LIES WOMEN TELL #15 : FINALE

Episode #15 – The Finale

Sitting morosely at lunch with some of her colleagues, Lara’s phone was directly before her on the table. She kept glancing at it after every few minutes willing it to ring. It was over two weeks now. Malik hadn’t bothered to call since he left her apartment that Saturday morning. She had analyzed the whole episode and decided it was on him to call her so, she wasn’t going to call but was willing to pick his calls within the next few days. Otherwise, it is ‘bye-bye baby boo’.
If he didn’t call in the next couple of days, it is over. I won’t bother picking his calls until I am safely married to someone else…..if only to spite him. That ought to show him how mad I am at him for not at least calling so we can talk about it. Men can be such jerks sometimes. If I were to marry someone else right now, who would it even be?
The following week went by without any sign of Malik’s name flashing across her screen. At this point, Lara was beyond mad at the man. She had re-saved his number as ‘never answer’ effectively closing that chapter of her life. She was glad she had not fallen stupidly in love with Malik before their first and only fight ended a relationship before it had a chance to begin. She decided to redirect her energies towards Dele in the meanwhile after all, he made her blood sing every time he touched her.

Picking up her phone, she dialed a number.
“Hey baby!” crooning
“Hey! You remember me today?” came Sandra’s voice
“Not really” came Lara’s hiss “I just wanted to inform you that Malik is officially history. You won’t believe he has not called in the last three weeks. Just because I panicked for a minute.”
“Or it could be because you finally gave him some sugar” came Sandra’s contribution
“Yea……that is also a possibility. Men are so terrible. You won’t believe he stopped calling my name and would only call me ‘ife mi’. He begged several times for me to stay with him only for him to disappear at a slight display of trouble”
“Hmmmmn” drawn out encouragingly
“I’m totally fed up with these men. In fact, I give up. I will just stay with my Dele jejely” Lara complained bitterly to her friend
“Don’t give up so easily. Did you try calling him to find out what happened? He may have lost his phone or maybe his mother had another attack and died sef. You don’t know”
“Lost his phone how naa? Malik can not lose his phone. He is always very careful and he doesn’t take public transport”
“Listen to yourself. So, because someone is careful or does not take public transport, that gives his phone immunity in Nigeria eh? Better wake up and smell the thieving economy” Sandra advised
“Me, I am not going to call him. He should have called by now. If he thinks this will be like the last time in Abuja, he is dreaming. I will not call him” Lara emphasizes
“It is well dear. Maybe it is for the best”
“Yea. Anyway, let me allow you return to whatever you are doing. I will soon close for the day”
“Be safe girl”
“You too” disconnects call
Letting the phone drop into her bag, she climbs the staircase back to her work station. It is well and over she repeated firmly as she climbed.

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At the close of work, she checks her phone for missed calls, unconsciously hoping to see something from ‘never answer’. Nothing. Another sigh deep inside her.

When the heart badly wants something, it sometimes doesn’t happen; but just when you give up on it and let go, it comes back at you with force. Lara contemplated her budding relationship with Malik and how a single moment of panic seem to have nipped it in the bud. She regretted not going with him to Abuja for another full minute. All the could-have-beens.
Remembering a T.D. Jakes message she had listened to over the radio not so long ago where a young woman wanting so bad to marry a man, she cried, prayed and fasted for weeks when the young man broke up with her. So, she said to her pastor “Pastor, you have to pray this into reality. You have to pray for him to come back. I can’t live without him. I love him and can’t marry anyone else” the pastor was heartbroken for her.
Many years later, she returned to the church to visit. She was smiling this time when she said to him,
“Pastor, remember the young man I cried, fasted and prayed over years ago?”
“Yes, I do” answered the pastor “Well, I didn’t get married to him praise Jesus. I’m married to someone else and I love him completely. We have two kids, a house and God has been so good to us.”
“So, what about the other man” asked the pastor
“He has been through two divorces already and the third one is in court. I thank God everyday for not answering my prayers. I can’t help but shudder when I think that could have been me married to him and divorced already.” she informed him
Thinking on this whimsically, Lara decided it was time to let go. Of all the answered prayers….

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Unfortunately for Lara, today was not one of her driving days therefore, she thronged with the multitude of her co-workers going to the junction to catch a bus home. Sprinting with a couple of guys towards the taxi as it coasted towards them, at the last minute, she decides to let it go and wait for the next one. Somehow, she felt her chances were better with the next taxi.

Finally in a taxi, sandwiched between two plump women, she felt like chicken breast in a mini-oven. The woman on her right wore a short-sleeved dress and appeared to have figured out a new way to make only the sweat pores on her arms work. She was sweating seemingly only on her arms and it felt nothing like sweat, very sticky, squishy and annoying liquid that threatened to soak entirely through the sleeves of Lara’s shirt. Slightly annoyed to say the least. Gravitating towards the woman on her left to avoid the bollocks of sweat to her right threatening to drench her shirtsleeve.

Moving closer to the other lady, she almost choked to a stop. This one stank all kinds of stale. What was she carrying on her person? She probably took her bath this morning with last night’s washwater. Dang! Deciding to vacillate between her handkerchief or behind the driver’s seat until either of them got off so she could hug the window to death, she patiently endured. None of the women got off until Lara did. She quickly alighted, took a gulp of air and hurried towards her junction. I need to scrub this Ebola-like sweat off as a someone with OCD would shuddering as she walked down her street.

