LIES WOMEN TELL Episode #14

She opened her eyes and Malik was still here. After last night, she had half expected he would have snuck off her bed and returned to Abuja in the wee hours of the morning. Isn’t that what they all do? Bed the girl and board the train! Mother of surprises, he was still here. What does he really want? Are we friends or is this something more than being ‘just friends?’ she asked herself again for the hundredth time since last night when he had told his mother she was just a friend.

She glanced across at him as he lay peacefully with an arm flung above his head, resting on the flowered pillowcase. He looked so adorable in his sleep. She wondered if he was dreaming of their night together as a brief smile played across his features teasing his lips into a half-smile. Should she wake him up? It was a Saturday and she could choose not to go to work today. It would only get deducted from her paycheck. She was used to taking a cut at the cost of having a social life besides working six days a week.

She would stay if he wakes up and act right. She would leave by 9am if he wakes up and acts like a pig. That decided, she crawls over to him, placing a kiss on his upturned nose, his eyes flutter open. Those clear dreamy eyes that always seek to drown her. Presently, they appeared to be deep pools of darkness trying to drown her soul.

“Good morning Ife mi. Slept well?”
“I should be the one asking if you slept well. Hope the bed bugs didn’t bite?” she teased
“Ah! My back!” on an octave
“Oh dear! Are you alright? Did something prick you?” she asked before catching the gleam in his eyes and realizing he was only pulling her legs considering he wasn’t even lying on his back anymore
“Stop teasing!” she said batting one of the pillows at him
“I couldn’t help it. You were the one worried I didn’t sleep well. I wanted to give you something to fuss about. Too bad you found me out” he laughed pulling her into his embrace and rolling her underneath himself on the big bed before kissing her properly.
“Good morning my love. I did sleep well. Did you too?” he repeated
“Yes Malik. I did sleep just fine.” eyeing his face suspiciously, she continued “I noticed you were snoring loud enough to wake the neighbors so I decided to wake you up first before they come to break my doors down” it was her turn to tease him
“I do not snore!” he announced indignantly “However, I heard you snore a bit”
“That is so untrue! Ladies do not snore”
“Oh really! But do they breathe? Do they have noses? Do they use their noses or does the air just pass through their pores and go out someplace else?” sarcastically
“You are incorrigible” she said laughing hard “Yes, we use our nose but we do not snore” she maintained
“Well, you at least, do not. I can’t say about the many others that do” he conceded
“I have to leave today and I want you to come with me. I want my mother to meet you properly”
“I met her already. Was that improper?” snidely
“You know what I’m talking about Lara. I want to go and introduce you to her as my fiancee. I am sure this is what I want to do” he said to forestall her asking that question just as her lips parted
“I know what you are thinking but contrary to your belief, I am not taking you to her just because of what happened last night…” at her raised brow “Alright. What happened several times last night and which I thoroughly enjoyed” he stopped to poke her so she giggled

Seeing her giggle, he pushed the question again “Do we have an agreement?”
“What?” she said on a drawn out breath “You just informed me now. Allow me think about it for a bit” she added when he made a sad face
“Please…………..” he was making puppy faces now “Please……”
“You are not even going to allow me think!” she accused
“Alright. Think. I will be in the bathroom. By the time I am out of the bath……” he allowed it to hang threateningly
She poked out her tongue in response.

**********************************************************************************
Retreating into her thoughts,she was playing a few unpleasant scenarios in her head containing Malik’s mother.
Arriving Nnamdi Azikwe Int’l Airport, Malik’s driver is already waiting.
“Is this a new guy?” she inquires
“Not really. He was on leave the last time you were in town. So, yes he is new to you”
“What is his name?”
“Isa” came the response
“Nice. So long as he drives you safely” with a side hug as he smiled at her
On approaching the house, Malik begins a strange ritual – checked his face in the mirror, wiped it down with a gray handkerchief, folded it neatly, placing it into his jacket pocket before bringing out a little vial of oil, dabbed some on his fingers, rubbing in between his fingers. Next, he takes out a narrow toothed comb made of bone and ran it through his full hair. It was like watching someone preen for an audition and she was curious what the performance was about. Still watching him curiously, she was finally about to say something.

“I do this little ritual when I visit my mother. It is something of a habit left over from when we used to live together in my high school days and my mother was always particular about my grooming.” seeing the questioning look on her face, he decided to elaborate “She wanted me to appear well taken care of. You see, after my father’s death, his relatives wanted to take me away from my mother but she held on to me and refused to let me go. Their condition to leave me with her was that she would not re-marry. An utterly harsh condition but she readily agreed to it instead of giving me up.”

Lara looked utterly surprised at this new piece of information.
“That is a really huge sacrifice she made”
“I realized that in the last year of my senior high school. Initially, when she made such requests about my grooming, I would rebel and she would cry for hours. After a while, I sat, thought about her life, how she always did her best to give me every single thing I wanted and how I never saw her with any man.”
“wow!” was all she could say
“Yes. She is a pretty amazing woman and she is all I have. She fought for me and she was there through all the hard times. That is why I am always scared to lose her or offend her. I am used to pleasing her and find it difficult to disagree with her sometimes” he seemed to be forewarning her
“I can understand how that can be like” she soothed him patting his hand as it lay in between them on the seat. “I totally understand how that can be”

She could imagine the hard times, social pressure and financial struggle his mother must have been through to train a young boy all by herself. She also imagined how terrible in-laws would be to impose such a life sentence on a young woman because they wanted to take the last thing her husband left her away from her.
Such heartlessness in this country! North, South, West, East, she was sure she could not bequeath the award to just any of the demographics in the four zones in Nigeria. They all had their excesses but all could be hard on a woman who just lost her husband and had no kid for him, or just one child. Even those that had three or four kids were not treated any better. A deep sigh a minute later, she absently rubbed the back of his hand again as it lay limply in the same spot.

