Ebola: The Ripple Effect

Based loosely on currently Happening Events
rippleeffect

20-07-2014

A tear dropped from his left eye as he thought about Anna again. How could she be dead? How? Anna, the best sister anyone could ever have. Anna, his only sister … who made so many sacrifices to ensure he went to college and become the man he is today.

Anna. Dead.

What is this life?

“Tea or coffee sir…?” Munachi – the air hostess – asked, snapping him out of his reverie. He dried his eyes and gestured towards coffee. He nodded his thanks as she gave it to him and went about her business.

He took a sip of the scalding hot beverage and didn’t even flinch. All he could think of was Anna and how he wept over her cold dead body. He had flown to Monrovia immediately he was told that she was seriously ill. The doctors had initially refused to allow him see her, saying it was unsafe, but one look at them and they obliged. Patrick was a big man. In Liberia and other African countries, big men always had their way.

That all seemed like years ago though. He had given her a quick burial and was now on his way back to Nigeria. He took another sip of the coffee and this time he felt as it burned his tongue. He let out a tiny whelp and dropped the mug. It shattered, spilling its content everywhere. He quickly made to pick up the shards, but cut his forefinger in the process. He put the finger in his mouth and sucked the blood as Munachi came to his aid.

“So sorry sir,” she apologized. “Are you alright?” she gestured towards his forefinger. He nodded, stood up, and went to the restroom.

The cut wasn’t too deep, but he had plenty of blood in him, so the red liquid flowed. He picked up a Kleenex and pressed on it. It became bloodied in seconds. He dropped the tissue in the toilet bowl and collected another. After the third Kleenex, the blood had almost stopped flowing. He pressed the knob and watched as the toilet flushed. He did not notice the tiny drops of blood he left on the knob. He turned on the tap, washed his hand and turned it off. He did not notice the blood he left on the tap head either. He dried his hand and left the toilet. Munachi had cleaned up when he got back to his seat. She offered another cup of coffee but he declined and, suddenly cold, he asked for a blanket instead. She obliged him – some of the perks of not flying economy class.

***

Bishop Samuel Ndah of Royal Diadem Ministries had gone to Monrovia to minister at the Liberian branch of his church. It was a power packed 3 day crusade that ended with miracles, signs, wonders, and some extra dollars in his off-shore bank account. He was going to Australia in two weeks to set up another branch there.

The ministry was seriously moving. The Lord is good.

He used the toilet a few minutes after Patrick did. Of cause he washed his hand thoroughly. One of his favorite quotes was ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’, and as a Bishop of Christ, he always practiced what he preached. When he turned the tap head to close it though, he did not notice the drops of blood his fingers collected. He ate Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chips a few minutes later; chicken so good he licked his fingers afterwards, and washed it down with a bottle of the cold orange juice Munachi served him.

Two other business-class passengers used the toilet during the 165minutes flight.

***

Patrick was sweating when the plane landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. He was sweating and shivering slightly. Munachi wanted to call the airport paramedics but he refused. He explained that he’d just buried his only sister and the past week had been hectic. It was probably fever with a shot of jet-lag. She obliged, called Aisha, her colleague, and they helped him disembark. He almost fell when they made to leave him on the tarmac. He steadied himself and told them he was fine. They left him and went back into the plane. He sort of staggered to the customs area and gave the immigration officer his passport.

The officer scrutinized Patrick’s travel papers and returned them to him. The Liberian was walking into the arrival lounge when he collapsed in a heap. It was like a joke. For a few seconds nobody reacted. Then somebody yelled and all hell broke loose.

“What happened to him? Who is he? How did it happen?” Everybody seemed to be asking at the same time as a small crowd gathered around Patrick. Jemila, an Airport security woman pushed her way through and asked everyone to back off. She checked his pulse and proceeded to give him CPR. She was doing the mouth to mouth resuscitation thing when paramedics arrived and put him on their stretcher. They took him straight to the Airport clinic, while somebody checked Patrick’s wallet for his ID. They found he was a Liberian and worked in the Liberian Embassy. They called the consulate and informed them that their countryman had collapsed in the Airport. The Liberian high commissioner immediately had him transferred to First Consultant Clinics, a private hospital at Obalende.

***

21-07-14

Dr Abdullah Isah, the Chief Medical Officer of First Consultants Hospital had just begun a complex 7 hours marathon surgery on a 13 year old boy’s lungs when Patrick was wheeled in. After the successful operation, he had taken a 6 hour break. When he came back, he started his usual ward rounds with Dr Abiye – the doctor on duty. They got to the Liberian’s ward and Dr Abiye gave his boss the man’s case file. A quick glance at it and he had an idea what was ailing the man. He pulled Dr Abiye to one side and told him in confidence what he suspected was the cause of Patrick’s ailment.

Ebola Virus.

Dr Abiye’s jaw dropped. “Jesus,” he exclaimed. “Jesus!” He had been at the waiting room when Patrick was wheeled in. He had checked his vitals and placed him on drips and stabilizers pending when a proper diagnosis was carried out. He had been in close contact with a probable carrier of the deadliest disease on earth at the moment. “Jesus!”

Dr Abdullah immediately had Patrick quarantined in a private ward. He also had every member of his staff who had been in close contact with the Liberian quarantined in another ward. He didn’t want to start a panic so he didn’t say why he was taking those measures. He just instructed the other staff not to go into those two wards without face masks, surgical gloves and disposable gowns. He called the Lagos State Ministry of Health and informed the receiver he might have a case of the Ebola Virus in his hospital. He was transferred to the commissioner of health himself who asked what had been done so far. He brought the big man up to speed and was told to maintain the status quo while the minister of health himself was informed.

Unfortunately Dr Abdullah was working with smart people. Someone put two and two together and the word ‘Ebola’ was mentioned. Less than twenty minutes later, the normally full waiting room was almost empty. Family and friends of patients who heard the rumors came and retrieved their wards. Non-Medical staff who didn’t want to risk being around a virus that dangerous suddenly became ill and asked for permission to go home. They had no plan to return until it was safe to do so.

The three nurses and two porters who were on duty when Patrick was wheeled in had gone home to their families before Dr Abdullah made his analysis. In the midst of the chaos, nobody remembered them.

Someone tweeted about the incidence, someone else retweeted it, and in minutes, the news went viral.

Ebola Virus was in Nigeria.

22-07-2-14

Munachi woke up with a nagging headache; very unusual because she almost never fell sick. She glanced at the clock, 7:19am. How did she wake up this late? She was supposed to be on the 11am Kenyan flight, and by Lagos traffic standards, she was late.

She jumped out of the bed, then fell right back in. Her head felt like someone was pounding yam in it. She waited a few minutes, then stood up again, slowly. She went through her morning routines at that pace and was ready to leave by 8:30. Nduka, her cabman had been waiting for her since 8am, the time she’d asked him to come.

“Nne, ogini…?” he asked her in igbo, when he noticed how much pain she seemed to be in.

“Onwe gi,” she replied and forced a smile, as he collected her bag and helped her into the car.

They were halfway to the Airport when she knew for certain she would be unable to fly. She called her supervisor and told him her condition. He almost yelled at her bad timing. Aisha had called in sick earlier and he had only just gotten her replacement. But remembering how hardworking Munachi usually was, he told her to go to a clinic and treat herself.

Munachi asked Nduka to take her to any good pharmacy around so she could get drugs. He found one soon enough, drove in, parked, and helped her get into the building. His phone rang and he went outside to answer it. He was negotiating fares for a trip with another customer when people inside the Pharmacy started screaming. He craned his neck to see what was happening and saw Munachi sprawled on the floor. He ended the call and rushed in.

“Wetin happen…?” he yelled to no one in particular. “Aunty Muna, ogini…?” he cradled her in his arms. “Aunty Muna….” he shook her. No response. “What happen’?” he looked up and asked again. Before he could get any response, the owner of the Pharmacy came out of a side room and asked him to bring her in. He lifted her up and took her in, leaving a trail of blood in his wake. He laid her on the bed and left the medics in the room with her. “Wetin happen?” he asked the nurse at the counter.

“She just fell down o,” the visibly shaken woman replied. “She was telling me she had headache when she suddenly fell down. Is she your wi…” she looked him up and down “…is she your madam?” she asked, immediately concluding he couldn’t be such a beautiful lady’s spouse.

He followed the direction of her eyes and noticed the blood stains on his shirt. “Blood…” he muttered. “Where this blood come from?” The nurse pointed at the spot Munachi had lain a few moments ago. There was almost a pool where her head had been. Nduka started sobbing. A few minutes later, an ambulance arrived.

Munachi died on the way to the hospital. The official cause of death was ‘Intracranial Hemorrhage secondary to head trauma from a fall with associated skull fracture and scalp bleeding’. Nobody asked why she fell in the first place. Nigerian Doctors were on strike. The few who were available had too much work on their hands.

Nduka, the pharmacist, the cleaner at the pharmacy, the paramedics and the mortuary attendants – about 8 persons – were in direct contact with Munachi’s body fluids.

***

23-07-2-14

Jemila was breastfeeding her five month old son when she felt like going to the toilet again – for the 4th time that morning. She passed the baby to her mother-in-law and went to relieve herself. When she came out she complained to mama who said she’d concoct some herbs for her before she returned from work at the Airport. Mama and her bitter tasting herbs she thought. She made a mental note to buy Flagyl en-route.

She never made it to the Airport.

She was collecting the purge-stopping drug from her local chemist when her eye caught the TV news headline, ‘Liberian man in Lagos being tested for Ebola’.

“Please turn the volume up”, she told the Chemist. He did. The clip went on to chronologize the Liberian’s arrival at the Lagos Airport, his collapse and subsequent transfer to a hospital at Ikoyi area. It added that from all the symptoms, he was infected with the deadly virus, and they were only waiting for official confirmation from the lab that it was indeed Ebola. Even before Patrick Sawyer’s picture was displayed on the screen, she knew it was him. She didn’t hear the chemist shouting “Iya Jumoke, your change, your change…” when she rushed out of the drug store. She whipped out her phone and dialed her husband.

“Hello … daddy, there is a problem…” she started when he answered at the 3rd ring.

In the 11 years they’d been married, Mr Paul Shaibu, a professional caterer and cook at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, had never heard those words from his wife. “Kilode…?” he asked, walking out of the kitchen.

