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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Delilah Calling (1)


His heartbeat increased to a heightened tempo; deep in its cradle, his chest, its thump like a giant’s footstep trudging across a broken landscape. 

Leaning on the door frame for support, he prayed for strength to his shaking legs, which appeared unable to carry him the few meters to where she stood, amongst her colleagues of like callings, looking directly at him like he was the one she had been waiting for.

Picking boldness, he forced his eyes to meet hers and marveled at the passion she conveyed at the blink of those sensual eyes. He wanted to call her, perhaps give her a hint of invitation. It would be easy, he was sure, knowing what she was there for, but his strength failed him and his legs refused to carry him those few meters.

He signaled a bar man, who hurried to his side, all smirk and servitude, his face a study of conflicting emotions.

‘Give me a bottle of Gordon sparks.’ He said, trying to convey confidence he did not feel.

Taking a seat, he prepared to await the order.
In his mind, he did a silent survey of the scene. Apart from the twenty or so patrons who were all keen on being as inconspicuous as possible – bowed heads and intense necking of whatever brands they were drinking marking that sign – and two or three serving girls whose mode of dressing and carriage set them apart from the girls outside, the immediate scene was bereft of any interest.

Plastic chairs and table did not tell much tales neither did the two company-issue deep freezers or the 14-inch television set tuned to a local station that was then showing the westernized antics of a homegrown music star.
In all, one could have been at any regular bar in town.

The order came sooner than expected and the chill down his throat eased off his tension a bit, or so he thought.

He caressed the bottle of Gordon sparks and looked out the large louvered windows in between sips. It was after a couple of sips that he discovered the silent code in use. The girls, who were dressed (or undressed) in varying stages of sensuality, took turns coming to the window to peer in through the double louver glass window and pose briefly for the benefit of the men seating within. 

The main idea appeared to be holding a man’s gaze long enough for a silent message to pass, a message that always without fail says, “I am available.”

While he was still pondering his inability to rise to the occasion, a young man whose attitude showed him an old hand at the game walked out and over to claim the very girl that had caught his fancy earlier and walked with her toward the back where the girls apparently had rooms.

Smarting from that missed chance and taking strength from the youth's boldness, he sampled what was left and found one he thought will cool his adore for that lost looker. Walking over to her was easy as well as discussion of terms – which she assured him would be better done within the confines of her room.

She led the way to the back, up two flights of stairs, both strangely well light, and into a room partitioned into two. To his surprise, her price, when they got to it, was way higher than what he thought was usual. The African in him flared and he haggled and got a third of it, hoping for a service she assured him would be his best ever.

“Now,” she said, smiling gently, while caressing him softly on the back. “Take off your clothes. All of it.”


To be continued

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Yimika (2)



After about thirty minutes I got scared; he was not picking my calls and he had not shown up. The clock kept ticking and after I had waited for three hours, I paid off the waiters and decided to go look for him in his office before they closed for the day.

 However he was not there! I was told he did not show up. I tried to get his address but nobody had it and I was confused and close to tears. 

The receptionist must have felt sorry for me, because she got a hold of his employee data form and gave me his address. 

I didn’t know what to expect, but I had to see my Yimika, even if his family would throw me out. A glimpse of his face and the knowledge that he’s okay will do.

 I got to his house located in a posh area of Ikeja, the massive gate was intimidating, but I pressed the bell continually, undaunted.

 If Yimika was behind them, then I had to go in. The gate man asked me to wait while he got clearance for me to enter. But immediately I saw him retreat, I followed closely. 

Then I saw an older female version of my Yimika and I knew immediately she was his mum. As I hurried up to her, I immediately went down on both knees in greeting and politely asked to see Yimika. She looked really sad, like she had been crying.

Before I could finish my question fresh tears came to her eyes, and my heart almost skipped a beat.

What must have happened to my Yimika? On our first anniversary, I wondered.

“Lord please, don’t let this be. Let me wake up from this bad dream!” I prayed silently.

“You must be Ruby?” she asked “Any time he opens his eyes, he calls your name.”

“Yes, I am Ruby. Please what is wrong with Yimika? He was fine when I saw him yesterday.”

