(This is the first chapter of the novel I am working on. It is still in the works. I hope you don’t get bored).
The bedroom was dark. The March heat made the air in the room hot even with the curtains raised and the windows open. Ije lay in bed nude. As usual, there was no electricity to move the ceiling fan . She was thinking about many things. She had to hit the gym the next day; she just wanted to lose 10 pounds. Her thighs were big enough to feed a family of 10. With what she had bothering her, she might as well see her two best friends. She hadn’t seen them in a very long time. Her mind wandered to her mother. She missed her mother’s call. No, it wasn’t a missed call. She just ignored it while she felt it vibrate in her handbag. She was in traffic sitting on the passenger’s seat in her ‘boyfriend’s’ car. She just didn’t want to talk at that moment. She just couldn’t talk as many things were swimming in her head while he was talking to her. She made a mental note to call her mother first thing Saturday morning. She was thinking about her date with Bukola; a very strange date.
It was a bright, sunny Wednesday morning. She was sitting in her office with nothing to do. Wednesdays at the office were usually less busy. What other way to kill time than frolic in Cyberland? She logged on to her Facebook account and went through her previous posts. One of the things she achieved that morning was knowing what her classmate in primary school had for breakfast. The dude had taken a picture of himself with a plate of Fried Plantains and Fried Eggs. It was a pity that he was still congesting his system with the food he didn’t need. He was ostensibly overweight.
There was a post about corrupt politicians. She just couldn’t help herself. The urge to comment on that post made her fingers fly over her keyboard as she typed away the anger she felt towards the self-seeking politicians. She was so angry with corrupt politicians going scot- free in the country. She hated that the government wasn’t doing anything about it. She remembered that a lot of people who saw that post commented on her own comment. For once, she felt like a celeb. She had so many notifications. Different friend requests came after. That morning, she didn’t do the things she planned to do in the office because she was hooked on her new friends. She chatted with few. Some even went on to check her profile. Some guys liked and commented on her pictures. This made her check some of their profiles. That was the moment she ‘met’ Bukola.
She saw his picture on his profile. Bukola was fair-skinned with dark, bushy eye brows that were formed close to his brown eyes. He had a Greek nose that went in a straight line to the tip of his nose. A well-trimmed moustache curved gracefully on his full, pink lips. He didn’t have a beard. In his picture, he was typing on a laptop on his desk in a well-decorated office. He wore a black shirt. This contrasted against the white walls of his office.
Ije was smitten.
“Awwn… you’re cute.” She commented on his picture. That was the only picture he had of himself. Other pictures were just memes.
“Thanks. You, too. I saw your pics,” was his reply.
That was how she forgot her task for that day and ended up chatting with Bukola. Three hours later, after knowing themselves, the chat became risqué. Ije was turned on. She had to sit up and squeeze her thighs together. She found this pleasurable. He wasn’t even touching her and she was feeling all this. She went on to type, “if only you were here…”
“I can be if you want me to,” He replied.
In the next 30 minutes, they had made plans to meet at Ikeja on Friday after work. Bukola worked at Yaba. He told Ije that it would be better coming to meet her at Ikeja where her office was located. She was happy that he wasn’t even far away. They exchanged numbers.
In less than a second, her phone vibrated. When she saw the unknown number, she happily picked it. She knew who it was. She blithely said, “hi-hi”.
“Ije, right?” The deep voice melted her. It almost sounded like one she had heard in a television advert. She was swooning. Oh lord, she had fallen in love at first sound.
She paused to catch her breath. “Hello?” he said. “Are you there?”
She knew she had to say something.
“Yes, something distracted me on my laptop.” She giggled nervously and added, “Work related something, actually.” She had not started dating him and the first thing she’d say to him, not type to him, was a lie. Way to go.
“You care to share?” She could hear the smile in his voice.
“Nah-uh. So, you called me.”
“Yes, I called you.”
For the first minute, they just dilly-dallied around small talk. After chatting for close to four hours, they had nothing to talk about. Interesting. But then, they giggled at the same time and simultaneously said, “I am nervous”. This evoked more laughter. After that awkward moment, they seemed to talk about so many things. Ije couldn’t remember the last time she talked this long on the phone.
