Monthly Archives: October 2016

Blind Pact – Chapter 7

Gboyega is upset and angry after Bola’s call. He had not envisaged Kofo will go looking for Bola in school. He wondered how she found out about her; but knowing who Kofo was, she always had her way with information. It was over between them. Why was she refusing to understand? He had the mind of calling her this night but he had changed his phone number simply because he did not want to have anything to do with her again. Calling her now, was exposing himself to her whims once more. Since he changed his number, he had had a bit of respite from her incessant calls. Should I call her to warn her or ignore her threats to Bola? He ruminated over his decision over and over as he lay on his bed till he dozed off.

The next morning, Gboyega gets up early to prepare for the day’s job. He is just coming out of the bathroom when his doorbell chimes. Who could be looking for me this early? He thinks. He quickly gets into his trouser pants, wears his shirt leaving the buttons undone and walks towards the door to see the early visitor. He opens the door and standing right before him is Kofo. She puts her hand on the door lintel and as usual is chewing a gum. The expression on Gboyega’s face is that of surprise and then anger.

“What are you….?” Gboyega is asking before he is hushed with a wave of Kofo’s hand.

“Shhh…It is too early. You would wake the neighbours.” She says placing her forefinger on her lips.

Gboyega refuses to be hushed and asks through clenched teeth. “What do you want from me?”

Kofo pushes him aside as she walks into his room. A mattress lies to the right corner of the room, a wooden chair and table on the left and a small LED TV hangs on the wall.

Gboyega closes the door behind him and faces her. “Kofo, what do you want from me? Why won’t you leave me alone?”

Kofo bursts into laughter. She walks towards the table and drops her handbag on it. “Leave you alone. C’mon Gbosgaga, you can run but you can’t hide. You know that, don’t you?”

“Kofo, I am through with you. Don’t you get it?”

“Through with me? Through with me? And you leave me for mummy’s girl.” Kofo shouts at him.

“Leave Bola out of this. She has nothing to do with the relationship we had.”

Kofo is sober. “Then why did you leave me? Why did you change your phone number? Why have you refused to warm my bed? My body has been panting for you. I have missed your touch, Gbosgaga.” She says in a whisper.

She moves towards Gboyega and places her hands on his chest. She traces a finger on his toned chest, circles it up his neck and to his lips. Gboyega closes his eyes and savours the feel of her fingers on him. His mind transports back in time to when Kofo meant everything to him; when satisfying her pleasures was his only reason for living tomorrow. He remembers when the world stopped at her feet; when he lived for her. It was not a life he had wanted but he had enjoyed every bit of it while it lasted.

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It has been a long time since he was with a woman and Kofo knew what to do to trigger every hormone in his body. Kofo’s finger draws doodles on his body and as she gets to his pelvis, he catches his breath. Blood was beginning to seep into his nether region and he was getting to a place of no return. He suddenly shakes his head and opens his eyes as if a jinx over him has been broken. He holds her two hands and steps away from her. “No, Kofo. I am through with you. Through with being your…your…” He found himself unable to complete his sentence. He hated the word he was meant to use.

“My boyfriend?” Kofo completes his sentence.

“Yes, your boyfriend.” He is thankful she had not mentioned the word but it did not change the fact that that was who he was to her.

“Why?” Kofo asks in confusion. “What do you want that I haven’t been able to give you?”

“It is not about what I need, Kofo. I am now a Christian.”

Kofo looks at Gboyega with shock then begins to laugh derisively. “You, Gbosgaga? A Christian? No, tell me that’s a joke.”

Gboyega looks at her without saying a word.

“Weren’t you a Christian when you lost your parents? Where was your God then? Where was He when you needed money to bury them? Hmm…tell me.”

Gboyega turns away from her.

Kofo walks towards him and pulls him by the shirt turning him to face her. “Answer me Gboyega. Where was He when you were in need? When you couldn’t pay your school fees or take care of your younger ones? And now, you have the guts to stand here and open your mouth and tell me “I am now a Christian?” She mimics him. “Rejecting me for that…that bitch, you call Bola?”

Gboyega looks at her, anger seeping into his veins. “Kofo, any word from you again and you will have yourself to blame.”

Kofo claps her hands. “Right? He’s got guts now.” She fakes a shiver. “I’m scared.”

“Kofo, please I beg you in the name of those you hold dear, leave Bola alone.” Gboyega pleads.

Kofo raises her chin with pride. “And you?”

Gboyega refuses to answer and begins to button his shirt. He sits down on his bed, picks up his socks and wears it.

Kofo sneers. “I thought as much.” She picks up her bag from the table. “You have not heard the last of me.” She says as she storms out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

Gboyega raises up his head from the trainers he is lacing as the door slams. He looks upwards. “God, I thought I was through with this.” He picks up his knapsack, slings it over his shoulder and walks out of his room. As he strolls towards the bus-stop, he remembers how Kofo had waltzed into his life over three years ago.

School had been on vacation when he got invited to a high-profile party somewhere in Lagos. It was a house party and according to his friend, the party was going to be attended by the who’s who in town. His friend told him that the party was strictly by invitation, so he should consider it a priviledge that he was attending.

Gboyega had been mesmerized by the beauty of the house. It was a duplex with ten rooms, all en-suite. The ground floor had two large living rooms, a ballroom and a lounge for receiving visitors. At the entrance of the house, there was a massive Olympic sized pool. Scantily dressed ladies hung around the pool with pot-bellied men. Every furniture in the house screamed class and Gboyega wondered which politician owned the house. His friend had his arms around a girl’s waist as he handed him a drink, encouraged him to have fun and disappeared. Sweaty bodies danced in the ballroom, one of the living rooms had young guys and girls already stoned on marijuana while the bedrooms had pot-bellied men making out with girls old enough to be their daughters. He moved around the house like a lost child and at a point he got bored. He walked up to the patio overlooking the lagoon and stood there to take in the freshness of the night breeze.

He had been lost in his own world when a lady walked up to him breaking into his thoughts. “Hello handsome, need company?”

