UNFORGIVEN VIII

…continued from Unforgiven VII

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“What on earth are you talking about Amaka?” the bewildered expression on Ethel’s face couldn’t be faked.

“You know how you promised to talk about Charles Umoh before you ran out on me that day?” Amaka was glowering at her.

Ethel nodded slowly, “I’m sorry about that Amy. I just…I guess I wasn’t ready then.”

“And now?”

“Now I just want to go home. I’ve had a long day and…what’s this about…an abortion?” the meeting with Charles had left Ethel in a disagreeable mood and really she didn’t want it to rub off on Amaka. Her sense of urgency, the need to get out of church to where she’d feel a bit saner, was increasing.

“I think you’re gonna want to hear this, so tonight you’re coming home with Tayo and I. This hide-and-seek you’ve been playing with me, ends now,” it was the sternest she’d ever seen Amaka and Ethel knew she wasn’t getting off this one easily.

“Amaka, please…”

“No. No pleases tonight Eth. We’re going home to talk about this.”

“I have to go to work tomorrow.”

“Not a problem. I’ll make sure you’re home early enough tomorrow to get set for work. Or better still, if you finish off your story early…we’d get you back home tonight. Capiche?”

“Yes ma,” she let the sarcasm creep into her voice.

“Now I think you’d want to look at what’s in that envelope before we talk. Tayo should be here any minute with baby Sharon.”

If there was anything Ethel hated, it was being put on the spot. She knew however that there was no hiding away from this confrontation with Amaka. She had to come clean about everything. Even yesterday. But would she be bold enough to tell Amaka that if not for the fact that she and Charles had wound up outside last night, she’d have willingly jumped into his arms, his bed again? What did that say of her? She’d been willing to give the devil a chance at her again!

Would Amaka understand that this thing between her and Charles couldn’t be salvaged by time and distance alone? Would she know what it meant to feel such a destructive love for a man? She, after all had the perfect life. Perfect husband and child, everything about her screamed perfection and sometimes it hurt Ethel that she couldn’t have a normal life like Amaka. Those were thoughts she didn’t intend to voice, though.

“Are you reading this at all?” Amaka’s voice jolted her from her reverie.

Ethel hadn’t realised that she’d taken out the paper from the envelope and had spread it before her. Her thoughts had been elsewhere. Now to read this mystery-something; she blinked, looking at the numbers, squiggles and letters. They were written in doctor shorthand. It was obvious it was a medical report. The only thing that made sense to her was her name written in the space provided for ‘Patient’s Name’.

“What’s this? I don’t understand. You know I can’t read a doctor’s report,” she accused.

“Well, good thing I can.” Amaka had done a stint in the nursing school during her earlier years. She retrieved the paper from Ethel’s hand and spread it out.

“Wait, shouldn’t we wait till we get to your house? I’m not comfortable doing this in church,” Ethel looked around nervously. She had a feeling Amaka was about to open up a can of worms and she wanted it done somewhere private. Although the church was almost empty now, Ethel couldn’t help feeling like God’s eyes were staring down at her, huge and disapproving.

“Let me get Tayo and we’ll leave. If that makes you comfortable,” she sighed as she stood. “If you like, disappear again. It is what you’re good at, abi? I’ll take this paper with me, as insurance.”

Ethel didn’t reply. Amaka had never reprimanded her in such a manner before and she knew she had a right to be angry. She’d behaved like a child to the only person she could really call a friend in this town. No matter what, Amaka deserved an audience and no matter how squeamish it made Ethel feel, she knew she couldn’t bail out on her again.

The drive to Amaka’s house was quiet except for bursts of laughter from baby Sharon and the occasional flippant question from Tayo. Ethel didn’t know whether Amaka told her husband everything and frankly, she didn’t intend to find out. Let him judge her! Let him look at her with pity, she didn’t care! None of them knew what she’d gone through so they had a right to their opinion! So she wasn’t perfect like them, she didn’t have the most spectacular Christian life but Lord knows she was trying. God, how she was!

So, go ahead and judge me Tayo. Look at me with those glassy eyes of yours and pretend to not feel anything, even pity. I don’t care!

The painful thing was that she did care. She cared what these people thought of her because she was actually making an effort to be a better person.
Stop making any efforts. Let me do that for you.
She knew that voice anywhere. It was coming from somewhere deep in her soul. It was different from all the other voices; calm, soothing and all-knowing. It was deep calling out to deep. This wasn’t her head talking or her mind rationalizing, this was better – a voice providing solutions.

Cast all your burdens on Me; no worries.

In the backseat of her friend’s Volkswagen, Ethel felt her heart begin to come apart. She wanted to do so many things at the same time. Scream, weep, go on her knees and even sing but she sat, still. Holding on to the cherished words of assurance.

When they got to the house, Amaka led her without a word to the kitchen after handing baby Sharon over to her husband.

“We can talk here but first let me say something,” she took her friend by the shoulders, “I’m sorry. I haven’t been fair to you. I got angry that you left without a word that day and I forgot how difficult it must be for you to spill all those things about your life to me. I should’ve understood. It’s what Jesus would’ve done. So, please forgive me and if you don’t want to talk tonight, that is okay; I can drive you home now.”

Ethel responded by opening her arms and hugging Amaka. She was too overcome to speak. No one had ever apologized to her for something like this. Not her mother, nor Charles, nor any of the runs-girls she’d moved with, in the University.

“Forgive me,” she whispered, “I am ready to talk now.”

And she did.

“I was pregnant for Charles but I…” she began.
“You know what? Start from the beginning. How you met Charles,” Amaka prompted.

 

To be continued next week…

 

by Mimi Adebayo

 

EBOLA-RIOUS

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The sky was a brooding blue-grey up above as I navigated the human maze of the popular Marina market in Lagos with Chidi. It was well into the rainy season so the atmosphere was more humid than hot; yet there was a cloak of heat that hung in the air, from the many human bodies around. Now and again, I felt it fritter over my skin. And every time, an involuntary shudder swept through me.

Some moments ago back in the car, we were listening to the news updates on the Liberian who had been diagnosed and eventually died of Ebola in Obalende. The newscaster ended on a warning note, advising caution as there was a likelihood that the virus had broken in the city. Marina where we had just arrived is in the vicinity of Obalende. As we parked and joined the traffic of human bodies brushing, shoving, milling in and around it, I whispered to Chidi that if there was even one person in this market infected with the virus, we were all dead. He laughed. And I laughed.