“Remember that incidence at the Airport I told you about? The Liberian I gave first aid?”

He did. “Yes. What’s wrong?”

“I made a mistake. It happened so fast I didn’t have time to look for a medical kit and collect a protective barrier before I gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation. It is recommended that we do that to prevent cross infection, but he had a pulse, yet he was barely breathing. If I had delayed he might have died, and…”

“Mummy, calm down. Kilode…?” he cut her short.

“I just saw the man on TV. They said he has Ebola virus.” Silence at the other end. “Hello, daddy…”

“I’ll go and pick Jummie and David from school,” he began, in the calmest possible voice. “Just go to Ebony and wait. I’ll tell Dr Ugonna we’re coming. I’ll be there in 30mins.”

Paul was a numb robot when he took off his apron and walked out of the Hotel. He now understood why Jemila had been purging earlier that morning. Purge … Diarrhea …one of the symptoms of the Ebola virus. If she had it, then he had it. They’d made love the previous night. And the night before that. If they had it, then, unless a miracle happened, their 3 children, including five month old Paul Jr had it too. And his mother who had been with them for the past two months…

Paul did not hear the people yelling at him to get off the road. He did not see the Cement Truck nor hear the blaring horns either. He did not feel the impact. He died before he hit the ground. Later, when his body was deposited at the mortuary, the morgue attendant noticed some strange rashes around what was left of Paul’s lower back. He ignored it. Him don die be say him don die

After 40 minutes at Ebony Hospital, Jemila tried Paul’s number. It didn’t connect. She called mama to know if he had come home. She said he hadn’t. She called the school, they confirmed he hadn’t come to pick the kids yet. Something had happened. She felt it. She was standing up to leave when her phone rang. The caller identified himself as a Policeman and asked her to come to the Lagos Island Mortuary to identify the body of one Mr Paul Shaibu.

Her screams were heard from miles away …

***

24-07-2014

One of Bishop Samuel Ndah’s most notable attribute was his strong baritone voice. On Thursday, when he woke up, he could barely speak. He had only experienced sore-throat once in his life and it surely didn’t hurt this bad. Nor did it come with weakness of the muscle and troubled breathing. He asked his wife to call his pastors. The devil was at work. That evil being didn’t want him to minister at tonight’s special service. But he was going to, whether Satan liked it or not.

The pastors came, held his hands and prayed. His condition deteriorated.

He was taken to a private hospital some hours later. The doctors are yet to realize he might have the Ebola virus. They’re still giving him treatment for Influenza.

25-07-2014

Patrick Sawyer died and it was later confirmed by the Nigerian Government and WHO that he was indeed carrying the Ebola Virus. 30 people may have been in contact with Patrick Sawyer from the Airplane to the Hospital in Obalende. It could have been more, it could have been less. The Lagos state government is still trying to track them down.

Epilogue

Munachi infected Nduka and a host of others. Nduka mourned for a while, but man must wack. He still drives his cab around Lagos; he has a wife and baby back home in Anambra, and a girlfriend in Okota to take care of. He doesn’t understand why his joints and muscles have been aching him since…

Aisha, Munachi’s colleague, thinks she’s constantly weak because she is pregnant. She also thinks the rashes on her body are because she changed cosmetics. She and her banker husband have no idea…

Jemila’s children were infected. The older ones shared meals, toys and other facilities with their friends in school…the friends have friends, who have families ….

Bishop Samuel Ndah is un-quarantined and has been receiving hundreds of visitors daily; faithful members of his church who greet him with a kiss on his Episcopal ring…

The end

AUTHOR’S NOTE

This story is fiction. Patrick Sawyer is indeed the first known victim of the Ebola virus in Nigeria, but other characters exist only in my imagination. Real locations have been used to make the story as realistic as possible.

One nagging question remains though: are these scenarios not possible?

Could you know someone who knows someone who currently has the virus?

I’d have abandoned my awesome new job and carried my polythene bag back to Portharcourt, but if it is in Lagos, is it not only a matter of time before it gets to other parts of Nigeria?

This is not meant to start a panic though. It is to create awareness that this virus is real and amongst us.

I appeal to the Nigerian government to take this menace seriously. As I write this, there are no equipments to diagnose the virus. There are no centers to quarantine and care for victims. There are no specialists to supervise the control of a possible epidemic. And striking doctors’ demands have still not been met.

I appeal to the Nigerian Medical Association to call off their strike. Two wrongs have never made a right. And right now, if an epidemic breaks out, you’re the only hope we have. Please put your heads together, and agree on something positive for the good of your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and children that make up this entity called Nigeria. Once Ebola is taken care of, I’m sure the whole Nigeria would gladly go to strike with you guys.

To everyone reading this, Ebola is real. The symptoms are Fever, sore throat, headache, weakness, joint and muscle pain, chest pain, Diarrhea, rashes, troubled breathing and bleeding from the skin. There is no known cure yet. To reduce risk of infection, wash your hands as often as possible with sanitizer or soap. Always wash your fruits and vegetables before cooking. And finally, avoid contact with people with suspicious signs or those from places where there has been an outbreak.

Cheers,

Chidi @Chydee Ace Okereke.

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Lagos … and my Polythene Bag

No, I’m not a plantain boy. But I admire Timaya’s music. And I most definitely love plantain – bole’d, dodo’ed, porridge’d, or chipped.

I came into Lagos 4 years ago, with nothing but a polythene bag, an Engineering degree, and a dream. Ok, it wasn’t a polythene bag, but, you’ll agree it sounds more dramatic.

Anyways, the point is, 4 years ago, when those 3 wise men at Berger welcomed me to Eko, I had nothing. No concrete plan, no white, blue, or red collar job waiting for me. It was just my dream, my certificate, and I. The dream: Run this town in 5 years.

How? Nna, why are you asking a question I can’t answer?

When I disembarked from the Ekene-Dili-Chukwu bus at Oshodi, two men lunged at me and grabbed my bag.

“Na me get am!” the first one squeaked.

“Na me go carry am!” the other one growled in a guttural voice.

It happened so fast, I was stunned for a few seconds. When I came round, I lunged at both of them, eyes closed. Pushing, kicking, punching, screaming, “Gimme my bag!!!”

After a few moments, I realized my bag was in my hand and I was kicking at dry air. I slowly opened my eyes and saw the two men, looking at me in awe. A small crowd had gathered too, stunned…until someone burst into laughter. Everyone joined except the two men, who turned out to be Taxi drivers who only wanted to give me a ride.

“Oga na wa o, e be like you be JJC…” guttural voice growled as he went to look for more reasonable passengers. Squeaky voice just shook his head, looked at his shirt, discovered two missing buttons he must have lost during our skirmish, eyed me again, hissed and walked away.

It was over almost as soon as it started. Even the crowd had dispersed. I whipped out my Motorola Razor and called Femi, my secondary school mate, who I was going to be squatting with until I ‘hammered’. He came and took me to his one room self-contained apartment.

One room…

I actually thought Femi lived in a flat. He said he worked in a bank, and generally gave the impression he was well off. Well, (as I found out after a few days) by Lagos standards, he was comfortable. His house was self-contained, meaning he didn’t have to share a toilet, bathroom and kitchen with anybody. His office was also just a N30 bus distance from his house; so, long hours in traffic was almost never a problem. Yes, he was comfortable.

Jobs are scarce. Very scarce. I realized this after carrying my CV in a brown envelope, round Lagos. I am not exaggerating when I say I went round Lagos. I did. Ask my ash colored leather shoe (it was black when I bought it). It was the same story everywhere I went: “There’s no vacancy”; or “we need someone with at least 3 years experience”. As in, I needed experience to get a job and I needed a job to get experience.

These Employers aint loyal.

Due to my joblessness-induced frustration, I started spending plenty more time on the internet: Facebook, Twitter, Nairaland etc. Naturally blessed with wittiness, creative thinking and an incredible imagination, it wasn’t hard to get some admirable following; and I kept my audience hooked. I also took writing more seriously: Fiction, humorous articles, socio-political commentaries, etc.

That was how it happened.

One night, 4 months after NYSC, some guy with 146 followers asked me for a follow-back on Twitter. On the average I get like 20 ‘kindly follow back’ requests every day, requests I generally ignore. But on that fateful day, I don’t know how it happened, I just followed him back.

I followed greatness without realizing it. That was the follow-back that changed my life. The greatest follow-back of all time.

See, some of you with plenty followers that keep ignoring follow-back requests, pray to God you don’t ignore the link to your future ‘breakthrough’ o. Ehen.

After I followed, the man sent me a direct message saying he liked my tweets and my blog articles. I thanked him and went to bed. Next morning I woke up and saw another DM. He wanted to discuss something and needed my phone number. I gave it to him. I mean, what could happen?

What could happen? A lot my people. A whole lot.

He called that morning and introduced himself – Anthony Okpa. The name didn’t ring a bell. He said he worked with a bank and he could use my writing skills for a project he was working on. He asked if I could meet him for lunch; he’d send someone to come pick me.

Free lunch. Free ride. Possible job. Nna, who was I to say no?

I still didn’t know if it was some scam so I didn’t give him my address. I just told him I’d wait at Oshodi busstop. He told me his assistant would be there by 12noon. I quickly brought out the suit I’d not worn in months, selected my best shirt, borrowed charcoal iron from a neighbor, pressed them all, polished my shoe, went for a shave and haircut, and was ready by 11am.

When I arrived the Bank’s headquarters at Lagos Island, his assistant took me straight up to Anthony’s office which was at the top of the high-rise building. My eye almost popped out of my head when I saw the inscription on his office door.

‘Anthony Okpa – Deputy Managing Director.’

Of a bank.

Not a branch, but the bank. The whole bank.

Bruh, I can’t forget how my legs almost buckled as I entered his office. He stood up, came round the table and shook my shivering hands. He noticed how nervous I was and asked me to sit and relax.

I sat. I relaxed. I shivered harder.

We did some small talk, got to know ourselves better, then went straight to business. He wanted to run for Governor of his state and was currently recruiting young people into his campaign team. He wanted me to be his campaign social media/strategy manager. The election was in two years and he wanted to establish a strong social media presence ASAP. I’d create engaging content for and manage all his online accounts, and so on and so forth.

