NIMI PETERS by Grace Ochigbo
Another knock came through her ears again. She forced her drowsy eyes and they opened wide, so wide like ShopRite doughnuts. She glanced around her, she was still in the dress she wore out last night, and as if that wasn’t enough, her sandals were still very much strapped onto her feet.
What happened here?
She wiped her eyes with the back of her palm.
She jerked to her feet as the voice came from behind the door. She wearily trudged till she opened the door to a partially smiling Nimi. He had a tray with a covered plate in his hand.
“Can’t I come into your room anymore?”
For real? Fiyin left the doorway to let him in. It was his house for crying out loud.
“I made breakfast!” he said. His voice shaking slightly, but he managed to submerge the tension therein.
Fiyin felt the impulse to laugh. “You? Breakfast?”
She finally burst out in a mocking laughter now.
Nimi felt uncomfortable. “C’mon now. Try it first!”
Fiyin walked over to the tray on the stool and opened the cover over the plate. She picked a little portion of the fried eggs and put some in her mouth. She quickly spit it off.
“Nimi, so you have succeeded in wasting these precious eggs o. I told you to give up already. Cooking isn’t your calling. Pouring a quantity of salt large enough to feed the whole Abuja in just two eggs? That’s really some incredible cooking if you ask me.” She made sarcastic gestures as she said these.
Nimi smiled. “I’ll need your help with the frying pan though…”
“You see?” Fiyin raised her eyebrow. “As if I knew. The whole kitchen would probably be smoking terribly now. I hope you don’t burn all of us down in this house someday.”
“How else was I going to say I’m sorry to my twin sister who locked out on me since last night? Fiyin, I’m sorry please. It’s not what you think. Jo … Jo was only… only trying…”
“It’s fine.” Fiyin cut in, shutting him up. “Moreover as a good twin sister that I am, I shouldn’t have reacted that way. I ought to be happy that my brother is finally bringing a wife home for us.”
Nimi rolled his eyeballs. “How about the female twin showing us the way?”
Fiyin managed a smile. She didn’t know why, but she expected him to do or say something else… something different. Was Nimi truly seeing her as just a twin sister and nothing more? She didn’t particularly know how to feel about this fact she has deliberately refused to accept.
“Well, anyone could go first.”
Nimi started laughing and it confused Fiyin. “Let me catch who would take you, my sweet smiling angel away from me…” this got Fiyin blushing carelessly until the concluding part dashed it all again. “…he will so pay, ehn? He will know it’s not easy to have a beautiful, gorgeous and complete sister.”
“Why did you take me to the property?” Fiyin needed to change the topic to a more comfortable one… like where they both went to yesterday.
“I don’t know. Why? Ehmmm! That property is probably my only secret, even Edward doesn’t know about it. He didn’t even as much as know when I got it. It’s been there for a long time now and every year the value keeps appreciating. Getting that land should be my greatest investment so far!”
Fiyin took in a deep breath. “That still doesn’t answer my question, Ojonimi.”
“Well… your question is ambiguous. A secret is no secret until it’s between two persons, and you happen to be one of the two persons in this one. I was contemplating building or selling it, since its value has greatly appreciated. I just needed us to decide on what to do with it, like… what is best to do, sort of!” he said these words, pausing for several seconds in-between.
“Why me? You should have chosen Joelyn to share the secret with. Moreover she’s the one that’s going to be living with you when you eventual build your house.” Her hand was scratching an invisible something around her neck region.
Nimi started smiling coyly. His face suddenly appeared like the dictionary definition of sultry.
“Is that jealousy I feel in your voice?” he drew nearer to her, and she suddenly could hear her own heartbeats. Nimi as usual didn’t know what was moving his legs but he knew he couldn’t stop them as they drew nearer Fiyin. His heart jumping and throbbing hard while at it.
“Answer me…” he said quietly, drawing the last part of ‘me’ till it came like a subtle question, ‘me?’ He cupped her face in his palms and stared intensely into her beautiful bold eyes. They had palpable fear in them.
“Erhm!” Fiyin swallowed. “I… I…” she tried to say, her eyes darting from east to west trying to avoid his intense gaze until Nimi’s lips closed up on hers, shutting her up.
Chief Ogbonna lay restlessly on his large master sized bed. Something was really troubling him so much so that it has made sleep as scarce as diamond in a goldmine. He remembered the conversation with Johnson from yesterday. If there was anyone he knew as much as himself was Johnson, and saying the latter is an extremely stubborn man would be an understatement. He only hopes that their friendship would not be smeared sooner than estimated with this new approach Johnson was about to embark on. He smiled wickedly to himself at that thought.
Getting up, he pulled out a drawer from the most unlikely expected place a drawer could be – the bottom of the wooden part of his bed. He dragged it out till he could freely bring out the only content in that mini drawer. It was a brown envelope.
He sat up on the bed and placed the big envelope in front of him. As he tried to turn the content onto the bed, his eyes caught a picture amidst the several documents in there. It was as though this would be his first time of seeing that picture. He held it with trembling hands and his breathing rate increased while staring at it with so much attention, one may be forced to believe the picture would change to something else with a little more intense stare.