He told me that we should avoid skin contact with other people as much as we could. I told him it was easy for him to say since he was wearing long sleeves and mine were short. The words were scarce out of my mouth when something brushed by me from behind. I stumbled forward a few paces struggling to regain balance even as the young man who had pushed me sped past with a shoebox in his hand.

I felt the chill of it even before I looked down at my fore-arm and saw a wet smear of perspiration that was not mine. Heart thudding, I pulled out my handkerchief and wiped it off as quickly as I could. Chidi had seen it too; he shrugged, smiled a half-smile at me, and barreled on through the crowd of people. I followed, cursing my racing heart to calm the frack down.

“Anyi erugo” Chidi said. We are here.

And he turned left into one of those many half-tracks that served as in-roads to stalls. I followed him, angling my body so that I could slip through the tight enclosure, my left hand in front and my right hand behind glued to my right hip. There were wares all around us, hanging, sitting, sampled in various displays and traders stood by them calling our attention.

“Bros, shebi na me dey call you?”

“Yellow, see am here! I get am”

We studiously ignored them, in the way that every Nigerian who is above market-travelling age learns. Just as I made a right turn still following Chidi, I felt a hand grab and hold on to my right hand. In the split second before I yanked my hand back, my skin registered the moist texture of the palms and fingers like hooks that dug into the flesh of my palm. Pointed hooks injecting Ebola into my blood stream!

I saw red as I turned on the guy who owned the hand.

“Guy, no dey touch me anyhow” I yelled. “You no know say Ebola don enter Lagos?”

I do not recall now much of his features but standing out on his face, were his mouth which stood agape and eyes which vacillated between startled and wary, gauging my sanity. A palpable tension enveloped us as his fellow customer-hunting traders stopped to stare at me; other passers-by also paused mid-stride for the tiniest of intervals to look me over before heading on.

I spun around and stalked off, brushing past Chidi who had also stopped at my outburst. Shame washed over me like cool water of ‘the living spring’; it took a better part of my confidence to walk away without cringing. My eyes stared up ahead, and my hands stayed down at my sides, clenched into fists – just in case anyone else got adventurous.

Chidi – heavens bless his soul – made no mention of the incident as we meandered through Marina buying items. Interestingly however, standing just as tall beside the shame I felt was an indignant conviction that my actions had been justified. I mean, how dare he grab my hand like that! Hadn’t he heard of Ebola?

We bought all we had come for and were on our way back to the car when I remembered a certain tray of roasted groundnuts I had spotted on one of the major in-roads. I had mentally booked it for later, marking the location of the woman seller with Sweet Sensation, an eatery just a few meters away. Chidi waited for me in the car with our purchases while I retraced my steps.

Just as I remembered, the woman sat there in front of the eatery with her tray of groundnuts. The groundnuts also looked just as I remembered – dry and golden-brown with dark brown lines through each nut that looked like frozen chocolate.

“Mama, one bottle how much?”

“Nnaa” she greeted me, “sooso three-fifty” People could always tell I am Igbo just by looking at my face, bearded or not. It was a cross I had resigned to carrying with pride, after getting over the disappointing restrictions it placed on my mischievous mind-adventures.

I scooped some of the nuts, threw them in my mouth and crunched down. They were just as I liked them – crunchy, sexy, smack in the perfect spot on that wide-lipped precipice between burnt and succulent. I knew I would buy them even if they were double the price she had said.

“Nyenum ya one-fifty” I haggled. Give it to me for one-fifty. God forbid that I buy something without haggling.

“Nwoke o-o-ocha!” Mama sexy-groundnuts cajoled. “Mba kwa, price ahu m gwara gi ka ono” She wasn’t budging.

As is common knowledge, being Igbo is no advantage in business with a fellow Igbo. Also my batteries must have died because my charms were clearly not working. So I gave up and asked her to fill up a bottle for me. While I waited, I scooped some more of the nuts from her tray into my mouth.

I was turning them into my palm from the bottle and munching as I joined Chidi in the car.

“You saw them ehn?” he asked needlessly.

I flashed a gloating grin at him with teeth that still busily chewed. I offered the bottle to him so he could share of my treasure but he declined with a shake of head.

“Ichoro ita?” I asked, puzzled. Chidi loved groundnuts.

“Ehn-ehn,” he shook his head again. “My hands are dirty”

I froze.

Like of a horror movie in slow motion, my mind retraced my steps through the market – the hand that had grabbed mine earlier, and the ones that had followed suit afterwards; the items I had touched; the notes of currency I had counted, and received; the sellers whose hands I had shaken after a transaction. Then the tape slowly, very slowly rolled up to Mama sexy-groundnuts – the groundnuts which she peeled with her hands, winnowed with a flurry of breeze from her mouth and packed also with her hands; the man who had been leaving her stall as I arrived, and the hand he had dipped into the tray of groundnuts as jara; the same tray I had dipped my own hands and retrieved groundnuts; groundnuts which I had thrown in my mouth, savored and swallowed.

The formerly sexy groundnuts turned to ash in my mouth, as a funeral dirge began to play in my head.

Chae! E-B-O-L-A!

 


 

STOP THE PANIC…ARM YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE INSTEAD AND APPLY WISDOM.

I found this on Facebook and thought to share…

US STATE DEPARTMENT EBOLA ALERT

In order to help our Embassy Community better understand some of the key points about the Ebola virus we have consulted with our medical specialists at the U S State Department and assembled this list of bullet points worded in plain language for easy comprehension.

Our medical specialists remind everyone that they should be following the guideline from the center for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation.

  • The suspected reservoirsfor Ebola are fruit bats.
  • Transmission to humans is thought to originate from infected bats or primates that have become infected by bats.
  • Undercooked infected bat and primate (bush) meat transmits the virus to humans.
  • Human to human transmission is only achieved by physical contact with a person who is acutely and gravely ill from the Ebola virus or their body fluids.
  • Transmission among humans is almost exclusively among caregiver family members or health care workers tending to the very ill.
  • The virus is easily killed by contact with soap, bleach, sunlight, or drying. A washing machine will kill the virus in clothing saturated with infected body fluids.
  • A person can incubate the virus without symptoms for 2-21 days, the average being 5-8 days before becoming ill. THEY ARE NOT CONTAGIOUS until they are acutely ill.
  • Only when ill does the viral load express itself first in the blood and then in other bodily fluids (to include vomit, feces, urine, breast milk, semen and sweat).
  • If you are walking around you are not infectious to others.
  • There are documented cases from Kikwit, DRC of an Ebola outbreak in a village that had the custom of children never touching an ill adult. Children living for days in small one room huts with parents who died from Ebola did not become infected.
  • You cannot contract Ebola by handling money, buying local bread or swimming in a pool.

