She left very early that morning. Her younger brother had cried when she told him. He begged her not to go. But she tried to explain to him why she must. He didn’t seem to understand but he finally nodded and wiped his eyes. “Go well, sister,” he said to her.
She hugged him and told him to remember what she’d told him about not telling their mother.
She took a green bus to Onitsha and boarded a Lagos bus at Upper Iweka.
She was shocked that after she woke up the third time in the bus that they hadn’t yet arrived Lagos. She turned to the big woman sitting next to her. “Madam, please we not reaching the Lagos yet?”
The woman shook her head. “No. We are in Benin now.”
“Ha.” She stirred on her seat, trying to stretch her legs.
The woman looked at her.
“Sorry. My bom-bom scratching me.”
“You can stand for a while,” the woman told her.
She was on another round of sleep when a hand tapped her gently. She came awake with a start, clutching her Ghana-Must-Go tightly to herself.
“Come down,” the man told her. “I want to lock the door.”
It took a while before she realized he was the driver of the bus. She looked round in the bus, everyone has gone down.
She was terrified. “Hey!” she whimpered. “Driver, we have passing Lagos?”
“This is Ore. Come down.”
“Hey!” She started to cry. “Driver, I telling you I going to Lagos o! I telling you this from the beginning o! Now you carrying me to Ole, how I going back now, how?”
“Come down, we are not in Lagos yet.” The man’s impatience was tempered by his amusement.
Mma stopped crying. She eyed the man. “You saying we not reaching Lagos yet?”
“We have not reached,” the man said in Igbo. “Come down.”
She climbed down from the vehicle slowly, her bag hugged to her belly.
“Drop your bag in the car.”
“No. I carrying it with me.”
The man slid the door of the bus shut. “Go and find something to eat and make sure you come back here fast, otherwise we will leave you behind.”
She nodded. She bought banana and groundnut. “Madam, you saying this banana is two-fifty?” she asked the banana seller.
She examined the bunch again. “Everything two-fifty? You stealing it?”
The woman selling the bananas smiled and shook her head.
They arrived Lagos in late evening, that time of the day when daylight seemed to be uniting with darkness.
The driver stopped her at Anthony Bus stop as Nnanna had told her.
She called him with a public phone and he hurriedly told her he was coming, that she should make sure she didn’t go anywhere.“Where I knowing in Lagos to going?”
She waited and after about thirty minutes and she hadn’t seen him, she called him again.
“Nnanna, wearing you na? Wearing you? You wanting police to catching me here and putting my picture on TV and saying I missing?”
“Ha, t-l-a-fik kwa? Which one is tlafik now?”
“Oh you meaning go-slow?”
“Ha. But motos passing here na?”
She frowned. “Ok.”
“Ok. I waiting small and I calling you again.”
She gave the phone back to the tall slim boy standing beside her and paid him. “So calling somebody is ten-ten naira in Lagos?”
The call boy nodded.
“Chai. And that fatibombo Nkechi will be collecting thirty-thirty naira with her kpankolo phone that you not even hearing anything.” She did something like snapping her fingers. “Chelu, I will come back for her.”
Finally Nnanna came. He drove into the space and waved at her.
She screamed and rushed to him, throwing herself into him without care.
He held her. She smelt nice despite the long journey. He knew from the unrefined flowery scent that the perfume she’d used was cheap, but the smell was acceptably lovely.
He wanted to kiss her and she quickly dodged his lips.
“You not doing that on the road.”
“It’s just a harmless peck.”
“Ehen, is not the first one that putting me in this condition?”
He smiled and asked her how her trip was.
She hummed and shrugged. “Reallys, this Lagos far o.”
Nnanna laughed. “I told you.”
She shook her head. “You saying it o but I not believing till I seeing with my eyes.”
He stared at her with a large smile. “Get in.”
The smile lingered on his face as they drove home. Once in a while, he reached and touched her.
She would shift and ask him to “looking where he was driving.”
Cynthia was not home yet when they entered the house.
He asked Stella to take her things inside and show her to a room.
Stella grudgingly extended a fat hand. “Let me carry your bag.”
“Worrying not, Anty Ste-llar. I carrying my bag myself.”
Stella took back her hand quickly. As if she was dying to help her with the bag before. She showed her to a room and showed her, all with a bit of grudge, how to shower.
“You smell nice,” Nnanna told her when she came into the sitting room again.
“Thanking you, jare.”
“What fragrance is that?”
“You washing oyinbo. Putting Mr. Ibu na.” She held her long gown together in between her legs and made to sit on the floor, cold and smooth with shiny cream-colored tiles.
“No. You can sit on the couch.”
“No. I liking to sitting here.”
She screamed when a Nollywood movie came on. But it wasn’t Mr Ibu. Patience Ozokwo was raving and ranting at one of her daughters who had started to date the son of her enemy.
“You like it?” he asked.
She nodded. “I liking Patience well well.”
She watched the movie with sounds, oh”ing, hey”ing and aw”ing to the actions. “So when is Madam coming back?” she asked.
He stared at her before looking up at the clock. He picked his phone and scrolled down to the number saved with “Boo of Life.”
The reception was poor and he managed to make out her “Baby, almost home” in the midst of scratchy noises.