I didn’t know when a tear dropped from my left eye. Till today, I still don’t know if he’d noticed it. He didn’t stop talking as I quickly wiped it off. He asked if I was interested. I nodded vigorously; afraid I’d squeak and burst into tears if I tried speaking. He was visibly delighted. He added that when the campaign team was complete we’d all meet, get to know each other, brainstorm, and map out strategies; but meanwhile I could start working. I’d get a laptop, a smartphone, a modem, and other equipment I’d need to commence the job.

He brought out his cheque book, scribbled something, asked my official name, scribbled some more, tore out the leaf and gave it to me. I couldn’t hold back the tears when I saw the figure on it. This time he noticed and offered his handkerchief. I dried the tears and apologized for being such a sisi. He waved it off and asked if the money could cover the next 3 months, salary and all. I nodded till my head almost fell off my neck. The money was more than enough. After buying all the equipments I needed, I was still going to be a millionaire.

Yes. Millionaire.

I’d slept on the floor the previous night because Femi’s girlfriend had slept over. I’d woken up broke that morning, hoping the good Lord would provide for me the same way he provided for the sparrow.

Few hours later I was a millionaire.
And I had a job. One I’d enjoy doing. One that would make me more millions.

After we had lunch at an exclusive restaurant in Victoria Island, his driver dropped me off at home. First thing I did was get on my knees and pray. I called my folks and told them I’d finally gotten a good job. I’m sure their celebratory shouts reverberated through the whole neighborhood. Then I called Femi. My guy didn’t know when he squealed for joy. He closed earlier than usual, came home with plenty suya and wine and we celebrated.

After buying all the necessaries, I offered Femi a quarter of the balance – which was more than his salary for 3 months. He refused to collect it at first but I insisted. He had sheltered and fed me for 4 months without complaints so he had to enjoy my breakthrough with me. It was only right.

The social media strategizing began. I did plenty research on branding – majoring on politics, took a few courses, created content and publishing pattern for all his social accounts, and generally put him in the internet limelight.

The campaign office was opened for business a few months after we met and the team started work. My workaholic nature saw me doing more than the social media strategist job I was hired for. I joined the bigger media team, generated ideas and created so much content, the overall campaign manager who was also the media team lead handed the unit over to me and focused more on grassroots mobilization.

The elections finally arrived. The primaries was a hard fought battle but we clinched the ticket. And when Election Day finally came, we won. Resoundingly!!

Governor Anthony Okpa made me his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy immediately after he was sworn in. It was the first time a non-indigene would hold a political position in that state.

Bruh, I was balling.

It was at one of the state’s social events that I met Eva Alordiah. I’d listened to her songs and I had this slight crush on her. But seeing her perform in person was different. I knew I wanted her immediately. She was ravishingly beautiful. And she could rap.

Holy Lord!

After her performance I asked that she take a picture with Gov Anthony and I. Then I practically begged her to have dinner with me sometime. She agreed, and, a few weeks and many conversations later, we did.

We connected, we bonded on a covalent level. I don’t know if she felt it too, but I was already in love with her. It was a beautiful evening and we agreed to do it again.

On the drive back home, we sat in the back. She said she was cold so I put my arm around her and drew her closer. She put her head on my shoulder and I stroked her hair. After a while she looked up, into my eyes. I could see the desire in her eyes as light from oncoming traffic illuminated them. I leaned in and kis….

“Oga we don reach…” he said.

How dare my driver interrupt me now of all times? How dare he?

“Oga you no wan come down again?” he said again, tapping me. I opened my eyes, furious.

“What is wro…” I was growling, when I noticed my environs. I wasn’t in the Porsche Cayenne. I was in a bus. Eva wasn’t there; in her place was the bus driver. The disorientation was total. Then I came round. I looked at the driver again. “Where are we?” I asked.

“Maza Maza,” he replied. “Which kain sleep you dey sleep sef? Tse-tse fly bite you? Everybody don go down, na only you dey motor….”

I remembered the last time I was awake… we had just entered the Benin – Ore road. It was all a dream. And I had passed my busstop.

I wanted to cry. But instead, I carried my ‘polythene bag’, came down and started looking for a bus that would take me back to Oshodi.

It was all a dream. I still had my ‘polythene bag’, but this time I also had a laptop, an internet connection, and a big, beautiful dream:

“I will run this town in 5 years, so help me God!”

Written by — @Chydee

“I do … Not” – Episode 7

“I do … Not” – Episode 7

SEVEN

“Every operation has a short cut,” the AutoCAD instructor was saying. “Tap ‘L’ and hit the ‘space bar’ to activate the line tool,” he added. “Done…?” he asked the trainees. Everyone acquiesced except Donald. “Young man … young man…” he called again, tapping Donald’s desk.

“Yes … yes sir…” Donald stuttered, snapping out of his reverie.

“What’s the last thing I said?”

“Err … you said … err …”
Everyone in the class was giggling when the instructor waved him off and repeated his previous statement.

This wasn’t the first time he’d been lost in his thoughts; thoughts of Catherine. Less than a week in the Bishop’s home and he knew he was in love with her. That girl is amazing he thought. No, amazing is an understatement. There has to be a more befitting title, something more appropriate. Err … magnificent? Err … let’s leave it at amazing.

They had bonded on a covalent level. It just happened naturally. She wasn’t like some of those self-conceited silver spoon girls in Port Harcourt. She was graceful, yet down to earth. She had that aristocratic look, but there was nothing haughty about it. She was very easy to talk to, and Donald sure knew how to talk.

He had bonded with the Bishop and his wife too. Where his own parents were aloof and uptight, the Obuhs were charismatic and jovial. Unlike the senior Horsfalls, they commanded a respect borne out of love and admiration, not fear. Apart from the opulence, the Bishop’s home exuded a warmth Donald did not experience at home.

They’d had a long talk last Thursday Evening, the day Chinedu traveled. The Bishop had asked him everything; what he was currently doing, his immediate and future plans. Donald explained that he was studying Mechanical Engineering and had just completed the one year industrial training to round up his OND at Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori. He’d also applied for and was awaiting admission into PTI – Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun.
To keep him busy during the vacation, he planned to do a training course on AutoCAD. Bishop Obuh nodded his approval and promised to enroll him at NIIT, the number one ICT School in Lagos.

His first Sunday at the Headquarters was absolutely wonderful. The fully Air-Conditioned 1500 seat auditorium was an architectural masterpiece. From his seat at the altar, the Bishop looked like a god while the choristers, positioned adjacently, were like his angels. When they sang it was heavenly.

He spotted Catherine in her purple robe. Even though every chorister wore the same thing, the Bishop’s daughter stood out. He decided then and there that he was going to join the choir. Back in Port Harcourt he was assistant choir director/organist so it was only right that he joined the HQ choir. No, Catherine wasn’t the motivation. Who’re you kidding? his truthful self chided. Catherine was 80 percent the motivation.

He didn’t even know he was staring until she sighted him and grinned. He smiled and winked. The choir was singing Dietrick Haddon’s He’s able and out of the 20 voices singing soprano, he could swear that he picked out her voice. The decision to join the choir solidified. All he could think of was a duet with her. A duet that ended with a kiss, and…

“…please share the joke with us…” the instructor repeated.

Donald started. “Huh…?” he asked, puzzled.
Everyone in the class busted into laughter. Everyone except the instructor.

“You’ve been smiling like a Christmas goat since. What is amusing you?” the instructor repeated.

Christmas goat? Who uses corny lines like that in this 21st century? Donald mused. “Sorry sir,” he blurted. “I … sorry sir …”

“If you don’t want to be a part of this program, why did you spend all that money for the tuition?” the instructor fired. “You will not drag us behind. The next time you constitute a nuisance, I’ll send you out.”

See me see trouble o, Donald thought as he nodded. How can I constitute a nuisance in my quietness? All these Lagos people sef …? He peeped at his neighbor’s computer screen and tried to duplicate what he saw on his. He glanced at the time; 3:23pm. 37 more minutes and she’ll be here. He was suddenly excited. They were going to be together again. She’d drive to a nearby football field in a street with very low traffic and hand the wheels over to him. He’d practice till 5pm, then they’d head back to the house or to the church, depending on what day it is. That had been the routine since he started the AutoCAD training.

Amongst her many gifts, Catherine was a natural teacher. She was patient, considerate but firm, and her explanations were always easy to follow. Only yesterday, he was doing 30km/hr on a minor road when a dog suddenly ran into the road. He panicked and stepped on the throttle instead of the brake. The panic doubled as the car lurched forward. He looked down to see where the brake pedal was again. He did not realize he had switched lanes until Catherine calmly commanded, “eyes on the road Donald!” He looked up and swerved just in time to avoid an oncoming vehicle. He finally stepped on the brake and the vehicle stopped just as the front tire bumped the pedestrian kerb.

“Pheew! That was close,” Catherine had said, grinning. “Stupid dogs won’t look left and right before crossing the road.”

Donald was stunned. He had expected her to collect the keys and never let him drive again, or; a tongue-lashing at best. But there she was, making a wisecrack. His love for her increased geometrically.

He nodded as she added, “No matter what the traffic situation is, never take your eyes off the road. Where your vision lies, that’s where you’ll land.”

Donald smiled and mimicked her; “where your vision lies, that’s where you’ll land. Sounds like one of those lines preachers use.” They both grinned.

“Thanks Kate. I …Thanks.”

“Let’s go,” she waved him off.

As he reversed and reentered the road, he made a resolve to improve by all means possible. He would do it. He would make her proud. And when he finally drove in that terrible Lagos traffic successfully, he would give her the tightest hug ever, and kiss her, and …

“…I said leave my class,” the instructor repeated.

“Huh …” Donald started, flummoxed. The whole class erupted in raucous laughter as he gradually returned to his senses.

The livid instructor yelled, “I SAID LEAVE!!!”

Donald wanted to plead but one look at the man’s face changed his mind. He sneaked a peek at his watch – 3:53pm. She’ll be here in a bit sef he thought as he hurriedly gathered his belongings and scuttled out of the class….

