Nightlife in Tel Aviv did not come alive until 10 p.m. The city always conjured warm memories for Captain. During his younger years, Tel Aviv had been his source for pleasure and business, and maybe even for love – if he could call love, what he shared with his late wife. Their first two visits had each lasted a whole week, seeing the sights, dining with people that mattered, and finishing off their nights in clubs. Emem had wanted to leave the city to visit the holy places, but Captain didn’t subscribe to religion then. He considered himself a hedonist, and sometimes, a sadist. Emem had been allowed to pursue her faith, as long as she didn’t ask him to be part of it. When they came holidaying the third time, she left him alone in Tel Aviv for a short pilgrimage without seeking his permission. That pushed them to have one of their worst fights ever.
He remembered jostling her to the wall when she returned from Jerusalem. His fingers tightening around her willowy neck. The neck he would accidently stab a few years later with a knife that belonged to eight-year-old Leonel. Captain remembered how powerful he had felt in his anger at her. Obviously, the other guests on that floor in the hotel had heard him that night.
“Is your god better than me?” he bellowed. “Answer me, Em! Is your god fucking better than me? I tell you to stay, he tells you to go! Why don’t you marry him, then? What the fuck are you doing with me?”
She had begun to choke. Her hands thumping his chest lost their strength.
“Stop,” she mouthed. Her teary eyes pleaded. “Please.”
His sanity returned and he released her. Emem’s body fell into his.
“I’m so sorry, baby. So sorry.”
He held her until she regained her breath and began to fight him off. When he wouldn’t let go, she clawed his face, slapped him and spat on him. This made him laugh, of course. Such acts of defiance excited him. And against that same wall where he had choked her, he raped her. Emem cried, pushed him off, and cussed, but he wouldn’t stop. It was their way, their constant madness. If he had known that that same madness would lead to her death, he would have treated her better and loved her like she deserved.
It was only after her death he realized that he had been the weak one in their marriage. Since then, he had borne the weight of his regret. But he couldn’t stop being the person he was. It was his curse, his sentence for a vile existence. He got worse as the years went by, exacerbated by the emptiness Emem left behind. He picked up enemies like he was breathing. It made him feel invincible, immortal. Lives were eliminated at his orders, destinies destroyed and built. Luke Igwe was a man above men.
But even power had its expiration, at which time it could be stripped from its supremacy. Captain learned this hard truth during the attack on his family. Nobody in that hall had been responsible for what had happened. He alone was. His family members died because of him. And those that escaped death, lived in fear because of his sins.
“It would be a good time for you to turn to God and repent from your evil,” Emem said to him now in the silence of his hotel room. Laid on his bed, he didn’t bother to check if she was there. She was too mad at him to show her form these days. She just filled his head with her nagging, which was quite ironic, because Emem, while alive, had never spoken a single word from the day she was born. But Captain didn’t mind. He had loved her mute at that time, and adored her even more now that she could speak. So, he took her chastisement, agreeing that he deserved it all.
“It would also be a good time to go and check on Daniel.”
Emem could never bring herself to call their son Leonel, the name given to him by Captain. She had named her sons Daniel and David, and they remained that way to her.
“Going to that hospital irks me,” Captain complained.
“So, you want to return to Lagos without seeing him one last time?”
“One last time? What the fuck is that? Why do you use such words? He’s fine. There’s no last time for us. Leonel is coming back.”
“Go and see your son before you leave.”
Captain hated Emem on days like this. Grumbling like the old man he was, he left the bed and slipped into a pair of loafers. He had an hour to kill before his flight.
His ride conveyed him to Jaffa. Leonel had been transferred from the hospital to a safe location after news reached Captain that someone who had just gotten into Tel Aviv was asking questions about him. The ‘questioner’ had been made to disappear, but Captain couldn’t risk any security lapse. Hence, he had Leonel moved, brought in a team of trusted guards from Nigeria, and made quick arrangements to return to the country.
Captain nodded at a guard standing watch outside the entrance of the house. He looked around and counted three more guards paroling the perimeter. Satisfied, he walked in. He branched off to a room on his right where another guard was stationed.
“Good evening, sir.”
Captain opened a door facing him and entered a bedroom that looked like a larger version of Leonel’s hospital room.
Jamila, seated by Leonel’s bed, was reading a book aloud. Leonel was supported by pillows. He looked worse for wear, but seemed stronger than he did the last time Captain saw him.
His eyes shifted to the door as Captain entered. There was no expression of recognition. He dropped his stare on Jamila. She didn’t break in her reading activity as Captain came closer. He observed the atmosphere for a while.
“The Tale of Two Cities,” he muttered.
Jamila stopped. “Yeah. It was the first book Leo read at a go.” She looked at Leonel. “You were such a lazy reader. I’d punish you then for not bothering to read at all.”