 

Life is precious, and singular. Preserve yours.

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

My Beef with Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola

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The 57-year old former commissioner of Lagos state is the present governor of the state of Osun. Getting there was no ride in the park for him; he fought a dogged battle for his mandate following the results of the April 2007 elections, a battle which lasted nearly four years as he was not sworn in as governor until October, 2010.

I remember following the legal battles as a much younger man and rooting for him partly because I admired his tenacity, but also because I believed that only a man who was convincingly justified could hang on to a fight for that long. So when the October judgment came in his favor, I sent Governor Aregbesola a pat on the back via DHL – I am still waiting for him to acknowledge receipt.

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When I was posted to Osun state a few years later for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, it felt to me like somebody in the highest was rewarding my support for the engineer governor’s cause. But one year later as I packed my bags to leave, I was neither an admirer nor a fan of Ogbeni Aregbesola.

My beef with Engineer Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, Executive Governor of Osun state (State of the Living Spring) is a very rare beef. It is red, juicy and meaty, laden with strips and strips of milky, stringy akwara-ndu.

beef01

The beef is justifiable because a lot of it is based on my personal experiences during the year I lived as a khaki-wearing tenant in one of the more rustic communities of the state. Because one can only masticate so much beef in one mouthful, this beef is restricted to the governor’s mishandling of education in Osun.

My primary assignment in Osun was to teach students of a secondary school and like many of my fellow corps members, I approached the job with enthusiasm and a burning zeal to impact positively in the lives of the young ones. But that zeal was soon ruptured because I quickly saw that the system was not designed for much positivity. The educational system I met in Osun state was held high up as a brilliant executive make-over; it was heralded both within and especially outside the state as a revelation – the resurrection of a hitherto dead system. But in heart-wrenching reality, it was still a corpse, only better suited.

The following lines will explain why:

  1. Communication:

In my first class teaching Physics to the SS3 class, something very akin to the following scenario ensued.

“Did you learn about motion in your SS1 and 2 classes?” I asked.

The class nodded as one.

“And the laws of motion?” Nod again.

“Good. How about force and friction, temperature and pressure? You know them?” Nod. Nod.

I was on a roll, flowing and very happy they were following.

Then I called up a girl in the front row. “Ope, please stand up and tell us what pressure is”.

Opeyemi stood – she was a thickset light-skinned girl whose round face made me think of a happy doll with her low-cut hair and marked ample cheeks. She said nothing, just stood with her fingers splayed out, palm down on the desk before her and eyes set on me.

I thought she was shy so I tried to reassure her. “Don’t worry,” I said, “You don’t have to quote your book, just explain it to me in your own words”

Ope stared on at me for a few moments more. Then she said, “Oga, só Yoruba

“What?” I asked, lost.

“Só Yoruba” she repeated, “Só Yoruba dí è dí è”

 flabbergasted

Beautiful people of heaven and earth, she requested that I speak Yoruba to her, or in the least interject sprinklings of the vernacular in my lessons. The reason was that she could not understand the words I was saying in English. Neither could the rest of her SS3 classmates, who were all registered for and few months away from writing the West African School Certificate Examination at the time.

It was not just SS3 students though, and not just the students in my school. In Osun state, I met students who could not write if you dictated notes to them, and when you wrote the lecture notes out on the board, they drew it into their books because they could not read.

oh-c'mon

I kid you not.

Maybe this deficiency exists in more Nigerian states than Osun. Maybe, but for Osun state whose government swears that education is a priority…tsk tsk tsk.

 

  1. ‘Free’ education:

Knowing his beginnings and the path that led him to the pinnacle of power in Osun state, Ogbeni Aregbesola should know that nothing that turns out good in life is ever given free of charge. Not good wealth, not good friends, not good health…and definitely not good education.

Perhaps the biggest irony of the government’s policy of ‘free’ education is that when critically analyzed, the system is not even free. A much-touted dividend of the ‘free’ education policy is the common uniform for all students of government-owned schools.

Aregbe01

About the ‘free’ school uniforms, parents in Osun state had the following to say: “the uniform wears out too quickly and cannot be purchased elsewhere than from the State approved company. We were made to wrongly believe that the uniform would be free as part of the Free Education policy when the first batch was distributed for free. However, purchasing another one afterwards costs about N2,000” (www.9ralife.com)

While we’re on the matter of parents, another sad result of the ‘free’ education system in Osun state is a complete and conscious self-dissociation from the education of their children by parents, especially the unenlightened. In many schools, the PTA was more or less nonexistent and where it did exist, it had no purse to fund events like student socio-cultural and end-of-term gatherings because the government decreed that parents not be levied. On market days, the classrooms dried up because parents sent their children to the market with wares for sale. And on other school days, one too many parents took their children to the farms.

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No chance, no time, school can wait.

In order to avoid such indolence by parents towards the education of their wards, and in fact, for the sake of reason considering the population of children involved, subsidized education is clearly a wiser path to tow than ‘free’ education. But His Excellency’s government will not hear of it.

 

  1. Opon Imo:

According to Aregbesola, Opon Imo is ‘a virtual classroom containing 63 e-books covering 17 academic subjects for examinations, an average of 16 chapters per subject and 823 chapters in all, with about 900 minutes or 15 hours of audio voiceovers…more than 40,000 JAMB and WAEC practice questions and answers…mock tests in more than 51 subject areas, which approximates to 1,22o chapters, with roughly 29,000 questions referencing about 825 images’.

I wish I could confirm or challenge any of these claims but I cannot because in all the months I spent teaching in Osun state, I never saw an Opon Imo tablet. Neither did my students, nor for that matter, any students in my local government of primary assignment. My enquiries revealed that it was a similar case in many other local governments across the state.

I do not know which students received the 50,000 units of Opon Imo tablets that the governor supposedly ‘distributed across the state’…

Aregbe04

Oh, there they are.

Still, I wish more of them ended up in the hands of the younger students, more than two-thirds of whom are yet to own one. And if they eventually do get the Opon Imo, I would like to ask Governor Aregbesola questions like: ‘Are the learning materials in English or Yoruba?’, ‘Who will teach the children to use the Opon Imo? No, not all the propaganda about support centres and ambassadors…really, who will teach them?’, ‘And you say it will phase out textbooks? How? More importantly, why?’