He was glad she could empathize with his story unlike that brash Igbira girl he had tried telling and who had immediately let him know that was ‘past tense and should not be relevant to their present or future plans’. That one had not even made it to his mother’s house for any introductions. He quickly discarded her like she was hot potatoes. What she had failed to realize was that his mother was his present and he intended for her to be part of his future. He was not ready to compromise that. This one seemed to get that unspoken truth already and he believed everything would sail smoothly from here on.

They finally pull into a huge driveway, the house is up in front with an open space to house just one car. Isa pulled in there and the huge double doors flew open in welcome. His mother was standing in the doorway with her maid hovering a few feet behind to help collect their luggage.

Malik Immediately stepped out of the car to fold his mother in a warm embrace. Lara took her sweet time getting out of the vehicle unsure of what reception she would get. Mothers seemed to pick an instant dislike for her. It was like instant coffee – commensurate with the degree of affection their son show her. She sighed again in trepidation as Malik called out to her and his mother looked curiously towards where she appeared to be struggling to put her shoes on.

“Lara come over let mother see you properly” Malik urged
Not so much as a peep from Lara until she walked up to the huge double doors with his mother counting her every step appraisingly. She seemed to be weighing in the girl her son brought home, jewelry, cut of her dress, shoe and hair. She finally brought her appraising eyes back to Lara’s face and affected a smile. Immediately Lara saw that smile, followed by a superficial “Aah! How are you my daughter? Welcome. How was your trip?” a question she had not even bothered to ask her son, she knew there was trouble.
This meet-the-mother was not going to be any different from the rest of the other meets. She sighed again

“Thank you ma. How are you doing now? I hope you health has improved greatly since the last time I saw you?” trying for civility and also to remind the bitch ‘Yes, we have met. Yes, I brought you flowers when you laid in that hospital bed looking on the verge of becoming a ghost and yes, you didn’t look so judgy then either. You were glad for the company and for the flowers. Bitch!’

Smiling again as the woman seemed to recognize something about her before turning aside to allow the maid finally step out.

“Come! Come! Come in please. Lara watch your step. There is a slippery tile just somewhere inside the door as I can see you are wearing heels. I have been meaning to ask Isa to bring in the tiler to change that” she kept up a monologue as she walked towards the sitting room, past it, into a huge kitchen that almost made Lara gape. She quickly caught herself as his mother turned again as if on cue to see what her reaction to the kitchen would be. Malik seemed oblivious to the undercurrents. In his opinion, everything was sailing smoothly.

“Your kitchen is very lovely ma. I like what you have done with the space and instead of clumsy cupboards all over the place, I like how you fitted everything into the wall including the stove. Your stove is big and shiny. I envy this space” she allowed herself say thinking ‘Now, if that doesn’t do it, I might as well just leave right now’.
“Hmm Thank you. I designed this place over the years after my husband passed away. This project and my baby….” pausing to smile fondly at Malik “kept me going. The house distracted me while Malik always brought me back to reality with his willful nature. Looking at him now, you wouldn’t believe if I told you some stories”

“Really?” she turned a considering look at Malik “Please you have to tell me some of those stories because as an adult, he appears to have always been so well-behaved, it is hard to imagine anything else. You did a wonderful job on him” buttering her up won’t hurt one tiny bit Lara told herself

“Thank you Lara. You are so sensitive and kind”

Alarm bells were going off in different directions “baby! did she really call a grown- ass man ‘her baby’? Dang! There will definitely be some trouble here” What was it with women that couldn’t let go of their grown kids? It wasn’t like they could marry each other no matter the amount of I-can-die-for-you love between the both. These mothers are ridiculous sometimes! Baby! Snort*

“Did you say something?” his mother asked
“oh! Not at all. I was simply taking in the colors you combined here appreciating all the work and attention you put into creating this lovely space” she embellished neatly
“Thank you my dear. I am glad my son finally found a woman with similar taste as me” came the reply

All the while, Malik merely stood watching both faces trying to figure out if something was wrong or if he could leave them together and go do something else. He was sure Lara would be civil but knowing his mother with being overbearingly protective of her relationship with him, he wasn’t entirely sure yet if he could leave them together so he decided to stay for a bit to watch some more.

He had not even told his mother to Lara’s hearing that she was his affianced but that was taken for granted already. He had never seen his mother interact for any interval longer than two minutes with any of the women he brought home which usually signaled her disapproval. She would merely say ‘hello’, appraise the lady as she had done Lara earlier, hear the first two sentences out of the girl’s mouth and decide she did not approve. He was always so in tune with her that no words needed to be exchanged between them. The said lady would simply find that they had to leave almost immediately as something usually came up at the office.

