Sitting up with a Jerk, I’m still shouting, “No, no, no, no, no, no!”
My chest heaving like wild waves, my palms clutching to my heart.
I tap on the switch box.
“Oh, my God…” I keep gasping—still grabbing my chest.
I open the bedside drawer, searching fervently for my Bible at the top section. Not there.
I find it at the lower. At once, I pull a white scarf from my wardrobe—five feet away from the bed.
You this stupid dream. Never will you be realized in Jesus name! I kneel by the bed.
I start muttering a prayer, striking the Bible against the air. Jehovah. I cast out every demon, every devil, plotting against Mathew. I rebuke any angel of darkness, any force that wants to claim his soul. Oh, Lord, this is.my dream man, the king of my heart. Father….
Khow… Khow…. Khow….
The interrupting knocks, followed by a call: “Adaeze!”
“What is the matter?” His voice is deep and fueled with alarm.
“Nothing, Dad,” I shout across the door, “It’s a nightmare!”
Mum is also there. She insists that I need open the door, to ascertain that nothing is really wrong.
I stay behind the door, battle the emotion in my voice, before saying, “I’m okay, Mum!”
“Make sure you tell us about it, first thing in the morning,” says Dad, with a notable apprehension.
“I will, Dad.”
Once they are off, I lean my back on the door and sigh, wondering what lie to cook up.
Perching myself at the bed edge, I dial his number again, to ensure that nothing is wrong with him. His line was switched off in the midnight.
The number is going through. As soon as I hear him say a peaceful “Hello,” I heave a sigh of relief. I don’t really have anything to discuss with him, so I thank him again, for yesterday.
“Don’t mention, Miss Janet,” he says.
I smile blushfully, my palm on my chest. I’m so happy to hear him address me in that manner, for the first time. I shift to the center of the bed, leaning on the wall and padding my back with a pink pillow.
“So, are you preparing for work or something,” I say coolly, enhancing my voice to a more sexy pitch, my left hand on my ear.
“Yeah,” he says, “but I’m planning to….” His voice runs a mile off.
He is quiet.
“Please, what is that?” My voice strains with concern.
“Last night,” He says hesitantly, “I received a call from Mama. She needs my attention, about the issue of fiancée or no fiancée. Anyway, I will find a way out ASAP.”
“So, so what are you trying to do?” I suppress the shock that has suddenly overtaken me.
“I don’t know, really,” His voice heavy with confusion, “but I need to present somebody to her. I need to do that as fast I can, before she develops another heart failure.”
“Re…really?” my voice staggers, I scratch the back of my neck, awkwardly.
He is silent.
“You know what?” I ask, pause, and continue, “May I help you? As in, may I act as your fiancée?”
I hear him laugh so loudly, “How can I employ a lady of high esteem like you to act as my own fiancée? Besides, what if I get my real woman, whom I will surely get soon? I really appreciate your offer. It’s just that, I don’t think it can ever work.”
“O…Okay,” I pause, thinking of another tricky suggestion.
“I think,” I begin, gathering my sense,“through my timely help, her mind will be at rest. Seriously, at this point in time, your search for a woman might be a waste of time for her health. Happiness is the only ease and respite for such disease. She wouldn’t care if later you get married to another woman, since what she craves is a grandchild.”
I have uttered each word like a professional counselor.
“I think I catch your point,” he says, voice relaxed, “But I’m afraid, Mama is always pissed off by negative surprises. She has to see that woman who is going to bear her grandchild. If at all I’m going to change the woman, I must still present her. In fact, failure to that might even worsen her health. I know my Mum too well. Thank you so much. Like I said, I appreciate. I will soon find a way out…let’s leave that aside. By the way, I hope he’s now in a good mood….”
“Who?” I ask softly.
“I mean your man. The one you told me about….”He has said in a slow, restrained pace, as though his throat is melting with his tongue.
“My man,” I mention as if I don’t know what he’s talking about, “Oh, yeah, yeah…not really. Don’t worry about him. You see, about what you just said, I can still do the acting. You mentioned that you can always introduce another woman in the future. The situation will still remain the same, Mathew. I just need to help your mother’s health.”
“Oh, yeah,” He sighs in realization, “You’re very right. It’s just that Mama is even willing to meet you in person. She wants to thank you for the financial help you rendered me.”
Oh my God! This guy is just playing me around. What do I have to say about this?
“She wants to meet me? That’s unnecessary for now. Do you agree about the stuff?” I ask, licking my index finger in anticipation.
“Of course, I do,” He says in a thankful voice, “I’m so grateful.”