He looked at the lady standing before him. She was beautiful and towered a few inches above him. Her eyes sparkled from the reflection of the water and her teeth shone bright when she smiled. The breeze blew her weaves and they slapped her face in a carefree manner. He shrugged in response to her question.

“Looks like you ain’t enjoying the party.” She said.

He wasn’t sure who she was and he did not want to sound rude. “I just needed to get some fresh air.” He responded.

They both stood on the patio looking at the water. Different colours of light from the house illuminated it revealing a picturesque environment. She asked what he did for a living and he said he was still a student. She began to talk about campus life and lecturers and he assumed she was also a student invited to the party. They exchanged numbers, introduced themselves to each other and then she left him to his solitude.

Hours later, when Gboyega could no longer contain his boredom, he left the mansion without his friend.

——-

Photo Credit: http://www.manthesis.com

My Journey to Identification

“Olubukola, your BVN data have [sic] been enrolled with NIMC. Tracking ID: BVN_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. Visit any NIMC office to update your data and get your NIN.”

I received the above text message some weeks ago. Sender’s details stated NIMC. My first hunch was to delete it. I was about to, when on second thoughts, I decided to bring out my laptop. I opened up Google and typed NIMC in the search box. My search revealed the National Identity Management Commission website. So it was not a scam after all. I decided to make more enquiries from the website and found out forms and other information regarding identifying myself as a citizen of my beloved country, Nigeria.

I download and print out the attached forms, fill it out and search for an office closest to me on their website. I find that one is just a few metres walk from my house. Cool! I get dressed the next day and begin my journey to identification.

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Considering that it is a government-run program, I assume they would not get started until 10.00am. My daughter and I leave home at about 9.30am. In about fifteen minutes, we get there and I am surprised that the office is open at 9.45am. There is also a considerable amount of people waiting. Hmm! This is a nice change for a government-run program, I say to myself.

I declare my intention to get identified and I am asked the basic question. “Do you have a valid means of identification?” – To which I respond in the affirmative. I produce the ID and my filled form and there is a smile on the lady’s face. “I have not seen this form in a long while.” She says to her colleague. “Our job would be easier with this.” She continues. I am asked to take my height measurement and this is imputed on my form. “Please wait outside until you are called.” I am told.

My daughter whips out her novel, while I read mine on my mobile phone. A few minutes later, I am called in. I am actually surprised at the speed with which the process is run. I sit in a queue in the office and soon, I am next in line. I take a seat beside a guy who begins to input my details into his desktop. My form gives an edge over others as he does not need to ask me any questions. His eyes move from my form to his desktop and the only sound between us is the sound of his fingers clacking on the keyboard. Everything goes smoothly until……

There is a power-cut. The desktop goes blank and the guy imputing my details hisses as he sits back. I look at his face. “You don’t have a UPS?” I ask him foolishly; as if I did not see his desktop go blank. He ignores me and asks that a colleague sitting by the window, lift up the venetian blinds for air. There is a generator by the lady pulling the venetian blinds and I am relieved that it would be switched on very soon. I hoped too soon.

We are all ordered outside and asked to wait till PHCN decides to give them light. What!!!! In this great country? Someone still depends solely on government light? We all walk out and wait for the Nigerian miracle to happen. An hour passes and more people join the queue. Everyone waiting for the miracle of PHCN.

About an hour and a half later, the guy informs us that the local government usually powers the premises at noon. Hopefully, they will power their office. This gives the waiting applicants a sense of hope. Noon is just about 30 minutes away. An hour later, we are told they will power the premises at 1.00pm. We all grumble but still decide to wait. The local government eventually powers the premises but decide whose office to power or not. Our hope is dashed as we realize that this is going to be a very long wait.

 

Collection of ID cards begin at 1.00p.m. Applicants seeking to collect begin to arrive in trickles and the whole office area soon becomes crowded. My daughter signals to me that she is hungry and would love to get gala outside. “If you stand up, someone else would take your seat.” I tell her. She decides to stay put and bear the hunger pangs.

At about 1.30pm; three hours after I should have been captured, an officer working with a para-military organization in the local government premises decides to empower the office with some cash to power their office. The generator is carried out of the office and filled with fuel. The guy who was initially imputing my details decides to give a lecture before the generator is powered.

“Only those whose names have been written down for capturing will be attended to. Every other person should come back tomorrow morning.” There are a lot of grumbles and mumbles but he is undeterred. “If you do not know your mother’s hometown, please call her and confirm before you get to the desk for capturing. If we ask you a question and you don’t have an answer to it, we would send you out and call someone else in. We have only five litres of fuel and we still need to do biometrics for those collecting as well.” He concludes.

I walk back in to take my seat beside the guy and in two minutes, I am captured and identified. I am asked to return three days later for collection of my ID. Three days is long past and it is yet to be available. I wonder how long I still have to wait to end my journey to identification. I hope I get to my destination soon and be identified as a citizen of this great country, Nigeria.

——-
Photo Credit: http://www.deviantart.com

Blind Pact – Chapter 6

After one week, Gboyega leaves for his place of primary assignment. He has been posted to a construction firm and the pay is beyond what he imagined he would be paid as a youth corper. He is delighted and calls Bola to give her the good news. She is happy to hear that he is settled down. They call each other every day and Bola begins to grow fond of him. She begins to look forward to their calls every morning and evening. Her roommates notice and also begin to tease her. They ask her if they are officially dating and she responds in the negative. They are surprised and wonder why she is not dating him. She looks at each one of them as they advise her on relationships. She nods as if listening to them but her mind is faraway. They cannot understand. My heart is still broken by daddy’s death. I am scared of letting go.

 

One cool evening, Bola and her room mates are chatting in the room. They have all arrived from lectures and are idling on their beds. A knock on the door breaks into their chatter. “Yes, come in”. One of the girls call out.

A tall, light skinned lady walks into the room. Her gait is confident and she chews on a gum with reckless abandon. She takes a look round the room with disdain before settling her eyes on Bola. Bola’s roommates look at her in confusion. They wonder who she is and are curious of her commanding presence.

“Hello, can we help you?” One of the roommates, Eseosa asks as she looks at the strange lady cautiously.

