Lost and Found (VII)

To all my kind readers and followers of this story, here is a big thank you for the encouraging comments, for taking out time off your busy schedules to engage with me and offer your thoughts about the characters. Thank you.

And happy holidays! ❤

*

“There is stability in self-destruction, in prolonging sadness as a means of escaping abstractions like happiness. Rock bottom is a surprisingly comfortable place to lay your head. Looking up from the depths of another low often seems a lot safer than wondering when you’ll fall again. Falling feels awful.

I’d rather fucking fly.”
Kris Kidd

Source: Goodreads

You hear a noise. It sounds like laughter, and it’s coming from him. You are not sure whether to join him at first, because how is this a joke? But the intensity of his demeanor and the awkwardness of the moment overwhelm you and soon, you join him. In seconds, you are both seated on the kitchen floor, half naked and laughing—but you are not sure why.

“I don’t know how this is a joke Gbenga.”

“B—” he laughs “But—” more laughter. “If this isn’t a joke, I honestly don’t know what is.” More laughter.

“Gbenga, let’s get serious. Really.”

“Se—” laughter. “Serious? Okay, okay…” cough. More laughter. Cough. Straight face.

“You are hurt.”

He looks at you; his eyes, blank.

“Gbenga, please talk to me.”

“I am not hurt. I am sad. Sad and weak. Not anywhere close to hurt.”

“Talk to me, please.”

“There’s nothing I have to say that you haven’t heard before Grace.” He smiles “I just hope he makes you happy.”

“We are not dating.”

“—yet. You are not dating yet. Just make sure he makes you happy. I want you to be happy.”

“I am sorry Gbenga.”

“Me too.” He kisses you on your forehead, and stands up to leave. “I should send you Uncle Tunji’s number. Don’t forget to make an appointment before seeing him. I think you will like working with him. He is a great guy!”

He stops at the door and turns to look at you one last time “Take care of yourself and stop brooding about life. It has its ways, okay?”

You are speechless, and tears are welling up in your eyes. How did you end up hurting a good man twice? You continue to stare at the door after he leaves. The feeling that overwhelms you is unsettling. You need to talk to someone but your tears won’t let you, so you chat your sister up.

Me: I caught dad cheating with the help.

TemiDolls: Wait, what?

Me: It was the weekend before I travelled to Camp, I… *delete*

Me: He was… *delete*

Me: I did not want to mention before. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it or who to tell first, but it’s been eating me up inside and I just hurt Gbenga a second time and I feel so terrible about everything: life, love, everything. I am a terrible person. And maybe it’s not me, you know? Maybe it runs in the blood. Having something special in your life yet doing everything to not deserve it. Why do I always push good people away? Why do I always hurt the ones that love me? Why do things have to be so complicated?!

TemiDolls: Baby, calm down. Should I call you?

Me: Yes… *delete*

Me: No, *delete*

You switch your phone off and have a good cry. You soon fall asleep on the cold kitchen floor.

___

You leave for work very early on Monday, so that you don’t run into Sam on your way to the bus station. You listen to upbeat music on your Mp3: Korede Bello, Mayorkun, Asa, Simisola. You do everything you can to push the weekend behind, and immerse yourself in work all morning. Lucky for you, it’s the busy time of the year, working papers are being compiled and reviewed for all clients and everyone’s hands is on deck to finalize audits before December rolls in with its many holidays.

Soon, it’s lunchtime. There is a lot of unusual movement everywhere, and everyone seems to be talking at the same time but you do not suspect a thing until you see Gbemi run outside the office and back inside almost immediately. You rush after her and realize the cause of the panic is coming from Sam’s station. There is a cluster of people outside his open door. He is on the floor, coughing ceaselessly, struggling to breathe; his face contorted in wrinkles and sweat. You want to go inside but someone shouts at you to stay back because he needs space and air.

You are terrified. You watch Gbemi insert an inhaler into his mouth.

“It’s okay baby. Easy. Easy. You’ll be fine. Easy.”

It takes some minutes but his cough soon subsides, and his breath becomes steady. Gbemi massages his back, and he rests his head on her shoulder, helpless. A tear escapes from your left eye, you quickly brush it aside.

“He will be fine.” You hear Gbemi announce from inside his office. “He just had an asthma attack.”

He had asthma?! I didn’t know o.

What if no one had been around to help him, na so hin go just die?!

It was me that saw him naw.

Its God that saved us o.

The last time it happened to one of my cousin’s sister’s brother ehn, it was at a family party and…

Sorry o

Take care bruh

Thank God Gbemi knew what to do!

Unnecessary chatter and consolatory remarks follow one another as the crowd trickles down, until it is just you remaining. As you turn to leave, Gbemi catches your eye and asks you to wait. She rests Sam’s back against the table and meets you outside.

“Hey.”

“Hey. Well done. Thank you for keeping him alive.” You try for a smile.

She turns to look at him briefly before responding. “You know, Sam and I have been friends for about four years now; so more than anything, he is family to me. I don’t know about you, but where I come from, you do whatever you can to keep the great friends in your life forever. Sam really likes you. Don’t use me as an excuse to hurt him.”

You are lost for words.

She shoves her head through the door to his office now. “Hey papi, you are better now? I will check on you later.”

You watch him nod at her retreating figure with a smile, then he waves at you.

You walk in and shut the door.

“Hi.”

“Hi…”

“How are you now?”

“Alive. Please seat.” He smiles.

You smile too. “I was scared.”

“Me too.”

“I didn’t know you had asthma.”

“There is a lot we haven’t talked about.”

“Yes… I was going to get lunch.”

“Yes, me too. Well, before life happened.” He laughs and it sounds like a terrible cough.

You wince. “I could have lost you Samuel.”

“But you didn’t.” he smiles

You take a deep breath to steady your thoughts. You do not want to say too much and you do not know how much is enough to show him that you care. That you want him in your life much as he wants you. That you like him too but you are emotionally unstable. That you want him to stay.

“We still have some time for lunch.” He offers, slicing through your thoughts, and you are thankful for the intrusion.

“I will get us something from the cafeteria, and bring it upstairs.”

“That would be very kind of you.”