 

  1. Re-classification of schools:

Another key point of Ogbeni Aregbesola’s education policy is re-classification of schools into elementary school (5 years), middle school (4 years) and high school (3 years), as against the national education policy of 6-3-3. In addition, the re-classification had attendant mega schools which accommodated many small schools bringing children from different religious backgrounds under the same roof to learn.

The administration claimed that this new system would give the pupils more time at the middle school so as to be “better prepared for maturity into high school”.

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From my vantage point at the grassroots, all I saw the re-classification doing was tearing apart whatever hope was left for the struggling Osun child. These children were being taught WAEC syllabus in local parlance, had very minuscule grasp of English language as a result and even less significant academic and social abilities. It was therefore very tactless, in my opinion, to force upon them the rigors of such a transformation.

Seeing as a good number of students still struggled to grasp the technicality of writing their own names, it was disorienting to learn that their class was no more JSS 2 for example, but Grade 7. Many of them quit school when their classes were moved far away from them, to one of the mega schools. And consequently religious havoc erupted in the state as Muslim schools protested against having to conform to Christian students in their midst, and vice versa.

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The re-classification activity was not just unnecessary but potentially damaging to the struggle of education in the state of Osun. It was a badly conceived move by the governor’s administration and even worse, poorly executed which explains why in many rural communities, the change was just too burdensome that it was made only on paper.

I do not think that Engineer Rauf Aregbesola is a bad man with intentions to ruin Osun state. I think he is an intelligent man – his media and publicity contraptions are so robust that to observers from outside the walls of the state, he can do no wrong; I think he is a shrewd politician who in spite of all, manages to keep both the grassroots and elite smiling for the camera; and I think he is a man whose good intentions for his people are constantly at war with – and losing to – his personal and party political ambitions.

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Come Saturday, August 9, 2014, the people of Osun state will march to the polls to cast their votes for the person who will sit in the executive seat of the state for the next four years. My beef with the man currently in that seat does not project any ill will towards him. It merely calls attention to the potentially fatal tilt of the education system which I witnessed under his leadership.

Hopefully, Engineer Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola or his successor will pay attention; because otherwise, I fear for the future of the children in the state of the living spring.

I rest my beef.

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Locate me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

UNFORGIVEN VII

…continued from Unforgiven VI

unforgiven

She didn’t resist as his lips claimed hers. They were soft and warm. The kiss stripped her of her resolve, her confidence and the years melted away; once again she was twenty-two and putty in his hands. Oh Lord.

This is it. What she’d missed…

Stop it Eth! This is not you!

He’s married!

That particular thought seemed to bring her back to her senses and she pulled away violently and raised her hand to hit him. This time he caught her in time. He gripped her hands firmly.

“Don’t pretend this was all me, Thelia, he breathed down her neck. “You wanted it as much as I did.”

“You tricked me!” she yelled.

“Tell me you didn’t enjoy that. That you haven’t missed it, missed us.”

She couldn’t look at him; her face was awash with shame.

Arrogant bastard. Lord, no. I’ve disappointed you.

“Ethel…” he held on to her hand.

She didn’t reply instead she withdrew her hand and began fumbling in her purse for her house keys, willing away the tears that were threatening to pour.

“Ethel please, just one last time,” he pleaded, “I’ve missed you so much.”

“Listen to me, Charles. I might have said you…you were like a drug in my system but…even drug addicts get cured. And I am cured, so get the hell out of my life.” With that she found her keys and stumbled into her apartment with her last shred of dignity, banging the door firmly behind her.

No! No! No!

How had this happened? She sank to her knees, sobbing.

I’m so sorry Lord. I disappointed you.

“Ethel please let me in. Let’s talk,” he obviously wasn’t taking no for an answer.

Her body heaved in sobs. This couldn’t be happening. She’d promised herself that nothing would happen.

And then she’d let him kiss her!

You weren’t so immobile yourself, madam.

This dinner was a bad idea. She should’ve known that from the start. She wasn’t ready to face Charles again.

You haven’t changed one bit, Thelia. Beneath all the churchiness, you’re still the adventurous bad girl.

The voices were back; the accusing ones and the soothing ones.

“I’m leaving Thelia, but I’ll be back,” he’d obviously given up.

Why? Why won’t he let her be? He’d left her once. Why had he returned to make her life miserable?

************

For the first time in a long time, Ethel was distracted during service that evening. First, she hadn’t spoken to Amaka all day in school, not because she hadn’t wanted to but because she was too ashamed to. Her actions of the previous day still hung over her head, accusing her. And it seemed Amaka was pissed at her too because she said nothing to her beyond exchanging pleasantries.

Teaching the students had done little in lifting her dark mood. Until she got a call from her mother that afternoon. Since she’d turned sixteen, her conversations with her mother had reduced to monosyllables.

“Hello ma,”

“Eno, how are you?” whenever Mum used her name at all, it was her native name.

“Fine.” Nothing else, just fine. Anything else would be weird. Ethel pretended she wasn’t interested in her mum’s life because she was afraid what she’d find out.

“Eh…I’m in Abuja. I came in yesterday and I…I wanted to…er…tell you,” she stammered.

“Okay. Thanks for telling me,” Ethel hesitated. “And welcome to Abuja.”

“Thank you.”

There was awkward silence from both ends of the line. It was always like this, they had nothing to say to each other.

“Ma, I have to…”

“Come and see me please…I…”

Oh please don’t say you miss me.

“I’m…alone,” she completed.

What does that mean, Mum? You’re with no male guest?

“I’m busy Mum. Maybe one of these days when I’m free. Bye for now,” Ethel knew she sounded cold but what was she to do? Her relationship with her mother had been damaged a long time ago; her loathing for the woman she called mum had grown as she grew older. Could it be fixed now?

She hung up feeling as she always did after speaking to her mum. Choked. It seemed like her chest would burst with the bitterness she felt.

She blamed her for everything that had gone wrong in her life. Especially Charles. Maybe if her mum had taught her that love was something to embrace rather than run from, she wouldn’t have gotten involved with Charles.

Thus was her mood when she got to church later that evening. It seemed as though fate had ganged up on her to make her life miserable again.

She came to church intending to bury her pain and guilt and just as she was beginning to feel better, halfway during Pastor Tim’s sermon, she felt it. The charge. The feeling that someone was watching her closely. Too closely.

She turned and searched the seated crowd with her eyes. At first she didn’t see him. Until she did a second sweep with her eyes.

He was there, seated at the back between two men, grinning at her and looking incredibly ravishing. Her pulse quickened as she turned away.

It was Charles.