The lady sizes up the roommate who has spoken and eyes her. “No, you cannot help me.”

Another roommate, Halima speaks up. “Who are you and what do you want?”

The lady smiles broadly displaying a set of teeth that look like they have just been whitened. She looks at Bola who is watching the display and fires at her. “I came to warn you to stay away from my boyfriend.”

Bola is dumbfounded. She looks around her in confusion. She wonders if the lady is referring to her or someone else.

Bola’s roommates look at her and also at the lady. They wonder who she is talking about; their eyes questioning.

“I’m sorry.” Bola says finding her voice. “Are you referring to me?” She queries as she places a hand on her chest.

“Do I look like an idiot to you?” The strange lady retorts.

“I haven’t said that ma. I am confused. I don’t know who you are referring to.”

The lady laughs hysterically as she points a finger at her. “Stay-away-from-Gboyega.”

Bola’s roommates immediately understand the situation. They get up from their beds coming to Bola’s defence. Nekpen stands in front of the lady and gesticulates with her hands. “Look here, madam whatever. We don’t care who you are. You don’t barge into people’s rooms handing out threats like you run this place. If you have a problem with your so called boyfriend, why don’t you go solve it instead of forming big madam here?”

“Watch your tongue, girl. You don’t want to hit on the wrong nerve, I assure you.” The lady warns.

Bola stands up from her bed to say something but Halima steps in front of her. “Please leave our room, madam. You have done enough damage.”

The lady smirks as she looks at Bola. “I am sure I have made myself clear, right?” She looks at each of the girls with condescending eyes before walking out of the room.

Bola breaks down into tears as she sits down on her bed. Nekpen and Halima sit on each side and comfort her. “Hey, it is okay. He obviously left her and she wants to fight back.” Halima says.

Nekpen rubs her back. “This is normal, Bola. I know you love him. So you need to fight for him.”

Bola looks at both of them. “I never knew Gboyega had a girlfriend. She looks so….so…sophisticated.”

“C’mon, I am sure the lady was just tripping. Don’t believe everything you hear. You need to talk to him first.” Eseosa who had been watching from her bed speaks up.

Another roommate, Miriam, who had been sitting quietly on her bed hisses. “Hmm….I thought you said he is born-again. This one that madam the madam is calling him her boyfriend. This one pass boyfriend mata oh. E be like say na toy boy.”

Nekpen looks up at Miriam, her eyes spitting fire.

“I’m sorry oh, Bola. I did not mean it in a bad way oh. I was just saying my own. Abeg, no vex.” Miriam immediately recants.

Bola looks at Nekpen and Halima as tears stream down her cheeks. “Do you think he has been lying to me?”

Halima smiles. “I don’t think so, Bola. Gboyega has truly changed. Those who knew him before can attest to it.”

“Besides, what matters is that he loves you.” Nekpen adds.

 

Later that evening, Gboyega calls Bola and she decides to take the call outside her room. As she walks out of the hostel, she narrates the incident of the day. Gboyega is quiet and does not say a word.

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“Who is she?” Bola asks.

Gboyega takes a deep breath. “She is my past.”

“Gboyega, she threatened me.” Bola cries. “We are not even dating and your ex-girlfriend threatens me?”

“Bola, please listen. I have left my past behind. Don’t let this affect our relationship, please. I love you and you are all that matter to me now.”

“I can’t deal with this, Gboyega. I can’t.” She says as her lip quivers and her voice breaks with emotion.

“You are breaking my heart, Bola. Please stop crying. I will talk to her and warn her if that would make you feel better.” Gboyega pleads.

“Good night Gboyega.” Bola says as she ends the call.

***********

The next day, Bola finds a hard time concentrating in class. The incident of last night bothers her the whole day. She thinks about discussing it with her assistant pastor, but would she understand? Besides, she is wary of discussing her private life with others. The only confidant she has right now is her mum. She decides to leave campus after lectures.

As she lets herself into the house, she rings her mum to let her know she is home and if she can prepare dinner for her.

“You are home? I hope you are okay.” Her mum asks.

“Yes mum, I am. I missed you and decided to come home.”

“Okay. I should be home for 9.00pm.”

“Should I make dinner?” Bola asks.

“No, it’s fine. Dinner will be too late by then. I will get some fruits on my way home.”

“Okay mum. See you later in the evening then.”

“Thank you dear.” Banke is about to cut the call when she calls her daughter – “Bola?”

“Yes mum.”

“I’m glad you are home.”

Bola smiles in spite of the turmoil in her heart. “Me too.”

 

Banke drives into her garage at 8.30pm. She eases out of the car with a shopping bag filled with fruits. Bola meets her at the door kneeling down to greet her. “How was your day?” She asks collecting the bag of fruits from her.

“Tiring.” Banke replies as she walks in and slumps into a settee.

Bola drops the shopping bag on the centre table. “Mum?”

“Yes dear.” She looks at her daughter and sees that her face is serious. She sits up immediately. “Is something wrong?”

“I came home because I needed to talk to you.”

Banke makes herself comfortable. “I’m all ears.”

“Do you remember the guy I was talking to the night you walked into my room?”

“Yes, the guy you called your friend.”

“Yes mum. His name is Gboyega.” Bola says.

“Okay? What about him?”

“A lady came to my room yesterday warning me to stay away from him.”

Banke looks at her confused. “Stay away from him? I don’t understand. I thought you said he was just a friend.”

Bola looks at her fingers and takes a deep breath. “He has been asking to date me for a while.”

“Oh!” Banke exclaims.

Bola looks up at her mum. “I am not dating him, mum.”

“Okay. You are not dating but a lady comes to you asking that you stay away from him. The only reason why she would do that is because she assumes that you are dating.”

“Exactly mum. Gboyega never told me he had a girlfriend.”

Banke shakes her head and her forefinger. “Hmm…hmm, don’t get it wrong? Did the lady mention that Gboyega was her boyfriend?”

“Yes mum. She did.”

“And have you spoken to him?”

“He says she is his past.”

“You don’t believe him?” Banke squints as she looks at her daughter.

“I don’t know what to believe, mum. I am confused.”

