Monthly Archives: March 2017

Who do we trust?

I stood at the bus-stop waiting for a tricycle (Keke marwa in local parlance). It had been a long day and I was tired and wanted to get home quickly. A young boy probably in his late teens passed by me with a girl also in her teens. I did not take note of them until he walked back and stood before me. “Please ma, we need money to go home.” He said.

In situations like this, I always prefer to follow my instinct. I looked at him and said; “Sorry, I do not have what to give you.” I had two notes in my bag. One fifty naira note for the marwa I was waiting for and one five hundred naira note.

He turned and started walking away. On second thoughts, I decided to call him back. “Where are you going?” I asked him.

“Ikotun.”

“Ikotun?” I said almost screaming. Ikotun was definitely a long way from where we were standing. “Where are you coming from?” I asked.

He looked at the lady who was standing away from us. “We are coming from our mother’s place at Orile. We did not even meet her and…..” He was saying and at a point I could not hear him again. Either he started talking quietly or the noise from the moving vehicles drowned his voice, I couldn’t say.

I looked at the “sister” and noticed that she neither looked in our direction nor did she make an attempt to come to where I stood talking to her “brother”. I was still contemplating on what to do when I heard someone call in the rude naija style.

“Heeeysss, heeeysss.”

The boy looked in the direction of the call and I was forced to look there as well.

“Helloooo sister, don’t mind them.” A marwa driver on the other side of the road with passengers in his vehicle called out.

That caught my attention and I looked at the marwa driver and listened intently.

“That is how they go around. They are lying. Don’t mind them.” He said to me.

He then looked at the boy who was standing beside me and said; “Ë ma se ara yín. Àwön ömö oní’ró òshì.” (You will meet your waterloo, silly lying kids).

The boy looked at the driver and acted confused. I tilted my head as I asked him; “So people already know you?”

“I don’t know what he is talking about.”

“Really?” I asked him. “How come he is so sure it is you? Do you think I have met him before?”

The boy couldn’t give me a response. He turned and started walking away.

I looked away and concentrated on the search for the marwa to take me home.

As I eased into the marwa and was driven towards my destination, I couldn’t stop wondering about the young boy and his supposed sister. How long had they been at this tactic of getting money from unsuspecting people on the streets? This is one of the reasons why people are wary of helping people on the streets; because how do you differentiate between people truly in need of help and the liars? Are the young ones now so lazy that they would rather beg than work for a living? I shook my head as I imagined them wasting their lives and destinies for peanuts.

——-

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

The Last Prayer – Part 1

He wrapped the belt around his left hand in anger. Lines of fury turned his face into a monster. He gritted his teeth in mad anger and lifted up his belt. The boy cowered, raising up his arms to receive the thrashing. His body could not take them anymore. It was already torn in various places. He whimpered expecting the belt to hit his raised hands. He was tired of crying.

One, two, three. He counted in his mind expecting the worst but it was not to be. He refused to look up or lower his arms just in case a deafening slap hit his cheeks. The last one he received still caused his left ear to ooze out pus. He had tried to no avail to stop the ear from leaking but it behaved as if it had a mind of its own.

Suddenly, he felt strong hands pulling him up. He knew he was done for. Why did I break the glass cup? He had tried to be careful while washing it in the kitchen zinc. He had been happy that he had completed the task without any mishap. But his happiness had been cut short as it had slipped off his hands as he was about to place it on the shelf.

“Kpa-ka.” The sound of the glass tumbler shattering broke the still silence in the house. He looked around with tears in his eyes. This was the only glass tumbler in the house and he had broken it. He stooped to pick the shards of glass. He tried fixing it back together even though he knew there was no use. But he could still make an attempt. Maybe by some supernatural power, the ruins of the glass would merge back together.

As he picked the shards, a thought occurred to him. He could cut himself with the broken glass, so he would not get beaten. That could earn him some sympathy. He could bleed out on the floor. The sight of blood could destabilize his abuser and he could receive compassion. He sat on the floor, the shards of glass still in his hands. He fiddled with a long splinter and the thought took shape. He wiped his cheeks. This was no time to cry. It was time to take action.

He looked at his arm and thought of the best place to draw blood. His mind went back to the movie he had watched last night with his abuser. The man had tied his upper arm with a rubber wire. The veins on his arm had bulged out as he did that and he had injected something into his arm. He remembered seeing joy on the man’s face as he smiled. He had heaved a sigh of relief before dozing off. Would I also experience the same joy? Would I smile and doze off just as the man had? The shard of glass in his hand was not an injection but he could make do with this for now. He wanted to experience the same happiness the man in the movie had. He wanted to smile again even if it was just for a moment. He was tired of crying every day. He never got anything right any longer.