“Sure! What would you like?”

“Anything you are having.”

You smile. “Don’t hate me if you don’t like it.”

“I like you already and I like it here. No going back from where I am standing.”

You smile again. “If you say so.”

“I say, my lady.”

*

© The Short Black Girl, 2017.

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Lost and Found (IV)

So, I am back lovelies! Who missed me? Let’s get back to what Grace and Sam and the lot of the LNF peoples have been up to, shall we?! And yes, I have missed you too, sorely.

_________

“Once you know some things, you cannot un-know them. It is a burden that can never be given away.”

-Alice Hoffman

You start Saturday early, after the flimsy dream about a rat sipping yogurt from the fridge wakes you up from your sleep. You gather your dirty clothes so you can get them to the laundry later in the day and scribble a set of to-do’s on a post-it note which you paste on your fridge for easy reference. You exercise to some music, and make some breakfast.

In the middle of breakfast, you have an impulse to call home, so you do. Your sister picks on the third ring.

“Hello”

“Hey Temi!”

“Solaye, is this you? Knawa o. What happened to your phone?”

“I got a new sim. I needed some space.”

“Space. Space abi? What or who did you delete this time o? The other time, it was that innocent boy Gbenga. What was it this time?”

You wince as you remember how you broke up with your last boyfriend because he would not understand your definition of needing space to deal with your mood rather than talking it through with him. He said you did not know the meaning of having a relationship. You said he didn’t know the meaning of respecting someone’s privacy. You broke up, and have not been with any other man since then, maybe the Universe’s way of punishing you for dealing a good man bad. That was two years ago.

“Anyway, I hope you are fine now?”

“Yes. Thank you. How are you? How’s Teejay, and Daniel?”

“We are doing well, oshey. Are you sure you are okay sha? Mum has been calling to ask if I have heard from you.”

“I figured. I am not ready for her questions jare. I hope she is good? And dad too?”

“Yes, they are well. They are already planning their anniversary and Christmas holiday. I think they are doing Kenya this time.”

“Good. I wish them luck.”

“Why so cold! Are they the cause of your predicament?!”

You laugh. “Abeg, no cold here o. Just wishing them normal good luck. Is that a bad thing? Anyway, it’s good to know you are good. I will talk to you later.”

“Okay ma. On this number? Abi, we should be expecting a different number soon?”

Na you sabi!

Toor, sha please be informing us before you spring surprise calls with foreign numbers on us. Some of us are averse to un-sexy surprises.”

You laugh and bid her off the phone. You are glad you called.

But Samuel hasn’t called all day. He would usually call, regardless of how nasty or unbelievable you have been to him, or send a message. You check your phone from time to time, still no luck; so you chuck up your pride and give him a call. Maybe you over-reacted.

He picks his call on the third ring. Everyone seems to pick the call on the third ring. Is it a thing?! You can hear the sound of music humming in the background. He must be driving.

“Where to?”

“Good morning to you too.”

You snort, then apologize. “Mabinu, good morning. Where to this early? It’s only 11:00am.”

“I am helping a friend move.”

“Right. I just thought to check on you.”

“Really? Very kind of you. Thank you Grace.”

You want to get off the phone. You hate the tone of his voice pregnant with sarcasm, his attitude. But you know you are the wrong one, so you apologize instead.

“About yesterday… I am sorry. Maybe I over-reacted.”

“I think you did Grace. But it’s okay. We do what we do for love.”

You chuckle. “So who’s this friend you are helping to move?”

“Err… you ask like you know all my friends.” He chuckles

You are in a rather splendid mood, so you persist. “Well, there is always a starting point.”

“If you insist you’d like to know, Gbemi is the one moving. I would have asked you to join but you haven’t been giving me too many chances of late.”

You freeze. Gbemi?! You don’t know why, but a pang of jealousy flits across your nerves. And quickly, you wish you could un-do the day, or un-know Samuel and the clingy details of his past relationship life. But if wishes were horses, you would not even be a part of a planet so full of human beings yet devoid of humanity.

“Have fun Samuel.”

“Wai—wh—“ but you don’t listen. You cut the call, switch off your phone and move on to other things, trying your best to keep distracted from the jealousy you feel. What temerity!

You visit Omolewa later in the day. Your dry-cleaner’s shop is located in the same area as her house so you decide to give her a surprise visit. She was your bunk-mate in the Camp, and closest friend of the lot you have made in Lagos so far.

“Grace!” she wraps you up in a fond embrace. You haven’t seen each other in three months but you would chat with her every now and then before you took that break off social media.

“Omolewa!” you respond in kind.

“Come in… sit, sit. What can I offer you? I am so so glad to see you. As if you knew I was having a boring day. I was thinking of coming to visit you one of these days sef because I have been unable to reach you. What’s up now?!” She hurries to the kitchen of the two-bedroom flat she shares with her flat-mate, Sandra. Before you can think of a preference, she is pouring juice from a pack of Five Alive into a glass cup. Shortly after, a saucer of peppered goat meat follows. You smile.

“You see, this is why I always like to visit. There is always something interesting happening in your house. Always. I wonder why one of those fine boys have not come to pay your bride price yet. 100 yards wife material!” She laughs.

“All this flattery because of food? FFO ni e!”

Iwo l’omo. Wey your roommate?”

She dey her boyfriend house. Until Monday.

Ehn ehn! Knawa o. Una children don spoil finish. E don pay bride price? Chai!

“Is it your bride abi your pricing? And what is all this bride-price talk sef? Has someone proposed?”

You laugh. She continues on a more serious note. “I cannot believe one year has come and gone so quickly sha. Those dreaded early morning exercises, mammy market escapades… now that it’s all over, it’s a whole new set of worries. Where to work? When to marry? Who to marry? How many children?”

“I guess there is no end to worrying.”

“This one that you are calm like this, got any plans?”

“Aside finishing this goat meat delicacy and sleeping? No ma.”

It is food that wee kuku kee you.” You both laugh. “But really, have you started applying? Or you have a job waiting for you already?”

“Yes, I have applied to a couple of places. And no, I don’t have a job waiting yet.”

“Boyfriend nko? How far that Ibe guy from Camp? And that Tolu guy from CDS?”