“Is there something I can help with?” politely
“Oh no! Nothing at all. Seyi already fixed dinner. She set the place too. I will just go freshen up and meet you both back downstairs in thirty minutes. Malik show Lara to the guest room. Seyi prepared the one to the right of my room” with that, she walked out of the kitchen.
‘his mother doesn’t approve of me’ Lara thought to herself ‘even with all the banter and thank-you-Lara, I can feel her disapproval’. Deciding not to say anything to Malik about her doubts, she smiled at his questioning look.
“Your mother is an amazing woman. Strong and a lady too.” watching as her words took effect on him. He was distracted enough to forget what he wanted to ask her. “Come show me to the guest room” she said tugging on his arms.

**********************************************************************************

They stayed up late that night but she was up by 6.30am to help with some house chores. Going into the siting room, everywhere was dark, drapes were drawn shut, electric bulbs still switched off. With no idea where anything was and not knowing where the maid’s room is, Lara returned to wait in her room until she heard some movement. She fell back into a light sleep. Suddenly, something startled her into wakefulness. Opening the door, she found Malik’s mother sitting in a cross-legged position.
“Good morning ma.” Lara greeted kneeling down
“Hmm Is this how you wake up late in your father’s house?” came the reply “Is this the time you wake up at home young woman? Don’t you do anything in your house in the morning?”
“I’m sorry ma. I woke up earlier but nobody was up and I didn’t know where Seyi’s room is so I can ask her what to do” shakily
A hiss.
Quickly getting off the floor, Lara stepped into the kitchen where Seyi was making breakfast. Asking after Malik, she was told he was still asleep and there was nothing or her to do in the kitchen so she should go take a rest.
“Ha! You want mommy to have my head for breakfast!” Lara exclaimed
Seyi simply smiled. A door opens, footsteps are heard approaching.
“Good morning my son. Hope you slept well? Breakfast is almost ready. Lara is in the kitchen too”

Soon, arms snake around her waist to pull her into a sleep warmed body. She didn’t realize she was so tense until he held her that way. She was grateful someone was on her team. Letting him hold her for a bit, she tried to disentangle herself before his mother walked in and saw them. He refused to let go.
“Come to my room. I want to show you something” he said loudly enough for his mother to hear from the sitting room then he dragged Lara right past his mother where she still sat. Lara carefully averted her eyes to avoid the disapproving glare she was sure was directed at her.

Back in his room, she was struck at the simplicity of the huge room. The only concession to beauty and luxury was his huge bed which he subsequently told her was his mother’s choice. Beyond that, everything in the room was functional. The room she had slept in boasted of more luxury that his. A slight shift of perspective for her about Malik as a spoilt, pampered child.
“What do you want to show me?” she asked a little out of breath
“Nothing. I just missed you and wanted you to myself so I can hold and kiss you without mother looking at us” he confessed
“What? Do you want to put me in trouble? I have to get back to the kitchen right away to help with the plates and breakfast”
“That is Seyi’s job not yours”
“But, I’m here now. Do you want your mother to say I lack home training?” protesting
“She would say no such thing. Before you came to visit, it was Seyi’s duty. After you leave, it will still be her duty so let her do her job” he argued as he pulled her into his embrace to kiss her throughly
“I missed you all through the night” he announced after kissing her to his satisfaction “You will sleep here with me tonight. I cant bear to be separated from you for another night”
“ha! I can’t. This is your mother’s house. She already prepared the guest room for me. She will be furious and would think I’m a slut” more protests
“I do not care what she thinks. I want you here in the same bed as me and I will tell her if that will make you feel better”
“Malik I don’t want trouble o. Already this morning she complained I didn’t wake up early enough to help clean the house. I don’t want to give her more to complain about.”
“She complained? Did she say anything to you specifically?
“well, she only asked if this was how I wake up late in my father’s house” she informed him
“The more reason for you to sleep in the same room with me. I will see if anyone will come wake you in the morning if you are here with me. Stop arguing with me. I want you here in my bed so I can hold you at night then I can sleep well”
Sigh“Alright” sagging against him in relief, she let him hold her quietly while she drew some much needed strength.
“Are we cool now? Hope your first night wasn’t so bad? Don’t say anything to her. Just leave it to me” he told her
“Okay” nodding in affirmation

Opening the door, Seyi was just raising her hand to knock.
“Mama says to tell you breakfast is ready”
“Thank you Seyi” Malik replied

**********************************************************************************
It was the second night. Malik bade his mother goodnight holding his hand out to Lara.
“let’s go to sleep”

Lara looked askance, hesitating before placing her hands in his and saying ‘good night’ to his mother. A grudging ‘sleep well’ was the response she received.
True to his words, Malik held her close all night, kissing her half the night and nuzzling her warm breasts. He kept saying ‘I missed you….so bad”. She was only too glad she was in his arms getting some comfort. This whole meet-the-family thing wasn’t really her forte. She just hoped it all goes well and she could return to her awesome regular life devoid of preying mother-hawks watching her every move.

They soon drifted to sleep spooning and the first she knew of daybreak was Malik nudging her folds apart from behind her. She smiled parting her thighs slightly to allow him in. Short, sweet and silent, It was soon over. She got up to leave the room quickly donning a t-shirt over the skirt she was wearing.
“Where are you going?”
“To the kitchen to see what needs to be done”
“Come back here to bed. No kitchen for you today. You are a guest not a maid”
She reluctantly grumbled back to bed but was secretly glad he had stopped her. She wasn’t really the early morning house chore person. She preferred to cook and clean at her own hours. Crawling back into bed with him, she planted a kiss on his lips before he folded her back into his embrace with a husky ‘go back to sleep. It is still very early’.