Last week, he had broken the flower pot while he was cleaning it. He thought he could move it a bit, so he could clean the side away from him. That action had resulted in the flower pot falling off its stand. He looked at his shoulder and touched the open bruise. By next week, the bruise should heal if the belt of his abuser allowed it to rest.

Two weeks ago, he had broken a plate while he was in a hurry to get to his abuser. He had been told so many times that he needed to walk like a man. He did not want to get slapped for walking majestically; so he had broken into a run with the plate in his hands. Unfortunately, his right leg hit the door just as he was about to hand over the plate to him. He fell down and the plate in his hands came crashing down right before him. What he had been scared of eventually happened. The slap had been deafening and he had hit his head on the wall from the impact and the force with which it had come. His abuser was left-handed and he used it with dexterity. The pus still oozing out of his ears was a reminder of the fateful day.

He looked at his inner arm and rubbed it looking for a vein. He had to do it just like the man in the movie. There was no time to look for a rubber wire; he would just do it. He placed the splinter on his arm and tried to draw a line with it. He squeezed his eyes. It was painful. But the man in the movie had been happy. Maybe he needed to go deeper, so he could feel the same joy. He was contemplating on his next action when he heard the honk of a car outside. He looked around him. The shards of glass still lay strewn all over the floor. This was going to earn him extra lashes. He quickly kept the large splinter in his pocket as he grabbed a broom. He weighed his options. Should I run to open the gate or should I sweep away the broken pieces of glass? Which option would get me a lesser punishment?

He opted to sweep the broken glass away and let his abuser open the gate himself. The most he would get for refusing to open the gate was a slap. This time he would make sure he turned his right ear. He quickly swept up the little splinters and dumped them into the bin. He got out some old newspapers and put them in the bin. That should mask the evidence till evening when he would throw out the trash. He heard the voice of his abuser boom through the living room. It sounded louder than usual or was it his imagination. He got out the splinter of glass from his pocket and in a hurry, he slashed his wrist.

“Ade, Ade.” The voice roared in anger. He stood in the kitchen shivering. He angled his head to the right side expecting the slap. The abuser’s right hand was not as strong as the left. The slap would not be as painful.

But his abuser had other plans. He had removed his belt and he was wrapping it around his left hand. Ade saw his abuser’s face and his heart fell to the bottom. He was going to get lashed not slapped. He cowered as his knees collapsed under him. They suddenly felt heavy and unable to accommodate his weight. He lifted up his arms to receive the beating. He counted to three in his mind, waiting for the belt to hit him. But it did not. He wondered why. If he dropped his arms now, the slap would attack his left ear. He felt the strong hands of his abuser pulling him up by the shoulders. He struggled to stay down.

The story continues….

——-

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

A letter to my friend

My dearest friend,

How are you doing? I really want to know; so this is not a rhetoric question. It has been a while we spoke or saw each other. I sent you several messages on whatsapp but got no responses even though they show that they were delivered and read. I wonder why.

I noticed we began to drift apart a while back and I wondered if the distance between us was imagined by me. I called you several times. Each time I did, you always told me that you were busy and would call back. I believed you and waited for those calls. They never came.

I made numerous attempts to reach out to you. The more I tried, the more you distanced yourself. I even sent you a text once to ask for forgiveness, just in case I had mistakenly offended you. I really wanted us to retain our closeness and friendship. I don’t know if it worked because that text went unanswered.

I miss the friendship we had; the gists, the laughter, the gossips. We couldn’t get enough of ourselves. One person always had to call the other each day. We hung out and visited each other times without number. But everything changed all of a sudden. You withdrew and became distant.

Anytime I remember the gists we had in the past, I smile. We laughed over our mistakes and learnt from them. We rejoiced in our successes and gave a pat on each other’s back during our failures. Our letdowns and promotions were shared. We shared our pains and our gains. Even our families knew how close we were and asked after the well-being of the other.

What happened to our friendship? What happened to the pleasure we shared as friends? What made us drift apart? I still wonder. It was not work because even though we were both busy, we kept the fire of our friendship burning.

If you get to read this, I hope you would sit back and remember all we shared. There is a saying that twenty children cannot play for twenty years. There is another saying that friends are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I thought ours would be for a lifetime. How wrong I was?

I am grateful for the seasons we had together. I miss those seasons. I miss you.

Your friend and sister

——-

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

Heroes!

The maid sat on a low stool in the backyard washing the baby’s clothes. The two older kids were in one of the bedrooms overlooking the backyard. They were playing hide and seek behind the curtains and saw a match box on the table. It was probably used the previous night. They decided to change the game. They would light a match and blow it off almost immediately.