“You are in love with him.”

Bola shakes her head.

“I think you are. Is he a Christian?”

“Yes mum. We attended the same fellowship till he left school.”

Banke holds her daughter’s hands. “You know you can’t judge anyone by their past. Everyone should be given an opportunity to create a future; their past notwithstanding.”

Bola retires to her bedroom after the pep talk with her mum a little relieved. She is still finding it hard to understand the whole situation but with her mum’s encouragement, she is willing to give Gboyega a benefit of doubt.

As she lies down, she opens her bag lying on the floor beside her bed. She takes out the only picture she has of him, tracing his face with her forefinger. She smiles as she picks up her phone. She types a text message. “I believe you.” She hits the send button and goes to bed with a smile on her face.

——

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com

A grateful night!

It was almost 7.00p.m. She sauntered lazily into the house. It had been a long day in the market walking around and haggling. As her kids ran to give her a hug, she scooped them up in her arms. “Mummy, what did you buy for us?” They chorused.

She smiled. “Let me go in and change first.” She told them.

They followed her in refusing to let her out of their sight.

She opened the connecting door and instantly knew something was amiss. She took a step back and bumped into her kids. She immediately pulled them away closing the connecting door behind her. She called on her maid; ordering her and the kids out of the house.

After their exit, she reopened the connecting door. The air was thick with soot. As she opened the door to her room, she balked. The curtains were on fire. Her bed lay undisturbed just like she had left it in the morning. She knew it was only a matter of minutes before it would also go up in flames.

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She looked at the air conditioner on the wall by the burning curtains. The bedside fridge just below the curtains; the various bottles of perfume sitting on the credenza under the air conditioner. A disaster waiting to happen. She looked around and became confused. Should I get water? Should I mix detergent with water? Her mind became a chaotic jumble of thoughts.

Just as she was contemplating on what to do, the maiguard noticed the flames from outside her window. He ran to the landlady’s quarters to retrieve a fire extinguisher. Moments later, the fire was put out.

She looked up to the heavens and said a little prayer. Thank God, she had decided against staying back to gist with her friend after their trip to the market. Thank God, she had arrived home just in time. Thank God, her kids had not decided to go into her bedroom. She had every reason to be grateful.

——-

Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com

Blind Pact – Chapter 5

School closes a few weeks later and Bola leaves for home on a Friday. Her mum is delighted to see her when she gets back from work in the evening. Since Bola has her own key to the house, she had let herself in earlier in the day and prepared dinner for her mum. They both sit at the dining table and talk about school, work and other matters. After clearing out the dishes and the kitchen, Bola retires to bed and decides to call Gboyega. It has been a week since she last heard from him and she was beginning to get worried.

“Hi”. She says as he picks up on the first ring.

“Hey you. How are you doing?”

“I’m good. I was wondering why I had not heard from you in a while.”

“I’m sorry. I have actually been busy.” Gboyega apologizes.

“Wow! Too busy to talk to a friend?”

“No way! I apologize.”

Bola smiles. “Hmm, so what have you been up to?”

The door to Bola’s room opens and her mum peeps in. She sees her talking on the phone and turns back.

“Trying to raise chicks.”

“What?”

Gboyega laughs. “You heard me right. I bought a few chicks and have been breeding them. Something to keep me busy till I go for my NYSC orientation programme.”

“That’s nice.”

“I need to start making money so you can take me serious.” Gboyega teases.

“Serious?”

“Yes, Bola. Serious about dating you.”

Bola exhales. She stands up from her bed and walks towards her reading table. She picks up his graduation picture and goes back to lie on her bed.

“Bola, are you still there?” Gboyega asks as she has been quiet for too long.

“Yes, I am.”

“The only picture I have of you is the one from my graduation. But your face is ingrained in my memory. And the truth is, I’m in love with you. I remember our gists, our bible sessions and the look on your face when you pretend to be angry.” He laughs.

Bola takes a deep breath.

“Please give me a chance.” He pleads.

“Can we talk about this some other time?”

“Bola, you keep on pushing this. Are you scared that I will hurt you?”

“I really can’t talk about this right now.”

“Okay. If you say so. It’s late. You should go to bed now.” Gboyega concludes.

Even though Bola still wishes they could talk some more, she willingly accepts to end the call. “Good night Gboyega.”

“Good night Bola. I love you.”

*********

The next day, Bola is up early. She goes to the kitchen to make breakfast for herself and her mum. She sets the table for two and calls on her mum when she is through.

As Banke walks towards the dining table, Bola kneels to greet her. “Good morning, mum.”

“Good morning, darling. You are up pretty early.” Banke says hugging her daughter.

“Yes, mum. I wake up early to read. Since I’m home and not reading, I decided to make breakfast.”

They both sit at the table to eat.

“So, who’s the young man you were chatting with last night?” Banke asks.

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Bola looks at her mum from the corner of her eyes. “Mum? Were you eavesdropping on my conversation?”

Banke puts her hand on her chest faking a hurt. “Eavesdropping on you? Why would I?”

“Just asking.”

“You haven’t answered my question.” Banke says as she butters a slice of bread.

“He’s just a friend.” Bola says without looking at her mum.

“Hmm, just a friend.”

“Yes mum. Just a friend.” Bola emphasizes.

“It did not seem like you were talking to just a friend.” Her mum says eyeing her.

Bola looks up at her mum.

“You were all smiles. And even giggling.”

“Mummy?”

Banke raises up her hands and nods. “Okay, okay. He’s just a friend.”

 

Throughout Bola’s vacation, she and Gboyega keep in touch calling each other every other day. Bola steers clear of discussions relating to dating or relationships. Anytime, Gboyega brings it up, she immediately changes the topic of discussion. In a few weeks, she is back to school and Gboyega also prepares to go for his National Youth Service Orientation Programme.

Three weeks later, Gboyega returns from Ogun state after a grueling orientation programme. He drops his travel bag at home and takes a quick shower. He knows he should wait till the next day before embarking on a trip to Akure, but he has missed Bola so much that he would rather see her today. He gets to the bus garage at about noon. In five hours, all things being equal, he should be in Akure.

