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Archive for May, 2012

A MATTER OF HEIGHT PART VIII

A MATTER OF HEIGHT VIII

And then…

Gbemi sat in his Camry, lost in thought. He was worried.

No; he corrected. I am both worried and uneasy.

He was worried because Tunji had not replied his text – which usually meant Tunji did not agree with the contents of the text. And that was bad.
He was uneasy because he was not sure that showing up unannounced where he was at that moment was a good idea.

He was seated in his Camry, windows up, AC on – outside The Covenant Christian Centre Jibowu, waiting for Chinwe and her cousin to step outside the church. He was not sure she would like the idea – but Amaka had thought it would be a good one; she was of the opinion that he should not give Chinwe that much space. So there he was.

He smiled self-consciously and scratched his head. It had been a while since he had done something like this.

He was on his way home the previous night, agonizing over the fact that he had kissed Chinwe and wondering if she would ever want to see him after that when he got a BB request from Amaka.He had paused for a moment; wondering if he was about to be caught in a ‘love triangle’ before accepting the request and thinking ‘ridiculous’.

Her first ping was‘I’m not hitting on you and I don’t plan to, so relax’.
He had blushed.

She had gone on to type I know my cuz can be such a prissy little woman sometimes, but I know she likes you. You could use some inside help.

To that he had replied Thank you Amaka. I didn’t think you were going to hit on me.
I do need some ‘inside help’.

She sent him the ‘devil’s head’ smiley and then typed don’t worry; I’m on your side. Are you seeing her tomorrow?
He responded No…at least we did not plan that.

Amaka typed Hmmm – okay.

There were a few moments of silence – and then; maybe you should come to church with us tomorrow.

He answered: not sure I’ll be able to…there are some things I need to get done.

Amaka, showing a bit of the feisty nature he knew she had, answered: Look, it’s either you want to be with my cuz or not. Don’t start fronting.

Gbemi laughed and then responded: I was not fronting. I appreciate your help. What time is service?

She answered: 11:15am

He typed not sure I can be there that early – but I could come get you guys afterwards. What do you say?

There was a moment of silence, and then; I guess that can work too. Okay. Do you know when the service will end?

He answered Err…no.

Amaka put the devil smiley up again before typing Oya ask na; proud man.

Gbemi sighed and typed Okay ma. Please; when will the service be over?

At first, nothing.

And then; a laughing smiley.

And then; be there by 1pm. Good night.

Back to the present, he looked at his BB, screen wondering if he should send Tunji another message or to call when it started vibrating. He looked at the screen; it was Amaka asking; where are you?

He looked up and noticed people where milling from the church. He responded quickly to Amaka’s ping; I’m on Herbert Macaulay way, the junction to your church.

She responded will do.
Why am I nervous? He asked himself.

All too quickly, he spotted Amaka dragging Chinwe behind her. He quickly put the car in gear and drove towards them, slowly winding down the side window as he got close to their position. Chinwe was standing with hands on hips, looking like she was about to call Amaka a rude name when he spoke; “hi ladies.”

Amaka looked relieved, and without a word to her cousin, opened the back door and got in. “Hello, Gbemi. Thanks for coming,” she said. “How are you doing?”

“I’m good thanks,” he answered, looking through the window at Chinwe who was standing with her mouth slightly open. “Looks like she’s happy,” he continued.

He opened the door and got out, not hearing Amaka’s response. Walking quickly towards Chinwe; one side of his mind registered that he might unwittingly cause a traffic jam by leaving the car where it was, he tried not stare at her, instead looking everywhere except where she was.

“Hi Chinwe,” he said as he stopped in front of her, resisting a crazy urge to grab her and kiss her till she begged him to stop or he swallowed her up. The last thought brought laughter to his throat but he quickly covered it up with a cough. Chinwe looked at him, and then looked away shyly before shading her eyes and looking at him again

“Hi Gbemi,” she said, smiling, “it is nice to see you. Did you worship here today?” she concluded, looking genuinely pleased. Gbemi let out an inaudible sigh of relief.

“Err…I came to…” he began before Amaka interrupted him, winding down the window and poking her head out.

“I asked him to come get us after church, so do come in jo,” the girl finished and wound the glass back up. Chinwe stuck her tongue out at her cousin, and then put her arms around Gbemi gently.

“Good afternoon. Missed you,” she said before withdrawing and skipping lightly to the car. Gbemi followed eagerly, happy that she obviously liked him and did not mind his showing up unannounced at the church. He opened the passenger door for her, making sure she was seated comfortably before turning to his own side of the car and getting in.
Back in the car, he started it moving, laughing at something Amaka said. He had forgotten everything about Tunji and the response he was waiting for.

