On hearing that, my feet glue down. My ears must be deceiving me. It’s been long I heard that from her.
“I am sorry I didn’t tell you about the phone.” She says in a soft, apologetic tone.
I turn back gently and I am surprised to see her on her two knees.
“Firstly!” My voice raises high to the ceiling, “Tell me where you got money for that phone. Secondly, you have to account for the useless text message I saw on it!”
Having said that, I match to the bedroom and return with the phone in my hand. I read out the message to her.
“Oh, that should be one of my customers,” she says confidently, with her left hand scratching her hair, “ She must be talking about a particular hairstyle”
“You are a liar! why didn’t you save the number with a particular name? And besides, how could a customer text you in the midnight, telling you she is unable to sleep – for what? Finally, you need to explain where you get the money for this.”
“I can’t lie to you, Dele … Okay, okay,” she says with outstretched hands, “I can explain … I gave a new customer my number yesterday, and I forgot to have hers. She is a rich woman. You can re-read where she texted that she could give me any amount for the style … I believe she is talking about a beautiful hairstyle she had seen on another customer.”
I re-read the message … Yes, I think she is right. I must have thought otherwise because of her selfish altitude lately. My voice calms a little and I demand how she got the expensive blackberry.
She explains to me that her friend, Pricilla, gave it to her yesterday. I know the lady she is talking about quite well. Her husband is very wealthy. She had become Titi’s friend in one of the uptown clubs we used to attend when there was affluence. Out of all her rich friends I think Pricilla is the only one left with her.
“Okay, I have heard you,” my shoulders drop with my voice, “You know I’ve always trusted you. You are giving me that unnecessary suspicion when you won’t give me what belongs to me. Now Promise me you will stop your naughty behaviours in this house.”
“I promise, dear.”
I ask her for my phone, and she hands it to me from under the throw-pillow. I dip her phone in my trousers pocket. I head towards the door.
“You are not giving me back my phone?”
“Of course, I will … Let me see your character for some days. ”
“I am sorry, baby,” she says, and moves close to me after standing up. She leans her body gently on my back. I can feel the caress of those succulent boobs. As if enchanted by that, my mind changes right away.
I bring out the phone and give it to her, “Take it and behave yourself.”
“Thanks, dear,” She pecks me on my cheek.
“You’re welcome.” I smile.
Later in the day, I dial Rotimi’s number while I am in the truck. I have already parked by the road.
“Hello, this is Chief Olarotimi Ariyo. Who am I speaking with?” A voice from the receiver says.
“This is Dele – Bamidele Olaonipekun.” I reply.
“Dele, I have been expecting your call since morning.”
“The number is just going through since morning. I think it’s network.”
“Sorry about that. I am in the office right now. Just trace the address on that card.”
I tell him I have misplaced the card and I did not really go through it when I collected it. He explains the direction to me, and I can sense warmth in his voice as he does.
At last I arrive at one of his filling stations at Alagbado. There is an eatery there too. I meet a receptionist who politely ushers me to the office. When I am about to enter the office I adjust the collar of my navy blue T-shirt, and I examine my trousers. They have been neatly ironed by Lara.
I was hoping Rotimi will welcome me with a handshake, but I am surprised when he welcomes me with a warm embrace. We had been friends since our college days in Ahmadu Bello University. Although I knew him to be a humble fellow then, but I thought his high status would have changed all of that.
“Have your seat,” Rotimi gestures towards the white couch that is located far away from his office desk, “I am really happy to see you.”
The office is painted white. It is more or less a sitting room, for its wideness. It’s lavishly and sophisticatedly furnished. A tall bar is fixed on the wall, full of all expensive wines. There is a glassy table in between the two sitters and one-sitter couch. A flat screen hangs on the wall to the left.
Rotimi sits in the opposite two-seater after phoning his secretary to bar any other visitor. A pretty young lady comes in at that moment. She asks what kind of drink I would like to take. She lists almost all the wines and soft drinks in the world.
“A glass of table water is okay by me.” I flash a smile at her.
Rotimi objects to my request. He says I wouldn’t take a glass of water alone. Somehow, he knows I don’t feel comfortable. He asks the lady to bring two bottles of Pomerol with the water. He knows my best wine. Several times we had dined together when I was still wallowing in money. At last we set to business.
“When I returned from France almost two years ago,” Rotimi says, after sipping a wine from a goblet,“ I couldn’t reach you again. I misplaced the phone I was using then. So I lost all contacts … I went to check you in your office at Port Harcourt, I was told the place had been sold out … same thing your two mansions. I have been looking for a way to meet you, until yesterday when I saw you packing some things behind that truck … I was not pleased with the way I met you at all. Dele, hint me … what is happening to you?”
