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Archive for August, 2016

Nancy, Me and a Certain Mr. Zuckerberg

 

 

Good afternoon.

 

About twenty minutes ago, my work was interrupted by frantic knocking at my door. I turned up the volume to the Edvard Grieg I was listening to and hoped the evil spirit would just go away. As though the person knew what I was doing, the knocks increased in frequency and volume.

 

Angrily I ripped my headphones off and stomped to the door. “Yes?!” I barked.

 

“Seun, it’s Nancy.”

 

I got angrier. What the *&%# could she want?!

 

Ripping open the door I began, “Look, not all of us have a f*&^%$g trust fund – “ and my voice disappeared.

 

Have I told you about Nancy’s legs?

 

You know those beaches they show you in films like – those films sha; those beaches where the water is so clean and so blue you can’t help but wonder if such beaches are on the same planet as you?

 

Nancy’s legs are like that. Does that make any sense?

 

She knows she has great legs tho, so she shows them off at every opportunity. This morning she was wearing short shorts and a blouse that made blouses feel overdressed. My anger evaporated like fuel spilled on tarmac on a hot afternoon.

 

I don’t know where I conjured the smile from; I sha did. “Well, hello there,” I said. “What’s the occasion?”

 

“Are you going to Eko Hotel this evening?” she asked.

 

“Are you going there?” I asked, looking pointedly at her midriff.

 

She frowned – and then her brow cleared as she saw the direction of my stare. “Be serious jo,” she said and pushed at my chest.

 

“Okay,” I said and cleared my throat. “Now, what’s happening at Eko Hotel?”

 

“Mark Zuckerberg is going to be there!”

 

“Who?” I asked, forming curious and ignorant.

 

She pushed my chest again, somewhat harder. “Seun, be serious na.”

 

“I’m being serious. Who’s that…Mark what-did-you-say?”

She stuck out her lower lip and it looked like a kitchen cabinet drawer left open. The image struck me as funny and I doubled over in laughter. About three seconds in it occurred to me I was probably annoying her so I stopped.

 

“Sorry,” I said weakly, still trying to bottle up my mirth.

 

“Are you serious – you don’t know who Zuckerberg is?! That guy is the poster boy for entrepreneurs! Hello, who built Facebook – “

 

“Oh that guy! Well, ask him if he knows me.”

 

She frowned even deeper. “What do you mean? He built Facebook! What have you done?”

 

I took her face in my hands and leaned in close, looking into her vivid, subtly wicked – have I told you about Nancy’s eyes?

 

In short, everything about her; at least physically, is perfection.

 

“My point exactly. How will I be able to do anything when you keep interrupting me to tell me about someone who has done something so great?” I kissed her gently. “I love you, but I must go so you can say one day ‘Seun Odukoya once kissed me’ and when the person says ‘Seun who?’ you’ll be offended – more offended than you are now.”

 

Her smile was something to see.

 

She said “Okay,” softly and walked away, cute behind bouncing and dipping ever so gently. I do not believe in ‘inspiration’ or ‘muses’, but if those concepts ever take on physical form, they would be Nancy.

 

Beautiful Nancy, my neighbor.

 

Good afternoon.


A Love Letter To My Mother On Her Birthday

 

Sweet Mother mine,

 

Happy Birthday.

 

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Happy Birthday Mum.

 

Wow. I miss saying those words.

 

You would have been seventy-two years today – and I cannot help but think what your day would have been like.

 

If there’s anything I know definitely sha, it’s that by now, you would have been at almost all the cinemas in Lagos. Except the one in the Surulere shopping mall. I don’t like that one.

 

But you definitely would have been to most.

 

Today, I would look for a romance movie. No, don’t worry that I’m broke. Don’t worry that the car is somewhat out of commission. I would look for a correct romance movie – not those ones that seem to be looking for an excuse to have sex; I know you would find those offensive.

 

No. I mean, a proper romance movie. A tear-jerker if you will, and that is the one you would watch. I would sit beside you quietly, maybe hold your hand at points and laugh when you do, but I would want you to enjoy that in quiet.

 

And then, afterwards I would buy you correct shawarma and we would talk about the movie. I know; you don’t like to talk while you eat but I would be pretty insistent. I would nag and nag and nag – until you start to talk.

 

And then I would listen quietly while you talked about it, particularly I would watch your eyes dance with lights, and how you would take the time to tell me why you enjoyed the movie – while extolling the finer points of love and romance.

 

You see, you taught me everything I know about love and romance – you and your Barbara Cartland novels and poetry from Keats, Wordsworth and Byron.

 

Oh no. We’re not going to talk about my love life; not yet anyways. You should know; the sun did smile my way some time ago, I found someone who didn’t mind all the drama and stuff. And I did what I do.

 

Anyways, your granddaughter’s fine; she has your eyes: deep mysterious shades of brown. She has your tongue too; sharp and witty. Everybody says it comes from me – but we know the truth, don’t we?

 

Do you remember that birthday – I cannot recall what year it was in – but it was your birthday and there was nothing in the house. All your kids were broke; I had to meet with a client so I had just enough to take me there and back. But you had said the night before that you would love to have a burger, so I went to my meeting and walked all the way back home just so I could buy you a burger.

 

Of course, I didn’t tell you that.

 

But it was something for me to be able to give you something you wanted; I still remember the look on your face when I gave it to you and said; ‘happy new year mum’. I know; you’re probably thinking how awesome a son I am to have walked all the way from Ikeja to the house just because I wanted to give you a burger – but I don’t want you to think like that.

 

No. Instead, I want you to think of how amazing a mother you must have been to command such devotion. I did that because it was the least you deserved; and I would do it all over again without hesitation – not just because you were a mother in all sense of the word; but also because we were best friends.

 

I remember your shocked expression when I told you I was done with religion; with God. You thought it was because I was in the university and I had joined ‘bad gang’ but no, mum. I had been feeling that way long before that; school was just the excuse. I simply stopped believing in something that didn’t make any sense to me then –

 

But then, I found my way back home again. I don’t doubt your prayers had a lot to do with that!

 

People talk a lot about a mother’s love; I am glad and privileged to be able to say; I know firsthand how that works; what that is. I am so grateful that we became the best of besties; I am so honored that we were able to work out our differences. I think about it now, and laugh when I realize there was actually a time I thought you hated me and wanted me dead.

 

Imagine that.

 

How absurd. How childish.

 

You know, I smile when I think about when I moved out and you would call me; night after night to ask if I had had dinner. Remember those times I would say no; and you would say; ‘it’s as if you’re losing your skills o; else why haven’t you been able to convince one of those fine girls in your office to go home and cook for you?’

 

Yeah; you made jokes like that even though you were a feminist at heart – and I’m not talking about these angry frustrated women. I’m talking about a lady who knows what she’s about; a lady who won’t take crap from nobody; man or woman.

 

Wow. You taught me so much.

 

Did I tell you about the TEDeX talk I gave? Well, our conversations concerning how to treat those folks of your sex were more than useful. Remember the conversation in which you told me ‘how you treat a woman is not a reflection of who she is; it is a reflection of who you are’? Remember that? I haven’t forgotten o – not for a second, and it has always come in handy. You sure raised me right.

 

Things are still not the best between me and your husband; I know that breaks your heart because I am what he was all those years ago and you wanted us to be friends. But mum, it’s kind of too late for that. I cannot manufacture love and affection out of thin air; anymore than you can subtract three pigs from five apples.

 

But you should know; I take care of him now. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

 

And yeah, he misses you.

 

I’m trying hard, momma. Trying so hard to be the man you always told me I could be. I’ve been through my share of it though; things have happened, things I know you would be surprised – and in some cases devastated – to hear about, but I’m going through them. I’ve grown through them and I’m thankful.

 

The career is blossoming now; six books and counting. That’s the thing that gets me most; that you are not here to read any of them. I’m not so sure any of them would be allowed where you are, but I am thankful you got to read one of my stories; the one in that anthology.

 

I remember what you said when you finished.

 

It still gets me that you died a day before your birthday; it still slows me down and puts needles in my eyes. But I have come to realize; you are alive and well in me, death is nothing but a temporal blip on the horizon of your life. It’s why I decided to dwell on that, but instead let you know how much a big deal it is that you graced this earth with your presence. How you will never be forgotten; everywhere the story of me is told, there would always be a mention of how awesome my mother must be. And you know; this is not wash – we do not do wash in our family – the truth simply is; I wouldn’t trade you for anything, not even heaven, because you were all the heaven I needed – all the heaven I needed to know.