Leonel remained blank, but he urged her to continue reading with a motion of his fingers.
“I’m sorry, Leo,” Captain said and looked at Jamila. “Can we talk?”
Jamila stood up, handing the book to Leonel. “Try and read. I know you can.”
Leonel tried unsuccessfully to grasp the book. Jamila helped him by reopening the page she had been reading, but he pushed the book to the floor.
Captain took Jamila’s hand. He drew her to the anteroom and ordered the guard to give them privacy.
“When’s your flight?” she asked.
Captain stared at his watch. “In a bit.”
“Have a safe trip.” She straightened out his collar. “You want to leave any message for him?”
Captain frowned. “Like what?”
“Anything to encourage him. He’s making progress.”
“You call that progress? He can’t even hold a book up.”
“Luke, I’ve told you to be patient. He’ll get better. It will take time as the doctors said, and you stressing about it won’t help. He still has physical, psychological and speech therapy to go through. But he’ll get better and all of this would be over.”
Jamila looked at her brother as though he were a child. “When did you start getting this scared?”
“I’m not scared. I’m just…”
“You’re scared, Luke. And you’re not scared for yourself or scared that you’ll lose the rest of us. You’re very afraid to lose Leo.”
“That’s not true.”
“It’s not? Then why don’t you care about Dave’s safety? He’s your son too.”
“He’s a soldier. A darn good one, who has boys under him that protect him and his family. Leo, on the other hand, has just me, and I will not lose him the way I lost Ramsey. I can’t afford to bury another son, Jams.”
“You already buried this one.”
“For his own good.”
Jamila moved backwards a little to rest on a table behind her. “Have you ever thought about what he would say when he fully recovers and realizes that he’s dead?”
“He’ll thank me for protecting his life and his family’s. Do I need to emphasize how much of a risk it is to Kyenpia and Eliana if he’s there with them right now?”
“But he’s going back eventually.”
“If he chooses to.”
“If he chooses to? Luke, he loves his family. He has a successful chain of businesses back in Nigeria…”
“And Kyenpia is going to do a good job of handling everything he left behind. Jacan and Mama Doe have stepped in to ensure that things go smoothly.”
“You’re not making sense to me, Luke. You’re being irrational here, and clouded by your emotions. And no, sir, you cannot speak for Leo. He will go back home and reunite with his family.”
“Only if you don’t give him reasons to.”
Jamila’s face went hard. “I don’t like where this conversation is about to go.”
Captain moved closer. “Jams, you can make him feel like his life in Lagos is dead.”
“Are you insane?”
“No. Actually, I’m alright, and I am right. Kyenpia spent the night at Ishi’s on Saturday. With much luck, they’ll become a thing, and she’ll forget Leo. Leo can then build his life elsewhere.”
Jamila sighed tiredly. “Luke, I love you so much, but you’re sick and you need help.”
Unruffled, Captain shook his head. “I don’t. I just need you to work his mind into accepting that his reality has changed.”
Jamila charged up, bringing her face to his. “I will not abuse my profession as a renowned psychotherapist to destroy my nephew’s mind.”
“Okay, I admit that I’m fucking scared. But I just want him safe. Do you want him dead? Because they’re going to kill him, Jamila. They will kill my son. I don’t want him back there, in that place where they shot him, with those hellhounds that want him eliminated from the face of the earth. How many times will I lose him, just to have him back again? You think I’ll be lucky the next time?”
“None of us would be lucky a second time, Luke. And you know why? It’s because of you. You did this to all of us. I hate to bring this down on you, but this is your mess, and you do not fix it by adding more fuel to the fire.”
“Protecting my son is adding fuel to the fire?”
“No, trying to take his freedom is you destroying his life.”
“Allow him get better to do as he desires. He loves Kyenpia. She is the best thing that ever happened to him. She took him away from the world you created. The Leonel I know will not throw away what they have just to protect himself from your enemies. The moment he gets back on his feet, he’s going back home.”
“Come on, Jams, help me here. Years ago, you said… No, you vowed to watch over my sons with your life.”
“And I have done that, you ingrate,” she replied hotly. “When their mother disappeared, who took over? Who raised them? Who was there through their formative years? Now, you want me to undo all I did to fulfil your selfish desires? To assuage your fears? I’m not going to let you do that. You will not use me to ruin Leo.”
“It’s time for you to get your hands off him. He is not Spirit or whatever nonsense you call him. He is whom he chooses to be, and not your redemption from your past sins. He is not Emem either.”
Captain’s eyes narrowed menacingly.
“Yes, I said it. He is not his mother. You messed her up. You will not do the same to him.”
“How dare you?”
“Go home, Luke, and instead of thinking of ways to control your son, sit down and accept that everything you touch burns. Godspeed.”
