ASUU got a rude shock when the Federal Government only paid eight days of their expected eight months’ salary upon the resumption. A breakaway faction called Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) was swiftly recognized by the Federal government which also began to pay their eight-month salary backlog. The saga had not ended after all. The pump price of petrol began to subtly yield to market forces. Artificial scarcity for a week or two and then the product became available again with new prices on display with no official word from the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) whose function it was to fix prices. Tinubu and Atiku continued to cherry-pick where to make an appearance in their presidential campaigns citing ‘busy schedules’ while Peter Obi continued to be ubiquitous such that you wondered if there were more than one of him. A US court released papers on an order of criminal forfeiture granted against Tinubu in connection with drug dealings in Chicago in the 90s. While this caused a rumpus on social media back home, mainstream media continued to stay mum. Festus Keyemo attempted to bamboozle as to the real facts of the matter. A PDP spokesman on Channels TV said that if the matter went to court that Tinubu could be barred from contesting the 2023 presidential elections. Buhari still found time to go to London. Osinbajo finally crawled out of hibernation following his Presidential primaries’ humbling. US midterm elections showed how steeply divided America had become along party lines, with abortion occupying a big portion on the ballot papers. The world was still getting to terms with a coloured man occupying 10 Downing street. President Zelinsky was feeling brash following a historic recapture of Kherson and the retreat of Russian forces, even as Russia bombed Ukraine’s energy infrastructure to ensure the Ukrainians froze to death in the winter.
At 225 Katakata Street, Achike had made a discovery that was threatening to bring down the house that morning.
“Taa Ogbu! You gave gone too far this time. What respect do you have for me? What respect do you have for my wife? What respect do you have for the institution of marriage and the extended family for doing what you did?”
“Brother I be man. I no rape the woman. She no be your wife!”
“You are even talking back at me!” Achike thundered.
“Brother comot eye for dia. Why you no fit face ya wife. This woman na your wife?”
“She is my wife’s mother! She is family! Do you think this is blue film? This is an abomination! It is like sleeping with my mother! Your mother!”
Chisco wanted to ask Achike to swear that he did not wish to sleep with his mother-in-law. He wanted to bring sand from outside and give him to lick if this behaviour of his was not borne out of jealousy. But the man had caught them red-handed in his home. Perhaps he was entitled to his righteous indignation. But the hypocrisy was too much for Chisco.
“Chisco you have a place of your own! Did you have to do it here? Are you not by this action telling me to my face that I am nothing? You did not even consider how my wife would feel. You did not even consider the possibility of my wife witnessing such filth!”
It was a most harrowing watch for Achike. Evae was pregnant again and was having many uncomfortable nights. This time the pregnancy made her nauseous and she needed to spit into a can at intervals around the clock. It was one of those times when she reached for the can to spit into that Achike stirred awake and was unable to go right back to sleep. He began to think about Eyonyam. She was fully recovered now from the gruesome attack and all his former designs on her had returned. He could go to the other room and take a peek at her sleeping form. Just to look, nothing more.
Achike opened the door of the adjoining room carefully. He did not want to wake her or Evae up. He just wanted to look.
His eyes adjusted quickly to the darkness and all his internal organs seemed to collapse, leaving him swooning and needing to hold on to the frame of the door for balance.
Silent sex was a skill you had to perfect in a face-me-I-face-you. You heard the occasional involuntary gasps when the thing hit a certain spot but even that was mostly stifled because nobody wanted Mr Zubi’s rascals singing their names in the morning unless you were Jide Falomo and Funbi. But responsible family men and those who stole the sex knew how to bask in it in utmost privacy with an eventual abdominal protrusion the only evidence of physical procreation having happened. This was stolen sex executed to stunning perfection.
If they were doing doggy style or something along that line Achike would have felt somewhat better. At least he would have accepted that Chisco only wanted to maximize her famous posterior and that it was not anything serious. But there they were, copulating the missionary way. Slow, deep, and passionate like they wanted to conceive the messiah. He watched Chisco’s hard bottom go up and down Eyonyam whose body he could not see as he would have liked as Chisco totally dominated her essential parts. She spread her legs wide and was running her hands all over his back. She would at intervals grab his buttocks and push him even deeper into her. Chisco himself also passed his hands under her and found what Achike was sure was her comfortable soft nyash and kneaded them steadily as he continued to drive heavenly strokes into her. How did they manage to stay so silent? Their bodies moved in appropriate tandem, but how could their vocal cords be that cooperative under such circumstances? There was nothing they could however do about the occasional queefing from her vagina. The thought of how wet she could have been for that sound to emanate threatened to drive Achike crazy.