 

Mum, I looked at you and I realized; there is a god.

 

Okay. I have prattled on long enough. I hope they have a ball for you, momma. I hope Sam Cooke comes and serenades you; I hope they make enough cakes and chocolates and ice cream – some of your favorite things. I hope Tupac’s Dear Mama is on repeat; he wrote that for all of us with mothers like you and his.

 

And I hope they let you see; that we your children are doing well.

 

That I, your black sheep am doing well.

 

Thank you for being, ma.

 

Happy New Year.

 

With all the love this tiny heart is capable of,

 

Seun.


Clueless 6

 

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CLUELESS – EPISODE 6

Sharon was tired of waiting for Dapo. He had told her that he would drop her at the office for the presentation but he was nowhere to be found. This was eight a.m. and the presentation was thirty minutes away. She had tried using Tobi’s phone to get across to him but he wasn’t answering his phone. “That dude is deep into corruption. He was raised that way. I am sure he has gone to handle it himself.” Tobi said, walking into the living room. “He must want all the money for himself when he didn’t do anything.” He continued. “That dude is so full of it. Coercing a helpless person in exchange for shelter to doing his dirty job is just wrong.”

Sharon wasn’t as antagonistic as Tobi that morning. Dapo already asked for forgiveness. It didn’t make any sense that he would do that to her. “Then why did he come here last night?” Sharon asked. “He asked for my forgiveness and all of a sudden he turns back to sly me?”

Tobi shrugged. “I can’t put it past him.” He said, adjusting his tie. “I have to leave now, so you have to let me know what you want to do. Do you want to come with me to the studio? Or would you rather stay here?” he asked, staring at Sharon who was staring aloof. “Sharon?”

“I don’t know yet.” She replied, turning to him. “I don’t know why Dapo did this and maybe that’s why I am so confused.” She continued. “He put me through all the basics last night. Why would he just bolt?”

Tobi exhaled. “I don’t know and I wish I had answers, but I have to go now. I don’t want to be stuck in traffic.” He said. “Else, my show won’t have a presenter today.”

“I guess I’ll just wait here.” She replied.

He nodded. “Or you could take the time to go to the bank and sort out your account issues?” he suggested. “I could drop you on my way.”

“Alright.”

***

Jane woke up to see her husband, mother and doctor in her room. “What is going on here?” she asked.

“Take it easy, Mrs Amadi. You had quite a long sleep.” The Doctor said, approaching her. “How do you feel?”

“Disgusted. I have you all staring at me and so I feel really disgusted.” She replied and then turned to her husband. “What are you doing?”

Chike took his seat beside her. “They want to examine you for a few days.”

“Mama?” Jane called, turning to her mother.

Mama nodded with a smile. “You’ll be fine. You are a little bit worked up and maybe you need to speak with your doctor.”

“No! What I need is to speak with you! I want you to tell me why you are scared of staring at your reflection.” Jane said, standing up. “Everything you see now is as a result of what you did to me as a child and all I am trying to do is ensure that I don’t make the same mistakes with my daughter.”

Chike stared at the doctor and gave a nod. “Jane, Sharon would be back but I don’t want her to see you like this.”

“You are really putting me away, right? You all are going to see that I am right. When Sharon returns home because she has been frustrated, you are going to come to me and apologize and I would not forgive you.” She said.

Chike sighed. “Sharon’s accounts are all active. I am hoping she gets in touch with us soon enough. We will tell her that you took a trip to Seychelles Island or something.”

Jane smiled. “Whatever suits you.” She said and turned to Mama. “I am your biggest disappointment. There is nothing you can do about that.” She said and walked over to the doctor. “You don’t need to sedate me. I know what the nod implied. I’ll follow you willingly. I am not the crazy one.” She said and stepped out of the room.

***

The splash of water across Dapo’s face woke him up. He couldn’t move his hands or legs. He was gagged to a chair. He gasped for breath as he struggled to keep his eyes open. The water in his eyes caused him pain.

“Sorry for the inconvenience, Dapo George.”

He stared at the man. “What am I doing here?” he asked. The last thing he remembered was getting out of his car to check his flat tyre on his way from Tobi’s house.

“You are here to continue the work you started.” Mr John said, approaching him. “I must say you are quite the nice guy.”

“What are you talking about?” Dapo asked, coughing.

Mr John smiled. “Sharon Amadi. She is your new assignment.”

“What assignment?” Dapo asked. “I have not done any assignment for you before and I certainly would not.”

Mr John nodded. “I feared you would say this, so we brought something to persuade you.” He said, placing a file before Dapo. “This is a list of all the companies you have scammed as a fake Architect and we are very much inclined to report this.”

Dapo hissed. “Bullshit! It’s business. They are my clients. That doesn’t hold water.”

“Dapo George, you are quite interesting. Well, we understand it is business.” He continued. “Now, to the business of the day, you did a noble thing by taking Sharon in when she was robbed by us.” Mr John said. “Sharon is quite a complicated contract for us and you would be decently rewarded.”

“You robbed her?” Dapo asked. “And you want me to help you? You are a fool.”

Mr John nodded. “Yes, I know, but you are going to help us with the remaining part of the business.”

“I am not doing anything for you.” Dapo replied.

Mr John laughed. “Did you miss the part where I said you didn’t have a choice?” he asked and then turned to one of his boys. “We didn’t tell him about the special part, right?” he said, chuckling. “Dapo, your parents spend a lot of money treating Daddy’s kidneys, right?”

Dapo groaned. “You bastards.”

“Yes, we know all about you. And we know your mom and dad and your pretty little sister too. It would be a shame if they had to go through pain because you wouldn’t do us a tiny favour. Sharon is just a stranger and we are not asking you to hurt her.” Mr John said with a smile. “So what do you say to our offer?”

Dapo stared at them. The men were scary. He was not going to put his family at risk. He couldn’t hurt Sharon as well. But he had to make a decision and do it quickly.

“You are wasting time, Dapo.” Mr John said. “Would you like me to bring your sister down here? She should be on her way to lectures right now at the University of Lagos.”

Dapo took a deep breath. “What do you need me to do?”

Mr John smiled. “Now you are talking.”

***

Sharon told her cabman to hang on as she arrived at Woworx Hotels and Suites. She was now liquid and could afford to smile at the receptionists. She stared at them with a haughty smile. “Can I please get a room?”

“Ma’am?” One of the receptionists said for emphasis. They could recall that Sharon had shared a room. It was not like they would give her the card to the room but they just had to put on the part of their Lagos DNA that was gossip-inclined.

“Do you have a problem with giving me a room? I’ll be happy to check out another hotel.” Sharon fronted with a subtle grin.

“Single room?” The receptionist asked.

Sharon thought a while. She had suffered in the last weekend. She owed herself the best. “I want your executive suite and I want to be scheduled for a spa treatment by two p.m.” She said.

“Yes, ma’am.” The receptionist replied and pulled out a key card. “We are ready for you.”

Sharon sighed as another thought flashed across her mind. She was not going to be nice to them and it felt just right. She smiled at them. “You know, I think I’ll just check out another hotel.” She said with a smug smile. “It was to stress you unprofessional ducks a little.”

The receptionists watched her walk out and hissed in unison. “That girl na bastard! One of them said.

She no get sense, I swear. Another continued. “So, she just come here demo for us, abi? Na thunder go fire her!

Sharon stepped into the cab. “MDB studios.” She said as she settled into the back seat. She fetched her new phone from her purse and dialled Dapo’s number again. She was unable to get across to him. She wondered why she was having so much concern for him. She thought about the possibility of something going wrong but didn’t want to dwell on it. She then dialled her mother’s phone. Out of coverage. “Why is everyone unavailable?” she thought and dialled Mama’s phone. She could bank on her grandmother to always keep her phone close. “Hello, Mama.”

“Ifesinachi. How are you?” Mama asked.

Sharon rolled her eyes. “Very fine, thank you.” She replied.

“Have you finally sorted out your phone issue?” Mama asked.

Sharon nodded. “Yes, Mama. So, you can save my number. Is my Mom there? I tried calling her.”