 

Bola is walking towards her hostel when she sees a silhouette like Gboyega’s from afar. She stops and squints. No, it must be my imagination. What would Gboyega be doing in Akure at this time of the evening? She turns back and begins to walk away. She gets to her room and meet her roommates all crouched on a bed watching a movie on a laptop. They look up briefly from their movie to acknowledge her presence. She lies on her bed and faces the wall. The person she saw from afar has brought thoughts of Gboyega and she realizes that she misses him. They haven’t spoken in a week now. He was supposed to be through with his National Youth Service Orientation Programme. She knows she should call him at least to find out how he is doing but she does not want to. She does not trust her feelings any longer.

She is lost in her own world and does not hear the door open. Her roommate taps her and as she turns her head, she sees Gboyega standing before her. Her jaw drops as she rubs her eyes to be sure she is not dreaming. He smiles at her and takes her hand. She lifts herself from the bed and instinctively hugs him. Gboyega leads her out of the room before her roommates decide to have a field day feasting on them.

“You looked like you saw a ghost in there.” Gboyega says laughing.

“I thought I saw someone that looked like you earlier on campus. I imagined my mind was playing tricks on me.”

“I would take that to mean you missed me.”

“Well, I think I did.” Bola smiles.

“You think? You are not sure?” Gboyega teases her.

Bola hits him playfully. “Hey, stop! Whatever!”

They walk towards the campus gate.

Bola looks at her wristwatch. It is almost 5.00pm. “When did you come back from camp? I hope you ain’t going back to Lagos today.”

“I came back today. And I am going back to Lagos today.”

Bola stops walking. “But it is late.”

“I know. I just had to see you today. Now, that I have, I can have a good night’s sleep.”

Bola blushes. “Gboyega, you could have waited till tomorrow. Now, that you are here, why don’t you sleep with a friend in the hostel.”

“Nah, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.” He says shaking his head.

“Please?”

Gboyega winks at her as he smiles. “Under one condition?”

“And that is?”

“I get to see you before I leave for Lagos tomorrow.”

Bola smiles. “Definitely.”

 

Bola sees Gboyega off to the bus garage the next morning. Before he leaves, he asks her one more time if she has given their relationship a thought. She shakes her head. She tells him that she loves the relationship they have together now. She does not want to get her heart involved. Gboyega holds her hands as they sit in a corner at the garage. “Bola, I love you. Don’t you understand?”

“Please give me more time. I am scared of getting into a relationship.”

“I would never hurt you, Bola. You have given me a reason to look to the future.” Gboyega says.

Bola sighs. “Give me some time, please.”

“Okay. I will.” He says. He wonders how long he would have to wait but he will, if that is what it takes.

———

Photo Credit: http://www.gettyimages.com

To Love and to Hold – The continuation

Hi,

Thanks for following me on this romance story between Chinedu and Fadeke thus far.

“To Love and to Hold” has been published on Okadabooks.

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Blind Pact – Chapter 4

Gboyega looks on as Bola walks away. He had noticed her when she came into school as a fresher and he had felt there was something strange about her. He knew it was beyond being just a girl studying Civil Engineering. There was more to her and he had been curious to find out. He watched her from afar hoping to understand her peculiar personality. When he found out that her life revolved around school, fellowship and the hostel, he had smiled. One of those born-again chicks. They had always being a mystery to him. There was something about them that he just did not understand.

His parents were not religious. They attended church whenever they felt like it. And their kids, all seven boys always stayed away on such days. His parents were secondary school teachers who believed that as long as their kids were morally upright, they were fine. The boys however, all engaged in one vice or the other without the knowledge of their parents.

Two years ago, he lost them on a trip back from their hometown. They had travelled home to attend the burial of a family friend who had died of a heart failure. The bus conveying them had somersaulted a number of times after a burst tyre. The bus had been mangled and bodies were thrown out during the mishap. There were no survivors.

Gboyega suddenly became an orphan with six younger brothers to take care of. He tried to keep his brothers as one family but they all rebelled. Family members deserted them and life became tough. This further hardened the boys and the centre of their family could no longer hold. Each went his own way taking his destiny into his hands and struggling to chart the course of his life.

It had been a sober day for him during one of the crusades organized by a church close to his house. He had been loitering around thinking about what had become of his life and that of his siblings when he felt a strong urge to go into the crusade ground. He looked around and saw joy radiating as the people danced and worshipped God.

When the pastor started preaching, he looked around wondering if anyone had mentioned his travails to the pastor. The pastor kept on talking as if he was referring directly to him. He stood up in annoyance thinking someone was playing pranks on him. But as he was about to leave the crusade ground, right before his presence, he saw flashes of his life before him. He saw himself struggling in vain to come out of a dark pit. The pit was deep and hollow. He looked up and there was bright light at the top of the pit. He cried out but no one heard him. His voice bounced back to him in deafening echoes. All of a sudden, he started to sink. He stretched out his hand for a lifeline but there was nothing to hold on to. The more he struggled, the more he sank deeper. He was neck deep in the bog and was about to be enveloped in the darkness of the pit when he suddenly came to himself and realized that he was still standing in front of the crusade ground. He turned back and right there on his seat, he called on God to save him. He could not boast of his past and he was haunted daily by a past misdeed. He continuously prayed every day that God will forgive him for all the wrongs he had done in the past.

Gboyega becomes a regular in the fellowship longing to know more about God. His lifestyle changes and he garners a lot of whispers within campus. His close friends notice his turnaround and they are surprised. He moves close to Bola trying to learn more about God from her. When he is confused about a scripture, he calls on her to expatiate which she gladly does. At other times, she refers him to the pastor of the fellowship. His changed life has an effect on a few of his friends and some also turn a new leaf.

 

A few days to his graduation, Gboyega attends his last fellowship meeting. After the service, he walks up to Bola and asks if he can accompany her to her hostel.

“Okay.” She replies.

“I want to thank you for being a good friend and helping me in getting grounded in Christ.”

“Oh don’t mention. What are we friends for?”

Gboyega stops and holds Bola by the hand. “Bola, I want us to be more than friends.”