Finally leaving the bed at a quarter to 8am. Lara was sure Malik’s mother would be furious already. Cracking open the door, the coast seem clear so she tiptoed past the living room relieved his mother was not in her usual spot. Unknown to her, she was seated on the other side of the room and as Lara made to sneak by, she cleared her throat. Lara stopped in her tracks.
Turning towards the sound, she went on her knees to appease her.
“You woke up late again today. Is this how you behave in your father’s house? I ask you again.”
“I’m sorry ma. Malik said there was no need for me to come to the kitchen so early that there was nothing for me to do”
“So, because he said that, you too stayed in the room eh?Tell me, is it Malik you will listen to or me?”
“I’m sorry ma” appealing
“Look, if you want to my approval, you will do as I say. Malik is my son, but you and I know men do not always think straight in the morning and you can’t always listen to what they say in such situations. It will be better for you if you listen to me and do as I say. Hmm” She ended abruptly

Properly confused by now, Lara fled back into Malik’s bedroom. The fact that his mother had not even mentioned her sleeping in the same room with Malik was enough to terrify Lara. She knew it was only a matter of time before his mother finally told them both to their faces that she did not approve but before that happened, she was going to leave their big house for them.
“what happened? Where did you go?” Malik asked
“Never mind. I think I will go back to Lagos tomorrow”
“No. you are not”
“What do you mean ‘No’ you can’t keep me here against my will” beginning to tremble and raise her voice “What is this? A hostage situation? I’m returning to Lagos and that is the end of it” she informed him
“I said No because we didn’t discuss this earlier and I am not ready to let you leave like this.” trying to be reasonable
“But I have to go back. I did not plan to stay beyond two nights.” she pleaded
“If it is clothes you are worried about, we will get some for you”
“No. I have to go to work” trying another tact
“Call your team lead, I will speak to him myself and get you three more days off”
“No. I have to leave” she insisted
“What is it ife mi? Don’t you want to stay with me anymore?”
Sigh. “I want to but this is not your house and your mother doesn’t approve of me” there! it was out
He laughed. “Of course she approves of you else she won’t have let you stay or let you sleep in my room. She approves but she just doesn’t show it”
“She doesn’t Malik. I’m a woman and I can tell when another woman doesn’t like me” she replied
“I won’t argue with you. Just stay two more days so we can work this out. Let us call your team lead first” he said passing her phone to her

*********************************************************************************
Stepping back into the sitting room where Lara reclined deep in thought, Malik stood there for a full five minutes watching her think and wondering what was preying so heavily on her mind that she failed to hear him approach. After waiting a few more seconds for her to notice him, he tapped her on the shoulder. His luggage sat by the door.

“I am ready to leave when you are”
“Malik, I can’t go to Abuja with you” close to tears, she fled the sitting room
“Ife mi what is wrong? I thought we agreed to this before I went to take a bath. What is the problem?”
“I have to get to work. My team leader just called me that most of my team are absent today and he needs me to come in to make up the numbers. I’m sorry Malik. You go ahead before me. I’ll come next weekend” She called from the bathroom.
“Lara please don’t change the plan. Just come with me. Everything will be fine. I promise”
“I’m sorry Malik. I can’t go with you.”
“Could you at least drop me at the airport then?” he tried another tact to bring her out of the room
“No. I’m sorry. I’m running late. Just take a taxi. This is still Ikeja” she replied

After another ten minutes, the front door opens then closes shut. She sagged with relief then gingerly steps out of the bedroom to find that Malik had really left without her. At first, she thought he simply opened the door and closed it so she would think he had left and come out but she realized his little luggage was really gone and he with it. Then she collapsed on the sofa and bawled her eyes out.
This could really have turned out into something more than ‘staying-with-Malik’ but her phobia for his mother, made her drive him away before it actually had a chance to start. How could she have explained to him that the only reason she would not go to Abuja with him was because she painted some deep scenarios in her head about his mother while he was in the bathroom.

LIES WOMEN TELL #12

Driving through the Ikeja traffic and strategising the rest of the week in her head, a car cuts in front of her with the driver weaving badly. Pumping her brakes lightly, she cursed loudly into the confines of her car like any seasoned Lagos driver “Were! Oloriburuku sombori!”.

The young man in the car next to hers was smiling at her. She smiled back glad he hadn’t heard her vituperative. He waves, she waved back wondering what the wave was about as she continued down Mobolaji Bank Anthony. Getting to Abule Onigbagbo Busstop, she noticed the same brown Camry ahead of her, catching a glimpse of the driver in a white Tee that had waved at her minutes earlier. Idly wondering how he had gotten ahead of her, she swerved to avoid a pedestrain who chose that exact time to cross the road in moving traffic. Lagosians were always in a hurry – walking or driving, everyone is in a hurry to go nowehere – why else would someone cross the road while traffic was moving!