“No, darling. Your mom decided to take a vacation.”

Sharon chuckled. It wasn’t strange of her mother to do that. “And she left you all by yourself in that house?”

“Oh well, you know how she can be.”

Sharon smiled. “I am going to call you later in the evening. I am off to see a friend.”

“Friend? Really? You now have someone you call a friend? Lagos is definitely good for you after all.”

Sharon nodded. She just realized she had absently called Tobi her friend. She didn’t have friends, she only had acquaintances but with the budding friendship she was sure to build with Tobi, she didn’t mind calling him a friend. “Yes, Mama. A friend. His name is Tobi.” She reiterated.

“He is a Yoruba boy?”

“Yes, Mama. He is Yoruba and that’s the end of our discussion.” Sharon said. “I’ll call you later.” She said, ending the call.

She paid the cabman as they arrived MDB Studios and walked into the building, handing them Tobi’s card as a passage into the studio.

“Hey, Sharon.” Tobi said, welcoming her into his office. “Please, sit.”

She took her seat. “Thank you.”

“What do I offer you?” he asked, reaching for the intercom. “Water? Juice? I would say coffee but it’s a little too hot in the afternoon for coffee.”

“I am fine, thank you.” She replied.

He replaced the intercom. “So, have you gotten your suite in the hotel?”

“No. I searched some apartments online and I spoke to their realtor. I think I want to check that out.” She replied.

He checked his wristwatch. “Now? I don’t get out until six.”

“I… I actually wasn’t requesting your company.” She replied.

He shrugged. “You are having it anyway. It’s my off day tomorrow. We could check them out tomorrow. Just call the realtor to reschedule.”

Sharon found herself thinking about his offer. Maybe she could use his company after all. “So, what am I going to spend the rest of the day doing?” she asked. “I can’t have this much free time.”

“I could take you to see a movie tonight.” He replied. “Then we could go back to the apartment and have a good evening.” He added with a coy grin.

She shook her head. “I am not sure I want to be seen anywhere near a cinema hall.” She said, remembering the experience with Jadesola.

He tapped his forehead. “We could go and get your art materials. But if that’s the case, I need to get off a little earlier.”

“You are a celebrity here. It shouldn’t be so hard.” She replied. “I could see your vain photos on the wall.”

He chuckled. “I actually told them to take those pictures down. They don’t quite reveal my good side.”

Sharon smiled. “Are you not worried about Dapo?” she asked.

“Well, I can’t say I didn’t think about it but the only thing I could come up with was he bolted after making the money.” He replied.

She sat up. “What if something happened to him?”

“What could possibly have happened to him?” Tobi said, rising to his feet. “I don’t know but I really feel you should get your mind off it.” He said, approaching the door. “Hang on, I am going to get us that early dismissal from work.”

Sharon waited after he had shut the door and dialled Dapo’s phone again. Out of coverage.

***

Dapo searched through all the missed calls on his phone and thought about who to call back first. He had several from his family, the client he was meant to pitch to, Tobi and weirdly, Jadesola. He needed to get some rest after the ordeal from the previous night. He thought about what he had committed himself to by agreeing to the plan Mr John had set before him. He thought about going to the police and turning them in but that would involve him risking his family’s lives; he feared that they were faster than him, which had to be the case, since they knew all about him already. He packed his bag and returned his phone into his pocket. He wasn’t going to return any of the calls. He was going to get to work. The sooner he accomplished the task he was given, the quicker he would be in getting Mr John and his men off his back.

***

Sharon stared at the materials she had just purchased and wondered if she was doing the right thing. It had been forever since she last did anything related to painting and while Tobi needed the momentum to put his own work out there, she needed more than momentum. She needed to hone her skills all over again and while she might have told herself that once an artiste, always an artiste was real, she had a lot of work to do.

“Do you like them?” Tobi asked, joining Sharon at the cashier’s. “I got us a few more brushes.”

She nodded and turned to him. “This is likely going to be a lot more difficult than I thought.” She started. “What if I can no longer paint right?”

“You can’t quit on me now, we had a deal.” He replied, handing his card to the cashier. “Sharon, I know this is scary but if you really want to do what you love doing, you have got to start from somewhere.”

Tobi’s motivational speech wasn’t working for Sharon but she at least had to put up a front. She didn’t know what she was looking for but if painting was going to give her life, she had to give it a shot. “Let’s go paint.” She said.

***

Dapo was waiting outside Tobi’s house by the time they arrived. He watched Tobi and Sharon approach him with bags in their hands and smiled. Maybe Sharon had gotten him to do some shopping for her too. He wasn’t surprised. He had found himself in that situation before. But at least, now he knew that Sharon was genuinely robbed.

“Dapo, where have you been?” Sharon asked as they got to him.

He smiled faintly. “Hi, Sharon.”

“That doesn’t answer the question, bro.” Tobi said. “Why did you come here yesterday to try to deceive her into believing that you wanted her to do the presentation?” he asked.

Dapo smiled. “I wanted her to do the presentation.”

“That’s a lie.” Tobi replied.

Dapo chuckled. “Why would I lie? It got cancelled and I was so disappointed that I just shut down the whole day.” He said.

Sharon stared at him. “It’s okay. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

Tobi nodded. “Yep. You can see yourself out.” He said, leading the way.

“Sharon.” Dapo said, taking her hand.

Tobi stared at Dapo’s hand. “Bro, stop it.”

“Shut up, Tobi.” Dapo yelled. “I just want a minute with her.”

Sharon stared at Tobi. “It’s fine. I’ll be upstairs in no time.”

“I am not leaving you alone with this guy.” Tobi replied. “Whatever you want to say to her, you can say it while I am here.”

Dapo took a deep breath. “I don’t really do well with this drama, but I am sorry, Sharon, and I would like to make it up to you if you would let me.”

“And how exactly do you want to make it up to her? Deceiving her that you have another deal again?”Tobi asked. “She is not going to fall for it again. I won’t let her.”

“Tobi! Chill!” Sharon said. “You are not even letting him speak.” She added. Tobi was being unnecessarily protective of her such that it got her nervous.

Tobi nodded. “That’s because I know guys like him.”

Dapo stared at him. “What do you mean about guys like me? Tobi, mind your business. I am talking to Sharon and you should stay out of our conversation. Who are you to her? I have had enough of you.”

“Then get off my property!” Tobi yelled, taking Sharon’s hand. “Let’s go in.”

She yanked out of his grip. “I am not your property.”

Tobi took a deep breath. He was getting agitated. Maybe he was already assuming roles in his head. “I am sorry, Sharon.” He said, stepping back. “I’ll be waiting upstairs.”

Dapo waited until Tobi had disappeared up into the house before turning to Sharon. “I am really sorry about everything.”

“Was the deal really cancelled?” she asked. “Tell me the truth. Please.”

He took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes, it was.” He lied. He could see her eyes yearning for the truth but the truth was going to risk the ones he loved and right now, he had only one mission, he couldn’t afford to screw it up.

“I am sorry about it.” She replied.

He managed a smile. “So, were you able to get to the bank?”

“Yes.” She said. “And I am going to refund your money just like I promised.”

He shook his head. “You don’t need to. I already made you work. So, we are all square now. However, I’ll love a chance to be your friend…again.” He said, stretching out a hand. “Friends?”

Sharon stared at it. “Do you really want to be an Architect?”

“It’s all I have been good at pretending to be.” He replied, taking his hand back. “My parents wanted it and eventually I grew used to lying to be one.”

“Well, it is a skill I have learnt but I have no use for. Tobi is going to help me get back to painting, so if you don’t mind, I could work with you on designing.” She said.

He blinked as cold chills ran down his spine. “You want to teach me?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“I don’t know what to say.” He said.

She smiled. “A thank you is in order.” She said. “I’ll call you. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” He replied and watched her walk away. He clenched his teeth in anger. She was making his work a lot more difficult with her kind gestures. It was going to be difficult for him to carry out the task before him…he had to find a way; else his family would be in danger.

***

Sharon switched through the TV channels. The news channel didn’t have anything good to offer except for sad news which was the routine. She dropped the controller as soon as Tobi joined her in the living room.

“Hi.”

She folded her arms. “Hello.”

“Can I please sit?”

