Sunday, February 21, 2010

Season One: The story begins...by Myne

Iphey got back from work that day sweating heavily and knew she was going to be very late for her date. It had been a hot and humid day and she had been caught in the rush hour traffic returning home from the office. She now rushed about her apartment like a headless chicken putting her stuff together for the date when her phone rang.

"Hello?" She panted struggling into a deep purple skirt.

"Hello, my daughter is that you?" It was her mum's voice.

"Yes mum, it's me." she replied with a bitten off, "who else could be answering my phone?" under her breath.

"I just heard from your sister. Her son is in crisis again and they are at the hospital."

Her heart sank and the wind was knocked out of her sails. She had thought this was one of those her mum's infrequent marriage badgering calls. The sister her mum mentioned was her elder sister who had a 6 years old asthmatic son. He had often got this sort of crises during this period but it had seemed to subside in the past year. However, this was the second within the same month this year.

"Mum, I have to go out this evening and I’m already running late. I'll call her when I get back and give you feedback later OK?”

"That's fine, talk to you later dear. Take care of yourself and be careful"

Yes mum," she replied as she pressed the end button.

She wanted to continue getting ready but the “be careful” from her mum got her thinking of the stormy events at the office today.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Date ....by Atala Wala Wala

She had just returned from seeing one of her clients about an overdraft facility he wanted on his account, and was walking back to her office when her manager beckoned her into her office.

Funmi gestured to a seat. "Good morning, Iphey. Please shut the door - this won't take long."

Iphey sat down, wondering what was up; she got on reasonably well with her, so she couldn't figure out why she sounded unusually curt. Her apprehension mounted as Funmi went on to talk about the unprofessionalism she said she had observed in Iphey's work, and how she preferred to let her know about it first rather than writing a query. Iphey was quite shocked; she tried to ask her to be more specific, but Funmi cut her off, saying that she had said everything she wanted to say.

Iphey responded by emphatically stating that Funmi was being unfair in not giving her a fair hearing, and things went rapidly downhill from there. The encounter left her really rattled, she was certain that there was more it that met the eye. "Best not to think too much about it", she muttered to herself. After all, there was this date to look forward to.

Her friend, Aisha had been pestering her forever to go out with this friend of her brother's. She wasn't exactly filled with confidence; the last person that Aisha had recommended had not turned out so well. She’d almost refused, but Aisha pleaded that this guy was really good. The truth was she doubted that Aisha even knew the kind of person she wanted.

Iphey sighed as she put finishing touches to her makeup and prepared to step out of her flat. Aisha had managed to persuade her this time, but only after she swore never, ever to trouble her with her randomly picked blind dates if this didn't work out.

She had also agreed because of the impression she had got when her date called to set up the time and venue. He had appeared charming, intelligent and well-spoken - definitely no red flags. He seemed a bit reticent to give more information about himself, though. All she knew was that his name was Chinedu, and he "ran an engineering business”. Well, at the very worst, it sounded like she might have a more interesting time going out than staying in, even if nothing happened.

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

The skies were already darkening when she stepped out of the cab in front of the restaurant that they'd agreed to meet at. She looked around, wondering if he might be waiting outside, but she didn't see anyone who looked like they might be him. Maybe I'll have more luck inside, she thought as she walked in. Again, she scanned the dark interior.

"Is he late?" she wondered aloud. She hoped not; one of her pet peeves was people who disrespected others by not keeping to time.

"No, he's not. In fact, he's been watching you since you entered, and he's quite impressed by what he's seen," she heard a voice say in the same deep baritone she had heard on the phone.

She turned round, startled, and saw someone who looked to be in his early thirties, of average height, a bit slim and medium complexioned.

He smiled at her and continued, "Sorry for the unusual introduction... I shouldn’t have chosen a table out of sight, but I usually find the view outside the window provides interesting things to talk about. I don't think that will apply this evening, my eyes will be taken up with a much more beautiful spectacle."

She smiled back. "Thank you, Chinedu - that's a very nice compliment."

He led her to her table, and they ordered their entrees straightaway. The evening passed pleasantly; she told him all about herself, her schooling, how she got a job at Diamond Bank, what she would really like to do if she had the money, places she would like to travel to, her views on the different places she had been to, and so on. Chinedu seemed genuinely interested and impressed by her ideas and her views; the more she talked, the more he wanted to know. She was definitely enjoying herself.

Iphey leaned back and smiled at him. "You sound like a very interesting person. I'd like to hear more of your views on the world; you've not talked a lot about yourself."

Chinedu smiled. "What business does the moon have in the sky when the sun is out shining? My life these days is not that interesting; you'll agree that we've both enjoyed ourselves listening to you talk."

"But what if we could enjoy ourselves even more by listening to YOU talk? Oya... spill the beans!"

He made an expansive gesture. "OK, what do you want to know?"

She grinned back mischievously. "Tell me your deepest, darkest secret."

Chinedu appeared to think for a while. Then he leaned closer to her and whispered, "I used to be an armed robber."

Iphey stared at him. Then she laughed. "Be serious now."

"I am being serious."

Iphey shook her head. He must be joking - who would come out openly and say such a thing? Even armed robbers wouldn't do so. "So assuming you're telling the truth - why did you go into armed robbery?”

"For the same reason that most other people do - lack of opportunity elsewhere, and a friend drew me into it with the promise of making a lot of money from it. The honest truth is that back then, I felt that I had to do what I had to do. I saw people as objects rather than as human beings with feelings, so I didn't feel bad about doing what I did. But that was then."

"I don't understand how you can be so open about your past."

Chinedu smiled, and made the same expansive gesture as before. "Well, you wanted to know my deepest, darkest secret... there's a saying, 'beware of what you ask for, because you may get it'."

They continued chatting, but the earlier pleasant mood of evening for her had definitely soured. After a few more minutes, she stood up and announced that she had to go.

"What a pity. I feel that we were really enjoying ourselves. I came with my car; I can drive you home if you like."

“No, but thanks anyway.”

He insisted, but she was firm. She did assent for him to wait with her while she hailed a taxi, but responded to his chat in monosyllables. Eventually, a cab turned up, and as she got in, he gave her his number and said that he would like them to meet again sometime.

"Let’s see how it goes," she murmured.

As the taxi sped off towards her flat, she reminded herself to call her sister and update her mother. Aisha would have to answer about Chinedu later.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Office Politics: It's complicated ...by Fabulo-la

“Cucku-roo-koo!” 6 am, and the cock had barely finished crowing as Iphey walked into the bank premises. ‘Click-click-click’ as her heels hit the concrete.

Truth is, Iphey was nervous about meeting with her boss Funmi again, which is why she was at the office early to take a closer look at her work. She had no idea what she could have done. Funmi had called her ‘unprofessional’. Why? She couldn’t think of a reason. Since she started at this bank, she has consciously been professional about everything.

She hurried to her desk in the common office and began shuffling through files and to-do lists making sure she had left no stones unturned. As she began to work, she turned on some music to keep her company. She had another hour or so to herself before the first set of bankers began to arrive. The crooning voice of Michael Buble will work wonders to calm her nerves.

“..Somehow I know that it’ll all turn out, You'll make me work so we can work to work it out, And promise you kid, I'll give so much more than I get, mmmm....I just haven't met you yet..” she sang to herself, bobbing her head to the music.

“Well I have certainly met you.” A voice said behind her. Startled she dropped the file she was holding.

“Oh I didn’t mean to startle you” It was the bank manager. Her bosses’ boss, Ayo.

“Oh its not problem sir. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here. I’ll just turn the music off”. She replied. She was a little uncomfortable being in the same room with him.

“Ah, but I didn’t ask you to turn it off.”

“No, its ok. I will turn it off. I have to run to the basement anyways."

“Why are you avoiding me eh Iphey?”

"Ah no its nothing sir." She got up to put the files away. As she walked by him, he grabbed her by the waist and held her close to him.

"I don’t bite." he whispered in her ear.

"Ahem!" A voice said behind them. It was Tunde, her colleague. She hurriedly released herself from Ayo's grip.

"I will see you later ok Iphey?" He smiled at them both. "Good morning Tunde."

"Good morning sir," Tunde eyed their boss as he strolled out.

"There is nothing going on, before you start to accuse me abeg!" Iphey began defending herself.

"Have I said anything?" Tunde laughed in her face. He ran a finger down Iphey’s arm and caught her palm in a lingering handshake.

"Now if only you will agree my own…." He let the words hang and then turned away. "See you at lunch?"

He smiled on his way to his office on the other side of the hall. He was in marketing where as she was in clearing operations. Oh lawd. Why did she attract all these men? Chinedu, Ayo and now Tunde. The latter was her friend but he would get her in trouble soon if he didn't stop.

Tunde had just gotten engaged but would not stop his flirting with all the girls in the bank especially her. Other staff began to arrive including those who shared her office and they all settled down to the day's grind.

Knock knock! She spun on her seat. It was Funmi. "Meet me in my office in 10”.

Great the day just got worse, Iphey muttered under her breath. She tidied her desk, as she got ready to head over to Funmi’s office. What could I have done? She wondered to herself trying to figure out what it was. As she approached Funmi’s office, she heard voices, so she stood outside waiting.

“Why did you call this meeting Funmi?”

“This girl is not doing her work Ayo! Her work is sub standard, not up to par. She needs to be taught a lesson.”

“But you know this is not the company policy. You need to tell her privately first before bringing me into this.” Pause. “ Are you doing this because we are not sleeping together anymore Funmi?" He queried her.

"What we had was more than sleeping together Ayo and you know it!" Funmi yelled.

"You're married now Funmi. YOU went and got married but decided NOT to tell me..."

"Did you tell me when you got married three years ago? And did that stop us?"

There as silence in the room and the sound of Funmi's heavy breathing.

"Funmi, I believe you're being harsh on your staff because you're frustrated more than anything else. So leave the girl, she has done nothing wrong. You know, the transfer offer to be with your husband is still open. I think you should consider it. Me and you are finished."

