Justin and Magnus were having lunch. Magnus was buying to thank him for the tip he gave him.
“So, have they confirmed? “Justin asked.
“Ol’boy! Just as I got into my car to drive here, they called to confirm. We are in business, man!”Magnus threw a fist into the air in joy
“Wow!” Justin shouted
“God has remembered me, guy. Even before the confirmation, my principal called me to offer me a promotion. I have become the favored one again” , he laughed.
“Things are turning around”
“Have you called that sister to thank her? I’m sure she played a key role”
“I plan to invite her home for dinner with Ijeoma and the kids”
“Are you a learner? Invite a single girl home for dinner? Ijeoma will make mince meat of her!”
“But she attends our church. She’s an usher”
“Very good” Justin mocked. “Soon you’ll be accused of sleeping with her and worse”
“Ij is not like that”
“Okay. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. How is Spike?”
“Arthritis has cripped the man. He rarely comes to the office. We are just using his name”
“I miss that guy. He is the only one who could make my principal quake in court”
“When he taught him in school, what did you expect?”
Both men laughed.
“Let’s wrap this up. I have to see a client”, Magnus checked his watch
Ijeoma was shopping with Ndidi, her sister. They were buying groceries. Once a month, they usually bought enough to last the entire month. Though this favored Ndidi more as she lived in an estate where power was guaranteed for 24 hours every day, Ijeoma liked to tag along for company. She usually bought few perishable goods, since power was irregular in her area. She left kevin and Jonah with Ndidi’s Nanny, Mofo. Magnus was attending a meeting.
“How have you guys been?” Ndidi asked.
“Things are looking up. He got a promotion at work. Since then, he has been in a great mood. I thank God”, Ijeoma was inspecting some tomatoes.
“Really? And you didn’t tell me?”
“My dear, I am waiting till I see the money. Men can be cunning”
“When they pay him, he’ll realize he needs to buy land or some other abstract thing. We’ll end up remaining where we are”
“My sister! That is what I see with Femi. He is always making capital investments. As good as they are, I also need cash, good old cash” Ndidi laughed.
“Men are so stingy!”
“And women are so demanding”
Both sisters laughed.
“How about his brother, Chibuike?”
“It seems he has not had any major problems recently. At least, he has not needed more than the usual money we send him every month”
Ndidi stopped to buy fish. “How much is it?”, she picked up the one she wanted and looked at the trader.
“Be careful how you handle it!” the trader warned.
“Is that how you talk to customers? ” Ijeoma asked.
“When she destroys it, she’ll refuse to buy it” the trader complained.
“Don’t buy that fish! Rubbish!”, Ijeoma made a hissing sound and dragged her sister away.
When they were at another stall, Ndidi pulled her arm out of her grasp. “Take it easy. You know it’s frustrating for them when people ask about their goods but don’t buy”, she reasoned.
“So, she must take it out on me? Nonsense! ”
“Let me take you to where I buy. The lady is polite, jare, and her fish is always well dried and cheap”
Ndidi shook her head as she followed her lead. In the car on their way home, she turned to Ijeoma.
“There’s this women’s fellowship I want to start attending. It’s on Saturdays at 9am, once a month. My pastor’s wife was invited to teach and they showed a clip to us in church. It sounds very interesting and it’s inter-denominational”
“Fellowship, again? I have been struggling to keep up with programmes in Gateway, you want me to commit to another church”, Ijeoma frowned.
“It is inter-denominational”
Ijeoma snorted in disbelief
“What?” Ndidi asked.
“Another opportunity for women to torment others with their designer bags and shoes! Please, let me hide in my house”Ijeoma laughed
“Okay, I’ll attend next Saturday and tell you how it went”
“Chike invited me to a party this evening”
“Who or what is Chike?”
Ijeoma was silent.
“I’ve told you to tell Magnus about that guy. Let him warn him. How can he invite a married woman to a party?”
Ijeoma scratched her head distractedly. “I am developing feelings for the guy. He’s always in my face, while Magnus ignores me”, she murmured.
“Hmmm”, Ndidi folded her arms over her bosom. “Have you prayed about it?”
“Yes, I have. I just feel, maybe, I married the wrong man”
Ndidi shook her head sadly. “O kojuola gi isi!( He has infiltrated your imagination)” she stated in surprise.
“Ndi, I have endured with Magnus. Don’t I deserve a break?”
“A break from doing the right thing? Marriage is for life! ”
“I just want to be appreciated and celebrated. Is that asking for too much?”
