Continued from here
A line came into my mind from L Marshall’s Current, ‘You know sometimes, we meet our fate on the road we take to avoid them’. Here I am, standing before someone I had spent the earlier part of the evening hiding from and now he stands in front of me in all his masculine glory.
He looks different and for a brief moment I wonder what it is that has changed before it dawns on me. He has joined the beard gang. It’s not yet full blown but the layer of finely groomed hair that envelopes his chin gives me a hint of the hotness that is about to befall Lagos. A moment of silence for all the hearts that are about to break on account of this bundle of sexiness. This bundle I let slip away.
We close the gap between us in a few steps. I try to read the expression on his face but I can’t. Surprise? Delight? Amusement? I can’t tell which but it’s somewhere in between those three.
Kubi: ‘You look good.’
That’s not a lie or a conversation starter. He looks edible, I can’t even express his yumminess in words.
Nnanna: ‘Why do I get the feeling that you’re not surprised to see me.’
I tell him the truth and he smiles in understanding. We both have nothing to say for a moment.
Kubi: ‘How is Vee?’
‘I was of the understanding that you both kept in touch’, he says with raised eyebrows.
Kubi: ‘I’ve not heard from her in a while but she’s in my thoughts now and then. She leaves a lasting impression, you know. People like her always linger in our thoughts for as long as possible.
Nnanna: ‘She’s not the only one who leaves an impression’.
I guess this is the point where I give futile explanations and try to rationalize the reason behind my actions when the only reason was that my slut hormones were on full swing.
Kubi: ‘I don’t know what…’
I’m cut off midway by the appearance of a vision of a woman. I recognize her as the lady who was standing beside him at the cinema. Now that I can see her clearly, I realize how beautiful she is. Clear skin (maybe with a little help from some Egyptian and Caribbean milk) but clear anyway, small white teeth, perfectly manicured nails and those beautiful Sophia Webster Jessica pumps she has on has me doing some mental calculation with the present exchange rate. I take all these in with the skillful eyes of a woman appraising another woman.
She flashes a thousand watts smile at Nnanna after giving me a quick wave which I’m not even sure I reacted to.
‘I’m done at the nail bar’, she says.
‘Obviously’, my inner self says sarcastically.
Nnanna: ‘Kubi, meet Dallas.’
No further explanations. Nothing to quell my raging heart that I might have been replaced, not that this plastic, I’m-only-there-for-the-money kind of girl can replace me anyway but I still need answers. Answers to questions I’ve not begun to ask.
And what sort of name is Dallas anyway. How about California or Houston?
Wow, when did I get to be so condescending?
Nnanna: ‘So I’ll give you a call. It was good to see you again.’
I nod my assent. We shake hands, say our goodbyes and I walk back to my car, slightly shaken and wondering if he’ll really call.
I get home in a breeze. The wonders of night driving in Lagos – the city becomes incredibly quiet and serene, the mad ones are asleep and you wish it could be like that 24 hours a day.
Nnanna and his Dallas girlfriend are all but forgotten as soon as I get into my bed and fall into a dreamless sleep.
I try calling Chioma a couple more times the following day before I finally give up and decided to wait for whatever the explanation could be. Work is slow for me partly because my boss isn’t around but mainly because my spirits feels lethargic. I tell myself that the only thing that would be lethargic if I don’t get to work would be my salary or rather lack of one if I find myself out of a job on account of negligence and poor attitude towards work.
I take off my terracotta military style Mango blazer, making a mental note to tell the people at maintenance to have a look at my air conditioning unit. It doesn’t seem to be coming up to full blast anymore.
I’m halfway into work when I get a buzz on my phone. I answer the phone absentmindedly.
‘Kubi, it’s me. What’s up? I know you must be worried and I’m really sorry.’
It’s Chioma. She sounds fine. Not dead. Not raped. I mean that scenario had crossed my mind!
Kubi: ‘For God’s sake what happened? You can’t just up and go like that without leaving a word. Where are you right now? Fill me in on everything.’
Chioma: ‘They left me with no choice. I was refused a sick leave because of the time frame between my mail and the time stipulated for travel. Anyway I can’t go into details right now but I just wanted you to know I was alright. And I mean alright. Everything is fine. You’ll hear all about it when we get back.’
I breathe a sigh of relief. We talk a bit more and I threaten her with friendship annihilation if she dares to come back without goodies for me especially makeup. I even recite a short list of products I really need. Finally, we say our goodbyes.
How did she get it under control? I wonder to myself. I’m glad this means we don’t have to resort to blackmail. Not that I would have minded because the swine would certainly have deserved it but at least our fragile feminine hands aren’t dirty. Even if our thoughts are.
The day goes by as I round off my daily work activities. I miss my mother. I know how much her ways and ideas get to me sometimes but right now it would have been nice to go home to her and fill her in with the details of Chioma, Mr and Mrs Ogiri and the hullabaloo surrounding it all.
She would give timeless counsel and wisdom albeit in between barbed remarks. I dial her number. She had called me with the number when she settled in.
Kubi: ‘Mum, Hello, good afternoon.’
Mum: ‘Good afternoon my daughter. I was beginning to wonder if children of nowadays didn’t know how to make calls.’
Kubi: ‘But mum I spoke to you yesterday. Remember?’
Mum: ‘Was it you that called? If I didn’t call, you won’t have either.’
Kubi: ‘Okay o, I’m calling today sha. How are you? And your friends? I hope you all are enjoying Ghana.’
Mum: ‘We are. Even though it seems like a century worth of change has occurred since the last time I was here. And not for good, I must confess. Do you know thier electricity supply is almost as epileptic as ours was before your Buhari came and saved us from doom? And they hate their President with almost the same fervor that we did Jonathan.’
I’m a little surprised because since I could remember, the media has fed me with a lot of good things about Ghana’s economy and electricity. It seems like yesterday when they supposedly celebrated one year of uninterrupted power supply. I would have called this an exaggeration but my mother called Buhari a saviour and frankly that means a lot. She hated Buhari during the election and didn’t vote for him. She called her not voting a retribution for what the Hausas did to her people during the Biafra war.
She keeps talking, telling me that apart from the almost failing economy, the Ghanaians are still the welcoming people they’ve always been. She promises to buy me Kente fabric just before we say our goodbyes and I pack up and leave the office.
It takes me almost an hour to get home this afternoon. A far cry from the mere 15 minutes it took me last night. The mad ones were at their full glory on the road today. Horns blaring, window cursing, fingers spreading in curse mode. Fully clothed mad people!
It’s official. I hate driving in Lagos.
I settle into the sofa at the living room after a quick shower. I surf the channels but nothing catches my interest. I pick up The Man Died by Wole Soyinka and continued from where I had stopped reading.
I am three pages further into the book when my doorbell rings.
My mind can’t fathom who it could be. I look through peephole and recognize the security man in charge of our block.
‘Madam’, he says as soon as I open the door. ‘Person dey find you and I try the line where I suppose reach you but e no go through. Na im say make I come upstairs con tell you.’
Kubi: ‘Who is it?’
‘He say him name na Nna something.
Kubi: ‘Let him come up.’
I can’t go back inside. I stand by my door, leaving it slightly ajar and wait for him. Counting the seconds.
He’s in a grey polo this time paired with jorts and suitably complimented with Chanel espadrilles.
Kubi: ‘You said you would call’.
Nnanna: ‘ I decided to come instead’
I step back into the house, still facing him and open the door properly.
‘Come in’, I say. My face searching his.
I close the door after him.
To be continued next Friday.