Stay tuned.
Follow @Chydee

“I do…Not” – Episode 6

SIX

They went to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in a convoy of three cars. Bishop Obuh was chauffeured in a Peugeot 407, Mrs Obuh drove her Toyota Camry while Chinedu, Catherine and Donald rode in the Cherokee.
When the female voice behind the microphone announced that passengers for the Lagos-Heathrow flight should start boarding, they bid Chinedu an emotional farewell.
“Remember what I’ve always told you,” Bishop Obuh started. “Never forget where you’re from.”
Chinedu nodded. “Yes dad.”
“I hope you didn’t forget your bible,” Mrs Obuh added.
“I didn’t mom,” he replied. “Even if I did I’ve got another in my apartment.”
“What about…”
“Mom don’t start,” Chinedu groaned. “I didn’t forget anything. I’ll be fine. I’ll be a good boy. I’ll pray without ceasing. I’ll … can you just wish me au revoir?
She gazed at him with tear-filled eyes and clasped him in a tight embrace – as she had been doing once every year for the past three years. “Don’t forget to send pictures,” she said as the tear finally trickled down her face.
“I won’t mom,” he said and kissed her cheek. He turned to Catherine.
“Happy to miss you,” they both said simultaneously, giggling. They embraced. “Say hello to Annabel for me,” she whispered.
Annabel, his girlfriend for the past two years was a well kept secret. Well, everybody knew her, except the Bishop and his wife. Or did they know? You never could tell with the Man of God.
“I will,” he whispered back. “Be a good girl alright?”
“Your wish is my command,” she said, bowing. “I’ll miss you bro,” she added as her eyes welled up.
“If you don’t miss me, who will?” he chuckled. His eyes welled up too as he added “I’ll miss you too sis.”
He turned to Donald who had been watching the proceedings awkwardly. The Horsfalls were close no doubt but emotions like these were never displayed. When he was leaving PH for Lagos nobody even saw him off to the park. That morning, all his family did was pray and commit his journey into God’s hands. The goodbyes were quick, and direct. No hugs. Kisses? Dream on. In all his adult years he had never given or received a peck from any member of his family. He made a mental note to give his ma one when he returned to PH. Or … never mind, he thought. I should practice with Miriam and Christina first.
“I wish you had come earlier, we’d have gotten really acquainted,” Chinedu said as he shook Donald’s hand. “Hopefully we’ll get to know each other better next time I’m around, yeah?”
“Yeap,” Donald nodded. “I’ll keep in touch.”
“So…” he gestured towards Catherine, “take care of my little … big angel for me. You’re her big brother now you know?”
Donald glanced at Catherine, smiled and nodded. “Yes boss.”
Chinedu’s eyes were filled with tears when he said the last goodbye to all of them. Without a backward glance he left the departure lounge.

Outside the airport, Bishop Obuh, who was also the Secretary General of CAN – Christian Association of Nigeria- Lagos chapter hurriedly left for one of their executive meetings. Mrs Obuh went on a supervisory visit to Grace College, a secondary school belonging to the church.
Catherine gave Donald the Cherokee key and walked to the passenger side.
“Um … err …” Donald stuttered. How could he tell her he didn’t know how to drive at his age? “… I don’t have a driver’s license,” he finally said.
“Oh …” She collected the keys, went in and started the Jeep. When he joined her she added; “you don’t have a license or you don’t know how to drive?”
“Well, all of the above,” he sheepishly replied.
“I guessed so,” she muttered, just loud enough for him to hear. “Fasten your seatbelt.”
He obeyed. “So Chinedu asked me to take care of you. The problem is you don’t look like you need to be taken care of.”
“Of cause everybody needs care.”
“Okay, I can relate,” he nodded. “But how do I go about it?” There was a mischievous glint in his eye.
“Don’t worry. You’ll figure it out.”
As she masterfully maneuvered the big car through the ever busy Ikeja traffic, Donald studied her, furtively. She looked soft and vulnerable. But in his 21 years on earth he also knew that looks were very deceptive, very misleading.
“You drive real good,” he commented.
“Thanks,” she smiled, overtaking one of those annoying yellow and black painted Lagos taxis.
“It’s not a compliment. It’s like saying…”
“…I’m putting on a red shirt,” she concluded for him.
He chuckled. “I was actually going to say you’re wearing pink lipstick. And it’s … alluring.”
She smiled. “Do you want to have an accident?”
“No…why…?”
“Keep saying things like that and I’ll lose control and…well, we’ll be needing an ambulance to send us to the hospital…or…the mor…”
“Alright, alright,” Donald put his hands up in mock surrender. “I’ll stop. But honestly, I’ll give an arm to be able to drive like you.”
“Have you ever seen a one-handed person driving?” The glint in her eyes was unmistakable.
He chuckled. Smart, he thought; very smart. “I meant it idiomatically.”
“I know,” she grinned. “So, why don’t you know how to drive? You never tried learning?”
He smiled faintly. “I’ve actually tried learning before and the end result wasn’t funny.”
“What happened?” she pressed
“You sure you wanna hear this?”
“Yeap,” she nodded.
“Okay,” he started; “’twas three years ago, sometime in 2002. The church had just given my pa a new car – this beautiful Toyota Corolla. Before then he’d been driving a Peugeot 504 station wagon that we spent more time pushing than riding in. That car showed us something though…” Donald paused, reminiscing. “Anyways; when this ‘tear-rubber’ wheels arrived, it was gold. I think my Pa unconsciously made an idol out of it. Considering the fact that he was always hammering on vanity and how unimportant our earthly possessions were, it was a shock that he actually loved something that much.
“I used to warm the 504 every morning while cleaning it. I was going to turn 18 years soon and the plan was that I’d learn how to drive and get a license when I did. But when the Toyota came, the only thing I did was wash it. Whenever I had to clean the interior, pa would unlock it by himself, just to make sure I wasn’t tempted to even put the key in the ignition. My 18th birthday came and passed and nothing was said about driving lessons. I was mentioning it to him one time when he gave me this look that said ‘are you nuts’? I lost all hope … until he went for the annual Shepherds Conference in Abuja, with my ma.
“As soon as I knew they were too high up in the clouds to come back if they had forgotten anything, I took the keys. Actually, it was my younger brother Tammy who went into their room and brought it for me. Off we went to the car, feeling fly…” he paused as she chuckled.
“I’d seen my pa drive the car,” he continued. “I knew the clutch was under my left leg, the throttle on my right, while the brake was in the middle. I also knew that to change gears or brake for whatever reason, you had to step on the clutch first. Kate, my confidence was on the high side.
“The church manse hadn’t been completed then so we lived in a block of four flats owned by an Ikwerre man. You know Ikwerre people are very miserly with land so the space in front of the house was very narrow. All the cars in the compound were parked in one straight line such that if a car was parked at the back of yours, the owner had to move it out before you could move yours. You understand?” She nodded and he continued.
“A Mercedes V-boot was parked in front of ours but the owner almost never drove it. There was none behind.
“I fastened my seatbelt, put the key in the ignition and started it. The car jerked forward so I quickly turned it off. Tammy asked if I was really sure I knew how to drive as I claimed. I assured him I knew what I was doing and tried again. This time it almost hit the Mercedes in front. Luckily – or should I say unluckily – one of my neighbors, while passing, looked in, saw my predicament, and told me to put the gear in neutral before starting it.”
“Oh, the car was in gear and you didn’t step on the clutch before starting it,” she laughed.
“Yessoo,” he replied, laughing. “My dad used to put the gear in neutral after parking the 504 so all the time I warmed it I never experienced that jerk. Anyways, I shifted to neutral, turned the ignition, revved it a couple times and stepped on the clutch. I shifted to reverse gear and asked Tammy to go and check if the back light was on so I’d be sure it was really in reverse. He affirmed and came back in. I stepped on the throttle and released the clutch…”
“Oh my God!!!” she exclaimed, her eyes widening.
He chuckled. “I believe you can guess what happened. The car suddenly lurched backwards. I didn’t even know how to control the steering. In my confused state I didn’t know where the brake was. It wasn’t until the right back side hit the wall that I remembered and pulled up the handbrake…”
Still laughing, Catherine said; “the handbrake wouldn’t even have stopped it.”
“Yeah,” he nodded. “I guess it was the wall that stopped it. The most surprising thing was that Tammy was in the car with me all that while, but when I regained my senses, he was nowhere to be found.”
Catherine threw her head back, laughing. The Cherokee was moving at 70kph, and gradually drifting to the other lane. An oncoming kerosene tanker was flashing them, horns blaring. Donald yelled at her to watch out just as they almost hit it. She swerved to the edge of the road, narrowly missing the tanker and all the expletives the furious driver was screaming. She steadied the jeep, drove a short distance, cleared and parked.
“So what happened?” she asked, as if they hadn’t just had a close shave with death.
He stared at her in amazement and continued. “I came out to see how bad I had damaged the car. The right tail-light was shattered. The side just short of the back door was dented. Kate, I could feel the hot tears welling up. I didn’t want to risk driving it again so I went inside the house to look for Tammy. Guess where he was…”
Catherine’s eyes were watering as she shook her head. “I can’t….”
“He was hiding in the toilet. I asked him to come and help me push it back into position. He refused. He said he didn’t want to be a part of it. I had to swear I’d take full responsibility for everything before he came out sweating and shivering like someone with malaria fever.
“When my parents came back the next week, I’d lost like 15pounds. I looked so sick that when my pa saw me, I guess he knew I’d suffered enough. He just went into his room and let my conscience punish me more. But my ma…? She made sure I knew how she felt. Just think of any derogatory adjective, I was named it. Stupid, worthless, irresponsible, I bore them all. But the most disturbing was my pa’s quietness. Till today he’s never talked about it. For more than a month I lived with the fear that one midnight, while I was sleeping, he’d pounce on me and beat all the evil spirits in me away. He never did.
“I’ve not touched a gear stick ever since then. I’m vehi-phobic; whatever that means.”
“You don’t want a déjà vu,” she laughed, wiping her eyes.
“You could say that,” he nodded
She started the jeep and rejoined traffic. “Driving isn’t really difficult though. You just have to do away with the fear. The next thing is concentration. In a week you’ll be doing 100 on the freeway.” She glanced at him. “Don’t worry, I’ll teach you.”
“I’ll crash your car…”
“You won’t. We’ll go to the stadium, or bar beach. There’s plenty of space there.
“Alright,” he nodded.

