Bukky carried the bucket of wet clothes out of the bathroom and headed out. She strolled to the back of the building and searched for space on the long line. She moved some of her neighbour’s clothes which were already dried and began to spread hers. A smile spread on her face. She was super excited because her fiancé called about two hours ago. He shared the news that he would be coming home in less than four months. He had also given her the go ahead to resume the plans for their traditional and church wedding. They were going to have a Christmas wedding. It would be so romantic. She couldn’t wait. Finally, she was going to see the man her heart beat for and tie the knot with him. God was good. God had been really good to her and she would be eternally grateful.
When she called her parents to inform them, they were beyond ecstatic. They promised to make sure that everything was ready and perfect by the time Chike arrived. She also called his parents and they intimated her that they had been informed. They would be working with her parents to make sure that her wedding turned out well without a hitch.
“Am in love, am in love, am in love. Am in love, am in love, am in love. Sweet Holy Spirit, am in love,” she began to hum the tune of her favourite song.
“Have you heard?”
Two of her neighbours came out of the building and stood by the fence. Bukky heard them and turned. It was two of the single girls living in the compound.
“Afternoon,” they chorused.
She returned her attention to the clothes she was spreading on the wire.
“Gbemiga is around.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, na. I saw him with my own eyes.”
“What is he doing back in Lagos? I thought he got a job in Abuja after he completed his service year.”
Her friend clapped her hands in excitement, “So, I heard. I heard that he was sacked.”
The other covered her mouth with a hand, “Are you sure?”
“He has been home for more than two weeks. What is he doing back home if he truly has a job in Abuja?”
Her friend nodded in agreement, “You are right.”
“Do you know that he and his family have moved back to that self-contain apartment beside the Nepa pole?”
“What?! What happened to their three bedroom flat?”
“One of their neighbours told me that they made a bargain with the landlord that if they could find a new tenant, he would give them the balance of the money they paid.”
“Ah-han! What is going on?”
“They paid for two years and they have only lived there for about ten months.”
“So, did they find a new tenant?”
“Sharp, sharp,” she laughed.
“So, that means they needed the money.”
“Not just that. I guess, since Gbemiga came home jobless, they reasoned that they won’t be able to afford the place. While wait till their rent expire?”
Her friend nodded her head, “Smart plan. They shouldn’t have moved there in the first place. They should have waited till Gbemiga stabilize in Abuja.”
She hissed, “Don’t mind them. They have been claiming that they were better than everyone in the area. Now, look at them.”
“What about their properties?”
She laughed out loud, “They sold it all to the highest bidder.”
Her friend shook her head, “Total waste of money. I doubt if they will recover the exact amount spent in buying those things.”
“Of course that will be difficult.”
“I wonder what happened in Abuja?”
“Who cares? The Phillips have been brought to their knees. Their arrogance and air of superiority has played out its course. Now everyone will take their pound of flesh.”
Her friend shook her head, “I feel so sorry for them.”
Bukky picked up her empty bucket and walked back into the building. She overheard some of the things the ladies said. Were they just gossiping or was her ex-boyfriend truly back in Lagos? What was going on?
She went back into her apartment, dropped the bucket in the bathroom, retrieved her phone from the charging point and sat on the bed. She searched for his phone number. It was no longer on her phonebook. She lay back on the bed and typed his full name on facebook.com search box. She found him and clicked the friend request button. She dropped the phone and sighed heavily.
Her neighbor said he had been sacked and he and his family had moved out of their flat. Was it all true or was it truth mixed with lies? The area was known for the way news about people spread like wild fire. Her heart missed a beat. What if it was true? She picked up her phone to check if her request had gone through.
She smiled when she discovered that he had accepted her request. She sighed with relief and sent him a message. ‘Call me Asap’. Almost immediately, her phone began to ring. She sat up and picked the call.
She recognized his voice, “Gbemiga.”
“Hi. Em… I heard you were back in Lagos.”
“I heard somethings too.”
She heard him clear his throat.
“Are you home?”
“Let me come over.”
The line went dead. She dropped her phone on the bed and got up. She went to her wardrobe, pulled off her sleeveless top and shorts, and changed into a jeans and a red long sleeve blouse. She went to the window and pulled apart the curtain. What was going on? She scratched her scalp. It was about time she loosened the weave-on and wash her hair. The style was so good that she left the weave-on, on for longer than usual. Now, her scalp itched like hell.
She heard knocks on the door. She hurried to it and opened it quickly. Her ex-boyfriend stood at the doorway, in a jeans and a white short-sleeve tee-shirt. He looked thinner than she remembered.
“Hi, please come in,” she stepped back in.
He walked in and went to sit on the chair. Bukky shut the door and approached him. She sat at the edge of the chair. Her questioning eyes observed his sad looking ones.
“Rumours have been flying about since I got back. Most of it is true,” he met her worried gaze.
She swallowed hard, “What’s going on?”
He turned away, “I lost my job and returned home. I have been job hunting since I got back. I didn’t know that the labour market was a nightmare. There are hundreds of thousands of us out there,” he lamented.
She folded her arms and watched him. He looked depressed and frustrated. She felt so sorry for him.
“My parents and siblings quit their jobs when I relocated to Abuja. Can you blame them?” he laughed sadly, “Now we are all looking for jobs.”
She closed her eyes and opened it. She could imagine what they were going through. The year she moved in with her aunt, her father had also lost his job and her mother’s sales at the market could hardly feed them all or pay the bills. There were days they went without food. It had been pure torture and she won’t wish that experience on her worst enemy. She and her siblings had been shared among relatives in order for them to survive.
“I am so sorry.”
He glanced at her, “I need a job fast. I can’t watch my family suffer this way.”
“Em… what about your fiancée? How is she taking this?”
He blinked and turned away, “Abisoye is the root of my problems.”
He gave a shake of head, “It is a long story. Right now, she is nowhere to be found and I am here suffering for her actions.”
She stared at him with concern. She wondered what his fiancée did. She wanted to ask, but, sensed that he didn’t want to go into details.
“It is well. I am alive and kicking. Everything will definitely work out for my good,” he tried to smile and turned to look at her.
“How are you doing?”
She blinked and got up, “I am good,” she walked to her wardrobe and brought out her bag. She counted a few naira notes and returned to the edge of the chair.
When he saw the money in her hand, several thoughts ran through his mind. There were a million things he could use the money for.
“Please take. This is em… I just em… I pray that God will sort you and your family out.”
“Thank you,” he collected the money and counted it. It was eight thousand naira. He raised his head and stared at her in surprise.
“Please manage it, I know it is not much.”
She smiled, “You are welcome,” she got up again.
Gbemiga got to his feet, “I am grateful.”
“Don’t give up, okay. I believe that God will turn things around sooner than you think.”
He nodded and headed for the door.
Bukky followed him out of the room and watched him walk towards the entrance of the building. She sighed heavily and went back in.