Jamila returned to the room. Annoyed, Captain left the house.
How to control your anger when you’re mad at a loved one… Or something like that.
Aanu was sure that she had read almost every article on Google and watched enough videos on Youtbe that could help her not switch into beast mode when she eventually confronted Yenkat. It had been four days of trying to suppress her feelings, but all efforts had led to nothing. Her anger seemed to grow, forking into two prongs. One was the uncontrollable rage, which was waiting for the perfect timing, and the other festered inwards, turning into resentment. She wanted neither of them, and this was because she loved Yenkat. No friend had been so real and so loving to her the way Yenkat was. But this also perplexed her. How could the one person she trusted with her life turn around and hurt her this way?
She didn’t understand it. She had cried every day, since that night, asking if she had done anything wrong to her to deserve such betrayal. If Yenkat could do this to her, then what hope was there in humanity? Who could she trust again?
None of it made sense. Every time she went to work she lost concentration, staring into the air for long periods. She would sit in her car and drift off, recalling the past in details, looking for instances where Yenkat showed pedophilic tendencies. On her bed, she would lay, ignoring phone calls as she tried to convince herself that everything was a joke. Inside, she was raging, bursting with anger that was new to her. Anger at Yenkat. The one person she could give up everything for. Not even Omar.
Yenkat’s calls and texts had been ignored. Aanu didn’t allow her into her home as well. She had specifically hired a gateman for that purpose the morning following that night. A young man whose elder brother guarded the next compound. She had also told the security guard at Omar’s Grill and Bar, who knew Yenkat, not to let her anywhere near the premises. She wished she could make her disappear entirely, so that she wouldn’t have to confront her, and then say or do something she would regret.
“But you have to face her,” Nasir insisted, probably for the fifth time. He seemed tired of talking about the issue. He had flown in from Yola three hours ago. He was the only one Aanu had reached out to on the issue, and they had spoken at length about it. Aanu had picked him from the airport, and had promised not to bring up the topic, but yelled her head the entire way home. She only gave pause to her anger when Nasir stopped her with a kiss the instant they got into the house. She didn’t object to his body pressing into hers, because they did this sometimes, and because she needed it. She wanted the sex to give her peace. Or maybe after multiple orgasms, she would wake up tomorrow morning and realize that she had been in a nightmare.
But Nasir was no horse of wishes she could ride on to erase her present state of affairs. The succor he brought was temporary.
“You have to face her.”
They were both spread out on Aanu’s bed. The room was dark. They had begun having sex at sundown, from the living room, to her bedroom. Darkness had crawled in. Aanu was tired, frustrated. She had not gotten any satisfaction from Nasir, and it was no fault of his. Her mind had stopped her body from feeling the extent of pleasure that she normally got.
“I have to go.” Nasir left the bed and looked around for his clothes,
“At what age do you think she started abusing him?”
Nasir, now putting on his boxers, stopped and looked at her.
Aanu had been careful not to paint Yenkat as a pedophile before him, but she couldn’t help herself.
“I don’t think it started recently. What if she groomed him?”
He switched on the lights in the room. “We’re talking about Yenkat here.”
“I may not be crazy about her, but she was no pedophile. She loved Omar like her son. What she had for him was real.”
“As real as touching him inappropriately?”
“Where are you going with these your wild thoughts, Aanu?”
“Because these things happen! Boys get raped too! And nobody talks about it! And they are usually raped by women who take care of them! What if our son was too?”
“Have you asked him?”
Aanu’s chest rose and fell. Her tummy whipped too. She hadn’t had the nerve to call Omar. She was scared of what he would tell her. He adored Yenkat. Everyone knew that. The messages on Yenkat’s phone gave confirmation.
“Aanu, have you called him?”
“No.” Aanu cupped her breasts.
“Call him and ask him. I’m very sure he’ll respond in the negative.”
“How are you so sure?”
“Yenkat is not a pedophile.”
“But Star was. What if Yeni groomed him for that relationship?”
Nasir snatched his shirt from the bedpost. “I’m done with this talk.”
“She messed my son up, Nas. You just don’t want to see it. You want to take her side.”
“What side are you talking about, Aanu? Your madness has started abi? Will you calm down or do you want me to fuck you again so that you’ll cum and calm down? Because the one we just had didn’t do you, obviously.”
Aanu hissed, getting off the bed. “Your dick is not all that, Nas.”
“And yet you keep coming back.”
“Last I checked, you were in my house. You can now be going.”
Aanu opened her closet and took out a dress.
“You’re going out?” Nasir asked.
“You said I should confront her.”
“I said, talk to her, not go and fight her.”
“Aanu, she is your best friend. Don’t do anything stupid.”