How on earth was she expected to concentrate on Pastor Tim’s sermon now knowing that Charles was somewhere behind her? And she was sure everyone would know from one look at her, that she’d kissed him the previous day! And what about Pastor Tim? What if the Holy Spirit tells him what she did? Yes, He was capable of that. After all, He’d told Peter what Ananias and Sapphira had done.

Oh Lord no.

And yet the memory of the kiss seemed to be burned in her head. It completely blocked out the on-going sermon and instead ignited her carnal thoughts.

Father forgive me, for I know not what…

“…shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” Pastor Tim’s voice reverberated.

A drug in my system. A drug in my system I can’t get rid of…

“…brethren, your body is the temple of God.”

Crazy, you’re going crazy Ethel. Stop thinking about that man, dammit!

But she couldn’t. Her head was abuzz with sensuous memories. Memories of the past she chose never to speak about.

“Sister Ethel,” the voice, an urgent whisper brought her back to the present.

She looked up, into the face of her assistant Welfare director- Mrs Ohaneze.

“Service is almost over, should I serve Pastor’s drinks?” she asked.

Service? Almost over? She blinked.

“Yes, yes, yes please do. Thank you,” her smile was polite but apprehensive. Service was almost over, she had to make a run for it as soon as the benediction was shared. The last thing she needed now was another confrontation with Charles.

Of course, she wasn’t to be that lucky because as soon as service ended and she began making her way to the exit, someone tugged at her arm.

“Siss…sterr Ethel, not so fast,” the mockery in his voice was evident.

Ethel froze. There was no escaping now. She turned, imagining that she’d already gone several shades of red with embarrassment.

“Leave me alone,” she said in an urgent whisper, “don’t tell me you came to church for a booty call.”

“Only your booty interests me Thelia,” he grinned, “what do you say we get out of here and finish what we started yesterday?”

Ethel’s hand flew to her mouth in surprise. She sneaked a quick look around, hoping that no one had heard their conversation. Lord, this was a nightmare! Charles was becoming a pain in the butt.

“You should go and see Pastor, your soul needs salvation. Honestly I wonder how you two are brothers,” she glared at him.

He tilted his head back and laughed, he was obviously enjoying her discomfort.

“Step-brothers, actually. Perhaps we should take this conversation elsewhere, Thelia.”

“Yes. Absolutely. Let’s take it back to the hotel where you and your wife are staying!!” she hissed at him.

He froze for a split second giving room for Ethel’s savior to show up. Amaka.

“Hey Eth, what’s up?” Amaka slid in smoothly beside Ethel, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Er…I…”

“Who’s this? A new brother in church? Hello brother, my name is Amaka,” she held out her hand with a smile.

Charles looked at Amaka, exasperated and had no choice but to stretch out his hands to accept hers.

“This is Charles. Charles Umoh,” Ethel said, her eyes lowered, wondering if Amaka would make the connection.

“Interesting,” apparently she had.

Ethel bit her lower lip in nervously. Her life as she knew it had just come crumbling and it was up to her to face the consequences.

“You know what? We need to talk Eth so I’ll just wait here while you say goodbye to Brother Charles here, okay?” there was an emphasis on the ‘brother’.

Ethel was visibly trembling as she nodded. Amaka wanted to talk to her! She wasn’t sure if she could face her. Especially not now.

She glanced at her friend and the stern look on her face told her she meant business this time. Quickly she turned to Charles and beckoned him to follow her.

Her nervousness caused her to be clumsy and her purse fell to the ground and spilled open, scattering its contents.

“Crap,” she murmured as she bent to pick it. Could this day get any worse?

“I’ll do it. You go on,” Amaka offered.

She needed Charles far away as fast as possible so she smiled gratefully at Amaka and walked Charles to the door.

“How did you know about my…wife?”

“The same way she knew about me. You’re a shameless liar. Don’t come looking for me again,” with that she left him staring agape after her.

When she returned to Amaka she immediately knew something was wrong. Perhaps she was still angry.

“Thank you Amy but I have to go home. I’ve got an early day tomorrow,” she spoke fast, hoping Amaka would ask no questions.

“We have to talk,” Amaka replied in a grave voice.

“Not tonight please,”

“Yes, tonight,” she waved an envelope in front of her, “about this.”

It was the envelope Charles’ wife had given her the previous day. She’d forgotten it in her purse!

She snatched it from Amaka’s hand and tucked it away. “You had no right to pry.”

There was no apology as Amaka asked, “have you ever had an abortion?”

“What??”

“I think we are going to have that talk after all. Now.”

 

To be continued next week…

By Mimi Adebayo

 

 

UNFORGIVEN VI

…continued from Unforgiven V

unforgiven

“Some men talk about their wives whenever they are with their mistresses. But…not you. Why?”

“I didn’t think my mistress would want to know my wife. Why do you want to know?”

“Because I want to know. Why don’t you talk about the Missus?”

“Well babes; I’ve long since learned not to mix my family and my extracurricular activities. We don’t want any mix-ups there.”

************

Unbidden, the conversation flashed in Ethel’s mind as she stood toe-to-toe with Charles’ wife. Why hadn’t Charles warned her about this? The woman looked intimidating and well…older, much older than Ethel and if she wasn’t mistaken, older than Charles.

But she was a beauty. In every aspect. And she was expensive. Everything on her reeked of wealth…from her finely starched designer shirt to her knee-length ash skirt that hugged her hips. Her make-up was finely applied and took away a lot from her age.

Why would any man want to cheat on this woman?

“Are you done analyzing me?” she sounded amused.

“I…uh…I wasn’t. I just…this is weird,” Ethel stammered.

“Meeting your lover’s wife?”

“You’re wrong. We are not lovers. We’re just supposed to have dinner together. I didn’t know you were in Abuja too.”

“He didn’t tell you that he accompanied me for a doctors’ conference. Typical Charles – chasing some bimbo while I’m working my ass off.”

“No. We haven’t had much time to talk. Believe me, there’s nothing between us.”

“Again?”

Ethel looked away. “Again. How did you know about today?”

“I’m not stupid. I’ve known about you for a while sadly I thought I’d gotten rid of you three years ago,” her voice was unsympathetic. “Charles has no idea I’ve got him within my sights.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Oh. When it comes to choosing between his family and extracurricular activities, Charles always chooses right,” sarcasm dripped from her words.

The words stung more than Ethel would admit. Extracurricular activities. Translation – you

“Madam, please explain what you mean by getting rid of me three years ago,” there was a tremor in her voice. She sensed that what she would not like was what she was about to hear.