I take a sigh, and grunt sorrowfully. I explain to him how the ship that was bringing my goods from Spain had drowned in the sea.
“I lost about a billion naira worth of goods,” I continue, “The bank had to sell almost all my properties to recover my debts.”
“That is a sad story,” Rotimi sighs, stooping his head. He pauses for some time and continues, “ anyway, such is life. So you are now driving for a living?”
“Yes,” I reply, shrugging, “what else can I do? That is my fate.”
Rotimi’s face is etched with concern at my statement. He reminds me of over two years ago. He makes me realize that the six million naira he asked me to lend him, which I eventually gave him, is the source of his fortune today. I am surprised to hear that.
“How is that possible?” My voice is toned with doubt, “How did you acquire all these wealth with that money?”
He narrates to me how he had gone to France for business. On getting there, he visited a white man whom he had met on the internet. The man offered to help him by signing a contract with him. He requested Rotimi to store some wares in his own shop with the money he had. It was there he made huge sales that made him a multimillionaire. Rotimi was a banker who received hundred thousand naira per month when I met him three years ago.
“If I decide to divide my wealth into two and give you a half of it, you really worth it.” He says with gravity in his tone, “But I will make sure you rise to greatness again.”
I shift to the edge of the couch, “I will be grateful if you can help me with a token which I can start a business with.”
Rotimi’s mouth widens with a smile, “Dele, you are very funny. What business do you want to start with a token amount?” He pulses his lips and hums thoughtfully for a moment, “Okay. okay. Let’s do it like this … Give me your account number. I am going to send thirty millionaire into your account for a start. The money will be there before nightfall. I won’t tell you the business to do. I know you have a business sense.”
My heart almost bursts out of my chest as I adjust on my seat, “All that for me? May God continue to bless you, my friend. You shall not face a downfall in your life…”
“Don’t bother yourself with too much prayer,” he interrupts me, “you are only reaping the seed you have sown. Just down your wine.”
Rotimi diverts the conversation to family life. He asks after my wife and child. I tell him I don’t have any baby yet. He is surprised. He says he had a female kid some months back. He further says that his wife and the new born baby are now in Paris, spending some time with his mother.
I hit the road back as I leave Rotimi’s office. Today would be the last day to drive this trash if Rotimi fulfills his promise to me.
Oh, Titi will be very happy to hear this great news!
First of all, I will open a boutique for her in the heart of the town. After making profit from the business, I will build or buy a mansion in a place like Lekki phase-1 or Dolphin estate. I want Titi to bear my first child in the U.S. Lara has been a nice girl to me. I will send her abroad to conclude her education … Anyway, I shouldn’t start counting my chickens before they are hatched.
I am getting home by past nine in the night. Titi usually returns from shop by 7pm. I notice there are some missing pictures on the wall of the living room. I smile. Titi must have done sanitation in the house today. In the bedroom, the wardrobe top is also scanty. I’m only seeing just two pairs of shoe in Titi’s shoe save. I hang my T-shirt on the hanger after taking off my shoe. I feel like resting, but I think I have to see Titi for the good news. I make my way to the kitchen. She is not there.
“Sweetie, I am back!” I say as I walk towards the shower. I check the shower. Empty.
I do not bother myself again. I lie on the bed to rest a little. Titi must be around; perhaps with our flat mate, Elizabeth. That is the only friend she has in the house.
“Uncle Dele!” Lara’s voice jerk me to consciousness from my drowsiness, “So you are back.”
I sit up sleepily, “Omolara … where is Titilayo?”
Lara’s face glares with puzzlement at my question, “She didn’t tell you she is travelling today?”
“No!” I reply with confusion, “travelling to where?”
Lara shrugs, “I wouldn’t know … I just saw her pack her loads inside a taxi this afternoon. When I asked her whereabouts, she said you have already known the place, and it’s confidential.”
“What! Titi said so?”
“Yes.” Lara nods with a look of surprise on her face, “You mean you don’t know about it?”
I dip my hand into my pocket, “Don’t worry. Let me call her number.”
I dial the number twice. It’s not reachable. I dial it again. I can hear it ring, but no response till it enters voice mail. I redial once more. The phone barely rings this time before I hear her voice from the receiver.
“Hello, Titi where are you?” I say in a calm voice.
The next thing I hear is a laughter – a prolonged one.
“I said where are you?!” My voice thunders this time.
“Don’t kill yourself with hypertension,” She says, “If you want to know where I am, Open your wardrobe and see.”
“Are you kidding me? What does my wardrobe have to do with where you are.”
“Just do as I say. Okay?” She says.
Without a further fuss, I head straight to the wardrobe.