I ask him to pick a date for the trip. He says during the weekend, on Saturday. It is okay by me, I tell him.
Dropping the phone, I lie flat on my back, excited. I can’t wait to see his Mum.
Now, I hear somebody speak from across the door after knocking twice. It’s Chinenye, the daughter of Daddy’s elder sister, who’s been staying with us for nearly nine years. She was actually transferred from the village. Early this year, she obtained a BSC in business management.
She insists I should let her in. When I finally open the door, she asks why I made such noise in the midnight.
I stay quiet.
How so fast; she is the first I expected at my door at that minute. Her room is next to mine, while my parents’ is four rooms out. The funniest thing is that, four days ago, when there was a robbery case in the next building, she was the first to alarm everyone to call 911 lest the mission was diverted to our place. Our two maids whose rooms are next to the scene were never aroused.
Chinenye, according to grandpa in the village, has a skin the colour of a glowing palm-wine gourd, with her tall and curvaceous figure, beautiful oval face. She’s just a month older than me. Seated beside me, she stares intently at my face for a response, still on her blue pajamas. .
“Never mind,” I stand up, pace towards the wardrobe, humming a tune (Britt Nicole’s Sunshine girl)
I have nothing to do in this wardrobe, just need to wave her off. Like a fly.
“Okay then,” She sighs, “since you wouldn’t talk, I can’t force you. By the way, when is Francis coming back?”
I let the question sink, before murmuring, “Tuesday.”
I’m starting to suspect Chinenye. Whenever Francis is around, she would rush upstairs to wear her skimpy frocks, display several cat-walking techniques across our faces, and pick a non-existent object from the floor every now and then. Anyway, Francis is also a man beyond resistance, with his dark skin and mighty figure, physically like his Dad, Chief Douglas Okeke; except that his Dad is a baldy with pure white goatee.
As expected, she walks out.
To verify Frances’ return is her primary assignment in my room, useless thing.
On Wednesday, 7:15pm, I’m seated on a black leather sofa in Frances’ living room, a well-furnished and magnificent chamber.
His edifice is located on Herbert Macaulay Street, Lagos Mainland; a kilometer away from his father’s house. Lying within my crossed legs is THE ARISE fashion magazine, a goblet and juice on the glass-top table. The white ceiling and floor really strike a contrast with the circle of sofas.
I’ve been here for thirty minutes. I have tried his two telephone lines. None was going through.
Yesterday, we have met concerning the engagement. But he wanted us to end the deal. He said his girlfriend, who is also aware of our plan, is beginning to react. I was dumbfounded on hearing that his Dad also knew about it. According to him, he told his Dad about our friendship in school and his intention to help sustain my mother’s lifespan. I couldn’t believe my ears. I should have known. Only his Dad was present at the introduction in our living room. No relatives. I was actually upstairs when Chief Douglas came. I trust my Dad. He must have asked about the relatives, aside from his late Mum. They must have told Dad a beautiful lie. Anyway, Dad was also desperate, like Mum. He might not even care. I finally told Francis about my crush in the company. I was seated next to him on the sofa across. “He is Mathew Badmus,” I have said with a smile. Then his face went dull. He was not happy about his classless personality, I guessed. I asked why he behaved that way; all he could do was smile, “Nothing. He’s okay.”
Today, my parents insist I should spend some days in his house. They want me to conceive before marriage. I have already packed some of my things upstairs, in the guest room.
Turning over the mag pages, I sigh in despair. My attention is suddenly broken by the measured paces of high heels.
It’s Frances’ girlfriend, Angelina; clad in purple armless blouse, black yoga pants, disc earrings, all in perfect match with her shoes. She is a mahogany-skinned girl with curvy and plump figure, a pretty face. They’ve been dating from school.
She lowers herself on the seat across, uttering no word.
“Hi Angee,” I throw a warm smile, waving my right hand.
In the coldest voice, she mutters, “Hi, Jane,” waving her left hand, her face blazing with resentment.
She sits facing aside, upper lip upward. Like a trap.
This is unlike Angelina. Over the year, even since our campus days, she would be the first to say a greeting. And most times, sit beside me, chat with me over the trending wears. She is also an uptown chick. Her father owns an aero port and several filling stations in the city.
Here comes the houseboy, a teenager, on yellow shirt and blue jeans, moving close to her.
In his Akwa-Ibom-accented voice, he asks: “Oga Mar-ram, wetin you wan drink?”
“Would you get out of my face?!” She barks; her voice, as thin as it is, shatters like a glass against the walls of the living room.
Trembling, he stammers, “No…no vex, Mar-ram.”
He walks away.
This is serious. I sigh heavily.