“He didn’t tell you?" she asked

“Tell me what?”

“Come into the house.”

 As I followed her into the house, all sorts of thoughts flashed through my mind, “what could he be keeping from me?”

Then I looked up and saw my darling, even lovelier in sleep; he had lots of IV tubes poking in and out of his body, for what I could not tell. Did he have typhoid? Or tuberculosis? What could it be? He looked very pale, yet so peaceful in his sleep. 

His mother’s voice, however, jolted me back to the present.

“He’s dying. He has leukaemia.”

“No! He couldn’t be!! He loves me!!!” I screamed.

“What is leukaemia? No! No! No! You are mistaken!”

She embraced me then, held unto me till all my tears subsided. I thought my heart would break. He looked so helpless, so frail; all I wanted to do was hold him in my arms till he woke up. 

His mother told me that he had battled with it for most of his life and maybe he did not tell me because he wanted to lead a normal life. He fought to be normal.

 “I love him Lord. Please don’t take him away now!”

I stayed by his bed side till he stirred, and truly my name was the first thing on his lips.

“Ruby!”

“I am here.”

“I am so sorry; I couldn’t bear for you to feel sorry for me.”

“Hush baby, I understand and I love you."

 He went right back to sleep. I could not let go of his hand. I disturbed the host of heaven with my prayers. I implored God with every breath in me, but those were my Yimika’s last days. 

He would not be taken to any hospital, he did not want that, said he will die anyway and he wanted to do it surrounded by the people he loved.

 I held him close to my heart when he breathed his last, and for a split second our hearts beat as one. Yimika my love, my life died in my arms.

Here I am in the rain without the love of my life. Will I be able to find this love again? Will I be able to love any man like I did my Yimika? People can stare, people can whisper but till I am done soaking up heavens tears for my Yimika, I will not leave this place.


Concluded

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Yimika (1)




As the rain came pelting down, I just stood there soaking it all up. I could feel people staring at me as they hurried past to the safety of shelters. I could only imagine the thoughts going through their minds,

“Is this one mad?”

“Must be in the early stages, she still has clean clothes on and shoes too!”

“Where is her family? They had better come and pick her up before she degenerates!”

“What a wicked world this is, such a beautiful lady!”

And so on they must be thinking. But I cared less as I just stood there with outstretched arms, willing the rain to wash me clean. Why did I go there? I saw the signs, why didn’t I stop, but like the proverbial stubborn dog bound to get lost, I ignored the hunter’s whistle...

***
Yimika was the most handsome man I had ever set my eyes on; I still wonder how he noticed me. That was not one of my best days, as I had hurried out of the house without making my face up.

 I did not want to miss the bus, but I did eventually and that’s how he came into my life. Why did I not leave the house early? Now as I look back, I realize my tardiness brought him my way. I felt too lazy to wake up to the sound of my alarm, hence my getting to the bus stop late, and my meeting Yimika.

As I stood at the bus stop lamenting my fate, a light blue BMW 3 series pulled up to me. My first instinct was to step back, but as I did, the person in the car wound down the glass and I came face to face with the most charming smile on the most handsome face I had ever come across. 

All my resistance fell at that moment; my legs felt like jelly, and the only thing I remember after that was getting out of the car outside my office with his card in my hand and a promise to call him.

 I could not recall giving him my number until I got a call from him later that evening. He asked if he could take me to see a movie – thankfully, the cinema was not far from both our offices. Warning signals started blaring, but I completely ignored them thinking to myself: “What could possibly happen in a cinema full of other people?”

It was quite an enjoyable date; apart from the movie, which was very interesting, Yimika was great company. I did not even notice time fly past and like the gracious gentleman he seemed to be, he offered to drop me off at home, which further endeared him to me.

We met several times after that, and our lunch dates became a ritual we had to observe each day. On days when I could not see him for lunch because he was too busy, I always felt uneasy, like a part of me was missing. 

I knew I was falling in love with a man I knew next to nothing about, but I loved it. He was gracious, nice to a fault and really good to look at. I allowed myself a free fall into love, and it seemed it was mutual so I did not give a second thought to it. 