Achike was angry and excited at the same time. The small goodness in him begged that he not interrupt them. They went to great lengths to forgo the need to moan because they did not want him to hear. They did consider his feelings. They were both single. The familial boundaries he always alluded to to discourage them he knew was nonsense. If anything, it only applied to him and not Chisco. But they would still leave his house in the morning.
“No fear! No respect! No regard! My wife could have walked in on you. Do you know how traumatic that would have been for her? Her own mother! And you, woman! What do you have to say?”
Eyonyam did not say anything. She looked at him in such a meaningful way that Achike immediately changed the prepared verdict. Only Chisco would now be barred from the house. Chineke what was that he saw in her eyes!
Oh, men! Eyonyam thought. She did not want to leave her daughter. She could not. She knew how quickly things could unravel. Ever since she returned from the hospital she could sense that something was going to happen soon. It did not feel like it was going to be something pleasant. And the only person that could protect her daughter and her infant and unborn child was her. Achike was a small price to pay to ensure that.
Ndifreke stared at the porous mansonia wood as Maya jammed the door in his face. He turned the door handle to no effect. He scratched his head and looked around to be sure no one witnessed his embarrassment. He saw Josephine retreating into her inner room from the corner of his eyes. A few other curtains swayed in a manner suggesting that they had recently been ruffled. He was sure that it was not only Josephine that had gone to their door to eavesdrop. He made a slow deliberate walk through the corridor and down the stairs and back to his room. Still troubled, he decided to seek out Mr Cosmas.
Neighbours were going up and down the corridor and to and fro the backyard just as the queue at the toilet and bathrooms continued to get longer. Mothers were shouting at recalcitrant children. Fathers were barking at their wives and everybody. The unique face-me-I-face-you smell of onions frying in hot oil together with that of pungent medicated soaps from the kitchen and bathrooms that were close to each other wafted into the corridor causing Ndirfreke’s stomach to churn in protest.
Achike and Chisco were arguing loudly. Just as Irikefe emerged with a frying pan with which he walloped Carbondioxide’s head. Irikefe rushed to his side to explain as he saw Ndifreke. They had not been on speaking terms since he fired him and Castro from his stillborn business. But at that moment, Ndifreke could see the instant regret in his eyes following the assault on the boy and Irikefe’s need for either validation or a shield because Prince White had gone back inside when his son yelped in pain and everyone knew that that meant he was returning with a machete.
“See this yeye boy and him Papa o! Yesterday the useless afin approached me and said we should at least be friends since we live together. He sweet-mouthed me that he was going to give me sure odds to stake this weekend because he works in a betting shop. I then fried eggs and gave them small but because I was feeling somehow in my tummy I did not eat my own. I left it in the cupboard. Only for me to wake up this morning and Oxygen or whatever his stupid name is had finished the egg in the frying pan!”
Ndifreke was not in the mood for it. He simply said, “Guy, run.” And Irikefe dropped the frying pan and took to his heels as Prince White sure enough reemerged with a machete.
Ndifreke shook his head and waved a hand at Prince White as he also attempted to explain himself following Irikefe’s escape. There was never an end to the issues at number 225 Katakata Street. He would pay attention to them another day. All he wanted then was to speak with Mr Cosmas.
“Come in young friend,” Mr Cosmas said.
Ndifreke took a sit in the ever-sparkling room and greeted Mr Cosmas.
“Good morning my friend. You do not look happy.”
“I am not sir. Maya rejected me. She did so very emphatically. Slammed the door in my face.”
“I thought the prophetess said she was my wife and that we were made for each other. Why would I go there and she would shoo my away like a lost chicken. I want to go back to the prophetess and ask what I should do.”
“There goes humanity,” Mr Cosmas said with a rare rolling of the eyes.
“What do you mean sir?”
“You are all so predictable. You meet a seer and they appear to make sense to you. Then suddenly you give up your reasoning and only look up to the seer. Soon, you will visit the prophetess to know whether you should get out of bed in the morning. It is the prophetess you will go to if someone looked at you the way you don’t like. You want to apply for a new job it becomes at the say-so of the prophetess. Someone coughs around you you go and tell the prophetess.”