Approaching her gate, Dele calls.
“Hey babe!”
“Hey Hey! Did you see the message I left you on Facebook?” cautiously
“I did. That’s why I’m calling”
“So why are you so chirpy?” heightened caution
“Because it confirms to me that even my baby cannot be trusted as much as I imagined in my head that she is beyond such temptations” he said in that annoyingly chirpy voice
She hung up. Three seconds later.
“Did you hang up on me?”
“No. It must be the network. Those your girlfriends in MTN do not want you talking to me” she jibed
“This is serious shit. Why are you trying to trivialize it?” he accused
“I’m sorry babe”
“So, you kissed a guy over there?” he said “Are you sure that’s all that happened?”
“Yes. That’s all that happened. He kissed me. I didn’t kiss him first and I didn’t kiss him back….technically”
“Are you trying to panasharp what you did?” sarcastically “Are you trying to tell me you were just walking on the street minding your own business and a random guy stumbled across your lips where you were minding your business and somehow your lips was open and his too and they met in midair?” more sarcasm in a grim voice.
She started laughing.
“Oh! I see. You think this is funny”
“I’m sorry babe. I do not. It was just the way you painted the scene” she apologized
Sigh “So, tell me what happened exactly” he said
“Errr, I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. I just felt so bad within myself but with this ‘no-holds-barred’ thing we agreed to, I decided to just come clean with you so my conscience can allow me sleep” trying to assuage him
“Just tell me what happened. Tell me how he stumbled on your open lips when you were gently walking down your street because that must have been what happened eh?” fresh sarcasm
“Baby, I just said I was sorry. Are you going to be like this about just a kiss?”
“Oh! ‘Just a kiss eh”? You imagine I believe only a kiss happened between you both? You are kidding right?”
“Baby, I swear I won’t lie to you. After deciding to tell you what happened, why would I lie to you?”
“Well, you are yet to tell me how it happened. I still await your side of the story. Unfortunately, I will be hearing only your narration. The poor bastard that stumbled across your open lips on the street will not have the privilege of telling his”
“Baby, please you have to stop saying it like that”
“How else do you want me to say it when you won’t tell me what really happened?”
“That’s what I have been trying to do.” hotly
“I’m all ears” simply “first, what is his name?” he queried
“Malik”
“Aha!” recollecting this was the name he had seen flashing across her phone screen that night in his house. So they did hook up and had been hooking up behind his back since then! Let’s hear the pretty liar out first.
“He came to visit me on Saturday morning. I assumed it was just an innocent visit since we work together and it was morning. I woke up late, remember you called and I told you I just woke up and was rushing to get ready for work? Remember?”
“Continue” came the response
“So, I felt he came over to give me a lift to work. My car has issues with the alignment and I don’t want to have an incident when I’m driving by myself. I told you that too. Remember?” accusingly
“This is not about fixing your car babe. Don’t start accusing” he returned
“So, I was rushing around the place trying to get set while he sat watching some soccer re-runs. Then, I came out of the room and he complimented my dress which I thought nothing of since we all do it at work all the time. I said ‘thank you. Ready to go?’ Are you with me babe?”
“I wouldn’t miss this for anything” he seemed to have found a new lease on sarcasm this evening
“Then, as I approached the door, about to say something to him, he just kissed me. I swear I don’t know how it happened but it was him that kissed me. I was too shocked to respond or anything” she concluded
“Oh! You were panning to respond to him before abi?”
“No. That’s not what I meant. I mean, I totally did not see any of those things he did coming so I didn’t know how to react immediately.” trying to explaining
“The things he did? You mean there were other things he did? You are trying to tell me right now, babe that he still did other things beyond stumbling upon your lips?” he asked incredulously
Hastily “Baby, allow me to explain myself. I meant, him coming up to my house and kissing me and being nice. I just assumed because we worked together and because I was rushing for work, I didn’t analyze them properly before the kiss happened. I’m sorry”
“You are sorry? You invite a strange guy into your home, this and whatever else you have decided to not tell me happens and you say sorry!” close to raging now
“What else do you want me to say? He isn’t a stranger. We work together. Are you ever around? Do you ever have time for me? Do I see you unless I come visiting? Do you ever just surprise me and fly down here with chocolates and wine and rose flowers? Do you? Do you?” yelling into the phone as she sobbed now. This was turning out to be a real bad day for her. First, Sandra had warned her against confessing anything to Dele.
“Babe, you don’t go confessing anything to your man. They do worse but you will never hear it from them. Even when you catch them, you better be sure to catch them good and say right there to them ‘I see you o. We will talk about this’ else, they will deny it totally even if you have a picture! They will just tell you ‘na photoshop’. Don’t do it babe. He will never forgive you”
“I just want complete closure on this Malik’s thing. Dele won’t hold it against me. He totally loves me.”
“Love eh? Wait till you tell a guy another man kissed you then you can watch him redefine love in your relationship. Don’t do it Lara. Why am I even telling you not to do something you already made up your mind to do? I’ll be here waiting. Lemme know how it goes”
She should have listened to Sandra. Apparently, you do not confess your sins to your man. Mistake no.2 in the women’s handbook for men now experienced firsthand. She was worried. Would Dele be able to let this go? They had both gone silent in the meanwhile but both remained on the line.

“So that was what he did? Wine, chocs and roses? That’s all he had to do to get you?” He accused bitterly in a low voice “So, I’m up here working every day of the week and most weekends so I can take care of you, treat you like a woman should be treated, provide everything you can desire, trying to build a life for us that we both can be proud of yet you can complain about wine and chocs Lara. Have you ever said to me ‘baby, I miss you and I want you to come over this weekend’ that I refused? Have you ever invited me to your place Lara? After I paid for the place, furnished it and came to see if it was comfortable for you, did you ever asked me over since then? Let me also ask you this since we are on the topics of chocs and wines, when did you ever say to me, ‘baby, I’m coming over today or this weekend and you got here and wanted chocs, roses, wines or whatever that I said ‘NO’ to you?”

She was crying again. “No Lara. Don’t cry. This isn’t the time for you to cry” she cried harder. He had called her Lara instead of the usual endearment. No matter how mad he had been at her in the past, he never used her name. This must signal the end of them she surmised. Dear Lord! What have I confessed to!
“Don’t cry yet. Allow me to finish. You must think because I work so much and do not seem to have a social life that I am a recluse impervious to other women eh? You think I cannot recognize a beautiful woman besides you right? I disciplined myself for your sake Lara not because I can’t be like other men but now………..” he let his statement hang threateningly

She was still crying. “So, just chocs, roses and wine Lara? Things you can get for yourself with your own money is what this Malik guy got you with! I’m thoroughly disappointed”
“I’m sorry baby. I’m sorry. I was distracted” pleading
“Oh! Now, it is distraction? Not because I did not bring you wine and chocolates?” twisting the knife in

Pulling herself together, recognizing this as the relationship one-up ‘having one over your partner’. Rarely, would a partner let stuff like this go if then can use it to make you do something in their favor. This was the part where she had to offer him a blank cheque to write whatever figure he desired. He had the upper hand now. Taking another deep breath to clear her head.

“I’ll do anything you say Dele” deliberately using his name to let him know she was serious
“Hmmm. Fine then, come to Abuja tomorrow” calmly
“Tomorrow? I have to go to work!” exclaiming
“You said you would do anything” he reminded her
“But tomorrow, tomorrow? Please can it be Friday instead?” pleading
“No. You can come Thursday however” relenting
Sigh. “Okay. Thursday. You will pick me up?” hesitantly
“You can take a taxi…..” hearing her resigned sigh “Of course I will pick you up. We don’t want fresh strangers giving you a lift” he couldn’t resist
Another sigh was her only response.
“Thank you babes. You forgive me?” she wanted to know she was in the clear
“When you come over, we’ll talk about that” he said and hung up
She was left with an empty dial tone and wondering what did I just do to myself?

Dialing, Sandra was not picking up. She dialed again. She should be home by now. She picked up on the third ring.
“Tell me” the first thing out of her mouth
“Hmmn I should have listened to you” came Lara’s sad voice
“I know you should have listened to me girl. I should listen to me all the time too but I never do” Sandra soothed
“I just handed him big time leverage and he is already using it.”
“How?”
“He wants me to come to Abuja on Thursday to show how repentant I am and whatever else he has planned, I have no idea at this point” Lara informed
“Well, you already got into it, might as well ride it through. If you do everything he says, it will soon blow over but you gotta go along with all he says tho” cautioning
“What if he says something ridiculous like ‘marry me so something similar does not happen again”?
“Simple: you marry the man!” came Sandra’s rejoinder
“What?” Lara exclaims
“What is what? Ehn Lara? what is what? Why have you been wasting your time dating him all these three years if you had not the slightest desire to marry him? Why couldn’t you do like other women and just shut up about Malik instead of allowing your conscience beat you to death till you confessed?” allowing her muse briefly, she continued “You know what, I think on a subconscious level, you wanted to be found out by Dele. You wanted a way out of the relationship so you can be free to chase that unserious Malik guy that goes on and off like PHCN. Too bad Dele loves you too much to give up that easily. If he says ‘marry me Lara’ that’s exactly what you are going to do”
“But….but” stuttering
“no buts. I admit I encouraged you about Malik. I was wrong. This time, no more mistakes. If that’s what Dele wants, that’s what Dele is going to get. He has tried more than most of the weyreys you keep dating anyways. If that’s what he wants after your stupid confession which any man can tell is a half confession, then you are going to say ‘yes’ to the man or ain’t you tired of counting calendar?” pausing meaningfully. ‘counting calendar’ referred to single girls always counting their cycle on calendars to determine their safe days so as to avoid unwanted pregnancies with their boyfriends.
A deep sigh. “Alright. I hear you and I’m somewhat relieved you have helped me put it all in perspective. Malik is a no-show and if Dele still wants me after what I told him, then, I’ll gladly marry him. His mum barely has a say in what he does these days ever since he got this great position and became the financier of the family. Thank you Sandy” she said fondly
“You are welcome anytime girl. See you Thursday?”
“Ah! I don’t think so. Dele said he will pick me up and I guess that means we would be gong straight to his place or his office depending on the time I get in”
“nawa o. Just now now wey we talk something, you don quick grab am dey act like Ruth abokoku! Diariz Godu o” They both laugh “No P. Just keep me posted. Love you girl”
“Love you too. Thanks for this Sandra”
“Anytime”

Now, for that OCD scrub and a relaxing cup of white wine and fish afterwards. This was shaping up to be a great great week and a promising weekend ahead. Just then, her phone begins ringing ‘Never answer’ was flashing across the screen for the first time in three weeks. What does this devilish maniac want just after she thought she had closed his chapter and settled her head on Dele! Oh well!, that’s why his name was now stored as ‘never answer’. He will tire and go away she told herself as she sailed into the bathroom peeling off her clothes as she went.