Trouble started when I asked to know where he lived. He hesitated and then tried to change the subject. It was all strange to me but since he did not wear a wedding band, I was sure he was not married and he always talked about his mother, so I knew he still lived at home with her. I concluded his family must not like me but he had assured me that was not the case.

Since I had fallen hopelessly in love with him by now, I did not bother asking to be taken to his house again. I was content with him knowing my family and they loved him too. Each time my mum brought up the subject of his family, I always tactfully avoided giving her a straight answer.

On this day I got to work as usual, longing for lunch break and my Yimika to show up. I was especially excited since it was our first year anniversary and I could not wait to celebrate it with him.

 He was my prince in every way, the defender of my virtue; never demanded for sex, so different from the other guys I had dated who did not understand my stranglehold on my virginity, or my decision to save sex for marriage. 

He was the yang to my yin, my knight in shining armour, my love, my life. The wait was killing me. My boss even noticed and decided to put me out of my misery by allowing me leave way before lunch, giving me the rest of the day off (she thought I was coming down with something). I almost ran to our usual meeting point. I had a surprise for Yimika, so I made sure I got there before him, instructed the waiters on how to present my surprise, then settled down with a drink to await my love’s arrival....


By Mercy Ilevbare (courtesy naijastories. com)

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Cause of Husbands (2)


This month, Perpetua had no tales of woe to share. Chris was still pilfering, mind you, but Perpetua couldn’t care less.

 Since the last time she and her friends met up, she had run into this hunk of a man. He was courteous, friendly, and generous with compliments. Perpetua was seriously toying with the idea of doing something about all that attention she was getting.

 An affair, perhaps. As she headed to Chinyelu’s place earlier on that evening, she was intent on asking her friends for advice. More really to replay every detail of her encounters with Solo, to hear their analyses of the hints she thought she was picking up from him were really there. 

She prayed she was not imagining them, because she liked Solo. Moreover, had she not earned the right to be unfaithful? She needed an outlet for all the pent-up resentment she had for her marriage. 

But then, she wondered, what was it with her and gorgeous broke men? Good thing she was not going to marry this one, so she would not have the extra expenses from his family to add to her burden.

Perpetua would have had a tough time getting Chinyelu interested in what she hoped to do with her privates. Chinyelu, after all, had troubles of her own.

 Her eldest daughter had gone missing from her boarding school in the beginning of the week. The school proprietor had been beside herself, with numerous back and forth phone calls between her and Jideofor since Wednesday when Imelda’s absence was brought to her notice. 

It was the most trying time for Chinyelu. Jideofor was accusing her of aiding and abetting Imelda to run away. Why he’d think that, she could not fathom. He was threatening the school with police arrest and lawsuit for kidnapping.

 In fact, for the past three days, he had gone insane. He was screaming at everyone and everything. Chinyelu nearly called up her friends to cancel their weekend routine. That was before word came of where and with whom Imelda was. 

It was not good news.

As bad as Chinyelu had it, Isioma was having the rottenest fortune of them all.

“Tommy left me!” Isioma wailed. “He ended our marriage, the sonofabitch!”

She did not look pretty today. Her hair was disheveled, her mascara running, and her clothes smelt of sweat. Her face was swollen from crying too hard and too long.

“Take it easy, love,” Perpetua tried to console her, letting her exciting news take the back-seat.

“Why would he leave me? Why? I mean, I’m a good wife. I’m good in bed. I cook like a chef. I look damn good, my shape is tamtam. I’m tall like a model, have big boobs, big ass. I mean, who would look at me and think I’ve two kids? I earn good dough, I hold my own. I’m intelligent. I’m the total damn package, dammit! And I take his shit! I mean, I put up with his nonsense. Why would he leave me?” She cried, heart-wrenching sobs that almost brought Perpetua to tears herself.

“It’s ok, sweetie. Whoever he left you for can’t hold a torch to you, that’s for sure.” Perpetua said, meaning well, but looking over her shoulders at Chinyelu who was quiet all evening.

“No, he didn’t leave me for another woman,” screamed Isioma. “Why would you even think that?”

Perpetua was dumbfounded. “Well, I just thought –”

“Why would you ever think that, that’s what I want to know? Because that’s the commonest reason men walk out on seven years of marriage? Well, that’s not the case here.”

