Friday, 7 June 2019

The huffing breath of shock

I sat on the bed huffing and puffing trying to catch my breath. I had just had my bath yet it felt I was just coming out of the treacherous Lagos heat. She beat me mercilessly and with the terrible news I just received, it was a recipe for disaster. I wanted to run to the bath and bury myself in my tub but then I hissed in frustration. There was no bath! I hated this house and everything that came along with it. It was ok while I was a bachelor but suddenly my needs had changed and with Abike living with me, my prized bachelor pad had become a matchbox! Soon she would be home and I could already imagine the look of optimism on her face. However with my hopes dashed what was I to present? It was annoying to say the least. Sometimes I think I rushed into this thing called marriage too early but then again I don’t think so. I was ready and knew what I wanted; I had dated Abike for so long and could not imagine life without her. We were barely a year into our marriage and the storm of life had rocked my boat but besides that it was all fine until I lost my job. I placed a hand around my neck and it felt clammy; the bathroom was calling me again and I dived in with my birthday suit. I’d had enough of the soap and sponge and so I let the water do the talking this time around. It poured from the shower and made a puddle at my feet. I stared at the mirror opposite wondering when this madness was going to end.
”Who dey house?” Abike teased. I heard her wiping her feet against the mat outside the bedroom.
”Come in if you are young and beautiful” I said rising from the bed.
She had a smile plastered on her beautiful face. She was holding a black nylon and the smell of roasted corn wafted across the room. She kicked her slippers outside the door (very typical of her and untypical of me) and planted a kiss on my lips. ”See what I got” she said stretching out her hands. ”Thank you dear” I said with a wry smile.
”I know don’t tell me she whispered”
”Yeah yeah!” I said nodding my head while I reached out for a corn and began attacking it earnestly.
She got up with a sigh and said something about dinner only to return immediately ”but you said it was great, I don’t understand. How could it have gone so well and ended in disappointment? I don’t know what we are doing wrong oh. I am just weak honestly and to think this is the second time this is happening.”
Now this is what I hate about women. A while ago, she told me ”don’t tell me” and now she was leading the crusade for ”please tell me more” but I was not willing to oblige. I had a long and tiring day and if I had to be honest, I didn’t give a toss about what she was preparing anyway. I can almost swear it is the burnt out ogbolo soup she is re warming anyway – no thank you and I will not be a partaker. I lost my appetite long ago and I was doing this corn a favour by eating it!
I sat starring at her like a young sailor lost at sea. I could look into her eyes all day long. There were brown and beautiful and Lord Almighty, this girl was bold. She was staring at me and smiling like the seductress she knew she was. I’ve never met a girl this bold in all my years on God’s green earth. I’ve had my few scraps with girls but nothing this intense. For heaven’s sake, she pulled her bra and panties on her own! She reminded me of Sharon Stone and so far I think I was failing her. I think she is great but the problem is I am a rookie and with all the stunts she has been pulling, I know she is a pro. She is going to floor me and put me to shame right on this rickety bed.
She is a pale skinned beautiful woman with an amazing leg that I can stare at all day. However for all she is worth, she does not come close to my Abike. Abike, Abike, I push that name aside feeling guilty as sin. I think I have lost this battle already and there is no need crying over spilled milk. I am in the arms of lust and she has a firm grip on me.
”Are you just going to keep staring at me all day long” she says tickling me with her small toes.
”I want to get it right” I say with a smile.
”And you have gotten it right lover boy. That was the best foreplay of my life” she said with a laugh. ”Would you rather eat first” she says trying to stand up. I hold her down to the bed and whisper ”no”.
”I’ve not done this before, cant you tell?”
”Nooooo! You are joking dude” she says playfully slapping my chest.
”And why would I joke. Every man started as a boy”
”But your girlfriend, you mean you guys have not…”
”No and let’s not talk about her” I said in a guilt ridden voice. ”Please anything else but not her.”
”I am sorry that was not my intention. I feel honoured you would pick me to be your first and I would give you a treat – one that you would never forget. I want you to relax and let me school you. Where is your condom?”