“Why are you crying, Princess?”
“I want to see Uncle Nimi!” she lamented.
Edward heaved a sigh of relief and knelt before Goldie, wiping out her tears with his fingers.
“Is that why you are crying?” Edward couldn’t believe it.
“Ask her o.” Ele cut in from where she was in the kitchen. “…she’s been all about Nimi for the past few days. I’ve tried to persuade her that her uncle just got too occupied at the office and that he would find time to come over soon, but all my talks have been sounding like papa Ajasco in her ears. Me, I’m tired!”
Edward stood up and lifted Goldie in his arms.
“Mummy is right, Princess. He also wants to see you too. In fact, he asks after you every minute. Only that he just got very busy at work, but trust me he would come over sooner than you think.”
“Daddy, take me to him!” she insisted, refusing to come down from her daddy’s arms.
Edward felt disturbed. It was good the little girl wasn’t crying anymore, but then she was refusing to get down, which was worse than crying in the first place.
“I… I … I cross my heart, I’ll take you to Uncle Nimi’s house when I get back from work today. But now Princess, daddy got to run!”
“No!!” the moppet wasn’t yielding. Edward glanced at the wall clock, he would be late if he’s not out of this house in the shortest possible time.
Just then the doorbell chimed.
“I’ll get it.” Ele came out from the kitchen and headed for the door, still wiping her hand with a towel.
“Talk of the devil!”
“Uncle Nimi!” Goldie got off her father’s hands and jumped on Nimi’s as usual.
The latter lifted her from the ground, threw her up and caught her back twice in quick successions before putting her on his left shoulder. Goldie was smiling from molar to molar now.
“Mehn! You have stolen my daughter away from me.” Edward said out in defeat, smiling.
Nimi smiled too. He dropped her from his shoulder.
“Angel, do you know what happened to Uncle?”
“He has found aunty?” Goldie screamed out.
“Yes!” Nimi responded playfully, giving the little girl a high five.
Edward and Ele returned stares at each other in utter amazement. The way Nimi gets to play with this child in her level was quite amazing. Little wonder the girl loves him so much.
“When would you bring her to your guardian angel?” Goldie rattled on.
Nimi smiled. “As your majesty pleases!” he mimicked obeisance. “When I’ve done more work, I’ll tell her my guardian angel wants to meet her, then I’ll bring her to your kingdom, your majesty.”
Nimi smiled as Goldie nodded excitedly, giving him another high five. He reached out for his pocket and gave her the numerous wraps of her favourite chocolate he bought for her.
Goldie was practically jumping and dancing round the whole place now.
“Are we still going to work today?” Edward asked the almost carried away Nimi.
“Of course, of course.”
Edward smiled. “Moreover, you are the General Manager, I guess I’m covered with you!”
“Not so quick, young man. I may only be your chauffeur for today!” Nimi said, grinning from ear to ear.
Deji cleared his throat loudly and that startled Fiyin. She hadn’t noticed his presence here in the past fifteen minutes.
“Really? What’s getting you so excited, big sis?”
Fiyin rolled her eyes. “Did you actually have to scare me first?” she was still smiling.
There’s this theory about the best breakfast for couples being a cup of deep kisses before work every morning. It’s been tested to work wonders for the persons involved the better of the day. The only hindrance in Nimi and Fiyin’s case was that they were no couple. They weren’t even having a relationship, to start with. What this was, she was yet to find out. But then, she found the whole situation weirdly enjoyable, much more so that she’s very comfortable with it… with him.
“Hope you slept well? Wherever you slept!”
Deji couldn’t curtail his laughter. “I slept in this house. My own side of the house… in my room. I knew when Bro Nimi knocked on your door earlier this morning. You both didn’t want me to have a good sleep, yeah?”
“Deji, can you just shut up and get ready for the buka? Oh! You are still using your private lessons as excuse, right?” she squeezed her forehead.
“Yes o… Uncle Nimi…”
He paused as Fiyin’s phone started ringing.
“Don’t tell me you just got to the office.” She blushed carelessly in front of her brother. “For real? You are sure it’s Edward’s?”
She stole a glance at Deji who fixed his gaze on her the whole time.
“Lunch? When you didn’t take breakfast!” she waited for the person on the other side of the phone to talk and then she burst out in spontaneous laughter. “No, that wasn’t food. Yes, it wasn’t food at all. You know you need to concentrate, right? Please leave me alone and face your work. I’ll soon be at there too.” She giggled again. “I’ve heard you o. Bye bye!”
She slowly brought the phone down her ears and held it tightly.
“Uhm!” she stared blankly. Has she forgotten Deji’s presence already?
“Is there something I need to know?” he queried, looking extremely serious with suspicion covering his eyeballs.
Fiyin laughed. “C’mon Kiddo. What’s going on in that coconut head of yours?” she demanded, and was about walking towards him when her phone started ringing again.
“Who is this again?” she murmured as she picked the phone off the cabinet. She suddenly readjusted on seeing the caller’s Id.
