each time he took me.
“Let me go,” I said.
“don’t go,” he begged. “Stay.”
“I can’t.” I used all my strength and will power to push him away and walked out of his suite. As I stood in the elevator, waiting for the door to close, I saw in his eyes that he hadn’t been lying. I truly meant a lot to him and I had just broken his heart.
* * * * * * * *
The following weeks were occupied with work and with me worrying over my babe. He didn’t call me after that day. I had called severally but his phone always rang off the hook. He didn’t ping or text either and the one time I went against my principles to go see him, I was told he was ‘not on seat’. I knew I messed up and I needed the opportunity to explain myself but he shut me out completely. Time dragged by painfully and slowly. I wanted him. I needed him. I missed him.
While I was going through my own pain, Amaka was going through hers. James turned up in her life again and played the hero, saving her from a very hairy situation with her sister, Loretta, whom we all know was the typical Igbo girl who didn’t joke with her money. Amaka had come to me that night and cried in my arms after seeing James. She was glad to have him want her again but she couldn’t forgive him. She was still aching inside. I comforted her that night but by the next evening, I called a meeting of concerned parties and got them involved in a plan to bring the two back together.
First, we sent Amaka for counseling sessions with Ishi whose job was to help her deal with her inability to forgive and to create in her heart an atmosphere to love her man again. Then, because we knew she was going to give James a hard time, we decided he had to just come up with a marriage proposal when next he met her and what better way than with her family present? To accomplish that, we needed her elder sisters involved. The goal at the end of the day was to make sure James never went back to Onagite who was at that point, claiming she was pregnant for him.
The night before the day we planned to bring the two together, James came to see me. It was the first time we were speaking since he left Amaka.
“How are you, Kyenpia?” he asked and hugged me.
“I’m fine, James. Please, sit.”
I offered him the only couch in my room and he sat stylishly. He was a man of class and I couldn’t wait to see him and Amaka back together again.
“Thanks for everything you’re doing to set my love life straight. I screwed up my chance and I know I don’t deserve another but I’m grateful for all the effort you have made – you, Loretta, Ishi and Fiyin. You guys are true friends.”
“But what happened to you? Did Onagite use jazz on you or what?”
James laughed hard and shook his head. “She…has this rape allegation on me…”
“I didn’t do it, Kay. It’s a long story, one that Amaka should never hear.”
I nodded. I was the diary in our circle of friends. Everyone told me their secret but I told them none of mine.
“Kyen, something else brought me here.”
“What?” I asked.
“My friend is crazy about you – to death.”
I didn’t have to ask. I knew James was referring to my babe.
“So? What if he is?”
“Stop playing him.”
I almost laughed. I wasn’t playing the person in question. I just wasn’t interested in love.
“Did he send you here to speak on his behalf?”
“No. I’m just amazed at how much he feels for you. He’s my good friend and he’s never gone this deep before, and I know you haven’t either. So I think you guys can work.”
Now I laughed. I didn’t want ‘him’ or any other him. I just couldn’t.
“If you’re working this hard to see your friend find her happiness again, you should at least, give yourself a chance too,” James added. He stood, hugged and thanked me once more. I opened my door and said good bye to him. When I went to sleep, I thought nothing of the conversation we had.
* * * * * * * *
It was an epic moment and nothing could have stopped me from being there. James was about to propose to Amaka and everyone was present—Amaka’s entire family, and Fiyin and I who were hidden at the dining area, peeping out to watch the whole scene.
The sitting room was quiet and I could hear the clock on the wall ticking away. Somewhere in the house, Amaka’s baby sister was playing with her nieces and nephews, forcing them to call her ‘aunty.’
“So,” Amaka’s dad spoke, looking at her, “James has officially come to ask for your hand in marriage but before I say yes, I have to ask you, as is customary: is this the man you want to marry?”
Everyone turned to Amaka. The shock was evident on her face but she shot angry eyes at her sisters and finally left them on James. The sitting room went silent again and we all waited. I could see Amaka conversing wordlessly with James and I knew he was doing same. It was something they did a lot when they were still together.
“Amaka, answer na,” Ada, Amaka’s eldest sister begged when she couldn’t stand the unnecessary tension any longer. I could see Amaka wanting to say yes to James but it was hard for her. I saw the memory of her pain cloud her eyes and there also, I saw her wanting to run away as she looked at the door.
Please, don’t do it, Maxy. Please don’t.
But it seemed my silent pleas were going to deaf ears as Amaka defiantly stood up. I saw everyone hold their breaths, Fiyin especially, who was praying silently beside me. It was funny to hear the tiny whispering sounds she was making and I almost laughed out but something was happening that drew my attention back to the sitting room. James had gotten to his feet and in one bold move, he walked to Amaka, took her hand and led her back to his chair.