“Remember the last time you saw him? That was my doing. I gave him an ultimatum,” she dipped her hand into her Prada handbag and pulled out an envelope, “he’s going to be here any minute. I’m glad we decided to have this talk. Meanwhile I’m sure you’d be pleased to know what information is in that envelope. It’d enlighten you about your err…relationship with my husband.”

“Why did you come?”

“Charles cares about his family more than he lets on. He was nothing when I married him but look at him now – every stray girl’s dream. No matter what happens he’ll always choose me, the mother of his children. Remember that when next you think of screwing him.”

Ethel was silent. She didn’t say a word as Mrs. Felicia Umoh dropped the envelope on the table.

“And oh…it’d be in your best interest not to mention our little meeting to him.” With that she stalked out of the house.

Ethel crumpled into the chair, her head whirling with thoughts. Her breakup with Charles had been painful. It hadn’t even qualified as a breakup because there’d been no teary-eyed goodbyes. He’d simply left one day without a word.

She’d been in the hospital; still recovering from her recent miscarriage. Her mind and body were affected and she had needed all the support she could get from him. The man she loved. But he’d been nowhere to be found.

The day she was discharged she’d rushed home to the apartment he’d rented for her, only to find it locked with a few of her things packed into a small duffel bag and kept with a neighbor. There was no note, no explanation and no way to get in touch with him. It had literally killed Ethel. The not-knowing, the silence, his unceremonial disappearance.

She had been left with nothing except a broken heart and depression. No home, hardly any clothes; so she’d gone to the one place she’d vowed she wouldn’t return to – her childhood home. With Mum.

Now what did this woman mean by she’d gotten rid of her? Ethel found herself too stunned to think. Had she had something to do with Charles’ disappearance from her life?

What did that matter now? Three years have gone by, Ethel. Just drop it.

She picked up the envelope. How was she going to face Charles today after such a visit?

Cancel the date.

Nah. Too late. You’ll suck it up and pretend he didn’t lie to you. Then you’ll get your closure.

At that precise moment the doorbell rang and, Ethel quickly tucked the envelope into her purse. She’d take a look at it later.

“Who is it?” she wasn’t going to be taken by surprise twice in one day.

“Charles.”

She glanced at the time, 7:45pm. He was forty-five minutes late.

“I’ll be right out,” she didn’t want him in her apartment. She picked up her purse, took a deep breath and went out to face him.

He stood there confidently, looking so sleek and irresistibly fine. He had an aura, a certain contagious confidence that threw Ethel off balance when she first met him. It always pulled her like a magnet.

“You’re late,” she accused.

“Had some car issues. I’m sorry. You look gorgeous. Well covered up, I see,” he smirked.

“Get used to it,” she snapped, shrugging off his hands that went around her shoulders.

“What? Now I can’t hold you anymore? You forget…I’ve seen some intriguing parts of your body,” there was a twinkle in his eyes as they walked to his car.

She hid a smile. He’d certainly turned the charm on.

“What are you doing in Abuja?” she asked, taking her seat beside him in the car.

“Work. But I had to see you.”

Liar, liar. “What about your wife?”

“Thelia, this night is about me and you. No third parties please,” his eyes were on the road as he drove.

Why are you here Ethel? Why are you here with this man who is a danger to you physically, spiritually and mentally? Why do you want to torture yourself?

“No, Charles. I’m the third party here. You’re one with your wife and I’m nothing but a passing fancy. That’s what I’ve always been to you.”

“Why are you talking like this? I thought tonight was not about the past,” he reached out and placed a hand on her knee, “besides if you were a passing fancy then you really did a good job because you kept my attention for four years.”

Ethel moved her leg away from his touch refusing to admit how much it affected her.

She couldn’t believe that she’d given four years of her life to this man.

“Why did you leave without a word, Charles? You left me stranded when I needed you most,” she needed to know.

“Let’s have dinner first. Then we can talk. I want to give you a treat tonight.”

**********

He stuffed her with food, spoiling her by insisting she take whatever she wanted. The evening was almost magical; it was like he was intent on stripping away the years that had separated them and bringing back the memories. Yet Ethel couldn’t take her mind off his wife’s visit.

Charles was nothing when I married him. He will always choose me, the mother of his children.

It was nine thirty pm when they arrived at her doorstep. As she stepped out of the car, Ethel felt a twinge of sadness at the thought that she might never see him again. She’d wrapped up this chapter of her life and it was over. The visit from his wife today had proved it.

“Won’t you ask me in?” he asked, following her closely behind.

“Of course not Charles,” she turned to face him, “before you leave I have a question.” 

 He was staring intently at her in a way that made her skin burn. God, why did the man have to be so damn attractive?

“Yes?”

“Did your wife have anything to do with the…way our relationship ended?”

“Family always comes first, Ethel, you know that,” his face gave away nothing.

 Yes, now I do. “That was my mistake, right? Falling in love with you?”

“No, no, no. We had an agreement, Ethel. Love was never part of the equation from the beginning. It was one of the ground rules you set, remember?”

Yes, she did remember. Oh she remembered so well. But what had she known then? She’d been just twenty-two, in her final year at the university and still very much in the claws of her mother. Meeting Charles had been like a miracle; he was older, charming, smitten with her and rich. What more could a girl like her want? She’d known he was married and it had added more to the thrill.

“Well I broke the rules at some point. Why couldn’t you? Was I that terrible to love?” she asked.

Careful, Ethel. Tread cautiously.

“No but I already had someone I loved. I had a wife! A family! I couldn’t risk all that for…for…”

“Say it. For me. I wasn’t worth it. I was always going to be the mistress, right? Not even when I got pregnant? What if I’d had your child?”

He was silent and unsure. He stood, looking at her, helpless. A first for Charles Umoh.

“Leave, Charles. Just leave. This is over. Thank you for a nice evening. I hope you have a nice life with your family,” she had to get away before she burst into tears.

“I’m sorry Thelia, I wish I could’ve been more,” he caught her hand in his and pressed it to his lips. “What? No hug or…even…a kiss? For old time’s sake?”

“No. Get out of my way Charles.”

“C’mon Thelia. Please. Just a goodbye hug and a peck on the cheek.”

Insane. Insane that she actually wanted his arms around her. Totally insane that she was actually thinking of hugging him.

“I said get out, Charles and let’s not make a scene.”

“You know me. I won’t leave until you give me that hug and peck. So how about that scene, Thelia? Please?” his eyes looked so beautiful when he begged.

“Don’t. Don’t call me that.”

“Why not?” he stroked her face.

