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.
The 6th day was a bit troublesome.
She is standing in a sitting room that looks as old as time itself (okay; maybe I’m lying). She looks tense. She’s thinking about her hair and how long it’s been since she did anything to or about it. I need to fix my hair – or at least wash it.
She is standing facing a couch on which two people are seated. They look somewhat familiar, particularly the man who’s seated right next to the grandfather clock. He has soft features – almost as soft as hers, only the harsh lines of the steel-grey spectacles he’s wearing gives his face some kind of ‘hardness’. The woman seated next to him is round; round and fresh. There are hardly any lines on her face yet, her body still looks quite firm. At first glance there’s hardly any resemblance between her and the girl standing, but if you looked deep enough…
“So whatever reason you had, you sha did not show up,” the older woman says.
The girl shrugs. “Maami, you know better than anybody else how much I loved Shayo. You know, how much I still miss her. I just don’t think I want some ritual remembering of a sister who meant the world to me…”
“Akin,” ‘Maami’ speaks, addressing the man beside her. “Akin, do you hear? You hear what your daughter is saying to me?! Speaking grammar – “ritual remembering of a sister who meant the world to me,” she mimics her daughter’s manner of speaking in a high-pitched funny way.
“Maami, I’m just saying that – I miss Shayo every day. Every day I wake up, I think about her and…” she pauses. “Maami, I’m sorry but I don’t like the remembrance thing. That’s why I did not come,” she finishes.
Her father finally speaks. “I understand – but you need to understand what your mother is saying. She misses you. We miss you, dear. Your remaining sisters and brother – I don’t doubt that you somehow see each other…but how about us? Do we not count anymore?”
She looks at her mother who has her arms folded across her ample breasts and is looking away. She walks to the woman, kneels down and buries her face in the same breasts that fed her all those years ago.
“Maami…” she feels her voice start to shake and goes quiet.
The woman stiffens at first, and then relaxes and puts her right arm around the kneeling girl and the left on the bowed head.
“Omo rabata, omo apon layo aso layo, omo gbegounde, omo didan bi epo, omo amoloju…” she speaks, reciting her daughter’s oriki or traditional salutation. The girl smiles against her mother’s breasts.
A few minutes later, everybody is feeling warm and in love all over again. She declines her parents offer of lunch, smilingly answering “I’m watching my weight” and takes her leave, promising to come around more often. She runs to the car, flashing attractive legs at nobody in particular and drives out of her parents’ house. She wants to do some shopping – and also she’s supposed to connect with her Engineer later in the day. Then she remembers that her boyfriend called her earlier but she had not picked because she was driving. She makes a mental note to call him as soon as she can.
All these men in my life sef, she thinks.
She thinks about her boss and a tiny frown appears between her eyebrows. He had been saying something about a trip out of town…but she had not really been paying attention. Probably it’s the stakeholders’ annual meeting. Well; dat one no consaign me.
She giggles happily and drives on, turning up the volume of the Jodie cd playing in the car deck. And then, as though in response to the noise, her phone begins to ring. She reaches over for her bag and takes the phone out to look at the screen. It’s Toke calling.
She starts to feel afraid…because Toke hardly ever calls. They see each other every day after all.
But there she is now. Calling.
Day 8 is almost over
She is having sex with her boyfriend.
Don’t fret now. She isn’t at work.
Due to the events of yesterday, her boss allowed her take the day off. So she is at home – in fact she is in her bedroom, on her bed…on her boyfriend.
Don’t ask me for details. It’s not like I’m standing at the window or anything. One; it is dark. Two, what would the point be? I don’t stare at food I cannot afford. Besides, I only know what she chooses to tells me.
The room is illuminated by the subdued glow of a bedside lamp. The low hum of the air conditioner is the only sound – asides from an occasional random gasp, moan or groan.
She is on her boyfriend, moving back and forth slowly, eyes closed enjoying the sensations emanating from her centre and spreading all over her body. The finest sheen of sweat covers her breasts, arms and thighs. She looks almost ethereal – like something you would expect to see in a poster silhouetted against the moon or the skyline. She looks so…it’s easy to forget that she isn’t alone.
