The ringtone of my phone woke me up in the middle of the night, i reached for the phone and stared at the strange number reflecting on the screen. The call disconnected and the number called back immediately.
” Hello,” i said groggily, “Who am i speaking with?”
” Funmi,” She said sobbing.
I sat up, suddenly wide awake.” What happened?”
” I want….want to come back,” she cried.
” What happened? ” I shouted, ” talk to me please”
” Mable…. ”
” Yes, what did she do to you?’
” Her friends said i will destroy her home and that…. ” she choked on tears,” that all Nigerian women are sluts”
” Awwn, you shouldn’t let that get to you. We are good women and you are a good representative of Nigerian women. You have a big heart and you wouldn’t hurt even a fly. What did Mabel say to her friends?”
” She….she said i am a good person”
” Yes you are. Funmi you will prove them wrong, show them Nigerian women are the best women in the world.”
” OK,” she replied quietly,” Thank you, goodnight”
” Goodnight best friend,”
” Congrats big boy,” Annie said, giving me a wide smile.” How was your first field trip?”
” It was a bitter sweet experience. The drillers were reluctant to take orders from me on the first day but i stood my ground. The second day, they all refused to work so i called Mr Thomas but he told me to handle it and disconnected. I tried my best tho and in the end the job was done”
” You handled them well i assure you, we got reports. You are the first representative in Dominique to be sent to the field in his first month. Believe me, we are all proud of you but don’t let it get to your head” she said,” now i need your help with something a bit personal this weekend.
” I need your help too, ” I said laughing,” the funny thing is it’s this weekend too ”
Annie and I had grown closer as the weeks slowly progressed into a month, she was intelligent and easy to talk to, she was one of those people who understood what you felt without even telling her. The other guys on my team often wonder aloud what she saw in me because she was known as a prude. We went to lunch together, we were always assigned to the same projects and i got to find out a lot about her. She was an only child, she grew up without a father or knowing who he was. Her mother was gruesomely murdered by a robbery gang before her eyes and she had no family left. She loved bad and rugged guys, she was a chain smoker and she never went anywhere without her locket which she claimed brought her luck.The other guys often joked around that she was my sugar mommy since she was a thirty_ two years old lady while i was only twenty eight.
” I need your help with something very urgent this weekend,” She said.” I hope you will be able to help me” A sad look came on her face briefly.
” Annie, is something wrong?”
” Yea, I ….I can’t talk about it here”
” Alright, Will you be fine until then?”
” I will be fine. Thanks. What do you need my help with? ” She asked.
” I want to get something for Dupe,”
She sighed loudly,” Ah lucky girl! what do you have in mind?”
” A ring. I want to propose to her” I said with a grin.
” Awww, so sweet. Sure, I know just the place you can get the perfect ring. ”
” Thank you,”
” You are welcome,” She said, pinching her full lips between her teeth in a sultry way.My phone rang out, i excused myself to answer the call, i placed my IPhone against my ear without checking out the caller.
” Uchenna Nwafor,” I said.
” Hello,” a timid voice said.” Brother, it’s me”
I drew in breathe as i recognized his voice.” Dubem, What do you want?”
” I….I …..” He stuttered, ” I know you are angry with me. I am sorry, I felt like an extra burden to you and Mama, so i went in search of greener pastures”
” Is the grass really green at the other end as claimed? ”
” No” he replied, ” I am going through a lot here”
” Dubem, you wasted our sister’s life and if i see you right now i will strangle you with my bare hands!”
” Please…… I don’t understand. What else did i do? ”
” The gang you stole from raped Nonye to death as revenge” I said, he started crying at the other end.” Don’t ever call my line again, you are dead to me” I disconnected in anger.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, ” Whatever it is, give it time. It will heal up with time” She said softly
” Some wounds can never be healed”
” Yes, but atleast you will be able to talk about it” She replied,”I can never forget how those robbers painted our sitting room with my mother’s blood but i can talk about it now. Give it time Uche,”
I took Dupe’s advice and i vowed within me to prove to Mabel’s friends just how unique Nigerian women are. I took my work serious and i even did extra works like taking Serwa to and fro from school. I made her lunch every noon and i read her bed time stories on those nights her mother didn’t return home from her outing.Tade kept to himself, other than greeting we barely spoke to each other. Mabel would often leave home very early in the morning and come back drunk or reeking of smoke at the wee hours of midnight.
I over heard her arguing with her husband on a Saturday morning, i took Serwa and we went to the park in the estate.By the time we got back it seemed they had settled their differences as they both welcomed us warmly.
” Funmi,” Mabel called
I was making Serwa’s lunch of spaghetti with meat balls when she walked into the kitchen.
” I want to give you a treat. You have been here only a week but i am so impressed. You took good care of Serwa and you also put my house in order. I want you to hang out with my girls and i tonight”
” Thank you, i appreciate but…”
” No buts,it took me the better part of today convincing Tade to sit Serwa tonight. You deserve to let down your hair and enjoy the Ghana night life”
” Alright,” i replied reluctantly
” Don’t worry! You will absolutely love it, 100% fun is guaranteed ” She said excitedly.
I walked back into the stuffy club house feeling Unclad, Mabel insisted i wore one of her gowns which left little to the imagination. She and her group of friends were at the bar engaging in a battle of the ‘ fastest to drink their tequila’. The air was heavy with the acrid smell of cigarette, alcohol and sweat, some men and women were dancing and smooching on the dance floor, a young man was trying to get his tongue into the mouth of a very young girl at a corner of the room. I almost retched at these ungodly sights.
” Hey Sweetie, are you alone tonight? ” A short balded man asked, flashing the glittering gold rings on his fat fingers.
