“Ouch! Gently please,” he heard his wife mutter softly at the other end of the phone. Being both insecure and impetuous, he resisted the urge to mull it over. Outraged, imagining the worst, he abruptly terminated the call.
Prior to his fourteen-year marriage with Mangeni, Bolaji, while a bachelor, had always boasted to his friends that never would his wife be found wanting on the sensitive issue of infidelity. He has based his conviction squarely on Karma. He believed that since he never cheated on a girlfriend, a principle he still upholds as a married man, fate would be just enough to reward him with a life-long virtuous wife. And truly, Mangeni has been true to her salt. Bolaji’s integrity has stood the test of time as far as women are concerned. While at school, he restricted social relations beyond academic discussions with his female classmates to virtuous limits and had managed a platonic relationship with only one girlfriend throughout his studies at the university. Interestingly though, she called off the relationship in their final year after enduring years of sexual deprivation despite repeated pleas, much to Bolaji’s relief. During Bolaji’s Service Year under the NYSC Scheme in Cross-River State, he also ignored several winks at him from thetiny-legged teenage girls who were his students at the secondary school in Adadama which was his Place of Primary Assignment. He had to arrange his transfer to teach at aboys-only school when it became unbearably frustrating. The last straw was when one of the girls trailed him to his lodge and told him “corpa I wan born for you na!”
He almost fell into the temptation when he was posted to Port-Harcourt immediately after his nine-month training in Kaduna as a commissioned sub-lieutenant with the Nigeria Navy. After the regular morning drills at the naval base, officers of different ranks would gather at the mess to carouse with each other. And as they emptied their bottles of whisky, they would then go for a pleasurable time with the call girls that were always loitering around the Officers’ Mess.
After four months of struggling, trying to cope with the barrack-life in Port-Harcourt, his prayer got answered as he was nominated to be in the Special Squad to Uganda on a United Nations Peace Keeping Mission. He had wished for a break. Upon their arrival in Uganda, Bolaji was dispatched to the command of Rear Admiral Akello, the Ugandan Chief of Naval Staff. It was during his stay here that he fell in love with Mangeni, the physiotherapist at the command base and the second daughter of Admiral Akello.
On his return to Nigeria, he was redeployed to the Naval Central Office in Lagos. There, he opted for living outside the barracks as a determined effort to avoid his previous experience when he saw that the Lagos barrack was another Sodom and Gomorrah. He had maintained communication with Mangeni and her family in Uganda while in Nigeria and months later, his family traveled down with him to Kampala as he tied the knot with the Admiral’s daughter– his beloved Mangeni!
……Tuesday, January 12, 2010….. Lagos, Nigeria……..
“Sweetie I’m set,” Bolaji, standing by the mirror at the dresser in the bedroom, called out to his wife as he adjusted the lapel-pins on his ceremonial uniform. He was set for the airport to catch an Abuja flight. He has been mandated by his base to make a presentation during sessions at the one week Nigeria Navy Anniversary to be held at the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
Mangeni, keen on the idea of wallowing in cold soapy water after getting up from bed and so, reposed herself in the bathtub almost full of water with the foam forming clouds above her body. But the noisy splattering of the shower won’t allow her hear her husband’s call this time.
“Oh, babe didn’t you hear me calling you?” Bolaji queried as he stepped into the bathroom and drew the bathtub’s curtains sideways. “Wow,” he exclaimed romantically.
“Yeah BJ, I’m here,” Mangeni smiled mischievously at her husband and raised her hand in a ploy to splash cold water on his face. Bolaji noticed her intention and stepped backwards at a brisk pace and the splash hit the bathtub’s curtains as he quickly pulled them together. He laughed mockingly at his wife as she couldn’t get at him, and then, he returned to the mirror and was tying the white lanyard across his shoulder when he caught the frontal reflection of his wife with arms akimbo.
“Hmmmm… BJ, your ceremonial look this morning reminds me of that night when you came to jerk me up where I was seated beside my dad during the UN Send-Forth Dinner in Kampala. Hmmm… I remember how I grabbed your lanyard to pull you up from your knees when you wanted to make the proposal.”