The door swung open and Ayo nearly ran over Iphey in the doorway. Iphey avoided meeting his eyes. He smiled at her.

“I’m guessing you heard all that then?” he asked her. She looked everywhere but at him.

“It was bound to come out sooner or later,” he muttered, almost to himself. "But you should keep it to yourself." Ayo gave her a look-over, with a knowing twinkle in his eyes as he walked away.

Iphey rubbed the back of her neck feeling very uncomfortable. Just then, a visibly shaken Funmi opened the door.

“What are you standing there for?” she snapped.

“Err..you asked me to come and see you?’ Iphey answered.

“Forget it. Let me just warn you that I will not take kindly to any silly mistakes from you again. You hear me?”

“Yess ma,” Iphey answered sheepishly.

“Now get back to work, before I change my mind”. She spat at her.

Iphey spun on her heels and raced back to her desk. Its wasn’t yet 10am and the day was already off to a rocky start. She still had to call her mother when she got home that evening. Thoughts of Chinedu had chased it from her mind last night...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Get out of my dreams ....By Isha

“What?!” Iphey spluttered.

She could have sworn that she just heard her supervisor tell the entire operations staff and their managers that the procurement schedule template would be available at the armed robber meeting.

“I said it would be available at the advisory board meeting,” Funmi spat at her.

“Yes ma,” Iphey responded, suddenly finding something very important in her notebook. She wiped at a bead of sweat that wasn’t there, trying to relax. She passed her notebook to Bisi who was seated next to her, “Please, help me take notes. I’d be right back,” she whispered and she excused herself.

She didn’t exhale till she had shut the bathroom door behind her. “Oh dear, I’m losing my mind!” she said to the empty bathroom with her hand on her chest. She walked up to the sink, and washed her hands though they weren’t dirty. The running water provided some kind of solace.

It started when Funmi called on the intercom at about 10am, asking for a client’s armed robber, which was actually the client’s asset report. She felt like her mind was playing tricks on her. It had been a few days since she met with Chinedu, and she thought she had wiped him off her mind; only, to wake up this morning and find him sleeping peacefully next to her. She screamed and then woke up, and realized that the first wake-up sequence was only a dream.

She didn’t understand why this thing with Chinedu bothered her so much. After all he'd said it was in the past. Could it be that this hit so close to home because she refused to accept she was attracted to him? The finely chiselled frame of his face fluttered in her head as it had done every so often since her date, and gave her an instant thrill.

"But how could someone with such an honest demeanour have ever used a gun in his life?’ she thought. She shook her head rapidly like it was the proven method of clearing ones thoughts and winced at the headache she gave herself.

“OK,” she spoke to the washbasin this time, with new found determination, “I’ve had enough of this. I have a job to do.” She straightened her empire waist dress in front of the mirror and looked herself straight in the eye. “You can’t let this worry you. He’s not important. You’re probably never going to see him again.”

She looked around to ascertain that no one else was in the bathroom, ignoring what it seemed her conscience was saying to her. She didn’t want to become ‘office gist’ for having a nervous breakdown in the bathroom.

She pulled open the bathroom door holding her head high with square shoulders, but weary about how far the pep talk she had just given herself would go.

* * *

She got home that evening and finally decided to return Aisha’s missed calls. Her friend had tried to reach her non-stop since the night of the date, and she had ignored every one of the calls, because she couldn’t decide what to tell her. What if her well-meaning friend didn’t know of Chinedu’s past? What if it turned out that Aisha’s brother had a history of armed robbery as well, since they were so close?!

Her friend picked up on the second ring and didn’t bother with the perfunctory pleasantries. “I know what you’re trying to do,” Aisha started with a tone that made Iphey feel that she was furious, “you want me to drop dead in suspense!”

Iphey managed a believable chuckle before responding, “No be so now. I’ve been busy. How body?”

“Body dey as you leave am. No use that one waste time. Give me all the juicy details. Did you guys hit the club after dinner? Is he a good dancer? More importantly, is he a good kisser? Did he take you home? How was it?”

“It was nice,” Iphey replied. The silence that followed hinted that Aisha was waiting for more.

Aisha spoke up when he friend said nothing else, “Come on! Who do you think you’re talking to? Your Mum? I’m asking for gist, you’re giving me the version for the people who still believe that you’re a good girl.”

“It was just a regular date now, abi?” Iphey replied, “I met him at the restaurant. We talked about our backgrounds, our families, secondary schools; etcetera. The food was good sha.”

“Ehen?”

“And I went home after the meal!”

“As in? Did you ask for his number?”

“He gave it to me but I’m sure he can call me if he really wants to.”

“Hmmm. What are you not telling?”

“Nothing important, I’m serious.” She decided that she would not be the one to tell Aisha about Chinedu’s past if she didn’t already know.

“OK o,” Aisha replied, in a resigned tone, “but be sure that I don’t believe you completely. Do you want to see him again?”

“I don’t know,” Iphey laughed to lighten the moment and avail herself a change of subject. “Meanwhile,” she continued, “Ayo PM’ed me while we were sitting across from each other at a meeting this afternoon.”

“Who’s Ayo again? I know Tunde the flirt...”

“No, this is my branch manager now. The one who wants me to schedule my leave at the same time he’s taking his, so we can travel together.” She emphasized the last two words to stress the idiocy of the idea.

“Wait, are you sure you’ve told me about this guy before?”

“Yes now, Mr. You-like-me-but-you’ve-not-realized-it-yet.”

Aisha burst out in peals of laughter, “He said that?!”

“Well, maybe not in those exact words, but he might as well have. In his message today, he was like: ‘so why do you look so sexy this afternoon. I’m trying so hard not to be lustful’. This man is married oo...”

“OK, that’s just nauseating. You need to teach him a thing or two about appropriateness.”

“Oh, I sent him a very nice email, which is probably why he didn’t stop by my desk to say goodnight when he was leaving. There's more gist oo...”

“OK, hold it for me." Aisha's voice was hurried, "My dear, I have to get off now. TJ just drove in, and dinner is almost not ready.”

“No starve my broda o,” Iphey replied with a laugh. “OK then, goodnight!”

“Goodnight hon.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

She asked didn't she? ....by Real Naijabloke

Chinedu stood there staring as Iphey’s taxi sped off. It wasn’t hard to figure out what went wrong with the date. Why had he blurted out that he was an armed robber? That was certainly what made Iphey’s attitude change.

The next day he called his friend Habib, Aisha’s brother, as he walked to his car after work. Habib picked up after the 6th ring.

“Hey Habib, what’s cracking with you and where you at?”

“Hey ‘Nedu, am good. What’s the deal?” Habib answered grudgingly.

“What you up to over there ‘cos you sound like you kina busy or something.” Chinedu asked.

“Nothing much dude, just doing some overdue laundry over here at the moment, but I can talk” chimed Habib.

“Anyway I had an incident with your sister’s friend yesterday, the one that she setup with me for the blind date? I think I might have spooked her.”

“What happened” Habib asked.

“Well, we were just rambling, you know trying to know each other. She insisted I talk about myself, so I thought why not? You remember I told you about the crazy things I did when younger, the stuff with the street gangs that almost destroyed my life. Well I told her that I used to be an armed robber, which isn’t far from the truth really. Shey you get my drift?“

“What did she do?” Habib chuckled.

“I think she got the wrong impression. She ended the date before I could go into details or say any other thing.”

“You sef, how you go talk that kain thing? Of course she ran away!”

“Well…” Chinedu stuttered. “She asked didn’t she?”

“U don kolo sha! You like the girl abi na to move on be this?” Habib queried.

“Well it seems like there might be some potential there…”

“Then you need to apologize dude, and in a big way too. Chicks like that sort of thing, like flowers saying you are sorry…”

“But dude, did I do anything wrong?”

“Then call her and say you were just trying to make conversation.” Habib suggested.

“Ok. Fine. I will think of something but I’ll wait till Aisha gets back to me. She was the one that arranged this so I’m sure Iphey will tell her how it happened and she’ll come blasting me.”

“If you say so…” Habib concurred. “In the mean time, we go still see tomorrow night?

“I’ll meet you at the SWE bar by 10pm if that’s OK.”

Habib was already on his second bottle of Gulder when Chinedu walked in the next day.

“My guy why you dey always late?” Habib queried him.

“I like to move by night, thought you already knew that?” Chinedu joked and both of them laughed it off.

“Yea back to my wahala, Aisha still hasn't called.” Chinedu started after his drink was served. “And I kind of felt a connection between me and Iphey. Just talked to her for an hour and I felt something I have not felt in a while. It was like we had known each other for a long time and were just catching up. Well…until I decided to yield to her and opened my big mouth.”

“I have told you that honesty will get you nowhere but you no dey listen.” Habib spat out.

“Well you know most people I meet get to hear my life story one way or the other, so this time I decided to bring it up before Iphey hears it somewhere else. Especially because I feel I might have a relationship with her, a very personal one...”

“I don’t like this kain lovey dovey gist,” Habib joked. “Abeg make we change topic… ”

“My guy this one serious oo.” Chinedu laughed before he obliged.

They hung out again the next day and went to Cubes lounge inside the Silverbird Galleria to meet up with a couple of their friends. Kunle and Jide were already there with three ladies and Kunle introduced them. Immediately, one of the ladies started paying a lot of attention to Habib who whispered that she would make a nice laundry. Chinedu shrugged but was not really interested. His mind was caught in a loop of Iphey and why Aisha had not called. He knew Habib would not appreciate him raising the topic here with the new girls so he decided to snap out of it.

“So Bisi what do you do?” Chinedu asked one of the other ladies after some heavy flirting.

“Oh I work for Diamond bank as an account reconciliation protocol officer” Bisi replied.

“Hmm...with all those titles you must be the biggest shot in that bank.” Chinedu teased even as he thought; another diamond banker again.

“Don’t let those titles fool you o! I’m one of the smallest fishes.” Bisi replied.