They did this for a while before one of them got distracted and did not blow off the match when he should have. The match burnt his fingers and he threw it on the floor under the curtain. They got tired of the game and left the room to play another game. The match stick lighted the curtain and gradually, the other curtain went ablaze. Soon the room was on fire and smoke seeped into the next room where the baby slept.

The maid wondered why she could smell something burning. She wasn’t cooking. Maybe it was from the next house. She stood up to dry the clothes she had washed on the line and her eyes caught sight of the landing. She ran into the house, up the stairs and to the room where the baby slept. She picked her up, dragged the other two kids out of the house and started shouting for help.

It was a weekday and most residents of the estate had gone to work. A neighbour heard the maid’s cry for help and came out to see what the problem was. The three rooms upstairs were on fire. He quickly went into his house and called the kids’ father’s office on his NITEL landline. A call was also placed to the fire service and the location was given.

By this time, the rooms in the second house was already on fire. The houses in the estate were built wall to wall. Residents started to gather to see how they could help salvage the situation while they awaited the fire service. Some took buckets of water and poured omo into it. They tried to douse the fire but it was difficult. No one could risk going into a burning house. The only option was to try to put off the fire from the outside by splashing the soapy water upwards.

The fire continued to rage taking with it the three rooms in each of the two houses. The fire service arrived and everyone was hopeful. They however, apologized that they had no water so they could not kill the fire. The third house was about to lose its rooms when a water tanker passed by. The driver was meant to deliver his product to a house within the estate. He saw the houses burning and people frantically trying to douse the fire. He immediately drove towards the houses and poured all the content of his vehicle killing the fire instantly.

The driver of the water tanker became the hero. He saved the day.

——-

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

Encounters with men in uniform – Part 3

We were driving on the popular Awolowo way in Ikeja. Hubby drove while I sat beside him. We were almost at the bottom of the bridge which led to either Oba Akran or Oba Akinjobi when the officer flagged us down. She signaled that we park and hubby obeyed.

“Good afternoon madam.” Hubby said to her.

“Good afternoon. Can I have your drivers’ license?”

As I opened my wallet, she looked at me and said; “I was talking to him.”

“I know.” I responded. “Is it not his drivers’ license you asked for?” I asked her as I pulled out hubby’s photocopied drivers’ license from my wallet and handed it over to her.

She looked at it and stretched out her hand to give it to him. I collected it from her and put it back in my wallet.

“Can I see your vehicle license and insurance?” She asked.

I breathed deeply as I casually opened the glove box in front of me and brought out the envelope of vehicle documents. I retrieved the needed documents and handed it over to her. She looked at them, then handed them back to me.

“Can I have your tinted permit?”

By this time, I was beginning to wonder when this would be over. I brought out the tint permit and gave it to her.

Her eyes immediately lighted up. “Did you see what was written on it?” She asked.

I looked at her. “Yes, I saw what was written on it. What does it say?” I asked her.

She immediately called the attention of her colleague who was standing a few metres away. She showed the document to her colleague, who looked at it and flicked her hand to let us go.

She handed it back to me and asked us to go.

“Under processing” was boldly written on the permit and it was signed by a senior officer.

How she seemed not to understand what was written on the document is still a wonder to me. It was not written in another language. It was written in English.

As we drove off, hubby told me the same officer had stopped him a week before at the same spot.

 

One week later, I was driving alone on Medical Road, Ikeja. Same officer decided to flag me down again. She asked for my drivers’ license. I opened my wallet and handed her the photocopied version as usual. She returned it and asked for the vehicle documents.

As I stretched to open the glove box so I could get them out; she said to me. “Madam, be fast.”

I looked at her and said to her. “Since you want to be asking for these documents from me or my husband every week, you will need to be patient so that I can give them to you.”

“Ehen? I don stop you before?”

“This is the third time. Do you still want the documents?” I asked her.

“Don’t worry. You can go. It is well.” She said.

I rolled my eyes as I drove off.

I wonder if we will have a fourth encounter with the same officer. I truly hope not.

——–

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

Omoshalewa – Episode 9

Funke walked into her daughter’s room and saw her lying on the bed. Her eyes were red and puffy and she sniffed loudly. Funke immediately sat on the bed as she pulled her daughter into a hug. She rocked her daughter back and forth like a baby. When Shalewa’s sobs subsided, Funke placed her hands on her daughter’s cheeks and looked straight into her eyes. “You love Akin?”

Shalewa dropped her gaze.

Funke smiled. “You always did. I remember when you came crying to me not to allow his parents send him abroad.”

Shalewa smiled despite her tears.

“I realized you were in love and it is obvious he loves you too.”