“Nasir, your driver has come and he’s waiting for you outside. Thanks for coming. No thanks for the dick that didn’t make me cum…”
“We can try again…”
“And thank you as you make your way out.”
Her anger was returning. She dumped the dress she had picked and took out another. It was shorter and racier. After her visit to Yenkat’s, she planned to see a friend that always offered benefits.
“Don’t forget to take condoms,” Nasir said on his way out.
Aanu went into the bathroom for a cooling shower, which only succeeded in making worse her mood. She texted Yenkat, telling her that she was coming over to get her clothes. Yenkat gave her a monosyllabic reply. An OK that made her hiss.
Nasir was calling her phone. She answered.
“Please, calm down and don’t do anything stupid.”
“That’s why you called me?”
“Will you let me talk now? You didn’t give me a breathing space before.”
“Yenkat is not your enemy.”
“From what you told me, Omar is the one all over her.”
“Nas, don’t make me look stupid. I hate it. I also hate that you and everyone else are making me look aggressive.”
“That’s because you always are.”
Aanu was cut by his words.
“I’m going to hang up now. Just leave me alone.”
She ended the call and hurried out to find the gateman. He was seated outside with his brother and a couple of friends. She called him inside, and asked him to get a wrap of marijuana for her. He looked at her weirdly.
“I know you smoke it,” she said to him in Hausa, shocking him a second time. Their conversations had been in Pidgin English before now. “I saw you yesterday. I smelled it from my room.”
“I…I…” the young man stuttered.
“Go and get it.”
Aanu turned back to the house. She put on her dress and sat in the living room. But because she was restless, she took out a bottle of Johnny Walker and poured herself a glass. She wasn’t the drinking type. She couldn’t even recall when last she had something this raw. This evening, however, she needed it to ease her nerves. Alcohol always stripped her of her feistiness.
There came a knock on the front door. The gateman showed up.
“Madam, my brother say na only Marley Kush dey.”
“Tell him I said thank you,” Aanu replied in Hausa, taking the package he tendered to her and handing him a five hundred Naira note. She shut the door in his face.
Seated on her couch, she rolled a joint and smoked it while downing a second glass of liquor. She waited for the calm to take over her nerves, but nothing changed. Yenkat sent another text.
I need to sleep. Are you still coming?
Aanu picked her car key, locked the door and headed to Yenkat’s.
Ishi changed one of the couches in the living room today. He hadn’t asked Kyenpia before he did it, if she had wanted it changed. Her former self, before marrying Leonel and losing him, would have objected to his kind gesture, and told him he was trying to evade her space. But she had changed a great deal, and had more important issues bothering her now. Issues like Jaiye who sent the auditing firm away when they came on her request on Tuesday. Other issues like Anna being so depressed and hiding away in the restroom to cry during office hours. To top it was the workload that threatened to drain her.
Today, she delegated all of her duties to Anna while she stayed in to rest. She had missed her antenatal appointment with Bem on Wednesday, catching up only this morning. Ishi had gone there with her. He had sensed her reluctance to look up at the screen to see her babies. So, he held her hand through the session and offered his lap on their way back home when the familiar heaviness visited her. When they got into the house and she locked herself in her bedroom, he didn’t say a word. Instead, he went out and bought a comfortable couch to cushion her pregnancy needs. He knew she often slept off in the living room whether he was there or not.
“Thank you.” She smiled at him. What would she do without him? Why was he not Leonel?
He helped her with some work emails afterwards. When they were done, she asked him when he intended to open his architectural firm or return to The Refuge. He told her not to ask about those aspects of his life.
“Ishi, talk to me nau.”
“I am talking to you, Kay.”
“You’re shutting me out.”
“Really? I’m here with you. Always here, and I’m shutting you out?”
Maybe it was a thing with Igwe men. Leonel had been that way too, giving her only what he thought she could handle. But she tried not to let anything dampen her mood this evening. Her girls were coming for a sleepover. She needed to keep her spirit upbeat.
Ishi put Eliana to bed. The girl had been cranky all evening. It was a delight for Kyenpia to watch him hold her and sing to her until she fell asleep. To watch him do it two more times, because she kept waking up.
“Tired?” Kyenpia asked when Eliana had finally slept and Ishi came into her bedroom.
“No. Just another typical evening with Ellie. What are you doing?”
Kyenpia was massaging her tummy with some Shea butter. Her bump was growing fast, and this left her with an annoying itch. She explained this to Ishi.
“Does it go away after you give birth?”
“Yeah. Hey! You want to feel someone kicking?”
Ishi fully entered the bedroom. Kyenpia placed his hand on her tummy.
“Wow. That’s aggressive.” He laughed.
“Yeah, boys. I didn’t want them. I wanted girls. Amaka’s sons scare me with their energy. I don’t think I have the strength to be running around and screaming like she does.”