Chinedu couldn’t stop himself. “Hey I have a friend that works for Diamond bank, her name is Iphey, what branch are you in?”

Bisi straightened up when she heard the uncommon name. It must be the same her new colleague who had acted strange at the meeting today. Where had Iphey met this guy? She was the nice but quiet type and judging by his friends, Chinedu was the opposite. Bisi sat forward with a smile.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Could this be love? .....by Cerebrally Busy.

Iphey got out of her car as fast as she could and hurried up the steps of General Hospital Ikeja. In the corridor beyond the nurse’s station, she saw was a slightly harried, fifty-something year old woman with an arm around a sobbing younger woman. Her heart rose into her throat. It was her mother and sister. Something really was wrong…her nephew had crises all the time…but this time was different. Her sister had a strange…aura around her. She was crying like there was no tomorrow, like all hope was lost.

Iphey swallowed. She didn't know how to deal with grief. Her legs suddenly felt like lead, but she managed to lift them one after the other, each step filled with dread.

"Mum…Ngoo, what did they say?" she asked, dreading the answer. Her sister looked over and the despair in her eyes cracked Iphey's heart. She reached for her.

"Iphey…Iphey…my baby, the doctors…said…he's going to…die," her voice broke on the last word. "Iphey, what will I do…he's my life…" she sobbed "my life…"

She clung like a leech and Iphey could do nothing but cry too and murmur useless soothing words. When she could finally get up, she handed her purse to her mother and went into Obi's ward.

He was sleeping so peacefully, but there were so many tubes...It should be illegal for so many tubes to be attached to one small child, Iphey thought angrily, what kind of world is this, where the young die and leave the old? Minutes passed…or was it hours?? Her mother came in and hugged her, offering wordless support. They stood like that for a long time, looking at the boy beneath the sheets, each thinking their own thoughts.

"One Chinedu called," her mother said.

Iphey looked at her mother in shock. "Who?"

"Chinedu. The same number called so many times, I decided to pick it. Who is he?"

She pulled out of her mother's embrace. “Just someone I met some days ago…"

"Anything I should know about?"

Should I tell her? Iphey wondered. No, she decided as she put on a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Not yet mum, I’ll let you know if there is."

"You know I want you to settle down soon right?"

"I know but not now…”

Her mother shrugged. "OK but I told him where you were and that you will call him back later. Anyway, you can go home and have some rest.”

Iphey stared. Trust her mother to make all the arrangements. Iphey hugged her without a word and said goodbye to her sister who came back in then.

As she drove home, she became depressed and the tears brimmed over again. Her mother had called after her earlier phone conversation with Aisha. When she had not heard from Iphey, her mother had flown in from Port Harcourt to be with her sister in the hospital. Iphey had gone straight over totally ashamed of herself. She had assumed her sister and nephew were back home. She now thought of all Ngozi had been through. First with her husband's mysterious disappearance, and now her son, Obi, was about to die. She prayed that by some miracle, the little boy pulled through this.

In her street, she noticed a car parked beside the gate and wondered who it could be. Could it be him? The headlights shone brightly on the figure leaning against the wall. It was Chinedu. Her heart gave a very uncomfortable lurch that had nothing at all to do with her family. She frowned and got out of the car, she really didn’t need any distraction right now. All she wanted was to crawl into her bed and cry her eyes out, for Ngozi and for Obi. She hoped a brusque dismissal would get him off her case.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"Aisha called me after you both spoke earlier…" he trailed off at the sight of her tears. “Your mother told me about your sister and nephew. Is it very bad…"

She raised her hand and halted him. "I don’t want to talk about it.”

"Iphey, I’m sorry I didn’t call in the past few days. I wanted to hear from you or Aisha first. I’ll like to talk to you…”

“Can I just go in please?" She tried to move away.

Chinedu held her hand. It hurts, he realized. It hurts me that she's hurting. “I left some friends to come over here after speaking with your mother. You can talk to me you know?”

Don’t be nice please, she inwardly pleaded. I can't take it if you're nice.

To her utmost horror she began to sob. The sound grabbed his heart and squeezed. He pulled her into his arms while she wept it out. He gathered little from her unintelligible gabbles, but it saddened him the more. He pried the keys from her fingers and opened the door, and then guided her over the threshold.

"First you're going to sit down, and then I'm going to get you some water. Where's the kitchen?"

"First door to the left," she sniffed. She loved being babied.

He sat her on the couch then he removed her shoes and her jacket. He smiled at the way her eyes widened.

"Don’t worry, that’s all." He could guess where her thoughts had gone. He gave her a wink that was absolutely charming…it had her staring stupidly at the door long after he had left the room.

Good man, she mused. What could have possessed him to be an armed robber? She fell asleep with the barest hint of a smile on her lips and the slightest frown on her forehead.

That was the exact expression Chinedu saw on her face when he came back out. He held the sweating glass in his hand as love budded in his heart for the girl who had fallen asleep with a stranger in her house.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Please don't judge me......by Atala Wala Wala

Chinedu watched her as she slept, taking in the delicately curved lashes, the slight uptilt of her nose and her long, tied-back hair. As he did, once again he regretted the reckless streak that had made him tell her that he was an armed robber during their previous encounter. He shrugged; I guess that's just who I am.

Iphey stirred and and opened her eyes. She sat up with a jerk and looked around. How could she have fallen asleep with a guest in the flat.

"Madam, drinks are served." He bowed with an exaggerated gesture and presented her with the glass.

She sat up and took it with a grateful smile. "How long have I been sleeping?"

Chinedu smiled back. "Not long enough. After the stress of today, you definitely need some rest. Even your body agrees."

While Iphey drank, her mind turned cartwheels. He was kind and considerate; he was funny; and he was good looking. She did want to like him, but... that history. And how could he be so comfortable and nonchalant about it, too? What exactly had happened to drive him down those darker paths of life?

But did she really want to know, anyway? Wasn’t it her curiosity that had saddled her with the burden of this knowledge? What if he revealed even darker secrets - secrets that made it too difficult to bear the contrast between the person she was getting to like and the person she wanted to keep at a distance?

A musky scent intruded into her thoughts as Chinedu settled himself beside her. “You seem to be a lot better, but it looks like you also have something on your mind.”

“Oh… I was still thinking about my nephew… I’m praying that he’ll pull through.” Iphey was thankful for the handy smokescreen Obi’s hospitalization presented to her.

Chinedu nodded. “I completely understand. Was it very shocking to hear the news?”

“He’s had asthma attacks before, but nothing like this…” Her voice trailed off.

“I hope he pulls through; in any case, he’s in good hands now. There’s not much else we can do except pray”.

They sat together for a while, each lost in thought.

Iphey broke the silence. “Oh, I feel so bad; you’ve been so kind. I am a bad host. Can I get you anything?”

Chinedu laughed. “This isn’t a proper visit, I only came over when your mum told me about your nephew's crisis. I've put some Indomie in the microwave for you, otherwise, I'm happy to just talk. Like I said earlier, once I heard from Aisha, I was hoping we could set another date. ”

Again, Iphey felt herself torn apart by the self that said “go for it, he’s a great guy” and the other self that said “watch out, he used to be an armed robber!”.

The cautionary self won out. “Well, I don’t know… right now, my mind is not settled enough to think about that.”

“I understand, and that’s why I’m not asking you for anything immediate. I only want to know if you would like to meet at all.”

Seeing her hesitate further, he added “Think about it. You’ll get the chance to hear about my adventures during my life of crime.”

At that remark, all her apprehension boiled over into indignation. “How can you be so callous and talk about it as an adventure, as though you had been on holiday? Don’t you even feel any remorse?”

Chinedu nodded his head. So it was the armed robber thing; he had thought as much. “I regret what I did then, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot describe some of them as adventures. Or do you want me be to lie about my past to you?”

“I’m not asking you to lie, but please show a sense of shame! Why should I want to hear about the adventures of an armed robber on a date?”

Chinedu began to feel irritated; he had meant to bring the issue up in a light-hearted way to diffuse any possible tension, but that sure wasn't working.

“OK, I’m sorry that I’m not perfect. I’m sorry that my life has this smear you disapprove of. But at least, one good thing is that if I meet someone who made mistakes and turned their life around, I’m less likely to judge them harshly.”

Iphey was defensive. “I’m not judging you; I’m just saying that you shouldn't take it so lightly.”

“Really?" Chinedu smiled bitterly. "Avoiding Aisha's calls and not even calling me to say thanks all this while has nothing to do with me being an armed robber before? Do you remember the anger and force with which you responded to the revelation?”

Seeing that Iphey had been embarrassed into silence, he continued in a softer tone. “I don’t blame you; others have judged me before too. I found it wiser to be quiet about my past. Even now, I don’t tell everyone. I only tell people I’ve known for long enough to trust.

“But sometimes, I take a chance, follow my instincts and tell people who I feel I have strong connection to, even though I’ve just met them; people who I feel will be willing to listen more and judge less.” He looked into her eyes, and continued. “The trouble is, sometimes, my instincts are wrong.”

Chinedu rose and stretched. “It’s getting late so I must head out.” At the door, he stopped and turned. “My instincts may be wrong sometimes; but somehow, I don’t think this is one of them. How do I know? Maybe it’s my instinct telling me.”

He smiled wanly and added. “I really hope your nephew makes it out of intensive care. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Have a good night, Iphey.”

She listened to the door latch slowly, her head bowed in thought. The ping of the microwave brought her out of it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Office Politics: Small small girls....by Bubbles

Bisi was on her BB as she stepped out of the bank’s official car. Her last marketing call had been very successful indeed. She was smiling as she walked into the closed banking hall from the back entrance.

Iphey and Jane were at the front desk. “Welcome back.” Iphey greeted.

Bisi nodded. “Follow me,” she mouthed since she was still on the cell phone.

She walked into the marketing office which was empty, all her colleagues must have left for the day, and settled into her swivel chair. “I will see you once I get off here...ok bye bye.” She pressed the end call button and turned. Iphey was leaning on the door looking at her with a smile.