By the time he remembered, it was too late.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

We have now come to the ‘end’ of the series ‘A Matter Of Height’. Hehehehehehehehehehe! Always wanted to say that!

What that means though; is that several fans have suggested that it would be better if we took this story further from a bunch of blog posts and actually made it into a full length novel. What do you guys think?

Thank you for so much!

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STRANGE II

Stuck in my head

And she made me so unhappy.

I was sitting in my office staring the Mac screen – actually miles away from there. MILES.

The AC was blowing at full strength; which was unusual. I usually let it blow at ‘cool’ but I felt anything but that so I turned it up to ‘freeze’. And even then it made little difference. I felt numb all over.

How lame. How pathetic.

Standing up from behind my desk I looked out of the window. Traffic was slow; it seemed as though the day was coming to an end. But it was taking its time. I saw a couple of okadas caught up in the Opebi Traffic light traffic jam – I saw the La Casera sellers and the gala boys scampering back and forth; catering to several and various ‘in-traffic’ people.

But I wasn’t paying attention.

My mind was caught up in the latest episode of the drama my life was rapidly becoming. It was just something annoying – a huge inconvenience as far as I was concerned. And I wonder who pushed me into it – like as though I was some kid who just discovered there were hair on his eggs.

I was not happy.

I kept pacing back and forth in front of the windows…scurrying around in my mind trying to figure out how to make my way out of this situation. It was just so…

My phone rang.

It startled me. I jumped about half a foot in the air before landing and swearing loudly. I so hated whoever it was who was calling without even bothering to check who it was first.

After I calmed down, I pulled out my phone. It was her.

I stood there holding the phone, staring at the screen incredulously as though willing it to stop ringing. It did after some moments – and then started ringing again. I wanted to smash the phone.

What was she trying to do – kill me after ruining my day? Could she not just leave me alone?!

I impatiently switched off the phone. I definitely did not want to have anything to do with her at that moment.

Sitting back behind my desk, I put my hands behind my head and tried to figure out what to do. Unfortunately, while I had gotten away with being drunk in the office the last time…I was so sure I was out of luck in that department. I just knew that I needed to get out of this mood – fast.

Suddenly my office door opened and my boss walked in – and then I noticed he was not alone.

“Come here and meet your new strategist,” he said.

It was a woman. Like none. I have ever seen.

I was in trouble.


A MATTER OF HEIGHT VII

A MATTER OF HEIGHT VII

Chinwe was feeling warm and soft; very feminine. It was nice to be around a man again.

It had been too long.

Gbemi sat beside her – she imagined, somewhat stiffly. She wanted him to relax, so she shifted a little and placed her head on his right shoulder.
Hesitatingly, he raised his right hand and held her closer, so she was lying against his chest. She could hear his heart beating strongly and, suddenly feeling bold put her hand over that side of his chest.

She felt him start and look down at her head, but she did not look up, studying the area of his chest her hand covered. And then she slowly looked up at him.

There was something in his eyes – something that seemed to take the breath from her lungs. He was looking into her eyes – and then his eyes dropped and she knew he was now staring at her lips.

Despite the cool conditioning of the cinema, sweat slowly popped out of her upper lip and she unconsciously stuck out her tongue to clean it off. Even in the darkened room there was no mistaking the glint that appeared in Gbemi’s eyes, and Chinwe felt as naked as a fly caught in a cobweb. She saw his throat jump as he swallowed nervously, and all sound receded as he dipped his head towards hers.

Oh dear Lord; she thought, trying not to panic. He’s going to kiss me.

She tried to calm herself, and almost reached for his slowly-descending lips with hers when a loud gunshot shattered the quiet of the cinema. She turned to the screen to see Denzel’s character lean against the wall and slowly sink down. He was shot.

“No,” she mumbled under her breath. She felt Gbemi’s hand tighten on hers and she returned the pressure gently. She wondered what he must be thinking; after all it was just a movie. She leaned up to look at him but was staring at the screen with rapt attention. She did not know whether to be glad or sorry.

Chinwe smiled again as she remembered a small scene when they had gone for the tickets. The sales girl – who Chinwe had already found slightly irritating because she was staring at Gbemi so hard, had asked her which movie they wanted to see.

“Safe House,” Chinwe had answered somewhat churlishly.

“How many tickets?” The girl asked.

“Two,” Chinwe snapped, wanting to ask the girl how many of them she could see.

The girl had nodded, and then asked again, “just you and your brother?”