Just after she drove past Sheraton hotel on her left, she noticed the brown Camry had managed to fall behind. She smiled. Then, the Camry seemed to be chasing her through traffic for a bit until another crazy driver cuts into its path forcing the young man in the white Tee to step on his brakes and ease forward slowly. They were soon halted by the traffic light at the junction allowing hawkers walk between the immobilised cars to peddle steering-wheel covers, music cds, plantain chips, cashew nuts, footmats and every sort of product they imagine you would never find in the market or why else would they hawk these? Lara wondered to herself

Looking at the traffic light and lightly humming to the radio, she noticed a honk behind her and looked up to see if the light changed without her noticing. It was the brown Camry. Soon, one of the hawkers comes barrelling down her side of the car with a paper. The honk comes again from behind. It registers in her head, so rolling down as fast as she could, she collects the piece of paper from the man and says ‘nagode’ as he appeared to be an ‘aboki’. Almost outta breath, he merely gives her a second look, nods and steps back as traffic resumes moving at that moment.

Lara looks at the paper in her hands before dropping it into her open bag. The paper felt like it was hurriedly torn from a carton holding a phone or something. Bayo was scrawled on it with eleven numbers beneath the name. This better be fun, Lara told herself.

Turning the corner into her friend’s office, she slowed down for the oncoming vehicle to rush past as she pulled into the complex. Whistling, she turns off the ignition, grabs her bag and laptop. There was free wifi inside the building.

Throwing a casual greeting at one of the many security guards policing the building, she hits the 2nd floor button and waits for the elevator to stop. The secretary was seated in her usual spot behind the counter. Their eyes meet, she smiles back.

“He is in the conference room” the secretary informs Lara

“Thank you. How have you been? How was your weekend and the family?” Lara enquires politely

“They are all fine. Thank you” came the reply

“Hello. Long time” She calls out as she enters the conference room

“Haa! It is you. How have you been? Have you been in Lagos or you are just coming in?”

“Yesso. It is I. No, I travelled. I was in Abuja. I just came in this morning” Lara says “Where is Tope?” she enquires

“He went to court this morning with one of our colleagues. I also just returned from a deposition in Abuja last night”

“Oh really! How did your trip go?”

“Well, stressful but needful. Here I am again this morning after a long trip” He rejoins

“Pele. Where is everybody else?”

“Tope went to court with Titi. Fela is in the other office, Kike is having an early lunch and Bode went to court on the island”

“Great! And you are writing another brief with Lekan”

“Exactly” he chimes

“Anyway, I just stopped by to say ‘hi’. I won’t be staying so long. I’ll be resuming work tomorrow and wont have time to come in like I used to so am spending my last day of vacation with you guys.”

“How sweet!” sarcastically

She chuckled swatting his broad shoulders lightly. Remembering the piece of paper stuck into her bag, she brings it out to dial and confirm the number on it. If he was confident enough to ask the hawker to bring me his number, this has gotta be good stuff. She said to herself for the third time that morning.

“Hello. Is this Bayo?” she breathes throatily into the mouthpiece reading the name from the paper she held.

“My name is Lara. You asked the guy selling on the road to give me your number in traffic at Sheraton…..”

“Yes. Nice to meet you too Bayo” she paused to listen again

“No. I am still at Sheraton side. Yes, I am in an office”

“No. I dont work here. It is a friend’s office”

“I don’t know when I will leave here yet. I may be here till evening.”

“I don’t think we can see tomorrow. I will be travelling to Ibadan. I won’t be back until weekend” lying smoothly

“Yea. Too bad. No, I don’t work in Ibadan. I’m just going to visit”

“Visit friends naa.” beginning to get slightly irritated at the judge and jury pattern of questioning.

“Yea sure. I’ll call you when I get back this weekend. Bye” hanging up, she saves the number as ‘Bayo traffik’

Two hours later, engrossed with her laptop, her phone rings again and she absently reaches for it clicking the green button automatically before glancing at the screen. It was Bayo again. What’s the matter with this guy! Didn’t we just speak and agree to ‘see’ on the weekend?” she asked herself before mumbling a greeting into the mouthpiece.

“Yes. I am still there” she grumbled “I’m working”

“Just working on personal stuff. I work in a call center” she replied deciding he did not specifically need the correct info

“I’ll be here for a bit. Oh! You work with Dangote. Nice.” rolling her eyes in a Do-I-look- stupid-you work-in-Dangote motion

“So, what do you do at Dangote?”

“No. I know the company deals in Sugar, rice, cement, flour, spagghetti and all that. I meant, you as an employee, what is your job description with Dangote?” English can be harding some young men she thought to herself

“Oh! Nice. So, you are the one counting all the money for them eh? I should come and visit you in the office o” she laughs sofetening a little

“Ha! So now, you don’t have money eh? After telling me you work with Dangote cement, you now don’t have money abi?”

“Ok o. I hear you” she replies apparently more receptive to him now he seems to be more than casually employed. An accountant with Dangote. The only thing left would be to see if he can put his money where his mouth just went.

After three more hours of laboring over the laptop and browsing the internet for all the things she missed during her two weeks stay in Abuja, she was ready to shut the laptop and go grab lunch. Her phone rings again. Dele

“I thought you were meant to call me back after you alighted from the taxi and settled down at home” came the accusation

“Was I?” she flung back as carelessly “You hung up on me. So, why was I the one supposed to call you back? You HUNG UP on me” really getting pissed with every passing minute he kept breathing into the phone oozing possessiveness. ‘You dont own me mister’ she almost yelled into the open line. He was so presumptous, so much, it was beginning to border on arrogance. Why on earth would she have called him back when she had told him to hold on so she could get into a taxi! He hung up so it was on him to dial back not her.