She shrugged. “It’s your house.”

He took his seat beside her. “I am sorry about what happened earlier. I guess I lost control for a second.”

“Bi-polar?” she joked with a chuckle.

He shook his head. “God forbid.”

“My mom is bi-polar.”

He rubbed his forehead. “I am sorry.”

“It’s alright.” She replied. “She gets to switch off some times and it could really be worrisome but she is a great person.”

“I bet she is.” He replied.

She stared at him. “I am going to help Dapo with Architecture.” She started. “I think he wants it so he would understand it better.”

“What if he’s doing it just to get closer to you?” Tobi asked.

Sharon chuckled. “Dude, you have so many weird theories.”

Tobi took her hand. “I like you.”

Sharon withdrew her hand from him. “Thank you.”

“No. I like you, very much.” He said and drew closer to her. He could see her eyes cowering as he towered over her slowly. “I want you, Sharon.” He said.

She put her hand in between their chests. “Tobi, stop.”

“I want you.” He muttered as he started to brush his lips against her face.

Sharon was struggling. “Tobi, stop it.” But he would not stop.

 

 

*****************************************************************************

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Can We Talk About Rape?

 

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No matter what you become, shit like this will always be a shadow over you.

 

Nate Parker, actor and director of one of the movies that shook the Sundance Film Festival last year, got an unprecedented $17 million deal and is already getting Oscar nods is not enjoying the acclaim as much as he should.

 

Why?

 

Well, in 1999 Nate Parker and his co-writer for Birth of a Nation, Jean Celestin who was also Nate’s and wrestling teammate back in college had a small ‘party’ in their dorm room, a party involving a girl. Their testimony during the trial varies, but the bottom line is, Nate invited a drunken girl to the room and he and his friend had sex with her – and she accused him of rape.

 

Read the story here.

 

Of course, they (Nate & friend) argued that it was consensual. The girl said different – but they were acquitted in court. Unfortunately, thirteen years after that, the girl committed suicide.

 

I have my opinions and theories about that, I have my arguments but – and this is what I want you to take away from this: when it comes to sex with anyone, do not assume. NEVER. If they are drunk, you can always wait. Be sure to have consent. If you have to get it in writing, get it.

 

 

I’m not even playing.
I just keep thinking; what if Nate had not taken her back to his room and did what he did? Would it come up now? Would he be inadvertently blamed for her suicide?

 

That is one shadow he is not going to walk out from under for a long time. No matter where he goes, whenever or wherever the girl’s name comes out, he will always be blamed for her death – fairly or otherwise. It’s like that Clinton/Monica Lewinsky situation; their names are inexorably and forever linked.

 

One hour of ‘pleasure’ is now displaced for a lifetime of pain and regret.

 

Forget he/she led you on and then changed his/her mind – abeg, leave them alone. It’s too serious; the consequences are too dire to be taken lightly. The only label I know worse than rapist is child molester.

 

We have our whole lives ahead of us. Won’t we be retarded to trade that for sex with someone who doesn’t want to? It’s so fucking pointless it’s painful and frustrating.

 

I’m actually in tears now.

 

See, I’m afraid for Nate. I’m surprised the folks who bought the film have no reneged on the deal. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I won’t be surprised if it does. This is a cautionary tale if there ever was one.

 

We shouldn’t be so shortsighted that we don’t think we will become someone great tomorrow. We should arm ourselves with the knowledge that things have consequences – and while the consequences can take as long as seventeen years before they come creeping out of the woodwork – they will come out. Maybe Nate raped her, maybe he didn’t. Maybe she wanted to, maybe she didn’t.

 

We will never know for sure.

 

What we do know is; he took a girl to his dorm room, had sex with her and she accused him of rape. Years later, she committed suicide. The coroner’s report said she swallowed over 200 pills.

 

He will never live that down. Never.

 

Please, let us all be careful and responsible. Let us be aware of how we treat people – especially people who trust us or look up to us for something or even just for a night. We are all in positions of responsibility – let us not be careless with that power.

 

It’s just not the best – and not only because it might come back to haunt you, but because it’s just not the right thing to do.

 

Get consent. In all your getting, GET CONSENT.

 

Please.

 


Clueless 5

 

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CLUELESS EPISODE 5

“Good morning, beautiful.” Tobi said, as he pulled the curtains back, allowing the rays of sunlight to bounce off Sharon’s face perfectly. “You slept quite long.” He continued, as he took his seat. “It’s been a while since I had anyone use this room.” He added. “My mom uses this room whenever she comes around.”

She stared at him. “Is there a time you don’t talk too much? I mean, I understand it comes with the job and you get to talk a lot when you are on the job arguing football and whatnot but is there really a time at all in your life when you don’t talk?”

Tobi smiled as he ran his eyes over her body. “I am sorry I disturbed you, but I hardly have anyone around here to talk to and so I am just excited to have a new friend.”

Sharon caught his gaze all over her. “Friend? Dude, don’t sweat it. I am not your friend.” She replied, crouching up on the bed, using the blanket to cover her legs.

He nodded. “Yet you are lying in my bed and you ate my food last night. That automatically makes us friends.” He replied.

“What do you want?” Sharon asked, starting to dismiss him. “Isn’t Dapo back yet?”

Tobi shook his head. “He is still pretty much hung up on Jadesola and maybe he wouldn’t be returning with the laptop as soon as we thought.” He replied. “So, I suggest you get back to your sleep or you go with me to church.”

Sharon chuckled. “So that the blogs could bare stories of how I went from the side chic to the girlfriend of a celebrity sports analyst in less than twenty four hours, right? Thank you, I decline.” She replied.

Tobi’s phone buzzed. He smiled as he saw Dapo’s name on the Caller ID. “It seems our friend, Dapo, might have had a change of mind after all.” He said and then tapped the answer button. “Hey man, what’s up?”

“Tell your overzealous security man to let me in.” Dapo said and then hung up.

Tobi stared at Sharon with a smile. “He is here and the security man won’t let him in because I have a habit of not entertaining guests on Sundays.” He said, dialling on his phone. “Please, let the gentleman in.” He said as he put a call through.

“Why don’t you allow guests in on Sundays?” Sharon asked, getting off the bed.

He smiled. “It’s a day I dedicate for my rest.”

She hissed. She had hoped to hear something more intriguing but as usual Tobi would not disappoint her with his excessive desire to create an impression of himself which was clearly not impressive to her.

“Let’s go and welcome our friend.” Tobi said, leading the way out of the room. Sharon followed closely. They arrived in the living room to meet Dapo who was setting the laptop on a table. “Good morning, Dapo. We didn’t think we would be seeing you.”

“We? You both are now an item?” Dapo asked, staring at them. “Trust me, it won’t last. I thought mine would.”

Tobi chuckled. “Don’t be so negative, man.”

“We are not even an item.” Sharon protested. “What is wrong with you, Tobi?”

Dapo stared at them. “Make up your minds. Sharon, can we get to work, please? Tomorrow is Monday.”

She nodded. “Of course.”

***

Jane was tossing and turning in her bed. She didn’t have a good sleep. She was worrying about Sharon and maybe it was her fault for trying to be supermom and have everything all knit together. She hoped she wasn’t getting more paranoid with her recent decision taking. She got out of her bed and made for the living room. She was sure her Mom would be in church by now, giving her room to have a moment alone. As she arrived in the living room, she gaped upon seeing her mother and husband standing by the door. “Chike?” she said, shocked.

He took a deep breath and walked over to her. “I have missed you, Jane.”

“What are you doing here, Chike?” Jane asked.

He ignored her, hugging her tightly as he absorbed the smell of her hair. “Lavender?”

“I haven’t even showered yet.” Jane replied, pulling away from her husband. Chike was quite the tease. “You didn’t tell me that you were returning home.” She said, staring at her mother who tried to avoid their glare.

Chike nodded. “I didn’t think I needed to be home too but Mama thought otherwise and I think she is right.”

“Chike? Mama called you and you came home?” Jane asked.

He led Jane to the sofa. “I have been meaning to come home for a while but you know how it is, right?”

“I know how it is and that is why I am surprised that you found some time out of your schedule to see us. What could be so important that you left your busy schedule to be here?” she asked.

“Jane, you know why I am here.” He replied.

