Jonjo arrived like rain while the sun shone. For him, there was no other way of doing things. Be unpredictable.
Maya hissed and waited for him to speak first.
“I wanted to see how you were doing.” Maya did not offer him a seat. He helped himself to one.
She straightened in her armchair and said, “You didn’t think I’ll last a day away from your paradise.”
He threw his head back mirthfully and said, “I know you’re made of granite despite the fine face.” Leaning forward and with sudden sternness, he said, “I care. Believe me.”
He now wore his beard full, as was the trend. It was jet black and glistened with health and oils and the few visible grey strands in it stood like silver motif. Maya rolled her eyes and adjusted her gown over her shin.
“I have provisions in the car for you. I didn’t want to come upstairs carrying them. I remember what happened the last time I came here bearing gifts.”
“I don’t remember.”
“Your Hulk Hogan boyfriend made a good show. I’m sure some tins of sardines are still in the gutter somewhere.”
“That, I can assure you, cannot happen in Katakata Street. They would find the sardines even if they got stuck in the sewage pipe.”
Maya somehow kept a straight face while Jonjo dissolved into laughter.
“How is he?” He finally said.
“He came by. Looks well.”
“How are you?”
“I mean, how are you as a couple?”
“I don’t see how that is your business.”
“Come on. I said I care.”
“Have some shame Jonjo.”
“Oh, I’m Jonjo now.”
“Oh sorry. Asiwaju of Lagos.”
Jonjo chuckled and said, “I like the new you.”
“So I take it that you are still going strong. I admire the loser. Is he absolutely convinced he is the father of your baby when you were living with me all the time?”
“Why are you doing this?”
“No, I mean, it’s a super story. Love that has defied everything including common sense.”
Maya swallowed and took a few deep breaths. “I know your ego cannot contain the fact a woman would shun all you offer. But I am happy I left. You are a scumbag.”
“No man forgives infidelity. Maybe a weak man like you have. You should know in any case that he appears weak now because he has nothing. The day he makes money, he will remember all those times he witnessed me tapping your ass in the studio, and his imagination will feed him correct images of what I did to you every night while he lay alone admiring the ceiling. He will mess you up so badly that you will realize that you do not go back to a man who knows you cheated.”
“Fuck you Jonjo.”
“I on the other hand will gladly take you back even though I know he’s fucked you a few more times. I can live with it. You were not exactly my woman. I will make you that now. Then I can kill him if he comes within two hundred miles of you.”
Maya felt the baby kick. The lunatic in front of her scandalized even the poor thing. But she could not look him in the eyes.
“I tell you the truth. What you can do since it is love that you will eat for the rest of your life is to make sure he remains where he is. That is also easy. He is already a lazy pussified twat. Give it to him to eat every day. Let him beg for it. Show him he isn’t good enough and let his only ambition in life be to satisfy you. While his mates make money keep him wondering what he needs to do to make you happy. Keep him imagining only what he needs to do to give you another orgasm. In the meantime, you make sure you keep making money. Every woman wants a man she can control. It’s the new world. And when you need a real man, you can always find yourself one. If you are lucky, I will be in the mood.
“I came to make sure I gave you this message because you will need it. You see, I care.”
The curtain parted just then. Ndifreke’s eyes mirrored a serpent’s when they met Jonjo’s. He did not wait to respond to the jolly greeting aimed at him.
“There goes a heartbroken man. Your white knight,” Jonjo said with a grin.
She heaved a sigh and said, “You are a bad man.”
Jonjo shrugged and locked eyes with her.
“I want you to leave.”
“I want you to come off this stupid fantasy of yours and have a life. That boy has nothing to offer you. I will marry you and give you a purpose.”
Jonjo studied her. Maya’s eyes fluttered between the empty doorway and the ceiling. She bit her lower lip, supported her weight with one hand on her knee, and stood.
Jonjo eased back in his seat and said, “I can give you until the end of today to decide. The offer does not last forever.”
He watched as Maya moved to the window, parted the curtain, and looked outside. The noise from outside where children screeched like bats made Jonjo squirm. He caught a whiff of ammonia, no doubt from the open urination and defecation that happened there.
He rose to his feet.
“This place is disgusting. I don’t know if I can wait another day for your decision. You inhale all this nonsense and hope to have a normal baby? I even think it is why you are thinking like this. Only animals should live like this.”
