NIMI PETERS – Grace Ochigbo
EPISODE TWENTY FOUR
Nimi contorted his face into a mini frown as he pressed down the door bell with the hand not holding onto his phone.
“C’mon now daddy, you know we here are her sons not some serial killers…”
He chuckled loudly from the other side of the phone. “You guys are men o, I need you to watch my lady closely. She’s getting old, I don’t want anything stressing her.”
Nimi smiled broader. “We’ve got her, dad! You have nothing to worry about. I just dropped her off at the venue of the program. She would beep me once they are almost done so I can go get her. We’ll take her out later tonight and she would be on her way back to you latest next tomorrow. And… I have to go now, dad. I’m at Edward’s!”
“Have a nice day ahead, son.” The call ended.
The door before him creaked open, presenting Ele. She was all dressed up on native skirt and blouse. She gave way for Nimi to enter the house proper.
“Goldie my angel…” Nimi didn’t understand why his girl just stood looking at him like she doesn’t know him anymore.
“Angel, aren’t you going to greet your uncle?” her mother called out from the door. Goldie just stood dumbly with a finger in her mouth and her body leaning against the wall as though gummed to it. Nimi moved over to her and she escaped before he could get there. She held the edges of her mother’s firmly tied wrapper as a tear dripped down her little innocent face.
“Goldie, you are not going with me, I’ve said that already!” Ele yelled, with the aim of scaring her hand off but the little girl persisted.
“Mummy… mummy!” she cried
Nimi just stared at the scenario and something seemed beautifying about it to him.
“Ele, just go along with her. You know when she starts like this, she wouldn’t let anyone else win.” Edward said to his wife, joining them in the sitting room
Ele nodded her head from side to side. “Honey, I’m going to the international market. It’s too busy and risky to take her along. I can’t leave her in the car as well.” She bent to Goldie, “Darling, please be reasonable with mummy. I’ll buy you candies, which do you want?”
“No… mummy… I’ll follow you…” she insisted, not letting go.
Ele shrugged and picked her car keys from the handle of the chair alongside her handbag. “I will just go to the shop then and send Tina to the market. All thanks to you little something.” She sounded provoked but Goldie smiled victoriously as she jumped out of the room ahead of her mother.
“Have a great day, guys!” Ele said, closing the door behind her.
Edward took his seat on the couch and picked up the remote. “Commissioner for Happiness? Holy Jesus! What the heck?” He screamed unbelievably as he watched the screen. “How is that? What is couple’s fulfilment? Who is following us in naija?” He exclaimed. He was jerking on the couch and it shook. Suddenly, he realised Nimi was still standing by the wall.
“What’s up, man? Are you not seeing this? We probably should visit this commissioner for your matter!” He turned backwards and then he realised that Nimi wasn’t really listening to him. The latter on a polo, midi length jeans and a pair of white trainers stood absent-mindedly, using the wall as a pillar. Edward took one of the little chair pillows and threw at him.
“What?” Nimi exclaimed in fear, coming back from his thoughts.
“I’ve been talking to you the whole time. What is on your mind that much?” Edward demanded, ignoring the TV now.
Nimi suddenly burst out in loud laughter, so loud and long that Edward already considered the possibilities of needing a psychiatrist.
“What’s funny, man? Why are you acting all weird?” He had fear in his voice.
Nimi came over to sit. His laughter has subsided now.
“Goldie… that girl… Goldie… oh how I love your daughter. She’s just epic!”
Edward gave him the ‘are-you-kidding-me’ look. “It couldn’t have been Goldie, Nimi Peters. Leave my innocent daughter out of this.”
Nimi smiled. “She just reminded me of how I would always insist on following my mother around, when I was young. Lord!” He held his head in laughter. “How time flies, mehn. I can’t believe it’s that same mum that’s pushing forty-five.”
Edward continued staring at him and he knew better than not to explain.