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LIES WOMEN TELL Episode #11

I apologize for an error in number from last week. The last episode was #10 and this is the new #11. Apologies to everyone who noticed………….

This week on Lies Women Tell

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After waiting a few more minutes, she walks to the almost empty queue, presents her driver’s license, gets a nod and walks down the stairs to the waiting bus. It was a short distance to the aircraft. Other passengers were identifying their luggage beside the plane before it was loaded onto the conveyor and sent into the belly of the bird.

She identified her pink carryon with the cute bow she had allowed Dele tie on it last night when he had said ‘You will be shocked when you get to baggage claim and see five similar boxes like yours and you cant be sure which one of to pick’. Climbing the short stairwell into the plane, again she presented her boarding pass to the air hostess at the door and was told ‘Welcome to Arik air. Do have a pleasant flight. 13A on your right. Window seat”

“Thank you” came her automatic response. She just wanted to sit and reminisce on the past week especially, about Malik.

Luckily, nobody was in her window seat. Tapping the Lebanese young man with full hair to let her through, she finally settles down, belts herself in and proceeds to look casually around at other passengers. Her gaze returns to the Lebanese. He was reading the dailies – The Punch. She was not really interested unless it had a Lifestyle section. Trailing her gaze to his head, she wondered how he had managed to hold onto all his hair as most of the Lebanese she came across lose half of their hair by the time they had stayed in the country over a four year period. Perhaps, this was his first year in Nigeria she concludes.

Continuing her survey exercise, her eyes came to rest with envy on a young couple standing in the aisle – although they both looked Nigerian, the man was carrying the baby strapped to his front in a baby carrier. He also held his partner’s handbag while she just held an almost empty water-bottle. Lara smiled again explaining it to herself as a long sojourn in America or London which caused them to hold onto such quaint practices.

A couple more minutes, the last passengers straggled onto the plane and sat themselves in the Business-class section. The door hummed shut. Speakers cackled from somewhere in the cockpit as the pilot welcomed everyone aboard. Soon, safety emergency procedures were dramatized by the hostesses which never failed to amuse her. Smiling, she focused attentively on the short drama scene.

When it was over, “Please turn off all electronic devices and phones” a hostess was walking up and down the aisle making sure mobile phones were turned off. It reminded her slightly of her trip coming to Abuja and how she had met Malik. Settling back into her seat, Lara sighs, allowing herself to finally dwell on her date with Malik.

They had headed to a nameless hang-out which Malik swore was worth more than it’s weight in thatch. The place was almost totally designed with thatch making her wonder how it looked in the rainy seasons.

Simple. They re-thatch” he replied like it was that simple

The place was dubbed ‘Hide-out’ by people for want of a name. Those who couldn’t find it on their own only need tell a taxi or Okada to take them to ‘Hide-out’ and ‘Viola!’. Anyway, they were there already so she decided to enjoy whatever magic Malik promised the place held. Soon enough, a waitress in Hawaiian styled extra short skirt comes up to their table to take their orders.She fancied if the waitress dropped something and bent to pick it, she could see her spanks…..if she was able to wear any under such a short skirt! She chuckled to herself with her shoulders shaking and Malik glanced at her questioningly. ‘Nothing’ she mouthed back over the slow jazz playing in the background. Once the waitress left though, he turned to her smiling “out with it. I know something really funny must have crossed your mind and am curious”

It is nothing really. I just imagined if I bent pretending to pick something, I would be able to see under her short, short skirt and I couldn’t help but wonder if she was wearing spanks or something less comfortable” she told him making him throw his head back and laugh with abandon.

You know, the first time I came here with my friends, I could not help but think the same thing and my silly friend actually dropped his phone on the floor expecting the girl would attempt to pick it up” his face lit up remembering

Did she?”

Guess” he teased

Oh! Tell me already. Did she bend to pick it for him?”

Nope” at her look of surprise, he laughed again “she just walked away. Don’t tell me you actually expect one of them to fall for such a trick! Look at these girls properly…..”pausing to allow her take a second look at the girls walking between tables

You think they have not been in plenty ugly situations already, that they would actually fall for such a juvenile trick!” he shrugs following her gaze “Unless she fancies the guy and just wants to play flirt. Perhaps”

Within her, Lara had to agree with him. She now noticed the hard looks, pursed lips and blank stares of some of the waitresses then she began to wonder why there were only waitresses and no waiters. Same way she had wondered when they stopped at Jeveniks in Maitama the first day, there had only been waiters, no waitresses.Was ‘single-sex-workplace’ system the hot new trend in Abuja! Life hasn’t been fair to most of these ladies.

Remembering something her dad always told her when she travelled in his company ‘Anybody could be on the streets. Don’t look down on them because you are only lucky, not privileged to not be in their shoes. If you had been born into their situation, would you have hitched a ride to heaven to sue God’ he added when she was going to launch into an argument on the topic. She had gone silent afterwards thinking hard on his words. This subsequently formed part of her worldview because each time she saw someone in a less privileged position, her dad’s words would ring in her head again like it was just yesterday.

As always, her time with Malik had not been boring even for a minute. He was attentive, funny and chatty. He made her laugh a lot trying to make her sample the cow-leg because she had said it looked silly eating an animal’s leg when other parts of the body hadn’t disappeared.

I notice most men love cow leg like it is a delicacy. Cow tail, I can understand a bit but the leg, that is like fighting a war and it isn’t even meaty! What’s the point?” she attacked him which only made him try harder to feed her the cow-leg he was eating until she begged him to stop.

They suddenly stopped laughing, staring across the tiny table at each other as if they were meeting for the first time and didn’t know what to say. She was lost in his eyes. They looked unnaturally white.

Usually, when she sat across from a guy, his eyes looked a funny bloodshot color or brownish and she came to believe it was the normal eye color for young men. Malik’s eyes looked healthy, his teeth were neatly arranged in his mouth. They were even and white making his lips more inviting. He had the kind of lips that always made her cut out those perfume models from GQ. Unconsciously, she leaned forward, a phone rang somewhere between them. The magic was dispelled. Wondering what the jarring sound was, Lara reaches into her bag to retrieve her phone, while Malik raises his phone to his ear, simultaneously pushing his chair back to move to a less noisy place.

He soon returned “I have to leave Lara. My mum just woke up and she is asking after me” he told her looking distraught

“Mommy’s boy! I understand. I’m jealous she sees more of you but you should go now” she teased

“Thank you for being so sweet” he sounded relieved

“Oh! You can count on me being your sweet-tooth. Ha-ha” patting him on the back, he pulls her into a tight embrace squeezing like his life depended on it before whispering something in her ears that made her eyes pop. Then he released her.