“Brother?” Chinwe had looked over at Gbemi, stunned. Seeing his amused expression, she had walked over to him, put her arms around him and said to the girl, “He’s my husband!”

The girl’s shocked expression and mumbled apology had made the lie worth it. As they walked away and she slowly drew away from Gbemi she heard him chuckle, but had been too embarrassed to ask him why.

Back in the cinema, she felt her spirits lift a bit when it seemed as though Denzel had survived the shooting –but of course that was premature. He still died at the end of the movie.

As they made their way out of the cinema and towards Gbemi’s Camry, Chinwe was feeling confused. Her emotions were all over the place – she felt as though the slightest provocation would make her cry. Don’t be silly; it’s just a movie! She told herself, but she knew it was more than that.

It was some minutes after nine when they left the cinema, and she declined Gbemi’s offer of dinner, feeling too depressed to eat. Grateful for his silence as he drove them back to her house, Chinwe sat quietly trying to get her thoughts back in order. She allowed her thoughts drift…to work, particularly the presentation she had that coming Tuesday. It was for a new client; and it was necessary she presented the creatives before the in-house staff before they took it to the client. Even though it was not her first time; it was her first for a new client. She was nervous.

Let Monday come; she thought. I’ll deal with it then. She came back to the present and realized that some slow music was playing in the car. She cleared her throat and spoke.

“Sometimes I wonder why we struggle; why we live, love, laugh and do other things knowing fully well they don’t last.”

Gbemi turned down the volume of the player and slowed down the speed of the car before turning to look at her seriously. “It’s the movie isn’t it?” he asked gently. “Denzel’s death is getting to you.”

She shrugged. “Maybe…or maybe I’m just wondering out loud,” She rubbed her arms and looked out of the window. “What do you think?” she asked him without turning.

“I think things like that last for as much as you want them to,” he said after a moment’s silence. “You could decide to get home, think about the parts of the movie you really enjoyed and relive the experience or get back into the real world immediately. It’s up to you.”

Chinwe sighed. “I wish it was that easy.”

She turned, imagining he was going to say something but instead he was focused on his driving. She relaxed back in her seat and closed her eyes, drifting again.

“We’re home,” Gbemi announced suddenly.

She started awake and noticed that they were no longer moving. Opening her eyes slowly, she shook her head as the familiar sounds of generators in the neighborhood churned out their noises. The lights were on in her apartment and she shook her head, smiling to herself thinking what Amaka would think when she told her she and Gbemi had not kissed.

“I had a great night,” she said, leaning against the car as he came to her side of it. “I…” she stopped and pointed to the nylon bag he was carrying. “What’s that?” she asked.

“Em…it’s a little something I want you to give your mom,” he said. “I forgot when I came earlier – what’s wrong?”

Chinwe opened her mouth to respond but a lump was suddenly stuck in her throat. She swallowed and tried to speak again but to her horror, she burst into tears.

She sensed rather than saw Gbemi look uncertain for moment before coming slightly closer. “Em…why are you crying? Was it something I said?”
“No…no,” Chinwe stuttered, trying to stop sobbing. “She’s…she’s…”

Chinwe felt Gbemi place the bag on the car and gently put his hands on her arms. “What’s wrong with your mom? Is she okay?” he asked, concern heavy on his voice.

“She’s…she’s dead,” she sobbed heart-brokenly. For a moment his hands stilled on her arms, and then they slowly resumed their slow rubbing.
“What happened?” he asked. But Chinwe couldn’t answer. For some reason she could not stop the tears. They just kept coming.

She felt Gbemi hesitate; and then he gathered her into his arms gently. Somehow he had contrived to use the uneven geography of her compound to his advantage; as a result instead of towering slightly above him she was at the same level with him. She went into his arms.

Later; alone in her room, she could not remember exactly how they started kissing or even who kissed who first. She just knew she was in his arms and it felt just right.

She smiled then; feeling her lips gently with the tips of her left fingers and relived the moment when Gbemi had come to himself. He had stepped back slowly, shaking his head. “Chinwe…I…I’m so sorry,” he had mumbled. “I…”

She had followed him and kissed him again, stopping his apology. Despite the fact that her tears were running in between their lips, it was a gentle and wild kiss all at once.

He tastes minty and fresh; she thought; like a combo of baba blue and Lemon plus. The analogy made her smile and she chuckled, breaking the kiss.
Gbemi stepped back and looked at her, his eyes cloudy. Chinwe gently touched her lips and smiled, “That’s a very effective way to stop a lady crying,” she said.