She shook her head. “No. I don’t know! I am not paranoid and I am doing very well. I don’t know what my mother might have told you but I am not going to allow you commit me to an institution.”

“Don’t accuse me wrongly. I have not said anything that you did not do.” Mama said. “Maybe you need to get back to seeing your Doctor.”

“Chike, I do not need a doctor. I agree I have been tensed up of late and maybe my Mom thinks I am having a lapse in judgement but that is because she is overwhelmed by Sharon leaving.” Jane argued.

“Why did you have our daughter robbed?”Chike asked.

Jane took a deep breath. “Chike.”

“Why did you tell Mama that I was in on it when I had no idea about this?” he continued. “Do you know what how much danger Sharon could be in?”

“I have it all covered.” Jane replied.

He sighed. “You have it covered?”

“Yes, I have some men on ground.” She replied. “She has no idea what life is out there. The robbery is just to teach her a lesson and make her come back home.” She argued. Her husband looked displeased while her mother kept staring at her blankly. “Chike, none of us wanted her to leave. This is a chance to have her back. She would focus on her job like we always wanted.”

He shook his head. “I am forced to agree with Mama. You might be taking things out of hand and maybe you need to calm down.” He replied. “You can’t be in control of everything. You can’t control her life.”

“I am not trying to.” Jane protested. “All I ever want is to be sure I don’t make the same mistake my mother did.”

Mama sighed. “Jane, I am not responsible for the bad choices you are making.”

“I am not making bad choices.” She replied and turned to her husband. “Sharon would be back tomorrow.”

He stepped back. “No. She would stay in Lagos as long as she wants and you are no longer going to have a say in this. If this is how you want to help your daughter, I suggest you stay away from her and if you are not going to do that willingly, I am going to help you.”

“Chike, you are hardly around. Do you think you can make the rules now?” Jane asked. “All I am trying to do is get our daughter back home.”

“Don’t you get it? She wants to take this time off from us and from everything around here. We owe her that. Stop getting in the way. Tell your men to get off her back and I would be decent enough not to tell her what you have done.” He replied and made for the stairs. He stopped and turned to her. “One question, do you think Sharon is going to love you if she knew what you did to her?”

Jane nodded. “It’s for her good.”

“Then you are more deluded than I thought. Tell your men to stand down or you are not going to like the outcome of this.” Chike replied. “Tomorrow, she is going to pick up her life and we all are going to keep this between us. That’s the only way you get to keep your reputation as her mother.” He concluded and turned away.

“It’s a little too late.” Jane said as she watched her husband walk away.

Chike turned as soon as he heard those words. “What did you do?”

“Jane? What have you done this time?” Mama asked, shaking her daughter’s arm vigorously.

Jane yanked out of her grip. “I froze all her bank accounts.”

***

“So, what have you been up to since I left for church?” Tobi asked, taking his seat opposite Dapo.

Dapo looked up from his phone and stared at him. “Just working with Sharon. She is doing something for me.”

“Who is she to you? Your employee?” Tobi asked.

Dapo shook his head. “No. She is erm… she is a friend helping out with a job. I have a deadline for tomorrow to submit it.”

“Why are you not doing it yourself?” he asked.

Dapo smiled. “She is doing me a favour.”

“Hmmm… A favour that one way or the other saw you end things with Jade?” Tobi continued. “Don’t you think you guys should sit and maybe work things out?”

“Jadesola was fooling me. I don’t want to talk about her. She is engaged. I was the fool. I have moved on and I would appreciate it if we don’t dwell on this topic.” He replied.

Tobi nodded. “So, if she is doing your work for you up there… is she defending it for you as well?” he asked with a cynical smile. “Dapo, your parents might have paid your way through the University but we both know that you are not made for Architecture. You don’t know anything about it. You bought your grades. Men like me who worked hard didn’t even get a chance at good grades.”

Dapo shook his head. “I am not responsible for your problems.”

“No, you are not but why are you making Sharon do your work just because your parents have the money?” Tobi asked.

“Tobi, can you stop nosing in my business?” Dapo said, returning to his phone.

Tobi laughed. “It’s my business! You are in my house and sitting on my couch.”

“Seriously?” Dapo said, stunned by Tobi.

Tobi exhaled. “Look man, I understand the pressure to make your folks happy but if you are not good at it, it’s fine, you don’t have to be a fraud and have someone do your work all the time.” He replied.

Dapo clenched his teeth. “Are you done?”

“I just think you should find your niche and stop keeping up appearances even when you don’t fit. There’s going to be a day when you won’t have a Sharon to do your job for you and you are going to be standing out there embarrassed.” Tobi said. “I don’t want to be you that day, brother.”

Dapo rose to his feet. “I’ll just be on my way.”

“The truth is bitter.” Tobi said.

Dapo laughed. “Have you ever wondered why no one watches your lame show? You don’t say anything with sense.”

Tobi smiled. “Pardon me if you are mad that I didn’t find a more sensible way to call you a cheat.”

Sharon joined them downstairs. “Dapo, your work is done.” She said, holding the laptop out before him.

“I didn’t mean for her to hear that.” Tobi said. “She must have been eavesdropping.” He added quickly.

Dapo stared at him. “Thanks for the hospitality.” He said and then turned to Sharon, taking the laptop from her. “Thank you very much.”

“You can still get out, you know?” she said. “Tobi is right; you could do something else instead of hoping you are always going to have someone do your work.”

Dapo swallowed. “I will send your clothes from the hotel down here. I wish you all the best in Lagos. You’ll need it.” He said. “You’ll never see me again and I am sorry I made you do this.” He said and walked out of the house.

“Can I sleep here tonight?” Sharon asked.

Tobi smiled. “But of course, you already slept one night. I am sure I can accommodate you for an extra night.”

“Thank you.” She replied. “By tomorrow morning, I’ll be good to go.”

He shrugged. “I don’t care if you want to stay here much longer. I can use the company. I am here all alone anyway.”

“I appreciate your help.” She replied.

He blinked as she turned to leave. “Sharon, do you… do you want to see my art studio? I… I have a studio upstairs where I do my painting. I… I noticed you showed some interest in my work. I hope you don’t mind checking out where the process takes place.” He said, stuttering.

“Okay.” She replied with a smile.

***

Chike and Mama watched Jane as she spoke on the phone. They had ensured that she called the family’s accountant to reverse the block on Sharon’s accounts latest first thing in the morning and now they were listening to her speak to the men she put on Sharon’s tail. “Tell that idiot not to follow my daughter anywhere!” Chike said, impatiently. “I will have them locked up.” He continued.

Jane hung up and turned to her husband. “May I remind that they won’t be the only ones going to jail if you report them? I would be sent to prison as well.” She said.

“Is it done?” Chike asked, ignoring her.

Jane nodded. “Yes.”

“That’s the end of it, I believe.” He said, rising to his feet. “Mama, thank you so much for calling me into this. I appreciate it.”

Mama nodded. “Ifesinachi is my girl.”

“Which of us?” Jane asked. “I remember being called that name too.”

Mama smiled. “Jane, you know I love you.”

“But you love my daughter more and wish she was yours, but, it’s a shame because she’s not your daughter.” Jane said, rising to her feet.

Chike stared at his wife. “Don’t speak to your mother in that tone.”

“She never had time for me and now she doesn’t want me to be there for my own daughter. She wants it all-squared. I won’t be her. I am going to be a better mother.” She said, heading upstairs.

Chike turned to his mother-in-law. “It might be time to call in her Doctor.”

Mama took a deep breath as she reflected on Jane’s paranoia which was largely becoming evident. “What are we going to tell him?”

“We tell him what we can see. She is being paranoid and we don’t want it to escalate, so it might be time to take her in for a while.” Chike replied.

“What would we tell Ifesinachi when she calls to ask of her mother?” Mama asked.

Chike had not figured that part out but he was going to come up with something when the situation presented itself. He was not going to risk his wife losing her sanity over a trauma from her childhood.

***

“Is that woman confused? First, she asked us to rob the lady, she then told us to keep an eye on her, then she calls us to let her be and now she wants us to be kidnappers. Does she really know what she wants?”

“I tire o! The thing just dey vex me. I go dey follow person up and down every time like person wey no get work. Its not easy na.”