“Do you really mean that?” she asked going very still

“I do” he replied simply

“Then, I guess i’ll see more of you the next time I visit Abuja”

“When will that be? Do you know?” he asked eagerly

“Nope. Not yet but hopefully, it will be soon”

“Not to worry though. If I miss you too much, I’ll buy a roundtrip ticket” he laughs

“You will be welcome anytime you wanna visit” she assures him as they walk back to his car

“You really mean what you said though?” she asked again

“Why is it such a surprise Lara? You think I make a habit of spending most of my time with ladies I meet on aircrafts?” he threw back at her

“Pardon my surprise. I just didn’t see that one coming and usually, I like to think I see everything that is coming to me” she informs him

“I like you a lot already and every time I spend with you reinforces it for me. I suppose I could assume the same of you?” he pauses

At her vigorous nod, he continues “So, I would like to see you whenever you are in town or when am in Lagos if your boyfriend don’t mind” waiting for her assurance that she was a single lady

“Boyfriend? What boyfriend? If I had a boyfriend, would I have so much time to spend with you?” she sidesteps neatly “I should be the one worried about all your girlfriends instead”

“Girlfriends? What girlfriends? I only have one right now….”deliberately letting the pause lengthen until her brow kept climbing higher and he couldn’t hold the tease any longer “…..and she is you” he finishes making Lara sigh with relief.

The speaker burst into life somewhere in the cabin announcing their aproach and subsequent descent into Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. The Lebanese beside her brought his chair to an upright position as the hostess walked through the aisle to ensure everyone was in the right position for the descent.

Walking through the corridor to find baggage claim, she smiled again to herself wishing something would make her see Malik again very soon promising herself something better change the next time they met. Soon, her pink box with the ridiculous pink bow tied conspicously to the handle comes floating down the rotating platform.

“Hey girl! I’m in Lagos and you are the first person am calling”

“Yea. Thank God for a safe flight. Ok, get off my phone now so I can talk to other people too”

“LOL Sandra, do you ever think of anything else? No. Malik did not come with me. Neither did Mofe. Although I won’t have minded if one of them was waiting here right now to pick me up” laughing as she walks out into the humid Lagos weather.

“Yea. I’ll talk to you later. Bye” they both hang up as her phone begins to ring again

“I called you thrice already” the voice accuses “Didn’t you see my call? You put me on call waiting”

Rolling her eyes elaborately, “Yes, I had a safe flight thank you. Hope your day has been going smoothly too.?” she replies instead

A deep sigh. “I’m sorry. I suppose you were on another call. I was merely anxious”

“Well, don’t be anxious father-hen. I’m fine. I just left baggage claim. I was speaking to Sandra to let her know I arrived and you know how she likes to hug calls” Lara finally explains

“What! Sandra beat me to it? She called?” mock incredulity

“Ha-ha! Mind yourself o. What do you mean she called me? My friend actually uses her credit to call other people o contrary to your belief and yes, she was the one that called me that was why the call was even that short” covering her friend

“Hmmn! You both wish! Sandra, uses her credit to actually call! She’ll flash instead” he laughs

“Are you getting a taxi?” he inquires

“Well, I don’t see your driver here to pick me. I suppose I have to stoop to taking a taxi” she drawled

“Yea. All that stooping will end very soon” he promises

“I can’t wait. Hold on baby lemme talk to the taxi man” she says to him “Isaac John. No. 5. How much?”

“3,500” the taxi driver spits out

“Why? 2 k” she bites back

“2,500” he returns

“Okay” opening the back door, she dumps her handbag while he pops the trunk open for her to leave her luggage “let’s go” she tells him after settling in the backseat.

“Hello? Dele? Hello?” she said into the empty line. He had hung up. Sometimes, Dele was so unpredictable she mused angrily. If she had told him to hang-up and call back when she wanted to hail a taxi, he may have misconstrued it and said something they may both regret and now she had told him to hang-on so she could get a taxi, he had hung up. It had taken all of 3 minutes to complete the bargain! She decided she wasn’t going to call him back. Let him call when he wanted to.

Bringing out her phone this time, she smiled when she saw the name flashing across the screen.

“Hey! I know I said I was going to call you but I just got into a taxi to take me home. I was just going to dial your number as a matter of fact” she appeased

“Phew! Yes, I know. It will be too soon to forget you already.”

“I won’t forget. Yes, I miss you too Malik. Alright. Talk to you soon.”

“Bye” she replied

Then her phone rings again. Oh dear! This one is gonna be a sulk party she thought to herself.

“Hi Mofe. Am so sorry I have not called you yet. No. I am just stepping out of the airport doors trying to get a taxi. I was going to dial you as soon as I sat down in the taxi.”

“I’m sorry naa. Ok. I’m sorry. Yea, I’ll call you when I get home”

“Oh! You miss me already? Am flattered”

“ha-ha! What do you want me to say naa? Alright, I miss you too……..small”

“Okay. Later” she hangs up for the fourth time that morning, drops the device, finally able to breathe and look around at familiar sights as the taxi sped towards LASUTH junction under the Ikeja bridge.

She made a mental note to come visit her friend that works at LASUTH next week…perhaps. The last time she visited him, he had lifted up her dress even though he had just announced his wedding was a fortnight away. Perhaps, she wasn’t going to visit him afterall.

LIES WOMEN TELL Episode #4

Episode #4

Arriving Dele’s office, he resumes auto-pilot, ordering everyone around as if he never left before disappearing into his office slamming the door shut.

Lara lingers at the reception desk to chat with the nice girl who sits there.

“Hey girl!”

“Hello ma”

“How have you been? It’s been a while”

“Four months three days” came the automated response

“Right. Even your boss can’t be as accurate as you.  How is the work going? Hope you are having fun while you can?”she inquires while the receptionists looks at her askance as if to say “How is that possible with the kind of boss we have!” but she says nothing only smiles.

“Does your boss still work late as usual or he has repented?”

“He still works late. He asks me to go ahead sometimes and he locks up afterwards”

“No strange visitors anymore?” Lara presses and at the careful look on the girl’s face, she pushes more “Is it that same lady I met in his office the last time?”

“No. No. That one has stopped coming here” the girl hisses “It’s just one woman from a different department that comes to see Oga before closing time. Then Oga will ask me to close before him and he locks up”

“I see.” Contemplating “Tell me Anna. Is three months too much to be away from a partner? because I don’t understand these our men these days”

Anna opens her mouth to reply the rhetorical question when the phone on her desk rings.

“Oga” she mouths at Lara

“Yessir. She is here sir. okay sir” handing the phone over to Lara “he wants to speak to you”

“Ain’t you gonna come in?” came the low voice

“Coming….” she began to reply but he had hung up

She shook her head, gathered up her purse and waved at Anna as she sashayed towards the closed door at the end of the hall. She knocked once and went inside.

Smiling at the man buried behind a pile of paperwork simultaneously reaching for the phone on his desk. He was always so busy once he stepped inside this building. It is as if a demon possessed him once he crossed the threshold into the building and they start bringing all their demonic demands to keep him occupied until closing time. He barely has the time to chat, laugh or entertain her once he was inside this office which was why she had to occupy herself with other pursuits or fathom ways to keep him longer at home each morning. She smiled again as he finished his call. He was yet to acknowledge her presence. She knew it wasn’t deliberate but she detested to be ignored so.

Reaching into her purse for her Blackberry, she chuckles to her phone as she begins replying her messages. This she was sure would get his attention. He was so selfish, he could ignore her while he buried himself in his work but once she picked up her phone he would go jealous like all the fiends of hell were reaching out of the phone to claim her away.

“aha! there you are. You know i don’t like you ignoring me for so long. Who are you smiling at on your phone again? Hope it isn’t one of those boys who do not know what to do with their time but to be harassing my wifey.” he starts

“You are too busy to have my time so am occupying myself” she her calm reply

“That’s not true. I just had a few emails to reply and a couple of stuff to sign then am all yours but come here first and greet me properly” he gives her his full attention

She sighs, stands up from the comfy sofa she was occupying and crosses the short distance towards Dele. He reaches out, pulls her closer bringing her to his knees. She lifts his glasses off his face as she buries her hands in his lush afro. They remain like this for a second before simultaneously closing the space between their faces.

The chemistry was electric. Only the knowledge of being in the office plus her tight pants that put a check in their fast spiral towards insanity.

He stops abruptly as he reopens the space between them. Fortunately, he had heard the discreet knock on the door. She hadn’t. He buries his head in her flat tummy mumbling “this is what you do to me” as they both try to regain leveled breathing. She finally disentangles her fingers from his hair patting it down.