Shalewa looked at her mum, tears filling her eyes again. “Then why does daddy want me to get married to Tunde at all cost?”

“He asked me to find out from you what Akin’s intentions are.”

Shalewa looked at her mum confused. “I don’t understand. His intentions?”

“Yes. Both of you are in love with each other. What are his plans?”

Shalewa’s face lighted up immediately. “He is waiting for me to make a decision.”

“I think you should.” Funke said as she stood up from the bed.

As Funke walked towards the door, Shalewa called her. “Mum?”

Her mother looked back at her.

“Thank you.” Shalewa said.

“You are welcome darling.”

********

The next day, Shalewa walked into Tunde’s office at a few minutes to 1.00pm. The office was tastefully furnished and it was obvious that Tunde had a good eye for aesthetics. A lady was seated behind a glass table typing away on her laptop. She looked up as the sliding doors opened. Shalewa had not called to book an appointment but Tunde’s personal assistant recognized her immediately.

“Good afternoon ma.” The lady said as she stood up from her seat.

Shalewa smiled. “Good afternoon. I will like to see Tunde. I don’t have an appointment.”

The lady returned the smile. “I will let him know you are here. Please seat down ma.” She said as she walked out of the main office.

Shalewa picked up a finance magazine from the centre table and flipped through the pages. “Please come in, ma.” The lady said walking back into the main office a few minutes later. She led Shalewa in and tapped on a door. The name plate on the door read; “Tunde Richards – Barristers and Solicitors.” Shalewa smiled as she looked at the plate.

Tunde stood up from his desk as Shalewa walked in. He took her in his arms and planted a kiss on her lips. “You did not tell me you were coming.” He said with a curious look.

Shalewa shrugged. “I just decided to come here at the last minute. I initially thought about meeting you at home but I wasn’t sure what time you would get home.” Shalewa looked round his office. “You have a nice place here.” She said admiring the expansive office. A floor to ceiling bookshelf lay on the right while a comfortable sitting area with leather sofas lay to the left of the office.

“Thank you.” Tunde said. “Please feel free.” He pointed towards the refrigerator beside the sitting area in his office.

“I’m fine.” Shalewa said. “I just had an early lunch.”

“So to what do I owe this visit?” He asked as he led her towards the sitting area. He sat down while Shalewa took the cue.

“I came so we could have a heart-to-heart talk.” Shalewa said; her tone serious.

“Okay. What is this about?” Tunde asked; sitting up.

“It’s about the wedding.”

“Our wedding?”

“Yes. I am calling it off.”

“You are what?” Tunde shouted.

“You are raising your voice, Tunde.” Shalewa said calmly.

Tunde took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Why Shalewa?”

Shalewa was quiet as she looked at Tunde. Even though his eyes were closed, she could see he was hurting. She reckoned it would not be easy but there was no way to make it less painful.

Tunde opened his eyes and looked at Shalewa straight in the face. “Are you calling it quits because of Akin?”

There was no point lying; Shalewa nodded her head.

“You never loved me?” Tunde asked.

Shalewa blew air out of her mouth. “I said it so many times that I got tired of saying it. I’m sorry Tunde. I wish we did not have to go this far.”

Tunde looked at her and smiled sadly. “I wish I did not have to be so in love.”

Shalewa stood and walked to where he was seated. She sat beside him and removed the engagement ring from her finger, placing it in his palm. “Someone else would need this. Someone who would relish in your love and return it wholeheartedly.”

Tunde caressed her face with his thumb. “Shalewa!” He said as he stressed her name. “How can I ever forget you?”

“Please don’t make this more difficult.” Shalewa said as she looked away.

Tunde turned her face towards him and planted a gentle kiss on her lips. Shalewa stood up abruptly. “I would take my leave now.”

Tunde looked up at her and nodded.

“Thank you, Tunde.”

Even though he is heartbroken, he still managed to smile back a response.

Shalewa picked up her handbag from the couch where she was seated initially and walked out of Tunde’s office.

Tunde watched Shalewa till she walked out of his office. As the door closed behind her, he took a deep breath, laid his head on the couch and used his hands to cover his face. The pain he felt was unbearable.

“Oh Shalewa!” He soliloquized. “God knows I love you so much.”

********

As Shalewa eased into her car, she took a tissue out of the box on the passenger seat to dab her eyes. She reckoned Tunde loved her but there was no point getting married to him out of pity. Her heart belonged to Akin and she did not want to regret marrying Tunde later on.

She dropped the car visor in front of her and took a look at herself in the mirror before driving out of the car park. She was almost in her office when her phone rang. She took a look at her music screen on her dashboard and saw that it was Akin calling. She smiled as she tapped a button on the screen to receive the call.