“Ok. I’m sorry” he finally says “Someone walked into my office and I had to hang up but I said for you to call me after you got home. I didn’t realise you didn’t hear me say it” he explained

“Of course I didn’t hear you say it because my ear was away from the earpiece since I was negotiating with the cabbie” she responded.

It was ridiculous how their misunderstandings always started from really minor things such as this but managed to ballon into huge issues involving their friends by which time they had forgotten what started the conflict in the first place.They both sigh

“You know we should commuicate better eh?”

“And you know I always tell you to be patient and calm when you feel like attacking me” she retorted

“I’m sorry” he apologises again

“I’m sorry too. I could actually have called you but I was mad that you hung up. I’m sorry” she apologises too

“I was just missing you and wanted to see how your day was going plus preparations for work tomorrow”

“You know how it is…..work is always work. I am on morning shift tomorrow and they said we can’t bring our phones into the call area”

“Really? How many hours is your shift? What if I am trying to reach you?”

“Shift is 9 hours with an hour break in between. I guess i’ll check the phone at intervals or during lunch or bathroom break”she assured him “I’ll call you back if I miss your call”

“Ok. I’ll talk to you later” he rings off with his trademark abruptness leaving her holding an empty dialtone to her ears. Sighing, she replaced the phone in her bag retreating into her thoughts before remembering she was headed to the kitchen for lunch.

Returning to her seat after a 30 minutes break, she hurried forward as she heard her phone ringing again. What is Dele calling back for?

It wasn’t Dele.

“Oh! Hi Malik” she crooned

“You were not expecting my call……”

“Not that. I simply thought I would beat you to it” she cajoled Why on earth would I be expecting your call when we just spoke this morning and we are not officially dating yet! Oops! I forgot! He asked me to give him a chance after our weekend date and I agreed. I guess this is what it means eh. She quickly re-calibrated deciding to switch gears.

“Of course, I expected you to even call me since abi you did not miss me already?” she teased again

“Hmmmmn scope!” laughing gaily so that Lekan at the end of the conference table glanced briefly at her. She batted her eyes at him and continued flirting shamelessly with Malik

“Really? That would be great! Oh! I wished you were here already”

“Fantastic! What time will your flight get here? Seems you been coming to Gidi a lot before we met sef”

“Oh! You didn’t? You are coming because of me eh? You could have sent someone else right?”

“Ha-ha indeed! see scope o!” she laughed heartily and wondered why she didn’t laugh this way with Dele, why it always seemed to be angry words and raised voices with him. She returned to the conversation to hear him ask what he should bring for her. She gave her standard response “anything” which she knew guaranteed something good because that way, men couldn’t go cheap. Only an Indian guy ever broke her “anything” as a gift rule and brought her a very miniature stature of Shiva that could fit even into her wallet. That was one cheap ‘anything’ she didn’t want repeated anytime soon.

“Alright. See you soon sweets. Hugs” she dropped her phone for the umpteenth time that morning wondering if she was going to get any work done in between all the calls.

“Yes. I’ll be waiting to pick you from the airport. Text me your airline and flight time”

**********************************************************************************

Driving to the airport to pick Malik and wondering if his mother will like her when she finally gets. Lara is in a good mood humming along to the song on radio. She realises she will be arriving just about the same time as the aircraft. She had not been able to leave the office as fast as she envisioned.

Someone wearing jeans was waving to her. Recognizing Malik, she waved back quickly opening her door to step out and help him with his single luggage. He must have taken it into the aircraft as Carry-on. That would explain his quick check-out to bypass baggage claim. Exchanging a quick hug, he unceremoniously drops his portable carry-on in the back seat so they could pull out immediately. Cars were beginning to honk impatiently behind them.

LIES WOMEN TELL EPISODE #10

Welcome to the weekend. This episode is dedicated to my lovely Friend Motunrayo who is convocating today from the University of Ibadan. More scholarly hats to you dear friend.

PS: For everyone that has been enjoying this series but do not drop comment, please repent from ghost-reading, do leave a comment to encourage the writer and the story may just develop along lines you suggest. Thank you all for reading. Once again, the comment box is open to all of you. God Bless

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She was barely out of her freshly rumpled blouse when another horn blares out in front of their gate.

“I swear, if I hear another horn in front of this gate again today…….” Sandra scowls

“perhaps, it is for you this time” Lara teases

A darker scowl meets her comment. A short snort.

“As if that is possible” Sandra replies “Go check”

“Oh! It is Dele and I have not finished packing yet” Lara wails

“Well, throw everything into the box and go sort it at his place. The guy sef dey try. If na me ehn, all this time you dey get to waka and see Mofe and Malik no go dey for you at all. Na him no sabi tie you keep for one place” Sandra opines

“For una two mind” tongue out, Lara sashays towards the gate to let Dele inside. “Wait o! Wetin Mofe tell you?” she turns back to ask Sandra

“hmummn! Na you know. You better go open gate for am before he start dey think something else”

“You ehn! You must tell me later o” Lara threatens as she steps out wondering what Sandra knew about this morning’s episode at Mofe’s.

“Later when? You are leaving soon and Dele is here. We will chat on phone” Sandra assures her as she opens the door

Lara walks towards the gate wondering how much Sandra really knows compared to what she lets on. It seems something had happened between Sandra and Mofe before she returned from the bedroom that morning.