Now, know something about James. He has no fear and no shame. And he certainly didn’t give a damn that Amaka’s father was right there with him as he settled Amaka on his laps and built this wall around them that we were all embarrassed to look at. Everyone in the sitting room was bending their heads like the pair was already making out.
“Amaka,” James started to say but Loretta’s mother interrupted him.
“My son, let us hear what ya saying.”
“Amaka,” he said louder, “I lost you and lost myself. When I let you go, it was the most stupid, singular mistake I made that came to bite me in multiple areas of my life. Everything about me began to diminish and I fell so fast, I couldn’t save myself. I am sorry for every selfish thing I did to hurt you. I have no excuses. Please, forgive me and…” he looked down to gather himself, staring at her hands in his. “I really am sorry and I’m not going to lie to you, I want us back.”
“This night?” Amaka asked, almost interrupting him and everyone laughed to get out of the uneasy moment. I saw two of the sisters wiping their eyes.
“I love you, Amaka,” he said.
“Awww…” Ada murmured and buried her head on Loretta’s shoulder.
“I never stopped thinking about you.”
I began to feel really uncomfortable with his words. I felt like it was my babe was talking to me. I needed to leave the place fast.
“James…” I heard Amaka say and feared that she was going to refuse him. But what right had I to even feel that way when I was doing the same to the man that loved me?
I heard a tiny, whiny noise like a loud mosquito zooming by and I poked out my head to see Amaka crying. I rolled my eyes. The girl was a cry-baby but she was all the sister I had and I loved her the way she was. She was the balance I needed in my very cold, unfeeling life.
No one stopped her from crying. Just like me, I think they felt she deserved to be allowed a moment to let it all out. Fortunately for all of us, she didn’t go all hysterical and she stopped soon after. Then like a dream, James brought out the sunniest diamond ring I had ever seen. I could see Amaka’s tears vanish instantly and a look in her eyes that made me laugh in silence. James sure knew what she liked.
“Amaka Beulah Stanley, will you marry me?”
The room went silent again. But not for long.
“Yes,” Amaka said and just like in the movies, everyone became ecstatic. The family was very dramatic so it wasn’t strange to see Ada announcing the news to their mother on the phone and the other sisters chatting excitedly with tears in their eyes.
I withdrew silently and walked outside to sit by an elevated slab that held a broken tap. I looked at my phone, hoping my babe would call, waiting to see the red, blinking light announce his need for me. I waited for a while and when I realized nothing was coming forth, I stood and found my way round the house to appear at the front gate. I wasn’t in a rejoicing mood anymore; I just wanted to go home and sleep. There was also a strange, desperate need for me to cry but I held it in and walked to the gate.
I turned to Amaka and James who were both standing beside James’ car, locked in a tight embrace. They looked beautiful together again.
“Ya going?” Amaka asked.
“Goodnight!” She waved at me and I smiled back. James nodded in gratitude and I nodded also and walked away into the night.
* * * * * * * *
He had been waiting for me for hours. But he was too proud to call. He had also been too proud to call me the whole time he’d been away from me. He missed me. And he wanted me. The day had been rough and he needed some respite for his aching muscles. Maybe a massage would help.
I listened to him speak and it felt like heaven to hear his voice again after a long time. I felt bad that he sat outside waiting for me with the famous mosquitoes my building was known for. I led him up to my room and laid him on my bed and stripped him of every clothing he had. He was beautiful. From the muscles in his hands to the veins that wired themselves in places only my eyes could see, everything was perfect.
I massaged him slowly and gently, giving it my best, and when I had relaxed every tense muscle in him, he turned around and pulled me to him. He kissed me gently but fervently and afterward, made love to me passionately. Now for some weird reason, I cried and said a lot of things in the heat of passion that I couldn’t recall when I became lucid a while later. Yet I slept like a babe in arms… But woke up alone the next morning. He left a huge amount of money for me by my bed and a note.
The money is for the massage. The empty bed is for the hole you leave in my heart.
Want me back, Kyenpia. don’t hold it in. Open up and have an orgasm of me.
I smiled at the last sentence at first but when the implications sunk in, I broke down in tears. Oh, how I hated myself for my weakness. It made me really sick and I went to the bathroom to take a leak. As I cleaned myself with my tissue and saw the first signs of blood, I straight away wiped my tears and blamed my emotional state on the sudden appearance of my unpredictable period. Maybe that was it, I thought. Maybe it was just hormones. But deep down inside, I think I knew better.
© Sally@moskedapages Cover Design by @IamAyomiDotun