He turned the TV volume down a bit and turned to Mma. “Look, Mma, this is a mistake, you know that?”
“It was never my intention to put you in this way.”
She nodded. “Stopping to blame yourself na. I opening my legs for you, I faulting myself too.”
He inhaled deeply. “When my fiancée comes home we will make a decision. Hope you’ll be okay with that.”
Mma nodded. “Anything she saying, I agreeing.”
He stared at her and then moved his head in a nod. “Ok.” He ran his hand across his lower lip. “I promise you—”
A noise came at the door.
He turned. “That must be Cynthia.” He looked up at the big clock again. “Really late today.”
Cynthia entered, elegant in her prim dark-grey suit and shiny brown bag. Though her face was dull from exhaustion.
Mma rose quickly. “Good evening, Madam.”
She hugged and kissed Nnanna.
“Quite late, what happened?”
She shook her head, taking off her jacket. “The bridge was blocked to the teeth. You have to consider that Lekki offer really quickly, Richard.”
“I think what you need is to stop work. You shouldn’t be going through this stress now.”
“My leave is coming in next month. Meanwhile, I aint complaining yet and Dr Hope said it’s ok.”
He pulled down his lips. “If that’s what you say.”
Mma stood there, hands folded behind her and head fully bowed.
“Yes,” Cynthia said, dropping her bag and jacket on the glass table. “If you really want to help though, you can do by hastening our move to the Island.”
He made a face. Cynthia always wanted everything hastened; seeing her parents, moving to Lekki, getting a new car.
He inhaled deeply. “So—” His “so” came out loud and his gesticulation exaggerated. “This is Mma. She just arrived.”
Mma gave another quick bow. “Welcome, Ma.”
Cynthia stared at her with pursed lips. She did something like a nod. “Richard, room.”
Like a boy caught in an act of mischief by his mom, he followed her quietly into the room.
“Really, Richard, you really have to bring her to the house?” Cynthia did not wait for Richard to close the door.
“Where could I have taken her?”
“Like seriously you couldn’t have found a cheap hotel around and keep her there?”
“Oh. So what would that have solved?”
“It would have saved me the ordeal of setting eyes on the village filth you slept with, Richard.” She shook her head in both disappointment and disbelief. “Richard, how could you? How could you have brought yourself so low?”
“So you think she is half human?”
She scowled at him.
“When you are done, you can take a seat and we would find a way around this.”
“That’s a very silly thing to say, you know that!”
“What you did is beyond disgusting, Richard, and if you couldn’t feel the tiniest bit of remorse for it then you need to have your head checked!” She scratched at her hair, long, shiny-dark and very natural-looking, rumpling it.
“I have said I’m sorry a million times already and if you want me to keep saying it till the year runs out, I will, but right now we need to talk.”
“I’m tired, Richard. I’m very tired.”
“Alright, Cynthia, be tired!” He threw his hands around in the air. “Fine! Continue being tired!”
“Are you shouting at me?”
“No! Just go on and be tired. Like I was too the day you went debasing yourself at Chief’s party, right? Right?”
“Oh.” Cynthia tilted her head. “So this is what it is, a pay-back, huh?”
“Call it whatever you deem, I’ve lost care.” He dropped on the chair facing the mirror and buried his face in his hands.
“It is foolish to compare this atrocity you committed to a long forgotten event. You were well aware of my intoxication that night. Or you really think I would have allowed Chief so much as lay his filthy finger on me if I wasn’t drunk?”
“Oh well, you were the one that shopped specially for the occasion, sat by the mirror two long hours smothering yourself in make-up and drove all the way to Lekki to attend the silly party, weren’t you?”
Cynthia’s lips parted to say something but she couldn’t. She swallowed hard and started to cry.
Something leapt off Nnanna’s eyes. He looked at her and turned away quickly.
He finally stood and walked to her. He took her hands. “Baby, this is a mistake. If you want to punish me, I’ll give myself up for whatever punishment you deem fit but right now, we need to talk about a girl who is just as innocent as you in this situation.”
“Thank God you are finally coming to terms with how selfish and silly you acted, Richard.” She said this now in a low, muffled voice. She wiped at her eyes.
She finally sat down on the bed and they talked in low tones.
Soon she seemed back in control and her voice dominated the conversation; “Of course she is having an abortion, Richard.”
“Once the test comes back positive, she is going into the theatre for a D and C.”
“I will take her to Dr Hope on Saturday.”
“That’s none of my business.”
Stella left the door when she could no longer hear them.
She entered the sitting room. She took her Madam’s bag and jacket inside, came back, picked the remote and changed the channel to Sound City.
Mma turned to her. “Nne, but I watching the film na.”
“Go to your room and sleep.”
“Go inside and sleep.”
Mma pulled down her cheeks. “Ha. Stellar, why your blood hotting na?”
Stella ignored her and sat on the couch, nodding to Flavour’s song.
Copyright © Daniel Nkado 2014. All rights reserved.
Consented personally by the author to be used on Alifediary only.
Daniel Nkado is a Nigerian writer and journalist, author of bestselling Ola – The Tale of a Young Moon Maiden and founder of DNBStories.com.
Interact with him on www.dnbstories.com or @danielnkd on Twitter.