“Hey babes, I've told you to relax with me. Come and sit down, I have gist.”

Iphey walked over and took the seat opposite.

“I met your boyfriend…”

“Who are you talking about?” Iphey looked surprised.

“I met Chinedu in Silverbird last night. Fine hard working bobo like that. All he could talk about was you, his friend said he even left us to run to your side…”

“Oh, he’s not my boyfriend ooo abeg…”

“But wouldn’t you like him to be? Maybe if Funmi hears about you both, she'll know you left Ayo for her…”

“Shheshh. Don’t let anyone hear you say that. I told you about them in confidence.”

Bisi motioned of zipping her lips.

“I...” Iphey moved forward but the ringing intercom cut her off.

“Hold on.” Bisi picked it up, listened for a bit and hung up. “Jane said she needs you back, she wants to leave soon.”

“OK, let’s talk tomorrow.” Iphey stood up and left the office.

Bisi tidied up her desk, put all the necessary documents in a black folder and slammed it shut. She shrugged into her dark purple blazer, and re-applied her lip gloss. She smacked her lips and walked down the corridor around the corner. On the right stood a beige door, she knocked twice.

"Come in."

Bisi walked in with a smile on her face. “Oga mi…” She walked towards the table.

“I’ve told you to stop calling me that. Wetin sef?”

“Ahn ahn, Funmi calm down jo! Body too dey pepper you.” Bisi huffed and crossed her arms in annoyance.

The head of operations backed down. “Ok, ok sorry! But I don’t know when you’re being sarcastic with the Oga thing.”

“I just dey hail you. I know that when the time comes, you will help me just like Ayo gave you a double promotion.” Bisi uncrossed her arms and sat down.

“You can trust me on that. Did Alhaji give you the account?”

Bisi took off her blazer and leaned forward with excitement. “Yes now, don’t you know me again?” She waggled her eyebrows. “Who can resist this?” She bent low till her pendant was hanging in the exposed cleavage.

Funmi laughed. “No forget say na me give you the connections and 411.”

“I fit?” Bisi sat back and placed the black folder on the desk between then. “He said we should expect turnover of at least five hundred million a month…”

“Wow, with this, you’ll soon be head of marketing and I’ll be branch manager.” Funmi jumped to her feet and came around to hug her.

“So you want to displace your former lover?” Bisi laughed.

Funmi leaned on the corner of the table. “Don’t mind that stupid randy goat. He wants to push me over because of small small girls. Did Iphey tell you anything else?”

“She said she'll hook him to displace you, and is still bad mouthing you sha..."

"I will show her..." Funmi shook her head and bit a nail.

Bisi laughed. "Listen to new gist first. I went out during the weekend and met this guy…”

“Where did you go sef? I hope it wasn’t that razz place in Silverbird?" Funmi interrupted, eyeing her with disdain.

“The place is not razz jo! Please let me finish my story now?”

“Ok, ok continue.”

“As I was saying, I met this guy who asked me if I knew Iphey. He wants her. I don’t know how or where she met him but she is one lucky girl, he is very handsome.”

“How is that my concern?”

“Don't you want her to date him and leave Ayo for you?”

Funmi pursed her lips. “Hmmm...that one is her business o. Imagine, less than three months and she wants to pull weight with me. Ayo or no Ayo, she has to leave this branch if not the bank. I can’t stand her.”

Bisi got up and faced Funmi. “So Ayo is not getting back with you?”

Funmi sucked her teeth, “So he says but I’m still working on him…”

“That fool! Maybe you should just forget about him.”

“We shall see.”

“Ok o! I have to go now. I’m meeting Alhaji.” She put on her blazer.

“Alright, full gist tomorrow?”

Bisi nodded and tapped her folder. “Abeg get the small small girls to open the account. You can add more mistakes to bounce on their head as usual.”

"I need the ammo to show that small girl pepper."

They both laughed as Bisi walked out.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The game takes a turn ....by David

Iphey got home early from work and dressed to go to her sister’s house. She had had a fair enough day but wasn’t to be pushed…she was almost at her limit.

Her mom had been in Lagos for the past couple of weeks. Though she was staying with Ngozi to help take care of Obi, her presence still weighed heavy on Iphey. The bright side was that her nephew had been released from the hospital two days ago. They had all been surprised, considering his still weakened condition but the doctors said he was stable and would bounce back faster at home.

“Mum, how can you have a party for Ngozi and Obi? Shouldn’t they be resting and besides, how come I'm just finding out about the party?” Iphey recalled her conversation with her mum just last night.

“My daugther, I’m sorry but seeing as you are a very busy lady, I didn’t want to stress you more than you are. I know the few times you could come to the hospital. This is also my send off, I'm returning to Port Harcourt on Sunday.”

That was the only excuse she got from her mom. An excuse that raised suspicions that didn’t sit well in her stomach. Though her attempts to find out who the other guests were from her mom seemed futile, she was so relieved her mum was finally leaving that she let it slide. Her mum had visited her office twice and she'd also caught her going through her phone. Iphey was beginning to feel like a third wheel with her colleagues and friends where her mum was concerned.

Oh well, she didn't want to overdress so she wore a pink, light sweater on a faded, deep blue jeans and a black, sleeveless leather jacket over that. She wore no make-up that evening. Looking into the mirror to make sure that her curves were not too pronounced, she stepped out of her apartment.

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

Chinedu parked his car on the street his heart beating a little bit faster. He had taken a chance to accept the invitation from Iphey's mother. He and her daughter had not spoken in nearly a week. Aisha had asked what he did since Iphey didn't want to talk about him though she had tried several times to find out what was happening. He was of half a mind to give up but something told him not to.

He had never had it this difficult with a girl. He had the looks, the money, and the charisma. She was different…he suspected that she was not swayed by frivolities but was more interested in his personality. If so, he’ll take things slow.

He walked into the house and saw other guests that had been invited, holding drinks and making conversation. He scanned for Habib but first found Aisha and her husband in a corner of the room with the lady who most definitely made his heart stop. ONLY ONE WOMAN MADE HIM FEEL THIS WAY! He took charge of him emotions, mustered a bland expression and walked up to them. Before he got there something unexpected happened.

A tall, well dressed man joined the group, greeted them and hugged Iphey with familiarity. Even Chinedu couldn’t deny that this new man was very attractive and he looked like he’s got money as well. He felt a stab in his chest and his face betrayed his cool demeanor. He was full of jealousy in a way he had never been, especially as the stranger's hand was still resting on her hips.

“It’s not that she’s my lady but I know I can’t stand her with another man..." A voice broke into his thoughts. It was Habib, "Why you stand here, come on…”

Chinedu walked with him to say a very brief hi to everyone. He saw an expression of guilt on Iphey’s face…this made him a little happy. He walked away after a muttered excuse to get a drink.

“Chinedu, Chinedu…hold on. Stop! Please…”, Ipey called out. She had left the man she was with and came after him. He smiled.

He turned around so suddenly that she ran into him and almost fell. He caught her on impulse and held her close. His heart raced and seemed to beat twice as fast. He looked into her eyes as the adrenaline pumped through his veins…and drowned in the beauty before him. A thousand years could have passed and he would not have traded that moment for anything. He stood there oblivious to his surroundings and wondered what was going on in her head. He wanted to know.

Without warning, she kissed him, For a second, he thought he was dreaming, only to realise that it was for real. She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek but he remained tense and unyielding. Although he wanted nothing more than to fold her close he still smarted from the jealousy she had stirred in him. He pulled away and watched as she looked at him in disbelief.

“What was that about?” he asked.

“I wanted to say welcome and thanks for coming…” He could see she was embarrassed by his aloofness and didn’t know what to say. She followed the direction of his gaze and gripped his arm. "I know what you're thinking but trust me, he's not...”

Cutting her short, “What does that have to do with me? Why should I care? At least you’ve made it clear that you want nothing to do with an ex-armed robber. Now I know why you refused to hear the circumstances that led me down that path..."

"Chinedu please..."

He smiled without mirth, "Well I came on your mother's invitation, so I’ll go greet her and your sister and be out of here…let's just say my eyes are now opened.”

With that…he walked away, leaving her transfixed and at loss of what just happened.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Match-making Mother....by Leggy

Chinedu stalked out of the party looking really mad. he couldn't even bear to face Iphey's mum and sister, he was that angry but confused at the same time. There was just a way that man hugged her with so much familiarity that he didn’t like, granted he had no reason to be mad. He wasn’t anything to her, not her boyfriend, not her brother, not even her friend, no matter how much he wanted to be the first.

Chinedu got into his car and drove out of the parking lot into the dim lit streets, easily manipulating the steering of his brand new Porsche Carrera GT. What didn’t he have that Iphey could possibly want in a guy? He was handsome-going by what other girls said to him, he was rich, he had his own company, and he was living the good life. He had paid for his mistakes over and over again; he deserved to be happy now without the shadow of a terrible mistake of his youthful days crowding his life. An occupation that didn’t even last that long and one in which he was pushed into by necessity.

He had to admit that Iphey looked really good in those clothes, very casual, not even a bit of make up on that face and she still looked so good. After watching her sleep in her apartment on the day of her sister’s son’s crisis, his feeling that they had a connection had become stronger. She had tried to apologize before he left and he kept expecting her call or something. After over a week and he had not heard from her, he had accepted her mother’s invitation to come for the party. He had been hoping that Iphey secretly knew about the invitation and really wanted to him to come. If wishes were horses….

But why exactly am I mad? He thought to himself, she kissed me, she left him and she kissed me, he might be whatever to her but it was me she chose to kiss. So why exactly am I angry?

The truth was that he felt he was getting so fed up with her games, fed up with wondering- does she like me? Always asking himself, Is she just fronting? Is she like all those other girls?

He gently drove into his drive way and got out of the car, picked up his coat and phone from the backseat of the car and walked into his house. As he undressed slowly he thought back at the events of that night, the taste of her lips still lingered on his lips, he liked Iphey with all his heart but he felt like he was being manipulated, being tested, she kept opening up to him and withdrawing. Maybe she doesn’t even like men, he thought and as that crossed his mind he smiled, okay he was going crazy.

