Thursday, 27 December 2018

a thief who became a pastor

Jerry knew he would fail the alcohol test, but that didn’t bother him. His bad luck had intensified in the last weeks and this was leading the other doctors to doubt his competence. Patients transferred to him always had a ten percent chance of survival and that was putting it mildly. He never actually did succeed in any case he really handled and he almost always made a howler of cases that he had to assist on. His life was really a mess and he needed a break from all the drama. He watched the Lab scientists from outside as they worked on the samples he had presented for his alcohol test. One thing was evident, the Director of the Hospital was ready to suspend him for the second time in two years if he failed the test. Being a Doctor was his lifelong dream. He loved tending to people and saving lives, above all, he also loved the prestige that came with being called a Doctor. His parents loved that too. He had been guided by following his passion so that he wouldn’t have to see his job as tedious for a day but Medicine was never like that. He had graduated with straight A’s in school and seemed like the perfect Doctor but everything changed when he started practising. Series of deaths rolled under his watch and this didn’t boost his morale. It couldn’t boost anyone’s morale to be a failing Doctor. Emeka popped his head out from the Laboratory and signalled to Jerry to join him in a corner. “Hey Bro…you shouldn’t be here.” “And I am guessing that you have become a Lab scientist?” Jerry asked as he folded his arms. Emeka smiled. “I switched the bottles.” “Your urine and mine?” Emeka nodded with a smile. He expected Jerry to wrap his arms around him in appreciation of this but Jerry stared at him coldly. “Say something…something good.” “What is good about your urine? For all we know you might have syphilis.” Emeka scoffed at Jerry’s ingratitude. “A thank you would suffice.” “I am not grateful. I am worried about what the Director would say when a comprehensive test is done.” Emeka smiled. “Thank me later.” The door opened and the Director joined them with a sheet of paper in his hand. He stared accusingly at the duo and handed the sheet to Jerry. “I don’t know what you did to make your alcohol drinking mess go away…but you are still suspended.” Jerry watched the Director as he disappeared down the hall and turned to Emeka. “Do you still want the thank you?” Emeka shook his head. “I am so sorry, man.” “Look, I don’t think I’ll do any better here than I did in the East. Maybe I should just go back home. Maybe this profession isn’t for me after all. What is the point of going to the surgical wards when everything I touch is a no? This is tiring. Very exhausting.” Emeka nodded. “You have a point there and it might sound wrong for the moment but I sincerely do think that this suspension might give you some time to bounce back.” “Bounce back? Did you even ever see my glory days?” Emeka paused to think. “I have never had any.” Jerry replied and adjusted his coat. “I’ll be on my way home.” “How many weeks are you to be suspended for?” Emeka asked. Jerry checked the sheet. “Two weeks.” *** “Two weeks?” Toni asked with a frown. Nora nodded as she took off her slippers. “Am I not deserving of it?” Her sister was silent. “I worked hard to get that leave.” Toni shrugged. “I am not disputing that, but I am just saying that if the service provider is naturally that horrible, what happens when more people such as you get leaves from work?” “We are a competent network.” Toni nodded. “Sounds like your motto, right?” she asked with a grin. “Nora, I really don’t want you in this house with me for two whole weeks. You will bore me to death with your principles.” Toni continued. Nora ignored her and started to change into her underwear. “Where are you going with James?” She asked, trying to change the topic. “He ought to call me in the next hour to let me know. We leave by seven.” “That should be to the movies then…” Toni replied. “I should step out tonight too.” Nora shot at her. “Where to? It rained last night. It might rain today too.” “It’s just for a walk.” Toni replied. “Besides, I might just go with a car.” Nora nodded. “I think it is safer if you go with a car. You have to be careful.” “Nora, I am fine.” Nora picked her phone. “Toni, I know you are. I am just playing my role.” “I think it is a little too much.” The land phone rung. Toni lifted the receiver. “Hello!” “Ma’am, there is a man named James here to see Ms. Nora.” Toni shrieked as she replaced the receiver with a smile. “James is here. I have to go and see him.” She replied as she leaped off the bed. “Why is here so early? Oh my…I have to fix myself up. Go…go and keep him company.” Nora said as she turned towards the mirror. Toni hurried out of the room. James stood in the living room in his black suit with a smile. Toni folded her arms as she smiled at him. “I meet the famous James.” He smiled. “Err…I…I am here to see Nora.” “Obviously she hasn’t told you about me?” she asked as she took a seat. “Take a seat.” James obliged. “You are Toni, right?” She smiled. “Oh…she did mention me?” “No…and now I know why she didn’t.” James replied as he undid the lower button of his jacket. Toni ran her hand across her hair and took a deep breath with her eyes closed. She thought she was missing something. She shrugged. “Why do you think my sister never mentioned me?” “It’s obvious. You are a lot prettier than she is. Very stunning and she is very sure that if I had just one glimpse at your photo before coming here, you would be going out with me on this date.” Toni smiled. “You flatter yourself.” “I try. Where is Nora?” “She has to dress up. I think you arrived earlier than schedule and I think you are seriously dressed.” James stared at his jacket. “I like to look nice. First impressions count, you know?” “You won’t go far with me. I like to wait for second impressions.” She replied as she rose to her feet. “I have to check in with Nora. I’ll be right back.” James nodded as he relaxed in his seat. “How does he look?” Nora asked as Toni shut the door. Toni smiled. “He is cute, you have nice eyes.” “I hope he likes me too…so tell me the important thing.” Toni nodded. “He is wearing a suit. He is taking you to a classy restaurant, so you can pour your hair down for a start.” “I can help myself. Go and talk with him. He is really interesting.” Toni smiled. “He is. You always find the douchebags.” “Stop. James is different. Nothing like the other guys I have met.” She said with a smile as she poured her hair down. “What gown do I wear?” “I like that black one you wore for a fund raiser last month.” Nora took a seat. “I already wore it once. I want a fresh slate with James.” “You are a clown. It is just a date. It is not your marriage.” Nora hissed. “You are very helpful, Toni. Thanks.” Toni nodded. “You are welcome.” “I think you should go and occupy James.” Her sister grinned. “Of course…” Nora grabbed her gown as soon as Toni shut the door after her. “I see I am not very popular around here. You have left for me for like err…” James pulled up his sleeve to check the time. “Fifteen minutes.” “Thirteen minutes.” Toni corrected with a smile. James smiled. “Did you check the time or are you just trying to wow me with your intelligence?” She shrugged. “I don’t wow people…it comes effortlessly.” “Have lunch with me sometime.” James replied with a grin. “Hitting on two sisters. Touché!” He smiled. “It’s just lunch, I would like to know you better…maybe hook you up with one of my single buddies.” “I’ll pass.” “Why? You are beautiful, smart. Any guy’s catch.” Toni nodded with a smile. “Did I mention I like football too? I hear you guys are into ladies that love football too…” “My God! Where have you been all my life?” he asked with a smile. She took a deep breath. “Stuck in between rooms.” “Humour too…you are a real catch.” He continued. “Nora is taking forever.” Toni smiled. “Don’t you guys just love a pretty lady?” “We do.” He replied. “I am cute, right?” She smiled. “Obviously.” “Ah! Finally!” James exclaimed as he watched Nora descend the stairs. “She is so beautiful.” Toni said with a smile and flashed her camera. “Souvenir for me. You are having her full beauty. I rarely ever get to see my sister dressed like this, so cherish the moment, James.” Toni said as she nudged him. Nora smiled at Toni. “Thanks darling. Do take care of yourself.” “What could possibly happen to her, guardian angel?” James asked as he gave Nora his hand. Toni grinned. “Yeah…what could possibly happen to me?” Nora shot a face at her sister and smiled at James. “Shall we?” “Sure.” He replied. *** Toni smiled as she stepped out of the house that evening. There was no way she was going to drive any of the cars when she could walk. She had only walked past two streets when she spotted the jerk from the bar sitting alone in a corner. She grinned to herself as she walked up to him. “Jerk!” she said. Jerry stared at her and turned his face away. She took her seat beside him with a smile. “I take it as you were drunk last night.” Jerry ignored her. “So…do you talk at all? Oh wait! You do talk so much…almost as though you don’t have a lid on it…so, why are you unusually quiet tonight?” Toni asked with a smile. Jerry took a deep breath and clenched his fists together. He had been doing some self-evaluation until this lady appeared from nowhere to bug him. His fists were hungry to feast on her face…but then…it was not his style. Toni smiled waiting for a response from him. She had expected a response to follow since he took a deep breath. Nothing followed. She poked her head before him with a smile. “You are ignoring me?” “Look here, woman!” Jerry growled in a loud tone. “If you don’t have anything good to do with your life other than disturb others, just bloody leave me alone.” Toni sat back with a smile. “That was supposed to hurt me, right?” Jerry sighed. “Look man, we all have problems…no, I call them challenges, and we can’t overcome all of them truthfully. But, we are bigger than life and its challenges, we just have to find a way around them.” She said, standing up. Jerry took a glance at her and then turned his face away remorsefully. “I am sorry.” He muttered. Toni smiled. “I can’t hear you.” Jerry stared at her and nodded. “Okay, I am sorry.” “A little louder?” she asked with a grin. Jerry smiled faintly. “I am sorry.” “Take care.” She said and walked away. Jerry took a deep breath as he watched her walk away. He’d be a fool not to get her name this time. He knew it. He hurried after her. “Hey!” he said catching up. “You walk fast, you know?” Toni turned at him with a smile. “Apart from the fact that you walk faster or slower when you walk alone, I also left that spot before you so it is logical that I am a few steps ahead of you, don’t you think?” Jerry smiled. “That’s interesting.” “I am interesting.” He laughed. “You are cocky.” She raised an eyebrow. “I thought that term was more familiar with the male folks.” She replied as she started to walk. “Oh well…eh, are you naturally this cool with everyone?” Toni stopped. “I love people.” “I mean, we should love our brothers as ourselves, but, you are so…so welcoming.” Toni shrugged and continued to walk. “It is a way of life. Life is beautiful, it should be enjoyed with people. Why can’t we all just love each other?” “You are clearly from another planet. People will mess you up if you trust them too much.” Jerry replied. “Then you forgive, give people room to make mistakes.” Jerry stopped. “Do you live by this ideology?” She smiled. “Of course, you do. I was nasty with you and you were amazing. It’s rare.” He replied. “Do you mind if we continue this conversation at Tunji’s Bar? It is just right around the corner. You could have water.” He said with a smile. “Okay.” Jerry pushed the door open and let Toni in. Tunji smiled as they took their seats at his table. “Interesting combo tonight.” “Evening man. I would have a glass of-” “-Water. He would have water and same with mine.” Toni interrupted. Jerry stared at her. “Me? Water?” Tunji smiled. “Yeah. Him? Water?” He asked, staring at Toni. “Yeah. Water.” She