THE PERFECT MEAL

Josephine had decided that it would be a lazy day for her. She was off duty and wanted to stay at home and pay some sleep debt. She did that till the afternoon when she got up and went and had a bath and then returned to the room and played on her iPad. When she heard a knock, she thought it was Chisco. She wanted him to go and buy some plantains for the evening when she would have her first meal. She regularly fasted to detoxify and did so most of her days off. Finishing it off with plantains fried by her Chisco would represent a good good day. She also knew what would happen after the meal. Chisco, her Trojan.

She was surprised when it turned out to be Ndifreke that called. She was in her signature bum short and sleeveless top. She set the iPad aside and sat up.

“Well well! Who do we have here?”

“Hi Nurse.”

“Josephine.”

“Hi Josephine.”

“You don’t look good honey,” she said and gestured to him to be seated.

Ndifreke pushed the chair he was offered away and sat on the floor instead.

“What is wrong?” Josephine said and climbed down from the bed and went closer to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulder.

He inhaled the sweet jasmine of her body spray and held her arm and then locked fingers with her. She felt his neediness but she broke the hold and went back to sit facing him.

“I always know when it is a love problem.” She said.

“Yeah.”

“Tell me.”

“I lost her.”

“To that man?”

“Yes.”

“Has she told you it’s over?”

“No.”

“So why do you think that it is?”

“She’s been gone for days. I don’t imagine they are at a Rivival.”

“Don’t be too sure.”

“Come on Josephine.”

“I repeat, don’t be too sure.”

“So I am supposed to sit here hoping? When she wouldn’t talk to me?”

“Did you call her?”

“She blocked me.”

“Oh I see. What really happened?”

“She found a rich guy.”

“I didn’t see her like the type.”

“People are full of surprises aren’t they?”

“Well, true.”

Ndifreke sighed and shook his head. Josephine wondered what she was supposed to do next. Since he was the one that came to her, she would wait for him to express himself.

“Remember that day on the soak away  when you told me I was going to cheat on her eventually?”

“I said that?”

“Yeah. You wanted us to get together.”

“Oh, I did?”

“Come on, you can’t have forgotten that.”

“Well, it’s been a while and a lot has happened since then.”

“Now it turns out she is the one who has cheated. I was always faithful. I wish I had cheated on her first when I had the chance.”

“People cheat for a reason. You had no reason to. You need not regret.”

“I regret that I lost my chance.”

“No need to feel that way.”

“Does that mean I still have a chance with you?”

“Come on bro. Just like that?”

“You wanted me before. I had a girlfriend. Now I don’t anymore.”

“And what happens if she comes back?”

“I won’t take her back.”

“Why?”

“Because she has been with another man.”

“Do you know how many men I have been with?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“But it matters if your girlfriend has been with another.”

“My girlfriend is my girlfriend.”

“And I am the compound whore you want to use and relieve yourself while you are heartbroken.”

“Don’t put it like that Jo.”

“Typical African man. You don’t want your woman to be with another man but you are happy to be with another woman even if she belongs to another man.”

“Please Jo” he said and his eyes became teary. He was as handsome as ever. His hair and beards were unkempt but attractive in a rugged way. His lips were even redder. She remembered everything she liked about him then. She did not know if he could sense the change in her mood, but at that moment a tear fell from his eye and he said “Hold me Jo.”

She spread her arms and he shifted on his bottom till he was close enough to place his head on her chest.

“Oh baby,” she said.

Then the door opened and Chisco walked in.

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

Chisco turned back and left at once as he tried to process what he had just seen. What he had expected was Josephine rushing out to him and saying something like “I can explain. Let me explain.” Instead, he went down the stairs, walked to his room, remembered that Achike was with Evae and then turned and went to Wasiu’s room. There was no sign of Josephine. His phone did not even beep. The bastard! No wonder Achike hated him. Because of his education and fine face he considered it his birthright to sleep with all the women in the compound!

Wasiu saw Chisco face and said “Mazi! Wetin happen now?”

Wasiu was with the Alfa’s son Chisco did not like. The boy sat quietly in one corner was wrapping Indian hemp. He did not seem to notice Chisco at all.

“Erm…”Chisco began. Glancing at Iniquity.

“You know my man Usman abi? Usman the funky mallam, the heir to the throne of Zaki Adze! They call him Iniquity. But I say he is not bad enough until he has been to Kirikiri nine times like me.”

“You were just not smart enough,” Usman said. He picked up a lighter and shaped to light the weed hanging from his lips. Wasiu snatched the lighter from him.

“Not in here na. Abi you wan make dem give me quit notice? The uncompleted building down the road abeg!”

Usman pocketed the lighter and stood, touched fists with Wasiu and did same reluctantly with Chisco and bounced out of the room.

“I no like dat boy.” Chisco said.

