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Posts tagged “February 14

Midweek Fix: The Blues About The Red

 

I’m not complaining. Not really.

 

There’s just a certain kind of mood that comes on me at certain times of the year. You know, those nights when it seems all you can do is look over the neighbor’s roofs at the lights winking in the distance and wonder what exactly is happening on the other side of where you are.

 

The times; oh those oh-ah times you remember a face, a smile…a name (if you’re so lucky), and smile wistful smiles that are beautiful in a sad way. Smiles that suddenly take you from the ‘now‘ back to the ‘then‘ – and you beat your head; actually pound it a few times better than your momma ever could.

 

And you ask yourself why you left.

 

Have you ever noticed how more often than not, the reasons don’t sound as convincing as they used to?

 

Those nights you cannot help but wonder if there’s someone else somewhere else, someone so far yet so close – someone you’ve never met yet someone you know almost as well as your mother (we all have mothers; no?), someone who – at that exact moment, you feel one with?

 

So many people have come; so many have gone. So many people will still do both. I realize that a lot of times, in trying to hold on too hard you lose. And sometimes, letting go is not the best thing. Because what you think and what actually is are hardly ever the same.

 

The trick is finding that delicate balance.

 

Another February 14 looms, and I am caught back in that loom; that unstopping machine weaving the fine fabrics of time and events. So many questions. So little answers. I stand at my window and look over the horizon at the winking lights in the sky.

 

And then…I feel a lightening of my spirit.

 

Maybe someone just wrote a letter in a bottle and dropped it in the ocean – and it’s headed my way. Maybe someone on the other end of my position just read a text I sent some years ago in the heat of one of those moments, and laughed happily. Maybe someone just thought about me – thought about ME; and smiled. Maybe God just put my face to the image of a husband someone has been asking Him for.

 

Maybe ‘it’s time’. Who knows?

 

Maybe…just maybe…

 

I’m not so alone after all.

 

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14 Days: The 1st Day

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And the last day; day 1 went like this:

She got to work that morning feisty as all get out. She had made up her mind that she was not going to Obudu with her boss – and that he should do his worst.

But it’s work; her head pointed out.

He just wants to be sleeping with us; her heart argued.

And so it went on till she got to work. The first person she saw was the front-desk person; Shola.

“Oga has travelled. He said to tell you he went with his madam,” Shola said. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

She felt relieved. “Thank you darling,” she said and went into her office.

Toke and Chinedu were there, being really careful around each other. She did not know what to say anymore – so she had hugged each of them and settled in to do some paperwork.

I meet her like that, trying to do some work. But it’s clear that she’s not getting anywhere with it. Her mind keeps drifting – she keeps thinking about her boyfriend. It is as though his going away has evoked some new depth of feeling within herself – as though she just met and the sparks are flying all over again. She picks up her phone to call him…and then she has a rethink. He’s probably busy. A text will do.

So she sends him one, a whimsical smile on her face. She hears a sound in the distance – a sound painfully familiar. But it is impossible; it cannot be sounding that close. So she tells herself it’s her imagination and tries to continue working. Almost immediately he sends a reply and she smiles. They will be fine.

Two weeks will fly by…and they’ll be together again.

“Baby, I need a favor,” Toke suddenly whispers in her ear, making her jump a bit. “What is wrong with you?” she snaps at the girl at her shoulder. She feels contrite instantly, and hugs the girl whispering, “I’m sorry. What do you need?”

Toke sniffs. “I got Chinedu some stuff,” she says quietly, indicating that worthy who is asleep on his table.  “And I did not want him to know so I hid them in the store. Could you please? It’s a huge black box…”

“Say no more,” our ‘she’ says, and marches towards the storeroom which is just a small room inset in the back of their office. Chinedu looks up from his table, too quickly for one who is supposed to be asleep, not wanting to miss any of the ensuing drama.

She opens the store door, flicks on the light.

And finds herself face to face with her boyfriend who is supposedly in Abuja.

“Hello beautiful,” he says, sweat dotting his brow.

She does what almost anyone; male or female (forget movies) would do in that situation. She shrieks.

It’s a few minutes after one in the afternoon before the pandemonium settles. By that time, everyone in the office from security guard to cleaner to driver knows who auntie’s boyfriend is. The poor guy has been shaking hands for the past thirty minutes while his girlfriend stands by, shaking her head and beaming proudly. She looks at Chinedu and Toke who are standing to one side, laughing quietly and draws a finger across her throat. I’ll kill you; she mouths in their direction.