“I’m sorry.”

Isioma was not done. “We were having arguments here and there. Little arguments about things that didn’t really matter in the grand scale of things, when you think about it. He said I have too much drama. I think he’s the king of it, but he just can’t see it because that’s who he is. Maybe it all got too much for him to handle, that’s why he left. Not because of another woman. But for you to actually think that, it tells me what kind of friend you really are.”

“Isioma, please forget Pep said that,” intervened Chinyelu, with a tone that bordered on nonchalance.

“Right. I bet you would say that because you thought the same too, isn’t it?”

“Well, like you said, it is the commonest reason.”

“I’m so disappointed in the two of you right now. I mean, I’m utterly disappointed. I’m going home. I didn’t want to come today, but I reconsidered as I thought I’d get sympathy. Gosh! Please, I’m sorry to have to do this, but I’m out of here. Good night.”

Neither Perpetua nor Chinyelu made an attempt to stop Isioma. As a matter of fact, the moment she closed the door, Perpetua eagerly went to sit next to Chinyelu on the ottoman.

“She doesn’t know?” she asked Chinyelu.

“I didn’t tell her.”

“Ha! Wahala dey oh. If she’s like this now, what will she then do when she finds out?Kasala go burst.”

Chinyelu waved her concerns off. “I’ve bigger problems than that, Pep.”

“Kai,” Perpetua hissed, shaking her head. “So, what’s the latest on Imelda?”

“Jideofor is furious, as you can expect. He says he’s not taking it lying low.”

“I can understand. My Chris would have skinned somebody; his daughter kwa!”

“Before nko. Tommy cannot seduce our seventeen years old daughter and get away with it. Jideofor doesn’t care what Nigeria says their age of consent is, he’s going to have Tommy arrested for statutory rape.”

Perpetua gasped. “Chineke me e. Isioma will just die!”

“Whatever she wants to do with herself is up to her, jare. I support my husband,” Chinyelu declared. 


Concluded

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Cause Of Husbands (1)



It was their misery party. As a ritual, the three friends met at least once a month for it.

Isioma, the media consultant with a PR and advertising firm, who had made her way through life by her wits and beauty. Indeed it was a little known fact at her office that she had no formal higher education. The one time that information had made rounds, there was more than a few of her colleagues who dismissed it as idle gossip.

Chinyelu, a former colleague of Isioma before her husband got promoted to the executive director of his bank. It was then that she decided that after a decade and half, she’d had enough of salaried employment. 

Now she sold anything she laid her hands on – flowers, jewelry, cosmetics, you name it. If she heard that there was market for a product, she was on to it. Lately, she had started a bakery in her kitchen, an idea she picked up from Perpetua, the event-planner.

Perpetua did more than plan events. She also sewed bridals and on occasions, catered for ceremonies. Her recent discovery was the world of interior decorating, a field Chinyelu secretly had eyes on. 

 In truth, Chinyelu copied Perpetua and coveted all of her friend’s ventures. However, unlike Chinyelu who did it for leisure and could afford to lose money with business failures, Perpetua didn’t have a rich husband to fall back on. 

 Actually, she was the rich wife who did the bailing. In her case though, Chris was not into business. As it was, Perpetua could not precisely say what he did. For all she knew, he goes to work in the mornings, comes back in the evening, and at the end of the month claims poverty!

While Chris was the designated Worst Husband among the three women, none of the other two were ecstatic about their own spouses either. Their monthly rendezvous was for whining about the rotten luck they had been dealt.

 Chinyelu’s exquisite mansion was the chosen place for their meeting. It was nicer, for one. And she was the only one who did not have to lose sleep over the cost of their letting loose. Bottles and bottles of assorted wine. Sumptuous food ordered from exotic restaurants. Professional maid service. And the twinkling reflection of light from a swimming pool.

“I’m in the image-making industry, for crying out loud,” Isioma had kicked off their last meeting, dangling a tall wine glass, in-between taking long drinks from it. “I can’t afford to look dowdy. I’ve to wear stilettos even though they hurt like hell. But I’ve to wear them! Spas, manis and pedis are about investment, not fashion.

