Thursday, May 23, 2013

Things We Do For Love - The End



This (final) episode contains POV paragraphs from Feyi and Mofesola. In keeping with our usual trend, Feyi is speaking in real-time while Mofesola is describing past events. To make it easier to read, I have uploaded Mofe's paragraphs in bold typeface - versus Feyi's paragraphs which are in normal typeface.

This episode is continued from Episode 1 here, 2 here, 3 here, 4 here, 5 here, 6 here, and 7 here.

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Thank you.

=====

I had never been more surprised in my entire life.

After five years of searching endlessly, of walking round Lagos till I knew enough to correct street names on Google Maps, of borrowing money from Feyi to buy countless shirts and ties, I had a job! And not just any job, but like the MFM Pastor said, it was “isé tó maa tán ìsé”.

I did not even know where to start from. Should I call my parents first? Should I call Andrew and ask him to swear that this was not an elaborate joke? Should I borrow four hundred naira to activate weekly BIS and read the email for myself? Should I head for the nearest church and shout twenty-four hallelujahs? Should I dance naked – like I once swore to do?

I could not even scream, dance, or leap for joy. I would have done all those two or three years before. All I wanted to do was sit there and reflect on the past five years.

My phone rang again after a few moments, punctuating my reverie.

“This man where are you?” It was Alhaji.

“Ah, Alhaji. I’ve found her.”

“And you couldn’t…”

“Sorry Alhaji. I’ll call you back.” I said, cutting him short and terminating the call. This was my moment. He had no business sharing it with me.

*****

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Seven



Shivers run down my spine as I shuffle into the rundown hotel. It has been a long walk from the bus stop and my feet feel like heavy logs of wood. I am hot, sweaty, and worst of all – damp patches are rapidly forming at my armpits. I hate damp patches, and I hate the nervousness they signify.

I stand in the poorly lit reception, awaiting the receptionist. A run-down sign in the corner proclaims “home away from home”, but this place does not feel like home in the slightest. The way I feel is somewhat akin to what Daniel must have felt as he walked into the lion’s den all those years ago.

“Can you please turn that sign away?” I blurt out to the receptionist when he finally arrives. He peers at me, his spectacles perched on the bridge of his nose, then quietly turns it away. He hands me a form and waits in silence as I fill it out. I imagine that he is sneering down at me as I sign my name “Kehinde Helen”, so I glance up covertly – but he is dozing – neck bent and drool forming in his mouth. I clear my throat to call his attention and he snaps back to life momentarily. He collects the form and money, then hands me a bronze key with a broken key-chain. A boy of about ten years old, presumably his son, volunteers to lead me to my room, so I head off after him. I turn after a few steps, intending to ask the Receptionist if the air-conditioning works – but he is dozing again.

I press a hundred naira note into the boy’s hands and lock the door after he leaves. I am grateful for the few moments I will now spend alone. I feel a strange calm, somewhat like the lull before a storm. I look around the room, absently, taking in my surroundings. Strangely, the room is clean; cleaner than I expect given the run-down façade of the building. I bend to look under the bed on a hunch, and my intuition is confirmed when an irritated horde of cockroaches swarms out from under it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Six



Sister?

I was immediately thrown into turmoil. What could possibly have happened to my sister? Had she suffered another ulcer crisis linked to her poor eating habits? Should I continue towards Surulere to meet with Alhaji and start the process of finding Feyi, or turn in the opposite direction and head for Duro Soleye to be with my sister?

Those few moments were the craziest of my life, and then the situation became clear to me in an instant.

My sister, Titilola, was in an undergraduate program at the American University of Nigeria, in Yola. I had dropped her off at the airport a few days ago, waited to see her board the plan, and had seen it rise into the skies. Titilola was mortally scared of air travel, ever since we lost a cousin in the Dana air crash. Every time she was due to fly, she would send texts to the entire family requesting their prayers. I had gotten no such text. The chances were Titilola was very much in school, in Yola.

That then left only one person who could be mistaken as my sister, or who would tell a nurse that I was her brother – for whatever reason: Feyi.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Five



I stand outside my former employer’s office, my mind awash with memories. I know that I will turn and leave if I do not walk through these doors immediately, yet I cannot bring myself to turn the knob. “This is a bad idea”, I think to myself; “why on earth would he do me a favor after all that has gone down between us?”