“We love you too,” Toke whispers back. Chinedu blows her a kiss.

“So, you were not sent to Abuja at all,” she says accusingly to her man when the dust finally settles.

“Sure I was. I’m supposed to be there now. I just explained things to my partner and he agreed to cover for me till tomorrow.” He smiles down at her. “First flight out. And you’re coming with me.”

“And them?” she asks, indicating the grinning couple. “How did they get in on it?”

“You had been hoarding him from us na,” Chinedu says, casually slipping an arm around Toke’s waist. “So when he called and explained to me, it was a chance to surprise you twice.”

“But how did he get in there?” she asks. “Did you leave the airport immediately I left or…”

“I flew to Abuja…saw my partner and explained things to him. And then I flew right back, connected with him and crashed in his house. Came to the office with him this morning – we came extra-early so we could beat you in,” he ends, grinning happily.

“So that’s why you were dozing!” she accuses Chinedu.

“So…?”

She shakes her head, looking at this boyfriend of hers. I love him; she thinks.

“I love you,” she says, liking the smile that shows up on his face. “I love you too,” he says in response, somewhat automatically yet unlike she’s ever heard it before. Yeah yeah.

“Oya kiss me jo,” she says to him.

And as that kiss is enough for me on Valentine’s Day, I go home jeje to hug my pillow and bottles.

I’m sure you wish her well. I do, no matter what.

Happy Valentine’s Day, young lovers everywhere. Love is beautiful.


14 Days: The 3rd Day

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She felt a bit feverish on the 3rd day.

This is what happened.

 

She is at work, her head hurting a little bit. It can be that she is coming down with something. But if you ask her like I did, and if she likes you like she does me, she will tell you it has been that way since yesterday. Yesterday; since that woman’s call precisely.

 

The conversation plays in her mind.

 

“Hello?” she had picked the call on the second ring. “Hope you did not get in trouble with LASTMA,” she said, really concerned.

 

“No thank you,” the woman responded, sounding excited again. “You sound very nice.”

 

She laughs. “Thank you.” And then, a bit hesitantly…”May I know…”

 

“…who this is?” The woman on the other end of the phone finished. “I’m Laide. Laide Wunmi Adebanjo,” she finished.

 

The way she said the names implied she expected to be recognized, and somewhere in our ‘her’s’ mind, a dull buzzing had begun; a small warning sound.

 

“I’m sorry,” ‘she’ said. “But do I know you?”

 

Laide suddenly sounded unhappy. “No you don’t,” she said. “But you do indirectly. You see, you’re sleeping with my husband.”

 

‘She’ was shocked. MD’s wife!

 

But then, she remembered the name she had just heard – and MD’s name was not Ade-anything. “Excuse me? I don’t know…”

 

Laide interrupted her. “My husband is Wale. You probably call him engineer or something like that.”

 

Engineer!

 

“Em, Laide…ma? Can I say something?” She continued talking, not allowing the woman put in a word. “I didn’t know Wale was married. He never told me.” Not that it would have made any difference if he had, she thought bitterly, thinking at that moment of her boss.

 

“I can believe that,” Laide sounded sad. “I don’t know what he wants again. He takes care of me and the kids – but I want my man. You can’t blame me for that,” Laide said. There was a slight pause, and then “I saw some of your pictures. You’re really beautiful,” she finished.

 

“Em – thank you ma,” she said, feeling quite bad. “Ma, I’m really sorry…” Laide interrupted her.

 

“You didn’t know,” she said. “Could you stop calling me ma? That makes me feel…well, old.”

 

There was a long silence on the phone, a silence of understanding; of empathy.

 

 

And then Laide spoke, sounding choked up. “I think…I should be going. You take care, okay?”

 

She is at work, her head hurting a little bit. It can be that she is coming down with something. But if you ask her like I did, and if she likes you like she does me, she will tell you it has been that way since yesterday. Yesterday; since that woman’s call precisely.

 

Her phone rings now. She smiles a little, the headache receding a  little. It’s her boyfriend, you see.

 

“Hey you,” she says, smiling for the first time today.

 

“Hey you,” he says back, but she can tell there’s something wrong. She suddenly becomes aware of her heart – beating strongly within her chest.

 

“What is it?” She asks. “What’s wrong?”

 

“I…” he starts to say – but at that point MTN does their magic and they cannot hear each other anymore. And then, I have to leave. I have to work too, you know.

 

Maybe tomorrow. Maybe.


14 Days: The 4th Day

 

 

The fourth day came…and basically went.