Because it jumbles my head! Because it reminds me of whom I used to be! And I don’t want to be that person anymore. I’m better! I don’t want to be here with you; feeling this way about you! The voice in her head screamed but her mouth refused to move.

How could she be thinking this about a man that just told her she meant nothing to him?

One hug, Ethel and get this man out of your front yard. And out of your life.

Too risky Ethel, don’t do it. Leave him standing out here and walk into your house.

Oh I wish. Just one hug and I’m outta here.

Forgive my weakness, Lord.

She let him pull her into his arms and envelope her. Ah…it felt so good. So right. So warm. She’d missed this, Lord. She really had.

Pull away now, Ethel. He’s feeling you up.

 Her head was obviously thinking straighter than her heart and her hormones.

She began to pull away but his grip on her was firm, caressing.

“A peck on the cheek please,” he whispered, huskily.

Ethel was afraid of what her neighbors would think seeing her locked in a seemingly passionate embrace with a man. Even though her front yard was dark she wasn’t too comfortable, so she reached up to plant a quick peck on his cheek.

And then he did something. He turned his head so slightly and her lips touched his. A shiver of apprehension sailed through her body as her lips began to part, slowly.

 

To be continued next week…

 

by Mimi Adebayo

5 SECRET TIPS HOW TO NOT BE A FRAUD’S-STAR.


Fraud – internet/electronic fraud especially – is on the rise and that is only because many of us fall prey every day. Inspired by a recent experience, I shall in this post, spill the secret tips of how to not be – or be, depending on your birthstone – a fraud’s star.

Who is a fraud’s star? You don’t know?!!

craze01

sigh

Well, the story – which is totally unfounded by the way – goes that Casanova at the dawn of his philandering career lived in a mud house. A very old, broken down, mud house with the ever-dirty raffia sweep posing sentry just outside the door, beside the up-turned clay pot with broken rims and…you get the picture. The legend goes that a French princess from Serbia was on a voyage through Italy and spied Casanova’s hut from the window of her cabin. This princess had known sparkles, colors and light all her life, so she was completely enamored by the drabness of the man’s hut. So drawn was she that she had to see more, so she had her vessel parked beneath a tangelo grove and went on shore.

Casanova met her at the door. The rest of the story is a haze between that meeting and her eventual departure but it was said that before she left, she told Casanova to ask her for anything he desired and she would give it. He asked for a jewel to remember her by and she gave him her neck pendant.

After she left, he melted the golden pendant and formed it into the shape of a small star which he hung from a beam in his roof. And it became a way for him. At the closure of every conquest, Casanova took a piece of jewelry from the broken-hearted dame he was leaving behind – they always offered more but his calling was obviously not for pecuniary gains. He then melted the jewelry and formed it into a small star which he hung from his roof. Nobody knows how many conquests Casanova had in his lifetime but suffice it to say that years later, the ailing Casanova breathed his last beneath hundreds of shiny stars.

To this very day, that mud hut stands beside the tangelo tree on the southern bank of the Le Riviere Faux Pas in Venice, and Casanova-wannabes visit it to hang up the stars of their conquests. THE END.

Now you know what a fraud’s star is; if you still don’t, you need jizeees!

On to the secret tips then. These tips on how to not find yourself hanging from the roof beam of some fraudster’s mud hut are five in number but are meaningless if you do not remember to be wary of greed. Fraud preys on the intrinsic greed in every man and only when this is acknowledged, can the tips in this post come in handy.

What I received this morning was a text message which read:

“Your Line Have =N=30,000 Airtime with NCC. Just Because Your Sim is Register. To Load It Now. Logon To WWW.DATANCC.COM Your Code is 3232 You Have 2hrs Left”

Sender was ‘NCC-CARD’.

I bet you’re laughing now and thinking, “oh, who would fall for that?” and my answer would be you. Us. I can bet some of my hanging stars that had such a message popped into your phone prior to this blog post, your brain would have auto-transformed it so that to your eyes, it would have read:

“Congratulations!! Your line has won =N=30,000 airtime with NCC. To load it now, kindly log on to WWW.DATANCC.COME with the code number 3232”

But thank God for this post 🙂 , we now know to remember to not be greedy. Having remembered that, the first tip comes in

Tip #1. Nothing good in life is free – in real life at least.

Read it again, N.O.T.H.I.N.G. If it appears to be free, you have either paid for it, are paying for it, or will pay for it. Realizing and accepting this for what it is – fact – permits your brain to wander onto the next tip.

Tip #2: Locate the catch. Or the red flag.

Be careful not to confuse a red flag with a catch. In matters like this, there is always a catch. Always. Whether it’s genuine or fake – especially when it is genuine – there is a catch. Red flags however, only accompany the fakes.

The first thing you should do is search for the catch which in this case (had this been genuine) might have been a condition or a requirement of some sort which is the price for the ‘free’ gift. Next – and especially if you couldn’t find a catch – search out the red flag. The red flagS in my case were namely, the sender ID: NCC-CARD. No offense but who?

Another was the time restraint. “You Have 2hrs left” sounds more to me like, “We don’t want you taking any time to think about this, because then you’d find us out”. That and a third red flag prelude the next tip.

Tip #3: Think about it. No, really, THINK.

First, who or what does this NCC stand for?

Next, assume that it stands for Nigerian Communications Commission. If you were the manager for the PR or Sales or Free Airtime Distribution department at the commission, why would you want to reward subscribers for registering their sim cards? There could be some business sense in it for telecommunication companies but for you as the NCC, what?

Then, assume there is indeed some – however minuscule – business sense in running such a promo. How would you do it? How would you spread the information, first to the public and then to the winners? Of course, the commission wants to get maximum credit – pun fully intended – for the give-away so how would you make that happen?

I would love to read your answers as I’m sure will all be super creative. The one which you just might take for granted – because it shouldn’t be optional of course – in answering, would be assigning the task of informing winners to somebody with a above average grasp of the language used in communication. That is absolutely gbagaun-ist but I bet you agree.

Tip #4: Ask somebody.

It could be a friend who works in a related industry (in my case, the telecommunications industry), family, or good ol’ Google. Of course you will have yourself alone to blame if you go asking an ex whose heart you broke into pieces scattered all over Yaba cemetery. In asking, you will need to keep Tip #3 in mind so you don’t end up dangling as a star still, only from the roof of a different fraudster. In my case, I shared the text message – minus the four-digit code – with friends. NOBODY had heard of any such thing. If nobody you know, including Mr. Google, knows about it, and they know nobody who knows anything about it, chances are someone’s waiting to melt and form you into a star.