He stepped into his pajamas, picked up his phone and called her mum. After the fourth ring she picked up and yelled ‘hello’ into the phone, it was really loud in there.

"Good evening ma," he responded.

"Hey, my son, I heard you left, you didn’t even think to come say goodnight to us?"

"Ahn ahn mama, it’s not like that now. There was an emergency in the office I had to attend to, all these newbies in the office always messing up one file or the other." he answered. A little white lie couldn’t hurt, he thought.

"And they had to call the CEO to attend to such details on a Friday evening too? No problem my son, at least you thought to call. So is Iphey with you? I can’t find her anywhere around here and she isn’t picking up her phone." Iphey's mother sounded a little worried.

"No, ma," he replied. "When I was leaving she was still there. I’ll try and track her down for you and get back to you on her whereabouts, she’s probably somewhere around there and can’t hear her phone ring because of the loud music." Or maybe she has gone off with the other guy an inner voice taunted him.

"I hope so oh. I assumed that you both went off together, you know I saw you both." She laughed, 'well, call me when you speak to her oh. I'm just a little worried because the last time I saw her she looked upset."

"I think I upset her by coming without her knowledge, there was another guy..."

"Rubbish, of course that's not true. That guy works at her office that's all, he's still here."

"OK no problem, ma. I’ll call her right away. Bye bye ma," he replied, not in the least bit relieved and even a little worried.

"Bye bye my son" she answered back.

As iphey’s mother closed her phone, she smiled cunningly to Iphey’s sister, Ngozi who looked at her with a mixture of a frown and a smile.

Iphey is going to kill you if she finds out you are meddling in her personal business. Just because you were right about James and I getting together doesn’t mean you should consider yourself a matchmaker. Remember that we still don't know whether he only missing or he's deserted me," she said.

"I'm sure James will still come back, isn't Obi back home after what the doctors said? Trust me on this, I'm still the very good and wise mother who married you off single handedly. As for Iphey, she is being too much of a fool and I can’t just stand by and let her run this nice Chinedu off like all the others."

She smiled at Iphey who stood quietly with her colleagues looking sad and annoyed at the same time. Iphey's mum turned and winked at Ngozi; she could already hear the wedding bells ringing.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Singing the Monday blues ....by Miss Fab

Iphey was having the worst possible Monday in the history of Mondays.

To begin with, she didn’t hear her alarm ring at 6am and flew out of bed at 6:43 instead. Rushing to get ready and stepping out of the house within an impressive 35 minutes, she was beginning to have faith that the day could still be salvaged when her car refused to start. Her mallam-cum-makeshift-mechanic insisted he could fix the problem in "pife" minutes. "Madam, only pife minutes I need,” he declared but Iphey had neither the patience nor the mood to wait and angrily stomped out into the sunless morning to hail a taxi.

Rapture or something like it must have occurred that morning – that was the only explanation she could think of for the practically standstill traffic, and she spent many angry minutes uncharacteristically cursing the taxi driver, the other drivers, the okada riders, the Lagos state government, the Nigerian government, and every other entity she could think of.

Walking into her 9am meeting at 9:26, she fumbled into the nearest empty seat, muttering a breathless “Sorry I’m late. Got caught in traffic.”

“And they say you're professional,” Funmi muttered. “Do you have the report?” She snapped more loudly.

“I’m really sorry,” Iphey said, shuffling through the papers she held in her hand. She picked out a couple and asked Bisi to pass them down. “Here they are.”

Funmi shot her a withering look before resuming her presentation.

Iphey could not have been more embarrassed. It’s this stupid Chinedu, she thought to herself. She had gone home fuming from the party, thinking she’d made a huge mistake. She didn’t even know what made her kiss him; it wasn’t like her to do so. She was never quite the forward type, but somehow Chinedu had waltzed in on his high horse and messed up her rhythm. She hadn’t been able to get much sleep the past few nights, tossing and turning and staring at the pitch-black darkness way into the early morning.

Feeling cranky from lack of sleep, she willed herself to disappear in her seat. It didn’t seem like she was doing a very good job because she caught Ayo winking at her. Suddenly she was very annoyed. What was wrong with this man? He'd shown up to a party on her mum's invitation as her boss but then proceeded to get chummy at every chance as if he’d just proposed. Had he no shame or sense of decency? Did he not care about his wife? What’s wrong with men these days even? It’s like they don’t know what they want.

She didn’t realize she’d hissed out loud until all eyes in the boardroom turned to her.

“Excuse me, did you have a problem with something I said?” Funmi asked, sounding irritated.

“I’m-I’m sorry,” Iphey stammered and for lack of a meaningful explanation to give, reorganized her papers and tried to look busy.

That was her Monday so far, and it wasn’t even 10 o’ clock yet.

Determined to make up for her double strike at the meeting, she decided to skip lunch and use the time to put in some extra work. Iphey felt upset with herself for being so careless, and she reminded herself that now was not the time to slack off. The recent spate of terminations all over the banking sector was nothing to joke with, especially now that she was due for confirmation.

Around 12:30, Bisi and one of the girls from Accounts Reconciliation stopped by to ask if she would join them for lunch.

“Oh, thanks for the invite,” Iphey smiled, “but I really have to finish all this work.”

The other girl excused herself for a phone call, and Bisi waited until she was out of sight before saying, “So when are you going to gist me about you and you-know-who at your party on Friday?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Iphey laughed nervously, she didn't want to talk about Chinedu.

“Ahahn don’t form for me jo,” Bisi teased. “I heard he was all over you and even gave gifts to your mom.”

Iphey stared back at her blankly for a few seconds before realizing she was talking about Ayo.

“Oh you mean that one?” she said and then hissed. “I don’t understand why he won’t leave me alone.”

“It’s so obvious he likes you,” Bisi said, pausing to add, “He’s really rich you know. And I hear he and his wife haven’t lived together in over a year.”

Iphey was about to ask why Bisi was sharing this information with her when the other girl returned.

“You guys should enjoy your lunch,” Iphey said. “I’ve to return to this portfolio anyway.”

“We’ll talk later sha,” Bisi replied and left.

Iphey turned back to her monitor and thought about the conversation. A nagging feeling at the back of her mind told her trouble was breeding somewhere, but she convinced herself she was being ridiculous and tried to focus on her work.

At 8 pm, she decided to head home. Most of her co-workers had gone by then, so she packed her papers and hurriedly left the building. Stepping outside the gates of the bank, she suddenly realized she hadn’t eaten all day and she stood for a few minutes, the cacophony of the evening hustle and bustle interspersing her angrily growling tummy, until she spotted an empty taxi heading in her direction. She stretched out her hand to flag it down and, without a word, got into the backseat.

The driver turned around to ask where she was going, and Iphey gasped as she recognized the disheveled, unkempt stranger as James, her sister’s missing husband.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who is James?...by Aeedeeaee

“James…?” Iphey stared, mouth agape and eyes wide in shock.

“Wetin be that?" The driver asked. "You dey ok?”

“Are you not James?” She demanded as shock and all kinds of emotions coursed through her body. He looked exactly the same as her missing brother-in-law.

“That no be me oo. Who is James? Madam you well so?”

“I’m alright. It’s just that…you look like someone I know.” She continued looking at him intently. “My sister’s husband…”

“I say no be me,” said the cab driver in an unflinching tone. “Where you dey go?”

He did look different. Thinner harder, meaner. The voice was also a bit different from James'…or so she thought. It had been almost three years. She really couldn’t remember what James’ voice was like anymore; partly because of the time lapse and partly because she had almost believed he was dead…

Stop it Iphey, And tell the man where you’re headed!

“Lekki Phase 1…” She finally replied.

Scratching his head, the driver said “Oh…Sorry o! I no dey go that way…I’m closing for today and na Surulere side am going.”

Iphey pierced him with her gaze but again he remained unmoving, “Madam go now make I fit find another passenger.”

“Oh..ok. I’ll just get another cab.” She jumped out, hunger and tiredness now replaced by angst, memories of the nights when she had to stay with her sister. When Ngozi would cry herself sick; her son sick and her husband missing. Lost in her reverie, Iphey almost got knocked down by an Okada rider…

“See, no be me go kpai you o!” He cursed at her.

“Sorry! Sorry...” said a very confused Iphey. Cursing okada riders were the least of her problems at that point. Damn! This had to be the day devil came out with his entire clan. A stressful day at work and now a James look-alike!

She hailed another taxi. Thankfully, this one was headed her way. The thought of what happened a few minutes ago just wouldn’t leave her.

That driver had definitely put her on the edge. He looked so much like James…but that voice, or maybe that was because of the pidgin he was speaking. She had never heard James speak that before, and the taxi driver seemed very fluent. She cursed her car for not starting. Cursed the mechanic for not fixing whatever the problem was.

“Chei! I must be more fatigued than I thought.” She said aloud.

“You say wetin?”

“Abeg, no vex. I was talking to myself” She said embarrassed.

Something about this entire business smacked of lies…or was she paranoid?

Yes. She was paranoid alright. And hungry. And fagged out.

“Lord Help!” She said aloud.

The cab driver obviously worried about the young lady constantly talking to herself said “Take it easy o madam, It is well.”

The first thing she did when she came in was to call her best friend.

“The strangest thing happened today o, Aisha!”

“What happen…Iphey abeg, Hold on, I don’t know what TJ dey call me for now…”

“No wahala…I’m here.”Iphey said in between nervous laughter. Who would believe it? She thought to herself. Should she tell her sister?

Aisha was soon back on the line, hissing “Walai! Can you imagine! It’s that rubbish Mutallab boy that TJ called me to come see!”

Iphey laughed at her. “Say after me, Mutallab is a mu-mu.”

Aisha hissed again. “Tell me joo, wetin happen today? Has Chinedu finally called?”