Running her hands through her hair while he helps her straighten her clothes, he clears his throat as she returns to the sofa across the room.

“Come in” he calls out as the door opens to reveal a tall dark lady. Glancing suspiciously into the room as she walks in.

“Good evening” She says to Lara as she moves closer to Dele’s desk

“Hello Dele” not bothering to hear Lara’s mumbled response

“I am on my way home and wanted to say goodnight. Did you see the general memo the chairman sent during lunch?”

“Esther, I’d like you to meet Lara my fiancee. Lara, Esther is the chairman’s daughter and she has been so helpful. Remember how I told you she likes to take care of me on your behalf? Bringing me lunch and even early dinners sometimes” Dele made brief introductions

Lara quick to the cue “Oh! Good evening Esther. Allow me to say a big thank you for taking care of my man while I was away. I must say you are doing a good job” she chuckles “You should allow me thank you properly by inviting you to dinner at the house one of these days before I return to Lagos”

Flustered and not as fast on her feet as she’d like, Esther could barely put together a coherent response. She hadn’t expected Lara to act so friendly and not feel threatened. What wasn’t Dele telling her. Were they engaged already? Even if they were? Or has Lara tied Dele in her clutches she acts so confident no other woman could lure him away. She smiles.

“Thank you Lara. I should take you up on that offer one of these days.”

“I will see myself out. Enjoy your evening.”

“Thank you. we will” Lara answers for both of them as Dele was once more buried in desk work and hardly paid them any mind.

Lara smiled a secret smile. 1-0. She and Esther knew she had won this round and they were both going to retreat and sharpen their claws for whenever the next round may be which both women were determined to win and Lara was certain not to concede.

So, Esther has designs on my man and Dele as expected is oblivious to the fact. That blab mouth Anna is good for this place. The heads-up she gave me was invaluable. Allowed me not to be taken totally unawares. I must remember to give her money for her t-fare on our way out. She was smiling at him steadily now secured in the knowledge that he was all hers to do with as she desired. She however couldn’t let Anna believe her tips and clues were totally useless. She had facilitated Anna’s employment. Anna was her eye in this office but all she truly needed her for, was to watch Dele. A woman couldn’t ever be too careful even with a seemingly clueless man like him. Even a clueless one is still a man when he wants to be. Thankfully, he did not have crazy friends that he was close to. Most of his friends were always busy like him if not more that was why she could afford to stay away 3 months a stretch. She needed to break that routine. She told herself firmly as he finally looks up smiling his heartwarming smile at her. He was her sunshine man.

“Lets go home” he says getting up in one fluid motion as she gathers up her purse and jacket without arguing.  Getting to the reception, Lara moves closer to the girl and neatly palms her the cash for her transport mouthing “thank you Anty”.

“Anna am closing for the day. please remember to lock my office when you leave”

“Yessir”

He was always so efficient, her Dele. He looked at her and winked. She knew what that meant and she smiled back enthusiastically. She was in for one long night of bliss thankfully, today was a Friday.

As he backed out of the drive, her phone began to ring. She silently prayed it was not Malik because that would be disastrous. It was her girlfriend in Kubwa. With all the fun she was having, she had totally forgot to call ahead and let her know she would not be coming home tonight. Her friend must have cooked dinner and would be furious to have it waste.

“Hello” Lara says carefully

“You are not coming home tonight eh?” Came the sharp attack

“Am sorry. Many things happened and I forgot to call to let you know. Am so sorry. Hope you had not cooked dinner yet?” trying to explain

“You will always have an excuse. I always tell you let me know.” she grumbled

“Am sorry. I’ll tell you all about it when we see” she persuaded

“Alright. say hi to Dele for me”

“I’ll tell him. bye”

“Bye”

“My friend says hi”

“Am saying hi too” they both laugh. She couldn’t understand it but both of them never could stay in the same room without exploding after barely five minutes.

He begins ravishing her from the moment he turns the ignition off. That was the way with them. it was only Dele that had ever succeeded in taking her to heights of ecstasy. He knew exactly where to touch, kiss, stroke and press to make her beg to jump out of her skin. He was her sensuous nerd. The truth was that each moan from her drove him crazier and made him want to crush the whole slim length of her underneath him. He was suddenly impatient with all the frills of her attire and barely restrained himself from ripping them off her.

Both staggering indoors still kissing and touching each other, he had left their jacket in the car along with her purse and his briefcase. Oh well! the car keys were in the front pocket of his pant.

She wasn’t even sure how they got the front door unlocked. They were still kissing and struggling with each other’s clothes as they approached the plush rug they both knew was behind her.

Suddenly, they heard a car pull up to the gate and honk twice. Long honks. It was as if he received an electric shock.

“Shit! I totally forgot Dapo was coming over tonight” He throws out casually

It was as if someone had thrown cold water on her face. Of all the days to come over. She didn’t get along well with his only brother even though Dele was older than him. She felt the boy looks at her like she had something dirty on her and just couldn’t wait to get proof. He looked like he was perpetually sneering and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Here was one she had to be careful with.

They listen as the gate opens and Dapo drives in. He pulls her in for one last lingering kiss

“Postponed. We will finish this soon without further interruptions”

“Promise?”

He kisses her fully on the lips “there’s your promise” he replies as he watches her walks upstairs to clean up and prepare for later. Now, he had to find a way to finish with his brother fast and with as little suspicion as possible so he won’t get it in his head to sleep over. He opened the door as Dapo raises his hands to knock.

LIES WOMEN TELL EPISODE #3

Episode #3

As they sat enjoying their midday meal, her phone rings.

She picks it up, glances at the screen, drops it again with an apologetic smile at Malik. He was wearing a blank face which in her experience doesn’t begin to translate into ‘i don’t care who is calling you’.

Smiling at him again, she decides she din’t owe him an explanation. They continue with their food. She finishes first.

“Ta-da!” she pronounces sticking her tongue out at him

Scrunching up his face, “I wasn’t aware we were racing. I would have put in my best” he teases back as he swallows the last morsel on his plate.

“Shall we?” She says already standing to her feet

raising an eyebrow in surprise “What’s the rush?” he inquires “won’t you allow our food to digest or you just want to discharge me so you can pick your calls?”

“Aha! there it was finally” she says to herself. Men just didn’t know when to ignore. Deciding to torment him, she selectively responds.

“My food takes forever to digest. Are we going to sit here forever then?”

Malik realizes what was happening but unable to stop himself

“You know very well that part isn’t important. Why are you avoiding the real question?”

“Because it is not soup talk” came her reply

She watched his brows climb further as his face came together in the semblance of a frown. She could not help thinking if  those brows climbed any higher or his face scrunched any tighter, one of them may start crying from the effort. On second thoughts, it was good his face was so flexible she told herself.

“It is nothing serious to discuss. Just a friend that saw my status on BBM and is calling to confirm. You know those sort of people that never call you unless there’s gossip…..?” she explains

“sooka!” he says

“What’s that?”

“Japanese for ‘I see”

“haha are you even sure there’s anything like that…?” she teases, stopping at his hurt look.

“Are you always this sensitive or is this just your ‘puppy look’ for women?”

He makes another puppy face at her and she couldn’t help laughing and shaking her finger at him.

“You are incorrigible. Shall we?” Lara asks him again

He sighs and gets to his feet grabbing the car keys off the table simultaneously. It was as they walked to the door she realized he neatly sidestepped her question and she still didn’t know the answer to it nor could she stop wondering about it. She didn’t even know the basest things about him yet!

‘what did he like to eat or drink?’ he seemed to have no preferences thus far. Some men would have used to opportunity to eat like they were starving. She wondered if they imagined that was an impressive feat a woman would admire.

‘Is he married?’ she began to wonder then stopped and firmly told herself it was none of her business. She was simply passing time in the city and he was being a wonderful escort.

