“Paul, please. Why won’t you try and hear me out? Why don’t you even try small?” she said, sniffling. Her accent had changed to sound more ‘white’. That was how I know when Paul was calling.
I glared at Lami. What is the matter with this girl, eh? Everyday she and this Paul guy? What sort of yeye relationship is this? Has this girl ever heard the statement: if it’s broken, don’t try and fix it! I hissed, and forced my attention back to the television.
“Why are you putting me on probation? Please, Paul. Please, I’m begging you. I’m sorry. I swear, I won’t get drunk again. Please, forgive me.” Lami was crying now.
I gaped at her. What nonsense is going on here? ‘Lami!” I shouted, startling her.
She turned away from the window where she was leaning to plead with me with her eyes. ‘I’m on the phone,’ she mouthed.
Who cares. “End that call, right now. What’s the matter with you, sef. End it!”
She wouldn’t. Instead she curtsied, making a hurt puppy face. Probably thinking that it didn’t have the desired effect on me, she held the cell to her ear with her shoulder, and then rubbed her hands together as she continued begging me. Irked, I walked over to where she stood by the window, for better network reception, and grabbed the cellphone from her. Lami tried to take it back, but I blocked her off with my elbow.
“Let’s not drag this issue any longer than we’ve already. My requirements are pretty clear. Clean up your act, then we will review this affair,” Paul was saying, thinking he was still on the phone with Lami. He was curt, a person who was determined to get rid of a pest.
“Good evening, Mr. Paul. My name is Simi, Lami’s elder sister.” I rolled the words off my tongue. That was the way I’ve been taught to speak with these foreigners. In our business, that was the quickest way to get noticed, if you could sound like them. Meanwhile, I was glaring at my subject matter. She was crouched at a corner of the sitting room wall, massaging her side where I had hit her.
“Oh.” He paused to gather himself. When he spoke again, he was polite, “Hi, Simi.”
“Hi to you too. I’m sorry I had to cut into your conversation with my sister, but I thought I deserve some peace and quiet in my own house.” He was European, he should understand that concept.
“Of course. I apologize on her behalf if she was causing a scene.”
“No need to. When she returns to my father’s house, you guys can continue from where you left off. Although, I strongly doubt my father will enjoy hearing his daughter cry for a man.”
“About that, I should say that – “
“I do not want to hear the details of your dealings with Lami, please.” That was the way to deal with these men, or they assumed you are theirs to trample on. If only this stupid Lami would learn from me.
I suppose he was stunned, because he took some time before responding. “I understand.” He sighed.
“Good. Have a lovely evening.” I ended the call, and then threw the phone at Lami. I aimed at her head – maybe I could knock some senses into it – but she dodged it and it landed close to her foot instead.
“Sister, why did you talk to him like that now?” Lami sobbed.
“If you talk, I panel-beat you this night.” I threatened. And I was ready to do that. “Are you mad, begging a man?”
“He’s my boyfriend. Do you want him to run away?”
“Shut up!” I waited for her to make a sound, so I can really take out my frustrations on her. But she clammed up.
I hissed, and sat back down on the sofa. I was really reconsidering accepting to have Lami to live with me. Teenagers had their special brand of troubles I didn’t want added to all the business failures I have had to deal with lately. Not like I had the option to say no, anyways. When our father made the proposal, he had made it clear that it was my obligation to him to help out with my siblings. Now that I had an apartment of my own, why should the eight of them stayed squeezed into two rooms when my place could take one more person? As such, two weeks ago, Lami had joined my daughter and I. For the nights she deigned herself to sleep at home, she made the couch her bed. Most other nights though, she was at Paul’s. I had allowed that because I hoped she had it together with the man. That she was in control. Maybe she once did, but not anymore. Now, all she did was cry on the phone.
“Are we not going to eat today?” I asked her. It was 6 o’clock. What was she still doing there, plastered on the wall like she wanted to be sucked in.
I got no answer.
“Am I not talking to a human being?” My voice was raised. “Lami, are you not going to cook today?”
“I’m going to Paul’s house.” She declared, insolently enough to tell me that she knew that she was pushing her boundaries.
“You will not do that.”
“I said I’m going to Paul’s house. I did not ask you for permission.”
I had to laugh, though I pitied Lami for the slap she was courting. This girl was growing wings, and thank God I’m well able to cut them off. “You think because you now fuck, me and you are now mates? After all, I’ve seen penis, and you’ve seen it too, abi?”
She scowled, and said nothing.
“Yes? Answer me. You thinking seeing penis is what makes you a woman, eh? You can now talk in front of me? Hmm? Be warned o, be warned.”
Pushed to her limit, she attacked, “Sister, look o, if it’s because of fucking, you’re not anywhere near me. Let me tell you. You fuck Nigerians and Lebanese. Me, I fuck proper Oyinbo. You got pregnant, and he settled you with this wretched ordinary room and parlour and you took it. So, please don’t make mouth. Paul will marry me, I’ll go to Yankee, and you’ll be the one begging me for dollars!’