replied. Jerry rubbed his forehead. “Okay, water it is.” “Smitten fool.” Tunji said with a smile as he turned to get the water. Jerry stared at Toni. “I…I didn’t see that coming.” “We don’t always see everything coming. Take for instance, eighty percent of girls that go out on dates with guys expect to get kissed at the end of the date but when the kiss eventually comes, they never see it coming.” She replied. Jerry smiled. “Is that a tested theory?” “Technically, it is my theory.” She replied. He folded his arms. “How come I have never seen you around before?” “You saw me yesterday.” She replied with a chuckle. He nodded. “I know. I mean, like, I have not seen you around really…” “I am stuck in between rooms.” He stroked his beard. “What does that mean?” “I am always indoor.” James smiled. “Are you telling me that I am the first guy that you would be out with?” Toni laughed. “Of course, not.” “Tell me about you.” Jerry said. Tunji dropped bottles of water on their table with a smile. “Enjoy…” he said and walked away. “Now that I think of it, water will be saving us a lot of money.” He said. Toni nodded. “You are doing better with your sense of humour.” “Back to you, so, tell about you.” He said. Toni folded her arms. “What’s there to know? Nothing….Actually, nothing.” “Are you from Mars? Are your siblings aliens? Do you speak Mandarin?” Jerry asked. She sipped her water. “Boring details. I live with my big sister and our parents are long dead.” “I am so sorry.” Jerry said. She finished her water. “It’s fine. I wish I knew them…anyway, let’s talk about you. What do you do?” Jerry blinked. “What do I do?” She nodded. “Yeah… for work.” “Erm…I work in an investment bank.” He replied as he drank some water. She sat back with a grin. “Investment banking? The last time I heard that, the guy turned out to be talking about a sperm bank…is that where you work?” she asked raising an eyebrow. Jerry laughed. “Come on, can you be serious for like five seconds?” Toni closed her eyes and counted one to five aloud. “Okay, serious moment is over. But really, what bank is that?” “It’s a small microfinance bank. I am sure you won’t know it.” He said as he drank some more water. Toni stared at him. “Do you really like water or do you drink water every time you tell a lie?” “You are a mind reader too? Psychic?” he asked. She shrugged. “Instincts.” “Well, I work at a bank and that is that.” He replied defensively. She sat up. “Bank jobs can be frustrating, so I think I understand your mood earlier on.” “I thought you said you love people, why would you see it as frustrating?” James asked with a smile. She drummed her fingers on the table. “Listen to this…A father loves his daughter, right?” James nodded. She nodded and continued “Good. If the father sees his child with sand in her mouth, does he like that? Obviously not. So, what does he do? He cleans her up. This doesn’t mean he didn’t love her even when the sand was in her mouth. It is just an ideology, man. People will hurt you, you just have to find your way around everything.” She concluded. “You are something.” Jerry replied. Toni took a deep breath and checked her wristwatch. “I’ll be on my way.” “Wait, I didn’t get a name.” She smiled and took steps away from him. “You never asked.” Jerry sighed. “Please, what is your name?” “Stranger.” She replied. His shoulder fell. “Are you serious? I am Jerry. Tell me your name.” “Stranger.” She replied. He blinked. “Remember you love people, we should be friends.” “We might as well be strangers.” She replied with a smile and walked out. Jerry sighed as he sank into his seat. Tunji joined him immediately. “Still didn’t get a name?” “Shut up, man.” Tunji smiled. “Ladies like persistent guys, you should try harder…that is if you have get a next time.” Jerry frowned. “Give me another glass of water.” “Excuse me?” Tunji said as he looked around. “She is no longer here, Jerry.” Jerry stared at him. “I just want some more water.” Tunji laughed. “No, man, you are kidding me.” “Are you going to give me or not?” Tunji nodded with a smile. “Of course.” *** Toni rushed downstairs as soon as she heard the dogs bark. Nora was back. She wouldn’t miss a detail of her sister’s date. “Nora.” She said with a smile. Nora closed the door and approached the stairs with a sad face. “Good evening.” Toni swirled as she watched her sister ascend the stairs. “Good evening? What happened to you? Did the police bust you?” “That would have been better.” Nora replied as she stopped to stare at Toni coldly. Toni blinked. “How…How is James?” Nora smiled cynically. “James? Of course, you had to ask.” Toni nodded. “Yeah. Why are you looking like this?” “Don’t you get it, Toni?” Nora shouted. “It is always about you! When James is not talking about how I happen to live in a mansion when I work as a customer care representative, he is talking about you.” Toni swallowed as she stepped back. Nora pushed forward. “Oh…your sister is so gorgeous, she is so cute. D--n attractive…she is a stunner…every guy’s lady and blah blah blah…Does it always have to be about you, Toni?” “Take it easy, Nora.” Toni replied. Nora scowled. “Oh really??? Easy? Why would I take it easy when I don’t have anything…you have everything!” she said panting heavily. Toni raised her eyebrow. “Everything?” Nora wiped her tears. “For once, Toni, can you not always turn the guy I like from me? Please.” She said and walked away. Toni took a deep breath. God can be funny. If he was going to let nemesis catch up with me, he should have at least given me some time. Why today? Why now? First date? Mr Azeez’s son was my patient. The lad had to remember me. For the next split second, I had arranged all the lies in my head and I couldn’t go wrong. If I did, Toni would have questions to ask me. Emeka’s bad mouth had caught up with me too early. I smiled at Mr Azeez and then at his son. “Rasheed, how are you?” “I am fine, Doctor!” The kid replied. ‘Did he have to include ‘Doctor’ again?’ I thought with a stern frown. “Rasheed!” A woman called. Mr Azeez turned to his left as he wife beckoned. I thanked the Heavens as Rasheed dashed off to meet his mother, it could only mean that the discussion was over. Mr Azeez stretched out his hand to Toni. “Good evening.” I frowned. He ought to take his leave and not make an acquaintance. Toni took his hand calmly. “Good evening, Sir.” I cleared my throat. “Nice to see you, Sir.” Mr Azeez nodded. “Have a nice evening, you two.” He said and walked away. Toni stared at me with a smile, but I knew there were lots of questions beneath the smile. “Shall we?” she asked. No way! There was no way I was going to let her off without any explanation. That would just give her the opportunity to start investigating and then, I would be damned. I smiled back. “They call me Doctor because I helped out with his cut some weeks back. He is a neighbour. I thought you might want to know that.” I said confidently. She shrugged. “That’s good, Doctor.” “A lot of kids in my compound call me that, I volunteered for paramedical jobs as a youngster so I have a good knowledge of these things.” She nodded with enthusiasm. “Paramedic?” “Yeah.” I said as we approached the door to the cinema. “You should switch jobs.” She said as she nudged me. I stared at her. “Really?” She pulled my hand. “The movie is about to start. Let’s go, man.” NORA I picked up Toni’s diary. It might not be right, but experience has taught me (actually, I have had no experience, but it is a cliché saying, right?) that you might want to sneak up on a diary. You might actually be saving someone from depression. (True story). I took a deep breath as I prepped myself to read from Toni’s diary. I turned to the first page of her memoirs and her picture from her first surgery fell out. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see more of it if it pertained to her operations, it might just make me sad and I wasn’t ready for it. I braced myself and flipped through a number of pages and then something interesting caught my eye. CANCER HAS A BROTHER…his name is Jerry So I just met this guy named Jerry…and yes, I like him. But then, who am I to like him? He is smart, but also so dumb (why would anyone waste their time in a bar?), not like I didn’t do it in the past, but it is not just right. I am not sure I can stick around Jerry for too long, he is worse than my Cancer. I might just be in love with him too. I liked him from day one and it doesn’t happen with me like this! Okay, I have got to go. *** I took a deep breath as I dropped her diary. She didn’t have eyes for James. Good. That unsurprisingly brought relief to my soul. Now, I would focus on James and his feelings. But then back to Toni, could she really be in love? Or maybe she was infatuated by Jerry. The guy has got good looks, but I really didn’t want Toni to be in that stage of falling hopelessly in love and hoping that life would allow her enjoy those moments. I relaxed in my seat as I prayed that Toni would tell Jerry about the cancer so that she would work on getting over him and it would help Jerry stay away from her too. My phone buzzed and I reached for it. James was the caller. I ignored his call. I smiled gallantly as I did this and prayed silently that my little theatrics won’t bore him. ************************************************************************* Jerry and Toni walked out of the movies looking sober. All other viewers had the same look. The protagonist had died, it was a good movie, but a sad one too. “Take my advice, we should see Alien World next time. This movie was too depressing.” Jerry said as they walked into the car park. Toni took a deep breath. “I didn’t want him to die either.” There was a momentary silence between them. “There is something I would love to tell you.” Toni said. “Cancer is a b---h!” Jerry said angrily. Toni swallowed painfully as her heart skipped a beat. “Oh!” Jerry nodded. “Yeah…” he then sighed. “What did you want to tell me?” Toni stuttered. “Err…Cancer is a b---h!” she said with a very unconvincing grin. “Do you think I believe you?” he asked. She shrugged. “You know me. I have no reason to lie…although, those were not going to be my exact terms, but Cancer sure had something to do with it…and of course, Cancer being a bane! I think that was my term.” She added hastily. Jerry nodded with a smile as he got to the car. “Do…do you want to walk?” Toni asked. Jerry smiled. “Of course. But, what about the car?” “The park is never closed.” She replied. “Let’s go.” He nodded and walked with her. “So tell me, what really do you do?” “I run my own NGO. Just something for the kids.” She replied. “Just keep people off the streets and reduce the menace in the society. More like contributing my quota to development.” Jerry smiled. “That’s really noble.” “So, how was being a paramedic for you?” she asked. Jerry shrugged. “Nothing serious, I wasn’t going to pass as a good Doctor anyway, so I just enjoyed the brief stint then.” “Why did you think you won’t do well as a Doctor?” He stared at her. “Do I look like a good Doctor to you?” “I think you are a good person and that could be translated into any field you find yourself.” She replied. “Anyway, how is your family?” “Family? Err…they are fine. They live in Abuja.” He replied. “What about yours?” She shrugged. “Nora is the only family I have and I think you know that part. Folks died and I have only had my sister and their money.” “I am sorry.” He said. She smiled. “It’s okay. It’s a long time ago, we have passed that stage now. So, what plans do you have for yourself?” Jerry slipped his hands into his pockets. “Plans? Hmm…I might want to quit the bank job someday, it is not really forthcoming. I want to raise a family too, if I find the right conditions.” “What do you mean by ‘right conditions’?” She asked with a soft chuckle. He shrugged. “You know how it is around here, there is a lot of drama and marriage is a big deal. Kids are a big deal. They tend to play around a lot and get injured, so many responsibilities.” Toni smiled. “I think you are just being evasive of the point that these things are bound to happen, and good thing is you have the paramedic experience, so that should cover up for