“Shally babe.” Akin said; his voice filling her air-conditioned car.

“Hey baby.” Shalewa replied.

“Can I pick you up for lunch today?”

“Nah, not today. I had an early lunch.”

“Without me?” Akin asked.

“I’m sorry darling. I had some personal errands to run so I decided to do an early one.”

Akin was quiet.

“Hey, we can do dinner.” Shalewa said.

“That means you would get home a little late. Are you sure your parents won’t begin to complain about it soon?

Shalewa laughed heartily. “They have already.”

“Wow. They did?” Akin asked.

“Yeah, yesterday. But let’s do dinner, pleaseeee.”

“Dinner it is then.”

Four hours later, Akin and Shalewa were seated at a corner in their favourite restaurant. Their order for finger foods was taken and they continued to chat away while they awaited their order. Akin was talking about his day with a troublesome client and Shalewa was laughing hard as Akin gesticulated.

Suddenly Akin stopped talking; his face serious. Shalewa was still laughing and did not notice. She was about to raise her left hand to her face when Akin stopped her hand mid-air. “What happened?” Akin asked.

Shalewa looked at him still smiling. “Happened? You are killing me with laughter here, Akin.”

“That’s not what I meant.” Akin said.

Shalewa looked at him confused.

“Your engagement ring?”

“I gave it back to the owner.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes. I did some hours ago. That was the personal stuff I needed to attend to earlier on.”

“So? Are you free now?” Akin asked; giving her a curious look.

“Free?”

“Yes, free to date again.”

Shalewa laughed. “Definitely.”

Akin smiled as he stretched out his hand to her. “Hi, I am Akin Savage. Do you remember me?”

Shalewa took his hand as she continued laughing. “Yes, I remember you.”

“We fell in love fifteen years ago. Can we continue from where we stopped?”

As Shalewa laughed heartily, Akin closed the space between them and kissed her passionately. Shalewa returned his kiss holding on to him.

“Hey, get a room!” Someone shouted from a corner of the restaurant.

Akin looked in the direction of the voice and shouted back. “We ain’t getting a room. We are getting married.”

Shalewa looked at Akin and slapped him on his arm. “Not without a proposal.”

They both burst out into laughter as Akin planted another kiss on her lips.

——–

THE END

********
I hope you enjoyed this series. Please drop your comments and don’t forget to click the share button below.

Thank you.
——–

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

Fashion Rounds

There was a time when you were considered unfashionable if you had your natural hair. The trend was to have your hair straightened. Even as a teenager in the early 90s, I looked forward to having my hair permed immediately I graduated from the secondary school. That was the in-thing.

Fast forward to twenty years later, everyone is going back to being “local”. No one sees natural hair as unfashionable anymore. It is now considered to be a pride to flaunt the natural look. Even the social media is agog with different ways to keep your natural hair looking beautiful. Google also has different images of natural hair styles and sincerely they are very pretty.

                                        

There was a time when having a total transformation with your make-up was considered trashy. Prior to that, our parents made up their faces heavily for parties and events. It was the fad then. I smile now when I remember attending parties with our parents and seeing the faces of some women with the rounded red or pink highlights on their cheekbones. It looked really funny but well, it was being fashion forward during that era.

Fast forward to twenty years later, having your make-up done by a professional make-up artist is the real deal. I have seen some faces made up and I actually fail to recognize the person behind the face. I once attended a wedding where I was looking out for the bride but did not realize she had just passed by me. Her make-up was a total transformation with a capital T and she had changed into an evening gown; so identifying her among the many beautiful ladies in various gowns got me confused.

                           

There was a time when wearing our local African fabrics was termed as old-fashioned. Only our grandmothers proudly rocked the Adire and the Ankara materials. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe our rejection of our local fabrics was one of the problems the textile industry encountered which eventually helped in running them aground. Yeah, we all know about the country not having power but it has been that way since eons ago (probably since my toddler years).

Fast forward to twenty years later, the Ankara material became the darling of wedding planners and brides. It became the choice of aso ebi. The fashion industry is also awash with Ankara sewn in beautiful styles while the Adire is gradually stamping its feet.

                    

There was a time when people looked at you with “one kain eye” if you wore a platform shoe. Prior to that, our parents rocked the platform shoes in parties and events. If you need proof, ask your parents or any woman in her late 50s or 60s to show you pictures of herself in her teenage years. Even the men were not left out. They were awesome as they rocked the bell trousers. I remember watching soul train and seeing only bell trousers in every episode.