“Please don’t talk to me about Chinedu!” She had thought of him at work most of her free time but what happened on the way home had pushed him to the back of her mind. And she preferred him to remain there.

“You want make I speak with him again?” Aisha interrupted her thoughts.

Iphey was mortified. “Did you already call him?”

“I’m sorry Iphey, I called him for something to do with Habib, but your name came up.”

Iphey sighed. “It’s OK. I’m tired of that guy oo, and no I won’t call him. After kissing him in public, I think the ball is now firmly in his court."

Aisha agreed. “So wetin you call to tell me?”

“Aisha you won’t believe it…” Just then her doorbell rang.

“Aisha, hold on, someone is at the door.” Iphey she sprang up off the bed and headed back towards to door. It was just as well she had not changed out of her work clothes.

Aisha went on, mischief in her tone “At this time? Or is it him?”

Iphey was busy peering through her windows when Aisha blared in her ears “It’s him! Bad child! You you were just pulling my legs abi?”

“Aisha please go jo!” Iphey said chuckling, one hand unlocking the door. “I’ll call you.”

She froze when she saw who rang her bell. He who now stood in front of her on her doormat that said “WELCOME”.

“Can I come in?”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A man should provide for his Family...Myne + Aeedeeaee

“What are you doing here!?” Iphey screamed.

“Please let me come in, I have to talk to you.” He pleaded.

“You!?” He looked the same as when she’d seen him earlier in the cab but now his face was softer, more like the brother-in-law she’d known. He was James, her sister’s husband.

Not knowing how to process the information her eyes were feeding her, her first impulse was to choke him by the collar and demand reparation for all the pain he’d caused her family. Since she couldn’t do that, the next best thing was to slam the door smack in his face. She did just that but James caught the door with his foot.

“Iphey! Please wait!” He begged again.

“Are you James or not?”

“Yes…” He breathed with downcast eyes.

“I knew it! I knew it was you.” She opened the door wider. “How did you find me?”

“I knew where you lived…”

“Damn you, James! Damn you to hell!” Iphey cried hitting his chest repeatedly with both hands till he caught them in his.

“Iphey, please calm down… listen to me!”

“Please, shut up! Shut the hell up! Why did you deny it when I called your name in the cab?”

“Iphey…I’m sorry but I had to…” He pushed her back into her apartment and closed the door. “I was shocked as much as you were, Iphey. I needed time to put myself together…”

James had managed to push her into one of the living room chairs at this time but remained standing. A tense silence ensued.

“Where have you been all this while?” Iphey asked in a low voice. Her hands hung between her knees.

“I’ve been here in Lagos…”

“My God! James, you live here? Ngoo waited…she pined for you all this time and you live here in Lagos?!”

Pictures of her nephew in his bed during the most recent stay in the hospital flashed before her eyes…Her sister’s depression…The fear in her mother’s eyes…Her own tears.

“Please Iphey, You need to relax…hear me out at least…”

She sprang to her feet. “How dare you come here after all these years and tell me to relax?! Why are you even here? What am I hearing you out on? That you abandoned my sister and her child, YOUR SON!?”

Iphey knew she was getting hysterical but couldn’t stop it. “How am I going to break this to Ngozi? How will I tell my sister that her long lost husband is infact alive? That he has lived in this same state all the while she was crying herself to sleep?” Several thoughts ran through her mind at once.

James came to stand before her. “See, I had to do what I did…I didn’t want to but it was the best thing I could’ve done at the time.”

Iphey was confused. She hadn't thought there was a happier couple than her sister and James at the time. She’d just gotten into University when they got married seven years ago. A year later Obi had been born and everyone had been overjoyed. He was three when to everyone’s shock, James had gone missing.

James went on...“Almost four years ago, something happened.”

Iphey’s shook her head vigorously. “What is it, James? What happened?” She cried, perplexed.

James breathed out and turned around. “I lost my job.

“What?? What are you talking about?”

“You see Iphey; two years after we got married, I lost my precious oil company job.”

“What does that have to do with it?” A shiver went over Iphey. The talk of job loss was a bit close to home with the recent spate of lay-offs in the banking sector.

“I never told your sister. I kept going out to work for nearly six months afterwards and never breathed a word of it to her. I looked for other jobs, gambled, took to drinking, chased other women. Nothing helped.”

Iphey found the sofa. This is only a bad dream. If I shut my eyes, it will go away.

James continued. “The few people who knew advised me to tell her but I couldn’t face the disappointment on her face. When Obi’s asthma came up while she was still on maternity leave, we had agreed for her to remain at home. So there was no other source of income…”

He looked at her face. “I know what you’re thinking…I wouldn’t be first or last to lose my job but I was so proud! Your sister didn’t know, her behavior didn’t change but I became paranoid. I blamed her for my woes and our sickly son for my quickly dwindling savings. Then I blamed myself but still I did not tell her.”

“Oh my God. Oh my God.” Iphey kept saying.

“I began to resent everyone. My family, you and your mother, you all boasted so much about my status…”

She could see it was very painful for him but she wouldn’t let that go. “Leave us out of this.”

“OK.” He sat down. “The thing was, I was brought up to believe that a man should provide for his family. In those six months, that belief made me mad!" He was crying now, the tears trickled down his cheeks.

“Are you saying…?” Iphey started.

James cut in. “I’m not saying I became actually mad but I eventually did something insane.”

Iphey's phone began to ring.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cupid's comedy...by Mr. FunnyHoneyMoney

The phone rang through without any answer.

*Sigh*

She was still not picking his calls.

“There could be a hundred different reasons. I know she wouldn't just ignore my calls,” he told himself.

Chinedu ignored the part of him that said maybe she was angry with him and wanted nothing more to do with him. There must be something else. He had not talked to Iphey since the party incident. He had tried to call her but never seemed to be able to hit the green button each time. However, today at work after his conversation with Aisha, he had managed to press it but the call didn’t go through; the network was busy or her phone was switched off.

One hour passed in which he kept staring at his phone on the table. He had been trying since with no luck and now he sighed. That was all he did: call, no reply, sigh, scratch his head, sigh, stand up, pace the length of the room, sigh, sit down and do it all over. He battled the temptation to get into his car and drive over there. Was she with someone else? According to Aisha, the man at the party was her Bank manager going overboard with unwelcome advances.

He called again. She didn't pick as before but this time he managed to send off a text message. He felt like someone was playing a game with him as the guy who always got something wrong. He still couldn’t explain to himself why he had been so angry when she had kissed him. Maybe she'd done it to annoy her manager but he had really enjoyed the kiss. He could still feel it even days after; he even remembered the stray strand of hair that had brushed against his face when they kissed. God he needed to talk to her. He knew though that this time there was no beating about the bush. They both spoke their minds or forgot it. It was all or nothing.

Thirty minutes later, he was still sighing and pacing. He picked up the phone and decided to try again. As if on cue the slideshow he had put as his phone’s wallpaper changed to the only picture he had of her. Iphey sleeping, a smile on her lips. He sighed once more and began to dial.

His doorbell rang.

He knew she was the one even before he got up from his chair.

“She has come, God she has come.” He banged into a stool in his zest to get to the door in record time and cursed. He opened the door and there she stood looking so beautiful, prim and proper in her suited banking attire. She looked like she just got ready to go to work instead of after a hectic day at the office.

“Hi,” she said, “may I come in?”

Every cell in his body screamed for him to refuse, talk with her right there, close the door and run back into the house. Instead he said, “sure, come on in.”

He wasn't as happy as he thought he would be. That was because it wasn’t Iphey shrugging off her jacket right from the door, it was Bisi.

Straight away knew he would regret that decision; more and more he felt like some unknown force was playing a game with him.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Once a gambler...by JuaNita

Both stared at the phone and boy was it a tense moment “Well? Answer it.”

She gulped, “No I'm not going to. I want to know what you did.”

“You don't even want to know who your caller is?”

Iphey snatched up the phone and checked the ID. Her stomach plummeted when she recognized it but she wouldn't allow herself to be deterred. “Look, don’t change the subject.”

James remained silent and she summoned all the firmness within her, "James, what did you do?"

"Iphey I- It was- I had to -for the sake of my family. I borrowed money…” He was stammering in anxiety, nonetheless his eyes held a mysterious glint, one too dangerous for comfort.

“That doesn’t sound too bad,” she shrugged, regaining her composure.

“Iphey, stop interrupting me please, just listen…” demanded James. “At first it was from the bank but when their payments came up, I couldn't make it. And the last thing I wanted was for them to start sending letters to my office or the house. I had to find somewhere else to get the money. Look, it was my only choice; either that or the bank would sue me or Ngozi would find out. I wanted none of that to happen”

It began to dawn on Iphey what might have happened. The suspense was driving her insane. She wanted to wring his neck to get the truth out but simply gestured for him to continue.

“I had been gambling heavily, losing a lot of money but still hoping for my big win. Luckily the owners of the place agreed to loan me money in advance to pay off the bank. I would then owe them...wait before you say anything!” Seeing Iphey about to talk, “I now know I was stupid, but then I was like a man possessed. I won a little sometimes, and it felt good at that time because I could pay off some of the debt, I could buy stuff for your sister and pay my son's bills. It felt like I was working again, like I was a man...” He leaned back with a faraway smile on his face.

Without warning, she sprang from the sofa, towering over him. Iphey’s mind raced a hundred ways and her heart pounded with seething ferocity. This was too much too bear. “Of all people James, you should know better than to stoop so low. How could a man in his right mind abandon his wife, and don’t let me get started about Obi. You allowed yourself to be sucked into gambling? As a man my dear in-law, family must always come first, regardless of any financial woes you may have incurred.”

He stood abruptly, fuming “What would you have done in my shoes? Gone to church to pray for your debts to be cleared in an instant?”

“You abandon your loved ones and you stand before me expecting pity? So now, have you paid off your debt? HAVE YOU?!" Unable to control her thoughts, the damage was done as the bile spilled out.