the kids and their injuries, don’t you think?” Jerry nodded, “Yeah.” “I think a family is beautiful. You should really look forward to it.” She added. He smiled. “And what about you? How many kids do you want to have?” Toni threw her face away as she walked on. “Err…I think we have sort of walked too far from the car.” “Really? How many kids?” Jerry insisted. Toni had never thought about having children, they were not in her plans. Men were not either. Until Jerry happened. “I really don’t know. I just want to be happy.” She replied. Jerry smiled, surprised at her statement. “But you are happy. Right?” She nodded. “I am. I meant a happy mother.” Jerry nodded. “If a woman marries the right man, and I mean in me in this context, all will be well.” He said with a smile. “Are you trying to sell yourself?” she asked with a smile. “It won’t be such a bad idea, right now, would it?” he asked. Toni shook her head with a smile. “It is a terrible idea.” “But I will make a good husband, won’t I?” he asked. She shrugged and walked along. Jerry stopped and watched her walk on. He had built another lie to cover up his lie. He knew his life was all messed up now Emeka had predicted. He knew he had to find a way to be honest with her before the lies caught up with him. Toni battled with how she would tell Jerry about her condition in her mind, she had painted different scenarios and had finally chosen the best one. She would just turn to her left and say it to him and run. That seemed easy. It was always easy to run. She turned to her right, no one was there. She looked back and Jerry stood away from her. She swallowed as he had ruined her perfect moment. Jerry started to walk towards her. She watched him and thought of another way of telling him. She didn’t see it forthcoming. She would just keep quiet. “Hi.” Jerry said. Toni smiled. “Why did you stop walking?” “Are you in love with someone else? Like, do you have someone waiting on you?” he asked. Toni smiled. “This…this is the first time someone has asked me a question like this.” “I don’t want to lie to you for a minute. I…I have…I…” Jerry stuttered. Toni raised an eyebrow. “Chill…this is not a professional exam. What do you want to say?” “I know we have not known each other for long and I know that I am terribly jumping the gun by saying what I am saying, but I don’t want to leave here today without telling you how much I like you.” Jerry started. Toni folded her arms and pulled a face. He smiled. “Can you please be less tensed up?” she asked. He took a deep breath. “I am struck by you. I guess that is the best way to put it.” “No. That is not the best way.” She replied. He rubbed his forehead. “It’s getting late, Jerry. I want to go home.” She said. He nodded and took her hand. “Let’s go.” “Tell me about your childhood.” Toni said breaking the silence between her and Jerry as he drove. She was tired of wishing she had told him she had Cancer and she was now afraid of losing him to the silence. Jerry stared at her with a smile. “What is there to tell?” “I had a lovely childhood.” Toni started. “I never got the best grades from my High School, but I was the school diva. I had this group of girls, we went everywhere and terrorized other girls in school.” Jerry stared at her. “Seriously? You don’t seem that type of girl to me.” “Everything is never as it seems and oh, that was High school. It was crazy, man. I had fun! We bullied girls. Pitch girls of a sort.” She replied. “What kind of guy were you in High School?” “Regular guy. The nerd.” He replied. “Guys called me a freak. I knew the Multiplication tables off heart.” “You are a freak!” she replied laughing. He nodded. “I enjoyed it, I must say. I got a lot of awards and teachers definitely loved me. I carried on the feat to my university. Class guru! Top of the class…straight A’s.” he sighed. “Wow! So, what happened?” she asked. Jerry stared at her. “What do you mean?” “Microfinance Bank?” she asked. He smiled. “Life happened.” “I think you should quit.” She replied. “Try to chase a better future, Jerry. I am not saying that Microfinance banks are not good, but this one in our hood is really obsolete. No one patronizes them.” She added. He sighed. “I would work on it.” “You should.” She replied. **** Nora read from a novel as she watched the time. She had given Jerry up until midnight to return her sister and she wasn’t kidding. She had the phone number of the Estate police on speed dial. If she didn’t see Toni at midnight, she was going to create a scene in the neighbourhood. She had also hoped that Toni would have cleared up her emotions with Jerry by now and that her sister could now face a new life and possibly, a relocation. She heard a car drive in. Toni was back. She smiled and closed her eyes as she pretended to be asleep. She was in the mood to play with her sister. **** The door opened and Toni walked in with Jerry. Toni sighted Nora on the chair and bent over her. She then stared at Jerry. “You are lucky you made it here before twelve.” “I am fifteen minutes early.” He replied. Toni nodded with a smile. “I have the herculean task of carrying her upstairs, but never mind, I am capable.” “I could help you.” He replied. Toni smiled. “No. Thank you. You should be on your way home now. Thank you for today.” “We would see Alien World next time.” He replied. “You made us see that depressing movie.” He said with a smile. Toni shrugged. “Maybe next time, we don’t see a movie.” “Hmmm…good idea. We should do something spontaneous. Something more fun than the movies. Horseback riding?” he suggested. Toni stepped away from Nora. “I don’t want us to wake her, you should go now. Horseback riding sounds like fun anyway, I might consider it.” He nodded and walked away. He stopped at the door and stared at her. “You were right.” “About?” she asked. “I didn’t say it the right way.” He replied. Toni stared at him. “Say what?” He blinked and clenched his fists together. “I love you.” Toni’s shoulders fell. Nora’s eyes popped out. “Yes, Toni. I love you.” He affirmed. “That’s it. Goodnight.” Toni watched him as he closed the door and she took a deep breath. “Would it have killed you to tell him that you loved him too?” Nora asked. Toni stared at her sister. “I thought you were faking to be asleep.” “Well, now you know.” Nora replied. “Why didn’t you tell him how you feel?” Toni stared at her. “How would you know how I feel?” Nora shrugged. “Did you go through my diary, Nora?” Nora nodded. “I don’t have to lie. So, what are you going to do about this? You possibly can’t fight it.” Toni took a deep breath and took a seat. “I don’t know.” “Did you tell him?” Nora asked. Toni shook her head. “Come on, Toni. You were supposed to. That would have created the gap.” Nora replied. Toni shrugged. “I…I just couldn’t.” “Well, you have to find a way to.” Nora replied. Toni relaxed in her seat. “He is a really good guy. He used to be a paramedic, he used to be your type of person in High school and university.” “What do you mean by my type of person?” Nora asked. Toni smiled. “Class guru.” “Then what is he doing at the microfinance bank?” Nora asked as she rose to her feet. “He should be in some prestigious place.” “What are you doing as a customer care representative?” Toni retorted. Nora smiled. “Service to humanity. I am charitable like that.” Toni laughed at this. Nora smiled faintly. “Let’s go to bed, darling. I am tired.” Toni nodded. “Thanks for waiting up for me.” “You are all I have.” Nora replied as she took Toni’s hand. **** “So, you are telling me that she wore something simple?” Emeka asked with a smile. Jerry frowned. “That was the least of my problems last night.” Emeka grinned. “What could be worse than you showing up like her father?” “I ran into a patient at the Mall. His son called me Doctor!” Emeka gaped. “Wow!” “That is not wow! That is trouble!” Jerry replied as he poured himself some tea. “I had to come up with something.” “Dude! You should have just told the truth!” Emeka yelled. Jerry stared at him. “You dey mad? How would I tell her? Is that even the right avenue to tell her something I have been hiding?” “That was your best opportunity to throw the can open and forget it. She would either forgive you or not, and it is not something that can’t be forgiven.” Emeka retorted. Jerry shrugged as he took a seat. “Well, I didn’t and that is that about that.” “Man, I don’t know if I am comfortable with this. I am beginning to feel sorry for you already.” Emeka replied. “Why?” Jerry asked as he sipped his tea. Emeka took his seat. “You love this girl. She might just like you back and when we keep a lie for too long, it always has a way of hurting the ones we love when they realise. She would feel she was not worthy of the truth.” “I am protecting her.” Jerry replied. Emeka hissed. “From what? From who? Look, that is just a silly line to use. She doesn’t need you to protect her from anything. It is not like you are an assassin and you need to really protect her so she is not killed by a gang. You are a doctor. You save lives.” “How many have I saved? It’s like I am carrying a curse. Ever since my first case, it has always been like this. I can’t get over it.” Jerry replied. Emeka nodded. “I know how you feel.” “You don’t! I was just a surgical intern and they placed a woman’s life in my hand. She had kids! They were crying for their mommy and she died in my hands.” “You are a doctor. You might have been an intern then, but still, lives will go. You just have to let it go.” Emeka replied. Jerry shook his head. “I don’t know about that.” “How long are you going to carry this cross around? Liquor has been your friend since then and it is pointless that you continue like this. People lose their first patients.” Emeka replied. “You never forget your first, Emeka. You never.” Jerry replied. Emeka sighed. “So, do you think running away will save you from it? I was not the best student in the University, but I know that it has always been my passion to save lives and I am doing it in the best way I can. You are a good man, Jerry. Find that joy in you and rekindle your passion for the profession.” Jerry took deep breath. “You know I am just glad I am out of the hospital for now. I am just happy I can sleep and not worry about killing someone’s son, daughter, wife, husband, brother, or sister.” Emeka smiled faintly. “And to think that the director has cut your suspension off…” “What?!” Jerry shouted. Emeka nodded. “You are to return to the hospital tomorrow.” *** Nora stirred her coffee as she read from the dailies. She had left Toni in the room, it was her guess that Toni must have stayed up for a very long time as she didn’t wake up when Nora did. Honestly, she couldn’t sleep much either. She had been thinking about this new step in Toni’s life. Toni was in love. Jerry was in love (at least she had heard him say it). It should have been simple if the circumstances were a lot different. She sipped some coffee. Toni had been stable for a while so she didn’t see the need to check her into the Hospital anytime soon. She, however, did pray that Toni wasn’t ruminating on her new emotions and discarding their plans for her to go into chemotherapy. Surgery was also an escape route but it did come with a lot of negatives for her sister. Nora knew she didn’t want Toni to go through another near-death experience for a brief period of normalcy. She turned her heart away from the thoughts and focused on the newspaper, but then, the dailies too could be really depressing…from rape cases to strike actions by the working class and disappointments in the sports world. What really could make one smile? She thought as she folded the paper and rose to her feet. She turned in fright as she stared at Toni. Toni was standing before her motionless and without the wig. She looked frail. Her eyes were sunken. Her sister had been crying. She knew it. “What is it, Toni?” Nora asked. “I want a surgery.” Toni replied. Mrs Aiyenugba looked round. “Petite. I like it.” “Thank you. So, you can stay here while I talk to your children on your behalf.” He replied as he closed the door. She smiled as she took a seat. “I don’t need you to talk to them on my behalf. If they