With her face wreathed in smiles, Mangeni tootled gently behind her husband and held him on the waist. Bolaji chuckled delightfully as he turned to face his wife, “sweetie, you know what? Hmm… when I spotted you in the mirror, what came to my mind was the splendour of that silent night after our wedding reception. The same way you wrapped yourself in this kinda short towel as you came out of the bathroom, jumped into the bed and started gliding your chest against my back.”
“Oh, babe you are so naughty,” teased Mangeni as she pinched his nose softly and both clasped each other in a warm embrace.
“My coffee and briefcase please,” Bolaji requested as he walked into the sitting room.
“I will be back before Saturday. You know I’ve promised Junior to make it this time around for his school’s visiting day, it’s this weekend, right?” He asked to be sure.
“Yes dear. In fact it just came to my mind sef. I have to get his provisions today that I’m Off from the clinic because I don’t think I will be Off again until next weekend.” Mangeni responded as she hurriedly headed towards the kitchen to serve her husband’s tea.
“Oh, that means I must call Waidi to come and fix the new battery for your car this morning, ’cause I will be parking mine at the airport to ease my movement when I return.” Bolaji told his wife who was already nodding in agreement, “yes o, tell the battery-man to come this morning.”
Bolaji with his coffee-cup, sipped sequentially as he hurried to the garage. He hopped into his padded Mercedes Benz, wound down the passenger’s window and stretched out his hand to collect his briefcase from his wife who had rushed after him. He emptied his cup and gave his wife. And after waving back at his wife, he steered towards the gate with one hand while he scrolled through his phonebook in search of the battery charger’s number.
After dropping out of school, Waidi kept himself busy with the acquisition of different skills as an apprentice but later settled for car battery-charging. Silifa, the SS2 girl he impregnated, has been sent out from her house after her father had rejected the pleas to harbour who he claimed was potential mother of a bastard. He believed it would dent his clerical image as the Ladani of the local community Mosque. Silifa who was left with no other option has since become Waidi’s illegal full house wife. They both sandwiched themselves in his stuffy one-room apartment.
Waidi’s landlord has threatened to send him packing if his six-month pending house rent wasn’t ready by the time he returned from his trip to Ijebu where he had gone to get the proceeds from his other leased-out properties.
Waidi woke up early and has been engulfed in his predicaments. Silifa, rolling on the bed and stretching out her hands to reach her husband, suddenly opened her eyes to see him sitting on the edge of the bed, sobbing.
“Waidi, stop thinking now,” Silifa said warmly as she got up and knelt behind her husband with her hands rested on his shoulders and her heavy tummy caressing his back. Waidi turned around and buried his face in his wife’s wrapper when his phone started ringing. Thinking the call was from his landlord who was due to arrive that day, he reluctantly raised his hand to fetch the phone from the pocket of his workshop jacket hung on the nail above the bed. Surprisingly, the caller wasn’t who he thought.
“Thank God ooo! It’s Oga Navy! He must be calling for his wife’s car battery,” Waidi jumped out of the bed in excitement to answer the call.
“Yes I dey bring the battery now now sir.” As this call with one of his high-paying customers ended, he started smiling at Silifa as her fingers stroked his head. “Shebi I don tell you make you no think too much; God go do am,” Silifa smiled as she encouraged him.
One of Waidi’s customers a long time ago had forgotten a new car battery at his shop. He planned that after he has billed Bolaji the exact fee covering his house rent and a token for his wife to register for antenatal, he was going to deliver the battery as a new one to Bolaji’s wife.
‘fEMI is a quintessential writer shaped by the Pan-African writing tradition and driven by the force of committed literature. He is an audible voice of the African literary heritage. ‘fEMI was born in Lagos-Nigeria on the 14th of April 1986. He has a background in Engineering and hopes to get a fresh degree in Literary Studies. He is a columnist and an eminent blogger. (www.iyemishi.com)