You shake your head. “I have not seen Ibe since after Camp. And I finally had a date with Tolu about three weeks ago.”

“Oh yeah! And you didn’t tell me, is that life?! So what’s up now? When is the wedding date?”

You laugh. “Wedding sha? The fool ghosted on me.”

“Ghosted on you how?”

“He stopped calling, and wouldn’t return or pick my calls since the date night.”

“His loss baby girl! His loss!”

“Cheers to that.” You raise your glass of juice to the air.

“There is this app though, Tinder. Been on it for a while now. Sandra introduced me to it. She said it is where she met her boyfriend, Ray.”

“You don’t say!”

“Well, I say! Will you will spend the night, so we can make some matches together?”

“Tempting, but I did not come prepared. You know.”

“It’s not this one day that you will wear one dress twice that will say you will not meet your future husband na, aunty! What if future hubby likes his woman looking like yesterday and God is just trying to use me to help you meet him?”

You laugh. You honestly do not want to go back home, because you know you will end up thinking about Samuel and getting madder over something you don’t understand. So you resign to fate and accept to stay the night.

She jumps up in delight. “Will you eat jollof for dinner?”

“Are you asking? That’s the only reason why I am staying. The food. You had better make it worth it.” You say, winking, as you spread out on the floor in front of the TV.

FFO ni e se.

“You said that before ma.”

She laughs, you unfurl. This should be fun

*

© The Short Black Girl, 2017.

Secrets of a Virgin Girl (5).

See here for previous episode.

**

Hey hey guys! Thank you so much for following this series on so far; for the shares, feedback, comments, and likes. I am very honoured, really. I know a couple of you have plans for the characters already, and some even have a well fashioned out theme where they forsee a certain scheme of things… the story may turn out that way, less so appealing, or maybe even better– but I hope that however it unfolds, you find some thrill in it; and that the flaws (overwhelming as they may be), do not deter you from at least enjoying it. I am very much a learner at this, and hope to get better, with you, for you! 😍😘😉😊

New beginnings and Mama Syndrome

By 1pm, you are at The Art Cafe, seated on Table 5, opposite Olorunsogo Martins– after the initial ritual of light hugs and cheek kisses, taking him in again, detail for detail; as he orders you both Cow Leg Pepper Soup and White Wine. You cannot contain your glee at seeing him, finally, for the first time. He looks just as you had imagined; if anything, even better—bald shiny head, tiny eyes that squeeze at the edges when he smiles, and full lips. He is wearing a Yellow Polo Shirt on a pair of Black Jeans, with black high-top Gucci sneakers. His cologne smells familiar, like home, like Papa. You talk easy, about his trip down, work; and you and him.

“S-o-g-o” you spell his name out as you fondly do when you are about to play mischief. He raises his eyes, familiar-ly, anticipating the sass your smart mouth is about to bring on. But you choose to surprise him instead. “What do you want from me Sogo; from us?” you ask.

He pauses a bit before answering; warmth seeming to steal over his eyes at once, displacing the initial mischief that settled in them only seconds ago. “I want this” he begins “I want this, and what we’ve shared these past months. Friendship. Honesty. Passion.”

You are touched. “Sogo, I want all of that too; but you must know I am not a young girl anymore. At this point in my life, my relationship goals are aimed towards marriage, towards sustainability. I am not looking to scare you, but I would not delve into something that I don’t intend to stay in…” he is looking at you intently, and you are afraid maybe you are saying too much, too soon; but you damn it. What has got to be said has got to be said, sooner or later. You have chosen now, and that is that.

He takes your hand in his now, “Omolara Adekoya Omobanke…” you smile, as he calls your full names “… I travelled down to see you today, shouldn’t that count for something?”

Oh Jesus, take control! This man is it! You think to yourself. You let out a sigh now, as you squeeze his hands in response. It should count for something, and in fact, it does. And you realise at once, in the scream of silence and warmth that envelopes you both that minute, what you feel for Sogo: it is something between respect, and peace, and you decide, that indeed, love is a little bit of both: of respect for, and peace with someone. You are in love with Olorunsogo Martins. This is it, your first love; your last love too, you hope. This is certainly meant to be, for as long as it will be.

That evening, before you part ways, he disvirgins your lips. He walks you to your car after Lunch, and stares at you deeply one last time, in that way that only he knows how to, as he tells you again: “I love you Omolarami.” He reminds you of your father then, with the way he owns your name with the pronoun “mi”. You smile, and repeat his words to him: in your own pace, with your own warmth, in your own voice. Yet, it feels like a festival of affinity and sameness. He takes your lips by surprise then, seeking the warmth of your breath, the depth of your tongue and mouth, the fullness of your lips. You handle it surprisingly too well for a first kiss, feasting on his lips, and feeling his face with your hands at the same time. Mary Jane would be proud of you. He breaks off reluctantly, resting his head on yours for a while before opening his eyes. “I swore I would own these lips of yours one day. And you let me. Thank you. I want to do it again too, sometime soon. And maybe every other day.” He does not know it is your first kiss. You blush, and bid him farewell as you drive out onto the broad Island road, merging with the rest of the world again.

You return home, happier than you have ever been your entire life; resuming your prayers for his safe return back home. You head on to take a long warm bath, and launch into your kitchen to make some Pancakes; after which you attempt to watch the new series you heard about at work the other day, New Girl. Mama calls, something around 6:00pm, interrupting your movie.

“Hello darling! So how did it go?”

You hesitate before answering her “Mama, I didn’t have lunch with him o.”

“Ahn ahn. But why?”

“Mama, I met someone.”

“Met someone ke? Shebi I asked you yesterday, you said no?” mama asks, sounding a bit confused. “So where did this someone come from between yesterday and today? Is he real? Has he proposed? Is he looking for date, abi marriage?”

You sigh, exasperated. “Mama, he is real. I love him. He loves me. And we are looking at a sustainable relationship.”

Egba mi ke! That is story for the gods fa! You are not getting any younger o, shebi you know? I just hope you are not losing a diamond in search of a worthless stone sha.”

You are getting a little angry now. “Why so much confidence in this Johnson man sef Mama? You needed to have seen the way he acted rudely today!”