don’t think I am needed there, it would be unfair of you to force me on them.” Jerry nodded. “Fair enough. I have enough room for two here.” “Does she stay with you?” Mrs Aiyenugba asked. Jerry smiled. “No. She won’t…at least, not yet.” She nodded. “Good. When do I get to meet her?” “Ah…I don’t know. I am going over to her place in an hour.” He replied. “Don’t worry, this Old woman won’t be here to bore you for too long. I might kiss my grave soon or maybe I would just check into the home and make new friends there. Come to think of it, I don’t think there would be boring women there. They would all have tales to tell.” “And men too…Old men too! Who knows…you might fall in love.” Jerry said with a sneer. Mrs Aiyenugba smiled. “I love the fact that you know there are no boundaries to love.” “Of course, there are no boundaries to love.” Jerry echoed. She chuckled. “I know. I just said that.” She replied with a smirk. “I like your sense of humour.” He said. She smiled. “I try. But sometimes, my jokes get really flat and maybe that’s why my children and grandkids don’t want me around. But who cares? I am person first before I am their family.” He stared at her. He was in awe of her. She had a full depth of knowledge about life. She knew she was a person before having a family, hence, she owed it to herself to be happy. She took his mind to Toni. Toni amazed him. She lived one step at a time, full of life and beauty. He’d be damned if he didn’t spend the rest of his life with Toni. “Have you called your Mother?” Mrs Aiyenugba asked. He shook his head. “No. I…I should call her today.” “No, you are not going to call her anytime soon. Hmm…what happened?” Jerry relaxed in his seat. “I haven’t saved a life yet.” “I don’t understand.” She said as she sat up. He took a deep breath. “My career has been a huge mess.” She smiled. “They dread you at the Hospital.” “I am the worst. No one gets to live when assigned to me.” He replied. She shook her head. “I am alive.” Jerry chuckled. “Well, you know what I mean. Critical conditions.” She nodded. “You always have a special relationship with your patients.” “But I always let them down in the end, the patients that need me always get disappointed in the end.” He replied. “Do you believe in yourself?” she asked. “No.” he replied, bluntly. She smiled. “That’s honest.” “And trust me, there is nothing to believe in. This is a bare case of a man who has failed at everything that he thought he had loved.” He blurted. “I beg to disagree, I am a happy woman because of you…and that girl is lucky to have you.” She replied. Jerry smiled. “No. I am lucky to have her.” “Do you think you are handsome?” she asked. He shrugged. “People say so.” “Do you own a mirror?” she asked. He nodded. “Yes, I do. Where are you going with this?” “I would like you to check the mirror and answer that question again.” She said. Jerry walked in and returned almost immediately. “I have checked it.” “Now, are you handsome?” she asked. He nodded. “Yes, I am.” “You don’t always need everyone to make you feel good about you. If you don’t love you for who you are, no one can make you feel loved.” She replied. “So, I think that lady is lucky to have you and you have to learn to understand that.” Jerry took a deep breath and then smiled. “Thank you.” “One more thing, you are going to save a life. Then, you would save lives. You just have to believe in yourself and trust God. He gives life.” She said and yawned. “Now, you have made me talk much more than I bargained. I am tired.” She said with a smile. Jerry smiled. “I have to get ready to go out now and prepare for my evening shift. What would you have for dinner?” “Are you going to cook for me?” she asked. He nodded. “Yes.” He replied, standing up. “I am coming with you.” She replied. *** “So, what’s the plan? The Doctor wants to see you this evening, right?” Nora asked. Toni smiled. “Yeah…I should head out to the Hospital for some examinations. He has the results from my last scans so I guess I won’t be out for long.” “You know what I mean, Toni. When are you telling Jerry?” Toni took a deep breath. “I don’t think I ever want to.” “What! That’s wickedness, Toni.” Nora protested. Toni relaxed in her seat. “You don’t understand. It won’t change anything.” “It changes everything.” Nora retorted. “Besides, I thought you didn’t like getting attached to people. This seems to be overdoing it.” Toni was silent. “Don’t go quiet on me, Toni. We have to face this now or never. You are going into Chemo and you can’t be quiet about it to him.” “I want to be quiet about it. Please, respect it.” Toni replied. Nora hissed. “Toni, I don’t like this.” “Well, you are my sister and you owe it to me.” Toni replied. “Besides, the Doctor said I have to see him today so we can know the stage of the cancer before Chemo starts.” Nora nodded. “That is normal. But, I am not in support of you hiding this from Jerry.” “It doesn’t matter.” Toni replied. “Have you thought of the possibility that I might just survive it and he doesn’t need to even know that I once had cancer?” She asked with a smile. “Let’s see the positivity in everything.” “I am trying to see that with you. You just have to stay alive…for me.” Nora said, quietly. Toni grinned. “I am not going anywhere.” Nora smiled as she hugged her sister. “Enough!” Toni said, wriggling out of the hug. Nora sighed. “You can be really boring, Toni,” Toni nodded. “So, James, right?” “Yeah. He asked me out, I told you, remember?” Nora said with a smile as she sprawled out on the couch. Toni crawled up to her sister. “And you are really cool with him, right?” Nora popped her eyes at Toni. “Get on with it, Toni. What is it?” “I don’t know. I…I just have my reservations.” Toni replied and took a seat. Nora stared at her. “I know how you feel, someone is coming in between the both of us, but I think-” Toni started to chuckle and eventually burst into a horrid laugh. “You think it is funny?” Nora asked. Toni nodded. “Yes. You are sounding as though you were my single mother.” “I am your mother, Toni, Deal with it. Now, as I was saying, I know you are jealous of James’ presence in our life, but I want you to understand that nothing and no one would ever come in between us.” Nora concluded with a smile. “Except death.” Toni chipped in quickly Nora frowned. “Do you always have to ruin the moment? That was the closest thing I had to being romantic and you just had to ruin it.” “I chipped in reality.” Toni said with a smile. Nora stared at her with a grimace. “I don’t like reality.” “Who does?” Toni asked, standing up. As she rose to her feet, she slumped to the floor. Nora hurried over her. “Toni!” Toni took a deep breath. “I am fine. I…I must have hit the table or something.” “There is no table here! Oh my God! Toni!” Nora gaped as she helped her up to a seat. She stared at Toni hands. “Oh my God! I have to get the Doctor. Have you stopped your drugs?” Toni rolled her eyes. “How can I stop the drugs that you feed me with every day?” “You are looking pale.” Nora said. Toni shrugged. “I will see the Doctor this evening. Nothing to worry about.” Nora sighed as she watched Toni sit up. “What time is your appointment?” “7pm. Besides, it might have just been a spasm. Nothing to worry about.” She said with a smile. The doorbell went. Nora rose to her feet. “I’ll get it.” She said and hurried to the door. Toni looked over her shoulder as she watched Nora usher Jerry in. She immediately faked a smile. “Hey!!!” Jerry smiled. “Hi, how are you doing?” “Amazing!” she replied. Jerry took a seat. “That’s smooth.” “I would be in the kitchen.” Nora said as she walked away. Jerry took a seat beside Toni. “You don’t look as good as you sound today.” Toni raised an eyebrow. “Really? I am fine.” Jerry lifted his hand to her forehead and she immediately gripped his hand. “Hey…I…I am just checking.” “You are not a Doctor…and please don’t tell me that service as a paramedic passes for that.” She said with a smile. He nodded as he returned his hand to his lap. “Fever?” Toni nodded. “Yeah. But it would pass. I already have some drugs for it.” “That’s good. So, I have a new housemate.” He started. “She is very lovely.” Toni smiled. “She? That’s something.” He nodded. “Yeah, she was kicked out of the Hospital with no place to go.” “Oh? What about her family?” Toni asked. “They don’t want her home. Her children are sending her to Victoria’s Homes. She doesn’t want to go there.” Toni tried not to smile. She was glad he was talking about an elderly female. She cleared her throat. “So…so, is she comfortable at your place?” “Sure. It’s not as big as this place, but, it is very spacious.” He replied. “Do you want to take a walk?” She checked her wristwatch. “I have to be back before 6:30pm.” He nodded. “I got you.” He said as he stretched out his hand. She smiled as she took the hand. “Nora!” she called. “I will be back in about an hour.” “Be careful!” Nora called back from the kitchen. “Okay, Mom.” Toni said with a grin as she pushed the door open. *** Nora couldn’t take her mind off Toni and what she had called a spasm. She knew it wasn’t. It was a good thing that they had to see a Doctor soon. Nora knew it would be unfair of Toni not to tell Jerry what was going on. She had to tell him even though it would hurt her sister…or maybe she would just keep quiet and honour her sister? She sighed as she battled with her thoughts. She wanted to cry. She needed their parents now. When their parents had died, she didn’t think she was alone because she had Toni with her. But now, Toni seemed to be fading away. She didn’t want to let her go. It was not right to let Toni go. But then, how was she going to keep Toni alive? Who would fight for Toni? Tears started to roll down her cheeks as she sliced the onions. It had to be the onions that brought the tears. But then her heart ached as she tried not to cry out. The onions couldn’t have touched her heart. She couldn’t hold it in anymore as she broke down in tears. The maid in the kitchen stared at her boss as she cried freely. She wasn’t shocked. Nora cried almost every time. She walked over to Nora and put her hands around her. *** “Chocolate flavour for me.” Jerry said as he handed Toni her ice-cream. Toni took a seat as she started to scoop. Jerry joined her almost immediately. “So, what do you want to talk about?” “You.” She said, quietly. He smiled. “Okay…here I am.” “Is there a difference between lying and not telling someone what they ought to know?” she asked. Jerry choked on his ice-cream. Could she have found out about him already? He knew he’d be damned if she found out before he told her. He coughed. “I am so sorry. What happened?” she asked. He cleared his throat. “I guess the ice-cream went wrong. Anyway, what were you trying to say?” “I want to know if there is a difference between lying to someone and not telling them what you think they ought to know.” She said. Jerry took a deep breath. He didn’t know what his next word should be. “I don’t know really, that’s why I want to know. Would be right if I was to tell you something and I didn’t?” she asked. Jerry sighed. This question made it easier for him. “Erm…I think it would better if you did, that way, no one holds something against the other.” “No. This is not about holding something against you or me, let’s say more like hiding important information. If the information was going to hurt you, would you want to know?” Jerry took a deep breath. “I am not sure. It sort of depends on the kind of information, you know?” Toni smiled. “Just forget it. Been enjoying quizzing you.” “Really?” She nodded. “I like seeing a serious mood sometimes…you fared fine.” He smiled. “So, what if I was hiding something from you? Or…what if I have lied to you?” “All is forgiven.” She replied. He stared at her. “Really?” “As long as you have not lied about your name.” she said with a smile. He nodded. “I am Jerry.” “Good.” She stared at her wristwatch. “I have to head home.” She said. Jerry mouthed. “What is it?” she asked. “Toni, I…I like you so much and I…I want to know if you would go out with me.” He asked, squinting his eyes. Toni smiled. “Is that a rehearsed speech?” “No. But…I can try again.” He said. the end.