“Your job is not to complain. Your job is to do what you are told to do and be at peace with the money that appeases your bank account at the end of the day.” A certain Mr John said, walking in on his boys. “We can all say that we have enjoyed quite a good sum from her. Let’s finish this job well.” He said.

“So, do we do this tonight?” one of the men asked. “Or tomorrow night? We have had a long weekend.”

Mr John nodded. “Now is a good time.”

***

Sharon smiled as she pushed her fingers against the last canvas in the room and took a deep breath. “This is breathtaking.”

“Thank you.” Tobi replied.

Sharon folded her arm. “Why don’t you exhibit these works?”

He swallowed. “I am scared.”

“Of what?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Of not being accepted. I paint for the hobby. I am sure there are people way better than me at exhibits.”

“Really? You are scared of putting yourself out there?” she asked. “There would always be people better than you.”

He nodded. “I am already comfortable as an analyst; I don’t want to bash my reputation in case I am not accepted.”

“Then you are the biggest coward ever.” She replied. “You can’t hide behind your relevance. If you have got something that the world should see and you don’t show them; that’s a disservice.”

Tobi stared at her. “Why do I feel like you know better about these words?” he asked. “Dapo is using your design to empower himself. That’s a disservice on your part.”

She chuckled. “I don’t really care about that. It is the least of my worries.” She replied. “What Dapo and I had was a business transaction so I am not sad that I worked for him.”

“So, what is your greatest disservice? He asked.

She smiled. “I used to paint.”

“Used to?” he asked. “How is that even possible? If you were once a painter, you are always a painter.”

She shook her head. “Not in my case. I am quite rusty and I am not sure I would ever get back to where I once was.”

“What happened?” Tobi asked. “You sound like the bigger coward.” He added.

Sharon looked around her. “This is the life I wanted. I wanted to paint. I wanted to go to exhibitions. I wanted to be just Picasso.”

“Then what’s stopping you?” he asked. “Architecture?”

Sharon stared at him. “Maybe Architecture. Maybe the pressure to do something better. My parents never wanted me to paint and so I couldn’t. Maybe that’s why.”

“Maybe Fear?” Tobi asked.

She nodded. “Yes, maybe fear.”

He joined her by the door as they both leaned against it. “So, let’s do something together. I am scared of putting my works out there because I think I’ll fail and you think I should and I also think that you shouldn’t let your parents stand in the way of your light, so, if you would be my teammate, we both could do this… together.”

“I don’t understand.” She said.

He took her by the hand. “We’ll work together, we’ll paint together and we’ll show our works together.” He said.

Sharon’s heart raced fast as she listened to him. She had yearned for this. An opportunity to get back into the world she always wanted.

“What do you say?” he prompted. The door bell went. “It seems like we have a late visitor.” He said as they walked out into the living room.

Dapo was standing in the living room with a bag in his hand.

“Dude, you said you wouldn’t be returning.” Tobi said with a chuckle. “You can’t even keep your word.”

Dapo kept his gaze on Sharon. “Can I please have a minute with Sharon?”

Tobi took a look at Sharon. “Are you sure about this?”

“Dude, I am not going to kidnap her, am I?” Dapo asked.

Tobi smiled and obliged them.

“Sharon, I am sorry.” Dapo started. “I took advantage of you when you needed me the most and I am sorry.”

She shrugged. “Dapo, I don’t consider it as a wrong deed.”

“I consider it as one and maybe I shouldn’t be here faking what I am not but it’s all I have known how to do. I just wanted to get by and make my parents proud and that’s why I have been hiring people to do my work for me. I am a fraud and a cheat and I took advantage of you, I am sorry.” He apologized.

She nodded. “It’s alright. Are you ready for the presentation?”

“That’s the second reason I am here. I would love for you to please do the presentation.” He started.

“You want me to impersonate you?” she asked.

Dapo smiled. “No. I have replaced my name with yours. If you would love to make your first buck in Lagos, the presentation is yours tomorrow.”

Sharon stared at him. “You are skipping on your big day?”

“It’s not my big day. I don’t deserve it. You have the slot, all you need to do is say yes.” He said. “Would you do the presentation?”

She took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes, I will.”

 

 

*****************************************************************************

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Thank you so much!


Rio 2016: Lessons In Passing

 

 

rio-2016-banner-newer

 

 

I haven’t done this for a while.

I cannot tell you why; mental fatigue? Distractions? Personal issues? Being unable to motivate because I’ve been unmotivated myself?

All of the above.

Well. All that is over and done with. I’m back.

For now, at least.

I don’t particularly like sports; I’m indifferent at most. So I wasn’t invested in the whole Rio 2016 thing – especially the most-laughable conduct on the part of the government – as usual.

But something made me put this note together.

I saw a post on Facebook; somebody said something that went roughly like this;

 

“How do we expect to beat Oyinbos at the Olympics when they’ve managed to make sports out of their hobbies? See sports like swimming, fencing, gymnastics, archery, canoe sprint and so on! Maybe we should try that too and see how far we can go! Imagine anybody beating us at an Olympics where the events are:

Eba swallowing

Fence jumping

Akara frying

Spice/pepper eating”

 

And a number of other things uniquely ours.

It was funny; it afforded me a good laugh. I still love to think however, and so within moments I found myself wondering if there was any deeper meaning to be found in that joke.

I found one, and that is what I want to share today.

The most profound lesson is embedded in the line; “they’ve managed to make sports of their hobbies”. In other words, they started to take serious something they normally do for fun.

Take a moment. Let that sink in.

While we know winning at the Olympics (or anything for that matter) has a lot less to do with ‘comfort zones’ and a lot more with preparedness, steadfastness, focus, available resources and so on, the truth is; like Heath Ledger’s Joker said in The Dark Knight movie;

 

“If you’re good at something, never do it for free”.

 

What is your passion; that thing you really enjoy doing? Is there something you love to do so much; something that gives you so much joy you would do it for free anyway?

Have you ever thought seriously about making a living off it? Seriously?

You’d be surprised at the things you can turn to money these days. I have one friend who is a life coach and shares lessons and notes via Facebook – lessons and notes you can access for a price. I have another who does speaking and writing lessons on that same platform – Facebook – for a price. I’m sure you have a friend or you know someone who became a chef/cook/event planner/DJ/clothes designer not because they were desperate or didn’t have anything better to do but because they enjoyed doing it – and then saw a way to make a living off it.

Have you ever thought about monetizing your passion?

There’s at least two websites nowadays you can actually buy stew from. You read that correct; stew. Efo riro, egunsi, okro – whatever floats your boat is available at various pot sizes at different sizes. Somebody thought about giving dance lessons.

Have you heard of Nothing To Do In Lagos?

Yes, that site that informs you about events and activities happening over the weekend in Lagos? That was somebody’s idea!

As an aside, I have a series currently running on their blog titled ‘Lagos Is…’. I just started this month – read the intro here.

 

In a sermon I heard sometime ago, the pastor was making a point that it is better to focus on your strengths rather than weaknesses. He was speaking in the context of a company – and said ‘Instead of hiring people who do what you can’t, hire people who do what you can so they can do that while you focus on what you can’t”. It does sound like good advice, and maybe it can work in the employment place, I however disagree with that approach when it comes to personal development.

As far as I know or concerned, that’s a pretty good way to become a Jack of all trades, master of none because you cannot give the time required to be exceedingly proficient at several skills.

Or maybe you can – but at what cost?

I don’t believe in spreading myself thinly over too many things. I’d rather focus on two or three things and become really amazing at doing them, things I gravitate towards naturally. Things that come easy to me, things that give me joy and pleasure.

Life is too short to spend doing something you don’t like. What if I die tomorrow, do I want to die wishing I had done more of what I wanted to do, or do I want to die knowing I did my bit and I will always be remembered?

The choice is obvious.

So, till Nigeria figures out a way to include Eba Swallowing in the Olympics – or in her own sports tournament, be the best you at the thing(s) you enjoy doing. Nobody; I write again nobody can quite be you like you can.

So shine on. Grow.

Be.

 


Clueless 4

 

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CLUELESS EPISODE 4

Sharon wasn’t ready. She had seen crazy ladies but then, they were Maitama rich kids crazy scratching at each other for silly issues like unshared blunts and boyfriends, not Lagos crazy. She stared at the lady who was ripping Dapo apart with her tongue and wished she could diffuse into the earth instantly, but it was too late! Some jobless folks at the mall had started taking videos and pictures of the showdown; they were going to make it to gossip blogs in no time and possibly trend on Twitter. She was officially screwed!