“That’s your problem! You always complain. Is that not why you are still single today? This one will come, you’ll say he’s too short. The other one will come, you’ll say he’s too tall. Silifa, your fathers’ younger sisters’ third born is married. Sola, Sola the daughter of Mama Ologi is married, and she is only 20 years old. Tinuke, my childhood friend’s niece is getting married next Saturday! You, you are there, playing ten ten (playing games). I hope you know there are few men that would not be intimidated by a woman like you? Shey you remember your aunt Rebecca that lectures in the University at Abuja, single at sixty? You had better take what comes when it comes, and know what you are doing; because opportunity comes only once o!”

“Okay ma” you answer her, resignedly, angry. You have been at points like this with Mama when nothing you will ever say will make sense to her; so your best bet is to agree with every word she says. Every line, so that it ends soon. And it is at times like this too, that you just want to rebel and do whatever the hell it is you want to freaking do– because you can! Like have sex and get drunk on it, without feeling remorseful about how heartbroken Mama would feel because she has always been too enamored with comparing the lives of her children with other people, that it takes priority over her interest in how you really feel, and what makes you truly happy. You shun out everything else she is saying, and fill your thoughts with Sogo instead; your new found happiness. She ends the call a few seconds later without saying goodbye.

Cliché! You say goodbye into the dead phone speaker, and resume your movie as if nothing just happened. Sogo’s call comes in almost immediately. It is a video call. You rush to the seating room mirror, adjust your hair, eyelashes and everything adjust-able, before rushing back to pick his call. He is back home safely, he says. And he’s glad he made the trip. You smile. You are glad he did too. He is in the kitchen making dinner, shirtless, and in those jeans. You try to stay focused, but it’s hard. Those jeans, his waistline, and everything else above and beyond…

Sweet Jesus, take control!

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

Photograph.

Here’s cheers to the gift of friendship; a bit of love from myself and Zoe, straight out of our handwritten friendship collection (P.S: I just me-bombed her version. Couldn’t help it!) 😘😗😚.

**

Zoe
There’s a photograph of us
Some months back
Do you remember?

A stroll down the sea front
Silent monuments, drooling dogs, naughty winds
A selfie-
Your bright eyes, my messy hair
But the smile was perfect

There’s this photograph in your phone-
So you can keep me
Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans
Remembering all the times we had
Wherever you go, knowing
That you’ll never be alone.

Me
There’s a photograph of us
Some months back
An Autumn morning in October

A stroll down the sea-front
A souvenir of love, sleepy smiles, and joyful hearts
A selfie- that photo
My silly pout, your curious eyes
But the moment was ours

There’s this photograph of us in your phone
So you can keep me
Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans
Hold me close, until our hearts meet
Knowing this memory ‘ll always be
Our own little magic.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

Zoe Du.

Dear Diary,

You know the kind of joy that besets your heart and sneaks into your eyes in the guise of tears? The kind that starts from the pit of your belly, and travels up through your diaphragm and blood vessels; and fuels your heart beat with untamed electricity; and sends your hormones a-bursting– flourishing throughout your being like a revelation of some sort— and then escaping from your lips in that solemn sound; like a gust of light wind– beautiful beautiful melody. It is the sound of your own laughter, but a little too different; so you place your hands over your mouth, afraid no one would understand your concerns…

That kind of joy is what I feel right now. I am not the best kind of friend… too often even, I fall short of expectations and refuse to do or say or try– because I don’t know how. But when someone somehow still finds a way of making my flaws look so beautiful, I tear up and tear down– and feel giddy; yet thoroughly undeserving. Zoe Du.

My flat mate, Zoe, made my day today; giving me a handwritten collection of poems (a late, yet never-better-timed birthday gift)– for me, about me, and more, for us– a souvenir of our days spent together in this beautiful strange land. I read through each page, and cried as I laughed. I am still in shock; still very much enthralled, and even unsure of how to say “thank you”. Zoe, your love and kindness is illuminating. How did I get so lucky?

contents

Thank you Zoe, for every little big thing; the promise of your friendship and most importantly, for your ever ready smile. I appreciate you, through and through. I shall remember you, every now and every then. In every word, or hand-written note, or every smile, or gentle kindness– or even in the quiet of solitude; as fond memories of days walked along the enchanting sea-side keep me company…

for zoe

Here’s cheers to your very timely surprises, your beautiful mind, and indeed every inch of your being.

Thank you. ❤

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

My Praying Raffia.

Been a while now since he wrote this poem for me, but it gladdens my heart still… just like the first time I read it. ❤

*

You’re my praying raffia
Crossed on rivers
Lost to many more areas
Where time has since created
New events that steal your worth…

The prayer is not in the doing
Nor style
But in the answer of He
Who stands for us all the while

You’re my praying raffia
That I miss
So, this becomes more like a game
And no prayer would be the same
Without you
My praying raffia

**

Did I say thank you the first time? Well, thank you again. 🙂

About Friday Night.

Hello guys! So HEADS UP, this is a very long story. But I love you guys so, that I hate to keep you in suspense over this Tuesday confession, so i’ll let you have it all at once. Be sure to thank me later, and leave some feedback. Me loves you. And many thanks to the ladies that made this piece rock! You bad! <3!

**

girlfriends

Friday’s are my favourite. There’s the let your hair down mood, and there’s the stretch of weekend ahead. Well, more than that, if i’ll totally be honest with you is the fact that i’ll yet again be spending an otherwise boring mini- holiday with Mark. The guy.

I have just finished a meeting and ‘m marching back to my office to prep for next week and chat with the love of my life when a call comes through. It’s Dolapo, one of my closest friends!

“Heyyyyy Dolls honey! How are ya?! How are the autumn days coming for ya!”

“Hello honey. Well, well. As cold as you care to think.”

“Hahah! Right. ‘m sure you’ll be fine. So tell me what brought this on? You were sipping a cup of coffee that tasted as good as I sound, or you saw some Bitch sashaying around in my Signature Armani bag?”

“Hahha! Almost a genius darling. So ‘m at the airport and yes, I did see some lady wearing your exact kind of Armani bag and oh she’s a beauty.”