By the time she hung up, she saw that they had spoken for an hour and twenty-three minutes. He must be rich for us to talk this long, she thought. She burst into the church chorus, “I never knew you’ll bless me this way…”
This was going to be the start of something new. He would eventually ask her out. She wasn’t going to play hard to get. This might be her own “The One”.
She knew that Wednesdays were days to get lucky. This morning, when she was surfing the internet to kill time in traffic, the horoscope had said, “Today you will have opportunities to make the best out of your life. It could come in form of a proposal. It might even seem like a setback at first. But with time, you will learn more.” Ije wasn’t a horoscope fan she just went through daily horoscopes for Libra to kill boredom. Today, it made sense. The stars had finally aligned in her favor.
She was no novice when it came to dating. She had had her fair share of broken relationships. At a point, she wondered if it was her fault that she couldn’t meet the right guy. She was a true romantic. She had seen and done it all. She felt a connection to Bukola. There was something different about this. Him. It felt like they had known each other forever. Maybe he truly was the one.
She didn’t want to tell her friends, Zuri and Moyo, that she had met this suave, dashing, and cool dude. She didn’t need to meet him one on one to know that he was super cool. She could hear it in his voice. He looked so good in that Facebook picture. She sat with her elbow propped on her desk. There wasn’t much disturbance today being a Wednesday. She was in the human resource department and today was almost like a free day to her. She had enough time to think about him. They continued chatting on Facebook. Later in the day, she had serious work to do. That was what snatched her from Bukola. He promised to call her later in the day. She was walking on sunshine.
In the traffic on her way home to Ojota, she couldn’t take her mind off Bukola. She was in a Bukola-induced bubble. Even though she was looking out the window on her left, no one, nothing would burst this wonderful bubble. She ignored the world. She had fantasies of Bukola. It had been a long time since she got laid. Zuri had once joked that if she checked between Ije’s legs, she would find cobwebs. Zuri had bought her a vibrator last October as a birthday gift. But it wasn’t like the real deal. She used it just once and felt it wasn’t enough. Now that she had Bukola, she could as well toss it in the garbage. She imagined salacious things. She wondered how his neatly trimmed moustache would feel if it brushed against her lips. She licked her lips in anticipation.
Her phone’s vibration yanked her out of Imagination Ville. She hissed quietly. The dude on her right had an earpiece plugged in both ears. She hadn’t even noticed him. She brought out her phone and it was Bukola. She grinned. The grin could have divided her face into two. She must have looked like a Cheshire cat who just got catnip. She held her breath and she swiped her screen to answer.
“Hey miss…,” the sexy baritone filtered into her ear.
She gently let out breath as she whispered, “hi.” She learnt that trick from a book on how to seduce men. She was so happy she downloaded the PDF file and read it during her last office leave.
“Are you in bed? You sound sleepy.”
She mentally pumped her fist in the air. Her voice had the intended effect. Husky. Low. Seductive.
“Nah,” she drawled. “I am stuck in Lagos traffic. You?”
“I am home. I had to leave the office on time. My employees can take care of the rest.”
“Okay, then. I can’t wait to be my own boss, sha. I get to do things on my terms. Look at you; you get to resume whenever you like and close whenever. Me, I have to wait until its 5 o’clock. You are having a blast.”
“Sorry, dear. You have spent an hour on the road. I was just having lunch and I decided to call you.”
“What are you having for lun-” She was about to ask him a dumb question but the bus conductor saved her from shame.
“Changi 100. Gba!” the conductor’s voice cut the sweet conversation she was having. He was holding crumpled 50 naira notes and thrusting it in her direction.
“Please, let me call you later.” She said and quickly hung up. She didn’t wait for a reply.
She collected the notes and examined them one by one. She didn’t trust these conductors. They relished giving passengers ugly money that even beggars won’t accept. She was ready to give it to the conductor if the money was too dirty. She examined it. Flawless.
She checked her airtime. She knew she had to get ₦500 worth of recharge card to make calls to her mother and then, most importantly, she’d call Bukola when she was relaxed in bed.
The traffic had cleared. In 2 minutes, she was at Ojota bus stop. She wondered why the bus conductors called it “Ajatah” in lieu of Ojota. What wouldn’t she hear in Lagos?
