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Archive for April, 2012

Undertakings 1 – The Intro

Raindrops hit the street with the force of small pebbles. Each drop looked like a pearl or tear before breaking into millions of fragments on impact and then dissolving forever as another of the puddles that adorned the street’s surface like make-up on a model’s face. It was in one of these puddles Shayo stumbled and almost lost her footing.

“Shit!” she cursed vehemently as her left ankle twisted cruelly. She cursed again as her umbrella moved slightly, her hand trembling, exposing her seventy thousand naira Brazilian weave to the unrelenting rain. And then she winced as she tried to move her leg but it was not responding. Looking up, she found she still had a long way to go.

It was an awkward situation.

Here she was, looking like a million bucks complete with her Deola Sagoe dress, Gucci flat-soles, LV handbag and freshly manicured extremities.

“This would not do,” she thought and tried to move again. Paralyzing pain flashed through her leg and she screamed involuntarily; falling to her knees in the rain. Hot tears started from her eyes and she cursed the bastard who had gotten her out of bed that night.

“It was your greed,” her more honest side whispered, “you could not afford to pass up one hundred and fifty thousand naira for a night so don’t curse the bastard who gave you a chance.”

Slowly, she tried to rise, staggering slightly but holding tightly to her bag and the umbrella. Suddenly, the world lit up and she felt as naked as Janet at Nipplegate as the lights of an approaching vehicle caught her in their center…




“So – when will I get to see you again?” Gbemi asked.

Chinwe sat on her bed wearing a large t-shirt and nothing else, fiddling with her hair as she weighed her answer. It had been almost a week since they had lunch, and she had been swamped with work. Gbemi; somehow understanding that had given her space asides from the occasional text message. But if his voice is anything to go by; Chinwe thought, he’s really missed me. The idea made her belly warm.

“I’ve just been so busy,” Chinwe answered, realizing she missed the soft-spoken short guy on the phone too. She giggled out loud at the ‘short’ part, and then continued speaking.

“We have this new client – so we’ve been under a lot of pressure to come up with new and interesting creatives. But we broke ground just yesterday, so I should be able to make time this week,” she finished.

“Okay,” Gbemi responded, “but how about this weekend? Are you doing anything interesting?”

“No…not really,” she answered. “I just want to do some laundry – maybe hang around with my baby cousin. Why – what are you thinking?”

Gbemi cleared his throat. “I was wondering if I could interest you in a movie…maybe ‘Safe House’ or whatever you’d like to watch,” he finished.
“Safe House? Isn’t that the one that has Denzel in it?” she asked, reaching for and hugging one of her eleven pillows.

“Yeah – Denzel and that Ryan Reynolds dude. The reviews I’ve read online so far have been excellent -” she interrupted him.

“Sure, I’ll see it with you. I love anything that has Denzel in it.” Gbemi chuckled.

“Another fan,” he said. “Hey. I just wondered – what church do you go to?” he asked.

“Covenant Christian Centre…the Jibowu branch. You?”

“There’s a Redeemed Christian Church about two streets away from my house – that’s where I go whenever I feel like church.”

Chinwe was surprised. “How do you mean ‘whenever I feel like church’?”

Gbemi’s slow laughter preceded his response. “See, I strongly believe certain things should not be forced; they should be allowed come naturally. I don’t think church should be routine –I think it loses its meaning and significance once it becomes that. Anyway, that’s how I look at it,” he ended.

Chinwe was quiet. She had not thought about church that way; and though it was not routine – not to her anyway she clearly understood what he meant.

“I understand what you mean,” she said, “and I think you’re right. It’s not routine for me anyway…it’s always been a place where I go when I’m happy, sad, lost, confused –a place that always feel like home to me,” she finished.

“That’s good,” he said gently, went quiet for some moments, and then said, sounding reluctant; “I guess I should let you go now. You have work tomorrow.”

“Well…okay,” Chinwe responded, eying the clock beside her bed. It was ten-twenty eight; and she did need to sleep. “Maybe I’ll come by your store tomorrow – just to say hi,” she added hastily.

Gbemi laughed again. “I understand. It would be nice to see you. It’s Friday besides, so maybe…”

Chinwe interrupted. “Nothing,” she said firmly. “I’m just stopping by to say hi.”
“That’s good enough for me,” Gbemi said, “good night.”

“Good night, sire.” Chinwe responded and Gbemi’s soft laughter was the last thing she heard before the phone clicked off. She fell asleep with a smile on her face.

She was at her desk, putting finishing touches to the airline logo she was designing when her intercom buzzed. She picked it up and Seni; the front-desk girl said in a dazed voice; “There’s a package here for you, dear.”

Automatically Chinwe replied, “Ehn…collect it for me na. Isn’t that the normal thing?”

“Obviously,” Seni snapped, exasperated. “But he’s refusing to drop it unless he sees you!”

Intrigued, Chinwe answered “I’ll be right there.” She tried to finish the work before going to see what the package was, but she was too curious so she just left it as it was and hurried downstairs.

Just before she went round the corner and into the reception area, she straightened her blouse and fluffed her hair vainly. Smiling at herself because she was wearing braids, she marched into the area.

There was a tall, lanky young man standing in front of Seni’s desk carrying a polythene bag. Something looked familiar about him – and then she realized Seni was talking to her.

“Sorry – what did you say?” Chinwe turned to look at the curvy front desk girl who was pouting at that moment. At Chinwe’s apology, Seni rolled her weepy eyes and grudgingly said; “This guy showed up here some minutes ago saying he had a package for you. I told him he could drop it and leave –and he refused completely saying his oga would kill him if he gave it to anyone who was not you.” She paused, clapping her hands to show her frustration. “Na wa o,” she concluded.

Chinwe smiled and turned to the young man. “Yes,” she said to him; “who is your oga?”

He smiled; showing dirty brown teeth and pushed the nylon bag to her. “Na oga Gbemi; e say make I give you this thing make you carry go.”

Reflexively she collected the bag and instantly he started to walk away, grinning at some private joke. “Hey,” Chinwe called, “hey! What’s – wetin be your name?”

But he completely ignored her; walking at the same unhurried pace till he got to the glass double doors and pushed them open. And then he walked away.

Chinwe managed to shut her mouth and peered into the nylon bag. The first thing that met her sight was a white envelope that had her name on it in a large scrawl. And then, she found that it was resting on a cooler – a bright green cooler. She groaned.

“Isn’t that food?” Seni said – almost into her ear and she jumped. She had forgotten the girl.

“Mind your business,” Chinwe said fondly, swatting the girl’s rump playfully and walking towards the stairs back to her office. She waited till she was out of sight of the desk and then pulled out the envelop.

Good afternoon. I observed you’re still really busy at work, so I took the
liberty of making something for you. Note ‘making’; because I cooked it myself
and I hope I am an accomplished-enough cook to interest you in something I made.
Enjoy – and some feedback would be appreciated.

She carefully folded away the note and sat at her desk staring at the cooler, a troubled look on her face.