I laugh. “Crazy girl! So whatchu doing up at the airport? Some official trip to Hawaii? Girl, when I grow up, lemme be like you o! Not stuck between meetings and desk-files, wearing myself off.”

“Ah! I wish. Coming to Naija! And you had better be there to pick me for say 6:00.”

“Wh– Na– oh no girl! You’re kidding right? It’s been eight fucking years, and one day, out the blues, you wake and say it’s time to come back home?”

“Hahah! Wish I was. And oh, what? Come back home? No honey, it’s called a Vacation. Just a while. It’s why I had to call you this early. Shudda called you earlier this week but I had to get through work with my eyes literally shut and my fists clenched. Was a total war! Glad I could get away. Taking about two weeks off.”

“Get out of here! That’s great news darling. I’ll be there. Don’t worry.”

“Thanks pal! And we’ll get to spend the weekend together aye?.”

“Gr– oh no! Weekend? Err…”

“Oh! Had plans? I could.. I could..”

What Harley?! So what if you can’t be at Marks’ one weekend? Where’s your self- esteem? Let him miss you this one time and come get you, if he’s manned up enough to show his face to your girls! Besides, bitches over dick!

“No darling. Weekend is fabulous! We’ll stay at mine. Have you called Babs?”

“Nah! She won’t pick. Just tell her for me darling. See you guys soon. Cheers to the freaking weekend!”

“Cheers darling.”

***

“Betsy, i’ve got ta run now, aye? Sorry I can’t wait to give you a ride, told ya ‘ve got to pick my friend up from the airport by 6:00. Mwaahs!”

“Okay darling! No worries. You take care and have yourself a wonderful weekend! Cha Cha hunnay!”

“Cha Cha!… Felix, Raymond, Nat… see y’all on Monday guys.”

“Bye Harley.” they all coo.

I leave the office by 4:00pm so I can beat the Island traffic. I make a quick call to Babs and she says she’ll meet me at the airport. I am on phone with Mark, the rest of the time. He’s keeping me company through the inevitable Third Mainland Bridge traffic. Bless his heart.

“But i’m so going to miss you, you know that? I had made plans for dinner. I was going to cook you dinner this one time. Honest.”

I laugh. “Yeah right Mark! The last time you tried to, you almost razed the house down!”

“Common girl! It’s cos you were all up in my face, distracting me… that smell of yours! Damn, I swear it drives me crazy everytime! I had you in the house, and your sexy butt was roaming everywhere… those eggs could rot on fire for all I cared! I am a man baby.”

I laugh again. I love Mark. “But don’t worry…” he continues “…next time will be different. I mean, what’ll happen when we… we get married and ‘ve got you around like every second of everyday? I’ll have to do you dinner sometime and quiet my libido … if just that one time. I care about you. Deeply.”

“I know Mark. And me, you.” I am almost close to tears. I am so wishing I could be with him tonight!

“So you’ll get to send me photos though. Of what you’d have been in tonight if you’d been here. Make my night still baby. Make my night.”

“Bad boo!” I laugh. “I’ll try. But… but you know you could always come over to mine. The girls won’t mind.”

“What? No, baby. Remember we said we’ll take this thing slowly? I don’t want your girls fussing all over about us which could really mess things up. Just you and me now baby. You. Me. No others yet… for now. Let’s work things out first, and surprise them with the rest. I promise you it’s best.”

My mood is dampened. Same story, different days, and it never makes sense to me! What do you mean by just you and me?

“Baby, no words?”

“It’s fine. Erm, I actually just made the turn into the airport road. I’ll chat with you later honey.”

“You are not happy.” he sighs, as though he’s helpless. I hate the sound of that. Makes me want to gather him in my arms and tell him i’m sorry for not understanding him. But am I?

“Okay darling. Please let me know when you get to the airport. Okay? I love you.”

“Cheers Mark.” the call is off in no time. I am sure we will fight over me not telling him ‘I LOVE YOU TOO’, but I cannot be bothered! How can you take up so much space in my heart and ask me not to share that joy of having you with friends and family? What’s the worst that could happen? A break-up, and we’ll go our separate ways! Hasta la vista! Big deal? Men and their ways though.

I Ctrl Save thoughts of my love life upon sighting Barbara. I just realise I arrived late, because she’s with Dolapo when I join them.

“Yayyyyy!” we all squeal as we exchange hugs for what seems like eternity. Afterwards, we drive through Domino’s for some Pizza, and off to my place for a girl’s night in! My place is home to them. Well, atleast to Babs who stays over very often… but for Dolapo, ‘m sure she’ll make herself comfortable! We’ve been friends for too long to bother about niceties on how to be a lovable guest. I leave the girls for a while to take a warm shower and fight with my head on whether to call Mark or not, to tell him ‘m home. I have tried so hard to stay off my phone since I last spoke to him just because I know I want him around, hook or crook, and I hate that that can’t happen. I get over myself eventually, and place a call to him after stepping out of the shower.

“Hey.”

“Hey.” there goes the anger in him, but damn him!

“I’m home. I just called to tell you.”

“Okay.”

I smirk in my head. Okay? No, I can’t deal with attitude tonight, I should be the angry one!

“Cheers.” I get off the phone, and make to my girls before I wallow in tears of self righteousness.

***

“Hey girls!” there’s so much strewn over my sitting room rug. Chocolates, make-up, clothes and some more clothes! “Baby. Just two weeks and you packed like you were coming to get married.” I poke playfully at Dolapo, while joining Babs to rape the pile because we are certain we’ll find something to steal for keeps.

“Na you sabi! Whatever you do, just don’t touch those!” she points to a shimmering dare- devil thigh-high dress. And Babs and I gasp at our friend.

“Get out of here!” I exclaim. “What’s got into our friend here? The ‘Let’s dress modestly’ campaign manager. What ch– changed?”

She smiles, shyly and sweetly. And I nod at Barbara who understands that there must be a guy involved.

“Spill!” Barbara orders.