The bike ride home was a cross she had to bear. The okada man was too friendly. He was talking about how he had not had electricity for two weeks in his house. He also complained that when the bills came, he was always surprised. He decided to buy a “big generator” that would power the four apartments in his compound at Ketu. He went on to tell her that every week, his tenants contributed a thousand naira for fuel. They agreed that they would run the generator from 8 o’clock till 10 o’clock every night and in the morning, it would run from 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock. This seemed fair to everyone. Ije was at the brink of asking him how he was able to build a house from being a mere bike man. It was as if he read her thought and said, “No reason me small o.”
“Mmh-hmm?” she grunted with zero enthusiasm. He was sounding like the typical egoistic Igbo man.
“Na for ministry, Alausa, I dey work o. I jus’ like this okada work. No place for this Lagos wey I no sabi. My papa been come from Nnewi. Na for dis Lagos dey born all of us.”
“Ehen?” At this point, Ije had lost interest in everything he was saying. She was saving for a car. Next five months, she would get a car and all this was going to stop. Her thoughts drifted to Bukola. Maybe he could even help with the 100k left to complete the car money. With time though, she would broach the topic to him. Five months was a long time to wait to get a car. Maybe he was even a car dealer. So many thoughts were in her head. The bike man was still droning on.
In less than ten minutes, she pointed to her compound. “Here o”
“Ah,” he sighed. He brought the bike to a halt. “Na here?”
Ije got off the bike and dug her hand in her purse’s side zip to bring out ₦70. “Ah, my sister, you be Igbo?”
“Ehn?” she was flustered. What did being Igbo have to do with paying her bike fare.
“You resemble my sister. Das why I dey ask.”
“Oh… hehe” she said. She had learnt how to sound like how she chatted on social media. Sometimes, when she wanted to laugh when talking with people, she’d say, “lol”. For the sake of being polite, she said, “okay, bye-bye”. She didn’t wait to hear anything from him. She entered the gate and breathed a sigh of relief.
She got into her one-bedroom apartment. This was her sanctuary of sanctity. Here, the problems of the world melted away. As expected, there was no electricity. She had to call the gate man, Timothy, to help her get it started.
She took her bath and ate the jollof rice left over from breakfast.
Bukola called her a few minutes to 10. She was engrossed in watching a Latino telenovela on her favorite channel. She asked him to call her back in 20 minutes as she had something urgent she was attending to. This gave her time to put off the gen and get into bed.
She always slept nude.
Bukola called her up again. They spoke for a while and then the conversation got lewd. She didn’t dare mention that she had a vibrator. She didn’t want to come across as a slutty girl. With the rough baritone talking to her and the vibrator between the folds of her nether lips, she came to an intense orgasm. It had been a long time she had something like that. It was unbelievably good. Of course, she knew that he knew she had an orgasm. She moaned into the phone with unbridled lust. Obviously, he was turned on. She could her him grunt. And after what seemed like the sound a man makes when he reaches climax, she knew that they had sexual chemistry.
They said their good nights and promised they would talk first thing Thursday morning.
Thursday was a haze. The first call she got at 4:45 AM was from Bukola. He told her how he couldn’t wait till Friday. He also teased her about how he imagined she’d look first thing in the morning. He asked if she ever had breakfast in bed. Ije knew she had met all the man she could ever want. They had not even met and he was crazy about her.
Zuri called her on her way to work. Still, she said nothing about meeting Bukola. Zuri was a killjoy and she didn’t need all that negativity to destroy her happiness. She couldn’t chat much with him today because of the workload she had at the office. They made up for the less chat time by talking on the phone for 42 minutes. This was during lunch break.
Friday came and Ije was ecstatic.
She had The Glow. She was a woman in love. She didn’t mind climbing the pedestrian Bridge at Ojota to tell everyone that she was in love. Last night, she had risqué chat with Bukola. The experience was out of this world. She couldn’t wait to do the real thing. She smiled at that thought, “I really can’t wait to do the real thing. Pun intended. Porn intended.” She counted down to 4 o’clock. She was fidgety. Before she left the office, she took out her mirror to make up.