“OK. Alright! This is it. I grew up to know mum alone for several years. I think until I was four or five thereabouts, I can’t really recall now. She always told me then that my father travelled for a long period and would be back soon. So I was used to her a lot. She was very hardworking – the height of it. Mummy would go to a beauty salon during the day to work and then set things out to fry akara and yam later that same evening and as if that’s not enough, she sew some clothes hired her over the night. She was extremely hardworking to a fault.”
Edward heaved a sigh of relief. He wasn’t there at Nimi’s growing up anyway, so he got to listen attentively.
“One day, mum came home with dad. Grandpa and grandma were still alive then. Daddy was so nice to me and I was so happy meeting him after awaiting him for so long. But something more interesting happened…”
“What?” the curious part of Edward questioned.
“Mum and dad wanted to wed again. I mean, I had to become rings’ bearer at my own parents’ wedding. Who does that?”
Edward took in a deep breath.
“Well, life became better after daddy came. Mummy stopped working round the clock as daddy could afford to take care of all of us. We now ate delicious meals as many times a day as we wanted. I could also go to school. Mummy also was sent to a school… long long stories. Then came Nukpe and then Ojonugwa and that’s how we grew as one big family. I’m really old o…” he collapse into the seat.
Edward chuckled lightly. “Thank God for you. There was no much space between my younger brother and I, so unlike you, I didn’t enjoy any time alone with mummy, neither did I become ring bearer for them….” He was being cynical.
Nimi threw him a pillow and he caught it before it could hit him. “…but, why did your parents marry twice?” He wasn’t sure how the question would come across to Nimi.
“I don’t know. Couples can marry as many times as they want. That’s the beauty of it, I guess. In fact, my own father is still courting his wife till now.”
Edward gave him a snare. “What you should be doing!”
Nimi laughed. “I remembered this growing up times ‘cause of Goldie actually. Some of those days I would insist on following my mother to the salon where she worked or anywhere else and nothing anyone says would change it. I don’t know who dropped that strong will in the hearts of children. It’s always beautiful to behold.”
“Well, you are right. That one girl is enough work for Ele and I. I don’t think she needs siblings anytime soon.”
Nimi laughed out as Edward sounded helpless.
Edward turned to him and continued. “How is Fiyinfoluwa?”
Nimi shrugged as his countenance fell. “Preparing for her destination Dubai wedding in two weeks, I guess.”
“You will be fine, bro.” Edward patted him on the back.
Nimi faked a smile. “Of course! I need to wait up for mum here; it’s closer to her meeting place than going all the way back home. While I wait for her by the way, can we go to the golf field? I’ve missed that part of me.”
“Right away!” Edward said excitedly.
Joelyn sat on one of the wooden seats on the walk way. She stared as the sun gradually set on that side of the world. The view looked so adorable and she quickly brought out her camera to take few shots. She stared at her own handiwork and was proud of it. She’s proud of a few things about herself; how she could create magic behind the lens with just a click, how she could capture moments and make seemingly horrifying sights beautiful.
‘How then can’t I make my own life beautiful and meaningful?’ she questioned her heart quietly, remembering the day her mum walked away… forever. She hadn’t seen her father and mother quarrel nor even exchange words, despite their different backgrounds. She assumed her mother was travelling, at least that was what the older woman told her. But as days turned to weeks, and weeks to months and months to years, she affirmed that her mother had left her and father to their fate.
Sometimes she’s tempted to think her mother wicked, at other times, she just spares her the whole stress. Before getting out of Nigeria, Johnson’s mansion particularly, she had sought for all the information she could get about her mother. Only her father could provide those but since he wasn’t ready, she had to sneak into his study in search of anything useful. She didn’t find so much… not more than an address. That address she would trace. In fact, that was why she chose this state for her ‘cool off’. Being the child of the rich has advantages, one of them being that you can never get stranded anywhere. Her father either already have houses in all the states she travels to, or she has enough cash on her to buy up a new one. This time, Rose has been the friend keeping her company. Whichever way, she must find her mother on this one trip… unfailingly.