“Well… it’s nothing really. I guess, people change, you know? I just sort of thought that there was so much in me I wanted… needed to express and set free, and I really was never myself before. Just merely a reflection of what my parents asked that I see in my eldest sister. They made me feel that to be successful, I HAD TO BE HER. Which somehow I realised was not key. I could be successful. I wanted to be successful. I thought success had a specific definition… like you had to be a particular person or thing to be successful, but I found out eventually that happiness is success! And if it makes you tremendously happy, it is your breakthrough! I mean look at me, I… I love my job, I love my body, I love art, I am freaking living, and I am happy. That is success. I miss home, but… but I am happy.”

Uh oh. No one saw that coming. We have tears in our eyes before we think to stop it. We’ve never really broached the topic of how Dolapo’s folks kicked her out of the house because she chose to be a model. They cut her off, totally, from everything… but she’s kept strong so far, and she’s had us. We close in on her for a warm hug now and cool off on the tears a bit before talking again, more in a bid to recognise and share her moment of epiphany, than the loss of words to say!

“Okay, so that was a touching story! But you missed the point. The gown, the guy. Spill babe! No 419!”

We break into a bout of laughter, and watch Dolapo’s eyes light up instantly. Oh, such a joy to see.

“Okay… err, so! You know it’s the 21st Century, and it’s the E-age, so don’t kill me before I die! I met him on Instagram. You know how it’s kind of hard to filter through perverts and fans with the kind of job I do, but this one guy… he cut across to me somehow. He’s a writer, a badass writer. So he came on my writing page first, where I don’t even post pictures of me at all, he liked my works, we did some collaborations together, and we just synced. I have never before seen such chemistry in my whole entire life!”

“Uh oh! She’s sure smitten! How can a writer use ‘whole and entire’ in one sentence if shit is not real?!” I laugh. Barbara is crazy.

“Shut up bitch, and let’s hear word!” I poke my tongue at her and blow her a kiss before turning back to Dolapo “Please continue Dolls.”

“So… we got right on. Started talking. And I added him to my modelling page. That was when SHIT got really real. He would call me everyday! Mbok, he would call my Local number everyday and skype me often for video chats! I used to think all your Naija guys be brokeass people’s until I met him.”

“No way darling. So he’s Nigerian?! How long you been on?” that’s me fetching for information. I love guys that know what they want and hustle for it however they have to!

“Yes way. Nigerian. From Oyo. Bad ass IT Tech that found his way through the doors of NNPC. We been on for about 3 months now.”

“What?! Three months and we been chatting all that time you didn’t tell us? That’s bad babe!” Barbara yells. I can’t get mad because they don’t know about Mark either. So I just keep mute.

“He said he wants us to take things slow kinda. He’s got a thing for not letting out stuff until they fully materialise. Typical Nigerian mentality. This is the 21st Century kwa! But i’m not too bothered cos of my career. You know how them bitches hustle for gossip on your love- life and what-nots.”

Something about those words about Dolapo’s friend got to me, I had to speak out. “What’s it with these guys anyway?” Barbara and Dolapo turn to me.

“What guys?” they question in unison.

“All these boyfriends and husband materials kwanu! You know Mark says the same thing to me. Every goddamn time!”

“Mark?” Barbara questions.

“What same thing?” Dolapo adds.

Only then do I realise I have spilled the bean before I meant to, and Barbara might just have my head for it too. So I tell them about Mark and how i’ve been on with him for a little over Four months as well.

“Shut the front door!” Barbara exclaims in her typical slang which she stole off “Ibukun Donald’s Style Vitae post” but won’t admit to. “Four months babe? And na this same Naija we dey so o!” I laugh, she scowls. Then I laugh some more, I can’t help myself. But Dolapo looks at me with such sympathy and understanding in her eyes. We’re wearing the same gaddamn shoes now, and it’s very ill-fitting, but we don’t know whether to pinch or scratch or just fucking pull the shoes off.

“Well,…” Barbara continues. “Guess we’re rocking the same boat hunnays. I have been seeing Mex for Two months now and I stay at his place during weekdays… I only go to my parents’ on some weekends. Never told you guys cos he said about the same thing to me the one time I asked him about telling my friends about him and stuff. Bury me now or never!”

“What?!” That’s all we can manage. Me and Dolapo. And before we know it, we are throwing pillows at Barbara for being such a bitch about our confessions even when she was just as guilty as us.

“But really, what’s wrong with these men?” Dolapo revisits my question now. I keep mum. I am clueless. I help myself to a glass of wine and reach out for my phone this one time to indulge myself a little. As expected, there’s tons of texts from Mark. From angry cussing words, to apologies, to pleas, to loving cooing words. I am amazed at how he swaps temperaments so fast. I feel like ‘m dealing with a psycho most times. I just ignore his messages all together, once I catch what the girls are discussing about.

“… so I kind of planned my vacay this early because of him. I want to meet him. We’ve got a date tomorrow night.”

“Yayy!” we squeal together like high school girls who’ve just been asked out to Prom!

“It’s been crazy doing the long- distance thing. On some days, I just want to be with him. Kissing, cuddling and stuff… but the most we get to do is phone sex. Video…”

“No way! Shut the front door!” we roll over in laughter at how almost- gross yet surprisingly sexy that sounds. “Who stole our Dolapo Anifowose?! Girl, this ain’t you!” She laughs with us, bowing her head shyly, like she’s a budding flower afraid of the morning sun.

“Way to go girl! I spend my weekends with Mark. I miss him… somehow.”

“Awwn. ‘m so lovestruck right now!” Barbara cooes. She’s a devil! We sip some more wine, and indulge in our private lives a bit, scrolling and tapping on phones and tablets, until Dolapo dares the devil. She decides to show us a picture of Mr Hot and Spicy!

“Here guys. Damn ‘taking things slow’. My bitches gotta know what’s up with me! Bitches over dick.”

“Yeah girl!” we squeal, as we gather around her to see who Mystery guy is.

“Mex?!”

“Mark?!”

This is not happening. But it appears Dolapo’s Oyo State hottie, is my Mark, and Barbara’s Mex. Someone tell me what happens next, because I think I am about to faint.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Crushed!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First Crush.”

partners in crime

I cant remember how it started, but there was a day, and there was lunch- caprisone and biscuit. I was seven or so, playing catcher (hide and seek) with a classmate during break when I think I bumped into him. He smiled, and my eyes would not get over that sight in another 5 years or so. We ended up sharing my lunch, and chewing on the same straw. Don’t ask me why.