 

 

“So we won the tournament,” Chinedu says to a sleepy ‘her’. She lifts up her head groggily to look at him. “That much I figured out by the amount of fireworks that were going off in my neighborhood,” she answers, standing up and stretching. It seems like I sleep around work a lot these days, she thinks.

 

 

“It seems like you sleep around work a lot these days,” Chinedu says as he stands up from behind his desk and walks over to hers. “Are you okay?” he asks.

 

 

She smiles, a mischievous lifting of her lips. “I’m fine o. Just a bit of stress lately or something.” She pats her head lightly and looks at Chinedu. “You look excited. Is there something going on?”

 

 

Chinedu nods. “I bared my mind to Toke over the weekend. And even though she did not say anything – I feel some sort of relief.”

 

 

She smiles at him. “That’s the idea – telling them however you feel. They don’t have to respond the way you think they should – “

 

 

The door opens and they both look to see it’s the front-desk girl “Oga has returned,” she says with a slightly affected accent.

 

 

Our ‘she’ responds. “Thanks, I’ll be right out.”

 

 

She smiles at Chinedu. “I just need to clarify some things with him,” she says, jerking her thumb towards the door. “I’ll be right back.”

 

 

She walks towards the boss’ office, moving elegantly, heels clicking gently. She smiles at the front-desk girl who smiles back, thinking about how beautiful a smile our ‘she’ has. She can see him from the corridor, he is settling into his seat after removing his jacket. She rounds the corner to his office and knocks.

 

 

“Come in,” he says, having looked up to see who it is.

 

She walks in. “Boss…” she begins but he cuts her short. “You look nice today – but then you always do,” he says, lowering his glasses to leer at her.

 

 

She blushes. “Thank you sir, but I have to talk to you.”

 

 

He instantly becomes serious. “What is it?” he asks.

 

 

She leaves the door and goes to sit in front of him. “Sir, it’s about Obudu. I…I won’t be able to make it.”

 

 

He pauses and looks at her from over his spectacles. “And that is because…?”

 

 

“Well…sir, I…” he interrupts her.

 

 

“I don’t doubt that you’ve made other plans – and I respect that. But this is work, young lady. I don’t think you should be hard put to make up your mind. Should you?”

 

 

She hangs her head, though inside she is seething. “No, sir,” she says in between gritted teeth. “No I shouldn’t.”

 

 

“Good.”

 

 

He looks at his table and picks up a pen, silently dismissing her.

 

 

She walks back to her office, really angry. That old goat..!

 

 

She opens the door and walks into the room – just as her phone begins ringing. She grabs it – from beside her system and looks at the screen. It’s not a number she knows.

 

 

“Hello?” she says politely.

 

 

“Hi!” a warm female voice answers excitedly. “How are you doing?” the voice continues.

 

 

She can’t help but answer – she even has a smile on her face. “I’m fine – and you?”

 

 

The voice sounds a bit subdued. “I’m fine…or I would be if…” there’s a pause, and then the voice continues, now sounding stronger. “I will call you back shortly – I’m driving and there’s this LASTMA guy eying me. I’ll call you. Bye!”

 

 

“That’s okay. Hope you don’t get arrested!”

 

 

There is an indistinct ‘I hope so too thanks!’ before the caller hangs up. ‘She’ has a smile on her face before asking herself;  ‘what was that all about?’

 

 

I don’t know. Do you?

 

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14 Days: The 5th Day

 

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The 5th day was…well, judge for yourselves

 

 

She is sitting in a tastefully furnished living room, sipping on Chivita Active juice from a tall glass filled with ice cubes. She is smacking her lips, but she has a slight frown on her face.

 

Toke is seated opposite her wearing nothing but a short blue housecoat. She does not have her glasses on, which makes her look like a big child. Of course, Toke is not as model-beautiful as the girl seated opposite her, but she is a looker in her own right.

 

“So that’s what happened yesterday o,” Toke says, looking a curious cross between worried and pleased. “He just came over and asked me to be with him for Valentine’s day.”

 

“And what did you say?” our ‘she’ asks, her brows in a more pronounced frown.

 

 

“He did not give me a chance to respond. He brought a shopping bag  – that’s it over there,” Toke says, pointing to a pink bag sitting beside the DVD player. “He did not even come in. He just gave me the bag, said ‘will you please be with me for Val? Just for a day…’ went back into his car and drove off.”

 

 

Our ‘she’ stands up and walks over to the bag, glass in one hand. She stoops over and opens the bag to examine its contents. There’s a perfume – a big bottle J.Lo scent, a jewelry set and something silky. She straightens, takes a swallow from the glass and faces Toke.

