The next morning came quickly, and Mrs. Adibua woke up still angry from the incident that occurred at her boutique yesterday. She marched into the boys’ room.
“Wake up, the both of you,” she shouted, and then looked to the other side of the bed to see it was empty. “Where is your brother?”
“He did not come home last night,” answered Somto grumpily. He got up, and pulled a shirt hanging on the door.
“Okay then you come with me,” said Mrs. Adibua, leaving the room. “The Ikeji’s are coming today, we have to clean the house. I don’t know why they picked today of all days to come.”
Somto followed her to the kitchen, where she continued talking.
“I mean they could have waited till our real house had been fully renovated,” she picked up a broom. “It’s your father’s fault.”
Somto yawned tiredly and just stood there, looking as Mrs. Adibua as she began dusting the imaginary cobwebs from the wall.
“Will you just stand there and watch me,” she screamed. “At least go and throw away the dustbin.”
“You don’t have to shout,” replied Somto in undertones.
“What did you say?”
“Nothing,” answered Somto. He took the trash out, muttering as he did so. He returned only for Mrs. Adibua to continue.
“I don’t know what I am going to do with that your brother,” she said, dumping the dirty dishes into the sink. “Did he say where he is, I have told him several times about sleeping out.”
“I always said you guys pampered him too much,” said Somto. “If I did the same thing all hell would have broken loose, but because it’s Fide now…”
“Just go and clean your room,” Mrs. Adibua said dismissively. “And call your brother and tell him to come back home now. I am going to tell your father.”
Fidelis came back that afternoon just in time to welcome the Ikeji’s and also to laugh at Somto when Ifeyinwa showed up and she was still just as fat and ugly as they remembered her.
“You’re being set up for marriage,” Fidelis told him, chuckling. “Thank God I’m not the first born. Ifeyinwa of all people, the fat slub.”
“That was like years ago,” said Somto hopefully. “She has probably lost all the weight, and I’m not being set up for anything. Daddy said it’s just a casual meeting.”
“Casual meeting,” said Fidelis, his laugh getting louder. “Do you remember Paul, the new guy that supplies me with weed, his parents set up the same casual meeting with him. He is married now, and the ugly bitch is pregnant with twins. I’m not concluding anything, all I’m just saying is that you should be ready.”
“I’m not getting set up for marriage,” said Somto, but he did not sound so sure of it anymore.
The doorbell rang, and Mrs. Adibua bust into the room.
“I have no idea what is going on,” she said, ignoring the bell as it rang completely. “But your father wants you to answer the door.”
Somto looked at Fidelis who passed him an I-told-you-so look, and then he went to get the door.
“How long does it take to open the door in this house,” roared Mr. Adibua from the sitting room. “Are you all deaf? Somto!”
“I’m already there,” said Somto, as he reached the door, while Mrs. Adibua joined her husband at the sitting room. Fidelis put on a clean white shirt, and then Somto looked through the peep hole before opening it.
“Uncle, aunty good afternoon,” he said, bowing his head a little.
Mr. Ikeji and Mrs. Ikeji smiled warmly as they stepped in.
“Oho!” said Mr. Ikeji, raising his hand. He was tall and frail with a taut face. He retained vestiges of dashing good looks, but something – perhaps too much work – had taken most of his handsomeness. “You are so big now, it’s Somto isn’t it?”
“Yes uncle,” said Somto with an embarrassed smile.
“You don’t mean it,” continued Mr. Ikeji, still measuring with his hand. He turned to his wife. “Beatrice you remember when he and Ifeyinwa used to play now? These children grow so fast.”
“Of course I remember,” said Mrs. Ikeji. “You have a brother too, is it Fidelis?”
Somto nodded, wondering when they would just shut up and get in to see his father and mother, but then as an afterthought he decided to call Fidelis to share in the embarrassment.
“Are your parents around,” Mrs. Ikeji said.
“Yes they’re expecting you,” said Somto but he was interrupted by Mr.Ikeji, who was shocked when Fidelis came out.
“Oho!” he said, stepping back to look at the two boys. “They are almost taller than me now. Big boys.”
“And handsome,” added Mrs. Ikeji, causing Fidelis to smile. If Fidelis was a white child, his cheeks would have been the same colour as a ripe plum.
“My father and mother have been expecting you,” said Somto quickly before Mr. Ikeji would notice another of their features and comment on how it had changed. “They’re in the parlour over there.”