Immediately, I felt severely stupid; so daft I wanted to bang my head against the wall repeatedly. I was not planning on doing this today and of course I came unprepared. I tried to stand on my feet but she pushed me back towards the pillow.
”I told you to relax” she said quietly. She pulled open a drawer by her side and brought out a packet of condom; nothing like the popular brand we are used to seeing in this region. She pushed the wrapper aside and sat astride me. I began to speak in tongues in my head.
”So what was their reason again?” Abike asked for the umpteenth time.
”They gave me none” I said exasperated to the core. I didn’t know if I was tired of her incessant questions or the fact I didn’t quite know how the process went downhill.
We just returned from church but I wished it was a weekday instead. At least she would have been at her baking school and I would be stalking the internet for a job – any job. I was getting desperate at this stage and was slowly getting off my high horse. I am ashamed to say the last interview was for the position of a Customer Care Representative. Oh yes, I was that desperate! Having worked in the banking industry for so many years and having to retire unceremoniously, (through no fault of mine I must add) I believed I could jump right in the job wagon but I must confess it was proving more difficult than I first imagined. It was only 6 months and yet I was beginning to feel the heavy burden on my fragile shoulders. The banking industry was a real b itch and she had tossed me around really bad. They always say live your professional career in the bank as though it were your last day but it didn’t make sense until that fateful morning.
I had worked at Bode Thomas branch straight out of NYSC. It was only 3 years but I was just getting my feet off the ground when tragedy struck. I didn’t even see the unfortunate email (who does that? Sends an email informing you of your compulsory redundancy) before my colleague Dipo burst into my cubicle with the now famous phrase ”d--n it! I just got fired. What about you? Guy e go rough oooooooo!”
Immediately I began to sweat; I just bought a car, renewed my lease for a year and spent a huge chunk of my savings on my dream wedding to Abike two months ago.
”Check your email now, you just dey come from lunch? The thing don drop reach close to 25 minutes now o.” Dipo continued tapping his foot by my side.
I looked around and saw Mariam (the lace wig wearing bleached skinned babe) crying while Madam (my immediate boss) was banging her fist on the table. Dipo was still there starring at me with his eyes as wide as saucers; waiting to welcome me into the army of disengaged soldiers. Olorun maje nor be me. Carry your load go front.
I got up with great difficulty and excused myself. By the time I returned, Dipo was gone and I could no longer access my email. So while others were crying, complaining, calling their loved ones, moaning, and asking questions on their last pay, I was left wondering yet refusing to believe I was part of the disbanded army.
I didn’t tell Abike anything that night and the next day I returned to work with my well starched stripped shirt. A lady I had never seen before approached my desk the moment I sat down and began toying with my keyboard.
”I’m afraid I don’t think that will work.”
”Pardon me” I asked praying against my worst fear.”
”I am Efe the new manager running this department. I believe you were among the persons who received the email yesterday?”
”I didn’t receive any email” I said slowly starring into her eyes.
She was a pudgy woman perhaps in her mid forties or even earlier. When you are that big, there is a tendency to be mistaken for a much older person so I can be excused for my earlier calculation. She was not pretty but neat – as neat as a pin.
”I’m sorry but I am just going to run through my list again” she said retreating like a scared cow. ”Sorry what did you say your name was again?”
”I didn’t tell you my name” I replied with a blank stare. She paused and looked at me with an equally blank expression on her face and then she walked towards me ready for a showdown.
”I don’t mean to be funny or argue with you but I am well acquainted with everyone on my list. You are not on that list and not in my department. We can make this tougher but I don’t know why you would want that. Why don’t you try logging in with your ID and password and if that does not work, then you know what you should have known yesterday.”
I continued starring at her while she starred back at me waiting for me to carry out her instruction. B itch there is no way you gonna make me type crap! She turned and walked away in disgust seeing that I had refused to move a muscle. Yeah that’s right, run and tell your superiors to come and speak to me. I got this job the old fashioned way and not like some of you slu ts now turned managers. You want me to leave, go tell Mr Yakubu and co to fire me with dignity!