I shake my head sadly and decide to leave. But I cannot bring myself to walk away, so I linger a little - exploring the various memories and associations I have with this place. And then suddenly, I feel someone creep up behind me.

I do not want to turn my head so that I do not betray my awareness of the fact that I am not alone. I look intently at the glass door, hoping to catch a reflection; but again – suddenly – I know who it is. I feel the force of his presence. I feel his eyes drilling a hole into me from behind, and knowing him well – they must be focused on my nether regions. Now I smell him; the strong smell of his perfume and aftershave. This is not good, but it is happening already.

“Feyi”, he says, hoarsely.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Four



This post is continued from part three here.


A myriad of thoughts ran through my mind as I made for Surulere.

For starters, my brain went into overdrive trying to fathom why Feyi would lie about her destination on the previous day. In the six years since we had been together, Feyi had only lied to me twice; and she had apologized profusely afterwards on both occasions. The first had been about an E grade she was ashamed of, and the second was told to get me out of the room while they planned a surprise for my birthday.

Then there was the matter of the two men who had been pursuing her. I was clueless on that front. Men? Pursuing Feyi? Why? For What? Feyi. My Feyi, who was known for smiling at strangers; my Feyi, who could not hurt a fly. Why would anyone be pursuing my Feyi?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Three



This post is continued from part two here.

My feet sink into the lush red rug of Father’s study with every step I take. I am nervous, afraid even; and my gait is unsteady. Mother seldom asks to speak with me, but she has today; and I have no idea what we are to discuss. I do not like the formal manner of the summons and the suspense – and cannot wait to get this over with.

Unsure if she is here already, I hesitate after a few steps. And then I smell her. The soft, sweet fragrance of her perfume wafts through the air – and all I need to do is follow my nose. Now I see her. Stately as always, she is seated at Father’s antique reading table; bent over her worn copy of Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

The thick rug masks my footfalls, so I approach her silently from behind. I run my eyes over her full head of grey hair, desperate to find a black strand. Alas, there is none! I make a mental note to spend more time with Mother; she is aging fast. I let her read in silence for a while, then I clear my throat to call her attention.

“Fèyí, mo ti ní kí o yé ma se bí olóngbò! Stop sneaking up on me!”

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Two




This post is continued from part one here.

When I and Feyi first started to see each other regularly, she made it a point to peruse my text messages and Blackberry chats. She was quite open about her reasons. Her previous boyfriend had cheated on her with another girl for a year under her nose, and she was not ready to let that happen again. She trusted me, she said; but she had trusted him too, and see how he repaid her trust.

I was really convinced about our relationship, so I decided to humor her. After all, it was a good way to prove I planned to ‘stay’. I removed the password lock on my phone and let her have full access. Because she had no ulterior motives for ransacking my phone, she unlocked hers likewise – and expected me to review her communications similarly. When I explained that I had no reasons to, she insisted – insinuating that I was not interested in the little details of her life.

Therefore, I immediately sensed something was wrong when she started to hide her phone. She would still check mine when she visited, but she started to leave hers in her handbag. When I asked for it, she would fiddle with it for a while before passing it over – and when I got it, I would find that her conversations had been cleared. Apart from that, there were increased visits to a certain ‘Uncle’ who lived on the island, and she would become defensive when I asked about recent changes to her daily schedule.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Things We Do For Love - One



As I run, in a daze, towards the bus stop, I become aware of the rain. It is pouring in sheets, white sheets, and I must wipe my face with my hands after every few strides to maintain a semblance of visibility. The water soaks through my clothes thoroughly, causing my chiffon blouse to achieve a degree of transparency ordinarily reserved for glass. I glance down at the swell of my breasts, accentuated by the contrast between my black bra and my now-transparent blouse, and I am suddenly grateful that the young men gathered on the street to play football a few moments ago have been dispersed by the rain.

My luxuriant hair, originally combed backwards, is now matted; loose strands find their way into my eyes and cause my eyelids to snap shut in reflex. My eyes hurt, but I am not sure if this is from hair-oil getting into my eyes or the incessant tears. By now I have cried non-stop for about ten minutes. I am grateful for the rain, because it swallows up my tears like drops in a big river. The smell of wet sand from the very first rains of the year fills the air, reminding me of childhood in Ibadan. I want to stop and savor it, but I cannot. All I want to do now is get away from here; far, far away.