“Hey Love!” leaning through the open window to plant a quick kiss on his mouth “Come inside. I am almost done throwing things into my carry-on. You can have breakfast while you wait” she cajoles

“You are not done packing? It is almost 10am!” Dele accuses “I don’t want breakfast. I want you”

“And you will have all of me as soon as am done packing. The sooner am done, the sooner we can leave eh?” she reasons

“Ok. What’s for breakfast?” he inquires

“Pancakes and omelette” she throws back as she leads the way back inside “You can syrup with it or just plain with tea or coffee” she adds

“Syrup please” he says to her back as they step inside Sandra’s living room.

Sandra had disappeared into the bedroom to help Lara throw her things inside her box. Lara heads to the kitchen to serve Dele her breakfast pretending it was his and she had anticipated his arrival when preparing breakfast that morning.

“Thank you” he intones before she disappears into the bedroom to finish with her luggage

***********************************************************************************

“You served him breakfast?” Sandra whispers

“Yes”

“Did you put the TV on for him?” she whispers again

“No. Didn’t occur to me” Lara whispers back

“Well, if you had, we won’t be whispering and he won’t feel irritable waiting for you and I can tell you what I know about Mofe and this morning” she concluded

“Right away!” Lara jumps off the bed and out the door. She was that curious to hear what Sandra had to say “Ok. Done. Now, tell me” imperatively

“Well, when you were in the bedroom getting dressed, I asked Mofe if he had got a new place and he said ‘not exactly as I knew the place already but you didn’t so it was ‘new’ for you”

“Oh!”

“Yes. Then I began to wonder what he had planned that he wanted to show you his ‘place’? I figured he was trying to get into your pants. I also figured that part was your business and you would figure that out fast enough to decide if you wanna or not.” she finishes again

“Oh! Thank you for telling me” Lara says sarcastically

“Is that all you are going to say? ‘oh thank you?’” Incredulously

“What do you want me to say when you didn’t think to warn me before I stepped into the Tiger’s den?”
“Sorry. I assumed you knew already and was just playing along” Sandra apologises

“Play along ke? With Mofe? The guy kisses like a butcher for godsakes, why would I play along with that!” she almost screams at her friend

“Sorry again. I wasn’t privy to that info. Like a butcher you say……How do butchers kiss if I may ask” Curious now

“Oh! You know…..just the way they cut their meat. They kiss the same way”

“Really! I had no idea” Sandra says again

“Well, now you know. You should have warned me” Lara gives her a hurt look

“Am sorry naa. If I had known he was clueless about kissing and that he would try to eat up your mouth, I would have feigned a cardiac or something and stop you from going there. Honestly, I assumed you knew his game and you were just playing along. Am sorry” she apologizes again

“Alright. It’s fine really. Nothing happened past the butcher’s kiss so it is fine.”

“For real?” Sandra asks surprised “The way he was shaking in the sitting room looked like he was going to swallow you and leave only your bones”

Lara gave her a ‘yet-you-let-me-walk-into-it-look’ before shaking her head. Sandra gives her a wide harmless smile.

“Again, I hate to disappoint you. Nothing happened past the butcher’s kiss and am glad. Dele’s call saved me from more butchery.” Lara intones

“Thank God” came Sandra’s rejoinder

“Yea” she says as they close the lid together and pull the carry-on off the bed where it had sat during the packing conversation.

“All set” she announces as she walks into the sitting room ahead of Sandra who hangs back in the room hoping Dele would leave and she won’t have to say ‘hello’ to him. She always felt a twinge of guilt at not being able to relate with Lara’s boyfriend. Unfortunately, Dele being a gentleman that he is, asked for her so she had to come out of hiding.

“Hello Sandra”

“Hellooooooooo” she dragged out in an attempt to appear friendly

“Thank you for breakfast” he says politely “Thanks also for keeping Lara. I appreciate it realizing it is my job. Thanks”

“Oh! It’s nothing at all” Sandra replies in friendly banter “After all, she is my friend too”

Seeing them out of her apartment, Sandra helps Lara carry her handbag allowing Dele take the heavier luggage. They hang back and engage in random chit-chat delaying the moment when they have to hug and say ‘goodbye’. The moment finally came and it wasn’t so bad. Dele was relieved when Lara finally buckles her seat belt. They wave to Sandra while he promised to call her soon knowing even as he said it that he never would.

**********************************************************************************

“How did it go with your uncle?” he inquired

“Oh yea! That went fine. You know, I actually thought he had gotten a great job for me in Abuja and that was why he wanted to see me. Can you imagine what he called he to talk about?” she says to him

“No. What?”
“Guess!” she replies

“You know am horrible at guessing. Just tell me what”

“Well, would you believe he wanted to talk to me about marriage! Asking me when I was bringing the man and all that talk!” she lies smoothly

“Oh really! Did he now!” says Dele secretly warming up to his current favorite topic as he had been begging Lara to introduce him to her uncle as her a-fianced but she keeps stalling.

“So, what did you say to him? Did you remember to tell him that the man is ready but you are the one stalling to make the introductions?” he asked her brightly

“You know I can’t do that. I simpy told him he will soon meet the lucky man” she had brought up the topic to put Dele in an edgy position where he can realize the topic does come up in her family, she is yet to acknowledge him to them, and he was still in the running as ‘the man’. It always works with Dele. Everytime.