….Stay Tuned.
@Chydee

Ultimate Experience

Where I’m from, 10million Naira is a lot of money. But after my Gulder Ultimate Search experience, I have come to believe that it is a LOT MORE money where some other people are from. I mean, I used to think I desperately needed money and fame, but there are thousands of people who need it more desperately.

I’ve been registering for the GUS show since I became eligible in the 3rd season, and they’ve been inviting me for the screening, but something always came up. This year though, there was no reasonable excuse because I was on holiday. Right now, as I type this piece from my bed, in pains, I wish I was reasonable enough to stay at home.

I thought I had muscles, until I got to the Dan Anyiam Stadium on the 28th of August 2013. See crowd; crowd of bouncers and practicing athletes. If not for the fact that I actually traveled all the way to Owerri for the screening I would have turned back. Well, that and the fact that I have a big ego. Anyways, I went in, changed into my sport kits and sat down on the pitch like others, awaiting my turn on the marathon.

So many things look very easy on TV. You see people doing it and you say, “piece of cake, I can do this too”. Well, news flash guys; competitive MARATHONS are deadly. Especially if you’ve been sitting at home doing nothing but eat, sleep, read, write and get fat, like I’d been doing.

Each group ran in 20s and depending on how competitive they are, everyone in a group could proceed to the next stage. Sometimes though, the slowest ones were dropped. The aim was just to see how fit everyone was. Coming first didn’t matter. But coming last could.

Anyways, when others were running I was laughing at those who were far behind. I called them lazy goats. If they couldn’t run ordinary 2 laps – 800meters, why register for Gulder Ultimate Search? Well, my turn was coming. And finally, it came.

When the whistle went off, I hustled my way to the front. I was leading. I felt fly. All these kids aint got nothing on me. Well, when we rounded the first bend, I decided to slow down a bit. I mean, what’s the rush? One person passed me, then two, then three, then …. After the first lap I was in the tenth position. By the time we got to 500meters I’d lost count of all the people who had passed me. After running about 600meters, I started hearing angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Brethren I was dying. Then a voice started asking me to just stop and lie down for a while, just a little while. The wonderful voice told me it wasn’t a do or die affair, I should just stop and crawl away from it all. I paused a little, looked back, saw four guys far behind me, muttered ‘hope dey’ and trudged on. One of them eventually passed me before we got to the finish line. I barely made it because the last three guys behind me were evicted from the competition.

The next drill was ‘squats’: Deadly squats. The first set was stopped after 3mins, 20 seconds. You need to see people’s legs dancing makosa. I couldn’t even laugh my head off because I was too tired from the marathon and I knew it was going to be my turn soon. I mean, some people who topped their group in the marathon couldn’t do the squat. How could I that came 17th do it? How? See how people were collapsing and screaming Jesus’ name up and down … my mind cut. Well, my turn finally came – the last set. They put the girls in front and put us behind them. The whistle went off and we squatted. It wasn’t so bad at first. Till we hit two minutes. I thought it was a joke when my legs started vibrating. My legs have never vibrated like that before. I started thinking about very abstract things: thermodynamics, bole, roasted fish, Tonto Dike’s music and finally the love of my life. That helped, till it didn’t anymore. Then this guy in front of me (God bless his soul) started making small swinging motions. I copied him and it worked. Whenever I felt a bit relieved I stopped and when I felt like giving up I started those motions.

Front, back, left, right, people were just collapsing but I was having a ball, a terrible one though. After about 4minutes, the remaining girls were asked to stand easy. I started praying. The swinging motions were not even helping anymore. People around kept collapsing but I stayed. Prayed. And…mercifully, the whistle went off, after five plus minutes. I was the only person who didn’t collapse immediately. I did a few stretches and tried walking away like a boss. Thank God the camera didn’t catch me when my feet buckled and I fell.

On to the next drill – different variations of ‘picking the ball’. Heartland FC had an NPL football match against Kano Pillars so we were moved to the stadium’s handball court. I knew it was a bad idea the moment I stepped into that court. The main pitch was covered with the same material used in covering race tracks, while the surrounding was rough coal-tarred. The balls were placed in front of the perimeter brick-wall and the aim of the game was to race across, pick a ball and return to where you started. The fastest runners were selected. When it got to a few groups before mine, a different variation was introduced. 12 balls were dropped while 20 of them had to race across and try to pick one. Only those who picked a ball qualified for the next round.

Well, I finally lined up. To hasten things up, 5 balls were added to the 12 and 6 guys joined us. 26 macho men; 17 balls …Tu Face’s ‘Ihe ge me’ started playing in my head. I wasn’t scared though. I may not be good with marathons but short sprints are my thing. And the distance to the wall was approximately 60 meters. The whistle went off and we charged. Of cause I was in front of the guys around me. My eyes were set on the blue ball and when I finally got there, I grabbed it with joy. That was when it happened.

You wouldn’t appreciate what I’m going to say if you’ve never been hit by a vehicle before. I had the ball firmly in my grip when about 4 bodies slammed into mine, American football style. I was later told that the sound my head made when it impacted the wall was heard at the other end of the pitch. For about 10 seconds I didn’t know where I was. The disorientation was total. When I came round, the race was over and my precious blue ball was not in my hand. I shook the nausea off and strolled straight to the medical-van, close to where the ‘winners’ were assembled. Normally, those who didn’t qualify were ushered out immediately so they won’t blend in with the winners. It was like magic when nobody stopped me. I just got to the doctor and said, “my head”. He said he heard the sound too and gave me an ice-pack to press it with. He collected cotton-wool and started cleaning my knee. That was when I even noticed I was seriously bleeding there. I was just praying I hadn’t gotten a concussion.

Anyways, after a while I felt better. I was supposed to immediately go carry my bag and go back home, but … I majestically strolled to where the ‘winners’ queued up to register their names and collect tags for the next round. Again nobody stopped me. I registered my name and collected my tag. I was in the next round.

Err….don’t call me a cheat please. I had the ball in my hand before I was battered so it was only fair that I proceeded to the next round … on merit. I mean, I couldn’t even chew anything that night because the left part of my head was swollen. How could I have suffered all that pain for nothing?

The next day was swimming. Long story short, we swam in fours. I came second and the ‘fish’ who came first (may thunder fire him very well) qualified for the next round. That’s where my Search ended. The idiots didn’t even allow me use the changing room. They asked me to leave the pool premises with only my trunks on. I had to change at the parking lot. Truly, nobody gives a damn about you when you’re not successful. But God will judge them anyway.

So many people have been consoling me and telling me next year will be better. I keep telling them I’m done. I have an engineering degree and in a few months I’d be done with NYSC. There has to be easier ways to make money men. GUS is not for me.

Later guys, the ‘wicked’ Ogoni woman that has been massaging my body has come.

**tears**

“I do…Not” – Episode 1 to 5

Part ONE
PRELUDE
ONE

Donald’s face was a mask of horror when he finished reading the letter for a second time. Ten minutes ago, when he had seen the addresser he had looked and felt like ‘the cat that ate the canary bird’- excited.
After the first read, he had felt amused. This definitely was some kind of joke! But…Catherine does not- would not- joke like this; at least not the Catherine I know. She was witty no doubt, and had a good sense of humor…but this…this is definitely not funny, cause I’m not laughing.
Or…He checked the date. 23rd March. He hissed. It’s not even April Fools’ Day.
Maybe there’s a line I’m missing, something to make this clearer. He decided to read it again- for the third time.

Ditto
Hi Dearie,
Been a long time you called or wrote. I’m not angry. I understand that your school comes first and every other thing comes after.
I don’t know how I’m going to say this, but I’ll say it anyway. What has happened has happened. No use wishing back time.
I am pregnant! And I hope you’re not one of those who deny what’s theirs, because the baby is yours.
Yes! You don’t think all those really good times we had would be snaggless, did you? Well there are no roses without thorns….

He hissed, his eyes suddenly reddening. He squeezed the paper and threw it inside the waste-basket. He heaved a sigh, put his head down, then almost immediately, stood up, walked to the basket, retrieved it, and continued reading.

…No, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t wish for this to happen: but I won’t wish it away either. The fault is yours as much as it’s mine. If we were to lay blames though, the faults would be more of yours than mine.
You knew I was a virgin and inexperienced, yet you didn’t think of using a condom. If I had known that it’d result to this, I’d have used a contraceptive, but I was naïve and you took advantage of me … No. No more blames.
The pregnancy is six weeks old and I wouldn’t have had an abortion even if my dad and mum didn’t know about it. Nevertheless, they do know, and they are furious – very furious. Don’t worry about me though. Worry about yourself.
Donald, do you remember how you used to say you loved me like crazy? This is your chance to prove it.
I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have done this if I had a choice.
Catherine Obuh.
PS: Attached are some of the pictures we took at the Bar Beach on Valentines’ Day.

