NIMI PETERS by Grace Ochigbo
Nimi quickly made for the door immediately the doorbell chimed. He stared back at the person in front of his door as though she was a stranger. She was literally shaking due to the early morning Harmattan cold.
“I’m not welcomed here anymore?” she tried to smile but held it back on seeing that Nimi’s countenance wasn’t pleasant at all.
“Do you know why it is called a cell phone?” Nimi asked with sarcasm in his voice as he gave way for her to walk in. “…it’s so you can carry it with you anywhere and everywhere you go. It’s not a load, it’s not heavy. It should be for emergencies like last night. You don’t pick calls and sure you probably don’t read your messages as well.”
“I’m sorry, Ojonimi!”
“No, you are not!” he snapped, yelling at the top of his lungs. “You don’t just assume every message is from MTN when you haven’t even opened it yet. You scared the life out of me the whole night. I was just about going to report to the police now. What is wrong with you, Fiyinfoluwa?”
“I’m sorry! I said I’m sorry, it’s my fault and I accept it. What else am I supposed to do?” she demanded, sounded provoked as her voice broke.
“What else are you supposed to do? Be conscious of your environment next time. If you put your ears to the ground anywhere you are, you would hear news, even without a TV.” Nimi shook her shoulders vigorously. He was really enraged and Fiyin could see it in his eyes. “By the way, where did you stay the night? At the shop?”
Fiyin nodded from left to right. She was getting scared. The way Nimi vibrated before her made her feel she needed to be careful with whatever she has to say. She glanced to see Deji hanging on to the rod of the staircase. Nimi’s yells must have brought him out of his room.
“No, No. I luckily found a private taxi. He brought me to the estate’s gate. The security men said I can’t go in, since it was late. So… so… I… I had to stay over at their place… the security post.” Her voice shook as she hurriedly said these
“Can you listen to yourself, young woman? A private taxi, what if he was a kidnapper or serial killer. Stayed back at the estate’s security post, what if something had happened. What if you got harmed?” he was still screaming out loud as he headed for the stairs. Deji had disappeared from there already. Who wouldn’t flee from an angry man. “Look here Fiyinfoluwa, if you don’t value your own life, I do. I so damn do! And you are not going to give me hypertension because of that.”
His brain told him he was overreacting, so much so that he just spoke like his mother now, but he couldn’t help it. He had stayed awake the whole night, calling Fiyin’s ‘switched off’ phone. He imagined a million and one thing that could have happened to her and inasmuch as he wished he could just say all these calmly, he had to drive home the point… into her brain.
“In fact,” he turned abruptly and Fiyin shook where she stood. “…henceforth, you are closing from that buka latest 8pm. I’ll come and pick you myself, I don’t mind. Have I made myself clear? That’s until I find something safer for you to do.”
He stamped his feet angrily against the staircase as he headed upstairs. Fiyin took in a deep breath, threw her bag onto the chair. She remembered the driver of the taxi she had boarded giving her a paper containing his phone number. It was at the gate when the security guys refused her from entering. He had asked her to call him in case she got stranded that night. Thankfully, she didn’t get stranded, so there wasn’t any need calling him.
She took in a deep breath again. She couldn’t tell whether Nimi’s rage was out of anger, disappointment or love for her as it were. She blushed shyly at the punishments he meted out on her – could she sense romance in his punishments? She brushed that aside and thought of calling the driver from last night, at least to say ‘thank you’ for saving her. She had thought him to be a kidnapper too at some points, since he wasn’t readily showing his face. She wasn’t even sure if she saw his face up till now. Dragging her bag closer, she put her hand into the area she usually keep her phone. Alarm rang in her head as she stretched her hand deeper and deeper into the bag.
Alas! Her phone wasn’t there.
Ojima Peters pushed the door to Ojonugwa’s room open. He was curled up on his bed with a headphone on. He seemed too lost in the Reekado Banks’ ‘ladies and gentlemen’ that was playing so loud from the headphone, so much so that she could hear it where she stood, hanging onto the door knob.
“Your brother does nothing with his strike period o, Nukpe. He only curls himself up, listening and singing loud and strange songs that no one seems to know what he is saying.” She said into the receiver of the phone.
Just like normal behavioural reactions, Ojonugwa noticed someone enter his room. He paused the player on the laptop and stared at his mum who held out a plate containing oranges to him while she supported her phone against her ears with the raised shoulder of her other hand.