Heads turned as the young lady walked elegantly through the red carpeted path from the door. She had a fitted outfit on and it showed all her curves. Moving straight to Lauren who was standing behind the podium in the front of the fairly large and filled hall, she handed the latter the cup of juice sited professionally on her tray the whole time. Lauren appeared a bit taken aback by the gesture but had to quickly play along so as not to arouse further ado.
Lauren gulped down the content of the glass in a flash. She needed some fluid down her throat truly as she’s been talking for about an hour now. The young lady then slipped a tiny note and Lauren read it quickly, picked up a pen and wrote something down before handing it over to the lady who now exited the hall faster than the fashionable way with which she came in initially.
“Sorry for that interruption beautiful ladies. So, as we were saying…” Lauren continued.
The waiter quickly hurried away from the hall and towards the exit of the hotel premises. She still had the cup and tray, more reason why she needed to be fast with whatever she wanted to do before getting called. She reached for the pocket of her tightly fitted skirt and pulled out her little mobile phone with eyes darting from side to side to be sure no one was watching or listening to her. She scrolled down her call log until it got to a number which she dialled. Putting the phone closer her ear, she waited for it to ring in a hurry.
“Oh! OK. Thank you so much!” He removed the phone off his ear and tapped on it.
Mr Johnson drew nearer. “What did she say?”
“Lauren told her she would be done with the meeting in another two hours. Emeka, you have to calm down.” Chief Ogbonna advised calmly.
“Don’t tell me to calm down, Ike. Not now. Why are things always like this? Replay of the same scene twice? What have I done wrong?” He lamented.
Chief Ogbonna stared at him, confusion spewing down his face. “What are you talking about, Emeka?”
“I was almost at the verge of something beautiful too then before Lolo came back and turned the whole table around…”
Chief Ogbonna blew hot air from his nose and took his seat. He knew where this discussion was driving at.
“Don’t be cold on me o, Ike. Don’t. You know I loved that girl. We had big plans. Fine, she wanted to do chores and I only took her in because of pity but later the pity generated into love, Ike. Into true love which you were aware of. Why did you join forces with my mother to kill it?” Mr Johnson demanded with weak eyes. He looked extremely drained, like a chicken beaten under a heavy rain.
“I didn’t kill it, Emeka. I agree I instigated you against her but you were also a man then. You shouldn’t be controlled by your mother when it comes to your feelings. She only said you can’t have anything with that girl because of her low class, and all I did was to make you see the truth in her statement. That’s all.” Chief Ogbonna was on the defensive.
Mr Johnson swallowed. “Mother said I was spending for another man to eat, that such girls picked from streets are ingrates, heartless and home breakers. She said a lot of wrong things then…”
“Yea. And your once sweetheart became irritating to you all of a sudden. You beat her at the slightest provocation, hitting her with whatever you find. No wonder you hate to be called Emeka. It reminds you of the wickedness you committed on an innocent young girl, huh?” Chief Ogbonna rose his right eyebrow and lowered the other one. “Why are we even having this disheartening discussion by the way. We should be talking about how to track down Lauren…”
“Exactly!” Mr Johnson interrupted. “Why is she here now? Lolo came back from her pre-planned 2years break abroad too early. That was what spoilt everything. She came at the wrong time and made everything fall out of place for me… for us. Same way Lauren is here two weeks to my wedding. To make everything fall out of place for me as well?”
“You are being paranoid, Emeka and you know it. Moreover, Lauren has no hold over you. Unless there is something you are not telling me.”
Mr Johnson swallowed and opened his mouth to talk but was interrupted by Chief Ogbonna’s ringing phone.
The latter picked up the phone immediately.
“What?” He exclaimed before he could stop himself. “Alright. Get here as fast as you can.” He ended the call and stared into thin air.
“What the heck happened again, Ike Ogbonna?” Mr Johnson was almost screaming the house down.
“You know you are hypertensive, dear friend. You have to calm down and be strong.”
Mr Johnson chuckled in spite of himself. “What happened? Where is she?”
“My man in the house said he was told our to-be wife stepped out earlier this morning. The only suspicious part is that she didn’t go out with the driver you assigned to her. Something is not just right somewhere…” Chief Ogbonna’s voice came out in a wicked roar towards the end of his statement.