Ishi took his hand off her tummy and rubbed his palm on his hair to clean off the butter.
“Have you considered my adoption offer?”
A silent smile stretched Ishi’s lips.
“I don’t like that smile.”
“Kay… I so badly want to be in your life and your children’s lives, but…”
“What if you fall in love with someone else again?”
“Are you serious right now?”
“So you want us to get married?”
“No. That’s the last thing on my mind,” he said with a groan. “I’m not interested in any commitments.”
“That’s why I can’t do what you’re asking me to do.”
“I’m not asking you to adjust your life to accommodate mine or do anything extra. I just want you to be their father. I don’t want them growing without a father figure in their lives.”
“And I understand that, but I’m not sure I want to do it.”
“Okay.” Kyenpia stood up and returned the jar of Shea butter to her dressing table.
“And you’re upset.”
“No, I’m not.” She tried to keep a plain face when she looked at him through the mirror.
“Please, understand,” he pleaded.
“I do. And I’m sorry that I insisted. I won’t bring it up again.”
Ishi walked up to her.
“Am I demanding too much of you?” she asked. “Your time and friendship and…”
“But asking you to be the father to my sons is too much, right?”
He scratched his head. “Yes. It’s huge. Parenting is not just a walk in the park.”
“And then, there’s that thing you did when we decided to have Ellie. You went and chose someone else.”
“But this isn’t about us right now. It’s about the twins.”
“Kay, sometimes you act stupid, and I hate it. You know this would be beyond the twins.”
“And how different would it be from what we have now? You’re here or I’m at your place. We’re both being parents. What would be the difference?”
Ishi sat on the edge of the table. “I don’t know. Nobody knows what will happen. I could die. You could die. Anything can happen–”
“Don’t talk like that.”
“But that’s life, isn’t it? Nothing is certain. You can’t hold on to what you don’t know. You can’t hold on to me or to the fact that I will be here tomorrow. Shit happens, Kay. Last year, I would have given everything I had to fall all over your feet, to kiss you constantly, to make sure you remained with me. But now, I take things as I see them, and that is why I’m not making any commitments.”
This was Kyenpia’s first glimpse into the pain he wouldn’t share with her. It was thick in his voice and it darkened the light in his eyes.
“Ishi…” Her fingers rested on his face. He took her other hand and brought her closer.
“I’ll always be a father to your children and to Ellie. Paperwork doesn’t matter. I’ll be here as long as the universe allows. Let’s do this one day at a time.”
She kissed him. Not for herself. But for him. She couldn’t say the words she wanted to, because he still wouldn’t let her in. She hoped her lips could bring healing and undo the years she had kept him waiting; years he stood on the sidelines and watched her being loved by other men. It was her way of saying she was sorry. Sorry for how she had treated him. Sorry for his present pain.
“Stop turning me on.” He held both of her hands by her sides.
“Don’t you like it?”
“I’m not the one who will wake up with regrets tomorrow. Kay, I’m numb. You’re the only thing I feel. Asides you, I’m totally numb. But for you, this reminds you of Leo and everything else, and I don’t want you to hurt…”
Kyenpia shut him up with another kiss. She now recognized the pain when it spoke. She needed to exorcise it.
“Seriously, Kay…stop. If you think you’re doing this to make me happy, just stop. I don’t want pity kissing that would lead to pity sex…”
The pain was speaking again. She put her arms around him and had him rest on her chest. “Breathe, Ishi.”
He stayed silent. She caressed his head. When he pulled away, she smiled down at him. “Feel better?”
“Yeah. The breasts helped.”
The sound of a car driving in interrupted them.
“That sounds like Fiyin’s car,” Kyenpia said.
“I have to hit the road then.”
Kyenpia tried to move away, but Ishi caught her waist. The sudden action made her laugh. He pulled himself up, planting kisses on her neck.
“Sleep like an angel. Dream of me.”
He pecked her nose and then went for her mouth. He kissed her so easily, like he had been doing so all his life. He tasted of lost warm memories from moments they never shared.
The door flung open with Amaka calling out Kyenpia’s name, but breaking off the instant she spotted them. Ishi wasn’t in a hurry to stop. It was Kyenpia who freed her mouth from his.
“Goodnight, Kay.” He walked to the door. “Hi Amaka.”
He walked past Amaka, and left Kyenpia at her mercy. Kyenpia remained on her spot until his car was heard revving up.
“Kay?” Amaka called. There was a wobble in her voice. Kyenpia turned.
“Hi my love…”
“What did I just see?”
“What did you just see?” Fiyin, standing beside Amaka, asked. She had just come in.
“Kyenpia?” Amaka repeated.
“Yes, darling?” Kyenpia feigned ignorance as she rested her bum on the table.