“My clothes, my hair, my shoes, every single thing about me have to be top-notch, aimed to impress. But God knows, not for men. I mean, these stinking old fools don’t get more attractive with money. If I’ve said it, I’ve said a million times to Tommy. So, why can’t he trust me, and stop suspecting me of cheating. And with my bosses! Aarrggh! I can barely stand those guys.”

“My dear, no too talk. You’re lucky you’re not married to a Naija man. You for dey hear am eh,” chipped in Perpetua, who always wished she could trade places with Isioma.

“Yes oh, man is man everywhere,” supported Chinyelu. Before settling down with Jideofor, she had dated slews of men from every country and tribe. “Jealousy is not a nationality thing. It’s a man thing.”

Isioma disagreed. “It’s not the same thing, Chichi. Do you know that when I’m with Tommy and a call comes in, I’m in trouble. If I answer it, na ten page query be that. If I ignore it, I’m hiding my sins. Your husband isn’t like that. I mean, you take off to God knows where at a spur’s notice, and it never bugs you what explanation would be deemed valid. Na who born me to dare that?”

“Would you rather you’re me? I take impromptu vacations because I hardly see my husband. And it’s not all office work that keeps him away. Do you know how many women call this house on a daily basis? How many can you fight? Every time I check Jideofor’s mobile, there are thousands of texts from girls. These days, we don’t do it anymore unless he uses a condom. Tommy is faithful, isn’t he?”

“We’ve a prenup. He can’t afford to screw around.”

Tommy had wedded Isioma in his home country. Although her friends wouldn’t openly admit it, they believed that the only substantial thing Tommy had had to offer Isioma was the US citizenship. They hadn’t been impressed to learn that he had insisted he would never live in America again; that Africa was his roots that he’d returned to.

“Prenup or not, de relationship don tire me joo,"  Isioma grumbled. "I mean, I’m totally sick and tired. Thank God times have changed, mehn. I mean, chicks no longer stay in marriages that aren’t giving them what they bargained for. If oga sir is not representing, madam is stepping. So, the clock is ticking for Tommy and I. Believe me, the clock is ticking. I’ve been patient. Too patient. Thinking, hoping, praying that he’d change. But that ain’t happening, mehn. And I can’t continue living my life like this. I mean, I refuse to.”

“Anyhow,” Perpetua, who had heard all that before, steered the subject back to their tirade. “You are ten times better off. If I have a hundred thousand, Chris steals forty thousand out of it when I’m sleeping. I use fifty thousand for the house – I pay rent, the children’s school fees, NEPA bills, I fuel the generator, and of course I give myself feeding allowance. Still, Chris must eat three square meals a day. And it’s not any how kind of food o. At least, two meats chunks each time.

“When he’s not stealing my money, he’s borrowing it and he’ll never pay back. If I say I won’t give him, his family will flood me with calls, calling me all sorts of names. They said I’m the one who made their son poor, that I’ve bad luck. Has their son ever been wealthy, I want to ask them. When we were dating, he’ll collect money from me and send home to his mother. I paid for that ungrateful woman’s eye surgery, and it was not ten kobo. His father’s rickety car, nko? I bought him the Honda hala he’s driving now. Now that I’ve so much more financial responsibilities, and can’t dish out cash like I used to, I’m the one with bad luck.”

“It’s you I blame, Pep. You spoilt him, spoon-feeding right from the start. Why?”

“Chichi, what was I to do? Chris was a beautiful man, every woman wanted him. I felt lucky that I was the one he wanted. Look at me now, short, over-weight. Plus at thirty-five, I have arthritis. It’s not as if I’m fine. Some babes are fat and beautiful, people hardly bother about their weight. I’ve nothing going for me physically. Do you know that before Chris, I’d gone three good years without a date? What were my chances of marrying? So, I took what I got, anyhow it came.” She hissed, getting exceedingly depressed.

That was last month’s conversation....


To be continued.

Contributed by Ugo Chime (courtesy naijastories.com)

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The Boss (2)



Abu thought back to this incident and other ones like it where people commented or joked about what they saw as Halima’s ordering him around. He hadn’t been unhappy with Halima personally, but he had begun to get very uncomfortable with the situation. He got tired of pacing and sat down, still ruminating.