Tip #5: Test the water. With a long cane!

For those of us who are who are border-line optimistic or honestly, idealistic; whose minds will continue to resonate with the questions “So what?” and “What if I am the first?”; this last tip is for you. You still like to imagine that there is a chance it is genuine, right? Good, so let’s test it out. But while doing that, you want to keep yourself as insured as possible.

How? Still using my case as reference, here is an answer from my experienced friend in the telecomm industry: “Log into the site, should they require any details of yours besides your name and number (even the name is asking too much) get off”

Merely logging in was a risk; testing the water is a risk, even if you’re doing so with a long cane. Be aware of the magnitude of the risk you’re taking should you decide to press up to this point, and insure it as much as you can.

This is what happened after I took the risk…

 SC20140717-100646

I hope you noticed even more red flags. Still testing, I entered the pin:

3-2-3-2. ENTER

 SC20140717-100755SC20140717-100804

 

And I burst out laughing. I sent a reply too…

 SC20140717-110000

You can see it did not deliver; I must have hurt her feelings.

Do you have more tips to add or opinions on the tips above? We can’t wait to read them in the comments.

 

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

P.S. If you’re an EFCC official and you rushed onto this here page hoping to find a ‘big catch’, how disappointed you must be now tickles me black breaks my heart. The good news however is that I you read to the end so hopefully, you learnt a thing or two about how to catch the real fraudsters. Don’t forget to pass on my blog address to the Chief; we are on the same team after all. Besides, this blog could sure use some celebrity hits. Cheers 😉

UNFORGIVEN V

…continued from Unforgiven IV

unforgiven

Charles wasn’t going to stop hounding her. He was the kind of man that got what he wanted and right now he wanted her. The thought of that managed to thrill her and scare her at the same time.

Although it was difficult, she decided to ignore his text and return to class. Odd, that even while she spoke to her students, her mind wandered to Charles.

She’d broken her ultimate rule with the wrong man.

And yet, as much as she regretted what had happened with Charles, she found she still cherished what they’d had. It had been love, even if the worst kind. Even if it had been one-sided.

Which is why she knew she wasn’t ready to tell Amaka about Charles. Not just yet.

As soon as school was over, Ethel didn’t bother waiting around for Amaka because she knew there was no way Amaka would let her go without finishing her story. Yes, she was persistent like that.

And when her cell rang later that day as she made lunch, she knew without a doubt that it was Amaka.

She was wrong. The caller ID showed a strange number.

“Hello?”

“Have dinner with me tonight please.”

She didn’t have to think twice to know who was speaking. Charles.

“How did you get my number?” she asked.

“Oh come on Thelia, you know me. That’s not what’s important here. Please have dinner with me.”

His voice disarmed her whenever he begged, even if for a little bit. He spoke with that low drawl that quickened her pulse whenever she listened to him. It was one of the things that had endeared her to him.

“Why?” she asked. Every second spent on the phone with him weakened her defences in a way that scared her. She didn’t want to fall back into that phase of her life where all she’d thought about was him.

“Because I miss you.”

And I miss you too. In a stupid way. She snorted, “No, Charles. I told you nothing is going to happen between us.”

“Then why are you afraid of having dinner with me? C’mon, it’s just dinner.”

Dining with the devil eh? A voice taunted her.

“We didn’t have a chance to say our formal goodbyes, remember? Let’s just treat this as…a way of getting…closure,” he continued.

You can’t actually be considering this, Ethel.

“If we didn’t have a chance to say goodbye Charles, that was the choice you made,” she said, slowly.

Maybe this would be good. Think of it as closure, Ethel. Get this man out of your heart and head once and for all.

“Give me a chance to make up for it. Let me treat you like the queen you are. Let me make it up to you.”

It wasn’t the sweetness of his words that made her say yes to a date later that night; it was the fact that she’d dreamed of this moment almost every day for the past three years.

She’d often wondered what she’d do if she saw him again; if he came to ask for her forgiveness. And now that time had come. What exactly did she want? A harmless dinner with her former lover?

Bad idea, Ethel. The voice reprimanded. Do not be unequally yoked, Ethel.

No one is doing any yoking here. It’s just dinner.

With the man who sent you to hell and back.

Oh Lord, what now? She deliberated; maybe she should call Amaka and ask advice.

After playing hooky today? I don’t think so.

She glanced at her clock. Two minutes past four. Charles said he’d pick her up by seven pm so she had barely three hours to make up her mind and get ready.

Now what would she wear? Charles liked short and skimpy and before he’d ended their relationship, her wardrobe – which he had picked out – was made up of short skirts or gowns.

Short and skimpy was definitely out of it now. She’d long since stopped dressing to please Charles; now, she’d dress to please her Creator.

Maybe you should have thought about that before you agreed to this date in the first place.

Three hours later, she was still unsure what to wear when the doorbell rang.

Dammit. She’d forgotten the man was a stickler to time.

Thankfully, she’d left the door unlocked.

“Come in! It’s open!” she struggled into a shimmering blue gown. “I’ll be right there, Charles.”

She half expected him to walk into her bedroom. Charles was well known for such grand intrusive gestures. It shamed her to think that the thought of him walking in on her sent tiny unexpected shivers down her spine.

This has to stop. He is a married man! And he’s wrong for you! And he’s Charles!

Ten minutes later, she checked herself in the mirror and smiled.

This was good. Nothing extravagant. Just the right amount of make-up. Nothing to make him think she was going overboard for him. Her knee-length ball gown gave away no curves, the right thing for the occasion. Nothing to give Charles ideas.

Yes. I’m ready.

She slid into her black stilettos and stepped out into the living room, a little nervous.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting, Charles,” she said, emerging fully into the parlor.

“You didn’t at all.”

Ethel froze. That wasn’t Charles. It was some woman.

“Hello Ethel,” the woman rose to her feet.

“Who are you?”

“Won’t you say hello to me at least?”

Ethel froze in her tracks; the woman looked disturbingly familiar but Ethel couldn’t place where she’d seen her before. She looked to be in her fifties, everything about her was well-coiffed and in-place.

“Who are you?” she asked again.

“Mrs Felicia Umoh.”

“Who?” Something about her name made Ethel pause.

“Wow. I’m nothing more than a statistic to you, right? Now that hurts. Well, let me enlighten you…my husband would be a little late for your date tonight. I made sure of it,” her eyes turned to steel.

And then it clicked. She was Charles’ wife.

Oh my God.

 

 

to be continued next week…

 

by Mimi Adebayo