She always got her eyebrows right. This was after Zuri had chided her saying, “I never trust a girl who can’t do her eyebrows right. If she can’t take care of her eyebrows, what can she take care of? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. So, sweetie, get your brows right. Get the perfect arc. You know what? Watch a YouTube vid. Like what do you do with your internet? Download porn? Naaa… Ije, I know you. You won’t. You’d rather download a cartoon. Weirdo”.
She applied a thin layer of red lipstick that matched her fair skin. She smacked her lips to distribute the lipstick evenly on her lips. She had a beauty mark on the right side of her chin. She used her mascara to work on her already long lashes. When she was done, she sat back to examine herself. The eye shadow was still intact since she left home in the morning. She practiced her “killer smile”. Her teeth weren’t perfect white, her dentition wasn’t like that of a
toothpaste advert model, but she managed to have a nice smile. Zuri had told her the smile was one of the cute things about her. Her thoughts drifted to the time Zuri “had a thing” for her. She missed all the attention. Zuri had simply moved on to other guys and girls. Zuri once told her, “The thing is that I don’t care what anyone has between their thighs. If I am drawn to them, I have to do them.” She told Zuri she didn’t swing that way. Zuri seemed cool with it. Ever since then, they had been good friends. That was six years ago while they were in their third year in the university. She wondered why she was thinking of Zuri today of all days; the day she was finally going to meet her Prince.
She left the office and made her way to the fast-food restaurant adjacent her office. Bukola had sent her a BBM message telling her that he was close. After waiting for about 20 minutes, he called her. He asked what she wore. She was feeling nervous, happy, excited, giddy… so many butterflies fluttered in her tummy. She explained to him that she was wearing a short Ankara dress. She had deliberately decided to wear it. She expected his thigh to brush against hers. Alternatively, maybe his hand might rest on her thigh in the restaurant. Who knows, he might even offer to drop her off at her house. His hand might wander. However, she knew she wouldn’t let him into her house. Doing that would make her look cheap. She knew she was so going to lock lips with him. His moustache was going to tease her lips. She smiled to herself at the thought in her mind. She couldn’t help it when she bit her lower lip.
When she looked up, she saw a dude approaching her table. It was Bukola. He was wearing a black Jellabiya and grinning. He looked like a real prince. All regal. He was about 5’ 11”, five inches taller than she was. He looked better in person. She tried to contain her excitement. Yes! This was her knight in shinny armor. They hugged. “Hello,” He said. She loved his scent. This was going to be “The Scent”. They sat down while smiling at each other. She was about to say something when a striking semblance of him came to their table.
She was wearing the same thing Bukola only that she looked nicer in it than Bukola did. She was a shade fairer than Bukola. She obviously went to a good salon to get her braids done to perfection. Her eyebrows were exquisite. She must have spent a decade in front of the mirror to get it right, Ije thought. Her eyes seemed to pull her in. Ije should have said something. She just stared like a blithering idiot. She didn’t know he was a twin. He never told her. The other girl finally spoke.
“She’s the one?”
“Yes, this is Ije. Ije, meet my twin Bukunmi”
Bukunmi offered her hand with long, slender fingers to shake Ije. Ije took it. It was soft yet, it had a firm grip. She smiled at Bukunmi. Bukunmi tilted her head to the left and smiled back. “He won’t let me hear word because of you. Nice to meet you at last. You can call me Kunmi. Everyone calls me that, Ije. I pronounced it right?”
“Yea… you did. Kunmi? That’s correct?”
“Noo… Coon-mee. You get? Like, coon-mee.”
“Okay… Coon-mee. I got it?”
“Ahaa… you should learn how to say that name you just might need it.”
Ije smiled. Bukola then said, “Kunmi, you won’t sit?”
“I forgot I was standing.” Kunmi settled in the seat adjacent to Ije’s.
“And you are still…” Bukola made awkward gestures with his hands to tell them that the handshake was enough.
“Oh… I forgot I was holding her hand, too.” She let go of Ije’s hand. “I am the klutzy one. He is the one who has it all figured. To think that we are a twin.”
Ije giggled. “You forget a lot, Kunmi? What could you be thinking about?”
“Well, for starters, money. You won’t believe I made a wager with my brother that he would get you under the sheets within a week.”