”God have mercy on us” she said walking into my arms. She pushed them aside and sat on my laps while planting kiss on my lips. Then she smoothened the imaginary lines underneath my eyes and kissed me again; this time passionately.
”It’s being a while my husband. Abi we nor go do again because of condition?” I laughed out loud; she always made me smile anytime she spoke in pidgin. It was the quickest way to break the wall between us.
”I wan do you but I ache everywhere dear.”
”Let me give you a massage then” she said kissing me again. I’d had enough by this time and I gently pulled away heading for the parlour.
”Please dear, not today. I can’t see this happening today.”
”Okay so when?” she asked walking behind me. I knew this mood quite well and I prayed she would leave me alone.
”Don’t do this Abike, not tonight. Don’t be like this”
”I’m not doing nothing. I am just asking when would be a convenient time. Do I write out a time table or something and stick it above our bed? Sometimes I think you are self centred but you don’t realize it. I am the one swinging from molue all day while you sit pretty in your car. I get tired myself but I hardly say no but when it’s my turn, all I hear is stories.”
”Abike I drop you off every morning and it’s not my fault you can’t drive. Secondly when was the last time I demanded for s ex? Say the truth and let the devil be ashamed. I am worked up like a blo ody farmer during a famine. I have no job and we are living on my fast depleting savings. Why do you think it is a great time to do this and possibly make a baby.”
”Please, please say anything and everything but don’t even go there. God who gives children will take care of them. I told you what your mother said the other day didn’t I? When a woman is not pregnant, who do people begin to stare at? You make me a laughing stock while you come out smelling like roses. We’ve carried on this charade for far too long and I am tired” she cried.
I was utterly disgusted. Sometimes Abike made me wonder who I feel in love with. ”You know what, I give up on you. You are a graduate and I believe a matured woman yet you allow people’s opinion push you around. I didn’t impose this on you, we agreed as a family to hold this thing off until one of us had a stable job and now look at what you are saying. I am doing this for our own good Abike and you know there is no hidden agenda here. If you go ahead and get prgnant, how will you train the child? Is it my savings or your 50 kobo cake you virtually give out for free?
”50kobo cake?” She asked raising an eyebrow. She opened her mouth to say something but shut it again. Immediately I felt stupid. She was doing her best to stay afloat and the last thing she needed was an unsupportive husband. She was a graduate of Library studies and in typical Nigerian style, she had struggled to find a job after her NYSC days. Her course was an obstacle and she knew it.
I remember those nights she cried each time she opened her book ”this is not what I wanted to study. I hate this course, tell me what sort of job I would get with a course like this?” Alas she was not willing to take JAMB again and I didn’t support that. I had studied her and I believed she could achieve her goal irrespective of the degree she got. It was not like she longed to be a surgeon or lawyer else I would have encouraged her to take JAMB again.
It was a good thing she had a knack of business and was interested in anything that could be baked. I encouraged her the moment she landed in Lagos and fortunately I had the money to pay for her exorbitant baking fees when I did.
”Dear I am sorry. When I said not tonight, I hope you see what I meant. I am not in the right frame of mind and I am open to saying a whole load of drivel if given the opportunity. By the way your cakes are great and you know it.”
She walked towards me and sat by my side holding my hand.
”I am not angry. I know when you talk and when you allow anger overwhelm you. The cakes are cheap now but that is because I am building my customer base. And I know they are not so terrible because you gobble them up!”
I smiled at her but she remained pensive ”a child is a blessing my husband. Who knows if this child we are preventing is the one that will herald our good fortunes? You are not God and you can’t plan for everything. Look at where your well laid career plans have taken you to. Let us allow God do this thing and trust him like a baby would.”
I looked at her and the last trace of anger melted away. She could be annoying (like me) but this was why I married her. She was beautiful, virtuous, hardworking, intelligent and wise beyond her years.
”Abike you will do everything to get in my pants tonight and that includes quarrelling or giving a pep talk” I said with a laugh.

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