Shock, disbelief, confusion…Anger!
He stared at the pictures- the amorous pictures. He was smiling; she was smiling. They were barely clothed. They looked like a couple.
How could she do this to me? he asked himself. ‘She’s pulling your legs a voice told him.’ Well I’m about to find out…He went to the sitting room and dialed her home from the land-line. Switched off. He shrugged and walked back to his room. “Some stupid joke,” he muttered. “I’m not responsible…”
Somebody knocked on the door and came in before he answered. It was his younger brother, Tammy, the notorious pest.
“D-O-N the sharp shooter,” he sniggered wickedly. “You sure know how to score goals…”
“What?” he frowned, concealing the pictures with a pillow. “What are you talking about?”
Tammy chuckled. “Kate of cause!”
Donald gasped. “Who…? What Kate?”
Tammy chuckled again. He was definitely enjoying himself at his big brother’s expense. “Catherine, Kate, your ‘Queen’, our bishop’s daughter! Do you know who I’m talking about now?”
What’s wrong with everybody? Donald asked himself. Is this some coordinated joke? “What about Kate?”
“Don’t play dumb Bro,” Tammy retorted. “Everybody in this house knows and…In short Ma wants to see you.” He stood up to leave.
“Wait, wait!” Donald stopped him. “What are you talking about?”
Tammy sighed. “I know you know what I’m talking about, but since you want to feign ignorance, I’ll tell you again. Bishop Obuh’s daughter, your Katie is pregnant!”
He gasped. “Who…? How did you know?”
“What’s that?” Tammy pointed at the letter, ignoring the question.
“It’s er…um…” he stammered.
“It’s the letter she wrote you,” Tammy answered for him. “She wrote one to Ma and Pa too. Who do you think brought them from the Post office?”
Donald’s face paled considerably. “Christ!” he muttered. “Okay, okay. What exactly did she say in the letter she wrote to mum?”
“I didn’t cram it…”
“Tammy…!” Donald’s eyes warned dangerously.
“She said she’s pregnant and you’re responsible!” Tammy smirked. “I’m gonna be an uncle…”
“Shut up!” Donald snapped. “Who told you the baby is mine?”
“Bros…” Tammy shook his head, a wicked chuckle playing on his face. “Well, I don’t blame you. If I were in your shoes I’ll do the same.”
“I’m not…” He paused and exhaled. “Look; I believe this is some joke, but it aint funny anymore, so stop it!”
“Joke…? Hmmm! Joke indeed,” he sneered. “By the way, what’s under your pillow?”
“What…?”
“She sent you something along with the letter, and that’s what you hid under your pillow.”
“I’m not hiding anything!” Donald frowned. He raised the pillow and brought out the pictures.
“Let me see…” Tammy stretched his hand.
“No!”
“And you said you’re not hiding anything.”
“Okay, alright, see.” He handed him the pictures.
“Damn!” Tammy ogled. “Nice positions…even ‘sweeter’ than the ones you came back with. What beach is this?”
“Bar…” He paused. He knew that Tammy was setting a trap for him. “This is bullshit! We weren’t even intimate!”
“Casual friends don’t take romantic pictures like this.”
“That’s nonsense,” Donald retorted. “In Lagos you could take pictures like that with someone you just met.”
“Bros…” Tammy drawled, grinning. “For God’s sake, she’s on bikinis; you’re on Boxers, and your hand is almost cupping her mammary glands …”
“They’re not cupping her boobs for God’s sake,” Donald almost shouted. “They’re just underneath…”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Tammy cut him short. “And this one…” He showed him another picture. “…She’s virtually sitting on your ‘Black Arrow’. Don’t tell me she didn’t feel it, cos I’m sure you had a king-sized hard on…”
“Enough!” Donald yelled. “Infact, get out of this room…!!”
“Okay, alright.” Tammy stood up. “Don’t forget Ma wants to see you.” He walked to the door, turned and said, “By the way, if it’s a boy, what would you name him?”
“Get out!” Donald hissed, getting up from the bed.
“Okay, okay!” Tammy scuttled away. “D-O-N the father of…many nations!” he sang. “Ha ha…”

Episode 2

TWO

One look at the scowl on his mother’s face and he knew that he was in for it. She was sitting directly behind the table lamp and the shadows it cast on her only made her facial expression meaner.
Elder Mrs. Alabota Horsfall was by no means ‘soft’. She would have been the house-whip if their father wasn’t a core disciplinarian himself. To them- Donald and his siblings- life was guarded and guided by a rule book of ‘must dos’ and ‘don’ts’. You dare not let your head down, or- as Donald remixed it- ‘you dare not get caught letting your head down’.
“Ma you called me,” he began.
Mrs Horsfall stared at him for what seemed like ages. Her brows furrowed. “Did I just send for you?”
“I would have come before now but I was busy.”
“Busy, right…? Busy,” she retorted. “You’re always giving excuses- flimsy excuses. The bible says that we are inexcusable, therefore we are guilty no matter how reasonable the excuse is.”
“Ma I believe the bible was talking about something else…”
“Shut up!” she snapped. “Okay, since you now know the bible more than I do; what does 1st Corinthians chapter six verse eighteen say?”
“Flee…” He stopped. He knew the verse very well. Didn’t she drum it on them every other day to ‘flee fornication’? “Ma I know what it says and you know that I know what it says.”
“Thank God you know.” She stood up and paced the room. “God knows I wasn’t negligent. God knows I didn’t spare the rod. God knows…”
“Ma if this is about Bishop Obuh’s daughter, please don’t lose any sleep…”
“Why wouldn’t I lose sleep, eh? Donald, “she yelled. “Why shouldn’t I worry? We allowed you to go spend some time in their home and rather than ‘tap’ from the bishop’s anointing, you anointed his daughter with fruit of the womb…
“Ma why don’t you hear me out first?” he sighed exasperatedly.
“Hear what? More excuses? What is it going to be this time? She seduced you? The devil pushed you? You slipped and fell into her…? Or- better still- she raped you?”
“Ma…”
“Christ…!” She stood in front of him and gave him a resounding slap. “I’m disappointed in you! Just a month in their house and you couldn’t keep your pants up.”
It wasn’t about the ‘heat’ emanating from his cheek. It wasn’t about his mother slapping him- at least it wasn’t the first time. It was because he wasn’t given a chance to speak. He started storming out of the room…
“Come back here!” she yelled. “…I said come back here!”
He stopped, his eyes reddening. His breathe was coming in quick rapid bursts. “Ma…” he covered the cheek with his palm. “You didn’t even hear me out and you slapped me…”
“And I’ll slap you again!” she shouted, raising her hand up. Donald backed off- impulsively. “Hear what from you? Idiot! And there I was boasting to the Women’s Guild that you’re a virgin.” She paused to catch her breath. “You’re not even twenty two yet and you’re going to be a father…”
“Ma, she’s lying…”
“Shut up!” she screamed. “You want to deny it? Okay, just wait until Daddy comes back.”
“Ma, I’m not…”
“I’m finished with you!” she dismissed him, heaving herself on the chair.
She had said that phrase countless times, and from experience he knew that she would not listen to him anymore. That was the problem. Nobody was listening to him. He angrily stormed out of the room.
Just outside the door he saw Tammy and Christina tiptoeing down the corridor. They had been eavesdropping. He stared at them for a few seconds, contemplated chasing and spanking the shit out of them, changed his mind and stormed on.

Episode 3

THREE

On normal days, the Horsfalls gathered in the living room for morning prayers. On normal days, apart from their father and mother, every other person dozed during these prayers. But today was not a normal day. Everybody was shiny-eyed. They all knew that something was going to happen, something that could change the family forever.
Reverend Abiye Horsfall, Pastor of ‘Alive with Christ Church’ Port-Harcourt Cathedral was many things including; a teacher, a preacher, and a no-nonsense person. A man of few words, a mono-syllable uttered by him carried more weight than most people’s ‘complex’ paragraphs. In church and at home, his word was law. Disobeying him was not an option; or, at least disobeying him and letting him know. Nobody wanted to be on his bad side.
Yesterday, during the counseling sessions he held in his office on Thursdays, he had gotten a call from his boss- Bishop Chukwudi Obuh. The top man had told him to come to Lagos today aboard the first morning flight: nothing more, nothing less. He had pondered the reason for the urgent call till the sessions finished. His curiosity however ended when he got home. He had been shocked beyond words when he read Catherine’s letter. He didn’t talk to Donald though. Issues like this were best discussed just before the rising sun.
This morning, his eyes were bloodshot. Sleep had done a good job at eluding him last night. When at last it did come, it didn’t seem like ten minutes he was at it when his body-clock told him it was 6AM.
He glanced at Donald. A wave of fury surged through him. He felt like strangling … But luckily, self-control was one of his many attributes. He studied the young man’s face. His eyes were puffy too: Lack of sleep. His hands supported his jaw. He didn’t look embarrassed or guilty. He looked angry, furious. With an allegation of this magnitude slammed on him, he was supposed to look guilty- if it was true. For a moment he had a tinge of doubt. Donald might just be innocent…He waved it off. The young man had always been a philanderer. He was probably angry because he had been caught at last.
Mrs Horsfall read from the devotional guide, made comments on it, ‘digressed’ and hammered on fornication and its repercussions then rounded up.
On a normal day, after the ‘Grace’ all the kids would go back to sleep. Today, everybody sat tight except Donald. As he made to leave, Rev Horsfall stopped him with a single word; “sit!”
The old man turned to Christina and told her to go and prepare for school.
“We’re not doing anything…” She was saying, but one look at his face got her scuttling away.
“Donald,” he began grimly. “Bishop Obuh’s daughter said she is pregnant for you.” It wasn’t a question but it required an answer.
“She’s not pregnant for me,” he mouthed.
“Shut up!” Mrs Horsfall charged. “She’s not pregnant for me,” she mimicked him. “Who’s she pregnant for then…? The Holy Spirit…?”
“I don’t know who she’s pregnant for and I don’t give a…” He had wanted to say ‘fuck’, but that would have been calamitous. “…And, I don’t care,” he said instead.
“So you’re saying she’s lying,” Horsfall stated.
“Yes…”
“Shut up!” Mrs Horsfall cut him short. “Who’s lying? Bishop Obuh’s daughter…?”
“Let him talk!” Horsfall stopped her.
“What’s even so special about a Bishop’s daughter?” Donald almost shouted.
“You’re very stupid!” she retorted. “So you saw nothing special in a Bishop’s daughter, that’s why you took advantage of her- a naïve girl.”
“Ma why are you being like this? Who even told you she’s naïve?”
“That’s what she wrote in the letter. She said you deflowered her. The only ‘good’ part of everything is that you did not rape her.”
“And you believe her?”
“Why wouldn’t I…?”
“Ma if she could get pregnant, don’t you think she could lie too?”
Mrs Horsfall was speechless for a moment then got her voice back. “No doubt she could lie, but she’s six weeks pregnant and you were in their house six weeks ago. Coincidence?”
“And I’m not the only boy she knows, ma!”
“Oh…So what you’re saying now is that you’re not the only man who slept with her…”
“Ma this is bullshit!” he yelled thoughtlessly.
Everybody gasped. Did somebody just curse in this house?
“Donald what did you just say?” Horsfall bellowed.
“It slipped out of my mouth.”
“Yes,” Mrs Horsfall raved. “Always giving excuses. He’s never sorry for anything he does. Go ahead and talk to me anyhow you like.”
“Apologize to your mother,” Horsfall ordered.
Donald glared at her. “I’m sorry,” he murmured.
“Sorry for yourself,” she retorted. “You’ve got bigger problems, so don’t start feeling sorry; at least not yet.”
“I don’t have any problem!” he shouted. “If I do have a problem, it is getting my Higher National Diploma. Believing or doubting me is wholly your choice!” With that, he stormed out of the room, into Christina who had been listening in.
“Donald…Come back…” Too late. Horsfall sighed. “What has gotten into this boy….?” he muttered.
“Let him go,” Mrs Horsfall ranted. “He almost did the same thing yesterday… Let him go!”
“I’ve never seen him this angry before,” Horsfall said thoughtfully.
Mrs Horsfall started sobbing as Tammy and Miriam sneaked out. “Did I tell him I wanted a grandchild? Look at the innocent girl he defiled. This would definitely cost us many things.”
“Stop crying,” Horsfall consoled her. “God promised to see us through trials and temptations and this is just one of them.” He glanced at the clock. “My flight leaves at nine O’ clock. I’ve got to hurry or I’ll miss it.”
“I’ll prepare breakfast,” she sniffed, wiping her eyes.