I bit the inside of my cheek with my teeth in regret. I should have simply told Mabel what i felt about her so called ‘ Ghana night life’. It was wrong for a child of God to mingle with unbelievers but i didn’t want her to think of me as a holier_ than thou. I made to side step him but he took hold of my arm forcefully.
” Let go of me!’ I shouted, my eyes searching for Mabel in the crowded room.
” I am just being friendly, ” he said,” name your price”
” Hey! Let go of her mister” Mabel said, walking towards us” f*uck off”
The pudgy short man gave her a dirty look before walking away.
” Sorry about that, ” She said,” he probably sensed you are a newbie!”
We made our way back to the bar where the other ladies were, Mabel ordered for another round of drinks and a tequila glass was placed in front of me. Alice and Gracey drowned theirs in one gulp and went to the dance floor to dance. A tall dark guy walked up to Mabel, flashed her a smile and invited her to the dance floor. She raised up her left hand, flashing him her wedding ring. The guy walked away without another word.
” Funmi, why are you staring at your drink?” Rose asked, ” you shouldn’t be here if you know it makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s not like you are better than any one of us here”
” Rose!” Mabel admonished, ” please don’t talk to her like that.”
” We paid good money for the drink so it shouldn’t be wasted. Or would you rather be served smoothie?” Rose asked sacarstically.
I picked up the glass and swallowed the whole content of it in one fluid motion, i choked and coughed out as tears burned my eyes.Mabel patted me on the back, lighted a cigarette and took a long drag.
” Don’t listen to Rose, she’s testy because she hasn’t been laid for a while now ” Mabel said
” Speaking of being laid, i am going man hunting” Rose said, slidding off her stool” It is good i went commando tonight, it will make the job easier”
” What does going Commando mean?” I blurted out, as i felt a dull throbbing ache in my left temple. My eyes was getting misty for no just reason and i felt like singing and crying at the same time. I saw them trade looks before spurting out in laughter.
” Where did you get this girl from?” Rose asked in wonder,” even my twelve years old daughter knows what going commando is”
” She meant she had no undies underneath her gown” Mabel explained
I nodded my head in embarrassment, Mabel was saying something but i didn’t hear her as her voice seemed to be coming from miles away, my visions blurred and the sound of the music faded away. I felt myself swoon backwards, someone reached out to hold me as the blackness enveloped me.
” Wow, you are early” Annie said, holding her door open. She was in a work out pant with a crop top. Her hair was clipped to the back of her head.” Excuse my looks, i was sweating it out in my gym”
I walked into her beautifully furnished living room. She had a book shelve in her sitting room, a giant plasma TV and a giraffe art work. Canvasses of her was hung on the walls and there was also a huge portrait of her as a young child, she had ice cream smeared on her nose and she was also sporting an ice cream mustache which brought a smile on my lips.
” Even with the ice_ cream mustache you were still cute”
She gave a sultry laugh,” Don’t flatter me please, what should i offer you? Wine?”
” Wine is perfect”
” Excuse me,” She said, she opened the fridge in her dinning area and brought out a chilled bottle of wine. She filled two glasses, handed one to me before sitting down on the opposite couch.
” Good Wine,” I said
” Yea, Italian ” She sighed.” Shark gave it to me”
” Who is Shark?”
” The enigma i need you to help me out with, he’s the guy i am going out with. We have been going out for six months but it seems…..well the thing is……Shark is…..” She struggled to let out the words.
” Wait Annie, which Shark? the one and only?” I asked, my heart was palpitating in excitement.
” Yes” She sighed loudly.
” Wow! ” I exclaimed in surprise,” I followed his first trial!”
Shark was a young ruthless lawyer with his own private practice, he was an ideal defender of the poor and the oppressed. He came into limelight at the tender age of twenty when he picked up and won a case rejected by many top lawyers in the country. The case was the virgin Mary and the Elite case. Four Guys who were the sons of prominent political leaders had lured a young innocent girl hawking fruits into their home and they raped her to death. As the sons of prominent leaders they thought they would go Scott free especially since most lawyers washed their hands off the case. The masses protested and cried out for justice,out of nowhere a young man appeared and picked up the case, representing the poor aggrieved parents of the victim.
Nobody knew or heard about him before, nobody knew who his parents were or how he came to amass such wealth of knowledge and confidence. When the case started, everyone thought he would lose but to their outmost surprise he won the case and thus earned himself the name shark. After that case, he reappealed many cases which had seemed hopeless and he always brought the bad guys to book. Twice, an attempt was made on his life but he escaped unscathed on each of those occasions. The other lawyers had a love_ hate feeling towards him, they admired his tenacity, confidence and determination even when all hope seemed lost and at the same time they hated his guts, his fame and how he shredded each one of them to pieces when they find him as an opponent in the court room.
” He’s like a wall, nothing moves him. He’s sort of strange too but i want to break down his walls and make him love me,” Annie said somberly.” There’s this aura about him which i don’t seem to discern”
I sighed heavily,” Annie, honestly i don’t know what to say but i do know that love can’t be forced and if you keep forcing it you might end up hurting yourself. Six months is enough time for him to fall in love with you and if he still doesn’t reciprocrate your feelings then i think you might want to consider walking away although it might be painful.”
” I can’t walk away!” She cried out,” he’s ……he’s not really as tough as the world thinks. He doesn’t even…..”
” He doesn’t what?”
” Never mind. Tell me how do i even get him to let down his guard and trust me?”
” Trust him with your own pains first and with time he might learn to trust you with his. By the way, i want to meet him. I have followed all his trials and i am a big fan of his”
“I will tell him when i see him tonight. We can go on a double date next weekend, me and him, you and your fiancée. How about we go hunting for that engagement ring?” She asked, standing up.
” Cool idea”
To be continued..