Ije’s smile died on her lips in a slow motion. She didn’t believe the new information she just heard. She was burning with mortification where she sat. She wanted to just fade into oblivion. Just evaporate as if she was never born. She turned to Bukola who was sitting opposite her. He opened his mouth to deny what his sister had just said when Kunmi giggled.
“Ije, oh my God! You should have seen your face! Jee… you looked like you were about to commit homicide. I was just messing with you. I have a twisted sense of humor. I am sorry.”
“Huh? Who makes that kind of joke?” Ije looked at her bewildered.
“Sis, I have told you not to do or say anything stupid here. Why would you joke with that?” Bukola didn’t get the joke, too.
“Hey guys, chill. Someone can not play with you people again?” she sneered at her brother. Then she turned to Ije, “I am sorry. I say stuff I don’t mean.” She covered Ije’s hand with her own and held her gaze for some seconds. “I am deeply sorry. No more sick jokes. I promise.” She seemed sincere.
That seemed to make everything better. They ordered for snacks. She just couldn’t ignore how it felt being with Bukola. He was warm and sweet. He paid attention to her. He shared some of his childhood stories with her while Kunmi didn’t say a word. Kunmi was engrossed in whatever it was she was doing with her phone. This made Ije wonder why she came with Bukola if she was just going to be insignificant. Or maybe Kunmi was just being polite and didn’t want to ruin her brother’s date. Sometimes, she and Kunmi would just smile at each other and Kunmi would get busy with her phone. Bukola ignored his sister. Somehow, she could smell antipathy between them. She assured herself that they were a twin. Twins don’t hate each other. Maybe Bukola was just paying her extra attention because she was his girlfriend.
Girlfriend. She smiled in her mind. She just thought of herself as his girlfriend. But it didn’t matter. In the two days she had known him, she had done and said girlfriendy things to him. She was sure that he was The One.
Her mother had been on her neck lately to get married. She wondered why her mother was telling her. It was not like she would go to a vending machine, slip in a coin, and the husband would just come out. She wasn’t going to be the one to propose to a man. Lately, she had been evading her mother’s call. She always came up with an excuse not to answer the phone. She was elated that she met Bukola. From the look of things, he liked her, too. The way he looked at her like she was the only one in the room made her feel special.
Her mother knew about her ex-boyfriends. She had dated two guys in her life. She remembered vividly that her mother had prayed that Damien would stay. According to her mother, Damien was a good boy. He had “cash”, too. She remembered that when she went to see her parents last Easter, her mother had asked her to invite him to their house.
“Mummy, he can’t make it to Festac today, na. There will be serious traffic on the road.”
“My baby,” her mother always called her sweet names when she wanted her to do stuff. “What is there if your father and I see this boy? I want him to know you have a good family that cares about you. Don’t you know that when a man keeps playing hide and seek with you, he won’t value you?”
With a tone of finality, she said, “mummy, he can’t come to this place today.”
The prayer points the next morning were all for her. Her mother demanded that God give Ije the bone of her bones. She asked God to let anything that would hinder her daughter from getting married to Damien die by fire. After 30 minutes of belligerent supplication to God, Ije reminded herself why she wasn’t crazy about her parent’s church. They used to be Catholics. Somewhere along the line, her mother had seen the “The Light”. Her mother convinced her father that the new church was where salvation was. Initially, her father had refused to go with her. After two Sundays, her father came around and they became members of the new church. They even began hosting prayer meetings in their compound. What transpired between her parents made her accept that Eve was able to seduce Adam with her apple. It became her apple after the serpent showed her what pleasure she could derive from it.
Ije’s mind came back to the present. Bukola became animated, again. Kunmi was sitting listening with rapt attention. He was telling her about a trip he took to Germany and how he didn’t understand a word at first. He went on and on. At this point, Ije noticed she was bored. She shifted in her seat. In doing so, her thigh brushed against Kunmi’s fingers that were under the table.
Kunmi moved her hand away without looking away from her brother.
Ije had her gaze focused on Bukola. She was tired of the gist. She loved the way his nose flared when he said something funny. Ije furtively checked her wrist watch, it was almost 5 o’clock. She knew she had to leave in the next ten minutes because of the hold up.