“And why can’t you do that? Do you have other plans besides me, other options? Are you weighing your options? Is that what all this stalling is about?” he was almost angry

“No baby. I just want everything to be perfect. You will meet them once we get our wedding money back and have fixed all our plans. We will just go get a date from our parents and surprise everybody. That’s why I keep stalling. That’s what I want – to surprise them all” She tries to soothe him

“Everytime! Each time we have this discussion, you always have an angle you are coming at it from. I am tired of all these excuses. Are you going to introduce me to your family as ‘the man’ or not?” he says

She stares at him openmouthed. The game had suddenly taken a hard twist and she wasn’t prepared at all. Opening her mouth to reply, she blurts the first thing that forms on her tongue.

“I will”

“Good. When?” he pushes

“One step at a time” quickly recovering and beating herself ‘dear lord! What have I gone and done this time!”

“I’m a patient man. It is just a matter of time before I recoup from Dapo’s expenses” he assures her smiling.

She turns to stare out the window, alone with her thoughts and kept beating herself mentally for using the ‘marriage’ topic today. Of all the inane things to say! Why couldn’t she have picked a harmless lie like he wanted her to speak to her niece that was about applying to University of Abuja or something equally mundane he would have absolutely no interest in hearing. But, No. I had to go pick a very dicey topic and now the dice has tumbled with me on it. What am I going to do now? As a friend would say, ‘Lies don’t finish on earth that we need to go to heaven to find new ones’, something has gotta give. Comforting herself with this, she turns away from the window to say something to Dele just as they pulled into his building.

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Leaving for the airport, Lara’s phone rings in her lap. Seeing who the caller was, she didn’t want to pick the call because she was not sure what Mofe was going to say.

“Pick your call” he states flatly

“Hello” hesitantly

“Good morning. I just wanted to wish you a safe trip” Mofe says

“How sweet of you!” seeing Dele’s brow go up at the word ‘sweet’, she changes tact ‘It’s really thoughtful of you. It’s sweet you remembered I am traveling today Mofe. Thank you”

“How could I forget? I still saw you yesterday when you were warm and responsive in my arms and…..”

“Yes. I will let you know when I arrive Lagos. Thanks for calling. Bye” she cuts him off and hangs up before her response could betray the conversation. Obviously, Mofe assumed he was a hit with her with his maniac kissing and thought she struggling for air in his arms was her responding to him. Eew! She should have bit his lips like her friend always do. That should have cleared up all his assumptions nicely. Crazy men!

Dele was trying to read her face, then gave up when she held her face so carefully that it gave nothing away. “Was that Mofe?” when she nodded in the affirmative, he continued “you should have let me say ‘hi to him”

“I didn’t realize you wanted to say ‘hi’. Besides, you are driving” she points out

“Doesn’t matter. He is your old friend, we are getting married soon, I should say ‘hi’ sometimes” he argues

“Yes. On your own time, with your own credit, when you are not driving” she retorts

“Oh! It was him calling not you. Why are you suddenly touchy about me speaking to Dele? I thought you wanted me to be ‘friendly’ and ‘accepting’ of all your male friends as you are of my ‘female acquaintances’ to use your own words” he continues

“I was. I mean, I am” she replies distractedly. She was still thinking about Mofe and how she should have disabused his mind of any thoughts of being a good kisser. Seeing her withdraw into her thoughts, Dele turns on the car radio to allow her think.

Pulling into the Abuja International Airport, Dele drives to the domestic wing where Arik airline is located to allow Lara check-in while he brings up the rear with her luggage.

“Call me when you arrive Lagos” he repeats

“You know I will” came her reply as they hug briefly. Disengaging, she heads upstairs to the waiting area for her plane to be called. He walks out into the early morning sun to go to his office.

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“Hello. How are you doing today?”

“Your mum will be discharged today eh?”

“Yes. I just checked-in. Am waiting for my flight to be announced.”

“No. I took a taxi. No, I didn’t want to bother you. The taxi was okay”

“Yes, I’ll call you as soon as we touchdown in Lagos”

“Will miss you too. Bye. Say ‘hello’ to your mum” she terminates the call

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“Hello Sandra. How you doing girl?”

“You are just waking up? No? So, why do you sound like Alex ran a marathon all over you?” she teased sure of the response it will bring

“Ha-ha-ha Okay. I have shut my mouth. I am at the airport already.”
“Yes, Dele brought me but he has left. Rushed to the office. You know Dele and work”

“Sure, I just called Malik”

“Yes naa. Why won’t I call him when I have been thinking about him since Saturday night”

“No. We didn’t decide on that. I wonder when next I’ll get to see him”

“Alright girl. Have a fun day. Yea, I know some of you have to work. Ha-ha. Bye” she ends the call feeling pleased

This is the boarding announcement for Arik air 3421JH to Lagos from Abuja. Your flight has arrived from Kaduna and will be boarding at 10:00 hours

Again, this is the boarding call for Arik Air flight 3421JH to Lagos. Boarding is at gate 5 for 10:00 hours.

The speaker above her blared noisily. She had not noticed it before she sat and would have chosen a different place to sit. She glared at it willing it to silence. She knew that was her boarding call but so many people had rushed to gate 5 she was willing to wait till the queue thinned out so she could walk onto the plane without waiting on the long queue. She already had her seating selected. If someone else was in it, all she needed to say was ‘you are in my seat and I prefer to sit there. Thank you’. It had never failed her.