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the weired story of my brother childhood

School closes a few weeks later and Bola leaves for home on a Friday. Her mum is delighted to see her when she gets back from work in the evening. Since Bola has her own key to the house, she had let herself in earlier in the day and prepared dinner for her mum. They both sit at the dining table and talk about school, work and other matters. After clearing out the dishes and the kitchen, Bola retires to bed and decides to call Gboyega. It has been a week since she last heard from him and she was beginning to get worried. “Hi”. She says as he picks up on the first ring. “Hey you. How are you doing?” “I’m good. I was wondering why I had not heard from you in a while”. “I’m sorry. I have actually been busy”. Gboyega apologizes. “Wow! Too busy to talk to a friend?” “No way! I apologize”. Bola smiles. “Hmm, so what have you been up to?” The door to Bola’s room opens and her mum peeps in. She sees her talking on the phone and turns back. “Trying to raise chicks”. “What?” Gboyega laughs. “You heard me right. I bought a few chicks and have been breeding them. Something to keep me busy till I go for my NYSC orientation programme”. “That’s nice”. “I need to start making money so you can take me serious”. Gboyega teases. “Serious?” “Yes, Bola. Serious about dating you”. Bola exhales. She stands up from her bed and walks towards her reading table. She picks up his graduation picture and goes back to lie on her bed. “Bola, are you still there?” Gboyega asks as she has been quiet for too long. “Yes, I am”. “The only picture I have of you is the one from my graduation. But your face is ingrained in my memory. And the truth is, I’m in love with you. I remember our gists, our bible sessions and the look on your face when you pretend to be angry”. He laughs. Bola takes a deep breath. “Please give me a chance”. He pleads. “Can we talk about this some other time?” “Bola, you keep on pushing this. Are you scared that I will hurt you?” “I really can’t talk about this right now”. “Okay. If you say so. It’s late. You should go to bed now”. Gboyega concludes. Even though Bola still wishes they could talk some more, she willingly accepts to end the call. “Good night Gboyega”. “Good night Bola. I love you”. ********* The next day, Bola is up early. She goes to the kitchen to make breakfast for herself and her mum. She sets the table for two and calls on her mum when she is through. As Banke walks towards the dining table, Bola kneels to greet her. “Good morning, darling. You are up pretty early”. Banke says hugging her daughter. “Yes, mum. I wake up early to read. Since I’m home and not reading, I decided to make breakfast”. They both sit at the table to eat. “So, who’s the young man you were chatting with last night?” Banke asks. Bola looks at her mum from the corner of her eyes. “Mum? Were you eavesdropping on my conversation?” Banke puts her hand on her chest faking a hurt. “Eavesdropping on you? Why would I? “Just asking”. “You haven’t answered my question”. Banke says as she butters a slice of bread. “He’s just a friend”. Bola says without looking at her mum. “Hmm, just a friend”. “Yes mum. Just a friend”. Bola emphasizes. “It did not seem like you were talking to just a friend”. Her mum says eyeing her. Bola looks up at her mum. “You were all smiles. And even giggling”. “Mummy?” Banke raises up her hands and nods. “Okay, okay. He’s just a friend”. Throughout Bola’s vacation, she and Gboyega keep in touch calling each other every other day. Bola steers clear of discussions relating to dating or relationships. Anytime, Gboyega brings it up, she immediately changes the topic of discussion. In a few weeks, she is back to school and Gboyega also prepares to go for his National Youth Service Orientation Programme. Three weeks later, Gboyega returns from Ogun state after a grueling orientation programme. He drops his travel bag at home and takes a quick shower. He knows he should wait till the next day before embarking on a trip to Akure, but he has missed Bola so much that he would rather see her today. He gets to the bus garage at about noon. In five hours, all things being equal, he should be in Akure. Bola is walking towards her hostel when she sees a silhouette like Gboyega’s from afar. She stops and squints.No, it must be my imagination. What would Gboyega be doing in Akure at this time of the evening?She turns back and begins to walk away. She gets to her room and meet her roommates all crouched on a bed watching a movie on a laptop. They look up briefly from their movie to acknowledge her presence. She lies on her bed and faces the wall. The person she saw from afar has brought thoughts of Gboyega and she realizes that she misses him. They haven’t spoken in a week now. He was supposed to be through with his National Youth Service Orientation Programme. She knows she should call him at least to find out how he is doing but she does not want to. She does not trust her feelings any longer. She is lost in her own world and does not hear the door open. Her roommate taps her and as she turns her head, she sees Gboyega standing before her. Her jaw drops as she rubs her eyes to be sure she is not dreaming. He smiles at her and takes her hand. She lifts herself from the bed and instinctively hugs him. Gboyega leads her out of the room before her roommates decide to have a field day feasting on them.“You looked like you saw a ghost in there”. Gboyega says laughing. “I thought I saw someone that looked like you earlier on campus. I imagined my mind was playing tricks on me”. “I would take that to mean you missed me”. “Well, I think I did”. Bola smiles. “You think? You are not sure?” Gboyega teases her. Bola hits him playfully. “Hey, stop! Whatever!” They walk towards the campus gate. Bola looks at her wristwatch. It is almost 5.00pm. “When did you come back from camp? I hope you ain’t going back to Lagos today”. “I came back today. And I am going back to Lagos today”. Bola stops walking. “But it is late”. “I know. I just had to see you today. Now, that I have, I can have a good night’s sleep”. Bola blushes. “Gboyega, you could have waited till tomorrow. Now, that you are here, why don’t you sleep with a friend in the hostel”. “Nah, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone”. He says shaking his head. “Please?” Gboyega winks at her as he smiles. “Under one condition?” “And that is?” “I get to see you before I leave for Lagos tomorrow”. Bola smiles. “Definitely”. Bola sees Gboyega off to the bus garage the next morning. Before he leaves, he asks her one more time if she has given their relationship a thought. She shakes her head. She tells him that she loves the relationship they have together now. She does not want to get her heart involved. Gboyega holds her hands as they sit in a corner at the garage. “Bola, I love you. Don’t you understand?” “Please give me more time. I am scared of getting into a relationship”. “I would never hurt you, Bola. You have given me a reason to look to the future”. Gboyega says. Bola sighs. “Give me some time, please”. “Okay. I will”. He says. He wonders how long he would have to wait but he will, if that is what it takes. Kofo had noticed him standing on the patio. She had watched him for about ten minutes before she decided to walk up to him. His frame had been her attraction. He had well-built, toned muscles and she was a sucker for such. She had thrown the party because she knew there would be an abundance of young men. She only needed to find the one she needed. Apart from her political associates at the party, most people did not know that she owned the house. The young men in the living room were all stoned. They were obviously not disciplined. She had scanned the house looking for someone of interest when she found him alone with a glass of wine in his hand. He was lost in thought as he looked at the lagoon. When he looked at her, she almost felt him caressing her body with his look. She could see that he was bored but he refused to say so. He hadn’t even asked the school she attended when she talked about campus life. He was a mystery and she longed to unravel him. She noticed that he left before the party ended and this further piqued her interest. As she lay on her bed in the early hours of the morning, she took out her tablet, opened Facebook and searched him by his first name. He had to be on Facebook. Most of the students she knew could not do without social media. If he was one of such, she knew she would find him. She imagined it could take some time before she found him but she was ready for the search. Luck however smiled on her as she saw a profile picture of him after scanning through about ten names. She clicked on his photos and heat flowed through her as she looked at a picture of him bare chested. She had to have him. He was what she wanted. She picked up her phone and dialed his number. He picked up after three rings. “Hi.” She said almost in a whisper. “Hello.” “I guess you were really bored last night.” “Who am I speaking with?” Gboyega asked. “Kofo.” “Oh, hi. I’m sorry I did not realize you were the one.” Kofo smiled. “That means you did not bother to save my number.” “I’m sorry. I would save it now. So what time did you leave the party?” Gboyega asked. “Sometime this morning and I just decided to check up on you.” “Thanks.” Kofo made it a duty to call him every morning and evening. She was intent on getting under his skin pretty fast. Every night, she imagined what it would feel like to have him in her bed. She bought him expensive boxers, belts and wristwatches and had them delivered by courier to him in school. His roommates began to tease him about how sophisticated and wealthy his new catch was. It had only been two weeks ago he met her and she was already making an impression on him. He wondered how she was able to afford all the expensive gifts as a student.Her parents must be wealthy. He thought. His birthday was a Saturday and he had nothing scheduled for the day. He had planned to just lie in bed and do nothing. His mum had called him as early as 6.00am to wish him happy birthday. His brothers and his father sent text messages and he acknowledged all. He was about to go back to sleep at about 7.00am when Kofo’s call came through. He picked up her call and was surprised when she wished him a happy birthday. “How did you know?” He asked. “Let’s take it as my little secret.” She said laughing. “So, what are you doing today?”“Nothing.” “Nothing. No way! It’s your birthday and we have to celebrate it.” She said. “I haven’t made any plans for the day.” “Well, I have.” “You did?” “Yep! Meet me at the Red Inn at 10.00am.” She said. “Okay?” “It’s not nice to keep a lady waiting.” “10 for 10.” Gboyega said before cutting the call. As he got dressed, he wondered what Kofo had planned. They had met in Lagos and now she was asking him out in Akure.Did that mean she lived in Akure and just came to Lagos to attend the party just like he had?He put on a navy blue polo tee shirt she had bought for him recently. As he stepped out of campus and took a bus to the Red Inn, different thoughts filtered into his mind.“Who was Kofo?”He had asked about her school and she had said she attended a university abroad and was on holiday in Nigeria. He had grown fond of her over the last three weeks with her constant calls morning and night. She was the first voice he heard in the morning and also the last when he hit his bed. She spoke in soft whispers at night and he began to look forward to her calls. When he tried to call her, she always asked that he dropped the call, so she could do the calling. He walked into the Red Inn at 9.55am. He was glad he was able to make it before 10.00am. He took a seat at a corner in the lounge and made sure he was positioned where he could see her when she walked in. At 10.00am on the dot, Kofo walked into the inn. She was looking prettier than she was the last time they met. Her weaves fell on her shoulders and she walked with majestic gait. She was wearing a plunging V-cut black short dress which hugged her body in all the right places and Gboyega couldn’t help being captivated by her beauty. The inn was quiet and empty, making it easy for Kofo to quickly spot him. As she slid into the booth and sat beside him, she gave him a light kiss on his cheeks and wished him a happy birthday. “We should make today special.” She said smiling. “Let’s go order breakfast.” She stood up and held his hand as she led him to the restaurant. As Gboyega walked behind her like a sheep led to a slaughter house, Kofo swayed her hips with every step she took causing blood to flow through Gboyega as his whole being warmed from looking at her backside. He looked away and tried to concentrate on the restaurant ahead. She was beginning to mess with his mind. They served themselves from the buffet arrayed in the restaurant and Kofo made sure her fingers brushed Gboyega’s at intervals. She sat across him at the table and as she adjusted her dress to make herself comfortable, Gboyega could not help noticing her buxom bust which looked like they needed to be free from the bondage she put them. Kofo smiled as she caught Gboyega staring at her assets. Every move and every step she took had been intentional. And she was happy that her plan seemed to be working so far. They made little talk as they ate breakfast, Kofo leaning over the table once to get crumbs of bread off Gboyega’s mouth. As she caressed his mouth with her fingers in a bid to take off the crumbs, her bust stared in his face. Gboyega knew he could not handle the gestures anymore and he struggled to keep his little member in check.When they were through with breakfast, Kofo took Gboyega by the hand and led him towards the rooms. Gboyega followed quietly without saying a word. She pulled out a key card from her bag and stopped before a room. She inserted the card into the keyhole and the door opened. As she slid the card into its slot by the door, the lights and the air conditioning in the room powered on. Gboyega walked in, closed the door behind him and stood with his back to the door. Kofo dropped her handbag on the floor and as she moved towards him to kiss him, Gboyega pulled her close to him and ravaged her lips with a hungry passion. She had it coming and she savoured every bit of it returning passion for passion. Gboyega’s body was on fire and he hungered for a release of the tension already built by Kofo. But she was not ready to give in easily to him. She was determined to test his endurance. She undressed him slowly as she teased his body with her mouth, her body and her fingers. She caressed every part of his body causing him to shiver under her touch. Gboyega dropped her dress from her shoulders and he was surprised that she wore no underwear. Kofo continued to push him to the limit until he could no longer restrain the tension. He dragged her by