As though on cue, he raises his head from the pillow and looks at his girlfriend, eyes heavy with passion. He looks like he’s about to say something – and then stops as Iyanya’s ‘Kukere’ cut through the quiet of the room. He opens his mouth to speak again – and this time is interrupted by his girlfriend who speaks without opening her eyes.
“Let it ring,” she says, biting her lower lip as a tiny frown appears between her eyes.
Her boyfriend grins and settles back on his elbows, enjoying the view from his almost-supine position. He tenses as she quickens her movements, watching as her mouth opens and she throws her head back.
Ever heard a quiet scream?
Moments later, she is lying on her back; eyes closed enjoying the tiny explosions going off all over her body. She had had her bath and is hovering between sleep and wakefulness. Suddenly she remembers there was a phone call earlier and reaches for the phone where it is lying on the bedside table. She types in the code and checks the call id – Engineer.
Her excitement is palpable. She redials the number and puts the phone to her ear, listening to it ring, firm breasts gently moving with the intensity of her breathing. The call is suddenly picked.
A man’s voice answers, “How are you doing?”
She smiles brightly and sits up in bed. “Engineer darling!” She whispers carefully. “How are you doing? When did you get back?”
“Yesterday. I missed you o,” the man responds.
“Missed you too darling,” she pauses. “So when do I see you?”
“I really don’t know o…” the voice over the phone pauses as she makes a frustrated sound. “Relax na. Okay. Can we plan something for Valentine – maybe a long weekend or something?”
She allows a smile creep into her voice. “That would be nice. Where would we go?”
There was another pause. And then “Maybe Dubai.”
She cannot believe it. “Dubai!! Engineer, don’t play with a girl like that…” She loses concentration as suddenly realizes she can no longer hear water splashing in the bathroom. “Engineer darling, let me call you back.”
“Okay –“ she hangs up and places the phone on the table – and just in time as her boyfriend walks into the bedroom.
“Baby,” he says, “I’ve been thinking. Let’s go to Abuja for the Valentine. I’m sure you can get two days off. Two days at least.”
And so the 9th day began like this…
She’s on her way to work.
She feels as though the week is moving slowly but she does not pay much attention to the thought. After all, it’s not as though she’s going somewhere for the weekend.
So she cruises through the traffic – the little of it she encounters because she leaves her house early enough to avoid the worst of it. But there’s a slight disturbance on her end of Adetokunbo Ademola, so she has to drive down to the bar beach and then past Eko Hotel – and then to the other end of the street.
So she finally makes her way back to her street o, and she’s cruising at a fair speed. But she’s barely past Jade’s Place when this Keke Marwa jumps out of a side street right in front of her car. She slams the brakes – but it’s not quick enough. She rams into the end of the Keke, throwing it askew.
She’s frozen behind the steering wheel – she cannot think or move. The Keke guy, who is totally in the wrong stands in front of her vehicle screaming curses and hand gestures. Horns are blaring, and though she cannot hear the most of it she is scared. And as is typical in cases like this, within moments her car is surrounded by other Keke drivers.
She thinks she is about to die. Or something just as dramatic.
Fortunately, the cops are never too far away on that stretch of road, so they come up and break up the little tricycle party. Slowly, they coax her to move her vehicle, but she’s still so shaky she almost drives the car into the gutter. She manages to park it properly and bursts into tears.
When she calms down a bit, she reaches for her phone and calls Chinedu. “I…I need help,” she stutters into the phone, trying to muffle her snuffles. “I’m at the…end of Adetokunbo. Not our end…the other end.”
It takes Chinedu about eight minutes to get to her, eight minutes during which she’s calmed down a lot more considerably. She opens the driver-side door for him, and he’s about to crack a joke when he notices her disheveled state and puffy eyes. He gets behind the steering and takes her to work without a word.
When they get to the office, he calls the security guard and has him carry all her stuff into the building. And then he supports her gently, half-carrying her into the office and into their own section and unto the couch there. Toke looks up, mouth open and starts to fuss like the mother hen she looks like. Chinedu then steps back outside to examine the damage.
