I decide to go upstairs. I barely stand to my feet when I hear a drunken song.
On white shirt, black trousers and shoes, his feet rocking and skipping on the floor, body sways back and forth like a palm tree in dance for storm. His eyes, like dim motor lamps, fluctuate in their sockets.
I resume my seat, my hand propping my jaw. I shouldn’t care about him, or else there would be a fight here tonight. Angelina has jerked to her feet, inching close to him, a baffled expression on her face. Like a stammerer, she keeps swinging her fists, trying to free words from her tongue.
“Fra…Francis!” She finally bursts her throat like a threatening rain, “What the hell have you done to yourself, huh? You’re drunk?”
“Who-o-o-o is this fucking witch?” He yells, tugging at her Brazilian weave-on.
“I’m not a witch. It’s me, your Angee!” she whines like a baby, wrapping her right hand around his waist. But he squirms out, “Baby, is it because of my hairstyle? I will undo it for you. Let’s go upstairs. You are drunk.”
Francis could say nothing, but laugh like a mad man, pointing at her and laugh the more.
“Who…told you…am…am…drunk. How can I be drunk?” He motions to lay his palms on her shoulders, then halts, turns sharply in my direction, cupping his hand above his face, squinting as if to sight something a mile away.
“My lo-o-o-ve, there you are,” His laughter rings louder, and he begins to sing:
Ada, my sugar cane. Pa-ran-ran-pa-ran-ran
Ahuru m gina-anya (I love you.)
“Baby, I’m here with you,” says Angelina, turning his face off me.
This dude is fucking high. How does my complexion tally with Angelina’s, let alone my figure?
“I said le-e-a-ve me…am…not…drunk. That…that is my sweetheart!”
Angelina glares at me, flipping eyelashes like busy hand-fans. I know she could strangle me to death if chanced.
Dragging and pulling, she eventually assists him upstairs.
Some minutes later, I begin to make my way upstairs, climbing each case with heavy tired steps—as if a rock is weighed upon my shoulders. My mind swings between Mathew and the foolish impediment in my family. Besides, how do I express my feelings to him? Maybe I should invite him for a dinner, and in the process tell him, “I love you Mathew,” then pause, and continue, “Do you love me?” What a silly idea! Should I give him a romantic card and ask him to reveal in private? Confessing my feelings should be my next move. I have to find a way to do that. Maybe I…..
My thought shatters.
Walking across Frances’ door, I pause.
My body is melting down. To the moans along the passage. Sometimes, the soft ‘woosh’ and ‘ouch’ would die off, into a choked, ecstatic, silent cry. Then rise back in louder and doubled pattern.
With clouded mind, I walk further away.
It’s a Saturday morning. 8: 40am. I wake up to find a missed call.
Staring at the call, my heart crashes, outrunning a beat. Yesterday was so stressful. Besides, I have put my phone on vibration. The mention of her name is such a banger in my heart, dare not her murderous sight. In fact, I’m yet to recover from our acted kiss….I wish those lips were mine.
We still spoke on phone two days ago and the day before, on some issues. She is aiming to open a boutique on the Lagos Mainland. She expressed her resentment for office work, as a tiring task. And she wished I wouldn’t work there anymore, stating the way she could assist me to stand as a man. I was glad to hear that she would assist me with a capital for import and export business. But she promised to fulfill everything after impersonating as my fiancée. I think she is just too kind. Anyway, I pray she finds the right man, if she is not for me.
Browsing through my phone, I realize she left a message, which reads:
I should be at your place
by 9:am. Please, be prepared.
Have a wonderful night dear.
I hurriedly grab at my tooth brush and towel, rushing for the pail at the foot of the bed.
I finish my bath in five minutes. Almost helter-skelter, I clean myself, apply a body cream, and jump into a red shirt and black trousers.
It’s exactly 8:50am when I finish dressing,
Before long I have a call. Janet. Good timing.
I clear my throat. Once. Twice. And pick up, “Hello!”
“Good morning,” she says coolly, “I hope you’re set. There is a slight traffic. I should be in your place in twenty minutes, or less.”