the waist as he moaned in ecstasy. Standing right there by the door, he lifted her off the floor easily and they gave themselves wholly to each other. When Gboyega had satisfied Kofo’s pleasures, he carried her in his arms and gently dropped her on the bed. She smiled as she looked at him. He had even been better than she had imagined. Gboyega sat on the chair opposite the bed and looked at her. “I guess that was what you wanted.” Gboyega said. “No.” “So, what do you want?” “I want you for keeps.” “I can’t sustain you. That is obvious, right?” Gboyega said as he looked round the room. “I don’t need you to. Come over here.” Kofo said as she tapped the bed. Gboyega stood up but did not move. “So, what am I to you, then?” Kofo tapped her forefinger on her nose. “Hmm….let’s just say, you are my boyfriend.” “A boyfriend that cannot cater for the needs of his girl?” Gboyega asked raising a brow. “You ask too many questions, Gboyega. I did not come all the way from Lagos to answer questions.” Kofo said as she stood up from the bed. She walked towards him and began to caress his body again, kissing him as she did. She was determined to reawaken his little member. In a few minutes, they became entwined in each other’s arms again; panting from another bout. Kofo refused to let Gboyega out of her sight the whole day. She made him pleasure her again and again and Gboyega had been up to the task. She ordered room service and they stayed in each other’s arms. By evening, they were both worn out. Kofo dropped Gboyega on campus with her sports car and he officially became Kofo’s toy boy. Kofo eased into her car in anger. No one had ever crossed her path and gone scot free. Gboyega was crossing her path and he was doing it without giving a hoot. She had travelled out of the country for about three months and by the time she came back, so many things had changed. She tried ringing him but his number was unreachable. She began to wonder what the problem could be. Since he had graduated from school, going to campus to check on him had not been an option. She had never bothered to know where he lived. Their rendezvous had always been at places she chose. She got her informant to get her all the details she needed and she had been shocked to hear that Gboyega had dropped her for a school girl.What was he thinking?She made more inquiries and found out who the girl really was.A church girl. She had been surprised when she found out. She smirked as she tapped the steering wheel.Gbosgaga, a Christian?She laughed derisively and shook her head as she thought about him. So far, he had been the only source of happiness in her life and she could not let him go.No, not now. Not ever.He was hers and hers alone. No one else could have him. She hoped Bola would heed to her threat to stay away. She had been nice to her when she visited her room. Her next encounter with her may not be pleasurable if she refused to keep her hands off Gbosgaga. Her happiness started and ended with him and she was ready to go into the deep recesses of her heart to wake up her past life in a bid to hold on to him. Kofo grew up in one of the slums of Calabar with her prostitute mother. She never knew who her father was. Every night, her mother locked her up in her room while she went out for her business. Unknown to her mother, one of the neighbours in their face-to-face abode had made a spare key to their room. While her mother went out to service her clients, the man came in with the spare key and serviced himself with Kofo. He was a young man of about twenty-two who lived with his parents who were drunks. He had no source of living and he hung around the house every day making a nuisance of himself. She was just eight when he initially forced himself on her. She had cried all through till morning. He had warned her never to mention it to anyone; as that would result in her death and that of her mother. She had been too scared to tell her mother and she lived with that fear until she ran away from home at the age of thirteen. At thirteen, she had become fully matured and well-rounded and could pass for a twenty-one year old.Even though, her mother did not lock her in any longer whenever she went for her business, her abuser still visited their room every night to fulfill his pleasure. The night she ran away, the man had come into her mother’s room as usual but this time, he came with three of his friends. He had smiled wickedly as he caressed her body and told her she was going to enjoy this session specially. She nodded as her soul died that night. The men had been excited as they groped her. Her abuser had proudly told his friends that he was only giving them this opportunity as she solely belonged to him. He told them to take their turns as he was having her the whole night. He beat his chest as he told them that he had made Kofo capable of going many rounds. His friends had been a little envious and each of them had tried to woo her with sweet words.The three friends got down on her; each unable to hold his urge. Every opening in her body became a tool of abuse. Her abuser stood by her watching his friends as he excited himself, caressing her bust and awaiting his turn. Kofo continued to endure the abuse waiting for the right time to strike. When she noticed that their pleasure was hitting a crescendo, in the heat of their passion, she pulled out the chopping knife she had kept under the single mattress in the room and sliced each one of them wherever she deemed fit. Shock registered on their faces and before they could get a hold of themselves, she hit the knife on the head of her main abuser, opened the door and bolted out. She never went back home. She picked a top and a trouser spread on the line outside the house and ran as fast as her legs could carry her. The night was eerie and she was covered in its darkness. She had stolen a few cash from her mother’s underwear bag and as she got dressed in an uncompleted building, she hid the cash inside her brassiere. She took a bus to Lagos that night. She did not care where she was going. She just wanted to be far away from home. The bus was carrying goods but she had begged the driver to allow her ride with him to wherever he was going. She could barely stretch her limbs in the crammed bus but she hadn’t been bothered. As long as she left the city, she was ready to bear anything. She had arrived in Lagos as a newbie to street life. She slept in parks with a jackknife in her pocket and used it freely on anyone who tried to take advantage of her. She was quickly noticed by the men of the underworld and they saw her as an asset. She was used as a bait to lure men before they were robbed and she got her share of every operation the men handled. During one of their operations, she had pretended to be in distress and knocked continuously on the door of an apartment. A man asked who was at the door and she had answered that she needed help. The man had opened the door and her two-man gang had pushed the man inside holding a gun to his head. They asked the man to bring out every cash he had and also asked his wife to handover all her jewelry. After robbing them, one of her gang members looked at the man’s daughter as he licked his lips. The girl was about Kofo’s age. He asked the girl to lead him to her room and her father knowing what was about to happen began to plead with him. The man pointed his gun at the girl’s father and told him to shut his mouth. The girl started crying as she was rough-handled by the gang member.As he was about leaving for the girl’s room, Kofo called him and asked him not to touch her. He got angry and told Kofo that if she had allowed them to have their way with her, he wouldn’t have to look for pleasure somewhere else. If she would not allow them to touch her, then he could touch anyone he wished without her consent. The second gang-member laughed and told Kofo he was going to have his turn after his friend. Kofo warned them a second time to leave the girl alone as their mission was to rob and not to rape but the men only laughed her to scorn. As one of the men carried the girl like a sack, she screamed and memories of Kofo’s past came rushing back to her. Kofo put her palms over her ears trying to block out the screams but they only grew louder. She opened her eyes and saw the girl’s parents sobbing. She became enraged and walked into the girl’s room. Her hands had been tied and they were raised above her head. Her legs were also tied to the sides of her bed post. Her night gown had been torn and it lay on the floor by the bed. She lay on the bed naked and helpless. Tears streamed down the girl’s cheeks and Kofo saw fear in her eyes. The men smiled when she walked in and urged her to watch and enjoy their romp. They were both half-naked. As the first man moved towards the girl, she screamed again and he slapped her hard in the face. Kofo felt the sting of the slap on her own face. The man grabbed the girl by the neck and was about to force himself on her when Kofo pulled out her gun and shot both of them point blank in a fit of fury. She walked out of the house alone with their booty and decided she was through with men of the underworld. She moved on to become a pimp for politicians and this became the source of her wealth. Gboyega had to come back to her. She did not care about his new love for Christianity. He belonged to her and she was going to have him back by all means. Gboyega sighs deeply as he thinks about Kofo. He wishes he could erase his past with her. She was the reason why he continuously asked God daily for forgiveness. He wasn’t proud of his past and he found it difficult to discuss it with Bola. Now that Bola was aware, he had to come out clean with her. He smiled. Thoughts of her always brought a smile to his face. She had given him a reason to look forward to a bright future. The text message she sent last night had endeared her more to him. He loved her and he was ready to protect her from Kofo. He gets to the bus-stop and waits for a bus that will call his destination. He remembers when he only transported through taxis. He once asked Kofo to get him a car. Her response had been that if he needed one, then he needed to steal one. He had been shocked at her response but that was the last time he ever asked her. She was satisfied with paying for his taxi trips to their rendezvous. She would cringe now if she was him in a public bus. But that was all in the past now. He decides to ring Bola. Right now, she was all that mattered. Bola picks up on the second ring. “Hey beautiful.” He crooned into her ears. “Hi.” She replies groggily. “Looks like I woke you up.” He says laughing. “Yes, you did.” “No lectures this morning?” “No. Besides, I’m not on campus. I’m home.” Bola replies. Gboyega is surprised. “Are you okay? Is there a problem?” Bola sits up on her bed. “I’m fine. I had missed home and just wanted to see my mum.” “How is she?” Gboyega asks smiling. “She’s good.” Gboyega sighs. “About Kofo?” “Kofo?” Bola asks confused. “Yes, the lady that came over to your hostel. I am sorry I haven’t talked about my past but it is because I am not proud of it.” Bola listens quietly. “I used to be her boyfriend.” Gboyega breathes deeply. “Actually, I was her toy boy. A lover who warmed her bed for pecuniary gains. I won’t say she seduced me because I made a choice to continue with the relationship. I was getting paid for laying her and I guess the pay became too attractive for me to look the other way.”Bola sighs. “But, I am not that man anymore. I have left my past behind. I even decided to change my mobile number so she would not be able to reach me any longer. You are everything I need now and I mean every word when I tell you that I love you.” Bola takes a deep breath. “Thanks for trusting me enough to tell me about your past. But it is a lot to comprehend right now, Gboyega.” “I understand. Life has not been fair. I know it is not an excuse and I accept responsibility for all my actions. I just couldn’t get myself to tell you about my sordid past. I assumed the time was never going to be right. I never wanted you to find out this way.” Gboyega says soberly. “I just…I just wish things were different.” “I don’t understand.” Gboyega says confused. “We can’t toe the same path, Gboyega. We are poles apart.” Bola says as hot tears sting her eyes. Gboyega feels like his heart is being ripped apart. “Bola, please, don’t break my heart. I love you and need you. I want to spend the rest of my days with you. I can’t change my past but I can recreate my future.” “We can’t have a future together.” Bola says as the thought of what she just said stabs her in the heart and she breaks down into tears. She had fallen in love with Gboyega but his past was too tainted for her to ignore. She could not imagine being with him anymore. “Good bye Gboyega.” She says as she cuts the call. Gboyega tries to call her back but she refuses to pick up. He looks around him and realizes he is still at the bus-stop. A look at his wristwatch shows that he is already behind time and he is definitely going to be late to the office today. He sighs as the next bus that approaches calls his destination. He flags it down and enters it. He tries to call Bola again but her phone rings out.“Bola, please don’t do this to me.”He begins to type.“I love you.” He sighs deeply as he lays his head on the head rest in the public bus. Today is already turning out wrong for him. He is going to be late to work. The two ladies in his life have placed a huge burden on his heart. One he has rejected and who wants him back at all costs and another who he loves but has rejected him.******** Bola sobs quietly after she cuts the call. Gboyega keeps calling her but she refuses to pick up his calls. She reads the text message from him and that brings more tears. She suddenly wishes she had not heard about his past. She only wants to retain sweet memories of him. Memories of them in fellowship worshipping God, memories of them sharing the word, memories of his graduation when she was the only one by his side. She stands up from her bed and picks up her school bag lying on her reading table. She opens the bag and takes out their picture together. Tears roll down her cheeks as she looks at him. He had captured her heart. And now, she had to let him go. She lay on her bed and curled into a fetal position holding the picture to her b---m.Why did I have to fall in love with him? She wipes her tears as she determines in her heart. This is the end of the road for Gboyega and her. Her roommate Miriam, had been right after all. He was a toy boy. It was difficult to comprehend how a lady as sophisticated as Kofo could have Gboyega as a boyfriend. He was just a student and the lady standing before them that day oozed class from every pore of her skin. I have to let him go. But the thought of that action tore her heart into shreds and she started sobbing again until she fell asleep.