 

“So what’s the wahala?” she asks.

 

 

“Are you a learner?” Toke says, running her hands through her hair. “He’s married!”

 

 

Our ‘she’ looks bored. “Yes he is, to a woman we both know he does not care about. A woman who basically tied him down with a pregnancy. A woman we both know…” Toke interrupts her.

 

“That still does not make it right,” she says.

 

 

Our ‘she’ laughs. “You must be a virgin then, and you’ve never looked at a man with desire in your heart. You must never have craved to have one of those men sucking at your boobs like a newborn babe…”

 

 

Toke bursts out in laughter. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she says in between laughing. Our ‘she’ shrugs.

 

“If its about right and wrong, we all are doomed. Seriously,” she continues after another swallow from the juice glass. “I just feel that things in this world are too temporary. Nothing good lasts. I told someone on Friday,” she pauses, recalling that that ‘someone’ was actually Chinedu. “I told the person that happiness is too fleeting. It may not be there when you’re looking for it – so what you owe yourself is to grab it while it’s there.”

 

Toke nods silently. “I see what you mean,” she says and stands up to hug her friend. “Do you ever have problems, ehn? I envy you o, the way you always have it together.”

 

 

“Me ke? Together ke? No o. I just generally take what comes…” a sudden sharp sound from her phone interrupts her speaking. ‘She’ kisses Toke’s left cheek and walks to her bag. Placing her sweaty glass on the table, she opens her bag and pulls out her iPhone. It’s a text message.

 

From her boss.

 

She opens it, and if you were there you would see the mounting fear in her eyes as she reads.

 

“Is everything okay?” Toke asks from over her shoulder.

 

“I’m…I’m fine,” ‘she’ says, taking a deep breath and replacing the phone in her bag. She plasters a smile on her face and asks Toke, “Now where were we? Which time Nigeria dey play sef?”

 

Toke looks closely for signs of…and seeing none, she smiles back at her friend.

 

But our ‘she’ is worried. Really worried.

 

You want to know what the text said?

 

Hi. The annual meeting of stakeholders in the company is from Wednesday to Friday this week, 13th to 15th. And the managers are supposed to bring the branch’s top earner with them; which in this case is you. So pack your bags honey, Obudu calls.

 


14 Days: The 7th Day

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Day 7 wasn’t too interesting

 

She is bent over her desk, figuring out some figures having to do with the new account she’d just landed. She’s a bit worried about the dilemma in which she suddenly finds herself – caught between two men; one who is nice – the kind of guy to take home to mum, and the other guy who is just there for the excitement. She shakes her head and bends over the paperwork.

 

 

The office is quiet. Toke has gone to see a client and Chinedu is around somewhere. She’s making good time on her work and she hopes to be done by 4pm so she can duck traffic and get home asap. Last Friday was hell.

 

 

She reaches for the calculator – and then the door opens. She looks up to see a smiling Chinedu walk in.

 

 

“How’s it going, beautiful girl?” he says, coming to perch himself on the table beside her arm and give her a quick peck on the cheek. She beams up at him.

 

 

“I’m doing great, fine boy. How na? The family…?”

 

 

A small cloud passes over his face, but he smiles nonetheless. “The boy is fine – hungry bobo. I’m afraid he is eventually going to eat me out of house and home.”

 

She asks gently. “And your wife…?”

 

 

Chinedu stands up from the table casually. He shoves his hands in his pocket and starts to walk around the office. “She’s fine I guess.”

 

 

She’s surprised. “You guess?!”

 

 

“I…we really don’t talk much.” He shrugs.

 

 

She stands up and walks up behind him. “What’s going on, Chi-boy? Talk to mama.”

 

 

He turns and smiles at her, but she’s known him long enough to tell his moods. There seems to be a gathering of moisture in his eyes, and while the smile is engaging enough, she knows enough to tell it’s fixed.  She puts a hand on his arm. “Talk to me, Chinedu.”

 

 

He sighs and hangs his head and that moment it is unclear who is actually taller – him or her.

 

 

“E jus’ dey one kain,” he speaks slowly, speaking pidgin automatically. “You know say na unto say she get belle na im make me no get choice but to marry am.”

 

 

She nods understandingly. She had been surprised herself – none of them had suspected that he was married when he first joined them. Later, it became clear that he was not exactly hiding it from them, he just did not talk about it. It was on his records that he was married.