Fast forward to twenty years later, the bell trousers are back with a bang but this time, the women are owning it. The platforms have been back for a while and it has even been incorporated and designed as normal work shoes. I personally prefer wearing shoes with a little platform as it helps reduce the strain on the arch of the feet.

                             

 

               

There was a time when it was fashionable to amass body weight. Pot-bellied men were regarded as the “Baba Olowos”. Even the women were not left out. If you were married and put on a bit of weight, it was said that you were showing evidence of being taken care of by your husband.

Fast forward to the millennium, everyone is talking about eating healthy. The pot-bellied men of yester years want to have six packs by force and run the six-pack body youngsters out of the market. Gyms are springing up at every corner to assist them in achieving this purpose. The women (both single and married) don’t want to put on weight any longer. And those who have been blessed “in a big way” are getting into diets to remain healthy.

Above all, it is nice to know that I am a part of this fashion eras making the rounds. So in another twenty years, I would be able to tell the youngsters that “we rocked that in those days”.

——–

Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com
http://www.weddingdigestnaija.com
http://www.makeup.lovetoknow.com
http://www.prettydesigns.com
http://www.gettyimages.com
http://www.bellanaija.com

Omoshalewa – Episode 8

The next day, Tunde called Shalewa while she was in the office. She decided to pick up his call this time.

“Hi Shalewa, what’s going on? I was worried sick yesterday when you did not pick up your calls.” Tunde said.

“I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong.” She said then paused. “In actual fact, there is.”

“Oh my! What’s wrong?” Tunde asked with concern.

“We need to talk.”

“Dinner at 7?” Tunde asked.

Shalewa quickly scanned through her calendar. “Fine. Pick me up, I’ll send the driver home.”

“Okay then. See you at 7.” Tunde said.

Shalewa cut the call and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes as she mentally calculated how to break the news to Tunde. She could not continue to live this lie.

At 7.00pm, Tunde drove into the office premises where Shalewa’s office was situated. As he parked his car, he dialed her number from his phone which was attached to a cell phone holder on the dashboard. She picked up on the first ring and responded that she would be with him in five minutes.

About three minutes later, Shalewa walked out of the office complex. She was wearing a grey pant suit and Tunde smiled as he saw her. She is beautiful; he said to no one. He quickly took out a mouth spray from his glove box and freshened his breath.

As Shalewa eased into the car, Tunde planted a kiss on her cheeks. He engaged the gear and drove out of the car park. “So what’s wrong?” He said looking at her.

“Hey, I just got here. Can we talk over dinner?”

Tunde shrugged as he stretched his hand to hold hers. He noticed she was not receptive to his gesture but he refused to comment.

They arrived at their destination in fifteen minutes. They took a seat at a table for two and placed their orders. Tunde tried to make light conversations with Shalewa but she seemed distracted.

Their orders arrived and they began to eat. Tunde was almost done with his meal when he spoke up. “Shalewa, why are you keeping me in suspense? What’s the problem?”

Shalewa dropped her fork and looked at him. “Well, I had no intention of spoiling your dinner; that’s why I decided to hold on till you were done.”

“I’m all ears.” He said; looking at his plate as he tried to cut a piece of chicken.

“I need a break.”

Tunde put the piece of chicken in his mouth as he nodded, looking up at Shalewa. “A break? Why don’t you discuss with your dad. He may give you some time off.”

“That’s not what I mean, Tunde. I wasn’t referring to work. I mean a break from this relationship.”

Tunde’s eyes widened. He dropped his cutlery gently and took a sip of his drink. “A break from me?”

“Well, if you would rather put it that way.”

“Our wedding is in a few weeks.”

“I am aware of that. The more reason why I need a break.” Shalewa said as she looked at him straight-faced.

“But…but Shalewa, what went wrong?”

“I just need to sort out my feelings.”

“I thought we were past this.”

“No, we weren’t. We never were.”

Tunde was confused. “But you agreed to marry me?”

“To satisfy you and my dad. Have you forgotten so soon?”

Tunde pushed his half-eaten plate of chicken aside and held Shalewa’s hands on the table. “Please don’t do this to us. I love you.”

Shalewa pulled her hands from his grip. “Tunde, don’t make this more difficult than it already is. I can’t continue to live a lie.

Tunde took a deep breath.

“I would like to go home now. I can call a cab if you don’t mind.”

“I brought you here; the least I can do is drop you at home.” Tunde said as he stood up and signaled to the waiter to bring the bill. The waiter arrived with the bill and Tunde took out some notes from his wallet and slid it into the bill pouch.

Once the waiter turned away, Shalewa stood up, picked up her handbag and walked ahead while Tunde sauntered behind her.