“Okay,” said Mr. Ikeji, and then he turned to his wife. “Where is Ifeyinwa?” he whipped out his phone, and Fidelis eyed it surreptitiously.
“I left my purse in the car,” said Mrs. Ikeji. “So I asked her to get it for me.”
“You boys can wait she will soon come up,” said Mr. Ikeji, and together they left for the parlour, leaving the two boys alone. A moment later they heard racuos laughter as both parents welcomed each other.
“Oh boy did you see that phone?” asked Fidelis, rubbing his palms together.
“Mehn they talk too much,” said Somto. “They haven’t changed at all.”
“I’m telling you about the phone he is using,” said Fidelis angrily. “And you’re telling me they talk too much. What’s my business? He can talk all he wants, but it won’t be bad if I got that phone.”
“Don’t try and ask him for it,” warned Somto.
“How can?” said Fidelis.
“I know you can do it,” said Somto. “Is that not how you…”
They were interrupted by the soft knock on the door. Somto peered through the peep hole, and his eyes widened.
“Dude take a look,” he said, stepping back for Fidelis who peered through the hole as well.
“Who is that?” he asked, a look of surprise on his face, and then he looked again, perhaps to be sure of what he sure. “God damn!”
“You know I can hear the both of you loud and clear,” said the girl on the other end. “Will you open the door or what?”
“Woah, it’s Ifeyinwa,” said Somto, and with a slightly shaky hand, he opened the door and tried to act composed. “Hey wassup.”
He had trouble looking at her face because he was drawn to her body.
Ifeyinwa looked nothing like the untidy and over-weight girl he had once played with when they were young, instead she was slim and quite tall. She had on a black blazer un-buttoned to reveal a white shirt which was also unbuttoned so that her cleavage was slightly exposed, and a tight jodhpurs of matching color with a nice pair of black high-heeled boots.
Fidelis eyes were glued to her cleavage, and he did not plan to remove them anytime soon.
“Are you going to let me in or what?” she said beside herself with glee at the boys’ reactions. “No seriously, is this the way you treat your guests?”
“Somto shift let her pass,” said Fidelis, pushing Somto aside. “Ifeyinwa is this you?”
“No,” said Ifeyinwa, smiling as she walked in. “It’s Tiwa Savage, the real me will arrive shortly.”
“It’s not that,” said Somto. “It’s just that we’re having trouble getting over the fact that you used to be overweight and dirty.”
“And irritating too,” added Fidelis.
“I was obese,” said Ifeyinwa defensively. “That was years ago. Get over it.” And then she turned around swiftly, causing her bushy hair to slap Somto in the eyes, and walked straight towards the sitting room.
“I really don’t mind if it’s a marriage thing they’re setting up,” said Somto, scratching his head.
“I know right,” said Fidelis. “but just in case you’re not interested..”
“Shut the hell up,” Somto cut in.
“Okay sorry,” said Fidelis. “Just thought I should throw that in.”
“Somto, Fidelis, both of you should come here,” shouted Mr. Adibua. “These boys, we have visitors and you’re not here to welcome them.”
Both boys quickly went to the sitting room, and sat on the remaining chairs available.
“What are you feeding your boys?” said Mrs. Ikeji.
“Food like every other mother gives her children,” answered Mrs. Adibua curtly, and then she passed Ifeyinwa a glance. “Do you feed your daughter at all?”
There was an awkward silence which was quickly broken by Mr. Adibua.
“SO Ifeyinwa,” he said, smiling at her. “I heard you graduated top of your class, with a master’s degree.” He passed Somto a knowing nod, and when Somto pretended not to notice, he turned back to Ifeyinwa.
“Uncle it is God’s work,” said Ifeyinwa, blushing slightly. “We thank God.”
“She is happy now,” said Mr. Ikeji. “A month ago when we asked her to come back from the USA she refused completely.” Mr. Ikeji sat up straight and did a funny impression of Ifeyinwa. “Daddy I’m not coming back to that country, the environmental condition is no longer suitable for me what with the mosquitoes, and power outage.”
Ifeyinwa covered her face in shame, while everyone laughed, everyone that is, except Mrs. Adibua who had a look of disdain on her face, as though someone had dropped something smelly under her nose.
“Do you remember Somto?” Mr. Fidelis continued. “Both of you used to play together. I was telling him about you, and can you imagine the first thing he said to me?”