After a while, Halima entered, carrying some shopping. 

“Hello dear”, she called out to Abu. “Can you please help me with this shopping?”

Aha, Abu said to himself. She is at it again. “Halima, please leave the shopping by the door. There’s something very important that we have to talk about.”

Halima was immediately concerned. “I hope your father has not had a relapse”, referring to Abu’s father who had recently been discharged from hospital.

“No, no, Baba is fine. This is something else.”

Halima dropped the shopping and went to sit down next to him. “What is the problem, dear?”

Abu came to the point. “Halima, I am not happy at the way you order me around in this house. I think you should remember that I am the boss, and as such, I deserve to be treated with respect.”

Halima was open-mouthed with astonishment for a few seconds after this pronouncement. Then she asked softly, “Abu, do you believe that I really do order you around?”

Abu was confused. He had been expecting resistance and denial, not this. But he pressed on: “Well, when you ask me to do this and that, I feel like I am being ordered around. I’m sure it’s different with other men and their wives.”

Halima opened her mouth to say something, but then she stopped, and was silent for a few moments. Then she smiled and said, “OK, Abu darling, tell me. Will you be happier if I don’t ask you to do anything? Even better, how about you giving me the orders instead? That way, you’ll be happier that you are the boss, the oga patapata in this house.”

Abu knew that in theory, he should have been feeling very satisfied. After all, wasn’t this what he was asking for? But he felt even more uncomfortable than before.

“OK”, he said uncertainly. “Let’s try that out and see what happens.”

A few days later when Abu returned from work, he found that there was no water in the house.

“We had been running low, but I didn’t have any money to call out the water tanker drivers and ask for them to fill up our tank”, Halima explained.

Abu was baffled. “Why didn’t you ask me for money as you usually do?”

“Remember? You are the boss – you’re the one supposed to give me the money and the command to order fresh water supplies.”

“Halima! I don’t have the time to be remembering all these details, now!”

Halima smiled. “Abu, I agree with you. In fact, if I was allowed to make a suggestion, I would say that it would be better to leave me to worry about these details, but in this new dispensation, I’m not allowed to do that.”

Abu sat down, exasperated. “OK, I can see where this is going. You are just going to make things difficult for me until I agree to do things your way, eh?”

Halima was conciliatory. “Abu dear, I don’t want things to be done your way or my way. I just want them to be done our way – the way that works best for all of us. I know that you are a busy man – you yourself have just said that you don’t have the time to worry about or remember every single detail involved in running the house. I am good at this; and I enjoy doing it. So I think it makes more sense for me to handle this and only trouble you when necessary.”

“But when you are always planning and thinking of things, I feel as if I am irrelevant, as if my job is just to agree with everything you say”, Abu grumbled.

“But think about it, Abu. The reason that you agree isn’t just because you swallow my suggestions without thinking; it is because you have examined my suggestion and you have found it makes sense. When a sensible man examines a sensible suggestion made by a sensible woman, what do you expect?” said Halima, smiling again.

Abu smiled back, then frowned. “But what about what other people think? I don’t want people to start laughing at me.”

“What about what other people think? Are they the ones who are married to you? Abu, what works for other people may not work for you. There are some people who are only happy when they are commanding people around, and there are those who are only happy when they are being commanded around. Allah grant that both parties meet, fall in love and are happy with each other.

“But I remember when you first met me, one of the reasons you said you were attracted to me was because of my intelligence. I chose to marry you, because I wanted to be able to use my intelligence to make life sweeter for you. I also chose to marry you, because I believed that you would let me use my intelligence to make life sweeter for you. Why not let me continue to do that? As long as you are happy, why worry about what other people are saying?”

Abu smiled again. “Hm, Halima! All this your talk of your intelligence, your intelligence… should you be blowing your trumpet like this? What about me? After all, it is only an intelligent man that can pick out an intelligent woman to marry.”

“Only if the intelligent woman decides that she wants to be married by the intelligent man," said Halima, and they laughed together as they sat down to discuss how they were going to get by that evening without water.


Concluded
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