********

Five days later, Tunde walked into Shalewa’s office to have a business meeting with her father. As the elevator doors opened, he saw Shalewa and a guy laughing in front of the elevator. He was surprised at the ease with which Shalewa chatted with him and he noticed there was a sparkle in her eyes.

“Hi Shalewa.” He said; trying to catch her attention.

Shalewa looked at him and the smile on her face faded. “Hi Tunde.”

Tunde waited expecting an introduction. When he noticed Shalewa was not going to do the honours, he decided to go ahead. “Hi.” He said as he stretched out his hand. “I’m Tunde, Shalewa’s fiancé.”

“Akin.” He said as he smiled and accepted Tunde’s hand shake. “So I get to meet you Tunde. You are the one who swept my best friend off her feet.”

Shalewa eyed Akin.

“So where are you guys off too?” Tunde asked; ignoring Akin’s comments and looking at Shalewa.

“Lunch.” Shalewa said as she looked at Akin. “Are we still going, Akin?”

“Of course.” Akin replied. “Bye Tunde. It’s a pleasure meeting you.” He continued as he did a mock bow.

Tunde watched as Shalewa and Akin stepped into the elevator. The elevator doors closed and Tunde stood transfixed to the spot. Akin, Shalewa’s best friend? How come I have never heard about him? Was he the reason Shalewa had asked for a break? She looked so happy chatting with him and there was a sparkle in her eyes when she looked at him. I have to find out who this new best friend is.

As Shalewa eased into Akin’s car, she looked at him in anger. “What was that for?”

Akin faked ignorance. “What? I don’t understand.”

“Oh come off it, Akin. You know what I am talking about; the charade with Tunde.”

“Oh that.” Akin said laughing. “Did I say something wrong there?”

“Akin?”

“Yes, Shally babe.” Akin said as he leaned forward and planted a kiss on her cheeks. “You are still engaged to him. Don’t forget that and as far as I know” – He said tapping his fingers on his nose – “Your wedding is in a few weeks.”

“Please don’t remind me.”

“So can I drive off now or are we having Tunde for lunch?”

Shalewa gave him a scornful look as Akin burst out laughing.

******

Later that evening, Mr. Samuel was seated in the living room with his wife watching the evening news. There was a glass of juice on the side stool beside each of them. Shalewa walked in at about 9.30pm. She knelt down to greet her parents and headed straight for her room.

“Shalewa, please sit down.” Her father said.

Shalewa walked back and took a seat opposite her parents.

Bayo retrieved the remote control from the side stool and switched off the TV. He looked at Shalewa; his face grim. “Your mum and I felt it was important we spoke to you this night.”

Funke nodded.

“You usually don’t come in this late and we have been wondering what has changed. Of recent, you have been coming in later than usual. And I know you have been leaving the office same time as you usually did. Is there something we should know?”

“Nothing dad.” Shalewa answered as she looked straight at her dad.

Mr. Samuel nodded. “Tunde came for a business meeting today and he was asking about Akin. He was wondering how come you suddenly had a best friend he wasn’t aware of. I had to explain the friendship between you and Akin. He also said you asked for a break some days ago. Is that right, Shalewa?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Okay, so I am assuming this break is for a few days, then you can go back to your wedding preparations.”

“No dad. It is not for a few days. I am breaking up with Tunde.” She said; the muscles of her face taut as she refused to break eye contact with her father.

“I want to assume that because you are tired and stressed, you are probably not thinking right. So I would let you go to bed now, then we can talk about this tomorrow.” Bayo said.

“There is nothing to talk about, dad. I am not getting married to Tunde.”

“Will you shut up your mouth there?” Bayo said getting angry.

Funke patted her husband’s hands. “Please darling, not this way.” She pleaded.

“What do you mean? Did you hear what your daughter is spewing out of her mouth?” He said; looking at his wife in irritation.

“Shalewa, you can go to bed. We would talk about this tomorrow when everyone is calmer.” Funke said to her daughter.

“Good night mum, good night dad.”

“Good night Shalewa.” Funke said as Bayo ignored his daughter.

After Shalewa left the living room, Funke looked at her husband. “Darling, I think we need to be careful with the way we handle this matter.”

Bayo looked at his wife, shock clearly written on his face. “You can’t be serious. Are you also in support of her behaviour?

“I am not. I just feel we should tread carefully.”

“What exactly are you saying Funke?” Bayo asked infuriated.

“What I am saying is this. Haven’t you noticed that she seems happier than she was before? Since Akin’s arrival, her behaviour has changed. She has dropped the look of gloom that was always on her face and she is back to how she was before we forced this relationship with Tunde on her.” Funke said; trying to make her husband understand.

“Are you saying she is in love with Akin?” Bayo looked at his wife perplexed.