The days after saw us playing together and growing into best friends. We would do practically everything together, even eat my barely-enough lunch together. I liked him. So damn much with my young pre-teen heart, but that’s not the best part– keep on.

I left that school to the same school in a new area- the school built a new branch closer to my home. So we stopped seeing each other for a while, and I almost forgot about him for a fleeting second– until he came back, suddenly, unexpectedly, and a tad too ceremoniously. There was this smell that wafted through the classroom from outside, tantalising in its own right, distracting me from what my teacher was saying in class. Quickly, My eyes darted to the door and he was there, housing that abundant yet graceful smell, the boy after my own heart and I toppled in crush with him all over again. He had come to join us at the new branch, and a part of me jumped in glee at the thought that maybe, just maybe he came for me. So everyday from then on, he became the only motivation I needed to go to school looking good– and I would await his entrance every one time, waiting for his smell to kiss my breath. But at this time, we had drifted too apart to come back together– and we had grown, oh well, he had grown– past hide and seek games, shared lunch and short black girls. He had a clique with whom he’d draw designs on girls and just pretty much play naughty all day long. I had a pseudo- clique too, myself and two very beautiful girls! They had everything I didn’t have, the curves and grace, but I loved them and I still had people to play catcher and share things with.

Time had passed and feelings had changed– safe for mine. He had started making designs on hotter targets but I had only eyes for him. It hurt, but my feelings were enough… If only he didn’t tease me every now and then and pitch my hopes up. One of such occasions was this particular Summer holiday when he called me in the guise of Frank Edoho (the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire host). I was young, and naive, and very gullible so for a few minutes, I thought I was a lucky queen to receive such princely call! He burst my bubbles when he revealed his true identity, but even that knowledge didn’t make me feel less of a queen. I didn’t give him my number, I don’t know where he got it from, but he called and it was all that mattered then. I hung on to that memory and the tingling feelings that accompanied me for the rest of that day– a rare secret for my diary.

Months passed, and so did time, yet my crush won’t budge. I had thought crushes lasted only for a short while, or was it possible that I got so careless and it turned to love? We had become seniors and talked less often. He had joined the boarding house while I remained a day student (at the same school). We would have long bouts of silence, and when we spoke, we would talk almost everyday. He would come sit with me and tell me about his fears, family and stuff. I felt important, maybe I was important; maybe we were still best friends. Then one day, perhaps, the day it all became clear- my feelings- he told me about how he was crazy in love with some girl but was too scared to tell her about it. We were on a short break from school, so he sent it as a text message. He described her and asked that I help him convey his feelings. I wasn’t sure what happened that day but it felt like something died in my heart and my eyes would not stop mourning it. A part of me so much wanted to turn facts around and make me believe I was the one he was wanting, but it didn’t feel right; it wasn’t me but my very good friend that the descriptions matched- a boarder at the same school.

So it was, that my best friend and long-time crush was in love with my very good friend, and I had the responsibility to pass the message across. I played my part, honestly and truthfully, and brought the two love birds together. The next days had me hearing too much gossip about their love affair that made my heart bleed, but I was happy that they were happy and I felt better knowing where I stood in his life eventually. Every now and then, I would hear rumours of how it was me he truly liked and how my name was the only password he used on his gadgets, but it didn’t matter anymore.

I had no more feelings to spare.

If I see him now, I would tell him thank you, because he is the reason why I now write.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

The Mishap (2).

Being

**

I am a blog maniac. That time of the year, just a year back, I had been reading random blog sites, and stumbled across Dare’s Dare to read blog space. I became enchanted, that day and night, I was all about Dare; and if I’d talk to anyone, in every two sentences, I would quote a line from Dare. It was crazy. I knew I had fallen in love with a witty writer’s mind. And I would read all of his posts and drop my two cents everywhere possible. I never nurtured the thoughts of seeing him in person, but I knew he knew he had found a stalker in me. Soon though, beyond my expectations, he picked interest in me and we began to chat off his blog space. Then, I told him about my best friend, who happened to be a writer too, Kemi, and how she was jealous that I didn’t even talk about her articles as much as I did his. Months after, we decided to meet. I thought it was going to be fun, so I invited Kemi too, and he promised to bring a friend of his along as well. That was the mistake, and undoing. The beginning of my folly.

So we met. Myself, Dare, Kemi and Tade…

I fell in love with Dare anew the moment I recognised him stepping into the restaurant that Friday night. He had a Ralph Lauren cap on, a black polo shirt adorably hugging his well structured body to life, and a pair of jeans. I couldn’t be bothered about what graced his feet any longer, he looked fine enough already. I didn’t notice the person he was coming in with until they stopped by our seat and Dare introduced Tade as the friend. Dare sat beside me, thankfully, just opposite Kemi, and Tade beside Kemi, just opposite me. I made the rest of the introductions and we ordered goat meat pepper soup and a bottle of red wine. We talked about books, and I made sure to impress Dare with my scholarly mind… and I think I did, until out of the blues Kemi started on about sports. It didn’t take two seconds for Dare to shift his attention to her, and surprisingly, Tade who had been quiet all along, joined in too. So it was just me from then on, looking askance, lost on what to say or how to steer everyone’s attention back to me. That was how I lost Dare that night even before having him, and I am still contemplating who to blame for it- myself for inviting Kemi, or Kemi for trying to outwit me before my crush. It was a surprise, and a big blow to my breaking heart that just months after, Kemi announced to me that they were dating. I felt betrayed. In a bid to make him jealous, I started dating his friend Tade, who had not stopped sending me flowers and calling me every other day for another meet up since that hazardous dinner night, and to my folly once again, he fell in love with me!

**

Why? Why oh why?

I know Dare likes me. We share a bond, a chemistry… the one between a writer and his number one reader. I understand Dare more than he understands himself, and see way more than he chooses to share with words on his blog space. That feeling is something no one else can share with him or understand, not even another writer. And It is not fair that I have to lose a man I love because I cannot write, or because I don’t love sports, or play computer games, or watch cartoons. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friend Kemi and I am happy that she is happy. But I am not happy, and it is sad that she doesn’t even seem to be aware of it.