“Him no like you too Mazi.”

“Wetin him dey feel like sef? No be say him get breeze for nyash. All these boys. Anyone wey don dey smoke igbo go come dey do like say dem be Hank Anuku.”

Wasiu laughed and leaned back on the wall.

“So wetin be the problem Mazi?”

“You no go believe wetin I just see.”

“Wetin be dat?”

“I go upstairs. I see that Calabar boy mouth on top nurse breast.”

“Hahahahah! Na why your face be like dat?”

“Nna mehn!”

“Nurse na community helper. E good say you don know now.”

“Wetin pain me pass be say dem no even do like say dem see me.”

“Next time make you knock.”

“I go teach that boy small lesson.”

“Ehn? You?

“Na small lesson I talk.”

“If you use the hand wey you take pound that Togo man you go kill am o!”

“Wasiu, boys no dey behave like dat na. E mean say I no be anything for him eye. If you respect your guy, you no go touch him woman. Because him go school, dey blow grammar, I no come be anything for him eye. I go show am why dem dey call me Ogbu Agu!”

“Mazi, boys no suppose dey fight on top woman. Make we go Apapa dis night. You go see say no be Nurse nyash big pass for this Lagos.”

“I go follow you. But I go still teach the boy small lesson.”

Wasiu could sense that Chisco meant what he said. He needed to warn Ndifreke. It worried Wasiu that boys were becoming soft. They now fell in love with women and fought themselves over women! When you tell them to smoke weed and see life from the perspective of truth some will not hear.

“Mazi. Make we reach that uncompleted building. I wan show you something.”

Chisco knew what Wasiu wanted to make him do. But what the heck! Not that he had never smoked in his life. It could just be what he needed to be in the best mood to knock sense into that sissy.

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

Ndifreke had not looked up. But he could guess who it was that happened on them. He was not losing his moment at any rate. He had seen her eyes and body language. He wanted the nurse more than anything else at that moment. If it were possible he would record some of it and keep for that whoring Maya to see. He needed to get back at her. And he would at any cost.

But Josephine gently pushed him away.

“What happened nurse?”

“Nothing.”

“Is it because of that bush boy?”

“Don’t call him that.”

“What are you doing with him Jo? It’s embarrassing.”

“Chisco is the most honorable man I know. Men like him are rare. And he is good at everything.”

“He fucks well I can guess.”

“Everything.”

“I want you nurse.”

“I am an afterthought for you. I am better than that bro.”

“Just now you wanted me too until he came. Can we forget that he came by?”

“Unfortunately I can’t.”

“Do you love him?”

Josephine scoffed.

“Then you owe him nothing.”

Ndifreke’s phone beeped. He should have ignored it but he felt compelled to check the message. Especially as it also seemed like Josephine needed a hiatus. It was a message from Wasiu.

“Chisco is coming for you. You are a dead man. And right now he is high.”  The message read.

He remembered the way Chisco had pummeled Agbonyibo. He had been to the university and knew that ninety percent of cult wars and brutality were over women. If Chisco had beaten Agbonyibo up like that for his brother, what would he do to him over a girl?  Immediately sweat covered his head.

Ndifreke stood up and said “I have to go now.”

Josephine only nodded but had a curious look on her face.

“I’m sorry I came here. Please don’t forget that I said I am sorry,” he said and sprinted out the door.

Josephine thought about it for a moment and shrugged. Whatever.

Then she thought about Chisco. What was she supposed to do now? Go after him? Call him? None of the above, she thought. She had had her fair share of heartache on account of men. She had walked out on a three-year-old marriage because of the insecurity of her then husband. No other men talked to her. She stopped working. Even got locked up in the house while he traveled for a whole week. All of that made her decide enough was enough. Her man knew she could stray. While they were courting she had told him of her fantasy to be with two men at a time. He married her two months after and then put a leash on her. She was glad she realized early enough and made sure not to get pregnant. Those were the worst three years of her life. Too many times she ran after him to explain herself. That was something she swore she was never going to do again. She was a free woman now. She could do as she pleased and did not owe anyone any explanation. If Chisco asked her what had happened with Ndifreke she would answer exactly as it happened. But she was not going to run after him.

By this time Ndifreke had packed a few things and was going to hide away at Eno Sunday’s for a few days. Only he did not know that he would be passing through the uncompleted building where Chisco was to connect to the street he was going to.

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

Mama Tobi thought about what to do with the medicines she had returned from Okitupupa with. If there was one thing she knew for sure, it was that anything that entered the stomach was far more effective than everything else in those situations. She thought about how she was going to get Mama Akunna and her grandson to eat her food. Then she had a brilliant idea. Once every month she gifted compound members the fufu that she made. She usually wrapped bigger portions and shared to the families. Though she had not done so in two months, everyone understood that it was due to her many travails.