Ifeyinwa tried to smile, but Somto could tell that Mr. Adibua was going to say something foolish.
“He said that is it Ifeyinwa, the fat girl that used to eat all his food back in primary school,”
Both parents laughed raucously, even Mrs. Adibua joined him. Felix was rolling on the floor, but Somto tried to disappear into the sofa with no success, and Ifeyinwa was no longer smiling.
“But look at her now,” said Mrs. Ikeji. “As beautiful as a swan, I always told her not to rush things, wheneve…”
“Mummy you’re embarrassing me,” said Ifeyinwa finally.
“Let me go and get the drinks,” said Mrs. Adibua who needed a reason to leave the scene, but Mr. Adibua held her back.
“Somto you can go and get the drinks, you and Fidelis, quickly.”
Somto left eagerly, while Fidelis followed, still laughing at Ifeyinwa who still felt embarrassed.
“Daddy is an embarrassment,” said Somto, as they got into the kitchen and brought out the drinks. “How can he say that kind of rubbish, he can piss me off sometimes.”
“Did you see the look on Ifeyinwa’s face though,” said Fidelis, as he laid the bottles on the tray. “It was priceless.”
“But the transformation was too much,” said Somto, as they got ready to take the tray out.
Both boys turned around, Ifeyinwa was standing in the kitchen door way.
“Your dad said I should come and help you guys out,” she said angrily. “I don’t know how many people are needed to serve simple drinks.”
Fidelis walked past her, not ready to receive any insult from her for she seemed really angry.
“Okay just check in the freezer,” Somto told her, pointing. “There are two bottles of Baileys…”
“You know you didn’t look so good yourself years ago,” said Ifeyinwa, cutting Somto short.
“You heard me,” Ifeyinwa said. “With your overgrown hair, your jump up trousers and Oh my God those glasses that were just too big for you, it was always weighing your head down.”
“It wasn’t that bad,” said Somto, trying to laugh it off.
“Really,” said Ifeyinwa, enjoying the look on Somto’s face. “If you did not look horrible enough, you sure acted like a sissy. Yes I remember that incident very clearly.”
“The incident with Cassandra,” said Ifeyinwa, enjoying the look of horror on Somto’s face. “She was three times smaller than you yet she beat the crap out of you, and who came to rescue you?”
Somto said nothing.
“Me that’s who,” she answered. “Stupid idiot, next time you call me fat or whatever name, you remember that.”
“Let’s go out,” Somto blurted out without warning. He dropped the tray on the kitchen table.
“Yes let’s go somewhere now,” Somto said. “Or would you rather stay here and listen to more embarrassing stories, I know a nice joint where we can go. They make the best roasted meat in town.”
“Really,” said Ifeyinwa, opening the fridge and getting out the drinks. “Are you not afraid that I will embarrass you with my size and eat everything in sight?”
“Be serious, have you seen yourself lately?”
“Not exactly,” said Ifeyinwa, closing the fridge. “Why? Am I sexy?”
“Be serious, what do you want me to say?”
“I don’t know, how do I look?” she turned around with the drinks in her hand.
“You’re okay,” said Somto with a shrug. “Nothing spectacular. So are you coming?”
Ifeyinwa ignored him and walked towards the door, but he grabbed her by the arm.
“Be serious,” said Somto with an air of impatience. “Answer me.”
“Will you leave me alone,” said Ifeyinwa, pulling her hand back. “My dad will soon start wondering what’s going on here.”
And with that she left him and went back to the sitting room. Somto dropped his tray of drinks, brought cups and poured everyone a drink. When everyone of them had each taken a cup, he picked the car keys, and said,
“Daddy I need to go and buy some stuffs,”
“Right now,” said Mr. Adibua. “With the guests in the house.”
“It’s drugs for my asthma.”
“Darling his medications are important,” said Mrs. Adibua. “He should go if he needs them. Somto you can go.”
Somto took one last look at Ifeyinwa, and nodded towards the door, but she ignored him, and he left. He got to the car and sat there for a while when his phone rang.
“Where are you going to?”
“Nowhere,” said Somto. “Just want to drive around. I told Ifeyinwa to come with me, but she refused.”
“Then who is that I am seeing coming out of the house?”
Somto bent down, and sure enough, Ifeyinwa had come out, and was walking towards him. He pretended not to see her till she knocked, and then he wound down the glass.