 

 

“But it’s now all messed up. She’s not even trying…” He sighs deeply, facing away from her. “I don’t know which one’s worse – working in this office with a girl I can only care for from a distance or going home to one who’s indifferent to me. Life sha!”

 

 

She takes his arms and turns him to face her squarely. “Have you told her how you feel?”

 

 

“Who?”

 

 

She inclines her head, looking at him with a small smile, saying nothing.

 

 

He shakes his head and turns away again. “Why would I do that? I’m married – remember? What do I have to offer her?”

 

 

She grabs his arms and turns him her way firmly. “You will tell her what you told me. You will tell her in the words you just used – you will look her in the face and tell her, just like you told me…exactly how you feel.”

 

 

“Why should she listen to me?” his voice was hesitant, plaintive like a little boy who’s afraid of hoping for too much.

 

 

“It does not matter if she does. That’s not why you’re telling her. You’re telling her because it’s your truth, and it’s killing you knowing there’s nothing you can do about her – about the situation you find yourself in.” She stands on tiptoes and kisses the corner of his mouth. “You know how fleeting happiness is, Chinedu. Grab it whenever or wherever you find it ‘cos it might not be there when you’re looking.”

 

 

He stands there looking at her, and then slowly his brow clears. “I guess you’re right,” he says.

 

 

She glares at him. “You damn right I’m right. She deserves to know…and you deserve to be unburdened.”

 

 

He looks at her fondly. “How old are you by the way?”

 

 

She smiles. “Old enough to know you men are just big babies. Face to face with another man, it’s all macho stuff. Face to face with your emotions, you’re helpless.”

 

A look comes into his face and he is about to say something. She interrupts him. “Don’t even go there,” she admonishes him. They both chuckle quietly and he kisses her on the left cheek. “I feel better, thanks.”

 

 

She shrugs. “Thank God for us women; no?”

 

 

Guess this makes me a feminist.


14 Days: The 10th Day

 

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The 10th Day was busy.

 

Actually she is sitting beside her boss at the head of the conference table in the conference room in the office. She is taking notes and whispering into the boss’ ear, telling him things about the fatter of the two men sitting about two seats away. No offence to anyone – but the man looks somehow like a toad.

 

A very rich toad – but a toad nonetheless.

 

In direct contrast her boss looks like Drogba would look standing next to Obasanjo – no disrespect to nobody. He’s not exactly a six-pack packer, but there isn’t a lot of fat on his frame either. He’s tall, a bit over six feet and big. She watches his lips as he talks, noting every word he’s saying. Every now and then her eyes stray down to his hands and she marvels at the infinite mischief he is capable of with those hands. Her eyes happen on the silver wedding band and she feels something – a pang of what might be regret…or maybe something else. She sweeps her long tresses out of her face and pays more attention to what is being said.

 

The man is here to close a business deal – something about them handling his portfolio of importation businesses. She reflects. It looks like a very promising year; and it undoubtedly is getting better. She says a silent prayer of thanks.

 

The second man who looks like the head of a typist pool in a local government office is still trying to catch her eye subtly, as he has been trying to since the meeting began. She gives him the same treatment as from the beginning – ignoring him.

 

“That’s all then. I’m happy about this – I trust you guys to take us to the next level.”

 

Her boss smiles his million-naira smile. “That’s what we’re here for sir,” he says in his gravelly baritone. He reaches across the table and both men shake hands and smile insincere smiles into each other’s eyes. ‘Rich toad’ makes to stand up – and then pauses.

 

“Where’s this girl…the girl who originally represented the interests of your business…ehn,” his right hand waves in the air as he tries to remember something. The boss looks at her quizzically and she speaks.

 

“You’re talking about Toke. She’s not working for us anymore,” she lies blandly. The boss succeeds in keeping his calm exterior, watching as ‘toad’ takes the news indifferently.

“Omo yen, o fine gan,” he says to the man next to him. The boss looks at her strangely as he follows the client out of the conference room and she sits back down to put her notes together properly. She’s confident the boss is coming to ask her what she meant by saying Toke did not work with them anymore. She stretches slowly, working her neck this way and that. Lord knows she can use a firm massage.

 

“Hello lunch,” her boss says from the doorway. She turns around and looks at him, one finger across her lips. “It’s working hours sir,” she whispers, feeling a slight flutter in her belly as he walks towards her.

 

 

“We said…we agreed…not during office hours…” She shakes her head as she backs away slowly, feeling trapped in a Nollywood movie.

 

“Excuse me sir?” the front-desk girl says from the doorway. “It’s your wife sir. She’s on line two.”

 

Wives always call on line two.

 

Why?