“Okay, what was that all about?” Nina asked as soon as we entered my apartment. I was a bit hurt by the question. I was hoping to get a wow from her after taking a glance at my place. 2bedroom flat with a sitting room and a small but extremely neat kitchen at the side. I had arranged the parlour with a black and green theme; two black “modern design” chairs with lemon green headrests, one chair could be extended to a sofa for better relaxation, lemon colored rug with black frilled edges and two plastic green plants in black Chinese vases. My LED TV hung between the plants like a shrine to technology and my sound system levitated at the sides with patch on nails attaching them to the wall. Wall itself was painted to match the lemon on the chairs and finishing touches from the window blinds which were almost immaculately white with just a hint of green. The previous landlady had suggested the colours to me and I had liked the final outcome. I still caught her once in a while looking in and smiling at her “handiwork” .
I was also worried with Nina’s question because try as i might I couldn’t come up with a convincing lie. I had played certain scenarios in my head but they all kept coming up porous. Every once in a while I’d think of telling her the truth but another part me would be like “eh? You dey craze? You don see madman way get girlfriend before??” So I swept that thought away and kept on thinking of what to say. I had hoped she would forget the matter on our way to Ikeja.
“Well?” Nina’s voice cut through my thoughts like a knife. ” I turned and saw her standing arms akimbo on her lovely hour glass hips. She wore a blue hugging sleveless top and black jeans. During the service she had covered her top with a yellow jacket. She must have removed it when we came into the compound. It was getting to evening, the time being 4pm but the weather was still a little hot.
I feasted my eyes on her beauty for a while longer before answering. I tried to look as sad as possible.
“Its a personal thing.”
“Like what?” She responded. “It didn’t look like you were the one who needed help rather it was as if you gave the help. I saw the way you and the pastor stayed for a while and the look of gratitude in his eyes when he finally let you go.”
“Werent you supposed to be closing your eyes?” I asked accusingly.
She giggled. “Bros, na your eyes wide pass during prayers oh, or you think I didn’t see you? It was as if you were even seeing things that others could not see sef.”
I froze. Did she know? Had I let my secret slip somehow? My heart started pounding in my chest.
She saw the look on my face and mistook shock for embarrassment. She laughed.
“Okay, okay, never mind. Maybe one day you’ll tell me. But hope u are not into rituals oh! This one your room is looking tech like this…”
I laughed then, very relieved. She had agreed to let sleeping dogs lie, for now anyway. I showed her around the place and we settled down in the parlour to complete my assignment. I had offered her a bottle of cognac from my mini bar, she had politely refused and took some orange juice instead. Gradually the time fizzled by and it was 6pm. PHCN had restored power an hour earlier and I had put on the air conditioning but Nina hadn’t bothered to wear her jacket back. Not that I was complaining. her lovely arms glistened under my room light and the fragrance from her hair when we put our heads together was awesome. We hadn’t really spent so much time alone together and I was desperate to make a move that would take me out of the friend zone.
We sat together on the sofa I had pulled out, almost rounding up the papers.
“What would you like for dinner?”
She looked up, a little surprised.
“Its just six o clock, chuks. I’m not really hungry.”
“Well, its good I start early so you’ll have something to eat by the time you do get hungry, yeah?”
She paused. I had no idea what she was thinking about.I mean, just because I could see beyond normal didn’t mean I could read people’s minds though at that time I was dying to know her thoughts. She thought a whole longer then said, “not tonight.”
“Not tonight?” I was a bit puzzled. “I can’t cook you dinner tonight?”
“Yes.” She said, looking up at me. “Its my first time coming to your place and I don’t think it would be proper -to have dinner now.”
What the hell were we talking about?
I shrugged and sat down. The comfortable silence we had been enjoying was now an awkward one. We were still sitting close though and I could smell her perfume. Suddenly I felt very very “hungry”. I needed to do something, anything to get my mind off this situation. Where was a manifestation when you needed one?
“How did you get this scar?” She asked pointing at my wrist. I looked at it, a scar I had gotten when trying to jump a barb wire fence in my primary school days. I smiled and told her.
“Hmmn. I’ve got one too” she said, showing me a scar on her forearm. “Immunization needle went the wrong way, and formed an abscess”.
I touched her scar. The current from her skin sent shivers down my spine. She didn’t say anything but watched as I drew my fingers back and forth along her scar. Somehow my fingers went down to her elbow and back up. She gave a sigh and I looked into her eyes. She still didn’t say anything though she didn’t look down either. My heart was now thumping away like I was running a 100yard dash with usain bolt. I drew her to me slowly and we kissed. Her lips were soft, smooth, velvety. I felt her go warm as we embraced and her pulse seem to be at tandem with mine. I was about relaxing when I opened my eyes and saw my previous landlady.
Nina felt me stiffen and opened her eyes. She saw the look on my face.
“What?” She asked.
“Nothing, I said and tried to draw her back to me but the moment had passed. She stood up hurriedly and put on her jacket. Landlady left immediately though the damage had already been done. Nina picked up her handbag and straightened her clothes.
“Its just one more page, I’m sure you can finish up.” She said. I just looked at her, not knowing weather to cry or complain or plead or…
She had reached the door when I grabbed her hand and drew her again to me. She let me kiss her and I could have sworn her knees buckled but again she drew away at the last minute, smiled and said goodbye and was out the door.
“Hey, lemme escort you at least na,” I yelled moving out after her. She laughed and came back, dragged me by the hand to the junction where a bike man was waiting.
“Bus stop, seventy naira,” he declared, and she entered the bike. I offered to pay but she politely refused. Just before the bike man zoomed off I bent close to her ears and whispered
“If I offended you in anyway…”
“No,no…” She smiled, “its just…I’m…”
“You aren’t married are you?!” I said.
“No” she said laughing, ‘its just, can we talk about it tomorrow?”
“Now you are behaving weird”.
She laughed again and the bike man zoomed off .
I walked back to my apartment and sat down at the front entrance. Previous landlady came up and sat down beside me.
“I’m sorry.” She said.
“Yeah, it’s ok I guess.” I replied.
“I spoilt the moment.”
“Well, yes you kind of did.” I replied.
She paused for a while.
“You should get a car, you know” she said again. “That way, you could have dropped her off. Why don’t you get one? Its not as if you can’t afford it.”
“Don’t like cars.” I said “what did you want?”
“I wanted to let you know I’ll be leaving permanently soon. I can see the bright tunnel clearly now and my daughter has gone to reconcile with her father. Soon my soul will be at rest. I also wanted to thank you for being a friend during these lonely times.
“You’re welcome.” I said.
She patted me on the shoulder and smiled. ” Nice lady” she said. “Lovely wings”
“Yes ma, they are.” I said, smiling. And then she disappeared.
I heard that previous landlady was a mother to all around her when she was alive. I don’t normally see ghosts, just the ones with very strong spirits. I was happy she was finally going through the veil, though that happiness would have been complete if Nina had allowed me one more kiss…
Still want to be like me?