Episode 4

Part TWO
…BEFORE
FOUR

It was his first time in Lagos and he was very very excited. At last he was at the centre of excellence; the commercial and entertainment capital of Nigeria; the most complex city in the country. “Jeez!” he wowed. At last he would visit the beaches he had heard and read so much about, the all night clubs, and- above all- ‘taste’ the classy chics. The prospect was overwhelming.
But…there was a snag. He was going to his Bishop’s home, a ‘Bishop’s’ home. The man would definitely not endorse frolicking, and leaving the house for ‘adventures’ might be just as hard as leaving his home at PH, but…God will make a way.
He came down from the Luxurious bus looking and feeling like Alice in wonderland. Somebody was supposed to come and pick him up. He was contemplating his next move when suddenly two men lunged at his suitcase. Momentarily shocked, he was rooted to the spot.
“Na my own!” one of them yelled in Pidgin English.
“I reach first!” the other yelled struggling with him.
Donald quickly got his wits back. He lunged at them: pushed, shoved, elbowed and struggled while shouting, “Give me my bag!” at the same time.
The surprised cab drivers released the bag, wondering why Donald was so violent.
“Oga if you no wan go, you for tell us; instead you dey fight,” the first one said.
“Na wa oh!” the other quipped. “E be like say this one na ‘Johnny jus come’.”
Donald realized that he had been struggling with Taxi drivers who only wanted to convey him to ‘wherever’ he was going. He had thought they were thieves. He felt ashamed and embarrassed. ‘Johnny just come’ was a local slang for ‘fish out of water’. The vacation had not even started but he was already getting messed up.
“Where you dey go sef?” the first one asked.
“I am…I dey go…” he stammered.
Somebody who had been watching the fracas amusedly came to his rescue. “Donald Horsfall?” the young man asked.
“Yes,” he nodded vigorously- gratefully. “Chinedu…?”
“Yes,” the guy replied and proffered his hand.
“Oh! Nice to finally meet you,” Donald replied, shaking his hand. “I thought these men were bag snatchers…”
“Welcome to Lagos,” Chinedu smiled. “You just passed your first test.” He helped him carry the suitcase and pointed to a green Cherokee Jeep parked across the road.
“JJC!” the second driver taunted Donald as they walked away. “This na Lagos; make you shine ya eye oh!”
“Fuck you!” Donald muttered.
“What did you say?” Chinedu asked him.
“Nothing,” he shook his head.
Chinedu put the suitcase in the trunk; opened the door and they went in. With a knowing grin, he said, “You said ‘fuck you’.”
Donald glanced at him; saw the grin on his face and smiled sheepishly. “Yeah…guilty as charged,” he agreed. “You’re not offended?”
“By what…? ‘Fuck you’? Why should I be?”
“I mean…You’re a Bishop’s son…”
Chinedu chuckled. “And you’re a Reverend’s son too,” he said as he backed out of the Park. “The fact that we’re clergy men’s sons doesn’t mean we shouldn’t live regular lives.”
“Yeah, I agree with you,” Donald nodded. “Unfortunately many people don’t share that viewpoint.”
“Yeah…but who cares?”
Donald smiled. With a pal like this, this holiday is surely gonna be hot, he thought. He is a ‘real Gee’ for sure. Well…Lagos city; here I come!

Mrs. Ifeoma Obuh was driving out of the massive compound as Chinedu and Donald were coming in. She flashed her headlamps and pulled over beside them.
“Mommy you’re late,” Chinedu said as she wound down her car window.
“I know,” she replied, fixing her eyes on Donald. “Donald…?” she asked.
“Yes,” he nodded. “Good morning ma.” She had come to their parish in PH before but they hadn’t been opportune to meet.
“How was your trip?” she asked.
“Fine,” he nodded again.
‘I’m going for a meeting,” she said, taking a furtive glance at her wristwatch. “I’ll be back in the evening.”
“Okay. Bye ma.”
“Stop by Tetrazini when you’re coming back,” Chinedu quipped.
“Have a nice day ‘too’,” she said as she zoomed off.
“What’s Tetrazini?” Donald asked Chinedu as they drove in.
Chinedu chuckled, cut the engine and said, “A fast-food eatery, something like McDonalds, Mr Biggs…”
“Oh…okay,” Donald shrugged. “Sounds like a malaria tablet though”, he added. As he made to open the door, two big dogs rushed at him. He quickly closed it and cowered away as they scratched on the window. “Christ! Dogs!” he shouted.
He turned to Chinedu who was laughing his head off. “They won’t bite you,” he said in between spasms. He saw the look of fright on Donald’s face and started another round of laughter.
“They…they won’t bite…?” Donald stuttered. Chinedu nodded, still laughing. Donald considered what he said and made to open the door. Incidentally, the big black Alsatian with an extra-large mouth barked and bared its dental formation. “No!” he said, shaking his head. “I’m not coming out of this car…”
Chinedu’s eyes were watering by now. After a few moments, he collected himself, opened the door and came down. “Daja…! Nicky!” he called his canine friends. The two dogs left Donald’s side of the car and ran to him. “Bad dogs. You’re scaring the shit out of our visitor.” He turned to Donald. “See? They won’t bite.” He turned back to the dogs. “Sit down…Daja sit down…Nicky!” They obeyed him and sat down, wagging their tails excitedly. “You can come out now,” he urged Donald.
Still unsure, Donald slightly opened the door and stepped out. They didn’t come at him. In his fright, he didn’t notice the pair of eyes staring at him from the balcony upstairs. He was measuring the distance to the main door just incase the dogs decided to disobey Chinedu. Without taking his eyes off them, he walked briskly into ‘sanctuary’ and let out a sigh of relief. “Dogs!” he hissed. “Motherfucking dogs…”
Chinedu walked in with his bag- still laughing. In his trepidation, Donald had forgotten that he came with luggage. “Why were you so scared?” he asked.
“Wasn’t it obvious?” he frowned, suddenly embarrassed. He had made a fool of himself twice in one day- one morning. Outrageous! “Besides I’ve been bitten before and ever since then I developed a phobia.”
“Okay,” Chinedu smiled understandingly. “But if you’re going to stay here, you’ll have to start working on it cos there’s yet another- Daisy- and she’s expecting puppies.”
“Christ!” Donald muttered. “So right now you have three dogs.”
“Yes. Daja is the Alsatian, Nicky is the Doberman while Daisy is a German shepherd.”
“Whoa…” He looked around for the first time and took in his surroundings. “Oh my…” he gasped when he saw the Mercury chandelier hanging majestically from the ceiling. He’d always had a thing for lights. And…the 52 inch flat screen television was playing a Rapaddict song on Soundcity. In PH, they only received three local TV stations – three annoying TV stations – on a ‘21 inch’ screen. But this is Cable TV! “Oh my…” he muttered unconsciously.
Chinedu smiled at the effect the house had on him. He looked around himself. The plush white leather sofas, the marbled floor, the portraits on the wall, and the theatre system. The house was a cross between extravagance and simple; exquisite. His gaze went back to Donald’s face, still absorbed in the musical.
Catherine came in, still in her nightgown. She wanted to say something but he put his forefinger on his lips in the universal sign of ‘shush’.
Without looking back, Donald said, “As far as I am concerned, Rapaddict is the best rapper in Naija. And the overwhelming part of it is that the guy is not even eighteen yet.” The song ended and he turned. “So…” His eyes met with Catherine’s and held for a few seconds. He glanced at Chinedu briefly and turned back to her. “Good morning…”
“Hello,” she smiled, revealing sparkling white teeth. “You must be er…um…”
“Donald,” he offered. “And you’re Catherine, yeah…?”
“Yeap.” She offered her hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“The honor is mine,” he said still holding her very soft- and warm¬- palm. He was already imagining the many things the hand could do: massages, smooches…
Chinedu watched them with mild amusement. “She’s my sister,” he reminded Donald before he fell in love.
“Of cause, I know that! It’s just that she’s…” He paused. You’re in a bishop’s home, his subconscious mind chided him.
“She’s…?”
“I’m…?”
Chinedu and Catherine asked simultaneously.
“Er…Nothing,” he shook his head and focused on the TV.
They both eyed him quizzically, then Chinedu said, “Let me show you to your room.”
“Alright.” As he went out of the room he took a backward glance at Catherine. Their eyes met. He smiled as she quickly looked away.

