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Monday, January 22, 2018

Blues For Ruby ( 8 )



About two years later

***

I had an important meeting with a prospective client that Friday afternoon at 1 pm at Ajah and I was running a bit late because of the traffic on the route.

I had driven past the Ikoyi link bridge that would take me to Lekki Phase 1 when I got stuck again in traffic.

I hit the steering wheel in vexation,  willing the traffic to move so I could arrive on time for the meeting.

The client was a big property developer who was planning a new residential estate at Ibeju Lekki. My firm had been chosen with two others to make a pitch for the project.

We had worked hard on it and hoped we could clinch the job as it was a multi million Naira project which would boost our company's profile.

I glanced through the car window and saw a newspaper vendor close to my car, holding up some of the papers so show off the bold headlines.

I was not interested in buying any and was I was about to look away when a headline in The Sun grabbed my attention.

It was one of the smaller cover stories tucked away at the bottom of the front page.

But that name would catch my attention anywhere.

Ruby.

I signalled the man and bought a copy. I quickly read the story, my heart thumping.

'Sultry singer, Ruby in coma, hospitalised!'

 'Jeez, what's this, I muttered to myself as I scanned the story. I was so engrossed in it, I forgot where I was till the blast of a horn behind me brought me back to my senses. The traffic was moving again.

I continued with the story at a traffic light some distance away and I was able to get the drift of the some what sketchy report.

She had been found at home unconscious,  the story said, and had been rushed to hospital. There was nothing on what was wrong with her except that she was in pretty bad shape.

'At least,  she's still alive," I thought.

I wondered what could have happened to her. What was the nature of her illness? I had so many questions,  but no one to answer them.

Since we broke up, we had not been in touch. It was  difficult but I tried to put what happened behind me and move on with my life.

Due to her fame,  her activities were in the public domain so I could not avoid knowing what was going on in her life.  And from what I had been reading and hearing about her, things had not been going well for her...

***

Shortly after our break up, to my shock, Ruby had gotten engaged to Eazzy. I had felt even more bitter  because it confirmed my suspicions, that she had been having an affair with her producer behind my back instead of the one night stand,  she claimed they had.

I felt then I took the right decision ending our relationship even though it hurt like hell leaving a woman I loved so much.

It was sometime later, I heard what really led to her marriage to Eazzy from Kingsley.

It was, he said to save her reputation and image and avoid the stigma of being a single mother in a very conservative society like ours.

"You know how our society is- the men can get away with stuff like that. Stars like 2Face, Wizkid,  Flavour and others all have babies from different 'baby mammas' and nothing happens to their reputation. But a female artiste can't do that or she'll be condemned by her fans and the society," Kingsley had pointed out.

Anyway,  some months after their wedding,  Ruby gave birth to a baby boy. I won't lie- I was curious about the baby. I wanted to see it to confirm if it was really my child as Rume, Ruby's sister said.  But I did not make any effort to see her so only got snippets of info from the media especially the entertainment blogs.

With time, all kinds of sleazy stories began to appear about her. There were rumours about her marriage,  that she was having marital problems with her husband, that she was drinking and doing drugs and other tales.

I wondered if the stories were true because in all the time we were together,  I never saw Ruby drink heavily or use hard drugs.

Anyway, I tried to move on with my life. I even dated a few times,  the last being a lady who worked in a bank close to my office. Her name was Nkechi and I really liked her. She was into me too and we got on really well.

We had been seeing each other for a few months when she confessed she had fallen in love with; when she however wanted to know how I felt about her, I could not say much, except that I liked her very much. I was fond of her but not in love with her.

It was not long after that we broke up,  partly because she wanted more from the relationship than I could give.

She was even talking about our moving in together at a point. I was not ready for that kind of commitment with her so we parted ways.

That was nearly three months ago and I was not in a hurry to get into another relationship.

I now gazed at Ruby's smiling face in the picture that accompanied the newspaper report about her illness, memories of our time together flooding back, wondering what could have happened in the period we parted to make her end up in a coma in the hospital...