Deji drew closer to her involuntarily.
“A new development? What?” she gasped her few words.
Nimi walked hurriedly into the board room. He would one day have to tell his boss how much he hated all these emergency summons. Can’t one enter his office and sit in peace without being called?
“You suddenly enjoy coming late to work these days?” Mr Johnson’s voice called out to him while he still held the knob.
Nimi glanced at the third member in the boardroom.
“Let’s say you suddenly come quite too early to work these days, sir. This is only 9am.” He took his seat, opposite the lady smiling at him. Nimi was used to such smiles, he gets a lot of them every now and then.
“Is 9am the start of work at Crestac? Why don’t you just apologise simply, other than towing the argumentative lane with me this morning? I’m your boss, remember?”
Nimi saw the seriousness in Mr Johnson’s face and smiled. “I’m sorry, boss!”
That made Mr Johnson smile too. His soft spot for Nimi was quite unusual.
“The accountant here said you told her nothing about the gratuity I said to pay to our late Gardener, Mr Lawal!”
Nimi was caught unawares and he didn’t hide it. It was only yesterday for crying out loud.
“Yes! I’m really sorry about that, sir. I didn’t know it was that urgent!”
“Well, henceforth, consider every instruction from me to you as urgent as the most urgent thing there is on planet earth. Have I made myself clear?”
Nimi swallowed. “Yes sir!”
He couldn’t place it. Mr Johnson appeared provoked, yet sounded quite calm.
“Now, I need you both to hasten the processes and have that money released to the family of the diseased in the shortest possible time.”
“Yes sir.” The accountant and Nimi chorused.
“Good morning!” Mr Johnson said on the note of dismissal and the duo stood up to leave.
“Nimi, you sit!”
Nimi felt a slight discomfort somewhere on his right head; he had this insinuation about something not just being right somewhere.
“The girl… Mr Lawal’s daughter… your twin…” Mr Johnson started, stressing the twin part well.
Nimi smiled. “Fiyinfoluwa Abosede Lawal is her name, sir.”
“Ooh! I don’t think I need her full name. I only need to see her to discuss some things with her. It’s quite urgent, you know? And concerning her sick mother…”
Nimi’s eyes popped open. “How did you know her mother is sick, sir?”
Mr Johnson smiled victoriously. “Let that not bother you, son. Tell her to see me in my office today, unfailingly.” He got up, tapped Nimi on the shoulders and walked out of the boardroom, leaving Nimi alone to ponder.
Fiyin practically rushed into the doctor’s office.
“Tell me nothing is wrong with maami. Tell me she is still fine. Tell me she’s still alive… Doctor, please talk to me!” she jammed everything up together as tears poured down her eyes.
The doctor took in a deep breath, walking towards her. “Calm down, Fiyin!”
“You know calming down would be a wrong thing to tell me right now, Doctor. Can you please tell me, in the name of what you hold dearest, what happened to my mother? I’m losing my mind.”
“That’s why I said you should calm down. You know there is no way I’m going to talk to you sounding all afraid and unsettled like this. If you want me to talk soonest, then start by taking your seat at least!”
The doctor smiled sweetly at Fiyin, and suddenly Fiyin felt like pouncing on her and pulling those words off her throat. She tiredly dropped in one of the chairs and waited for the news.
“Now, it’s good that you are calm!”
“What the hell happened to my mother, Doctor?” Fiyin yelled impatiently. She just knew she couldn’t keep up with that ‘relax’ mantra the doctor was pulling.
“Your mother is very fine. I saw her this morning during the ward round. That’s not why I called you anyway…” Fiyin sat up “…someone paid the amount for her surgery into the hospital’s account yesterday night and we just want to confirm if you are aware of it.” she said these calmly and Fiyin returned shocked eyes to her.
“Aware of it? Money for the surgery?” she questioned no one in particular. “Doctor, I’m lost. I’m not aware before now about such transaction.” She was being honest.
The doctor relaxed into her seat. “Are you sure?”
“Isn’t the transaction bearing any details? This is millions of naira we are talking about here. Wasn’t there any name of sender, anything, anything at all?”
“Of course! There were some details of the sender. It was an internet transaction…” the doctor started. “E.J. Johnson, CEO Crestac group of companies…” she read out from the computer in front of her.
Fiyin stared back at her in shock, unable to believe her ears.
“Do you know this person?”
Silence. No response.
“Fiyin!” the doctor’s voice rose a little higher this time.
“Uhmmm! Yes… yes please!”
“Do you know this person? Of course, every bird in Abuja knows the Johnsons, the CEO of the multibillionaire company. What I mean is, do you have a personal rapport or whatsoever with him?”
Fiyin stared for a while, as though simulating words in her brain.
“No… yes… I mean, no. OK? I’ve met him in person. In fact, we met yesterday. So I don’t really have a close rapport per se, but I’m only shocked and surprised at one thing.”
“What?” the doctor asked before the words were barely off Fiyin’s mouth
“How did he know my mother is sick and that she is admitted here as well?”
To be continued next Monday.
Do say a word of prayer for me today.
Have a great day ahead.