Bola looks at him confused. “I don’t understand.”

“I mean, am I allowed to date you?”

“Date me?” She looks at him, shock written on her face. “I see you as an elder brother.”

“But I am not.”

“I’m sorry Gboyega, I can’t date you.” Bola says as she starts walking ahead. She looks back at him. “Thanks for walking me to my hostel.”

Gboyega stands still at the spot where he had stopped Bola. She walks away without a second look at him. Their friendship had grown over the past months and he saw her beyond being friends. He had fallen in love with her. He had tried to lighten his proposition by telling her he wanted to date her. What he actually wanted was to spend a lifetime with her. But he had been unable to bring himself to tell her. She would have thought he had gone bonkers. She was so different. He had had his fair share of ladies in the past but Bola was nothing compared to them. He hadn’t planned on falling in love with her. But it had happened and he could not deny it. He was leaving school in a few days; and in about two months, he would be going for the compulsory National Youth Service. He did not want to leave without declaring his feelings for her.

As he turned to walk back to his hostel, he thought. “How am I supposed to tell that I love her if she won’t let me?”

**********

Bola walks into her room tired. Her room is empty. As usual, her roommates have gone for either a party or hangout. Sometimes, she wonders how she copes living with such roommates. They all lived for the moment. They knew Bola’s stance and tried as much as possible to respect her. One of them had actually confided in her once about changing her lifestyle. She said not having enough to spend had pushed her to hang out with the others. She wanted to be seen as one of the happening girls on campus. Bola had smiled and asked her if that was her main purpose in school. She had been sober but it had lasted only for a day. The next day, she was back in the company of the others. She did not want to be seen as a living the life of a bore.

Bola had gone straight from lectures to fellowship. She was hoping no one would try to make small talk with her as she sneaked away after the service was over. She was therefore surprised that Gboyega had still found her. His question about dating her had come as a shock. She was not interested in dating anyone much less someone she took as an elder brother. Yes, he was not her brother but he could pass for one. She had a lot ahead of her and a relationship was not part of what she saw right now. She pushes away thoughts of him and lies on her bed. In a few minutes, she drifts off into deep sleep.

 

Gboyega’s graduation day is here and he has no one to invite. He asks Bola if she would be his guest and she obliges. When it is time to take pictures, she looks around wondering where his family members are but sees no one. After the event, he asks her to walk with him to his hostel to pick his luggage. “How come no one came for your graduation? I thought you would have invited your family.” Bola asks.

“I don’t have a family.”

Bola stops short. A confused look on her face. “You don’t have a family? How is that possible?”

Gboyega smiles as he holds her hand so she can continue walking. “I lost my parents two years ago. We have been deserted by family. My six brothers all live their lives the way they deem fit.”

“I’m….I’m so sorry. I did not know that.” Bola says sadly.

“I know. I don’t like talking about my past.”

They walk silently for some minutes; each lost in his own thoughts. When they get to the boys hostel, Bola tells him she would rather wait outside. Gboyega nods and goes inside alone. A few minutes later, he emerges with two travel bags and a knapsack on his back. Bola asks if she can help him with his knapsack and he takes it off his back, balancing it squarely on hers. They proceed and walk towards the campus gate.

“Where is home?” Bola asks.

“Lagos.”

“Okay. And where were you were posted to?”

“I was posted to Ogun state.”

Bola smiles. “That’s nice. At least, you were not thrown into a bush where you would have to go in search of network to receive calls.”

“Does that mean I should expect your calls?”

“Would you rather I don’t call?” Bola teases.

“I would love to hear your voice every day and today’s pictures would remind me of you even when I am far away.”

Bola looks away. “Abeg, don’t start oh. What’s with all the ‘mushy mushy’ talk?”

“I meant what I said the last time and much more.” Gboyega stops walking.

Bola also stops and looks up at him. “And I also meant what I said as well. Sincerely, Gboyega, can we just remain friends and leave a relationship out of this?”

Gboyega shrugs. “Okay. If that’s how you want it.”

“Thank you.” Bola replies as they resume walking again.

They arrive at the garage some few minutes later and Gboyega loads his luggage into the next public bus on queue. Since it is going to take a while to fill up, Bola decides to hang around with him till the bus moves. They find a comfortable place to sit down and order two cold bottles of coke from a food vendor.

“So, I have never asked about your family as well?” Gboyega asks.

“I lost my dad two years ago as well. My family is just me and my mum. I am an only child.”

“I’m sorry about your dad.” Gboyega says looking at her. “What does it feel like to be an only child?”

Bola shrugs. “Sometimes, it feels lonely. No one to talk to or confide in. But mum tries her best to fill in the gap.” She says staring at the bottle of coke in her hand.

“I feel that way too sometimes. Lonely. Since my parents’ death, everything has been in disarray. My brothers don’t care about each other. I have tried to bring them together but nothing seems to work. I guess the rejection by family members worsened it. I once thought about ending it all….”

Bola raises up her head in shock.

“I was just tired. It was the same day I walked into a crusade ground and everything changed from then.” He says smiling.

“I’m glad that happened.”

“Me too.” Gboyega says as he holds her hand.

The bus fills up and Bola nudges him gently. “You should go now.”

Gboyega gets up still holding on to her hand. Bola becomes uncomfortable and tries to remove her hand from Gboyega’s hold. He looks at her straight in the eyes and smiles as he drops her hand gently.

They hand over their empty bottles to the food vendor and Gboyega takes his seat in front beside the driver. “I will miss you.” He says as Bola stands by his side.

Bola looks away and does not respond.

The bus drives off before Bola decides to leave for campus.

 

As she walks back to her hostel, she pulls out her copy of Gboyega’s graduation picture from an envelope. Even though he is smiling, his eyes are sad. She remembers what he said about his family and brothers. How sad that no family member had been there to share in his joy. She put the picture back into the envelope and sighs. At least, she had her mother, Gboyega had no one.