Almost after half an hour of sitting there and listening to Bukola talk about so many things, Ije told him that she’d like to get going. He pleaded that she stay a little longer. She explained that the hold-up on Fridays were very hectic.
“In that case, I’ll use the restroom.” He caressed her knuckles with his thumb before walking away.
The silence that ensued was loud. Ije was feeling shy to talk to Kunmi. Kunmi had been friendly towards her when they met. She was acting aloof. If she was going to have a relationship with Bukola, she needed to be good friends with his sister.
“You seem occupied and distracted,” Ije said. She didn’t have anything else to say.
“Just ignore me.”
“I have mood swings, too. I get high and ecstatic one moment and in the next, I am out like a candle.”
“Now, I am interested,” Kunmi dropped her phone to face Ije. “You just vacillate like that. How do you guys do it. I am surprised when people tell me that they have mood swings.”
“I don’t even know why or how. But, you seemed quiet. Anything eating you up?”
“Actually, I am thinking of stuff I’d like to eat up”
“Tell me all about it,” Ije beamed at Kunmi.
Kunmi tilted her head to the left and squinted at Ije. It felt like Kunmi was trying to figure out something.
Ije was flustered. “Did I say anything wrong?” She gesticulated.
After some seconds, Kunmi spoke, “I was wondering…”
“Hey, ladies.” Bukola came to the table. “Gossiping, abi?”
“No… just girlfriend talk.” Ije drawled while she made to stand up.
In the car lot, Bukola told Ije he would take her home. She asked if Kunmi wouldn’t mind the traffic.
In response, Kunmi brought out her car key and pressed a button. She heard a beep and she turned her head toward its direction. It was a convertible.
Ije was impressed.
“I came on my own.” Kunmi smiled. “You wanna ride with me?”
“The offer is so tempting. But. I think I will have to say no.”
“Okay… I better get going.” She smiled at her brother. “Call me.”
“Sure thing.” He got into the car. Ije made to open the door of the passenger seat, Kunmi stopped her.
“Hey… I like you.” She leaned to gesture to her brother to give her a minute. She saw the hate in his eyes. But she didn’t mind. They had been at this since forever. She pulled Ije to the back of the car.
“You really like my brother?”
“Of course,” Ije gushed.
“How long have you known him?”
“Why are you asking?” Ije was getting guarded. This was visible in her countenance.
“Hey… he told me how you met on Facebook. He likes you a lot. Don’t hurt him. He is really fragile and all. He was so shy that he asked me to come with him on his first date with you.”
This made Ije’s heart swell. He loved her! She was about to speak when Kunmi silenced her by placing her index finger on Ije’s lips. “Sweetie, hush.” Kunmi said. There was something about the way she said it that made Ije obedient. A kind of authority.
“I like you, too. I just hope you get to be his wife some day.” Kunmi’s hand held her’s for some seconds. It were as if Kunmi wanted to say more than what she had said.
“I will be good.” Ije nodded slowly.
“Trust me, you won’t be,” with that Kunmi pulled her in for a hug.
They said their goodbyes and she watched Kunmi drive off.
When she got in the car, she seemed quiet. She assured Bukola that she was just tired. She knew the real reason she was quiet was because she was thinking of something salacious.
When they got to her gate, Bukola stopped the car’s engine. They talked about nothing serious. Ije couldn’t help herself. She leaned in to kiss him. He seemed taken aback by this. He obviously wasn’t expecting it.
After that, they said their good nights and walked to her apartment.
After taking her bath, she lay nude in bed thinking about many things. There was no electricity. She had to hit the gym the next day; she just wanted to lose 10 pounds. She missed her mother’s call. No, she didn’t miss it. She just ignored it while she felt it vibrate in her handbag. She was in traffic sitting at the third row of a danfo bus. She just didn’t want to talk at that moment. She made a mental note to call her mother first thing Saturday morning. She was thinking about her date with Bukola. This was the best thing to happen to her in a very long time. She never imagined she could meet someone on social media and fall in love with him.
She tossed and turned in bed. She knew that she just lied to herself. It was a strange date. Kunmi made it strange for her. She didn’t want to acknowledge the reason why it felt strange to her. The reason she kissed Bukola was because he looked like his sister. She made up her mind to call Zuri the next morning. Zuri always had some advice to give in any situation.