“Please, don’t tell me it’s what I saw.”
“You’re always seeing things.”
“True.” Fiyin nodded.
“I know what I saw. Tell me it’s a lie.”
“How can I tell you that what you saw was a lie when you actually saw it?”
“Okay, what’s this thing?” Fiyin entered the room.
“Kay, tell her.”
“I should tell her what nau? What did you see?”
“Haba, Kay. How could you?”
“Chiamaka, do me a favor and pretend you saw nothing. It’s none of your business.”
“Can someone tell me what this thing is?”
“She was kissing Pastor Ishi!” Amaka exclaimed. “On his lips!”
Fiyin rolled her eyes and sat. Amaka glared at her friends.
“On his lips!” she reiterated.
“Maxy, I heard you,” Fiyn retorted. “And so what?”
“And so what? Is that what you’re asking me? Look at her nipples! They’re standing!”
“Jeez, Mrs. Haliru,” Kyenpia muttered, walking to her closet.
“He’s a pastor, Kay!”
“No, he is not,” Fiyin responded.
“And how do you know that?” Kyenpia asked, turning a little.
“He and I chat a lot. He told me that he’s no longer a pastor.”
Amaka’s hand hit her chest. “Iz a lie!”
“Well, that was what he told me. I wanted him to pray for me, and he said I should find another pastor.”
“Ah God! Satan has stolen our pastor! Which kind of evil life is this?” Amaka sank into Kyenpia’s bed, tears already in her eyes. “Awww, Pastor Ishi. I’m sure he’s so disappointed at God. Maybe even angry. But God sef! Why did he do nothing to save his family? It’s not fair. Bad things should not happen to good people like that.”
“You can now call him Ishi,” Kyenpia told her.
“No! I will never! God forbid! I will keep praying for him! Satan will not win. And we should all be praying for him instead of doing…other things with him when he’s weak.”
“Mind your business,” Kyenpia warned, taking off her top.
“Kay, I know you’re missing Butter Babe, but please, don’t lead Pastor Ishi into temptation.”
“Oh boy,” Fiyin muttered as Kyenpia spun around.
“What did you just say, Maxy?”
“I didn’t mean it in the way you want to take it now. I’m just saying that it could be dangerous for him. You know how he feels for you. Please, don’t let him do something you two might regret.”
Kyenpia smiled nastily. “We already did.”
“You have? Like what did you do?”
“Well, you saw us. For starters, we kissed.” She snatched a nightshirt from the closet. “Then, we had sex.”
“No way!” Fiyin yelled excitedly. “How was it?”
“None of your business,” Kyenpia replied, and looked at Amaka. “Nor yours. And that shit that you just said about me tempting him, that’s just some 1960s bullshit. The type of rubbish they fill your head with in church. It’s always the woman bringing temptation to the man.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“But you implied it. For your information, he tempted me and I tempted him back, by just being human.” Kyenpia moved towards Amaka. “And it was good. Very sweet. Very, very, very sweet. You want to know the positions we tried?”
“Kay, what is wrong with you?”
“You! You’re judging me!”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to, but…”
“We did the spooning position first…”
Amaka clasped her palms over her ears. “Please, stop.”
“And then we did the x-files. Do you know the x-files? You should try it with Oga Haliru. You lay on your back with your legs up, resting on his shoulders. Ishi liked it because he said it made me tighter.”
Amaka buried her face in a scarf wrapped around her shoulders. Fiyin was seated behind her, laughing.
“Then, we did the classic missionary. He was scared to try it, but with the pillow under my ass and him not resting his weight on me, it worked perfectly. And of course, I sat on top and rode his dick until he came a second time. By the way, he’s not bad for size. And oh! Can I add that he’s borderline nasty? Yes. Your perfect pastor is a bad boy in bed. You should hear the things he was whispering in my ear.”
“He wanted doggy sha, but I was tired.”
Amaka stood up, red-faced. “I don’t know why you just did what you did, Kay, but that was very wicked of you.”
“Which part? The sex part or…?”
“What you did just now. I didn’t need to know any of that.”
“But you stubbornly wanted to chook your mouth into my business, even when I told you to let it rest. Now, you’re judging me.”
“Don’t you even miss Butter Babe? How can you quickly forget him like this?”
“Amaka!” Fiyin warned.
“No, let her go on. Say what you want to say, Beulah, darling, my perfect friend with the perfect life and husband who’s still alive. Go ahead.”
“You sha always loved Pastor Ishi by the side, so, I’m not surprised. I’m not feeling like I’m better than you, Kay. I just don’t want you to hurt him like before. Marry him, please, so that you people can stop fornicating. But maybe wait for like a while, if not, people will start saying bad things about you.”
“I’ve heard. Now, go back home. I’m not in the mood for this sleepover again.”
