My apologies for the long absence. If you are too angry, please punish me by sending any careless N5m you have. Thanks in advance.
After Toyosi left, Ama dialed Ovie’s number to ask him if she could come over to his office for a chat. PA was on a conference call with some partners in America and she knew he would not need her for another hour. Ovie asked her to come on over. He had been warned by POD that his presence in PA’s office would give him an excuse to avoid a conversation with Toyosi and neither of them wanted that. For this reason, he had retired to his office to watch a movie on his laptop. He put it away as Ama entered.
“Hey, Sis! How did it go?”
She took a seat before replying. “That man? He summoned me into the office shortly after you left. From then, it was business.”
“PA! I wonder how a man could be so ‘spiritual’. See free food!” Ovie snapped his fingers in amazement.
“The girl knows her onions, though. She was very succinct in her dissection of his book. I like girls like that. Sharp upstairs, sharp downstairs,” Ama mused.
“Which one is ‘downstairs’? Sister, you are becoming razz.” Ovie laughed, punching Ama in the shoulder.
“Watch it Ovisco,” she protested, rubbing her shoulder. “I am not your sparring partner.”
“I am sorry,” he apologized. “Do you think he likes her?”
“If he doesn’t, he soon will.” Ama stated.
“Why do you say so?”
“That girl will leave him no choice but to fall in love with her. Besides, she has PO, who is PA’s bosom friend on her side. POD and PK liked her as well. I like her. You like her. Who is left?” She rolled her eyes at the obviousness of the situation.
“PA is strong-willed. It is only when it comes to fashion that he listens to others. This is his life partner we are talking about.”
“She is also going to be the ‘Mummy’ of the church. I think he needs her to have a soft landing rather than to go for someone who will struggle to gain acceptance.”
Ovie nodded, considering her point. He rubbed his chin as he was fond of doing when deep in thought. “She has a magnetic presence and she speaks very well.”
“Omo, her accent na die! I could barely understand her.” Ama laughed.
“Bush woman!” Ovie teased.
“Let it be. When she marries PA, she can teach me to be ‘tush’. For now, let me get back before PA misses me.” With that she rose.
“Let me finish my movie before PA sends for me. I am supposed to go over his piece for the blog with him after his conference call.”
“Yesterday’s own was cool. He got 12000 likes. You are really good at this social media thing.”
“Thanks, Sis. I have offered to help you set up your instagram but you won’t let me. Mr. Right is probably waiting online.” He raised an eyebrow in a teasing manner.
“Thank you but no, I am not re-marrying. I have two sons to raise and they are enough for me.” She was at the door.
“I respect that, Ama. You know I was just joking, right?”
“Ovisco, we’re good.” She left before he could respond.
Zinabari was in the market for a new best friend. She had lost her best friend of 30 years a year before, in a ghastly motor accident. Moving to Lagos seemed like a good opportunity to meet new people. She had visited before and never really understood the rush. It started at ungodly hours when her folks in Port Harcourt would have still been fast asleep and didn’t let up till midnight. She was amazed the night she met traffic at 11pm on her way from a conference back to her hotel room.
At 33, she was of average height, dark, slim and very beautiful. She was oblivious of this fact, however. If her chiseled nose, perfect jawline and heart-shaped face caused envy among other women, she didn’t notice. If her hour glass figure turned the heads of the men she encountered, Zina was unaware. She genuinely believed that her asset was her intelligence. That was what she had been raised to believe and that was what she had always relied on.
She was the MD of an IT solutions company that head-hunted her in Port Harcourt before transferring her to Lagos when the Briton heading that branch chose to resigned. A fair but strict boss, she did not believe that the workplace was for making friends. Each morning, she came dressed for war and she did not brook insolence. Her reputation had preceded her, such that her three thousand staff were already murmuring about the inevitable changes she would bring with her.
The company had rented a serviced flat for her within minutes of her office complex. Her next door neighbors were a family of four. Imabong was a mother of twin girls aged four. Her husband Felix spent two weeks of every month off shore due to his job in an oil firm. She had started a food delivery business which she ran from her kitchen. A number of supermarkets, individuals and busy people who liked home cooking, ordered her pots of soups, stews and other delicacies which her delivery men delivered frozen or hot, as the customer pleased.
Imabong was delighted to have a neighbor within her age range and quickly befriended her. Perhaps, Zinabari would not have been enthusiastic if her best friend was alive. She tended to avoid relationships with women because she found them catty and mean. The few friends she had were not people she confided in. They were professional colleagues, old school mates, and so on. Her late friend had been the only one to penetrate her armor.
Zina was in Lagos for only two weeks before Imabong won her over. It was a Saturday and they were off to see a movie at the cinema. Fortunately, they both liked thrillers. She hated romantic comedies, though she would have seen one if Imabong had insisted. It was great that their tastes were so similar.
“Who is driving?” Zina asked as they met in the parking lot.
“My driver will take us,” she replied.