Episode 5

FIVE

One of the angelic beauties was spoon-feeding him with something that tasted like cornflakes. Another, with unbelievable large pair of tits pressed on his back, was massaging his shoulders. Another was filing his fingernails. The fourth, dressed in only bikinis was ironing his shirt.
Someone knocked on the door. “Come in!” he bellowed. In came the beauty of beauties. He told all the other ladies to leave the room and summoned the ‘beauty of beauties’ to his side.
“Kiss me,” he drawled, smiling.
“Kiss…what?” someone asked him.
Donald jerked up, a frown on his face. The smile returned when he saw the beauty of beauties standing in front of him. She was dressed differently though.
“You said I should…?” she asked again.
He frowned and looked at the face again. It was still the same but now with a name- Catherine. He chuckled sheepishly when he realized that he’d been dreaming. Fantastic fantasies! He sat up and looked at her. Her eyebrows were raised quizzically. “What…?” he asked.
“You said something?”
“What?”
She hesitated. “You said I should…kiss you.”
“Kiss…?” He was momentarily shocked. “I…Maybe I was dreaming.”
“Dream…? But…that’s not possible…Cos when I knocked on the door you told me to come in. When I did, you said I should come closer, then you said I should kiss you.”
“Christ! Fucking sleep-talking.” he muttered to himself. “I was…I was dreaming,” he maintained
She shrugged. “About your girlfriend?”
He smiled. “Actually I was dreaming about…” He was going to say ‘you’ but thought wiser.
“Mhmm?”
“Yes, my girlfriend,” he frowned. He’d made a fool of himself- again.
She shrugged. “Mommy and Daddy are back.”
“Oh…” He got up. “So soon?”
“Soon?”
“Yeah. Chinedu told me they always come back in the evening.”
“It’s 7:30.”
“Christ!” he grimaced. “I can’t believe I slept for that long.” He collected a T-shirt from his bag. “Are they in the living room?”
“Yes,” she nodded and went out.
He went to the adjoining bathroom, washed his face and put on the T-shirt. He had seen the Bishop countless times, both on TV and in real life, but meeting him personally was different. He was a bit nervous; just like the day he met the Registrar of his school for an interview before he was admitted.
Bishop Obuh was engrossed in a TV program- Turning Point- when he got to the living room. He paused at the door, appraising the popular preacher. Always stylish, he looked domestic in a sleeveless T-shirt and baggy shorts.
“What a riveting experience,” the Bishop suddenly said when the serial went off for a short break. Without turning, he continued, “From a terrorist to a church leader- just like Paul of Tarsus. You sure missed…Why not take a seat.”
Donald was stunned. When the man of God first spoke, he’d thought he was soliloquizing. How did he know that he was there? “Good…good evening sir,” he stammered as he went further in.
“Bless you,” Bishop Obuh smiled. “Your trip was tiring.”
It wasn’t a question but, “Yes,” he answered.
“How are your mother and your younger ones?”
“They’re all fine.”
“You’re awaiting admission, right?”
“Yes sir. HND. I’m through with my OND.”
He nodded as the TV commercial came to an end. His attention went back to the concluding part of Turning Point. Mrs. Obuh came in with a can of Tonic water.
“Good evening ma,” Donald stood up.
“Donald, good evening. They said you were sleeping. Jet- sorry- Bus-lag?”
“I guess so,” Donald smiled sitting down. Bus-lag…nice coinage.
“There are drinks in the fridge if you want some,” she said, handing Bishop Obuh the Tonic water.
“Okay, thanks.” He stood up and went to the separated dining room. Earlier in the day when he’d gone there to eat, the only thing that fascinated him was the glass dining table and chairs. The room also had large sliding doors that led to a beautiful garden. He wasn’t the ‘flower’ type so the garden didn’t strike him then. But looking at it now was like looking at the promised heaven. The pine, palm and other trees he couldn’t name had tiny electric bulbs in them. The garden looked like Christmas in Fantasia. He could simply describe the breathtaking scenery as ‘a million colored stars in my backyard.’
He smiled at the description and opened the refrigerator. So many drinks. He brought out a can of Mountain Dew, opened it and went back to the view. He turned when Catherine walked in with a tray. ‘Beauty of Beauties.’ He couldn’t help the sheepish smile.
“You like the view?” she asked, smiling back.
“Yeah. It’s the second most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
“What’s the first?” she asked, setting the contents of the tray on the table.
“Guess.”
“Um…I can’t guess.”
He swallowed a couple swigs from the can, turned back to the view and said, “You.”
“What?” she asked.
“Where’s Chinedu?” he asked instead.
“He went to see some of his friends off. How do you mean me?” she pressed.
“You’re the most beautiful thing- sorry- person I’ve ever seen,” he reiterated.
She was rendered inert as the words hit her. “I…Thank you…”
“It’s not a complement. Saying you’re beautiful is like saying you’re fair-skinned, or you’ve got jet-black hair, or…” he pointed to her dress “…You’re clad in a red dress.” He took another swig off the drink. “Where did you say Chinedu went to?”
“He…” Her voice clogged. She quickly cleared it. “He went out with some of his friends. I think they organized a send-off party for him.”
“Send off? Where’s he going?”
“Back to school.”
“But…All schools are on holiday…”
“He doesn’t school here. He schools in England- Oxford University.”
“Jeez. When’s he going?”
“Tomorrow morning.”
“Wow…He didn’t even tell me.”
“You were sleeping.” She took the tray and started leaving.
“You need a hand?”
“I already have two,” she gestured.
He chuckled. “I meant help…You need help?”
“Don’t bother. Just…” she glanced at the wall clock. “Just finish the drink. Dinner will be served in ten minutes.”

Chinedu waltzed in just as they all took seats on the table.
“Good evening daddy. Good evening mommy. Donald, what’s up,” he greeted.
“Welcome,” they chorused.
“How was the party?” Bishop Obuh asked him.
“Fine…” Shit! “What party?” Chinedu frowned.
“The one you just said was ‘fine’,” the Bishop replied.
Chinedu glanced at Catherine who was trying not to chuckle.
“She did not tell me,” Bishop Obuh said, understanding the look on Chinedu’s face. “Your friends send you off every time you’re going back to school.”
Chinedu hesitated, then nodded. “How did you know?”
Bishop Obuh smiled. “I know,” was all he said.
“Have you finished packing your bags?” Mrs. Obuh asked Chinedu.
“I’ll do it all tonight,” he said, still wondering.
She eyed him apprehensively. “You better not forget anything again because I won’t send it…”
“I won’t forget anything,” he cut her short. “By the way where’s the Tetrazini?”
“Oh…I forgot,” she said. “But I got you something else.”
“What…?” Chinedu asked
“Remember that Rolex…?”
He beamed. “You bought it?
She nodded. “Yes”
“Oh, thank you so much mommy, you’re the bestest…”
“The food…?” Bishop Obuh groaned impatiently, feigning deep hunger.
Catherine went to work. She had prepared spaghetti with fried plantain and chicken. She made to serve her father but he gestured to Donald like ‘serve the visitor first.’ She moved over to him.
“Tell me when you’re okay,” she told him.
“Alright” Donald nodded. I won’t eat much, he said to himself. I’ll just eat two-thirds of what I normally eat so they won’t think I’m a glutton. His mouth watered as she heaped the pasta on his plate. Maybe I’ll eat three-quarters, he changed his mind. He didn’t notice the smiles and glances being exchanged amongst the others. “That’s alright,” he told her when she had put four-fifth of what he normally ate.
Next she served her father. She put half of what was in Donald’s plate in hes and proceeded to Chinedu. Hes was smaller than his fathers. She moved to her mother. Hers was even smaller than Chinedu’s.
“Jesus Christ!” Donald muttered to himself, flabbergasted. The hammer hit the head of the nail when Catherine served herself. Hers was the smallest. “Fuck!” he muttered again. He glanced at his enormous food, then every other persons, and suddenly lost appetite.
As the Bishop blessed the meal, he tried to justify the mountain on his plate. Normally, old people don’t eat much, he thought, glancing at Bishop Obuh and his wife. Chinedu just came back from a party where he must have eaten enough so he’s not hungry. Catherine- as is the trend these days- is keeping trim and slim so she doesn’t eat much. And I didn’t eat in the afternoon, so I’m supposed to be famished…
Stupid excuses…
…You’re a glutton afterall!

….Stay Tuned.
@Chydee

Bed of Roses

 Who said life isn’t a bed of roses…? Of course, life is sweet….sweet when you’re wealthy. I am not only rich, I am famous as well….Rich, Famous and…hehehe….very handsome!

The Limousine was very close to the Staples Center, Los Angeles; venue for the 56th GRAMMY Awards. I had been nominated in seven different categories including the Honorium Glorium- Album of the Year. My very own  album…whoa!!!

I liked the sound of it. It’s not everyday that a young man from Nigeria gets a nod from the GRAMMYrians. Now it was not just a nod but 7 nods. Oh boy…

Outside was Chaos. The guards were having a very difficult time controlling the Mammoth crowd that had come to witness history in the making. They wanted to see this young Nigerian who was defying all odds, who was breaking all man-made and seemingly natural laws. They wanted me!

Wow! That’s a new one.

She tapped me, offering a glass of Champagne. She was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen, but I hardly remembered her name. After all she was just my liege for the event. I collected the drink and nodded my thanks.

Chateau de la Roverre, 1931…Perfect. I smiled at her again.

Money, Fame, Respect, Love, Beautiful Women, Classic Wine.

What more can one ask for?

Who said life isn’t a bed of roses…?

The Limo stopped and the door opened. The delightful screams that greeted my ears when I got out was music, beautiful music; perhaps only bested by the ones that got me here in the first place. I was almost deafened by the yells, and blinded by the flashing cameras. I posed for a couple photographs, signed a couple autographs, answered a couple questions- paparazzi style- then walked the red carpet to my reserved front-row seat.

First time in America, first time at the GRAMMYs, Front Row seat. Could life be any better?

The show progressed as planned- spectacular performances coming at the speed of sound. I lost the first award I was nominated for, but after the sixth one, I had two Statuettes in my kitty. When I was called upon to perform my hit song Dreams, the ovation was out of this world. I got on the stage, did a verse and then pulled a stunt that got the crowd reeling again. I invited Jay-Z and Alicia Keys to the stage to do the remix of Dreams. It was awesome.

Me. Jay-Z. Alicia Keys. One song. One stage.

Who said Life isn’t a bed of Roses…?

Then the big one. Album of the year.

“And the winner is…..” You guessed right; Me, myself and I.

The biggest award in world music was about to be mine. I who was from an almost insignificant  village in Abia State; I who walked the streets of Okokomaiko Lagos, hustling odd jobs just to meet ends; I…the number one artiste in world music.

Amidst hugs, cheers, back rubs and pats, I floated dazedly towards the stage. Then somebody touched me….more like tapped me continuously….till I woke up.

I woke up!

It was the damned conductor of the damned bus. We had arrived Rumuokoro and he wanted his damned money. If looks could kill, that conductor would have been six feet under. I paid him and got off the bus, clutching onto my Demo CD.

Who said life isn’t a bed of roses…?

Of course it is….and roses have thorns right…?

(•_•)