Funke sighed. “I am saying she never stopped loving him.”

Bayo laughed. “You can’t be serious Funke. What do you mean she never stopped loving him? They were friends as kids and they have both moved on.”

“They were not just friends fifteen years ago, Bayo. They loved each other and they obviously never stopped.”

“What are you saying? They were kids. What did they know about love?”

“Well, they knew enough to keep them in love with each other fifteen years after.”

Bayo was surprised. “But how do you know they loved each other?”

Funke smiled as she placed her hand on her husband’s. “Do you remember when Akin’s parents told us they were moving their son out of the country to continue his education?”

Bayo nodded. “Yes, I do.”

“Your daughter was heartbroken. She cried out to me and asked that I tell Akin’s parents not to send him away. She thought Akin’s parents were intentionally trying to separate them.”

Bayo’s eyes grew big as his jaw dropped.

“Yes darling.” Funke nodded. “That was when I realized all their time together wasn’t for a lack of siblings. It was because they loved each other. I guess her heart had always been with Akin.”

Bayo let out his breath.

“Akin’s arrival has changed her completely. She is happier and you can’t miss the glint in her eyes anytime she sees him.”

Bayo rubbed his temples. “Has he said anything to her? I mean, has he proposed to her?”

“I don’t think so. With another man’s ring on her finger, I doubt it.”

“Will you talk to her then? She should let you know what Akin’s intentions are. Her wedding is supposed to be in a few weeks.” Bayo breathed hard. “I never imagined I would have to do this.” – He looked at his wife as he continued – “Cancelling the wedding of my only daughter.”

“I know you long for her happiness, you don’t have a choice.”

——-

Photo credit: http://lightninglegal.biz/

Encounters with men in uniform – Part 2

I was in a hurry to get to my destination. I was attending lectures for a professional course and I was beginning to run a little late. I drove the car with deft hands and was soon on the expressway; my destination totally on my mind.

About fifteen minutes into my drive, an officer standing on the right side of the expressway flagged me down. I hissed as I imagined this would take a few minutes out of the time which I did not have. Another car was parked on the right side of the road and I noticed some officers talking to the driver behind the wheel. With nothing to fear, I applied the brakes but left the car running.

“Good morning.” I said to the officer.

“Good morning madam.”

“How may I help you?”

“Can I have your driver’s licence?” The officer asked.

I handed over my original driver’s licence to the officer. He looked at it, was satisfied that it was still valid but held on to it.

He asked for two more items and I stepped out of the car, opened my booth and showed the items to him. He looked at both of them, scrutinizing them as if they were items which had just dropped from space. After a few minutes, he stood behind the car and asked me to go in to step on the brakes.

I sighed. This was beginning to take longer than I thought. I eased into the car and stepped on the brakes.

He walked towards the driver’s window and said; “I knew it. I knew one of your brake lights wasn’t working.”

I looked at him, anger clearly written on my face. “You flag me down right in front of the car and tell me you knew one of the brake lights wasn’t working? In broad daylight?” I asked him as I stepped out of my car,

“I have to seize your driver’s licence and issue you a ticket.”

“Go ahead but I think you should stick to your duties and quit the lies.”

“Madam, it is not that. I….”

“Can I have the ticket and a covering note because I cannot afford to get stopped by another bunch of officers on the way?” I said interrupting him.

A senior officer who stood by their official vehicle some metres away noticed the heated exchange. He called his report and asked him to come closer. “What is the problem?” He asked him.

The report tried to explain the situation to the senior officer.

“Hello Madam.” The senior officer said; calling my attention.

“Yes.” I said as I walked towards him.

“I see that you are upset.”

“Of course, I am. No one is stopping your officer from doing his duties but he did not have to lie to prove a point.”

“I am sorry. He should not have lied. He mentioned that he is booking you because one of your brake light is out.”

“That is what he said.”

“Please try to sort out the brake light ma.” He said.

“I will. Please can I have the ticket and the covering note so I can get moving? You guys have delayed me for my lectures and I am late already.” I said as I looked at my wrist watch.

“Okay. Do you know where to make payment for the seized driver’s licence?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Our office is located at Ikeja. You will need to come with the ticket and make a payment of N2,000 to the bank.” He said to me.

“Can I send someone? I don’t have the time to do this during the week. Besides, my office is on the Island and I am free only during the weekends.”

“Yes, you can send someone but give him/her a letter of authority so that your driver’s licence can be released. This cover note is for any officer who stops you on the road asking for your license.” He said as he handed over the sheet of paper to me.

The senior officer apologized once more for the delay and told me I could go.

I eased back into my car angrily but heaved a sigh of relief.

——

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