“Haba, Kay.” Fiyin stood up. “It’s not like that nau.”
“You’re talking like you don’t know your friend. She’s judged me, and she will keep judging me until she stops being traumatized by this whole thing. I need her to go home and cool down.”
Amaka nodded. “So, you’re driving me away because you don’t want to hear the truth.”
“Fuck you and your truth!” Kyenpia shouted.
“Girls, stop!” Fiyin stood beside them, eyes shifting from Kyenpia to Amaka. “Is this how we will work together? Emotions up and down? Where’s Yenkat when you need her sef?”
“Amaka, go home.” Kyenpia maintained a stern face. “Let James hold you while you cry it out.”
“I didn’t judge you, Kay.”
“I still love Leonel. I still miss him. I still want him back, but we both know that’s not going to happen. So, fuck you and your take on my life right now.”
“Kay, I’m your best friend fa.”
“Fuck you still.”
“You girls should stop this nau.”
Kyenpia returned to the dressing mirror, her back to Amaka, who began heading out.
“Maxy? Kay? What is this nonsense?”
“Take her home, Fi. She’s heartbroken. Please, take her home.”
“Take her home! Ah!”
“O ga o!” Fiyin strolled reluctantly to the door. “Goodnight.”
“Love you, babe.”
Kyenpia held her breath until she heard Fiyin’s car leave the compound. She breathed out. She wore her nightshirt and crawled into bed. After a long stare at the wall beside her, she sent a text to Amaka.
I love you baby but your words are killing me here. No matter how I explain, you’ll never understand. Just don’t think of me as a bad person. I’m only trying to get by. The pain kills me. Please don’t judge me.
She wrapped her legs around her maternity pillow and begged for sleep to come.
Yenkat had waited for Aanu for seventy minutes before falling asleep on the sofa. It had been an exhausting day at the office. BFAM was almost set to kick off, paperwork was nearly completed, and they were now at the stage of renovations to give the office a more professional look. Kyenpia had emphasized on the need to sell BFAM hard to Léon Hotels if they were going to be in charge of facilities management in all their branches. It was compulsory to meet the standards of excellence and class that Leonel had always looked for each time he had wanted to partner with other companies. BFAM had to be on its feet and running when Kyenpia took her seat as CEO. She needed to go there with a working plan to rebrand Léon Hotels.
To this, Yenkat deprived herself of sleep for days. Aanu was also another reason to be restless. The uncharacteristic silence from her end killed Yenkat. It wasn’t Aanu’s way to keep things in for that long. Four days might seem like a short time, but in Aanu’s world where she usually exploded in anger before her head reasoned, it was a long time. But as quick as her anger always was, so was her forgiveness. Yenkat, however, was afraid that she wasn’t going to be forgiving in this occasion. For the first time, she couldn’t predict her friend, but she was ready to take whatever punishment given to her, including cutting Omar off. She valued what she had with Aanu more than what she constantly fought not to feel for Omar. The incident had brought her clarity and opened her eyes to the extent of her foolishness. But she hadn’t stopped taking Omar’s calls – for the sake of Polaris. She had stopped asking him to be amorous towards her, however.
“Why?” he had asked.
“Because I insist. Just stop. The texts and the things you say, quit them.”
“Is there someone else?”
“Yes. I’m seeing this guy and it’s getting serious. I’d appreciate it if you stopped.”
Omar was silent for a bit, and then he said, “That’s cool. I’ll stop.”
He didn’t brought up the topic again, and kept to his word not to bug her with texts. Despite Yenkat’s busyness, she felt the hollowness his absence brought, but she justified her actions on the basis of appropriateness. With time, she believed that she would forget about him, and he would find some other distraction that fascinated males his age.
Now, it was time to patch things up with Aanu, no matter the cost.
Jerking awake at the sound of the banging on her door, Yenkat felt an instant ache coming from one side of her head. She readied herself for the worst as she walked to the door to let Aanu in. It was a good thing that Oyin had gone to church for a vigil.
“I came to get my things,” Aanu said the moment she charged in, refusing to look at Yenkat. “But first, we need to talk.”
“Okay. Can you sit down?”
“No.” Aanu crossed her arms troublesomely. Yenkat shut the door. She stood in front of Aanu who had shifted a little into the living room.
“Aanu, you have every right to be pissed–”
“When did it start?”
“There is nothing going on between me and Omar.”
“Don’t piss me off, Yeni! I am not stupid! When did it start?”
The volume of her voice was an indication that things would not go well.
“We kissed a few months ago while he was here. Nothing more. Just that.”
“And you want me to believe that?”
“When did you start molesting him?”
“Molesting him?” Yenkat had anticipated Aanu would ask this, but hearing her say it was different. It felt like she was being stabbed. “I never molested Omar or touched him inappropriately. Never ever.”