“But seriously, I don’t know how your father is going to take this o, beloved daughter. You know I’m totally not in support.” She took her seat on the bed while waiting for the person on the other side of the phone to finish talking.
“Na to join mouth? If na to join mouth, no wahala na. You know that one na my job. You also know your father, if he says no, there is almost nothing I can do. Moreover, I no even support you before.” Ojima Peters rattled in pidgin English to show some sort of emphasis, smiling roguishly in a way that made Ojonugwa wish the phone was on speaker so that he could also hear whatever his elder sister was telling their mum.
“Ehn ehn! No! You people will not be doing brother and sister on top of my phone, agba. Call him on his line, and that has to be much later because I came to have a talk with him.” She winked at her son who was staring with full attention at her the whole time.
“Mum, lemme talk to her na. Sisi, can you hear me…”
His mother ended the call as he tried to snatch the phone from her hand.
“Don’t be rude, boy!” She warned sternly, waving his hands away. Ojonugwa started laughing hysterically.
“Mum! Seriously? You don’t want me to talk to my sister?”
“That’s why you have a Samsung galaxy phone to yourself. And if you power the phone and keep it on as much times as you power and keep this laptop on, the Peters will really appreciate you more.” She looked doleful as she said this and that increased her son’s laughter even more. He laughed and fell on her and she also was involuntarily made to laugh.
“But I’ll prefer this news coming from Nimi, not Nukpe.”
Ojonugwa sat up. “What news?”
She shook her head, as though she wasn’t excited. She had learnt to let issues take their natural course and not worry so much. That was what the mail from Lauren said to her. It got to that point she had to voice out her fears to Lauren and it wasn’t as though her favourite woman said anything out of the ordinary, nothing different from what her husband always told her. Perhaps it’s due to the so much reverence and admiration for Lauren that made her take Lauren’s word in, line, hook and sinker. Lauren had advised her simply to try to live and let worries take care of themselves. She’s really been trying to do that, and reduce her worries, especially about Nimi. She sometimes blamed herself for worrying so much over a fully grown adult, anyway.
“Your sister wants to bring home this man she loves.” She gesticulated quotations with her fingers. “Mum, I think I love him enough, bla bla bla, in her own words.” She sighs. “I don’t exactly know if you kids of nowadays really know the value and strength of those four letter words whenever you use it carelessly.”
Ojonugwa stared back at his mum as though he couldn’t believe what the woman was saying.
“Are you saying now, mum, that you are unexcited at Nukpe’s bringing a man home, just because it isn’t Bro Nimi?”
Ojima jerked back. “No. Ehnmm! No. I wasn’t saying that…”
“What then are you saying, mum? You know? You make us feel at times as though Bro Nimi is your only child. I don’t understand that part, sincerely.” He sounded a bit irritated and Ojima knew she needed to handle the situation before it gets out of control. Her husband would not like to hear such reports as he had warned her a lot of times to stop segregating affection for the children. It just comes reflexively and involuntary for her, with some weird deep sited fear in her heart.
“You see, Nugwa, I’m just a little bit uncomfortable about your brother. That’s all! He is taking everything in his life serious, except the issue of marriage. You know he isn’t getting younger. It should worry me, right?” she wasn’t even convincing herself with the statement.
“Mum…” Ojonugwa said, coming to grab her two hands while looking straight into her eyes. “Do you know that by worrying, no man has been able to add a single strand of hair to his head? So why worry? Everything will fall in its proper place, just when it’s time… OK?” He stretched up and planted a peck on her right cheek.
Ojima Peters smiled lightly. She shouldn’t worry indeed.
“But then, there is another problem with Nukpe’s issue o!” she looked extremely serious.
“What is the problem again? The man is too rich? Because she sure knows we are not accepting any in-law any less richer than Big bro!” he sounded as though it was a joke he just cracked.
Ojima smiled. “Not money. It’s ethnicity!”
Ojonugwa squeezed his forehead. “I wanted to ask about what tribe he is from, but let me use your big word, Ma’am, what ethnicity is he from?” he grinned as he said this.
Ojima Peters took in a deep breath. “He is a Norwegian!”
Ojonugwa’s eyes popped open. “Nor… what? Wait a minute, Nukpe wants to marry a white man?” He screamed out before he could stop himself.
Joelyn flipped another page of her photo catalogue. This was one thing that made her feel valuable and useful, after all. Even though her father’s fame and influence granted her access to take photographs of high class people in the FCT, it was much more than that for her. There was this special touch to her photography sessions that make people admire it. Was it her beautifully designed with expensive, state-of-the-arts gadget photo studio in Maitama? No. It surely had to be more because even her outdoor shots are appreciated.