“Chi…I…” Gbemi started, evidently apologizing again. She cut him short.

“Gbemi,” I wanted to kiss you too so it’s okay.” She stepped close and hugged him. “Thank you for a wonderful evening – and thank you for being so thoughtful.” She eased back and kissed him lightly on the lips.

“Chi…I…I need to tell you something,” Gbemi managed to blurt out but Chinwe waved him to silence. “It’s been a heavy night, champ. I need to gather myself somewhat. I’ll still be here tomorrow,” she finished and smiled brightly. “Okay?” she asked.

Gbemi took a deep breath – and then smiled. “Okay.”

Tomorrow; Chinwe thought as she massaged her lips gently. I’m so looking forward to that.

She fell asleep cradling her favorite pillow, a smile on her lips.


Home.


They say the eyes are the windows of the soul;

If what I see in yours are true; then I’m willing to go mine for gold;

‘Cos it’s hard to imagine that heat in the midst of so much cold,

Or maybe it isn’t that hard at all.

Not the kind of ‘heat’ that leads to sweaty bodies and loud groans,

But the kind – that makes a house a home.


A MATTER OF HEIGHT VI

A MATTER OF HEIGHT VI

Gbemi stood beside the door to Chinwe’s flat, wondering what was wrong with him.

What is wrong with me; he wondered? It’s only been a week since I met this girl, and it’s almost as though I’m on drugs or something. I can’t concentrate for thinking of her!And I’m not some sixteen-year old who just discovered that the fairer sex has twin protuberances on their chests called breasts. I’m a grown man!

A smile appeared on his lips as he remembered the first time he heard that ‘grown man’ phrase used. It had been in a conversation with his dad; and the elder Thomas had said it to him after severally chastising him for some carelessness he had exhibited while attending to a customer. You’re a grown man, his dad had said to him, smiling. Handle yourself responsibly.

Coming back to the present, he gave a philosophical shrug and raised his hand, about to knock again when the door opened seemingly of its own accord. He peered around it and saw a tall, slender model-looking girl holding the door open while talking to someone over her shoulder.
“Hello,” Gbemi said politely as she turned to face him. “I’m…”

“Gbemi. I know.” She said, smiling dazzlingly at him. “I’m Amaka, Chinwe’s baby cousin. Won’t you come in?”

“Thanks,” Gbemi responded, shaking her outstretched hand. “Chinwe did not mention anything about a cousin,” he continued, stepping in and hiding the nylon bag he was carrying behind his back.

Amaka glanced at him over her shoulder as she led the way into the house. “That’s normal,” she said, wagging her eyes at him in exaggerated coyness. “I make her feel insecure so she acts like I don’t exist. But as you can see,” she suddenly stopped and did a slow twirl in front of him, “I’m real in living color.”

Gbemi felt his ears grow hot with embarrassment. “Emm…I’m sure,” he stuttered, not knowing how to continue. “But Chinwe’s quite beautiful…just as you are,” he added hastily. “I don’t see why she should be insecure around you.”

Amaka smiled. “Nice to see there are still some loyal men left,” she smiled and lightly shoved Gbemi playfully. “You can relax! I’m playful like that,” she concluded.

She showed him to a seat directly in front of the sixty-inch TV tuned to African Magic. “That’s for you guys,” he said, handing the nylon bag and looking away as she grinned hugely.

“Oh goodies! Thanks! Let me go get Chi,” she said as she walked away.

Gbemi looked around,eying the various etchings and paintings on the wall.There was a particular one that caught his attention; a mural that looked like an aerial shot of the National Stadium at Onikan. He made to stand up to take a closer look – when he suddenly heard Amaka’s voice clearly.
“…and he bought some things for us,” he heard her say, “from his supermarket no doubt.” Gbemi smiled to himself as he slowly settled back down.

Something told him the conversation was not over yet. He was right.

“The guy looks good na,” he heard Amaka continue; and he grinned. It was good to know he had her support. He strained his ears to hear what Chinwe’s response would be – but it was all quiet.

Suddenly Amaka’s voice came again, a bit louder this time. “Ehn now,” she said, sounding like she had something in her mouth. “He’s not even that short!”

“Amaka!” he heard Chinwe shout, and allowed himself a small smile.Things were looking up.

A sudden clatter of footsteps announced to him that one…no; both girls were coming. He leaned back in the sofa and stared at the TV as though he suddenly found Nollywood movies fascinating. He was still staring when a whiff of cool mint…or something blew across his consciousness. He turned towards the origin of the scent; intending to say something flippant.