She lies down on the couch, feeling very feminine and hence, quite vulnerable. She remembers the angry faces of the Keke drivers as they surrounded her vehicle earlier – and can’t help but wonder if they would have done the same thing if it were a male behind the steering wheel.
She shudders. Thank God for men; she thinks.
Thank God for us men.
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.
Nothing much happened on the 11th Day.
That is; if you do not count the fact that she’s driving to work hyper excited, beating on the steering wheel and singing along to Asa’s ‘Why Can’t We’, if you do not count the fact that she’s extra-nice to the other drivers, allowing one take her space on the faster-moving of the two lanes of the highway and smiling blindingly at another lady who is also nice to her. The lady literally floats to work.
I suspect the lady is bisexual.
But that’s not what’s important. What really is though; is that our ‘she’ gets to work in the best of spirits – which is even more amazing because it’s a Monday morning, and usually the average office-working Nigerian does not like Monday mornings. She does not tell me anything – but I suspect it’s partly because Nigeria beat Cote D’ivoire and well; she did have herself a time with her boss yesterday.
Who am I to judge?
So she gets to work early enough to meet the cleaner. She greets him and walks to her cubicle, probably knowing; in that way women have, that he is probably staring at her gently swaying derriere but not caring in the slightest. There is a lot of rear to gawk at; she thinks. Why spoil his fun?
And so it is that she settles down at work. Whatever else you may think, you need to understand that she is dedicated and takes her work seriously. She takes it so seriously that it is almost noon before she raises her head from the computer and stretches.
“You this gehl, you no go wounjure me o,” a dramatically-deepened voice speaks from over her left shoulder. She starts laughing without turning her head. It is Chinedu, her office sweetheart.
“Kill you how honey? How I go kill you with your own property?” she turns and does a small jump, the type that sets almost every part of her well-stacked body in motion. Chinedu chuckles but a slight darkening of his light brown eyes reveals his true feelings.
“If na my property why you never carry am come meet me na?” he asks.
Toke, the other girl in their department speaks up. “Make that your Modakeke wife come boil her ajebutta bodi with hot pepper abi? Thanks but no thanks!”
Chinedu bites the angry retort that rises to his lips. Toke is frowning, and our ‘she’ is wondering why Toke is still so bitter about the fact that Chinedu had not told her that he was married and they had carried on an affair for almost six months. But that was two years ago. Why is she still so…
“Anyways, the Oil and Gas guy asked for a meeting – with you as usual,” Chinedu says, a suggestive smile on his face. “Toke thinks he’s a randy old man.”
“Which he is,” Toke responds, something close to disgust heavy in her voice. “The whole time I was there he kept trying to stare down my blouse from across the table.”
“Can you blame him?” Chinedu mumbles, making all the occupants of the small room erupt in laughter. It is a common joke in the office that Toke should be made the ambassador of peace to the Niger-Delta region; owing to her awe-evoking pair of mammaries.
Toke herself laughs just as loudly as the rest. “There are times, Chinedu, when you’re almost human,” she says, a fond smile on her face. ‘She’ clears her throat.
“And when is this meeting?” she asks Chinedu.
“One-fifteen,” he responds.
As one they all look to the wall clock: 12: 24.
“I better start getting ready then,” she says and picks up the jacket slung behind her chair. “Toke honey, can you please…”
“Already have,” Toke interrupts her. “Wale will drive you.”
She looks at the large-breasted girl fondly. “I love you. You know, yeah?”
Toke wrinkles her nose. “Come one get out of here!” she says, mock-sternly.
Heading towards the door she waves. “Don’t be naughty, children. Mummy will be right back,” she says. The door opens and closes gently behind her.
And the two occupants of the room silently continue their work; both their thoughts more in agreement than either of them would care to admit.
Day 12 went something like this:
She likes church. Why? Who knows?