“Okay, cause I only have mine for official hours and I don’t know the way.”
“I know you are a JJC. There is no telling where we will end up if you had the steering.”
“My car has a navigation system, though. I just don’t want to get into trouble with the traffic police…”
“Yeah,LASTMA. I hear they pop up in hidden corners.” As she spoke, they approached Imabong’s car whose door her driver held open.
“Thank you.” They both chorused.
He nodded and closed the door before running to his side to get in. The ladies settled in.
“Do you have a church in Lagos?” Imabong asked.
“I have been hunting. Someone recommended The Jesus Church to me. I went there last Sunday.”
“I know their pastor, Pastor Onyema. We call him PO. He and my pastor are close.”
“What is your own church called?”
“Revelation Christian Assembly.”
“What is it like?”
“Powerful word, anointed music, trendy people, and good atmosphere: You should come tomorrow.”
“Maybe I will.”
“I will get you there. All you to do is drive behind us. It is not far. By the way, you look different today. I see the smoky eye.” Imabong laughed.
“I am trying to be like you; hot mom of twins,” Zina teased.
“You know you are lovely. I don’t know why you wear such dark colours. Even bank staff wear other colours these days.”
“Do I wear dark colours?” Zina asked.
“Yes. Right now, you are wearing a black top on blue jeans. Tell me what that does for your complexion? I doubt I could find you at night.” Imabong made a comical face.
Zina laughed. “You are making fun of my designer top. Do you know how much it cost?”
“Wasted money, I tell you,” she scoffed. “In fact, after the movie, we are going shopping. I know you are planning to wear a black frock to church tomorrow.”
“Actually, I was.”
“Not happening, sorry.”
“Who is paying for these new clothes?”
“A full makeover, you mean.”
“Who is paying for this full makeover?” Zina fixed her gaze on her new friend, half-seriously.
“No be you tell me say you be oga for office? Me I be housewife O!”
“Imabong, when money matter reach, you begin speak pidgin?”
“Na so we see am.”
Both friends burst into hearty laughter.
Toyosi was chatting with PA on twitter. She had followed him on all his social media handles and made it a point of duty to like, retweet, comment on and share everything he said. He was flattered to be admired by such an accomplished woman. A few times, she had graciously pointed out errors in his opinion pieces but never in a hurtful manner. She complimented his outfits and liked all his instagram pictures. PA was convinced that she was too kind.
She was sitting beside her friend Idara, who was living with her since she was thrown out of her husband’s house. Her mother did not approve of this. She felt it was in bad taste for her to be linked with a woman from a broken home when she had yet to find a husband of her own. Toyosi was torn between her loyalty to her friend and her agreement with her mother’s point of view. She resolved to put in a word for her with Moji as their boss, so she could give her a salary advance or whatever would enable her get a place of her own.
“Who are you chatting with?” Idara asked.
“How is he?”
Toyosi typed before replying her. “I was studying Genesis and I don’t understand why God allowed the serpent into the garden.”
“He is fine.”
“What are you guys talking about?” Idara scooted closer to read her chat. “Da! To get pastor no be beans O! The chyking sef na bible study.”
Toyosi snorted but did not reply.
“I don’t blame you, sha. The guy is handsome, wealthy, intelligent; plus being a pastor, he is sure to be faithful.” Idara said wistfully.
“Now you see the reason for my bible study. If this was how I was reading my bible before now, I would have become a pastor myself.”
“The thing is not hard O! In fact, tell him you sense a call to bible school and ask if he thinks it is a good idea,” Idara suggested.
“Idara, I am a pro. If I try it, he will smell a rat. Let me take it one step at a time. Please, where is my share of the food you made?”
“I thought I read where you told him that you are fasting?”
“Are you in my heart? I am fasting in my heart.”
Idara laughed, holding her sides and bending over on the couch. “Fasting in your heart? This social media generation! You won’t kill me, Toyosi. Let me tell you, should you marry that man, fasting will be for real, not in your heart. Be certain that you are ready. It’s not all glamour and fan fare.”
“It is what you make of it, Idara. Marriage is what you make of it. I am tired of these men who only want to get you into bed. I need a real man; a man who means what he says and does what he says. If it means fasting, I will do it. Nothing is too much to do for love.”
“So, you love PA?”
“I am crazy about him. He has to be mine, Idara. I am in love.”
Idara watched her friend type away furiously on her keypad and pitied Pastor Allen. Before he knew what hit him, he would be in a tuxedo, marching beside her, all the way to the altar. She shook her head slowly, she would be left alone. Moji was frosty at best, Toyosi would cut off from her for sure, her husband was not making moves to win her back as she had hoped, she had no children to distract her and her parents were aged. She began to toy with the idea of spoiling things for PA and Toyosi. The idea had been summarily dismissed when it first presented itself but now, with the possibility of being abandoned again looming, she began to think it was not so bad after all.
Cheers, Dr. N