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——–

Photo Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com

To Love and to Hold – Episode 31

The weekend passed by in a jiffy for Fadeke and she was back in the office on Monday. This time, she decided to take a look at the signage on the ground floor to know which organization was on the 5th floor. The Excellent Auditors, the signage read. “So could it mean we both work in the same building?” Even if they did, she wasn’t ready to find out. She walked straight into the elevator and pressed the 12th button. As far as she was concerned, Chinedu was a closed chapter in her life.

Chinedu resumed in his office an hour later with one mission on his mind; to find out if Fadeke worked in the building. He wasn’t sure of the floor she had taken the elevator from but he was going to find out nonetheless. He tried to remember the way she was dressed the previous night. She was wearing a grey pant suit and carried an ash coloured hand bag and a laptop bag. Did she have an ID card on? He closed his eyes and tried to think. He remembered seeing a green lanyard wound round her left hand; that could only mean one thing. She worked in the building. The green lanyard was the ID of the National bank on the 12th floor.

He had been transferred to Lagos two years ago and had worked in the building the last two years. He wondered how come their paths had never crossed. Maybe, she just got employed with the bank. He had a few friends who worked with the bank and they had gone for lunch together on occasions. He had looked for her for six years. He wasn’t going to let her slip away this time. For four years, he hadn’t been able to get over the pain. She had left without a word and had made no contact. He lost interest in other ladies and had diverted his whole attention to work. At a point, his mother had to step in. “You can’t remain single for life just because of Fadeke. Life goes on and you have to move beyond the past”. She had said. He tried dating two ladies when his mother would not let him be but the relationships never worked out. His attention was always divided. He was in a relationship presently and his mother was glad that this seemed to be working out. It was the longest he had had in the last twenty months. The previous ones hadn’t lasted beyond three months but this was in the fifth month. He would finally settle down with someone and his mother was glad. He was indifferent but he just wanted to make his mother happy. So he was trying his best to make the relationship work.

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He stood up from his desk as he dialed on his mobile phone.

“Wassup?”

“I need a favour”. Chinedu replied.

“Okay”.

“Does any Fadeke Peters work in your office?”

“Yep! Regional Key Accounts Manager”.

“Really?”

“Yeah. You know her?”

“Hmm…something like that”. Chinedu said.

His friend chuckled. “Or you want to know her? She’s a beautiful chic and mehn, guys here are falling over for her”.

Even after so many years, he had to admit that she was as beautiful as she was when she was younger.

“So?”

“No, I don’t want to know her in that sense. She looks familiar and I just wanted to confirm if she is the same person I know”. Chinedu replied.

“Oh okay. So are we meeting up today or you busy?”

He thought for a few seconds. “Nah, not today. I got a lot on my plate today”.

“No qualms. See ya”.

He walked back to his seat thinking. So she was the Regional Key Accounts Manager at the bank. He would have loved to ask more questions. If she was recently employed, what time she left the office daily, if he knew anything about her personal life, but his friend would have known that there was more to the questions. He would have to find out every other information himself.

As much as Fadeke tried, her mind was half at work. She had never taken note that Excellent Auditors had an office in the building. Even if she was aware, the last she knew, Chinedu was in the Abuja office. Had he been moved to Lagos? Seeing him had brought back painful memories but she just wanted to know. She willed her heart to be still and put in an extra effort into getting her job done for the day. Chinedu was history and he had to remain so. By 6.30p.m, she was picking her handbag and laptop and looking forward to an evening with Kike.

Chinedu sat in his car waiting. He had closed at 5.30p.m and had been sitting in the car the last one hour. He wasn’t sure how long he would have to wait but he wasn’t bothered about that. His girlfriend, Amara, had called about thirty minutes ago and he had told her he had issues to deal with in the office. This was one issue he had to sort out today.

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He was trying to recline his seat a little more when he saw her walking towards her car parked a few metres away. He dropped his face a few inches and tried to remain unseen. She dropped her laptop bag into the booth of the car and eased into the car with her handbag. He saw her pick up a blue tooth gadget and fixed it to her ear. She reversed the car and was out on the road. When he noticed she had gone a little distance, he started his car and followed her.

She drove into the expressway and was soon on the third mainland bridge. He kept a safe distance but made sure he did not lose sight of her. Traffic was light which was unusual for a Monday. They came off the bridge about ten minutes later and she faced the Gbagada axis turning in at Anthony Village.

He followed still.

She turned into an estate and honked at the front of a traffic barrier. He waited at the tail end of the street from where she had turned in and watched. The traffic barrier was lifted and she drove in. He wasn’t sure if he should follow. He was still undecided when he saw her honk again in front of a black gate. A young dark skinned man wearing a blue Jalabiya opened the gate and closed it after she drove in.

So that was where she stayed. He made a reverse back into the adjoining street and drove home.

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

Chinedu closed a little earlier from work. He hadn’t been able to sleep all through the night. How he was going to accomplish his mission had been uppermost on his mind and that had kept him mostly awake. As he eased into his car and drove out of the car park, he said a little prayer in his heart that his action would not boomerang right in his face.

He got to the estate and honked in front of the traffic barrier. A man peeped out of a gate house and walked towards his side. He wound down the window.

“Madam Fadeke’s house”. He said.

The man walked back to the gate house and lifted the barrier.

As he drove into the close, he parked by the fence adjoining the house and the next to it. He opened the back door of his car and brought out a big box wrapped with purple ribbons. He walked towards the gate and tapped on it on getting there. The man in the Jalabiya opened a shutter on the gate and asked; “Yes?”

“I’d like to see madam”.

“Which madam?”

“Madam Fadeke”.

He eyed him. “She neva come back from work”.

“Can I drop something for her?”

“From where you dey come?”

“Na someone say make I drop this thing for her”. He lifted up the box for him to see.

“Okay. Wait, make I go ask Ma Win”. The man said as he pulled the shutter close.

“Ma Win?” He shrugged in confusion. Well, he was asked to wait; he definitely would. There was no turning back.

The man was back in a few minutes and he opened the gate for him. “Ma Win say make you enter”.

“Thank you”. Chinedu replied.

The house was a bungalow and it had beautiful shrubbery planted round it. He tapped on the door and it was opened by an elderly lady. She was wearing a pink boubou that was heavily embroidered.