The sound of the doors unlocking alerted her to the fact that they had arrived at the car.

“welcome back” he said seeing her startled face

“oh thank you” sarcastically

The doors click shut again as he pulls out of the parking lot. He turns to her barring all his teeth in a scary grin.

“I got you under lock and key now”

“HElPpppp HelllPPPp he is taking me where I do not know!” she pretends to yell in a hoarse voice

They both laugh.

“What now?” she asks him all fired up for whatever adventures he had planned for her

Looking at her eager face, Malik decides to spend more of his busy time with her so he could keep watching her face light up.

“What do you wanna do next? Any place you want to visit?”

“Me?” incredulously “Where do I know in your city!”

“Alright then. I’ll just take you to one of my favorite places”

“Where? Tell me. pleaseeeee” as he stubbornly shakes his head “please now. please. pretty please” she pleads batting her non-existent lashes at him

He finds himself laughing and gave in.

“It is supposed to be a ta-da surprise but since you insist on unwrapping your present before Xmas…….”

“Oh! just tell me already!” she pounces again

He laughs again “The place is called Art and that’s all am going to say”

“pleaseeeee pweety pleaseeee. Tell me what they do there. What are we going to see there? please”

“What do you think you will see there? It is the Art Place. Art! What else do you imagine would be there? Monkeys? Although that’s a possibility too”

“Monkeys! Noooooooo they jump at girls. I don’t wanna go to the monkey place” came her response

They were still laughing when his phone rings and after three curt monologues, he turns the car back towards the direction they had been coming from. His facial muscles had all tightened up and he had a distant blank look on his face.

She was still processing the sudden change and didn’t know how to inquire.

“What’s the matter?” finally

“Am sorry we will have to go to the Art Place some other time. I’ll call you tomorrow if am free again” neatly sidestepping her question

“What part of town are you headed now?”

“Maitama” shortly

“Nice. Just drop me at the junction. I can take a taxi from there”

“I hope you don’t mind? Am so sorry. Would have taken you back home but something came up” he wouldn’t say more

“of course something came up. An idiot could figure that out already duhhhh!” she thinks in her head

“It’s no problem at all” was what came out instead

He pulls up to the junction, she steps out of the car and he hurries off in a cloud of dust not even waiting to return her wave.

“how rude!” she thinks again “what even came up sef? maybe his wife is in labor and they called him from the hospital…..maybe his wife fell from the staircase and had a miscarriage….maybe…. oh whatever! it is not even my business so I wonder why am in his business!”

Bringing out her phone, she dials the number at the top of her call log.

“Hey sugar!” she croons into the phone

“Hello” came the deep sulk at the other end “I just called you about 20 mins back and you didn’t pick my call. I know you saw it and just didn’t pick it.”

“Nope. If i saw it, why won’t i pick? I was in the bathroom. I came out and saw your missed call”

“I explained when you called in the morning complaining of boredom that I was headed for a meeting and would try and get out of it as soon as I could. Is that why you didn’t want to pick my call?” He persists

“I told you already I was in the bath when you called. Am I not calling you back now?” beginning to get irritated

“ok. ok. Where are you now?”

“Somewhere in Maitama” came her reply

“What are you doing in Maitama?” automatically

Rolling her eyes, she takes a deep breath to calm the auto-response ‘Go fuck yasef’ instead this came out

“I came to the MTN office. I have been having issues loading recharge cards lately. Remember that was why I asked you to do a VTU for me two days ago” she says smoothly

“Yea ok. Should I come pick you there?”

“If you can. Are you still at work?”

“Where else would I be at this time of the day? It’s not even 3pm yet”

“Alright. I will be waiting at that eatery we ate the last time. Please don’t be long. You know how I hate to wait…”

“Especially for men” he completes the sentence and smiles

Smiling, she disconnects the call pleased with herself. Walking to the intersection, she waits for the light to change. After waiting 2 minutes, she looks at the red light again and decides it was probably dysfunctional. She was just arriving at the door of the eatery when a horn blares from behind her.

‘That can’t be him already eh? I have not even had time to check my face in the bathroom and cool down with the AC indoors. Oh shit! Oh well! Here we go’ composing herself, she turns around feigning pleasure and surprise as she recognizes the Nissan Altima pulling up to the entrance.

Getting into the car, “Hey sweets!” she says as he appraises openly

“Good enough for your office?” she asks scooting closer to hug him briefly

“Yep” he replies admiring her waist high navy blue tailored cutoffs, pale pink short sleeve blouse, light jacket and proper shoes – his idea of proper shoes was something comfortably covering the feet, combining moderate heels with a buckle.

He smiles in approval “That’s my girl. You know what I like”

“Yea. I wore them for you” leading him on, she smiles tightly through her teeth

His office was not too far and she knew where they would go afterwards.

LIES THAT WOMEN TELL Episode #2

Episode #2

Her romance with Malik began on a perfectly harmless note. She was bored as she had foresaw and most of her friends in Abuja had day jobs. She wasn’t one to go office-hopping so she pulls out her phone, scrolls down in search of persons of interest.

“Aha!” she allows a smile flit across her face briefly

“Hello. My name is Lara. Am I speaking with Malik?” she says in a single breath like a news reporter

“Good morning Lara. I believe you are. How have you been finding your stay in our city?” She could feel his smile from across the space

“Borrrring! am bored outta my mind that’s why am calling you. I told you I may call if am bored”

He chuckles into her ear. A rich, pleasing sound

“I remember. Lucky for you, I had just one meeting today for 7am and it ended on a very positive note so am in good spirits. I’ll come pick you up for lunch. Where are you staying?”

“Errr I stay a bit far from town. It will be easier if I just met you halfway” she tells him

“Never mind that. I have the whole morning to drive to wherever you are” he insists

“Oh well then, I am staying in Kubwa with my friend. When you get to GT Bank, there’s a street just opposite it. and a gated house across the road. I stay in one of the flats. Just call me when you get into Kubwa or approaching GTB.” she explains

“That’s real easy. I stay around there too. It would make returning you home at night real easy.”

This makes her laugh excitedly.

“See you soon”

“Yea. See you soon”

True to his word, a 2012 Range Rover Jeep pulls up to the house after two hours honking while her phone began to ring simultaneously with the name Malik flashing on the screen in Bold letters. She picker her purse, sashays out of the bedroom, winks at her girlfriend who just smiles at her shaking her head and walks out of the door. This time Malik was unchaperoned. She sighed in relief. She wasn’t sure she wanted a chaperone with him or his undivided attention yet. She just knew she was bored and everyone knew that could be dangerous.

“Hey! Someone looks good”

“Hola! someone smells nice” she returns getting into the car and allowing her eyes adjust to the dim interior. He had shaded windows and her mind began analyzing

“shaded windows + dim interiors + lone guy = womanizer, cultist, bad boy?”

He looked at her face and laughed a full laugh

“I know what you are thinking but sorry to disappoint you, am neither a womanizer, a rapist nor a cult member. Was i right?” He glances at her as he puts the car into auto drive and pulls back onto the road

She smiles tensely “I apologize. didn’t realize my face was an open book. Not rapist tho, cultist” She smiles again

“I got into the car and immediately realized I knew nothing about you and I was putting myself in your hands for the next few hours plus you drive a dark nondescript car” she ended

He laughed again, clicked the doors to lock and began to race the car like a maniac as if he was really a cultist as she had presumed.

“Am I scaring you yet?” He glanced at her wickedly with a naughty grin

“Nearly” she replies

“Maybe I should do better” he teases

“No thank you” came her sharp retort

Easing his speed a little, he looks at her momentarily as if to determine how bad he was scaring her. He decided it was bad enough for him to pull into a public space and get a drink to calm her. This obviously was no brazen Abuja chic.

Sighing in relief, she silently thanked God Malik was sensitive.