Ruby

(Three months before)

It was past noon and in Ruby's household, everyone was up and about, involved in various activities. Upstairs in her room, Ruby was still in bed, her eyes covered with her usual eye mask.

The bedroom was in semi- darkness as all the curtains were drawn against the light from outside.

It was a dull day, anyway as the rain had been falling since dawn and there was little sunshine.

A short while later, the bedroom door was flung open and a tall figure marched in.

He went to one of the windows and drew the curtains open, letting in some light in the room.

The noise woke up Ruby who removed the mask and opened her eyes.

"What the..." she sat up and on seeing her husband, laid back on the bed.

"Are you planning to spend the whole day in bed, Ruby?"

She got up again, stretched and yawned. "What do you want, Eazzy?" she said, giving him a baleful look.

He sat on the edge of the bed and brought out his phone.

"An engagement just came up. It's this Saturday."

"What's it about?"

She got up and walked towards the bathroom. At the door, she turned to stare at him on hearing his response.

"It's a birthday party. It's in Abuja; a 40th birthday of a House of Representatives member. He is a big fan of yours and is looking eagerly forward to your performance. "

She snickered at him. "He might wait forever because I'm not going!"

"And why not?"

"You know I hate playing these gigs but you keep making Tega book them," she grumbled as she entered the bathroom.

"Well, you don't have any choice but to go play. We've already collected the fees!" he almost shouted.

She emerged shortly from the bathroom, wiping her face with a small towel.

"Then return his money because I'm not going!" she insisted.

"You don't have any choice. Or pick and choose where you want to play. You're not as popular as you were two or three years ago, you know.''

''Says who?'' she retorted as she opened a drawer by the bed and brought out what looked like a cigarrete but was 'weed'.. She lit it then sat on the bed, inhaling deeply. ''My music is still popular.''

''Yet your last album bombed?''

''Whose fault was it?'' she countered. ''You produced it so blame yourself!''

''Maybe if you stopped smoking that 'shit' and the other stuff you take and rehearsed more, your music will do better.''

''And if I don't, what will you do? Hit me? Like you often do?'' she said tauntingly. ''This,'' she said, waving the 'joint' in his face, ''Is what helps me keep my sanity, from being married to someone like you!''

 He glared at her, an angry look on his face...


To be continued.


The concluding part of this series will be published soon. Don't miss it!

















Friday, January 05, 2018

Blues For Ruby (7)



I sat alone at a small table, sipping a cold glass of stout and watching the action around me. 

It was the  'welcome party' for Ruby and her entourage for a very successful tour, as Eazzy put in his opening remarks earlier.

My eyes kept wandering to a table a short distance away by the poolside of the hotel on Victoria Island where the party was taking place.

Ruby was sitting there with some friends and staff from her management company. She looked particularly radiant that night , her luminous eyes sparkling as she chatted animatedly with her group.

"Lovely, isn't she?" a voice said close to me.

I turned round to see Eazzy, a drink in his right hand, standing by me. I had not seen him walk up.

I knew who he was referring to so I shrugged and said:

"She is."

"I hear you two are back together." he said, sitting by me.

"Something like that," I said, wondering what he was driving at.

"Lucky you, to have such a passionate woman like her."

"Thank you," I said, my eyes seeking her out again. She saw me then and gave a little wave. I smiled at her and we gazed at each other for a minute before something Eazzy said drew my attention.

"And so sweet. Very,  very sweet," he said, smacking his lips like one licking some delicious ice cream.

Something in the way he spoke made me look at him sharply.

"What are you talking about, Eazzy? Sweet as in...?"

"Well, how do you describe a woman you've tasted and found delicious?" He must have seen the stunned look on my face for he got up, picked his drink and said:

"Oh, my bad! I forgot that what happens in Rome stays in Rome! Ha! Ha!"

He walked away, laughing to himself, leaving me boiling with anger...

I sat mulling over what Eazzy had just said, unable to believe it at first. I knew Eazzy had never liked me and had pulled all kinds of tricks to make Ruby leave me.

Was this one of such tricks, I wondered. But he had sounded so sure of himself,  so...

