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The house was just the way it’d been since I went off to the UK for my master’s degree. Nothing, I mean absolutely nothing about it had changed. Well except of course, from the eroding paint on the walls that I could see beside me, as I walked into the kitchen and came face to face with a heap of unwashed dishes and utensils on the kitchen sink.
Apparently, the owner hadn’t changed either, I thought shaking my head from right to left, as I began to hum to a song that had been on my mind since I got down from the plane;
‘It’s all coming back’ by Celine Dion…
I took the apron off the hook on the wall and set to work. It’d been ages since I washed. Back in the UK, my uncle made sure I had everything I needed at my disposal. So for the past year, I’ve been a sitting duck. I never washed or clean or cooked; the maids did all that, literally turning me into a sack of lazy bones. All I did was eat, sleep and read. I even started to add so much weight that Darey had to make me sign up for gym classes. He made sure I sent photos of my progress as they went. I was extremely happy to see him again, to be able to feel the warmth of his skin against mine. Oh how I’d missed the smell of his cologne and the way he would lick me from head to toe; caressing every fiber of my being.
I let the memories of that morning sweep through my mind.
He had been surprised to see me even when I had told him earlier of my return. His jaw had fallen in shock and his eyes had this look of confusion when he walked into the bedroom. But they didn’t hold onto it for too long because they had later fallen on the glory of me in one of the victoria secret’s night-wears I had purchased a week ago for that very purpose and for that very reaction. The damn thing was as lucid as a glass mirror so he could see everything I was underneath, with the help of the fluorescent light bulb he had turned on. I had stood up from the bed and walked over for a hug which I got from both him and the man downstairs. Not long, his face was lost in the places below and the rest was…epic.
I laughed and then hummed my way through the chores. One by one, I set the utensils back in their places, wiped the tables, dusted the cabinets, emptied the trash can like one dutiful housewife that I was meant to be- Darey’s wife. But just as I was about to mop the floors, I heard my phone ring. Picking it up from one of the cabinets I had rested it on, the caller id read “LARA”.
“Hey!” I called into the phone, suddenly feeling a persistent itch in my head.
“Babe! Where you dey?” she asked and for a moment, I wasn’t sure what to say.
“Hello? Tokpe? Are you there?” I heard her call impatiently into the phone.
“I’m here o. Sorry I was… Sup? I’m on my way to your place. I just left the airport” I lied, unable to come up with something better.
“Ehen? Since yesterday shey? I sure say na since yesterday you enter cab” Lara replied sarcastically, and I could imagine her sauntering round the room as if the world was meant to leave everything it was doing and come down to her whenever she beckoned. And unfortunately, that was always the case. I allowed my eyes roll.
“Babe…No worry…I’m on my way” I answered, trying my best to reassure her. Infuriating Lara was the last thing I wanted to do. I dropped the mop and headed back to the bedroom.
“Spare me your watery lies abeg. Is Darey there?” She asked, taking a drag at something.
“No…” I answered trying to hide my shame.
How does she do that? I wondered restlessly.
“Where is he?” she asked in that authoritative voice she used, whenever she had a demand to make.
Back when we were girls, Lara was popularly known for that voice of hers and for the fact that she was the top female buddy in school. Everyone knew her and what she was capable of doing, so those in her clique always ended up getting a free pass from her monstrous activities. Lara despite her timid appearance was feared by almost all and the fact that she was even from a wealthy family gave her more edge; she was always able to pay off whatever disaster she left in her wake. Like others, I was scared of her as well, until that night I was cornered by Ije and her clique…demanding to know why I was so ugly.
I was already crying from the hot slap I had received from one of the girls when another landed on my face.
“Go on…answer!” the biggest amongst them yelled. Ije was her name, a very big and ugly thing!
“I’m not ugly” I insisted, weeping profusely as yet another slap followed.
“Ij…she no wan answer. Make we collect wetin we come collect, dey go” one other voice persisted. I could recall her voice. She was the girl that was always chewing gums at the back of the class. I never knew her name.
“Ok…oya give us your underwear” Ije commanded.
“Eh?” I asked confused.
“I say remove your underwear…your pant…abi you no dey hear word?” she spattered furiously, making me jump up from where I had squatted.
“Ije!” I heard someone call from a tree opposite where the idiots had been holding me. Because it was dark, I couldn’t make out the intruder’s face, not until she got closer. She walked up to us. The girls holding me fled. All except Ije, but I could see she was trembling.
“Lara! Wetin you dey do here? This wan no be your jurisdiction” Ije replied grumblingly.
“I know…that is why from henceforth I want you to leave this girl alone” Lara replied, pointing at me. “If not you know what I can do na. You see those your legs as them don bow finish so, by the time I finish with you……”
“I don hear” Ije retorted dejectedly. After eyeing me repeatedly, she walked away defeated.
That was the last time, anyone ever dared to throw a book at me or insult or call me names because Lara and I became best friends and you really didn’t want to mess with anyone in Lara’s circle.
“He said he has some kind of appointment to keep somewhere in town. He didn’t tell me where precisely” I answered, returning from my memory trip as I pulled off the short I was wearing and replaced it with a pair of jeans. She was saying something now but I had moved the phone from one ear to the other only to hear her say something like “…Shola is in the hospital”.
“Shola is in the hospital?” I asked suddenly frightened. “What happened? what’s wrong with her?”
“Nothing besides the fact that she just gave birth” Lara answered calmly.
“Huh?” birth? When? Was she pregnant?” I asked confused, but Lara had burst into some devilish laughter. It took a while, ten minutes perhaps, for her to pull herself back together before she responded to my question. By then, I was already closing the door behind me and was heading towards the sitting room.
“Babe, what’s funny?” I asked still in awe because it was rare to find Lara chuckling, talk more of laughing so loudly that I had to put the phone at some safe distance from my ears.
“No worry when you come…I go gist you. Shey you are on your way?” she asked still chuckling.
“Yeah!” I answered now heading towards the gate.
“Alright see you soon” Lara replied and then dropped the call. Still trying to wrap my head around the news, I crossed the gate and was about to halt a cab when I heard the gate man calling behind me.
“Madam! Madam” I turned towards him thinking perhaps I had forgotten or dropped something.
‘Oh sorry no be you…” he spoke quibbling, the look of confusion plastered all over his face as he took in my appearance. “Wait, na you I allow enter this morning?” he asked, still confounded.
“Eh… yes?” I answered, not sure what he meant by that question.
“Ehen? I think say na the other madam o! Sorry no vex!” he answered and then walked back into the compound and locked the gate.
“Other madam?” I thought more perplexed now as I stood and stared at the closed gate.
“What other madam?”
To be continued….
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