Cynthia and I went to a cinema one evening for a movie premiere of one of Hollywood’s best directors who was Cynthia’s acquaintance. Cynthia looked like a diva in the dress she had on. Nearly everyone who had known Cynthia to be a model was there. They all wanted to take a picture with her. Whenever anyone wanted to snap with her, she demanded that I stand by her. Cynthia made every preferential treatment given to her to pass through me. She made it seem as though she wouldn’t do anything without my approval. If anyone wanted to speak with her privately, they would have to ask me. I would then permit her and give her the number of minutes she was to spend with each person. I didn’t do any of those on my own accord. I just played along with her the moment I realized she wanted it that way.
The big moment came when Cynthia and the other models got together. Cynthia wouldn’t let me go for even one second. Six other astonishingly beautiful models from the different continents of the world came and joined me and Cynthia on our table. I was very particular about the one among them who had an Italian accent. The way she talked made me want to kiss her. The way she smiled impressed me a whole lot. And the way she moved her body engaged my imagination and I swore in my heart that I was going to meet her privately no matter the cost.
Cynthia was just showing me off like say I be Obama pikin. I was cool with it. I loved the feeling. I cracked a lot of jokes that made the models laugh their hearts out. We began discussing about the movie that was premiered. All the models starred in the movie except Cynthia. I asked why she wasn’t a part of it and she said she wanted to limit her nude appearances on TV because she didn’t want to be seen as an indecent girl. That sounded like trash to the other models because as far as there are concerned, nudity wasn’t anything to be shy of anymore.
Cynthia explained that she was an African girl who was hoping to marry an African man. A Nigerian man to be specific. ‘Nigerians don’t see it the same way the Americans do’ she said to the models. ‘An American man may let his wife go nude on TV for the sake of career, but a Nigerian man will definitely not’. The models disagreed with her and there was a little argument on that subject. The stand of American men on public nudity was known, but that of an African man wasn’t. And since I was the only African man present there, I had to stand in for all African men and give my opinion on that matter. I didn’t contribute on my own oo. One of the models asked me if what Cynthia said about African men was true.
I tried to dodge the question but as soon as the model with the Italian accent urged me to say something, I didn’t delay for even one second before I started talking like machine. I wasn’t giving my sincere opinion at all. Whatever the Italian girl said was what I concurred to. Cynthia was surprised at me. She couldn’t believe her ears and I didn’t mind. Whatever would jeopardize my chances with the Italian girl was discarded without a second thought. What made me see the Italian girl in a different light was what I couldn’t figure out. She simply found her way to my heart and I went along with the drive.
We discussed about many things. These models didn’t see me as who I really was but as one of the big shots they hadn’t gotten to know yet. Midway into our discussion the Australian model among them enquired to know me. Cynthia gave me a profile I had not given to myself even in my imagination. She told them all I was and added all I was yet to be. She was right to tell them I’m a singer, actor, writer and poet. Instead of ending there she told them I was working hand in hand with all those people she introduced me to. What she said of me made those girls believe that I could play a role or two to get them to greater heights in their career. And that made it easy for me to access the Italian girl without stress. There was no end to the preferential treatments I got from those girls.
Time came for the director of the movie that was premiered to be honored for directing such a nice movie. One of the models who starred in the movie was called on to say a thing or two about the movie before the director was called on to be honored. Incidentally, it was the Italian model that was called on. She went out there and started talking about the movie and praising the director of the movie. To my greatest surprise, she said director was too great a man to be called to stage by a lone lady. So she said she was going to call on someone she deemed worthy to come join her usher in the director.
‘Ladies and gentlemen’, she said, help me welcome Jesusboy’. The audience clapped as though they knew who was called. I was shaken by that development. I never imagined standing before such dignitaries anytime soon. I thought I had overcome stage fright when I started acting drama in church but then it occurred to me that I still had fright left in me. Honestly I didn’t want to go. If I had the opportunity, I would have ran out so that it would be that I wasn’t around when I was called on.
Even Cynthia was flabbergasted. But then she urged me to go join her. Cynthia would never discourage me to do anything that would add to my prestige. By the time she said a word or two to me, I gathered courage and joined the Italian girl on stage. She handed the microphone to me and I said a few things I normally said whenever I spoke before an audience. But I noticed that those people appreciated almost everything you had to offer.
The few times I made presentations in Nigeria, I had to prepare and prepare as if I was going to win an award for it. Even at that, I hardly touched the heart of my listeners. So I had to put extra effort to make sure that my presentation was not a dry one. But in this case, it was different. The moment I stepped on stage and got the microphone I was so nervous. So I released a deep breath with the microphone close to my mouth and the sound echoed in the auditorium. Just when I was about starting to feel I had embarrassed myself, the audience applauded. I was shocked. Was it me or someone else?
I looked at their faces and saw them smiling at me as though I had made their day. In order to clear my doubt I released a deep breath again and they applauded again. It was really me. At that very moment, my self-esteem tripled up. The fright diminished and I began to speak like who they all believed me to be. I called the director to stage. He gave his speech which he began by thanking me and the Italian girl whom he referred to as my woman. He thought we were dating, and so he made others think.
His speech was over and we left to our table to join Cynthia and the others. What just happened became the topic of our discussion. The Italian girl was seen as my woman so we had to stick together to put up a good show. People who saw me on stage drew close to me afterwards to get to know me better. The Italian girl assumed Cynthia’s responsibilities immediately. She wouldn’t let me speak for myself. She just kept quoting Cynthia to all who came to me. All those people saw me as a star in the movie and music industry, and were looking forward to my movies and songs which I promised to make public soon.
I eventually got to spend time alone with the Italian girl. We got talking. Her accent never stopped impressing me. Cynthia was watching us from a distance with an unusual countenance on her face. She was all alone, sipping her strawberry juice little by little. We discussed for a very long while. Then a white man approached us and called on her. She asked him to give her a minute but the man insisted on seeing her right away. He didn’t look happy, but I could tell I wasn’t the one he was angry with.
The girl went to meet him and they walked a little distance away from me and started speaking Italian. Suddenly they started raising their voices at each other. I got angry with the man for raising her voice on the girl and wanted to intervene before I heard the man say out loud in English; I’m not giving you the divorce! Ewoo! Person wife? I couldn’t to spend a single minute waiting for her on realizing she was married. All my feelings for her went dead immediately and I started feeling guilty for having left Cynthia who placed so much value on me to be with someone else’s wife who was asking for a divorce.
I left there unnoticed by the Italian girl and went to join Cynthia. I knew she wasn’t happy, I just didn’t know to what extent she had gotten angry. Secondly, I didn’t know how to access her heart. If it were Ogechi, I would just kneel down and her anger will vanish immediately. Since I didn’t know what to do to calm Cynthia, I just started making jokes she didn’t laugh to. All the while, most people who passed my way often stopped by to introduce themselves to me and make me an acquaintance since they all thought I was one of the stars.
An elderly man then came to me and shook hands with me, telling me how honored he was to get to know me. Your woman is a beauty; he said referring to the Italian girl. I quickly objected and said; she isn’t my woman. I pointed to Cynthia and said; this right here is my woman. Cynthia turned her face slowly towards me in amazement. The man said; but she ain’t the girl who called you out before us.
The girl who called me out was representing her because she was feeling a little bit heavy and couldn’t afford to stand for that long’ I said.
The man shook his head in agreement and said; she also is a beauty indeed.
Cynthia smiled. Yes! I have broken the yoke. But wait a minute, did I break a yoke or did I just put a yoke on me?
To be continued.