Maya did not turn to look at him. She could feel him looming over her. This was not something she expected to hear. It was crazy for so many reasons. His wife, her own sister Clementina, his persona, for heaven’s sake a baby he knew for a fact was not his because he never penetrated her without a condom! Where did that come from? Was it a game? What sort of ego did the man have?
She should remain mum until he got tired and left. But those questions were burning in her gut. She wanted to understand his thought process. The man was a psychopath.
“You are married. You are a well-known playboy. You slept with my baby sister and have now driven her into prostitution. I am pregnant with another man’s baby and you know that too well. How do you think I can become your wife? A second wife for that matter? I’m sure you do not have any illusions about what I feel towards you. I can’t even bring myself to use the word love in a sentence concerning you. You also do not love me as I am well aware. You do not love anyone! Yet you come here and ask me to marry you as if you are dangling a banana before a monkey. Do you really expect a yes? Like I would jump into your life forever because you want to save me from this place because it stinks?
She turned sharply to face him. It was as if the rare breeze that came from the open window was what spun her around. She held his eyes.
Jonjo was unmoved.
“Now listen Maya. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t touch you because you are pregnant with another man’s child. But every man is entitled to at least one mad decision in his life. I recognize that you are a good girl. How many twenty-three year olds out there can boast of having only been with two men one of whom I am? I’ll marry you because I know you enough. You will have no difficulty choosing between Ndifreke and me because I know he also slept with your sister. But you see, I have money. I work hard. I only do women as a reward. He on the other hand would choose pussy before a career while believing that one day somebody would show up and save him. I am sure he already blames his parents for his failure in life.
“I do not need you to love me. Be a good wife and your belly will always be full, you will have healthy children and you will never pay bills. That is all the love you need. If this child bothers you, you can do well to send it to him after birth and save that as a reference point for when you count your life mistakes. The child will despise you in the end at any rate. They always look for their fathers even if he abandoned them and made their mother suffer. I will give you children you will be proud of and I will forgive this mistake. I knew and liked your mother. This would make her smile wherever she is.”
Maya did not realize she was crying until Jonjo offered her a handkerchief. She accepted the handkerchief but did not use it. A normal man would have pulled her into an embrace seeing how shaken she was. But he stood there watching her. Who proposed to a woman like that?
“She is not a problem. Contrary to what people think, she will be happy to see me marry and have children. She cannot give me that.”
“I see you don’t know.”
“I don’t know what?”
“She is pregnant.”
“She came to the flat with her things and said she wanted to start a new life as a prostitute. Hook-up is what she called it.”
“And you impregnated her you bastard!”
“I talked her out of it. I gave her more money than she would have made that weekend and told her to take a full week to consider. I had them put everything in the flat from dildos to Netflix on TV and even a PS5 even though I knew she wasn’t into sports gaming. I sent a girl over to cook and wait on her. Big Brother started that weekend on TV and she became hooked. She fell ill a few weeks later and when she went to the hospital the doctor gave her the news.”
“You impregnated my kid sister!”
“I didn’t touch her. She lost her allure once she pronounced herself a whore. And for goodness sake Maya I never have unprotected sex! I felt partly responsible for the way she turned out, yes, so the least I could do was to try to stop her from complete destruction. She told me the only other person she’s slept with was your boyfriend. You do know the motherfucker has never worn a condom in his life!”
The floor began to spin. Jonjo caught her before she fell and guided her back into the armchair.
“What did you say?”
“It appears your white knight knocked up your sister too. She had a lot to say about him. I knew then that I needed to come get you.”
“He gave her contraceptives. Postinor 2. She told me that,” Maya said almost in a whisper.
“The only contraceptive that is foolproof is to keep your legs closed. If you must open your legs, do so with a high-value man. A high-value man knows that condoms are non-negotiable.”
Maya felt something. She touched herself and looked.
“My water just broke.”
“Oh shit!” Jonjo said, and scooped her into his arms.
Eyonyam moved the sparse furniture in the parlour to the corners of the room and placed the rubber bath in the centre, poured hot water from a kettle and then added well water from a plastic bucket and mixed with a bare hand.