There was only one way to find out. I got up abruptly and went up to Ruby's table.

Grabbing her by the hand,  I said testily: "Come with me! "

She gazed at me curiously as I led her away in the direction of the car park.

"Baby, are we leaving already? The party's just warming up! "

I did not answer till we were in the confines of my ca
where we could talk in privacy, away from prying eyes and ears.

"What was that crap Eazzy just said over there?" I said in an icy tone.

"I don't understand. What did he say." She sounded puzzled

"About you and him and... so tell me, what went down between you two during your tour?"

"What are you talking about Tobi? I..."

I hit the steering wheel angrily with my fist, making her almost jump in surprise. I bet she had never seen me so angry before, except perhaps during our last major quarrel.

"I want the truth, Ruby. Not a bunch of lies. So, start talking!"

***

"Thanks, Tobi," said Rume as I placed the bottle of soft drink on a stool by her seat.

I sat down opposite her and said:

"So, how's work?" I said. Rume was a computer programmer who worked at an IT firm at Ikeja.

"Fine, I guess. I'm thinking of going solo from next year. I want to work for myself."

I smiled at her. "Good for you.  I like your ambition."

She gave a wan smile then took a sip of her drink.

"In case you're wondering,  Ruby didn't send me. I came on my own," she said.

"Ok." I waited for whatever it was she wanted to say. It was no use anyway; it would not change anything. My mind was made up...

"She's pregnant." It was the last thing I expected to hear from her and for a moment,  I was stunned into silence.

"She had been feeling ill for some days. So, a few days ago, she went to see her doctor." She paused then: "That was when she found out."

"Well, congratulations Rume!  You'll soon be an Aunty!" I said, not bothering to hide the sarcastic tone in my voice.

"You should be congratulated too," she said, smiling. "It's your baby afterall."

I stared at her in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

"You heard me, Tobi. You'll soon be a daddy!"

I shook my heard. "That can't be. We broke up over two months ago, remember?"

"Yes. But before then, I heard you two had a great 'reunion' in your house."

"So? What has that got to do with it?" I said. "Afterall,  she was also with Eazzy. And who knows who else," I added, with some bitterness. I had put the whole incidence behind me and I did not want to be reminded about it.

She sat up in her chair. "I understand how you feel,  Tobi. She made a mistake.  Eazzy was a mistake which she regrets everyday. But..."

I raised my hand. "I'm not in the mood to start digging up the past. I've moved on and I suggest she do the same."

"But, can't you find it in your heart to forgive her? She has apologised and pleaded. And she still loves you. Please, Tobi. At least for the sake of the baby, your baby. You need to see her. She looks so lost without you. It's even beginning to affect her music and."

I shook my heard. "It's too late now. It can't work between Ruby and I anymore. Sorry."

 ***

After she had gone, I sat thinking over this new development.  A baby. Hmm. Some months back, such news would brought so much joy, to both of us.

 Since I had been with Ruby, I had been nursing the dream of our settling down together someday.

She was the one I wanted to spend my life with,  to be my life partner.

But that dream was nothing but a mirage now.

Not after what happened between her and Eazzy during her foreign tour.

"I don't know how it happened, Tobi. I guess I was drunk, and missing you terribly. I was crying and Eazzy was trying to console me that night and...One thing led to the other and..." She had wept that night in my car as she narrated how she ended up in bed with Eazzy.

Eazzy of all people! A guy I did not like and who hated me as well. How could Ruby do that to me, betray me in that way, was what kept going through my mind. Ok, we had briefly broken up then. But how could she sleep with Eazzy? There was no excuse for her action at all, I reasoned grimly.

She had kept weeping and begging for forgiveness.  But things could never be the same between us anymore and I knew I could never trust her again. And what was a relationship without trust?

I had driven away from the party that night in anger and that was the last time I had seen her in over two months. I had ignored her many calls and refused to see her as well when she came over to the house

Now this pregnancy news. What was I supposed to do?

I sighed, got up and headed for the bathroom to take a shower before going out to visit my friend,  Kingsley at his home in Surulere...


To be continued





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