“What am I going to do now, Ike?” Mr Johnson sounded extremely helpless.
Chief Ogbonna stared at him with a smirk. “We are going to Transcorp Hilton.” Noticing his friend’s questioning look, “…that’s where Lauren is holding her meeting.” He added, walking out.
Nimi dropped the golf stick as he heard his phone ring aloud. Seeing it was his father’s number, he gave a knowing wink at Edward before picking the phone and putting it on speaker.
“Daddy ooo… she hasn’t called yet na!” he wiped his head with a towel. Edward, on his own side, laughed as he walked over to join him.
“It’s over two hours already. I suggest you go to the venue. I know your mother! She may want to explore Abuja by herself and use the excuse of your number not connecting.” Achile Peters had serious worry in his voice.
“Daddy, daddy, you make marriage look exciting o. Does it get this much fun as you grow older?” Edward interrupted.
“Oh! Eddy my boy! I didn’t know you were there. Playing golf, I guess? Well, it doesn’t get more rosy, you only get more attached and inseparable, as long as you both are still in love.”
“Uhmmm! Daddy daddy. Marriage goals kena. Wolahi! We are following you closely.” Edward sounded like a core Northerner this time.
“Please, let’s talk about my mum, please!” Nimi interrupted, taking the phone away from Edward’s reach. Achile chuckled from his side of the call.
“Be on your way right away please, son. I need my wife in one piece.”
Nimi nodded and ended the call.
Lauren stretched out her hand over the table to join the other person’s. She made sure to maintain eye contact while talking and she was sure her words were hitting the woman at the very right spot.
“Mistakes women make sometimes is in trying to shape everyone’s dream to their idea of ‘perfect’…” Lauren continued. “…so we get all worked up thinking for a complete human who is also gifted with the power to think for him or herself. We, wives and mothers, must learn to soft pedal sometimes, open up to see things from others’ point of view especially our children’s, and be as real as possible.”
Ojima Peters nodded in the affirmative. Much more than the words, the face of the woman sitting in front of her catches her fancy a lot. Her smooth and spotless fair skin. Seeing her closely, her initial suspicions about Lauren being a black American was heightened, but the latter told them something earlier.
“Thank you so much, Mrs or Miss Lauren…”
Lauren smiled. “Just Lauren, dear. It really doesn’t matter if I’m married, single, widowed, divorced or separated. Our mutual point is that we are women… strong women and we must stay empowered.”
Ojima Peters nodded again. “Yes. Yes. Yes. So Lauren, you really were born in Nigeria?”
Lauren smiled. She gets that look and question from Mark a lot of times, and most of the persons working with her never knew this side of her.
“My dad worked with the U.S embassy here in Abuja. I spent the bulk of my formative years in this country. And of course, I was once married to a Nigerian!”
Ojima’s eyeballs reeled out in shock. “What? So what happened? You never mentioned that at the meeting!”
“I didn’t say many things at the meeting. I didn’t talk about my arranged marriage to a son of some money magnate living in Kaduna… we…” She was midway when the door fling open.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry! He insisted on getting in.” the waiter in the adjourning room serving as secretary said, hurrying after the obviously agitated man. Ojima Peters was still wrapping her head around Lauren’s last statement and so didn’t do as much as turn to see whoever walked in.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry, please. Sir, I’m afraid you have to wait outside sir… she’s seeing someone at the moment…” the young lady tried to persuade, torn between staring at Lauren and the other.
Lauren motioned her to excuse them and she hurried out.
“Why did you come back at this time, Lauren?” The man demanded in rage immediately the door closed behind the waiter.
His familiar voice rose and that jerked Ojima on her seat, so much so that she quickly rose up her head as it felt like darkness had overtaken her form. She stared at him while he carelessly screamed at Lauren and somehow he felt her eyes on him. Suddenly, their eyes met each other and he slowly withdrew from talking till he couldn’t say no more. Ojima stood with mouth wide open, staring at the one man she can never forget.
To be continued…
Hope the Yuletide is coming fine?