It can be because of the singing and dancing that seems to go on forever. It can be the fact that she always gets a lot of admiring glances from men and women – some of them pay her compliments. It can be the drop-dead gorgeous bald-headed usher who smiles with one side of his mouth. It can be the fact that she always feels calmness – a kind of peace she never feels anywhere else whenever she is in church. And it can be all of the above.
Anyway, she sits through the service paying attention to every little part of it. She dances enthusiastically throughout the praise. There are small tears in her eyes during the worship. She knows; sooner than later, that she will have to return to the world. But while she is here she is one with it. She is only too happy to part with her tithes and offering, and her voice is the loudest during the choir’s singing.
And then service ends and she gets into her car. She has a date after all.
A very important one.
She takes off the high heeled pumps she’s wearing and puts on a pair of flat-soled Hush Puppies slip-ons. She throws the pumps into the back seat almost carelessly and opens her bag.
Absently she checks her phone. There’s a text message from her mother; a reminder about her sister’s two-year remembrance. She frowns and deletes the message, grumbling about her parents not letting the dead rest in peace. Her sister is dead. She just wants to move on with her life.
She guns the engine and waves at the nearest traffic guy. He beckons to her and she drives carefully forward, easing the car into the traffic. She navigates her way out of the church’s parking space and joins the hundreds of Lagosians in motion. Her date is on the island so she drives towards the stadium. Within moments she’s cruising towards Marina.
As she drives she thinks about her destination. Actually, she thinks about a lot of things – one after the other in rapid succession. She wonders why her parents make it a point – have made it a point for the last two years to remind her that her sister died on the 8th of February. It was damn insensitive on their part because she had loved her sister most of all. They did most of what they did together, and when her sister died she had cried for months – just as she is crying now. She angrily wipes her eyes and takes a firmer grip on the steering wheel. She’s going to have a talk with her parents about this.
She thinks about her destination and she smiles. It’s a smile that almost mirrors the images in her head and it’s not a nice smile. She feels a small flutter beneath her left breast and the smile widens. A loud horn from the right side of her vehicle startles her and she sees an Okada man waving his free hand and talking in her direction. Of course, she cannot hear him.
“I thought they banned you idiots,” she mumbles under breath but pays better attention to her driving. She turns towards the galleria and then makes a left at the traffic light. She drives forward a little bit and then makes another left. She drives further down and then parks in front of a non-descript building.
But of course, that is not where she’s going.
She opens her bag, brings out a small silvery compact and touches up on her make-up, using the small mirror in the compact and the rearview mirror simultaneously. When she’s done, she replaces the compact and fishes around in the bag for something. After a few moments she finds it – a tablet of Lemon Vicks. She tears the wrapper open, pops it in her mouth and crushes it with her strong startling white teeth. She chews rapidly, inhaling deeply through her nose.
Switching off her phone, she places it in her bag and places the bag underneath her seat. And then, chewing the last of the Vicks she gets out of the car and locks it. And then, holding only the car keys she walks back towards the entrance of the street, turning into the second building – the same one she comes to almost every day for a different reason.
“Good morning madam,” the security man greets her as he holds open the steel door for her. She smiles at him as she walks past, already distracted. She’s almost in a hurry as she walks, slip-ons making almost no noise on the tiled floor. She walks past the main hall into a small corridor, looking through the glass walls into the offices as she walks past them. She can see him in the last one, scribbling something in a book on the table in front of him.
He looks up as she stands in front of the open door smiling at him. He puts down the pen he’s been writing with and leans back in his seat, watching as she loosens and removes the belt that holds her dress together. She drops it on the floor beside her right foot, kicks it away and inserts a finger between the first and second buttons of her dress.
Pop! Pop! Pop! the buttons fly open as she runs her finger down the dress, not stopping till she gets to the twelfth one, the last one just above her knee. She straightens herself up, holding the dress together with one hand and starts walking slowly towards the man seated in the chair. Halfway to him, she slowly pulls the dress open, shrugs it off her shoulders as she walks and gets to him clad in matching see-through undies.
“What is your order sir?” she asks.
Of course, you know she’s talking to her boss right?