“Good evening ma’am”.

She smiled. “Good evening. I’m told you have a package for Fadeke”.

“Yes ma’am”.

“Can I receive it or will it be too heavy for me to carry?” Ma Win asked.

Chinedu smiled. “I would rather carry it in myself and not put you through the trouble.”

She stepped aside. “Please come in”.

“Thank you”.

He walked into the living room and smiled. The whole room was filled with touches of green and purple. He noticed some toys to one end of the room and wondered about them.

“You can drop the box in that corner”. She pointed to a section beside the toys.

He dropped it carefully.

“So who should I tell her this is from?”

“Erm…erm…actually it is from me”. He stammered.

“From you?”

“Yes ma’am”.

She looked at him carefully. “Sit down”.

He did as she bade.

“Who are you?”

He sighed. This was a story he had not had to relay in years.

———

Photo Credit: http://www.gettyimages.com

Blind Pact – Chapter 3

Femi and Banke became instant friends. They rode on the same staff bus as they lived on the same route; Banke dropping off first before Femi. They discussed on their way to work and back home every day. In a short while, love found them and they became an item. They however had a dilemma. The bank frowned at couples working together. Femi needed the job if Banke was going to get married to him and start a family. He also felt it would be unfair for Banke to resign and become jobless just because she was getting married.

He thought about this situation for days and could only come up with one option. He reckoned that the option he envisaged was risky and could as well cost him his job, but he was ready to make an effort than sit and wait for whatever will be, will be.

During one of his lunch breaks, he walked up to Banke’s boss and asked for an audience with him. The man was in his late 40s and was known to be tough on his reports. Banke, however, never had any issues with him. If anything, he liked Banke and took her like a daughter. The man looked at Femi over the rim of his glasses and decided to oblige him. Even though within the four walls of the bank, Femi and Banke’s relationship was very official, her boss had taken note of her smiles reaching her eyes anytime they talked to each other. He knew there had to be more to their friendship but since they were aware that the bank frowned at couples working together, he had kept mute.

Banke’s boss asked Femi to sit down and state his mission. Femi went straight to the point telling Banke’s boss that he was about to propose to Banke and he needed a favour from him. Her boss had been shocked wondering how their personal lives was any of his business. Femi pleaded that he wanted Banke transferred to another branch of the bank. He had read up the company policy and found out that as long as couples did not work in the same branch, they could get married. He went ahead to mention that he knew that her boss considered Banke as his daughter and would be grateful if he could grant them that favour. Banke’s boss had been angry that Femi had such guts to discuss his personal problems with him. He therefore walked Femi out of his office.

Femi went home downcast. Was this going to be the end of their relationship? If he took the risk and resigned, he knew chances of getting another job was slim. Some of his friends were still jobless after two years of service to the nation. He decided to delay on his proposal to Banke until he was sure of what step to take.

Two days later, Banke was summoned into her boss’s office. He handed her a letter of transfer to a branch closer to her home. She had been both happy and sad. Happy because it meant she was closer home; but sad because it meant she would longer see Femi everyday as she currently did. She had no idea what had transpired between her boss and Femi. When she told Femi about the letter, he walked up to her boss and told him “Thank you”. He got a grunt in response and Femi wondered why the man put up such a hard stance when he was actually soft-hearted.

Months later, Banke became Mrs. Davies. Bola was born a year later and Banke got another job in a different bank just after her maternity leave.

*******

Bola returns to school and prepares for her forthcoming exams. Her dad is gone and crying continuously was not going to bring him back. She decides to put her best into her exams as she wants to make him proud of her. And so, she did. Her results are the best in the school having straight A’s in all subjects.

Her mum advises her to choose the Federal University of Technology, Akure for her university education. It had been previously agreed that Bola would attend a private university but with Femi’s death, Banke did not think she could afford to bear the cost alone. They were relying solely on her salary. She also wanted her daughter closer home. They had just each other and needed to be there for the other. Most private universities were far away, so the University in Akure was the best option.

Even though Bola is not exactly happy about the decision to study at the Federal University, she acknowledges that it will be unfair to insist that she attends a private University. Besides, the death of her father had brought her and her mum closer and she was beginning to appreciate the relationship.

Bola gains admission into the Federal University of Technology, Akure to read Civil Engineering. She quickly becomes popular as they are just two ladies in the class of fifty students. A lot of guys try to befriend her but she busies herself with her academics and keeps them all at arm’s length. Her life becomes a triangle. When she is not in class receiving lectures, she is either among her co-members in fellowship or in her hostel reading. Her life revolves around school, church fellowship and hostel.

In her second year in school, she is walking out of the hall where students have gathered for fellowship one day when a guy walks up to her. “Hi Bola, my name is Gboyega”. He says extending his hand.

She looks at him and shakes his hand. “Hi”.

“I just joined the fellowship today”. Gboyega says. “I was looking around for a familiar face and I saw you”.

A group of girls walk by and wave at Bola. She returns the gesture with a smile.

“I’m sorry. I don’t think I know you, though. But I hope you enjoyed the service”. She says as she apologizes for the little distraction.

Gboyega smiles. “Yes, I did. We are in the same department. 500 level”.

“Oh. I don’t think I know anyone in final year”.

Two guys walk by and call Bola. She waves to them.

“I understand”. Gboyega says. “Looks like you have been a member of the fellowship for a while, everyone seems to know you”.

Bola laughs. “I joined immediately I came into school, so it’s not like I have been here forever”.

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The last group of members are about leaving the hall and Bola decides it is best she leaves with them. She does not want to be left alone with a stranger. “I need to leave now. I hope you will be here next week”. She says as she walks forward.

Gboyega steps in line with her and replies. “Definitely. Now that I know there is a familiar face, I will be more comfortable”.

Banke laughs heartily as she gesticulates. “No one is going to bite you. You should be comfortable in the presence of the Lord”.

“Yes ma’am”. Gboyega says with a slight nod of his head. “It was nice meeting you”.

“Also a pleasure”. She says as she quickly joins the last group of fellowship members leaving Gboyega behind. They walk away together as they chat to their respective hostels.

——

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com