“No man is perfect. I thought you said he is a divorcee? If he was so wonderful, why did his wife leave him?”
“He caught her in bed with another man”
“So, he is not man enough? ”
“Gini? Why would his wife look outside if he was doing his part? Jukwa ajuju!”
“Some women are just insatiable”
“Now, you are making excuses for him. Is that how I will be explaining your behavior when you leave Magnus?” Ndidi glared at her.
“Because Femi is……”
“I’ve told you Femi is no angel. Till date, his mother hates me. I have not yet learned yoruba, or become as subservient as she would like. He takes sides with his family when they interfere. At least, Magnus shields you from his family”
“Money compensates for so many things”, Ijeoma muttered.
“O, so, if he gives me enough money, Femi can get away with blue murder? How much is enough? ”
“No be only you dem dey toast, O”
“Remember Grant who I dumped in school? ”
“That one with nti ele?”
Ndidi laughed ” What is your business with his ears? Anyway, he has been making advances at me on facebook”
“I warned him that if he sends such again, I’ll inform Femi. They can sort it out as men”
“I never liked that guy, though. Very…..I don’t know…..Creepy”
“You can’t tell his true thoughts cause his eyes are shifty. I’m glad you told him off”
“Ij, biko, don’t give that Chike a chance. Any man who pursues a married woman is a pervert. No matter how sweet he sounds now, it will backfire. I don’t think Magnus is that bad. With patience, you can teach him how to appreciate you. Remember, he has been putting up with your scathing tongue for years. You can be bad-mouthed, too”
Ijeoma laughed and shook her head. “Leave my mouth alone”
“I will. Just remember we have no parents to run to. Mama has not been herself since the stroke she suffered. We only have each other”
They clapsed hands. No words were needed.
“Ekene, I will be busy on friday. I can’t make it”, Regina apologized on phone.
“Please, I don’t want to go alone. You know we met on facebook. It is not wise to go on a first date alone with a total stranger”, she pleaded.
“You are a grown woman. Have you asked Miriam?”
“I have an ushers’ meeting on Saturday morning, so I need to sleep early”
“I’ll sleep in your house so as to help you wake early”, Ekene cajoled.
“As an alarm clock or what?”
“Please? I don’t want to miss this opportunity”
“How am I supposed to feel? I’ll be a 3rd wheel”
“I would clear my schedule in a heart beat if you needed me, don’t forget”
“Alright. I’m coming to your shop to pick an outfit. That’s what I get out of this”, Regina warned.
“No problem. Come right away”, Ekene rejoiced.
“You’re welcome”, Regina grunted.
They chose a seafood restaurant. Ekene and Regina arrived in Ekene’s car. They checked their make up in the mirror, while she dialled her date’s number.
“Hello, good evening. Where are you?”, Ekene asked.
“I am sitting in my car. I didn’t want to miss your entrance. Where are you?”
“We just got here”
“Okay, I’m wearing a cream blazer on navy pants with a white shirt. Let me stand by the entrance so you’ll notice me”
“Okay” Ekene came out of the car and looked around nervously.
“Where is he?”, Regina asked
“I’m not sure”
“Let’s run, abeg. This one he is not here”
“He’s here. Just a minute. O, there he is”, she waved as she spotted him.
He saw her and started making his way to her car. Frederick Mba was 6 feet tall, dark, very handsome, and averagely built. Regina and Ekene assessed him as he walked over.
“Ol’girl, this guy fine O”, Regina exclaimed.
“You think so?”
“Are you not seeing what I’m seeing? See swagger!”
Ekene laughed. Nervously, she tugged at her red dress. Regina had insisted she wear it because, it flattered her curves, hiding the love handles and wobbly bits. Hopefully, her 6 inch heels would elevate her to his height. Regina was wearing a nice black dress, flattering, yet simple enough not to steal Ekene’s shine.
“Hello, ladies!”, Fred’s voice boomed as he approached them. His smile was warm and his eyes kind.
“Hello”, they both replied
.Regina was standing by the passenger door. He reached to greet Ekene with a hug and let his left arm remain around her while he shook hands with Regina, who had come over.
“Kene, we meet finally”, he gazed at her. “You are stunning”
“Regina, how do you keep men off your friend?”, he winked.
Regina smiled. Of the 3 of them, Ekene got the least attention because she and Miriam were far prettier and out going. This was certainly a first.
“Shall we?”, he led them in.
TO BE CONTINUED
Gini : what
Jukwa ajuju : Make enquiries
No be only you dem dey toast : You are not the only one with admirers
Nti ele: protruding ears like antelope