She tittered lightly as she saw one of the very many pictures of Nimi Peters – her unofficial model. She remembered how it wasn’t really a planned photo session that morning and how that Nimi had walked into her studio for something else entirely. He was dressed quite casual in that shot; a shirt and maroon sweaters with a beaded neck piece hanging down his neck. She had to insist he made a pose in front of the camera for her and as Nimi was one person to be nice to ladies, he finally obliged after so much persuasions. She got this one nice shot when he wasn’t really posing and was only laughing away then. Guess the major object of attraction in that picture was not only his sleek eye glasses or his glistering clay skin as it were; it must have been the casual playful smile he had on his face while pointing at something in her direction.
She was sure to upload it, of course, and probably because it looked something different from the designer suited; lexies Armani-georgio-different-designers’ dressed Nimi, a lot of likes and comments flooded her page. The ambience of the picture was priceless and her caption, ‘Nimi Peters, a dilemma in serenity’ must have also caught people’s attention. She had lots and lots of followers on Instagram after that picture went viral on social media.
Joelyn had always wanted her own life. She wasn’t one to be known just by her father’s name and wealth alone; she desired to be known with a name she’s been able to create by her own handiwork and not otherwise.
She felt her phone buzz shortly and started ringing. Astonishment filled her face as she lifted the iphone 6x that was ringing among her other three phone. Only few persons had the number on this particular phone and as if that wasn’t enough, the number didn’t look familiar to her. She dropped it and continued staring at the catalogue in her hand.
“If my life is for rent, and I don’t want to buy..” she hissed dryly as Dido’s ‘Life for rent’, her ringtone, came loudly through her ears. She picked the call and waited for whoever the person was to talk first.
“I’m sorry, baby! I’m sorry. You know I was just angry. I couldn’t have harmed you… I… I can’t hurt you, honey… you know that. I…” the voice came apologetically.
Joelyn initially removed the phone from her ears to be sure she heard correctly. Even if she was awaken from a deep coma, she would recognise Tolu’s voice in any shade, only that this version of Tolu was doing something strange – apologising. Something felt not right.
“I’ve heard you!” she responded coldly, after his numerous lines.
“Baby, C’mon! We have to put the past behind us, OK? I was only disappointed that you lost what was meant to be our source of hope again baby, our strongest bond, our strongest access to your father. How else were you expecting me to feel? It was so disheartening. But then…” he paused and then continued. “I know I overreacted. Please just let it go, baby. We could try again… please, come back into my life. It’s been hell without you. I can’t live without you.”
Joelyn took in a deep breath. The past few days had been a time of sober reflections for her. She had taken time out to think deeply into things she deliberately refused her memory from refreshing. She had put her life on a value scale and haven weighed it, there were some decisions she resolved to make, and first on the list was whether to continue this relationship with Tolu… or not.
“Tolu, you see. I’m sorry for all that happened. I’m really sorry I lost the baby, our baby. But Babe, we can’t come back. I’m trying to arrange my life again. I guess we should just move on.” She didn’t say this altogether like this. She took her time, saying each word as though the next one stuck to her throat.
“I knew it. Jo, I knew this day would come. Oh! Shit! I just knew it. I knew you would one day dump me like a piece of rag… Like a broken egg that’s not useful for cooking or frying. I knew it. Why didn’t I listen to my mind, why? Damn you Jo!” he spilled out in such a pained and enraged voice that increased Joelyn’s heartbeat a greater deal. Perhaps she had done the wrong thing by saying those words to Tolu?
“After all I’ve done for you, this is how you would pay me back?” she heard Tolu’s voice come through her ears. She closed her eyes and forced it open immediately as though she saw something dreadful. She wiped at a tear drop off her eyes.
“Babe!” she called out in a fainted voice. Her heart was breaking. Somehow she knew she owed Tolu a whole lot and the young man would be right to get mad at her forever if she decides to leave him.
“I’ll leave you, Joelyn.” He started slowly but pathetically, “I’ll leave you to your conscience. Thank you for playing with my emotions all these while. Thank you for making me believe you loved me for real. Thank you for showing me my proper place – in the bin. You are rich and live in a mansion, I am poor and I should live in a dunghill…”
“No Babe! …” Joelyn cut in but he shut her up.