“Jadesola, please, calm down.” Dapo said, as he stared at the crowd. “It is not what it seems like.” He said.

She laughed as she clapped her hands. “Ehen?! Do I look like I have glue in my eyes? Are you not here with that skinny piece of meat?” she asked, staring at Sharon who was standing metres away from them. “Panla, I am talking to you!”

“Jade! Stop this nonsense. We are in the public!” Dapo said as he tried taking her hand. She wouldn’t let him. “Let’s go and talk about this outside.”

“You told me you were going to work for the weekend. Is this the work?” Jadesola asked. “Look at the babe, this one is not work na.” She added, accessing her body frame. “I am work.” She said, firming her hands against her buttocks. “This is work.” She said, emphatically.

Dapo exhaled as laughter rang across the room. The onlookers were definitely having fun with this. He turned to Sharon who was clearly embarrassed and mouthed. “I am sorry.” He said. Sharon nodded and turned away from them, heading downstairs.

“Where is she going?” Jade asked as she tried going after Sharon but was restrained by Dapo who grabbed her firmly and lifted her over his shoulder. “What are you doing?” she cried. “Put me down!”

He was having none of her theatrics. He had seen enough of it, and unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time. Other times, he had learnt to walk away but this was not one of such occasions. He was at fault. He ought to have told her that he wasn’t alone and maybe that would have made her less dramatic…after all, there was not one drama-free woman, yeah? He released her as soon as they got to the car. “Get in.” He ordered, looking over her shoulder in Sharon’s direction. He could still see her walking down the road. But, she was not alone. Tobi was closing in on her. He hated that guy!

“I am not going anywhere with you until you tell me who that lady is.” She replied, in an unusually calm tone.

Dapo scoffed. “Why didn’t you speak like a proper human being up there? If you had this humane part of you, why didn’t I see that part? Aren’t you going to continue raging like a madwoman?”

She flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Who is she?” she asked.

“She is a friend who needs my help and thanks to you, she is out of sight” Dapo replied. “Now if you would please, get into the car and let me drop you home.” He said.

Jade took a deep breath. “I can’t.”

“Why not?” he asked.

She sighed. “I have a date.”

***

“Sharon!”

Sharon stopped walking and turned towards the person that had been calling after her. It was Tobi Adebiyi. The TV Presenter. Now what could he want? An Interview? She could only ask the Heavens to help her so she wouldn’t be rude towards him. She had had enough for a lifetime and the only thing she could think about now was getting on the next flight to Abuja on Monday morning. “Yes?”

He smiled as he stood before her. “I was on my way out when that episode happened up there and I would love to apologize on behalf of my friend and his psychotic girlfriend.”

“Name calling? That’s classy.” She replied and started to turn away from him. She couldn’t be interested in anything that had to do with Dapo or his girlfriend.

Tobi hurried after her. “I am sorry about that. I usually come off wrong some times.”

“Well, this seems like all the time.” she replied.

Tobi chuckled. “You can’t judge me by one incident.” He replied. “Where are you off to? I could drop you.”

Sharon paused and then realized that she had no idea where she was off to. She couldn’t return to the hotel. She wasn’t the registered user of the room and she was sure the receptionists would be more than happy to turn her back. Maybe it was time to get off her high horse and call for help. Lagos was going from bad to worse. She was sure that her parents knew people in Lagos who could camp her till Monday morning. She was going to return to Abuja and get her job back. She was not all rusty with her skills on AutoCAD, she was halfway done with helping Dapo out so she knew she still had it in her even though it was not what she wanted. She loved to paint but her Dad was not having that so she settled for the closest thing to her art skills – Architecture. Her parents were delighted. She was going to make them proud and of a truth, she did. She had hoped to find something special in Lagos but it seemed as though every step she had taken was akin to taking two back. Her trip was pointless. Her rediscovery process was pointless. She was going back home. She took a deep breath and stared at Tobi. “Can I use your phone?”

He nodded as he fetched it out of his pocket. His phone buzzed just as he was about to hand it to her. “Dapo is calling.” He said. “One second.” He added and answered the call. “What’s up, man?” he asked and paused to listen. He nodded. “You want me to take her to my place?”

Sharon stared at him. “I am not going anywhere with you.” She replied.

Tobi passed the phone to her. “He wants to speak with you.”

“What do you want?” Sharon flipped. “I get it. You are sorry, but I don’t want to go anywhere with him. I don’t know him.”

“I am a good guy.” Tobi intercepted. “I am better than Dapo. You can bank on that.” He added, staring at a black jeep packed a distance from them. He had noticed the driver staring at them so he waved at him. For all he knew, the driver could have been a fan. He then turned to Sharon who was done with the call. “My lady, what say you?”

“Let’s go.” She said.

He smiled. “Of course.”

***

“Sharon is fine.” Jane announced as she took a seat opposite her mother on the dining table. “I just got off the phone with one of my men in Lagos. He is keeping a close watch on her and I am sure he would prompt her if necessary to be on the next flight.”

“Just out of curiosity,” Mama started. “How much did you pay those men to watch over Ifesinachi?”

Jane smiled. She was not willing to answer that question. She dug her fork into some beef and started to slice it. “Your granddaughter is fine, but I cannot guarantee that she has been feeding fine.” She started. “That’s what she gets for wanting to do things her way.”

Mama took a deep breath. She was going to ask the hard question she had not asked her daughter in a long time. Jane was dealing with a bi-polar condition but she had been just fine in recent times. However, her recent actions were a cause for concern. “Are you relapsing?”

“Are you going to ask a madman if he is mad?” Jane replied with a cheesy smile. “Mom, I know where you are headed? I am not relapsing. I am fine. And every decision I have taken is for the good of my daughter.”

Mama nodded. “Would your daughter still love you if, when she returns on Monday, she realises that you were behind every ordeal she went through?”

Jane smiled. “It was all for her good. Sharon thinks she is seeking answers to questions. The truth is there are no answers. The only answers are the ones we give ourselves. If you want fulfilment, you have to accept the things you have before you and stop seeking the things out of your reach.” She replied.

Mama took a deep breath. “Fulfilment is wherever you find it and if you think putting a leash on your daughter so that she is dependent on you will be a recompense for the times you and I never had, I need you to understand that you might be suffering a relapse and you are not even aware of it.”

“Are you attacking me based on my mental state?” Jane asked, staring into her tab. “Mama, I am fine. I am only protecting my daughter the way you never protected me. I want to ensure that Sharon never has to leave my sight so that she is safe.”

Mama laughed. “So, I am guessing the robbery plan was to tell her the things she could face without your coverage? Jane, you are mad and you don’t have anyone to tell you.”

“Mama, you are wrong. You just told me and I would like to finish my food in peace.” Jane replied.

Mama rose to her feet. “And when Sharon gets married? Would you like to live with her too, so she is protected from her husband?”

“It’s a good thing she doesn’t see marriage as important.” Jane replied. “You and I know that.”

Mama shook her head. “Jane, you can’t take care of your daughter forever. She is going to take care of you some day. It might be time to let her go.”

“I have decided not to. Deal with it, Mom.” Jane replied. “I am not letting her go like you let me out of your sight. I am not allowing her face the world alone.”

Mama was genuinely sorry for Jane. Now she was sure, more than ever, that her daughter needed help.

***

Sharon watched Tobi as he gave instructions to his stewards before returning to meet her in the living room. “You have stewards for different purposes.”

“As it should be.” He said, sinking into a chair. “Two for the kitchen because I am very particular about my food and gaining weight in the right places.” He started. “You know, the office pays for them. I have one who drives me about and I have one who does my laundry and another for my menial chores.”

“And you live in a rented duplex?” Sharon said, cutting short his enthusiasm.

He nodded with a smile. “The office pays for everything.”

Sharon chuckled. “And I believe they talk a small cut from your monthly salary.”

“Pretty insignificant stuff.” He replied. “Dinner would be served soon.” He added.

Sharon chuckled. “I am surprised you don’t understand the yearly import of that ‘pretty insignificant stuff’ on your annual pay.”