“Oh, I’m sorry about that. I’m ready. Thank you.”
After the call, I lie on the bed. I’m expecting her to park in front of my house. The last time she came, she finally parked there, calling my phone. Getting outside, she asked me to show her to my room. I was surprised, then laughed. I wondered how she would regard my humble abode. When she entered, she looked around, smiled and said, “It’s not that bad. We should be going now. We’re late for the party.”
My house is facing the Apapa high way. But there is hardly a parking space, so she prefers parking at the parking lot, at the nearest junction.
I keep taking a glance on my wrist watch, anxiously waiting for her call.
Ten minutes later, I hear a knock at the door. I jerk to my feet, adjusting my wears. Then walk gently to the door.
“Baba onile ni O.” says a manly voice, before I could get to the door. (It’s your Landlord)
“Baba, e karo sir,” (Baba, good morning, sir) I barely open the door before prostrating to the man, raising my head to see…
“What!” My throat burst in shock, “Am I…am I dreaming or what?”
I open my mouth, dumbfounded.
She is standing right beside the old man, an apologetic expression on her face. She is brushing her palms together in plead, going down on her right knee. Like an official beggar. She seems to have lost some weight. Her once fleshy chocolate figure is now reduced to a willowy structure. Still looking pretty though, but her braid is weary, dancing on her head and over her face like cobwebs. On her blue short skirt, yellow blouse and black handbag, she is looking rather unkempt.
“You’re not dreaming, my son,” says the old man, in Yoruba, “Just calm down. She came to me three days ago, in the afternoon….” The man begins, but I cut him short, ask him to come in.
I could see my opposite neighbour, Iya Folake, peeking from her blue curtain. A face-me-face-you is indeed a hell. I really respect this landlord. He treats all his tenants like a family, or else I wouldn’t let Adeola stay a second here.
Getting inside, the man refuses to sit, adjusting his yellow agbada. Adeola roots beside him.
He says Adeola has met him, in order to pacify me on her behalf. But I usually returned late from work. And he, the landlord, has been an early sleeper owing to his poor health. thus, we couldn’t meet. He says Adeola has regretted all her deeds, adding some Yoruba placatory adages.
“Please forgive me,” she falls to her knees, sniffing and swallowing hard; her head drops, “It’s my Mum….She….She….” her voice fading off, like a smoke wisp.
Staring at her, I wonder with a bitter smile. The fact is, she no longer has a room in my heart. She used to show a true love, until a particular time. She once planned to carry my baby, so that her Mum would hopelessly leave her to marry me. Her Dad was wholly in support; her Mum was absolutely not. When she introduced me to them, the woman was glaring at me like fire. She wanted her daughter to marry an affluent man. On several occasions, she came to shout at my door, that I have charmed her daughter….
My thought is shattered to the call on my phone. Janet is certainly outside. I thank the old man, excessively. He takes his leave, urging me to consider her.
“Please, leave right now!” I yell at her, “As you can see, I have a program! Or do you want me to bundle you out?”
The phone is still ringing…
I sigh. Then press the receive button.
“I’m at your doorstep, Mathew,” says Janet, softly, “Could you open the door.”
“At my door?” I query in surprise, mixed with shock, “Okay, I’m coming.”
When I open the door, she smiles. “You’re surprised I could still recognize your room, right?”
“Yeah…Yeah…” I answer uneasily, trying to compose my voice, then force a broad smile,” Yes, I’m wondering. You’re welcome.”
She is arrayed in a red skirt and white blouse, the pink on her lips and other applications are mind-blowing.
She steps in, looking straight ahead, wincing and making a face as if to ask, “Who is this?”
Adeola is still on her knees, head adown; just beside my shelf.
Before Janet could say a word I tell her, slowly,“That is Adeola.”
Adeola reveals her face at that moment, her eyes clouded.
Pointing at her, Janet says, “You mean the lady you…”
She is cut short by Adeola’s statement, “If….If you can’t consider me, please, consider my two months pregnancy.”