Adele’s take it all comes to a wrap on my earpiece just in time for me to hear Tade’s persistent knock at the door. I feel the urge to go let him in and discuss my hearts dilemma with him but it’s too late, or is it not? I should have done it this morning before we left for church but we were running late, and he seemed in too good a mood… or yesterday when we went shopping for some decorations for ‘our-house-to-be‘ but Kemi and Dare were shopping with us too, so I couldn’t… or the day before that when he proposed, if only he didn’t do it in the presence of everyone at my office just before we closed. No time just ever seemed like the right time, and now it’s too late to make things right.

Or do I just tell him now?

Quickly, I run to the door to let him in. He is stunned to see me still fully dressed with my eyes red and swollen, but he is calm and gentlemanly as he pushes past me to sit on the bed after carefully shutting the door behind him, leaving me in shades of guilt and doubt. Soon, he beckons on me to join him, and after a second of silence, he begins…

“Gbemisola Blessing, it’s a pity I love you the way I do, but my heart feels better this way. I might even cry if you break my heart, but I will be happy that I once loved someone like you. Now, I don’t know for sure what happened in the church, and what’s happening now, and if my gut feelings that you’re not excited about this marriage as much as I am are real or just an echo of my own fears… but i’ll like to hear it from you here and now if you’re not okay with us getting married. I won’t hate you, or love you less… i’ll even always remember that blessed dinner night and how you swooned me to speechlessness with your intelligence, wit and the might of books you’ve read in your lifetime_” he smiles now, and I cry more “_ just… just tell me you don’t want this, and i’ll walk out of your life for as long as I can keep my two feet apart from each other.” he laughs shortly, then continues “well, you get the point, i’ll try. I’ll try to stay away. I promise.”

I feel abashed. It isn’t that he can’t get someone else, but he has chosen me over every other option there might be. Will I ever get a man to love me like this again? I don’t know, I can’t see the future. But I can see now, and it seems like the best I may ever get. I hug him now, and I am not totally sure what that gesture means, except that I certainly am not telling him off tonight either.

Maybe I don’t love him now, but i’ll learn to love him soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next, maybe never even. But he loves me, and he cares about me, and I think that’s enough. He hugs me back now, and I feel his smile on my hair. He is a fine man, and what’s more, I am sure he will make a fine daddy… Besides, there’s the saying that sometimes in life, what matters is not what’s right or wrong, but what’s left.

He is all I have… now. And maybe, always too.

**

Quote by Zayta Kamal: Sometimes in life, what matters is not what’s right or wrong, but what’s left.

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

The Mishap (1).

Being
People think I am lucky because I have Tade. He is a very tall, good- looking, rich, and influential man; a devout christian too. Always well dressed, speaks impeccably well, and very generous with gifts. Truth, he is almost all I wish for in a man and he loves me so, but I don’t and can’t love him back. I have tried, beat myself day and night, cast my heart forth and back, but my mind is made up, it won’t love any other safe for Oluwadamilare. I can’t say…

“…Sister Blessing. Sist_”

“I do!” the words are out of my mouth before I realise it’s the wrongest thing to say at the moment, as laughter amidst thunderous applauds fill the air. I feel a gentle tap on my shoulder again, and it is only then I get back into character. I open my eyes now, remembering that minutes ago, I had closed them as I knelt before pastor Femi with Tade by my side- in front of the congregation that Sunday morning- duly after Tade had announced that we would be getting married later in the year.

“Yes Pastor.” I answer eventually, slightly embarrassed as I realise the whole congregation has taken a seat now, and Tade is standing upright beside me while I remain on the floor, with my kneels to the ground.

“You may stand up now. I hope there is no problem? You seem eager to get this marriage thing over and done with.”

Flushed, I rise to my feet, and shake my skirt to rid it off dust as I fumble for an explanation in my head. “No pastor, I was connecting with the Holy Spirit. Pastor, the Lord is indeed wonderful, and marvellous. He is happy with the choice I have made.” I state, almost matter- of- factly, staring into Tade’s wide black face that seems to host a ghost of a smile. My heart rises with guilt, as I tear my gaze away from him.

Pastor Femi smiles too, offering us both a re-assuring nod as he ushers us back to our seats where the congregation welcomes us with even more applause. My stomach turns, I think I just might be sick.

The Sunday service is soon over, after a thorough lecture on the Do’s and Don’ts of marriage, specially dedicated to us as delivered by Pastor Femi. Unexcitedly, I exit the church hall with Tade, after having shook hands with the lot of the other members congratulating us on our engagement, most of whom seemed green with envy as if I had just claimed their most coveted prize. Finally, we make it into the car and I release the breath I wasn’t aware I had been keeping until now. I stare out the car, trying to avoid his gaze, and hoping he would just drive and not try to act heroic or something by asking me if I am okay. But no…

“Gbemisola Blessing, what’s the problem?”

Incensed I am, but I manage a smile, as I turn to him for a brief second. “Nothing, just cramps. Thanks.”

His face is awash with concern, and I just want to cry. Why can’t I love this man the way he loves me?! He straightens my hair with his palms and places a gentle kiss on my cheek before starting the car. Finally!!!

In an hour, we are at the Lekki apartment I share with Kemi. I let myself into the house with my set of keys, Tade tagging along despite my fervent prayer that he’ll just leave me be. I hear muffles and quiet laughter from the door, and soon, I notice it’s from the sitting room where Kemi and Dare are entangled in an X- rated movie position on the couch, my favourite couch, watching a football game. That just about does it for me! Or almost…

“Hey guys! Wassap! Una don pray finish kiakia. Mr and…” Now, that’s it! I don’t wait to hear the remaining of what Dare is saying, I just rush into my room and slam the door shut; not forgetting to turn the key and plug my earpiece in, because I know Tade will soon find his way to my room. Now, I play the scene over and over again in my head for the umpteenth time, of how I met Dare and how he might have ended up being mine rather than Kemi’s…

__

Kiakia- quickly

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.