“No sir that is not what I meant. I am sticking with this one because she is mainly the one with her spiritual knowledge who made me reconsider Maya. So she has to finish the job.”
“That is how it starts. Have you considered that perhaps Maya was only doing the female thing of holding you off to see if you really want her? That the prophetess told you you belonged to each other does not mean that all social conventions and nuances would cease to apply. If I remember correctly, you said the prophetess told you to go and beg Maya. Did you beg her?”
“She did not give me the chance. She sounded very matter-of-fact. She told me all she’s put in place to ensure that she wouldn’t need me even now that her pregnancy is advanced. She didn’t leave me any room to maneuver.”
“So you will go to the prophetess because of that.”
“She gave me the go-ahead. I was ready to walk away. It’s already messy enough.”
“I have never been one to tell anyone what to do or what not to do. But I will always tell you what I know about a situation you have brought to me for my opinion. And I will say this. Do not fall into the trap of sending your brain and intuition to sleep because you have met someone who perceives what you cannot perceive. Sooner than later they will begin to tell you what you want to hear. Messages that are not even from their low spiritual sources. They will get it right sometimes and you will think it is God working for you. And then you will become a full pun in their hands and a spiritually dead soul. I have already explained to you how they see. How that it is not special. And how you can live a wholesome life without them. Should you need help outside of yourself, the Almighty will make it possible for you to get this help. But to think that you now need a prophet to tell you how you should talk to a woman you disrespected by sleeping with her sister is a big red flag. You are losing your way.
“If you want Maya back you have to win her back and it will not be easy. The prophetess said you were meant for each other. That may be true but you have to know that there is not only one woman or man for any person. The idea of a soulmate being only one individual is nonsense. Maya may have been one, but it got complicated and messy, and would make perfect sense if you closed that chapter. There are other women out there who would complement you perfectly. There is no straight course for anyone on earth. Sometimes you may go off course but as soon as you realize this, you find your way back on your path again. It’s all experiences you need for your advancement. It does not mean that you deliberately make stupid decisions believing you can always fall back in line. You run the real risk of running out of time and you may branch off on a path that takes your precious life prematurely.
“What I am saying is that you don’t need to cling to Maya because a prophetess said so. You have gone off course with this one. You will find another and will get back on track.
“I actually do want Maya sir.”
“Then put in the work.”
“She shut the door in my face. She wants nothing to do with me anymore.”
“Well, to my small understanding of these things, that is a show of emotion. She is angry and it is a good sign. You should worry if she didn’t care. If she had welcomed you inside her room, calmly listened to you talk, and then told you everything was fine. I would have said you should run for your life. But if she showed that kind of reaction it means there is still a heart there for you.”
“You mean it sir?”
“You who have had more girlfriends than I should know.”
“Girls have mostly just happened to me all my life sir. I have hardly needed to woo too hard.”
“Fine boy tax.”
“Ah Mr Cosmas! You even know that!”
“On a serious note young friend. You don’t need all this trouble. You can find another since it is a woman that is your problem. Some will tell you a real man doesn’t take back a woman who has been with another man. Furthermore with what you did, how do you think she will trust you again? Her sister is still alive. They are family. How will she trust you in her or another woman’s company again? And will you trust her not to sleep with her boss when tomorrow she gets another job? Are you ready for a marriage with such a cloud hanging over your heads for the rest of your lives?”
“She is carrying my child and will have the baby any time now. I am no better than her as you rightly pointed out. We both erred. We are both rotten. Maybe we deserve each other. The child is the deciding factor. I want to give it a proper family. I choose Maya. It is even unfair for me to seek a fresh woman after I have helped ruin the life of one and broke her family up. I should now leave her a baby mama and possibly single for life? She is my cross. I will carry it.”
“Your life. Your choice. But please, let this be the last conversation we will have relating to seeing a seer.”
Ndifreke left Mr Cosmas’ with a fresh resolve. Indeed he would stand in the corridor and shout if he needed to. He would knock down the door if she did not let him in. He had made his choice and he would stand by it.
He did not understand the tentative glances he received as he passed through the corridor and made his way up the stairs to Maya’s. But as he got closer his heart began to race. Maya’s door was open and she was having a conversation with a man.
He knew the voice.
No. It couldn’t be.
He got to the doorway and parted the curtain.
Sure enough, it was him. Jonjo.
TO BE CONTINUED.