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jennifer the fateful lady with a beautiful heart

Do you remember the promises you made to me before we got married?” Jenny asked not taking her eyes off Michael. Michael could not understand her anymore. He was sure she ought to be furious at him but she was calm all through, which scared the hell out of him, praying within himself that she had not lost her mind. “Michael I am talking to you. Look at me,” she said, making a failed attempt to raise her voice due to the pains resulting from the swelling at the right corner of her mouth. She adjusted her frail body from resting on the wall into a better sitting position on the cold tiles obviously ready to unburden her heart to him no matter how difficult it would be. She was fed up with bottling her misery and pains since her return from the hospital two days ago. Michael wondered how he suddenly became the cause of her anguish. He could not look her in the eyes knowing fully that the pain in there would consume him. “Well, since you have forgotten so soon, I’ll help jog your memory,” she continued. “This marriage will not pull through and that’s final,” exploded Deaconess Comfort Obiora, Michael’s mother, storming out of the dining hall without batting an eyelid about Jennifer’s feelings. She had made it clear to Michael on several occasions that he the scion and sole heir of the Obiora dynasty cannot marry a girl whose family was way out of their league. And to make matters worse, Jennifer’s father was just a trader that owned a stationery shop. Mrs. Comfort regarded her as a gold digger and an opportunist after guys from stinking rich families with the sole aim of enriching her family. In as much as she was not the type to match make her son with the daughter of a friend or business partner, she was not willing to accept a pauper as her son’s wife. Jennifer’s feet suddenly became heavy as getting to her feet became a herculean task. Her eyes could not contain the tears anymore as it flowed on its own accord. Michael could not bear to see the harbinger of his joy in an emotional turmoil. He cupped her face with his hands and reassured her of the magnitude of his love for her, making her realize that his mother’s opinion and threats had no bearing to their future together. “Michael, I can’t do this,” she said as she suddenly pulled away from him. “What are talking about?” he asked with a look of surprise. He quickly foreshadowed her response and shuddered at the possibility of losing her. “Michael I can’t marry into a family where I am not welcome. Can’t you see that if we proceed with the marriage your mum will never see me as a member of the family? Mike, let’s just forget about the wedding plans,” Jennifer said with pain in her eyes. “Look into my eyes and tell me that you’ve been lying to me all this while that we have been together. When did my mother’s opinion suddenly become God’s opinion? Saying I love you is an understatement Jenny, I adore you. I’ll treasure you today, tomorrow and even when we become stricken with age. I promise to be your friend, lover, companion and protector at all times on the condition that you promise to walk with me through life by my side. My love, will you still marry me?” he asked searching her eyes for a favourable answer. Without uttering a word, Jennifer nodded and slipped into his loving arms. Despite the overwhelming resistance from Michael’s mother, the wedding still took place four months later amidst cheers from friends and family members. Being married to Michael Obiora, the love of her life was Jennifer’s dream come true. He showered her with unconditional love and affection and was always there to shield her from his mother’s torments. As far as Michael was concerned, Jenny’s love tank would never run dry of genuine love and care. However, several months into the marriage, Jennifer’s world began to fall apart as she got to discover another aspect of Michael’s life that became her worst nightmare – his fierce temper. At the onset, she attributed it to work-related issues and hoped that he would change but not until he started hitting her at the slightest provocation, which eventually resulted in a miscarriage. The loss of her first pregnancy took its toll on Jennifer. She became apprehensive and distant to her husband who outdid himself in trying to get her to forgive him. She equally withdrew herself from her family and friends, not even sparing Sarima and Melody, her closest friends, for fear of laying bare her husband’s archilles’ heel. She decided to mask her pain and fears from them, all because she knew that opening up to them would make them lose the respect they reposed in her husband. Michael on his part repented of his actions and fought hard to win back Jennifer’s love and trust. That was more than a year ago, the beginning of the battery. “Michael, is this the love and protection you promised me?” she asked fighting back the tears that threatened to rain down. “Baby I’m truly sorry. Please forgive me. Just give me another chance. I… I… I promise to be a better man,” he stuttered as he pleaded on his knees in a broken voice. “Please spare me all that. Your apology now sounds like a broken record. What should I forgive you for? For pounding me whenever you couldn’t keep your anger in check or for beating out the precious seeds God blessed us with? Three miscarriages in two years Michael! Not one, not two but three babies have gone down the drain, all thanks to you. You know what? I think you deserve a medal for being an outstanding infant murderer,” she said and laughed him to scorn. Michael was dumbstruck as Jennifer laughed as though entertained by a seasoned comedian. The laughter continued and gradually turned into a heart wrenching cry. He couldn’t take it anymore. He had seen her in pains before but not in this state. He took her in his arms and began to smooch her, wiping the tears that ran down her cheeks while trying hard to conceal his turmoil. The office was spacious in every sense of the word and furnished with an exquisite taste befitting of the pastor of a large flock. The clergy’s office housed two compartments – the normal office section and the mini conference area. At the far right end of the wall stood the bookshelf that contained a good number of Christian literature and other philosophical books. A silver metal hanger fixed to the wall just before the bookshelf bore the pastor’s navy blue jacket. The light blue curtain, off white paint on the wall alongside the white tiles further accentuated the beauty of the office. Michael knew he wouldn’t be here if he had a choice but he was sure his marriage was on the verge of collapsing and he needed to salvage it. Jennifer had threatened to file for a divorce if he refuses to book an appointment with Pastor Damian for counseling. He was still explaining himself to pastor Damian who was listening with rapt attention while Jennifer kept mum, staring into space. She was all ears from the beginning of the session but slid into oblivion when Michael’s utterances began to baffle her. She was totally unaware that Pastor Damian was trying to get her attention until she was jolted out of her wandering state by Michael’s touch. “Sister Jennifer, are you sure you really want to do this?” Pastor Damian inquired all smiles. “Yes sir,” Jennifer replied, adjusting her seat, clearly ready to be drilled. “Do you still love Michael after all you’ve both been through?” he further probed. “I still do with the whole of my heart but I doubt he feels the same way. I think you should direct this same question at him,” she stated matter-of- factly. Jennifer’s response shocked Michael who stared at her bewilderingly. “I never thought it necessary since he made mention of the fact that he loves you dearly or is there something you feel I should know about?” he asked looking from Jennifer to Michael and back to Jennifer. “Pastor, I heard him say it is normal for couples to have issues but left out the part of him constantly venting his anger on me with his fists,” Jennifer said near tears. The clergy couldn’t hide his surprise and turned to Michael for answers. “Michael is this true?” Pastor Damian probed. “Pastor how can I do that? I mean I love my wife so much,” Michael replied, placing his hands on her thighs as a way of pleading with her in order to save his face. “Love?” she asked contorting her face as if the word tasted sour on her tongue. She looked him in the face and screamed, “Liar! Pastor he is lying. He beats me at the slightest provocation. In fact, I’ve had three miscarriages as a result of that. He has hurt me physically, emotionally and psychologically. I now live in constant fear of him not knowing what the next minute holds in store for me,” she said amidst sobs. Pastor Damian was speechless as he stared endlessly at Michael who bowed his head. He was at loss of what to say. He had handled several cases among couples from the pew but nothing of this sort before. He was aware that domestic violence was a serious problem that rocked some Christian homes and was not to be treated with kid gloves. He looked at Jennifer with pity and silently asked God for wisdom in handling their case. Having exhausted his options, he decided to try something out of the ordinary. “Sister Jennifer, please pull yourself together. I honestly think we should reschedule this meeting because we are not making headway. I would not want to apportion blames on anyone just yet. I need both of you to go home and have a rethink about this whole thing. This counseling cannot yield positive results if you employ deceit and place a barricade around your ego,” he stated looking in Michael’s direction. With that he stood to his feet, an indication that the meeting was over. The weeks that followed ushered in a new beginning for Michael and Jennifer. They began to relive their honeymoon strengthening their bond on a daily basis. The counseling was still in progress but in a different dimension with each of them having separate sessions with Pastor Damian. Although their love for each other soared with the progress recorded from the counseling, they had resolved to put intimacy on hold in order for Jennifer to heal emotionally. Jennifer’s joy knew no bounds as her marriage became peaceful once more and she saw less of her mother-in-law who stayed clear of their marriage in order not to pick a fight with her son. She became her once cheerful self and hung out more with her friends and family. Jennifer lay in the couch on a cool evening totally engrossed in watching the suspense-filled, emotion-awakening movie, “Twelve Years a Slave” without waiting for Michael, who went to the loo, to rejoin her. Just then her message alert came on, causing her to temporarily pause the movie as she quickly picked up the phone from the side stool by the side of the couch and tapped on the message icon to reveal the content of the message. She stared at the message for seconds unable to believe what was glaring at her. That was when she realized that she mistook Michael’s phone for hers due to their identical make and colour. With calculated steps she mounted the stairs to their matrimonial room with her pulse racing way too fast. She sat on the edge of the bed waiting for Michael to emerge from the lavatory while trying her possible best to keep her emotion under control. Michael was startled to see Jennifer gawping at him with his phone in her hand and made an attempt to find out what the problem was. “What’s wrong sweet?” he probed. “I’m sorry dear. I unintentionally read your message thinking the phone was mine. Here it is,” She said apologetically. “Is that all? That’s no problem at all,” he said and read the content of the message while walking away. “Don’t you think you owe me an explanation?” she quizzed, maintaining her cool. “An explanation over what?” Michael asked obviously confused. “An explanation on your relationship with Mabel that warrants such correspondence” She replied. “Come on babe. It’s nothing or do you think I’m cheating on you?” he inquired looking surprised. “What do you take me for? A fool? You expect me to believe that there’s nothing going on between you and your ex when you still call each other pet names like “baby” and “my love”. And as if that’s not enough, you still meet up. Telling me you have nothing to do with Mabel is an insult on my intelligence and I don’t like that,” Jennifer replied visibly shaken with anger. Michael paced the length and breadth of the room trying to control his anger. Jennifer found his silence rather annoying and sought to get to the bottom of it. “Michael your silence is not helping matters at all. It is rather aggravating the issue,” She added. “I can stand any accusation from you but not being labeled a cheat. I meant no harm at all. We are just fond of calling each other such names. And about meeting with her, it was for old time sake. She’s been away in the states for three years and just returned of recent,” he explained. “How does such an explanation sound to you? Even a five-year- old would not buy that. I remember the day I ran into an old friend in a mall and exchanged pleasantries. What did you do? You could not even wait for us to get home before landing me a slap in the car just because of a harmless hug. If I had done as much as this then I believe you would have skinned me alive. Just when we are trying to rebuild our marriage you decided to cheat on me?” Jennifer replied losing control of her voice. “Don’t you dare talk to me in such manner,” Michael cautioned. “Or else what? I guess the truth is bitter huh! You should have thought about that before rekindling your romance with Mabel,” she retorted. Michael landed a slap on her face for a start and made sure he beat the allegation out of her before storming out of the room. Jennifer dragged her assaulted body to the wall in a sitting position before punching Sarima’s number into her small phone to inform her of her ordeal and picked up few items leaving for the guest room. Jennifer looked in the direction of the door and was happy that she followed her instincts to have it locked. Michael had camped in front of her room all night apologizing for going out of control while convincing her to open the door in order to hear him out. From the look of things, Jennifer was sure he would not go to work and the thought of it troubled her a lot because she figured she needed ample time for herself if she had to survive. Just when she was about to give up on ever leaving the room, she heard Mrs. Obiora’s voice urging her to open the door. She wondered what her mother in- law had up her sleeves this time. She opened the door to see the face of her mother-in-law laced with pity and surprise and suddenly started imagining what had gone wrong with her. Mrs. Obiora pulled her along like a child and examined her properly to see the extent of the damage before proceeding to strike up a conversation with Jennifer. “I know I have never welcomed you as a member of this family, always making sure that you are seated on a keg of gun powder. I am truly sorry for everything I have done against you. Jennifer my child please find a place in your heart to forgive me,” she pleaded on her knees. Taken aback by her sudden change in attitude, Jennifer pulled her up and embraced her as a sign of forgiveness. “My child I may have been the definition of wickedness but I am definitely not in support of my son’s violent attitude towards you. How could you bear to stay married to a man whose hobby is to abuse you to the extent of making you lose three pregnancies?” she paused waiting for Jennifer to say something. Jennifer realized that her mother-in-law was genuinely concerned and decided to open up but was at loss of what to say to her with tears streaming down her face. “So it’s true. Here I was blaming you for being childless while my son has been occupied with the task of killing the fetus and you kept me in the dark all this while. As if that is not enough, he laid his hands on you last night. Jennifer you would not spend another night in this house until he comes back to his senses. No sane man hits his wife,” she spoke with her voice threatening to raise the roof. “But how did you find out ma?” Jennifer questioned. “It means you had no plans of telling me. I would not have known if not for Melody.” Mrs. Obiora was about to say something when Michael walked in surprised to find his mother discussing with his wife. He greeted his mother and proceeded to know why she came visiting so early. “I came to rescue my daughter from the jaws of death. Michael, I am your mother and I know I raised you up properly but never in my life could I imagine that you made a pact with the devil. How could you beat up your wife to the point of her having a miscarriage?” she thundered. Michael was totally confused as he looked from his mother to his wife and was at loss of what to say. “But mum she was not pregnant. I swear she was…” he was still talking when his mother landed him a deafening slap. “Are you remorseful that you beat her to a sorry state or that you failed to terminate another pregnancy? Despite my excesses, your father never laid his hands on me, a fact which you can attest to. Michael, I rue the day I had you and I would not leave this house without Jennifer,” she said angrily. Michael was flabbergasted at his mum’s new behaviour as she led Jennifer out of the room to their matrimonial room for her to pick some of her personal effects. Realizing the enormity of the situation, Michael pleaded with Jennifer who did not even look in his direction, only paying attention to packing her stuff. His plea to both women fell on deaf ears as he watched them drive out of the premises leaving him in the arms of loneliness.