"DON'T YOU DARE JUDGE ME!" His voice was raised to match hers. "Tell me what to do because I have waited for God to send money down and it hasn't happened. He may have answered your prayers but not mine. So NO! I have not paid it back."

She backed down shaking, however, he had set her mind in motion; she had judged Chinedu too. Acted as an arbiter and almost written him off because of his past. And here she was doing the same to James, will she never learn?

He began talking once again “I messed up big time, borrowed more money from the group and couldn't pay because I kept losing...”

"That's still not enough reason. James...” She began more gently, “Whatever action you took in the past is in the past. I’m not in the position to blame or point a finger at you, but please let's go see Ngozi..."

“Iphey the people I owe are after my family. I owe them millions! The gang are after Ngoo and Obi. That's why I had to leave, for the protection of my family. ”

Her mouth fell open. "Oh my God..."

James turned sideways and glared at her with dark eyes, coming closer till they were an inch apart “You see why I left them? Why I cannot go with you? Not this time and not ever. You never saw me, I was never here and I don’t exist...are we clear on that?”

Iphey nodded vigorously. He’d changed. She was right, the James everyone knew, the kind-hearted one who humbled most with his modesty, was gone and so was the spark in his eyes, in their place was the remnants of a wounded man and shattered dreams.

"Don't mention this to your sister. If you do, I know she'll come looking for me and I can't allow that. That was why I followed you here. I managed to get away before the gang could trace me or my family. Still I remained in Lagos to keep an eye on all of you just to be sure. Coincidence rocked the boat when we met this evening. Don't tip it over. It would be disastrous."

Iphey was speechless. What on earth was she supposed to think at a time such as this? Waving away her thoughts, she willed herself back into reality to see James storming out the door in a hurried manner.

"Why?" she mouthed at his retreating back. The heavens sympathised and joined in her despair, a drop at a time. She stood at the door unable to close, knowing she had to go out again. She couldn't keep it to herself, she had to tell Ngozi. Nausea flooded her every being, overcoming her senses but she wouldn't allow it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tell me everything...by Vivianne

Iphey picked up her car keys from Musa at the gate and drove out of the compound on her way to her sister Ngozi's place in Surulere.

Ngozi was puttering about her home getting ready to turn in for the night. She felt exhausted and drained after the events of the last few days and especially after the rousing party her mother held this past weekend. Although it was a great distraction, she felt overwhelmed by the loud music and gaggle of people with their mundane conversations. The emotional roller coaster she endured while her son Obi was in the hospital left her feeling hollow and somewhat vulnerable.

As she dried the last few dishes and placed them into the cupboard, Ngozi breathed a deep sigh as she realized she missed her mother already. She had been a great help to her during Obi’s illness and despite her nosiness, it had been nice to have another adult in the house to talk to. She shook her head ruefully as she recalled her mother’s scheming to bring Chinedu and Iphey together at the party.

She walked around her home switching off the lights. It was quiet and Obi was fast asleep in his bed. She stood for a moment by the windows in the dark, and stared into the moonlit sky. The stars were twinkling and the sky was midnight blue. A thought entered her mind and a wave of loneliness washed over her, nearly knocking the breath from her lungs.

“Where are you?” she choked out between clenched teeth as grief overcame her. “I miss you, James, I need my husband back.” She wondered if he was staring at the same stars, or if he laid in the ground cold somewhere. It was the not knowing that killed her, an answer that never seemed to come.

At that moment there was a knock on her door. Who could that be? She wondered. It was late and she certainly wasn’t expecting anyone. She opened the door to find Iphey looking distressed.

“Ngozi! I must talk to you but you need to sit down,” Iphey told her as she rushed into her living room.

“Ah! Iphey, Na wetin? Why are you coming here so late?”

Iphey took her hands into her own and led her to the couch. “Tie your sokoto. There is news I must share with you. Ngozi… James is alive! I saw him!”

Ngozi’s hand flew to her mouth as she held back a cry. She didn’t want to wake Obi.

“How? Where? Where has he been? Where is he?” She stuttered, her words tumbling over themselves.

She looked at her sister and began to feel faint and the edges of her sight began to darken. Her sister‘s mouth was moving as if she was talking but Ngozi heard nothing. She was back to the day before the Monday her husband went off to work and disappeared.

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

That Sunday, she and James had lingered in bed late into the afternoon. Obi had gone to church with her mother and after that they were to visit and sleep over at a friend’s so there was no fear of interruption. Obi was growing fast and strong and she very happy at how proud James was of his son. Her wish was that a sibling would be made that day.

She turned to James, wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her face into his broad shoulder. “Let’s make a baby,” she whispered quietly. Just saying the words made her glow with hope.

James drew away quickly then kissed her gently. As he drew his face away from hers, he stroked her curly hair and stared at her brown eyes wistfully; it seemed a thousand thoughts had passed through his mind. She wondered what he was thinking. He looked like he was struggling to say something but couldn’t get it out.

“I love you Ngozi,” he said instead in his gravelly voice, as he nuzzled her neck and caressed her body. He deeply inhaled and a deep growl rolled from his throat. For once she was grateful for her mother’s meddling ways, because if not for her, they never would have met. Although they had been married only a few years, in that short time she had never felt happier and more content with her life.

“Ngozi… I want you to remember this-“

“Shhhh, I will. I love you too,” she said. No more talk. She only wanted to focus on the feelings he stirred in her.

She looked at his face colored like dark chocolate. She had memorized every fold, every crease and every expression on it. He then kissed her forcefully until their breaths became ragged. She would never get tired of this. Hunger quickly overcame them both and the afternoon flew by colored by passion, love and togetherness.

When he disappeared the next day she often questioned the meaning behind that afternoon. What was it he struggled to say and didn’t? Were there secrets he hid from her? Was the love she thought they shared really true? These questions had plagued her incessantly for the years she failed to hear from him again. Maybe he became victim to the ravages of an unsafe city. Or let’s face it, sometimes you can live with someone and not really know them.

“Ngoo, Ngozi! Are you listening to me?” Iphey exclaimed worriedly. She rubbed her sister’s cold hands and brought her a drink.

Ngozi snapped back to the present, “I’m fine! Bodi just weak me small.”

“Are you sure?”

“Wetin dey do you sef! Tell me everything!” She took a deep drink and waited for her sister to explain James’ sudden reappearance.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Why isn't he here?....by Neo

Iphey shook her head not quite looking her in the eye, “Is Obi sleeping?”

Ngozi peered at her closely as though she could read something off her face “Obi is sleeping. Iphey, please go on. O gini?”

Iphey sighed, “Ngoo, I don’t know how to say this…”

“I don’t like all this suspense o. Whatever it is, just say it.” Ngozi snapped, her patience running thin.

“James came to my house.He’s alive and has been in Lagos I…I bumped into him…in a taxi. Ngoo he looked different but I confronted him, initially he denied it but later he came and...”

Nothing could have prepared Ngozi for those words; she stiffened barely allowing herself to breathe. In silence, her eyes willed Iphey to continue.

“I told him I’d have to tell you, I even suggested we come together but he said he couldn’t face you after everything that’s happened.”

“Where is James?” her voice was surprisingly calm and sounded strange to her. “Is he here? Outside?”

“No, he was gone before I could convince him…” Iphey leaned towards her, “Ngoo, it’s a very serious matter…infact we have to….”

Iphey was still talking as she rose to her feet and started walking towards her room.

“Sister, where are you going?”

Ngozi turned and smiled at her, it was a bitter smile that left her eyes cold and empty “Iphey, you just told me that my husband who has been missing for three years is alive and well. And not only has he been in Lagos the entire time, he’s also not here to tell me himself. I’m going to bed and maybe tonight I won’t dream of him or wake up in tears and cry to God for him…”

Iphey stood up, “Sister, you have to hear what happened...”

That was the trigger, it was enough for her to lose it and for all the emotions that had been locked up inside her to burst forth like a broken dam. She threw the mug she had been holding against the back of the settee. Iphey cringed as it bounced and then fell to the ground. Water splashed all over the light blue fabric sofa and the matching floor tiles as the cup rolled to a stop.

“Hear what?!” Ngozi tried not to scream, to keep her voice low for Obi’s sake. “When he doesn’t want to see me? I have cried every night for the past three years! I fought off his family who wanted to declare him dead! I held our son at night watching to make sure he’s still breathing! And James is not here. He’s alive, not decaying in a grave, he can walk and he can speak so why isn’t he here? Iphey why isn’t he here? He left us, he left me….” She let herself crumble to the floor as the sobs filled her throat.

When Ngozi looked up, tears had started to run down Iphey's face. She hated her sister seeing her like this, so broken. She was supposed to be the older one. Iphey crossed the distance between them, sat down and wrapped her arms around her.

“I have to see him Iphey, I have to see him.” Ngozi mumbled into her shoulder.

“You will, we’ll find him” Iphey said firmly.

After she left, Ngozi watched as Obi slept, noting the rhythmic rise and fall of his small chest. She remembered the scare when those doctors had told her to prepare for the worst, when she thought that her world was coming to an end. If she had lost Obi, she would have had nothing left to live for. Luckily they passed through it. Obi slept now his face creased into the deep frown that signaled he was in deep sleep. These days he insisted on sleeping only in his pyjama bottoms and though he had been asleep for just a few hours, his small bed looked like a riot scene with his tiny frame sprawled diagonally across the bed.

As she wandered into the kitchen to fix herself a cup of tea, she tried not to blame James but it was hard, especially having had to bear this burden of worrying about their child alone. After James had disappeared, their friends had been supportive, offering words of comfort and prayers but after a year the tune had started to change. No one could explain why he abandoned his wife and child leaving them in such financial insecurity. They said he was dead and advised her to remarry while she was still young, while Obi could learn to accept another man as a father. She had refused and slowly one by one the friends grew tired and began to keep away.