“So, it’s me you’re lying to like this, Yeni?”
“I’m not lying, Aanu. You know I took care of Omar as my son–”
“And raped him!”
“Yes, you did! You raped him and screwed him up! That was why he dated that prostitute that was older than he was, and that’s why he can’t be with women his age! Now, you’re twisting his head again, but you’re here, telling me nonsense. Only a kiss ke! You think I’m that stupid?”
Yenkat stayed mute. It was best to let her vent. She sat and took in the insults and the rage. Aanu uttered words that made her shiver, some that threatened to make her cry, but she stilled her heart until she was done.
“I’m never going to forgive you!” Aanu declared in conclusion, wiping tears off her face. “Our friendship is over!”
“No! Don’t beg me! It’s over, and I’m taking Polaris from you!”
“God knows what you’ve been doing to her as well!”
“Why are you saying these things? You know me, Aanu. You know me!”
“I don’t know you, Yeni! I thought I did, but I don’t! I should have known the type of person you were when you allowed your father die because of your hatred for him! You killed him out of wickedness! Evil soul!”
Aanu had just touched a sore wound that weakened Yenkat, but not so weak that she couldn’t run after her when she noticed that she was rushing towards Polaris’ bedroom.
“You’re seriously not trying to take her.”
Aanu barged in. The room was empty.
“Where is she?”
“Can you just calm down and let us talk about this, Aanu? You can’t take care of her.”
Aanu burst into Yenkat’s bedroom next. Polaris was asleep on the bed. She picked her up roughly.
“Don’t carry her like that nau, Aanu.”
Polaris cried out, looked around with sleepy eyes and rested her head on Aanu’s shoulder.
“You’re being really irrational right now.”
“Is she your grandchild? My friend, get out of my way!”
Yenkat let her through, but she followed her out to her car. Aanu lay Polaris in the backseat.
“You don’t even have a child seat.”
“And you don’t even have decency! Agbalagba chasing after small boys! That’s why you can never have children! You’ve abused my son and God-knows-who-else! God is not a fool! He’s paying you back for everything you’ve done!”
“You’re going to regret these words, Aanu. You know that, right?”
Aanu nudged her away with her elbow and stomped back into the house. Yenkat went in too, but to Polaris’ bedroom where she packed a bag of clothes and toys. When she came out, she discovered that Aanu was still in the guestroom. She went to her.
“I packed her a bag.”
Aanu ignored her. She had just shoved a heap of clothes into a box and was having difficulty in closing it. Yenkat reached forward. “Let me help you–”
“I DON’T WANT YOUR BLOODY HELP! LEAVE ME ALONE!”
Yenkat stepped back. She searched her friend’s eyes curiously. “You’re drunk, Aanu.”
“I am not!”
“You are. Oh God! What is wrong with you? You’re not leaving this house in this state. I’m not going to allow you drive that car with Polaris in it.”
Yenkat dashed out of the room. Aanu went after her.
“If you touch that child…!”
Yenkat gripped the door handle. Aanu aimed for it too, but Yenkat pushed her away and locked the door, taking the key.
“You must think I’m as daft as you!” Aanu began towards the kitchen. Yenkat got there first, however, and locked the backdoor as well.
“OPEN THAT DOOR!”
“You have to calm down before I do. All I’m saying is that you can’t drive in this condition. I will take you home. Just calm down.”
“Yenkat give me that key!” Aanu thrust her palm out. “I won’t ask a second time! Give me that key now!”
“Aanu, calm down…”
Aanu lurched at her in an attempt to snatch the keys from her hand. The force of her assault had Yenkat’s back hauled against the edge of the counter. Still, she held onto the keys, moving away from the counter.
“What is wrong with you nau?” she yelled as Aanu came for her a second time and thrust her against the wall where a towel rack was hanging. Yenkat felt a sharp pain at the back of her head that forced her hands to weaken. She let go of the keys.
“Useless person!” Aanu grabbed one of the keys from the floor. “Stay the hell away from my son or die! Devil!”
Yenkat didn’t realize she was slipping to the floor until her bum came in contact with it. She stared ahead of her, at the legs of the kitchen table. They seemed to wobble. The back of her head throbbed. She knew she had been injured and needed to get help immediately, but she didn’t seem to know how to move her body. She couldn’t even remember where her phone was.
She heard Aanu’s car leaving the compound. She stayed where she was until her vision cleared up and she found the strength to pull herself up. The piercing pain on her waist reminded her that Aanu had shoved her against the counter.
Yenkat managed to get herself to the living room, collapsed on the sofa and drew her phone towards her. The person she knew who could help her get help quickly was Kyenpia. She dialed her number and waited.
®Sally Kenneth Dadzie @moskedapages