Sooner than I thought, Segun and I became really close. He was 30 years old and had been in Nigeria for only one month. He got his first degree from a university in London where he lived most of his life and a master’s in Business from the University of New-York. His frequent visits to the restaurant where I worked meant he wanted some sort of friendship with me. The other day, he came in with flowers. As in, everyone who saw it would have thought he was my boyfriend. The night he introduced me to my first shot of whiskey, he looked me with loving prying eyes. The burning sensation I felt down my throat was as soothing as the liquid sunk down my esophagus. Some nights, I could barely sleep; I couldn’t stop thinking about him. Even in the arms of Emeka, his name was in my mouth.
“Emeka, you need to stop lazing about here.” The last job he held on to slipped off his hands only 2 weeks ago. He said his Boss said he was too disrespectful, so he gave up on the job. I mean which job doesn’t come with its ups and downs?
“What would you have me do?” He asked, as if he didn’t already know. His eyes were fixed on the football match he was watching.
“Umm, maybe……I don’t know……get a job?”
“Babe, I already told you that I’m not going back to that office. All I do is run……..” and then he jumped off his chair, screaming “Goal!!!” as if the match he was watching was more important to him than our conversation.
“Baby, did you see that?” He asked excitedly.
“Emeka, weren’t we just talking?” I was slowing, becoming impatient with him.
He remembered his manners and sat down. “Like I was saying all I do is run errands for that man and he still has the guts to insult me; big boy like me.” He boosted. “I told you not to worry babe, I will sort us out. My dreams of becoming a footballer will soon become a reality.” His body was with me but his mind was fixed on the TV.
“Abeg, abeg don’t even start with all that.” Here was I, on this cool evening thinking about Mr. Segun and the bitter taste of my predicament with Emeka hits me.
“I know you get tired of me saying the same thing all over again but this time…….”
“Yes I do……same old thing, I can’t live like this anymore.” I picked up the remote and turned off the TV.
“What do you want from me? I have no degree to get a reliable job; you know all my hopes are on my football dreams.” If he was angry about the Manchester United match he was no longer watching, he was doing a fine job at hiding it.
“And my future, dreams and my life are all on hold because of that?”
“Emeka, I am 25 years old and I am not getting any younger. If not for the good body God gave me, I would have already been looking like a mad woman with the way you have been taking care of me. All my mates are getting married, some are already having babies……..and me, what do I have?” I was so frustrated with him because this was not the first time we were having this conversation and it certainly wasn’t going to be the last.
“But you have me.” He said, taking my hands into his palms. “We can get married baby if that will make you happy.”
I laughed. “Emeka, don’t mock me; get married with what? And then leave who to suffer?” it was clear to me that he didn’t understand the kind of life I was destined to live.
“It’s either you start taking a different approach to life or we are done, and I mean it this time.” I got off the couch.
“Come sef, where is all this coming from?” He called out to me, as I was walking into the kitchen for something to cool off the fire that was starting in me.
“What has come over you? Lately, when I come over to your place it smells of alcohol. Is there something you are not telling me because we have been through this before…..?”
So what if I have started to take a few glass of alcohol here and there? Segun who knew better said it was the modern way of living, and who was Emeka to question him?
“And I am so sick and tired of hearing it!” I shouted at him, slamming the glass cup on the kitchen counter. All the anger I felt spilled out like the whiskey on the floor. He rushed to where I was standing, checking to see if I suffered any injury from the shattered glass.
“Don’t touch me!’ I yelled. “You did this to me, all your lies about becoming a football player just to keep me down here with you.”
“You lied your way into my bed and now you want to ruin me forever; ah Emeka, it won’t work ooh.” I said with my hands on my waist, bouncing around as if I was ready for a fight.
“You know what? I think it will be best if I just leave.” He said. “It’s clear to me that you’re under the influence of what you just took.”
“Yes! Go ahead, go and meet your little whores.” He turned around in disbelief.
“Oh yes, you think I don’t know?”
“Babe, now you’re crossing the line here calling me a cheater?” He pointed to himself.
“Don’t baby me, just go; commot from my house!”
“Something is seriously wrong with you; I swear.” He said as he slammed the door at my face.
What was wrong with me just walked out!
As I went back into the kitchen to clean up the mess I made, I heard my cell phone ringing. I picked it up to check who it was, and to my surprise it was Segun; 4 missed calls.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Hey, why were you not picking up your calls?” I could feel the annoyance in his voice.
“Oh dear, I am very sorry…….I was busy with……” I tried explaining.
“Get dressed; today is my sister’s birthday party, would like you to come along.”
“Segun, what is she doing here? Isn’t that the same girl from the restaurant?” His sister asked, as we stood outside the venue of the party. I tried drawing the little dress I had on to my knees to look a little bit more decent. When I stirred at what the birthday girl was wearing, I realized that decency was the last thing that was wrong here. Was it my hair that was wrong with the whole outfit? Was it because I didn’t have 32 inches of Brazilian hair attached to my head as she did? Was it the shoes Emeka swore he bought from his friend whose sister just came back from America? She was making me feel superficial. After what happened with Emeka, I thought a little night out was what I needed, guess I was wrong.
“Sophie, she is a friend.” He pulled her to a corner, trying to calm her down.
“The only way she’s entering my party is if she is here as a waitress.”
“You know how much this night means to me and you bring this thing?” She pointed her dirty, skinny, disgusting finger at me.
“That’s enough Sophie!” Her brother yelled. She wasn’t backing down; it seemed as if we had this long history of hate between us.
“Just so you know he is going to use you and dump you just like the rest.” She said to me, and then she hissed and walked away. I couldn’t believe what was happening, how could I allow a girl my age insult me like that? I was even thinking Segun would be able to talk some sense into her but he simply backed out!
“I think it would be best if you leave.” Those were his final words as he rushed to catch up with his sister half way.