“Just a coke please” she replied to the waiter’s unspoken query

“a bottle of water for me” he intones

“Why do waiters ask the woman what she wants first and not the man that is supposedly ‘paying?” he throws at her

“Hmmmmn don’t get me started on that subject Malik. Trust me, you don’t want me to get started”

“Why not?”

“Because once I start, I could never stop. It’s my most favorite topic. I could never tire of it” She pauses with a smile at the waiter returning with her coke on ice.

“Thank you” she says to him as he places it on the mat in front of her

“You are so proper and polite, it’s hard to believe you grew up in Nigeria where girls are so rude and won’t even thank the waiter because they feel ‘it’s their job’. I think I like you” He told her

“Nice” she responds

“just Nice?” he queries and bursts into laughter. she looks at him a while puzzled then starts laughing too involuntarily.

“I like your kind of girl” he says again seeing that she was relaxing with him a bit

“I apologize for scaring you earlier. It wasn’t intentional”

“hmmmn now, I think I like your kind of guy. Sensitive to what a girl is feeling. Nice”

“Nice again? Is that the only expression you know?” Haha

Shaking her head, she was laughing so much she could not mouth the proper response

“Alright, let’s leave. I think you relaxed a bit. Ready?”

“Ready” standing up, she leaves her unfinished coke on the table as she follows him out into the midday sun.

They drive towards the city center as he engages her in idle conversation to “kill time”.

“What spots do you know in Abuja?” he asks her “This is the test your knowledge of the city time”

“Hmmmn I only know GTB Kubwa branch and Jeveniks because a friend took me for lunch there twice. Haha”

She pulls to the side, gives him a serious look “You can take me wherever you want tho. I believe I am in capable hands”

“or arms” he suggests

“No. just hands for now” she gives him the tongue out sign. He laughs again enjoying her company

Arriving at Jeveniks a while later, the place was packed for the lunch hour. Shaking her head as she steps out of the car and shading her eyes against the sudden onslaught of sunlight.

“What?” he enquires of her head shake

“All these lazy people that eat outside their homes everyday in Abuja” she proclaims

“Are we also lazy too. We are about to eat out too.” he teases

“No. Our is a different situation”

“Oh really? how is that?” he continues to tease her unknown to her

“well, because we are meeting on a sort of a….you know what I mean, we can’t go to your house since you can’t cook….oh! I don’t mean you can’t cook anything….I mean, given the situation, you can’t possibly cook for me as it is….oh well! I give up. You are right. They must also have good reasons to eat here” She hurriedly concludes. She wondered why her tongue felt like fudge cake and why she was so flustered around him. Usually, she was quite fluent in expressing her thoughts coherently. What was this strangeness she was feeling? Was she reacting to this man she just met just because he appeared to be sensitive to her and read her like a book! She resolved not to let her guards down anymore.

He was watching her every move and her face was just like a Windows 8 app with speech! She was so easy to read. He knew the precise moment she decided to be careful with him and he unconsciously decided to walk over all her defenses just to prove to himself he still could. He applauded himself on being able to read her. That was why he was a successful negotiator because he could read each party he was dealing with like an open book.

The waiter comes to take their order and turns to her first with his pen ready. Lara’s eyes meets Malik’s and they share a private smile.

“Pounded yam with Afam and fish with a bottled water. Do you have Eva water?” she says

“Yes ma” waiter replies

“I will have what she is having with a bottle of Eva water too” Malik says

“How come you keep ordering same thing I order” she asks as the waiter walks away “Don’t you want anything for yourself or is it just a wonderful coincidence you keep craving same thing as me?”

This earned her a deep bellied laugh and with twinkling eyes “perhaps I need a woman to pick the good foods for me and I happen to feel I can trust your judgement with food”

“hmmmmmn scope!” was her immediate retort

“ouch! that hurts!” was his rejoinder

LIES THAT WOMEN TELL EPISODE #1

I promised a series of interesting stories about LIES THAT WOMEN TELL. A very tall order I set for myself considering my long vacation from writing.

Lara has been through many things in life so that she now considers herself a cynic. Owing to her varying experiences, in her opinion humans are a very dynamic lot capable of almost anything. Starting out as an innocent, she had changed considerably becoming what the society made her….

EPISODE #1

She looked at her phone ringing for the umpteenth time. She knew it was Malik again without looking at the screen. She had a special ringtone just for him – nothing terrible, just a voice note that says ‘never answer’. He had been a pig in the past even though she had been the freak he wanted in his black bed countless times. These men these days……….shaking her head, she dismissed the thought.

She had met Malik on during a flight into Abuja. She had noticed his phone and couldn’t help but ask him what model it was because it looked similar to a recent one she had been stalking on google. It was a HTC One Max that costs 125 thousand naira. Her magnet automatically recognizes an expensive phone. She gave him a second look. Even Slots in Lagos didn’t have it at the time of her search. Moving close to him…..

“Hello. My name is Lara. I love your phone. Is it an HTC?”

He smiled a deep confident smile and the voice when it came was a pleasing timbre

“yes it is.”

She was beaming at him now. She couldn’t help it “What model is it?”

“It is a HTC One Max” he replies keeping his voice at a teasing low as if it was a real private conversation.

She had to bring her head closer and her voice a decibel lower too

“wow! that’s so cool. Slot in Lagos does not even have it when I checked their website”

“Really?” he asked surprised

“yea. I wanted to leave the Blackberry group and try out an android so I was browsing the Net for good android phones. That’s when I saw the HTC. It’s so sleek….really pretty phone”

“it is but uses a lot of data and as a result, the battery does not last so long because of the updates that come up every few hours. That will exhaust your data and battery too”

“It’s true. I got a small Droid too and the updates and data drove me right back into the arms of Blackberry. Haha”

he smiled again. She was really beginning to feel a twinge of something for his smile and was starting to anticipate it.

“Can I hold your phone for a minute?” she asked

“Sure.”

“Haha I just wanna feel it for a bit to see what I missed by not buying it”

He laughs with her for a spell then takes a second good look at her.

The air hostess passes by “Please stow away your chair tray and turn off your phones. Thank you”

Lara and Malik look at each other, share a secret smile before doing as the hostess asked.

He sounded like an intelligent man plus his good looks, she barely refrained from asking him what his job in Abuja was. Does he even live in Abuja or Lagos? She wondered how to broach the 21 questions running round her head. Wait! she told herself firmly.

He kept looking at her sideways from the convenience of his glasses so it appeared he was focused on the airline magazine opened to the Free miles with Aero page. What was actually going through his mind was surprise that a female in Nigeria would step out of her brazilian wigs and Instagram long enough to absorb some technology. He was impressed and was tempted to ask what she did for a living…..perhaps that would explain it.

He turned towards her with his mouth open to ask her and caught her looking speculatively at him. They both laughed and then he asked.

“Do you live in Lagos or Abuja?” he paused “If you don’t mind me asking”

“I thought you’d never ask.” She laughs a pretty one

“I live everywhere and nowhere for long. For now, I work in Lagos so I live there but when am bored, I visit wherever catches my fancy – Abuja, Port-harcourt, Kano….”

“What do you do? Do you live in Abuja or Lagos yourself?” She asked with interest

“I live in Abuja. I came to Lagos on some business.” He answered

“So……..What do you do?” She persisted

Smiling.

“Guess!”

“Haha usually, I can but in this instance, nothing comes to my mind….”

“Well, I am a negotiator. I facilitate deals, mergers and buy-outs between companies. I work independently” He surmised

“Really! that must be fantastic. How does that work? Sounds like something involving and worthwhile”

“I agree” he chuckles

“Do you love what you do or you just do it for the money or something?”

A brief pause. “Very good question.”