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the bad people i met in my aunt house

She sat under the orange tree and stared into space. It had been two days since she came to Ikorodu to stay with her parents for a while until she could raise money and rent her own apartment. She had gotten an email from her place of work that she had been suspended indefinitely. She was back to the labour market. She needed a new job, something that could get her mind off things and ease the excruciating pain in her heart. “Lunch is ready!” her mother called out from the kitchen. She turned and saw her standing by the window. She was holding a wooden spoon and licking her fingers. Lunch would have to wait. Her appetite had been on a low. It would probably pick up soon. Her mother was a good cook. Enobong switched off the gas cooker and headed out. She picked up a stool beside the back door and joined her eldest child under the orange tree. “What do you think about the house?” “Nice,” her parents had finished building the five bedroom bungalow a month after she moved in with Mara in Shomolu. The thought of her friend made her to frown. “It is a relief that we don’t pay rent anymore.” “Hmmm…” “How long are you staying?” She shrugged. She had no idea. “I believe you will get another job sooner than you think. There are a number of good companies here in Ikorodu too.” She met her mother’s encouraging gaze. “Mara will be lonely by now.” She looked away. “When is Uwa coming to visit? His mother has been calling me. We need to re-plan your wedding now that you are better.” She lifted her head and watched the flock of birds flying. “Edidiong, is there something you need to tell us?” She blinked back the tears that had gathered in her deep brown eyes. “Didi…” “I… I am not sure… not sure that … that there is going to be a wedding,” she bent her head. Thick tear drops slid down her face. She had sensed her daughter’s sadness when she arrived that Sunday evening. She felt all was not well. She didn’t know it was worse than she thought. “You can talk to me.” She met her mother’s concerned stare. “I saw… I saw them.” She heard her breath. Her heart beat accelerated. “Uwa and Mara… Mummy I saw them…” she sobbed and collapsed in her mother’s waiting arms. “Sssssssssh…. It is okay.” “It hurts… it hurts so much. I feel like I am dying inside…” “Sssh…” her eyes smarted with tears. She patted her on the back, “Oh Lord God Almighty, heal my daughter’s heart. Balm of Gilead, soothe her wounds. Sweet Holy Spirit, our Comforter, I hand Edidiong over to you,” she prayed out loud. Didi felt overshadowed with peace. She stopped crying and basked in the calm aura. xxxxxx The continual ringing of the door bell chased her out of bed. Whoever was at her doorstep better had a good reason for disturbing her at that late hour. She switched on the fluorescent light in the sitting room and peeped through the door hole. She gasped when she saw who it was. She fidgeted for the keys and unlocked the door. She flung it open. “Is Didi in?” She blinked, “Didi?” Uwa marched into the flat and went straight to his fiancée’s bedroom. It was empty. Where was she? She had refused to pick his calls or reply his BBM chats, text messages and emails. Why was she shutting him out? He stepped out of the room and almost bumped into Mara, who was at the doorway. “Watch it!” “Sorry.” She eyed him. “Where is she?” She shrugged. “Come on.” She sensed the plea in his tone, “I don’t know. I haven’t seen her since Sunday.” He scratched a spot on his head. He was going out of his mind. “I am sure that she is at her parents’ place.” “Ikorodu?” “Yes. Her brothers came to pack her things some days ago.” “Wow. Can you give me the address?” She hissed and walked away. “Mara… Mara!” She walked into her room and closed the door with a bang. He followed her. Everything in the room was pink. What was with some women and the colour ‘pink’? “Why don’t you call her?” “She won’t pick my calls.” “Call her parents or brothers.” “I don’t want to involve them.” She laughed at him, “They are already involved.” He turned away. He was wasting his time. He might as well call Didi’s mother or search for her brothers on face book. “Hey… wait…” she walked up to him and closed the gap between them. He pushed her away, “Keep your distance!” “I have missed you,” she licked her lips and winked at him. He noticed her transparent mini night gown. She was naked beneath the light clothing. He headed for the door. She ran after him. “Let go!” he snatched his hand from her grip. “I love you.” He glared at her, “Do I look like I care?” She threw herself at him. He tried to push her away, but she clung to him. He shuddered. He felt his resolve weakening. He struggled for freedom. Her grip on his blue checkered long sleeve shirt loosened a few buttons. She slid her hands underneath his singlet and moaned at the warmth of his firm smooth dark skin. She kissed the nape of his neck and forced a hand into his jeans trouser. “Mara… no!” Oh God help me! Emotions he had been trying hard to fight took over him. He claimed her lips and she responded. She guided him towards the bed. They landed on the foam, crushed under his weight, she felt his hardness. She loosened his belt, unzipped his trouser, and pushed it down, along with his boxers. She spread her legs and kissed him. He lifted her night gown and charged into her. Her screams of pleasure filled the room. Suddenly, Didi’s image flashed through his mind’s eye. He froze. What had gotten into him? He pulled away from her and jumped off the bed. She blinked and sat up, breathing fast and hard. “I cannot do this…” he pulled up his boxers and trouser. He felt so ashamed of himself. He picked up his shirt and put it on, trembling. “What are you doing? Where are you going?” “I love Didi. Nothing is going to change that.” She began to laugh, “Who are you fooling? You can’t even resist me.” He ignored her and walked out. “Come back here! Come and finish what we started… You can’t leave me like this…” Uwa found his way out of the flat. What was wrong with him? He would be careful next time. He had been tempted and seduced by several women in the past and no one had conquered him. What was so different about Mara? He needed to subdue his flesh. If he couldn’t control his emotions, he wouldn’t last a day in marriage. God help me. xxxxxx Bankole pressed the gate bell again. Were they home? He should have called before coming. He heard footsteps. He sighed with relief. Someone opened the gate. “Good afternoon.” “Good afternoon.” “Is Didi home?” The young man sized him up. “I am a friend. Tell her Doctor Bankole is here.” “Okay,” he shut the gate. The young man resembled Didi. Was that her younger brother? The gate opened again. Didi walked out. “Hey.” “Hi…” his face brightened. “Good you are here, I was thinking of taking a stroll.” “Oh really?” She nodded, “I am over bored.” “Kpele…” “Let’s hang out somewhere.” “Great!” he couldn’t hide his excitement. “There is a suya spot in this area.” “Hope they are good.” “One taste and you are hooked.” “Nice. I am game.” They got into the Lexus jeep. He hoped it was a new beginning to better things between them. He couldn’t wait to have her back as his lover. He would be faithful and hopefully, they would end up at the altar. They had already picked out and paid for the woodin fabric for the aso ebi. As the maid of honour, Shalewa wanted to look different from everyone else. The owner of the store was enthusiastic. She wanted them to patronize her. Didi began to feel dizzy. She drained the half empty bottle of malt in her hand but she didn’t feel better. She sat down on a plastic chair and took in a long deep breath. “Are you okay?” she noticed her flushed face. She shook her head and exhaled. “Are you hungry again?” “No.” She pulled a chair to her side and sat down. “I have been feeling this way for the past three days.” Her heart missed a beat. She hoped she wasn’t falling sick again. The wedding was in less than two weeks. “Can you get me Paracetamol tablets?” “Yes. Maybe it is the wedding preparation stress,” she got up. “And something to chew.” She eyed her, “This your eating habit, I hope you aren’t pregnant.” “Of course not,” she looked up at her. “Okay. I will be right back,” she headed out. She looked towards the window and sighed. She had not heard from Uwa all day. He was probably tied up at work. His business was expanding. He had done well for himself. Her vision became blurry. She began to feel light-headed. What was happening to her? She tried to get up, lost her stamina and fell. Darkness engulfed her. xxxxxx The continual ringing of the phone woke him up. He turned on his side and opened his eyes. Where was his phone? He yawned and stretched out his body. He felt very tired. It had been a busy week for him. He had decided to stay indoors that day. His traditional wedding was coming up pretty soon; it wouldn’t be funny if he broke down. He sat up and checked under the pillows. It wasn’t there. He looked around him and saw it on the bedside table. He reached out for the phone and picked the call. “Hello,” his voice sounded hoarse. He cleared his throat and swallowed. “Uwa, Uwa where are you?” “I am at home,” he recognized Shalewa’s voice. She sounded agitated. He hoped she was all right. “I am scared. I don’t know what is wrong with Didi.” His eyes cleared, “What do you mean?” “She complained of dizziness at the market…” “Dizziness? What market?” he jumped down from the bed. “Eko market. She just fainted.” He closed his eyes. Oh God. Not again. What now? “She is at the hospital now. I am scared.” “Take a deep breath. Relax and text me the address of the hospital,” he opened his eyes. She sniffled, “Okay, okay. Please come now.” “I will be there as fast as I can.” She hung up. He threw the phone on the bed and scratched a spot on his head. What is the meaning of this? He felt completely helpless. xxxxxx Enobong and her husband followed the doctor into her office. They all sat down. “Mr. and Mrs. Ovat, we have run several tests on your daughter. She is reacting to some toxic substance in her body. We don’t know what it is yet.” Edet and his wife exchanged glances. “We cannot administer anything until we know what we are up against.” Enobong began to cry. He reached out to her and comforted her. “She is gradually slipping into unconsciousness. It can lead to a coma. She might not be able to come out of it.” “I reject it in Jesus name!” he frowned at the doctor. She sighed and leaned back on the leather chair, “She needs your prayers.” Edet nodded. They had been praying since they were informed that their daughter had been admitted in the hospital again. xxxxxx Uwa arrived at Shalom hospital that evening. He got out of the car and saw Shalewa at the gate. Was she waiting for him? He locked the car and approached her. He noticed that her eyes were red. “Didi’s parents are in the waiting room.” “Okay,” he followed her into the two storey building. He greeted them but they didn’t respond. He sat on the bench beside Didi’s father. “How is she?” “Sleeping.” “Can I see her?” “Yes. Come.” He followed the elderly man down the long hallway. “What did the doctor say?” “They found some toxic substance in her body.” “How come?” “She cannot be treated if the substance is not identified.” “Are they going to leave her like that?” he was getting upset. “They are at their wits end. They said she might slip into a coma and never…” “No! That is not her portion.” He led him into the female ward. They walked to her bed and found her asleep. “We are planning to move her to a hospital in Ikorodu.” “Okay,” he sat at the bedside and took her right hand. “We are going home. We will be back tomorrow.” “Okay,” his full attention was concentrated on her face. He shook his head and walked out. Uwa couldn’t understand why or how she kept on falling sick. Was she a sickler? But her genotype was ‘AA’. Why does she fall ill regularly? He would have to speak with her doctor and suggest that they do an all round test so that they could determine the main cause of her incessant illness. The nightmare he had about her several weeks ago flashed through his mind eye. He had seen her in a pit which got bigger and deeper. He had forgotten all about it. Was someone trying to harm her? Who was it? He reached out for her right hand and began to pray. It was only God that could deliver his fiancée. xxxxxxx Mara ran into her neighbor on her way to work. They exchanged pleasantries. “Have you gone to the hospital to see your friend?” “Didi?” “Who else?” she eyed her. “Is she sick again?” “So you don’t know.” She shook her head and glanced at her Police wrist-watch. “What happened between you two? She moved out and asked me to replace you as the maid of honour.” “Why don’t you ask her? I have to get to work. I don’t have time to chit-chat.” “No wahala,” she walked away. Her face lit up. The tablets she had replaced her friend’s multivitamins with were working. She would be gone before the doctors discovered the exact poison that was making her sick. No one would be able to save her. She started to laugh.
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