Iphey and her mother helped out as much as they could but she couldn’t depend on them solely, so she had fallen back on one of her hobbies and turned it into a lucrative career. She worked from home as a baker, and on her own terms so she could keep an eye on Obi. It had been hard when Obi had constantly asked after his father and she had told him the same thing each time, “Daddy traveled”. But now that he had stopped asking, how was she going to tell him the truth. What would she even tell him? Where was James?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cupid's Comedy 2...Mr. FunnyHoneyMoney

If there was anything worse than shit, that was what Iphey felt like as she drove back home that fateful Monday night. It was almost eleven and she was still out. And tomorrow was another work day. At least her car had been repaired. She tried not to think of the incident with James and then Ngozi, and remembered she had wrapped the day up by ‘cooking beans’, a banker’s slang that meant she and thus the bank had not been able to balance their books for the day. She prayed she wouldn’t lose her job for that.

Just as she was wondering what else could possibly happen, her phone buzzed and began to ring. Instantly she knew it was him. It was Chinedu again. She hadn’t realized how much she had been waiting for his call until it actually came while she was with James earlier. She couldn’t take it then and had switched off the phone while with Ngoo but now she would. She immediately parked by the side of the road and started rummaging through the junk she had dumped on the passenger seat for her phone.

“Damn” she thought, it was now when she really wanted to pick a call that the phone would be under the pile. By the time she found the phone the call had finished, she read the text and decided to pay him a visit. She sent off a text to Aisha and then Bisi as back-up of where she was going.

It took half an hour before she got there. As she parked her car outside, she noticed a car that looked somewhat familiar but she didn’t pay it much attention. Just as she was getting to the door it suddenly opened; and out came……

“Bisi?” Iphey couldn't believe her eyes.

“Oh, hi Iphey how you doing?” replied Bisi with a smile on her face.

“Wha…what are you doing here?” asked Iphey.

“I just came to pay Chinedu a visit. You nko?”

Chinedu came out with a jacket in his hand “Bisi, your…” The words were stopped in their tracks by the sight before him

“Thanks darling.” Bisi collected the jacket with a smile and walked away.

Chinedu walked closer to his new visitor. “Iphey…” She stood there in his driveway like she had just taken a bullet to the heart.

“Is that all she forgot?” There was so much shock in her voice.

“Iphey I can explain…”

“There’s really nothing to explain,” she scratched the back of her neck. “I guess I’ll just be on my way, goodbye.”

She turned away quickly to hide the tear that was making its way down her cheeks.

“But you came here for something…”

“It doesn’t matter anymore!”

“No, wait. Iphey, it’s not what you think. Nothing happened I swear it.”

“Funny, I don’t remember saying anything.” She ran the final steps to her car. To think that she had thought to ask his help for her sister's problem. She had been so excited to read his text, but it was all a sham.

“SHIT!” shouted chinedu as he punched his palm and let out a string of curses.

Cupid must sure be having a very good laugh with himself playing these silly games. He wished he had never opened that door, damn he so wished he had never opened that door.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Office Politics: Hell hath no fury...by Devine

Bisi drove away smiling but she had not smiled over her glass of Vodka at SWE Bar that night. Vodka wasn’t really her thing, but the way her life was going these days, a daiquiri didn't cut it.

When everyone had gone from work earlier today, Funmi had called her in to say that her name was on the list of those to be fired soon. Iphey was to have been laid off due to lack of experience but Ayo had exchanged their names. Imagine! She tossed back her drink and gestured the bartender for another. Look at that ‘miss goody two shoes’, the small girl had scattered her life.

Bisi remembered the party last Friday and it pierced her heart. First Ayo and then Chinedu fawning over that small girl! Both men could have been hers. She had slept with Ayo a few times soon after getting her job but he’d dumped her for Funmi. She had got her own back when he married someone else. And it helped that Funmi was on her side. But now for the Bank Manager to put her job on the line for Iphey.

“Damn!” Bisi tossed back another drink.

Then Chinedu, they met at Cubes Lounge and he’d been paying her some good attention. They’d talked, they'd danced, they'd laughed. And then he’d asked of Iphey. From then, he was no longer looking into her eyes, no longer flirting, no longer touching her hips, no longer wanting her. And why? Always Iphey, Miss’oh look at me, I’m all innocent, I don’t know why men run after me.

The Bartender shoved the drink into her hand and walked away. First Vodka and Coke, now Strawberry daiquiri. She’d asked for a Vodka! Bisi hissed and wished she could throw the glass at his thick head, but knowing Lagos clubs, she’d hit someone else and the end wouldn’t be pretty.

Bisi hissed again and walked to the opposite end of the bar.

“Vodka.”

“What would you like that mixed with ma’am?” That bartender replied.

“Just give me Vodka jo!”

She’d been about to gulp it down when her phone buzzed. It was her Nemesis. “I’m on my way to Chinedu’s place just in case. Call me in thirty minutes.” Bisi shook in shock and horror.

“Oh, no.” She gulped her Vodka and stormed out.

“You’ve taken over my work, everything that’s good, but you won’t go scot free.” She knew Chinedu’s address, had asked that first night. She was closer and would get there first.

“Danladi, I wouldn’t need you tonight.”

“Eh, Madam.”

Bisi hissed, slow people irritated her and this old man was painfully slow.

“Go home ladi, I’ll drive myself.”

She got there fast and pressed the doorbell. She heard a crash followed by a curse and there he was.

“Hi, may I come in?” she said.

“Sure, come on in.”

Bisi chuckled knowingly. Her blue camisole always did that. She dropped her jacket and sat down uninvited. “I know I should have called first, but...”

“It’s no problem.” He cut her off.

“Are you okay? You seem aloof.” He was still standing.

“I’m good. How may I help you?”

“I would you like something to drink.” Bisi smiled, “A glass of you would be nice.”

“Excuse me?” Chinedu jumped a foot as though burnt.

“See, I don’t usually do things like this but I really like you and...” Bisi got up and placed her hands on his chest. “...I find you attractive and I...”

She kissed him slow at first, tasting, savouring and then hot, passionate like he was her sustenance to life.

The alcohol fueled her ardor till there was no possible way to turn back. She played the imaginary encounter, conversation and well, the aftermath until it seemed to materialize itself before her. In her mind, he deliciously responded in kind. She could feel his muscles tense as he made intense love to her.

“Blood of Jesus!” He shoved her so hard she toppled over the futon.

“Ouch! Hey...”

“I’m sorry Bisi. But what are you doing? You know I like your friend. I don’t want this. I want Iphey.”

It wasn’t like her thoughts. There was no Iphey in her thoughts

Bisi shook in pure rage.

“Ha!” she spat. “Iphey? You want Iphey don’t you? Ha!” She exhaled in pure anger.

“I’m sorry. Bisi, I really-“

“Shut up! You’re not sorry, not as sorry as you will be when I walk out that door!”

“Now Bisi, I don’t understand-”

“I said, shut up! You want to be with Iphey huh? Ask her about the Bank Manager.”

“Bisi what is wrong with you?!”

“Aw, baby, I love you too.” She hissed and stormed out.

Now she smiled as she recalled the expression on Iphey's face. Served her right!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

To delete or not to delete...by G-Func + Myne

"Damn! My fist is bleeding."

Chinedu had hurt himself while trying to "express his anger" about Iphey leaving like that but hadn't even noticed until his eyes caught the blood on the floor.

He walked into the house and went to the toilet to fix it up. He had just finished washing his hands and was about to wrap it his fist in bandage when his phone rang. He immediately ran out to look for it thinking it was Iphey. He pressed on the screen to answer.

"It's not what you think, I’m not..." he began.

The voice on the other end broke him off saying, “Chinedu, it’s me Aisha.”

“Oh, Aisha. How are you? You’re calling so late, is everything all right?” He sank back on one of his armchairs and tried to breathe more calmly.

“I’m fine, only I just wake from sleep.” He heard her yawn on the other side of the phone. “Iphey still dey there? She texted that I should call her in thirty minutes but her phone is not going through. You sabi where she dey?”

“So she told you she was coming here?”

“Yes now. She usually does that when she’s out late.” Aisha laughed. “Nothing personal to you…”

Chinedu grimaced. “Do you know whether she told someone else? Like Bisi for example?”

“It’s possible since Bisi knows you too but I think she’ll rather let her sister know.”

“I see.” Chinedu replied. “So was it just because of Iphey you called?”

“Yes but now you mention it, I still dey vex with Habib. How could he say I should not expect to hear from him in the next month and not say anything else? If you can, please speak with him o. This one is a new thing he wants to start. Abeg I no like am o.”

“I told you not to worry when we spoke earlier. But I will talk to him.” Chinedu knew her brother who worked for the EFCC had just gone undercover but he wouldn’t tell her that.

“OK, make I go back to sleep. TJ go call me any moment from now. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” Chinedu replied, “and greet TJ for me.”

He dropped the phone and his mind went to Iphey. The scene with Bisi began to make sense now. Iphey must have told her she was coming and the girl decided to ruin it for them. It was lucky Aisha had added the last bit about why Iphey let people know where she was. He had almost begun to wonder if they were back to his checkered past. The truth was he really admired girls who had character and virtues like Iphey.

There was just something about her that made him weak, she had that "damsel in distress" look but somehow still managed to take care of herself. He also thought she was incredibly cute, even cuter than his kid sister, who he had thought before then was the cutest person in the world.

He still didn’t know what Bisi’s reason could be to mess them up. He’d never dated her so it must be something to do with the office. And then she had mentioned their bank manager. What did she mean? That Iphey was sleeping with the man? He decided he wouldn't think about all that, if Iphey wanted to think that he was fooling around with Bisi, so be it.

"If she can't trust me now, what makes me think she will in the future?"

He was never one for drama. He picked up his phone and scrolled to the phonebook. According to Aisha, Iphey had switched off her phone. He guessed it was so he couldn’t reach her.

Over the years in his life, he had learnt one policy. He never pursued something he couldn't let go of whenever the moment demanded it. So now he scrolled to her name and chose the option delete. He hesitated, and then he pressed on the button. The phone asked him if he was sure he wanted to delete that contact and all their details. He closed his eyes and...

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