Another pause as if to consider the question

“I believe I love what I do at the moment because both parties are usually satisfied after my team’s negotiations. If either party is dissatisfied, it makes the project unduly long and somebody’s gonna lose some money, usually, the party that is buying because the seller has nothing to lose anymore. He’s already selling. Haha” He explains

“I love what I do” he finishes looking at her quiet face

“And what do you do?” he returns

“Hmmmn actually, right now am out of work. Am a survivor. haha” she tries to suffuse her discomfort with a dry laugh

He senses this and tries to lighten it “Do you sell phone technology? I may buy from you considering your knowledge of phones…”

“Haha” shaking her head  “That was just because I was looking for a phone to buy myself”

“Actually, I am an analyst. I work with data for firms. I also work independently or on projects where expert hands are needed. I go in briefly and leave at the completion of my part.”

“How does that work for you? Leaving at the end of every project? How do you leave a baby you nurtured to someone else?” He was curious

“Oh well! The move is always what keeps me going and I never get attached. It’s easy. I could never survive staying on a project forever. I have the ‘Jumper syndrome’

They both laugh. The hour and half flight was almost gone. The hostess came to take away their empty snack packs and ask them to stow away their chair trays. It was the same hostess from takeoff. They merely smiled at her.

Then came the pilot’s announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching Nnamdi Azikwe airport. Please put away your phones, laptops and tablets as we prepare for landing. The temperature outside is 35c. Remember to take all your belongings with you as you disembark. We at Aero thank you for flying with us today. Have a pleasant stay in the Capital city.”

He reaches into the overhead bin and helps removes her pink carryon. He hands it over.

“Thank you”

He nods and heads off with his navy blue backpack. As they approach Baggage claim, she taps him on the shoulder.

“Malik, may I have your number?”

Looking at his raised brows, she hastens to explain “just in case am bored or need an expert to negotiate me out of a tight corner. haha. Just in case am bored……” she let it trail off

He reels out a 9 digit number, she pauses with her raised brow waiting for him

“it is incomplete”

He smiles mischievously

“Add an 080 in front of those” and he waves and strolls towards a young man walking briskly and reaching out for his bag while simultaneously bowing towards Malik.

She looked on puzzled. He didn’t look back even once. He just walked into the sun and the waiting gray car by the door.

“Am gonna see this guy again” she promises herself silently.

THE “F” Word & SODA

Does America influence immigrants, visitors, students? I don’t know. Let’s make this decision together.

A year ago, my wanderlust led me to the shores of Philadelphia, USA from whence I proceeded to the big apple, New York City! Yaay! Moving on…..I left on an academic exchange program. It was a 10 months fellowship to the United States sponsored by the State Department in Washington with one of its policies being to preserve, learn and increase the number of speakers of  world languages and importantly, to promote an understanding/relationship between American culture and other cultures around the world.

I applied initially, missed my interview date because my Internet subscription expired the same week the program officer sent an email invitation. The day I renewed my Starkomms subscription, saw the invitation, the interview was for 12noon at the American Embassy in Lagos, I was in Ibadan. Yes, I know Mon Dieu!  Lagos traffic! That was 2010.

Following year, the program officer himself called me up one evening during Ramadan while I was trying to hurry up iftar (food for breaking the fast) preparation. I remember clearly I was not in any way excited about his call. I felt patronized and specifically, I felt “Oh! here we go again. They are just gonna screw me around again”. Well, did I mention the previous year I had still rushed to Lagos but unfortunately arrived at the Embassy just after the last interviewee and the white ‘Oga-at-the-top’ had left. Yes, this would explain why I wasn’t so excited about repeating the experience. Whew! boy, am I glad I went through the motions!

An interview, a TOEFL exam and good result later, I was on my way to my visa interview which by the way, the program officer let us know all we had to do was convince the interviewer that I would be returning. Sure. simple.

August 19, 2012, I boarded a Delta Airline flight headed for the United States to teach my mother tongue – Yoruba to undergrads at NYU. You can imagine my excitement. I felt chosen. I was a Fulbright scholar.

A transfer from Atlanta to PHL airport in the company of other Fulbrighters – Gledson, Kaka Chiu and Kristie, we were picked up at the airport by a pre-arranged shuttle service and all we had to show the driver was a printed coupon ticket. Cool! The one week orientation at the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN) was for lack of a better word, awesome!

Ps: at PHL airport, I met this Nigerian guy working there, Emeka and for some silly reason, he assumed it was a wonderful idea to sleep in his house because he was my ‘brother’ from Nigeria. Ewwwwww! even outside the country, these disgusting men still try pick-ups!

Moving on………

5 days later, I was on an Amtrak train headed to the big apple. whoo hoo! I missed my train though. This Amtrak ticket was a non-refundable, non-changeable $35. I had to pay for another ticket. That wasn’t so funny. How did I miss my train though I had arrived at the train station a good 45 minutes before boarding? Great question. First, I didn’t realize when the board says “on time” that the train was probably boarding. Secondly, I had no idea that the boarding platform was a subway platform. I had to heavy boxes and an equally heavy carryon. I am afraid I was no cat-woman. There goes my $35.

Next stop, 34th street Penn station, NYC. Let me just say no one came to meet me at the train station on my first visit to the big city. I had to pick myself and my three boxes up from the taxi queue and haul them into a waiting taxi. Arriving 10th avenue and in front of my new apartment building, I was momentarily at a loss what to do. I know I should have called my new roommate from the airport to let her know I was on my way but because I had never even used those public Nitel phones back then, I had no idea how to use similar public phones lying around every corner of the airport. I stood out there shifting from foot to foot until a service man came out of the glass doors and asked me who I wanted. Fortunately, he knew my new roommate and simply dialed her up on the intercom. Lucky me, she was home.

Anyway, enough of the chronicles. Moving on………….

Living in my cute, boarded up window-with-deep black-curtain blinds, I was happy. I found many things I liked in the many stores of Manhattan and especially on the expensive corner grocery of 10th avenue – D’agostino. We got Hagen-Dazs ice cream and soda on sale at this store especially and that’s what I have been trying to tell you all.

Prior to leaving Nigeria, I always avoided consumption of soda, ice cream and any other thing my hyper-sensitive conscious nutrition told me not to eat. I even teased a friend that was stuck on coca-cola and as a result felt he was adding weight and a paunch. I felt ice-cream was equally fattening while coca-cola would give me diabetes, empty calories and invariably, fat that I didn’t want. Funny thing was, I was a skinny, picky eater with no appetite most days. I also was in the uptight-tightass school of thought where it wasn’t proper or polite to use the “F” word especially in conversation with a female. I said this plenty times when chatting with my temperamental neighbor who was always cussing and somehow thought I felt it was cute and he was civilized that way. Well, I did not i.e until I spent 3 months in America.

The two things I always felt strongly about, Soda and the “F” word were now a daily staple for me. All my girlfriends cussed. My roommate is Black American so she did it in a way I had always admired from TV. Even my professor was doing it. Hey! when in Rome, act like the Romans so, I started to do it too. It was a relief to be able to vent that way because in the big apple, many things are gonna piss you off and you are constantly stressed in NYC. By the end of my Fulbright program, I had the art of cussing down to a cute pat. I also could not “effing” eat a meal (when hunger pangs finally drove me blindly into the kitchen) without soda. My choice of the poison, coca-cola. I always had a bottle of it in the fridge. Correction, we always had at least 2-3 bottles chilling in the fridge. That was my one addiction which still haunts me till date. I still can’t taste anything am eating or swallow properly without a bottle or cup of coke in front of me and I still cuss when I get emotional or pissed off (which is almost daily in this country).

Now, knowing how much I held unto my prim beliefs about cussing before my sojourn in New York and also my nutritional hypochondria about soda and ice cream compared to my present addiction to soda, I am still unsure if I should say I was influenced by my stay in the United States or if this is just a personal growth phase where I do not care anymore and would think nothing about saying to someone that pisses me off “MIND YOUR FUCKIN’ BEESWAX”.

What do you think?

Happy 53rd Nigeria.