She could hear the baby squirming in discomfort from the bedroom where Evae had just left him with her husband to go and take a bath. Eyonyam stopped and examined the scene she had just set. She had placed a small stool for herself beside the bath. There was a plastic basket with a baby bath kit consisting of talcum powder, baby oil, Vaseline, cotton buds, a small towel and fresh reusable diapers. Satisfied, she called on Achike to bring the baby.
“Come and carry him and don’t disturb me!” Achike called back.
Eyonyam went into the bedroom and found Achike on the bed with his son. He had placed the baby close to the wall and lay on the outside. Eyonyam would have to reach over him to carry the baby. The little boy shrieked in delight as he saw his grandmother and stretched out his arms invitingly. As she reached for them, Achike held her by the elbow and pulled her to himself.
Eyonyam having sensed his intention placed a foot on the frame of the bed and found the purchase to slip out of his grip.
She stood back and said “You idiot. You already know I want to give it to you and yet you do this when my daughter is around!”
He had started a retort before he stopped himself.
“Nne, what did you say? What language did you just speak?”
She snatched the baby and carried him back to the palour.
How did God create men? She wondered again. How could their erections wield so much power over them? “Everybody for this compound know say your pikin dey baff for one hour. Make I touch small,” he was saying. How were they always ready to throw everything away for an orgasm?
Achike came out of the bedroom and stood by the adjoining door and watched Eyonyam washing the baby with a sponge foam that produced a lot of lather. The little boy wriggled in delight and smiled toothlessly at his grandmother while splashing soapy water around the room. He liked a bath, unlike most babies. They usually turned it into a wrestling bout with their bathers. Only she could see that he was getting too big for the in-room bathing. He had started initiating games and playing with the water once the bath had lathered up, soiling the room and leaving her drenched most of the time. She sensed Achike coming into the palour. She knew he was watching her and still wondering about her linguistic ability. She could speak English as well as she could speak French when she spoke from her deeper self. The pidgin English was a ruse that worked well for them while they operated at the lower level.
“You speak good English,” Achike said.
Eyonyam pretended not to hear him. She was finding it difficult to steady the toddler in a standing position so she could rinse him with clean water. He wanted to escape her grip on his upper arm and plunge back into the soapy water. He was eleven months old and spritely.
Eyonyam had already decided that from the next time, she would be bathing him in the backyard.
“What else are you hiding? Nwanyi Togo? Because you did not sound like somebody who was learning the language.”
Eyonyam needed to do something. She still felt the premonition that something was going to go wrong soon. She did not know what it might be. Even though she did not think that raising suspicion through her superior way of speaking could be it, she did not want Achike to persist with this line of questioning. She turned her back to him and lifted the baby into a standing position in the bath to rinse the soap off him, after which she stood him on dry ground and wrapped a towel around his small body. Her large bottom undulated with every deliberate movement. When she struggled to steady the energetic toddler and her butt cheeks clapped together aloud, Achike slapped his head with his two hands like Papa Ajasco, appeared in front of the main door like a ghost, and quietly guided it shut.
Even in his forties, he still fantasized as he did as a teenager. On many occasions, while he watched her work, he thought about mounting her from behind spontaneously. He wanted to creep up behind her, shift her pant, and take her with minimal preamble. He reckoned women like Eyonyam were always ready. If now she were not, he would reach for the baby soap and sponge, douse everywhere around the glory hole and dive in. In fact, he would not speculate on her readiness. He would use the soap regardless. He never understood men who harangued about having it tight. Tight for what? If he wanted tight, he would fuck a bottle. He wanted it viscous and messy, so he could revel in the joy of those monster cheeks slapping around his pelvic area unrestrained. He knew how to find an angle should he need extra friction. Eyonyam was the kind of woman you took with wholehearted vehemence. No romanticizing.
His wife had been gone for ten minutes. That meant he had in excess of half an hour still. He did not need more than seven minutes. He could tell that Eyonyam was teasing him. Bloody whore! She could start speaking Latin for all he cared!
Eyonyam had him where she wanted. She eased up as he came to her and balanced the baby on her hip. The baby started squirming and reached for something behind Eyonyam. She was grateful that he was not watching his pathetic father. No one person should have that much lust in their eyes. He had his stiff penis his hands and his mouth was open and drooling saliva like Mr Ibu. He said, “Turn your back. Turn again and shake it biko.”
TO BE CONTINUED.