She had been smart enough not to show Mama Akunna and her grandson that she was unhappy with them. She had maintained an air of gratitude to God for her healing, and so she was confident that if she gave them the fufu laced with the medicine there was a good chance that they would eat it. The shifty eyed Akunna would also eat. She knew he was in on it as well. No one had forgotten his Christmas and Sallah goat and ram and his new whiskey drinking habit which she knew was funded with her money. If nothing happened after she gave them the fufu, then she would try to use the plan B. and there was also a plan C.

So that morning after she made the fufu, she cut them into sizeable portions and wrapped them. She laced the one she intended to give to Mama Akunna with the white powder she had been given and put everything in a basin and kept on her centre table. She made sure that her children had gone to school and would not return till the afternoon, by which time she would have shared out the fufu. Satisfied that she had taken all the necessary precautions, she left the house to quickly go and drop off the fufu supply meant for market women at the kiosk down the road from where they would pick it up.

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

Maya sat in the restaurant at the Enchanteur and kept flipping the pages of the menu. She had not seen Jonjo in two days. Now she was fed up and wanted to go back home. If it was not one meeting, it was one engagement or the another. He had installed her in the suite as a piece of furniture and only sent her messages on whatsapp every now and again. She would call and Uber and go home. If he wanted her, he knew where to find her.

The fisherman soup in the African dishes segment in the menu caught her attention. What soup was made with snail, barracuda, squid, periwinkle, lobsters, oysters, prawns, and even crab! She saw a photo of it and began to salivate. She then checked the swallow that came with it – eba, semo, amala, pounded yam. What would she not give to have some of her mother’s hot fufu with such a resplendent soup! She could have them pack the soup for her and when she got home she would grab some hot fufu and enjoyed soup she had never eaten in her life. She would even get a portion for her mother. She looked at the price. N15,000 a serving. The first thing Jonjo had told her was never to look at the price of anything in the hotel. She was to have whatever she wanted. She had however been a good girl and had been considerate most of the time. But this time she was going to have two portions of the expensive soup. She deserved it for all the neglect. And her mother would love nothing more than one of those as a present. So Maya made her order and then brought out her phone and tracked an Uber that would take her home to her mother’s fufu that would be perfect for the fisherman soup.  

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

Castro had seen Usman leaving Wasiu’s room and walking down to the uncompleted building and followed him.  Usman knew he was being followed but he did not care. He reached the uncompleted building and sat on a window ledge and produced one of his wrappings and lit up. The first drag was always the best one. It crackled and produces a flame as he took a lung full. It was as good a smoke as he had ever known. Wasiu indeed was the man.

Just then Castro sauntered in. Usman was expecting him.

‘Bros Iniquity!”

“Just iniquity ok? I am not your bros.”

“Okay dude. Iniquity.”

He continued to smoke in silence. Then Castro said “May I?”

“You don’t ask. You stretch out two fingers.”

“Sure” Castro said and shaped his thumb and index fingers to receive the smoke and Usman handed it to him.

Castro collected it and dragged into his lungs. He knew to be careful not to cough.  But he could not do anything about the tears that welled up in his rapidly reddening eyes. Usman collected his marijuana and continued to smoke while Castro gathered himself.

“I’ts been a while” Castro said.

Iniquity nodded and continued smoking in silence.

They were then joined by Wasiu and Chisco.

Wasiu gasped when he saw Castro.

“You don start? Before your papa go come hold me. You don start?”

“Calm down. You know I am now good. The ones I was buying from you the time I wanted to kill myself, what do you think I was doing with them?”

“Alright o! Me I no want Mr Zubi problem.”

“See, I’m a big boy. Mr Zubi knows that now.”

“You wanted to kill yourself?” Iniquity said, with a trace of admiration in his tone.

“Yup. Got fed up. Drank sniper.”

“Now that is cool.”

“Told you I was no wimp.”

Iniquity produced a fresh wrap and handed it to Castro. “That’s yours.”

“Thank bruv.” He said and they touched knuckles.

Chisco smoked his in a hurry. He got angrier as he smoked. Wasiu noticed and brought out his phone and texted Ndifreke. They all continued to smoke in silence until Chisco noticed Ndifreke coming down the street with a small bag, looking left and right like a petty thief fleeing with a neighbor’s chicken.

“I dey come” Chisco said and extinguished his marijuana. Wasiu ran after him.

“What is wrong with those two?” Usman said.

“I don’t know. It seems something worries Chisco.”

Usman shrugged and studied Castro. Then he said, “Do you want to be rich?”

“Bros na question be dat?”

“Answer the question.”

“Yes ke!”

“Can you take a risk?”

“I will do anything”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes I would.”

“Alright. Now listen.”  

TO BE CONTINUED.  

EARLY MORNING FUMES

April 14, 2019

LUCKY ACCIDENT

April 14, 2019