Tobi shrugged. “I don’t care. Life’s too short.” He said and then ran his eyes over Sharon with a smile. “So, what’s a pretty young thing like you doing as Dapo’s chic? That bastard is too sleek. He got Jade on one side and he’s got you as his side squeeze. How is a brother that lucky? Maybe if I was light skin or something. Right?” he said, turning to Sharon.

“You should really put a leash on your mouth.” She replied, standing up. She walked over to the wall and stared at the paintings that adorned it. She smiled as she thought about what she would have been as a painter. She jumped as soon as she felt Tobi’s hand around her lower back. “What are you doing?”

“Making myself comfortable.” He replied.

She shook her head. “Don’t you care about the impression that you make on others?” she asked, dropping his hand. “Most importantly, you are a celebrity. People look up to you. How about you live up to the reputation you have falsely put out there?”

“Now where’s the fun in that? This is who I am.” He said with a smile.

Sharon shook her head as she returned to her seat. “You leave a very bad impression about yourself.”

He joined her. “Fine. I agree. Now tell me, what are you even doing with a guy like Dapo?”

“What do you mean by a guy like Dapo?” she asked. “Because of his babe? She doesn’t define him.”

Tobi laughed. “Nah. Jadesola is a lovely girl except for when her anger buttons are spiked. Dapo is a… he is a weird guy. I mean, he drops off the surface and flies away again.” He replied. “He doesn’t even keep in touch with me and we were like good friends in those days.” He added with a laugh.

“In what days?” Sharon asked. Her hope was that Tobi was another blast from her past. She wondered why she was, all of a sudden, looking for familiar strangers in her life when all she wanted was to run away.

He relaxed in his chair. “We used to be friends way back in the university. We both studied Architecture but look at me; I ended up a sport presenter and that guy, oh well…”

Sharon hissed as her enthusiasm was watered down at the mention of ‘university’. She had hoped to hear primary school. She sighed and thought about home again. It was time to call in the cavalry. She was done with the adventure. “Can I, please, use your phone?”

He nodded and passed it to her. “Who are you going to call? Dapo told us to wait for him.”

She ignored him as she walked over to the paintings with the phone to her ear. “Mama.” She said, tiredly.

“Ifesinachi! How are you?”

Sharon could hear the panic in Mama’s voice. “I am fine, Mama. How is my mom?”

“She… she is very fine. How is Lagos treating you? Is it all you hoped for?”

Sharon took a deep breath. If she told Mama the truth right now, she would have failed…again. Maybe she could give herself another fighting chance. Or maybe she didn’t need to be so stupid and just let her grandmother come to her rescue.

“Ifesinachi? You are silent.” Mama echoed.

Sharon laughed. “It’s just great, Mama. Lagos is just great. I have my own place now and I… erm, I should be…I should be going to an art exhibition tonight to check out some artworks. I might even get my own studio once the week starts and then I think I should get back to painting. It’s just been so long, you know?” she said with a feigned smile.

“Ifesinachiiiiiii, Na like that Lagos sweet reach? One day you don get house dey jump upandan.” Mama stressed. “Should I come and visit you?”

Sharon shook her head. “No, Mama and I have to go now.” She said, taking a glance at Tobi who was receiving a meal from his steward. She turned away from him. “You can’t call me on this phone, Mama. I am yet to set my phone up.”

“Set yourself up? Ifesinachi, you are within Nigeria nau, what happened to your phone?” Mama quizzed.

Sharon blinked as she thought of a more befitting tale. “Mama, I am trying to start my life all over again and I… I really don’t want to have old contacts, so I decided to-”

“-to cut your grandmother off?” she asked.

Sharon shook her head apologetically as though Mama could see her. “Mama, you know I can’t do that. I… I would never do that to you, but I have to go now. I’ll keep in touch.”

“Ifesinachi, God be with you. I know what you are going through. But I know you are stronger than this, okay?” Mama said.

Sharon nodded. Her Grandmother’s words had given her life even though she was sure the old woman knew not what she spoke of. “Bye, Mama. Tell Mom I said I love her.” She said, hanging up.

Tobi clapped as soon as she got off the phone. “That was quite a performance. If I didn’t know better, I would have said you really had your own place and an art exhibition to be at this night.” He said with a soft laugh. “Who is the poor woman you were deceiving on the phone? Who is Mama?”

“You truly don’t know better.” Sharon replied, taking her seat.

He drew closer to her. “Do you really like painting?”

Sharon nodded absently as she thought about the next day. Monday couldn’t come any sooner. She was expectant and she couldn’t wait to get back on track. Maybe she could indeed get back to painting.

“I painted all these myself.” Tobi said.

She turned to him. “Really?”

He nodded. “I like to paint. It’s like a pastime activity for me but it’s something I love doing.”

“They are beautiful.” Sharon said, staring at the framed artworks.

He smiled. “Thank you.”

“Sorry for everything, guys.” Dapo said, walking in. “I am really sorry about what happened back there.” He added. “Can we please leave, Sharon? I need to have that presentation ready for Monday.”

“No.” She replied, “You don’t get to come here and tell me to come with you like nothing happened. I don’t want your Queen tearing at my cloth before the day is over.”

Tobi stared at them. “I’ll just let you two have this moment.” He said, grabbing his plate, disappearing down the hallway.

Dapo took a deep breath. “Sharon, I really want to apologize for everything that happened. I can’t explain right now, but I really need you to come with me so we can finish up my work. It’s important to me.”

“My safety is also important to me.” Sharon replied. “Your Queen looks like someone who could decorate me with an acid bath. I am too fresh for that.” She added.

Dapo found a wry smile in spite of how he felt and sank into a chair. “Sharon, trust me, I am too fresh for stress too.” He said.

She hissed. “How vain!” she said. “So, what happened with Jadesola?”

He passed his phone to her. “We are now famous on social network sites. Our video has gone viral; you have been tagged the side chic and Jadesola, the ranting wife and me, the clueless husband and I am pretty sure that title suits me well.”

“Except that I am not your side chic.” Sharon corrected.

He nodded. “Fine, you have made your point. Now, let’s go home.”

“Hotel, you mean.” She replied. “I am not going with you.”

He scoffed. “Why? We had a deal. And you had better stick to it.” He said, getting upset. “I don’t know whatever Tobi must have said to you but that guy says a lot of nonsense.”

“I didn’t tell her anything that she doesn’t already know.” Tobi said, joining them. “You guys are trending on the internet.” He said, looking up from his phone. “This is not good.”

“Tobi, you are not saying what I don’t already know. I have shown her the post.” Dapo said, rising to his feet. “Sharon, I think it’s time we left. We only have Sunday left. I need to get this work locked down.”

Sharon ran her fingers through her hair. “You only care about the fact that I am working for you!”

“Forgive me if I can’t think of anything else but that is all that matters to me.” Dapo retorted. “You have to come back with me and finish that job.”

“What job?” Tobi asked with a raised eyebrow.

Dapo stared at him. “Thanks Tobi for taking her in briefly but this business is between Sharon and I.”

“And I insist that I am not going back with you!” she replied.

He smiled. “And where would you go?”

“She can stay here with me.” Tobi said. “There is enough room.”

Dapo smiled. “Tobi is a joke. You don’t want to stay with him.”

“Your girlfriend called me names. She would have ripped me apart. I don’t feel safe with you.” Sharon replied.

“Small comfort in this jackass’ house and you feel safe?” Dapo asked. “Sharon, I need to get my design fixed.”

Tobi stared at Dapo. “Bro, I don’t mean to piss you off, but if she doesn’t want to go with you, she is more than welcome to stay here.” He said.

Dapo clenched his fist in anger. “Sharon?”

“Bring the laptop here. I’ll work from here. I don’t want trouble.” Sharon replied.

Dapo exhaled sharply. “Jadesola is not your problem anymore. I can assure you.”

“No. I am not taking that chance!” Sharon retorted. “Bring the laptop here. I will work from here.” She added. “You have a girlfriend. Respect her.”

“We broke up!” Dapo yelled. “We are done. Jadesola and I are done.” He replied.

Tobi blinked. “Dude, you just ended things with her like that? Na wetin?

Dapo took a deep breath. “She broke up with me. She is engaged to be married.”

“What?!” Tobi gaped. “So na you be the side bobo?

Dapo nodded. “The clueless one.”

***