“You dare made me believe in a lie? In a lie that we would convince your father. Now, my life is on the line…” that statement sounded strange in Joelyn’s ears and she felt the impulse to ask for explanation, then she remembered the wisdom to keep quiet and listen on, as fear gripped her onto her wide bed. “You will soon hear the news of my death and when you do, always remember that you were responsible for it.” the line went dead immediately.
“Hello, Babe? Tolu? Toluwani? Hello, can you hear me? Tolu please…please…” she pulled the phone off her ear to see the call was no longer ongoing. She pressed the dial button,
“…The number you are trying to call is currently switched off, please try…”
Joelyn threw the phone onto the rugged floor in frustration. What has she done? She pushed a pillow away from her as a way of venting out frustration. She threw away the photo catalogue in her hand and fell her back tiredly onto the bed like a log of wood.
The doctor dropped the wrist of the woman. It’s a good thing she had woken up finally, after about a week long duration in coma. She looked at the doctor tiredly as though she couldn’t recognise anything in her environment.
“Welcome back, ma!” the doctor said, grinning widely at her.
Fiyin’s mother just stared blankly into space, like she didn’t hear the salutation. The doctor glanced at the nurse beside her and she immediately caught the message. The younger lady nurse stretched out a file to the doctor and she took it quickly. She glanced through what were obviously tests results. Her face was livid and that made the nurse draw closer. She thought she saw sweats appear on the doctor’s face too.
The doctor handed the file over to her and drew nearer Fiyin’s mother.
“We are glad to have you back, madam!” she said again, this time louder with more emphasis.
The response was the same. The woman didn’t move, except that her eyelids blinked from time to time. She didn’t move any other part of her body neither did she open her mouth to respond to the statement. The doctor wanted to talk again, but somehow changed her mind. She turned back and started heading out of the ward room.
“Send for her daughter immediately!” she ordered the nurse while walking out.
Fiyin starred as a man strolled casually into the Buka. He had a baggy pair of trousers and a black skin tight polo. He was the real definition of a hefty giant. The only thing that her memory recalled was his deep sited face cap from last night.
“Hi…Hello, you remember me?” he removed his face cap and Fiyin saw his face for the first time. His head shone like a sun-kissed island in the tropic savannah blending perfectly with his neat goatee. She couldn’t have known him from anywhere so there was absolutely no point finding out if there was any sort of familiarity on his face or not.
“Yeah! Of course. Of course, I do. Thank you for last night again!” Fiyin rapped these words so hurriedly one would think fire burnt her tongue while at it. “How did you find me here?” she added quickly, trying hard not to sound suspicious.
“Never mind! Apart from the fact that I picked you up not so far away from here last night, it’s a very small world too.”
Fiyin smiled uncomfortably, wishing she understood the last part of his statement. She saw his right hand go into his pocket and suddenly felt a little fear grip her. She was in the buka with customers and the area was crowded as its broad daylight, the man wouldn’t be trying anything funny.
“I actually traced you down here to bring you this…” he stretched his hand out to her. “I guess it fell off your bag. I found it on the floor of the car seat where you sat.”
Fiyin felt elated. Her phone was finally back. She had been thinking of how best to tell Nimi that her number probably didn’t go through because it was nowhere to be found. She thought briefly about the possibilities of her phone dropping from her bag without notice, then she waved the thoughts off quickly and smiled at the man in front of her.
“Thank you so much. You have really been a god-sent to me since yesterday. God bless you!”
Deji interrupted them by greeting swiftly and disappearing behind the door to the place that serves as kitchen. He definitely must be starving haven returned from many hours long private tutorials.
“I got to go now miss…”
“Fiyin, Fiyinfoluwa!” she said quickly.
“I got to go now Miss Fiyin! I’ll see you around!” he smiled at her broadly before turning around.
“Wait…” Fiyin said, stopping him in his tracks. He stopped and turned back to face her.
“Well, thank you for everything though you haven’t told me your name too.”
He smiled again. His smiles were getting overt and getting the lady uncomfortable. “I knew you would ask that. It’s typical of ladies to have a payback, right?”
“Whatever you may like to call it, Mr? …” she raised her right eyebrow and lowered the other one in waiting for him to complete her sentence with his name.
“You can call me anything… stranger? Yes. Call me ‘stranger’ for now. Real name withheld till we see again!” saying this, he dashed out before Fiyin could simulate his words in her head.
Whoever calls someone stranger by the way.
To be continued next Monday.
Thank you all for the feedbacks. I really love to hear from you anytime. Thank you again!