But then he caught sight of something, and that other ‘something’ he intended to say became stuck in his throat.

Chinwe had her braids tied in a bun on top of her head, which offered him his first unobstructed view of her neck. It was slender and graceful – but that was not the only thing that stopped him.

Gbemi cleared his throat uncomfortably. He knew fully well that all romance heroines in fiction were typically beautiful; he knew he had been going on and on about how beautiful Chinwe looked – but it seemed to him that every time he saw her was the first time.

In a manner of speaking it actually is the first time; he thought to himself, first time I’m seeing her in anything apart from jeans.

She was wearing a black gown that hugged the sweet curves of her breasts, fitted snugly at the waist, flared out to accommodate rounds hips. It continued, only stopping a bit above legs that seemed to go on for miles – and then ended too soon in a pair of blue pumps. Gbemi cleared his throat again.

“Don’t stand there staring na,” Amaka chided him playfully. “If you like what you see, say so! Maybe we’ll arrange a special take away package -”
Chinwe dug her elbow in her cousin’s ribs and smiled at him, “Hello Gbemi,” she said.

“Hello, Chinwe. You look incredible.”She smiled and dipped her head, but did not take her eyes off him. “Thank you. You really look nice yourself.”

“What time is it?” A suddenly-serious looking Amaka asked Gbemi, who pushed back the sleeve of his black sweater to check his wrist watch. “It’s a quarter to two, why?” Gbemi asked.

“Please bring her back by eleven p.m. latest,” Amaka answered. “And I don’t mean put-her-in-a-cab-send-her-home. I mean bring her home,” she finished.

Chinwe blushed. “Amaka!” she said, feeling embarrassed. But Gbemi just smiled and said;
“It’s okay. I will bring her home by eleven. And I mean bring her home. Myself.”

Amaka nodded. “Thank you,” she said and smiled at Gbemi. “Oya, the two both of you start going!”

Chinwe smiled and hugged her cousin as Gbemi preceded her out of the house. “Have fun o,” Amaka whispered as Chinwe made to break the hug. “Don’t be too uptight. And if he wants to kiss you – let him. Life is too short.”

Chinwe pinched her cousin on her left hip and ran laughing out of the house.


Undertakings II – The Road

Driving home angrily…

Demola climbed into the Range Rover and slammed the door, choking with rage. Imagine that bitch..!

He pushed his key into the ignition and missed it the first time. Calm down; he gently admonished himself. He inserted the key the ignition again and this time it fit. He gunned the engine and sat down quietly behind the steering wheel, and just thought.

How could she have spoken to me like that? He asked himself again, shaking his head. Since when did we begin to fraternize so familiarly?

He sat still in the rapidly chilling interior of the vehicle, allowing the rain drain off him onto his seat, lost in his thoughts.

A sudden knock on the window beside him startled him, and he turned slightly to see his buddy Femi hunched over in the rain, indicating for him to lower the window. Demola shook his head and pointed at his wrist watch.

Femi’s mouth opened in astonishment.

It was unfathomable for him that his buddy; Demola, who he usually introduced to company as ‘my brother from another mother’ would act like that.

Which made Demola’s next move more bizarre.

He suddenly accelerated the vehicle, and without so much as a glance in Femi’s direction screeched away towards the highway. Femi jumped backwards out of the way of the vehicle in time. Demola laughed dryly and zoomed off.

The rain was getting increasingly heavy, and even though he knew the road well he ran into several water-covered portholes, cursing loudly as he drove in and out of each one. Finally he got past the worst of it and as the road ahead of him straightened out he pressed down the accelerator.

Taking his attention off the road for a second, he turned on the car’s CD player and leaned back against his seat, facing the road again as Asa’s sophomore album began playing. He allowed his mind drift.

Why was he so angry with Yemi? Could it be because her vocal jabs had hit too closely to home? He hated to admit that might be the case – because he had consciously withdrawn from getting to close to women after Mina.

Yeah; he thought, maybe that was the typical reaction of a guy freshly scorned – but he was not interested in going on a woman-hunting spree. He did not even want to have anything to do with them…at least not at the moment. He just wanted to be left alone.

Demola sighed. Love sure was hard.

As the second track, ‘Maybe’ came on Demola came back with a jerk. He was fast approaching a corner – a blind corner just before the long stretch of road that led to his estate’s gate. He swung the wheel suddenly, going round the bend in barely two seconds.

As he swung the wheel back to straighten the SUV back on the road; grateful for the fact that there was no vehicle coming from the opposite direction, his headlights suddenly picked up what looked like the figure of a woman bent over right in the middle of the road…